Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

MEET THE NEW BOSS?....Faced with a shortage of commanders who believe that a surge escalation in Iraq is a good idea, President Bush has decided on some wholesale changes in his Middle East Team. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus will replace George Casey as commander in Iraq; Adm. William Fallon will replace John Abizaid as Centcom commander; Ryan Crocker will replace Zalmay Khalilzad as amabassador; and of course Robert Gates has already replaced Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. Juan Cole is surprisingly upbeat:

The professionals take charge....These are competent professionals who know what they are doing. Gates is clear-sighted enough to tell Congress that the US is not winning in Iraq, unlike his smooth-talking, arrogant and flighty predecessor. Petraeus is among the real experts on counter-insurgency, and did a fine job of making friends and mending fences when he was in charge of Mosul. Crocker has been ambassador to Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan, and knows the region intimately (as does Khalilzad).

As Cole later implies, the odds at this point are pretty strongly against these guys no matter how good they are, but adds, "If the US in Iraq can possibly have a soft landing, these are the individuals who can pull it off."

Good luck to them, though I'm not as optimistic as Cole. I hope no one ruins their career over this.

Kevin Drum 10:49 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (87)

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Comments

"I hope no one ruins their career over this." Looks like George Casey already has.

Posted by: Emartin on January 5, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, anything like realism is a relief.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration have privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will "be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof," in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam.

"I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost," Biden said. "They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively."

Glenn Kessler
Washington Post
January 5, 2007

... he who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however, advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat; if U.S troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last US troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters’ skids.

Martin Van Creveld
Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did
November 18, 2004

Posted by: bellumregio on January 5, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Who is Juan Cole kidding? The president got push back for his desire to implement the McCain Doctrine from his commanders on the ground. Rather than take their advice he fired the very professional commanders who told him the truth. What else would you expect?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 5, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Casey gets to retire to some base town somewhere and squeak by on $16 grand a month in retirement, and he'll probably get a defense contractor gig. He'll be fine.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 5, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

That is why Juan stays in academia -- his students give him good shit to smoke!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 5, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Fallon is the wild card. If we want to attack Iran, it will have to be the Air Force and Navy that do it, because we don't even have enough Army manpower to do a real escalation. (The real story about the "surge" is its teentsiness -- it's pure windowdressing, buying time for something else, because it's just a drop in the bucket and con't possibly accomplish anything.)

Posted by: humble blogger on January 5, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Backed into a corner by domestic pressure, the Decider swiftly maneuvers to fill key positions with experienced professionals. He was hoping it would not come to this. They're so cocky with their degrees and successful work experience always telling him "you're wrong", "it's more complicated than that", "that won't work", etc. with cockiness because of their degrees and their successful work experience. The first move was the most bitter, but it had to be done. He broke the news to Harriet Meyers at one of their late night 7PM games of Clue.

Posted by: B on January 5, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Bingo, humble blogger. A troop increase of 20,000 puts about 8000 new targets on the streets. It isn't enough to have any impact, it's just enough to ramp up the deaths.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 5, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

(side note to B - that's why I said non-Vonnegut)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 5, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Adm. William Fallon will replace John Abizaid as Centcom commander;
I think this is a especially good choice. Abizaid's failure to achieve victory in Iraq was due to his inability to see the Iraq War is really a regional war and the other parties in the regional war must be dealt with in order for America to win.

As the New York Times reported, "Admiral Fallon is regarded within the military as one of its stronger regional combat commanders, and his possible appointment also reflects a greater emphasis on countering Iranian power, a mission that relies heavily on naval forces and combat airpower to project American influence in the Persian Gulf." Iran shouldn't be trembling now that professionals who understand the danger of Iran are in charge.

Al (The Real One)

Posted by: Real Al (The Real One) on January 5, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

shoulda figured

Posted by: B on January 5, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Ruining careers is kind of a Bush specialty. If you're not 'loyal' to him (i.e., something other that a complete suck-up), he'll throw you under the bus without a second thought. If your loyal but somehow inconvenient, well, he'll also throw you under the bus without a second thought.

Even those he 'rewards' he can mess up. Tenet will always remain the guy who won the medal for screwing up the intelligence on Iraq and the 'slam dunk' comment. Harriett Miers would be retiring as a hard working but fairly anonymous Bush loyalist, her new first name is "failed Supreme Court nominee" for the most memorable few weeks of her life.

These careers will get ruined, because they're being asked to provide the tactics for a losing strategic plan.

Posted by: Fides on January 5, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I scratched my head, taking care to choose just the right words for that particular post.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 5, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Petraeus is among the real experts on counter-insurgency, and did a fine job of making friends and mending fences when he was in charge of Mosul.

Well, I would differ from Mr. Cole on this point. Petraeus is the fellow who had a year to train up the Iraqi security forces and failed to do so. If the good general had done his job, American troops would be available for the necessary invasion of Iran to effect regime change there and I fault him for not accomplishing his mission. Military commanders who fail in their mission are, by definition, failures. My choice would have been LTG Jerry Boykin, who, by telling these Islamofascists that the Lord God, our Creator, the Christian God, is bigger than Allah, their "god," demonstrated that he is ready to turn the American Army loose on these thugs in a righteous crusade against the insanity of their insurgency against us.

Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, is a much-decorated and twice-wounded veteran of covert military operations. From the bloody 1993 clash with Muslim warlords in Somalia chronicled in "Black Hawk Down" and the hunt for Colombian drug czar Pablo Escobar to the ill-fated attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980, Boykin was in the thick of things.

Yet the former commander and 13-year veteran of the Army's top-secret Delta Force is also an outspoken evangelical Christian who appeared in dress uniform and polished jump boots before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan."

Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

"We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this," Boykin said last year.

On at least one occasion, in Sandy, Ore., in June, Boykin said of President Bush: "He's in the White House because God put him there."

Amen, sir, AMEN!!!

I do not encourage my Republican brethren to continue to reward failure; that is what liberals do.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK
Good luck to them, though I'm not as optimistic as Cole. I hope no one ruins their career over this.

Frankly, I'm more worried about people getting a bunch of Americans killed over this than senior officers and civilian administrators ruining their careers, but maybe that's just me.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 5, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Hormonal Citizen:

I scratched my head, taking care to choose just the right words for that particular post.

I often wonder if liberals spend any time actually thinking about what they write; this what scares me more than anything else, aside from nuclear war and being run over by a car full of circus clowns.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

More words usually help me. But I'm not good at deciphering ambiguity in crossword puzzle clues either (or other writing by Will Shortz for that matter :) ).

For the record my Dad read that piece before the author was known and was convinced that the text (signed not by Vonnegut) was written by Vonnegut.

Posted by: B on January 5, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Norman you have been getting run over by a car load of clowns for 6 years now you should be real scared.That's what the repugs want they want you scared.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 5, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

It took some convincing for me. Then I slowly realized it was a little too Vonnegut.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 5, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Man, Petraeus is really on the fast track, isn't he? From all the fawning media coverage, he seems like a brilliant guy. Though it might be too little, too late, this seems to be one rare case where competence = promotion.

Posted by: Frank Bruno on January 5, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

$16 grand a month

Is that correct? I really dislike paying general's retirment benefits. No American public servant deserves to live like a Saudi Prince. If they want to make that much money, let them purchase a fast food franchise or become a blogger.

Posted by: Brojo on January 5, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I read Juan Cole's column this morning over my corn flakes and was struck by his gushing praise of these new faces - very unusual for Juan. I have read some about General Petraeus' (sp?) success with the locals around Mosul, but I expect Baghdad to be a different kettle of fish. Unless he is the Second Coming of the Messiah, I doubt he can do much on his own.

I think bellumregio's posts are better prognostications - I think Bush (Cheney, more likely) is trying to kick the can down the road with these additional troops and personnel shake-up, to let the next president (probably a Democrat), deal with the mess. Cheney, but not Bush, is smart enough to see that we are well and truly fucked in Iraq.

Regarding the humble blogger's comments about attacking Iran, if we (read, the Bush Administration) are crazy enough to launch a preemptive strike against them, and we probably are, Americans might be surprised when Iran sinks a destroyer or two and possibly an aircraft carrier. Iran has some very sophisticated anti-ship cruise missiles called Sunburns that could do this. I would provide a link but I am posting via a Treo. Of course, losing a couple of hundred Americans and several warships to Iran wll be politically unacceptable and will likely trigger a nuclear response. After that, watch out, because all hell might break loose, including a Shiite uprising in Iraq that could make the current situation seem like a clambake. These are very dangerous times.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 5, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

What you liberals fail to understand is that we need a man in charge who knows how to take war to our enemies.

I would envision General Boykin at the head of a column of tanks, blaring Onward, Christian Soldier at high volume for the Iraqis to hear, driving through the slums to find Moqtada al Sadr's mosque. The tanks stop, the mosque is surrounded--anyone who shoots from the mosque becomes an enemy combatant. The tanks fire into the mosque for several hours and then a Catholic priest comes and sanctifies the ground. We pay a few million to put up a Catholic church after some contractors take away the foul debris(or Protestant--doesn't matter) and encourage the Iraqis to become Christians.

What could possibly be wrong with that? There ARE Christians in Iraq and they ARE NOT attacking us. Make more Christians, have fewer enemies in Iraq.

Of course, my clear-headed thinking would just send you liberals into a tailspin of self-hate and self-recrimination, wouldn't it?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the paygrade table for 01 January 2006.

On 01 January this 2007 flag-ranks got an 8% COLA and everyone else got 2.2%.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 5, 2007 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

If Boykin thinks his god is so powerful, then let him BE the surge. All by himself. Surely Boykin's god is at least as powerful as 20,000 underpaid, under-equipped, disrespected grunts?

Go on, Jerry! One unarmored Humvee, an antiquated vest, an M-16 and you're off! Shouldn't take you more than a week, tops.

And just think of the everlasting gratitude you'll have from the families and friends of the hundreds - perhaps thousands - of American soldiers and Marines who won't die in your place.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 5, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Americans don't know all the details about how we might turn things around in Iraq. All we know is the people in charge have created a disastrous situation, and now they're asking us to trust them with the lives of another 20,000 soldiers, with almost nothing in the way of explanation.

Please consult with our elected representatives on this. Share the planning tasks. Share the blame if things go wrong.

Posted by: ferd on January 5, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Boykin--the man who told Janet Reno to launch the attack at Waco. Just the man we need to deal with religious fanatics, right?

Posted by: rea on January 5, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yellow Dog:

If Boykin thinks his god is so powerful, then let him BE the surge. All by himself. Surely Boykin's god is at least as powerful as 20,000 underpaid, under-equipped, disrespected grunts?

Well, the man is a combat veteran who is ready to give his life in defense of this country. You, on the other hand, are a soft-bellied liberal who is ready to give his life for a bag full of ditch weed and a subscription to Mother Jones.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Gilliard's take on Petreus:

Dave Petreus talks a great game, but has failed repeatedly in Iraq. His second tour, was, in effect, a disaster. The Iraqi Army is now factionalized and useless. The officers still think they're fighting Iranians. Many of the troops have other loyalties.

Biden is correct. Bush knows the cause (providing cheap Iraqi petroleum to Big Oil) is lost. These new generals are like new head coaches, who take a job at a losing organization because it is their only chance to lead. But now that I know how much money is at stake in retirement, I understand why they do it. I am having very bad thoughts about the generals. I am worrying about the enlisted men under their command, though, who will be asked to make sacrifces for the generals' honor.

Posted by: Brojo on January 5, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, the oft deranged one, but lucid at moments,

General Boykin is off to establish a Knights Templar Brigade - However, he is having a wee bit iota tad of a problem - The originals were all sons of the aristocracy. Boykin's recruiting offices in La Jolla, Medina, Royal Oaks, Mission Hills, and Winnetka serve only the finest in lattes and cup cakes, but to no avail.

Ah, to serve with the cross and photo of St George upon one's chest. And Barney's on the back.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 5, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'm more worried about people getting a bunch of Americans killed over this than senior officers and civilian administrators ruining their careers, but maybe that's just me.

What cmdicely said.

Posted by: RT on January 5, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure if everyone has seen these videos of the US military in Iraq or not, but they are pretty amazing: Hopefully our 'surge' will not include too many of these types...
http://minor-ripper.blogspot.com/2006/12/winning-hearts-and-minds-part-three.html

Posted by: MinorRipper on January 5, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Deflator:

um, you are correct that Iran is believed to have a limited number of Raduga 3M80 Moskit (SSN-22 Sunburn to NATO) cruise missiles.

this 1970's era Soviet design is believed to possibly pose a challenge to the Phalanx anti-missile system (essentially a radar-guided gatling gun) but the RAM ("Rolling Airframe Missile") now being deployed throughout the U.S. fleet (it plugs into the old Phalanx space) is specifically designed to defeat the threat posed by supersonic cruise missiles.

regardless, the Moskit has a limited range of 90 KM (120 in the extended-range version)...I can guarantee you that no U.S. carrier is going to come within 120 KM of an Iranian ship (none of which are known to carry the Moskit) or the Iranian coastline....they'll stay in the Indian ocean.

Posted by: Nathan on January 5, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

The new military leadership will oversee the Red Queen phase of the occupation of Iraq, until the inevitable comes. It may be that they will go double or nothing and take a few shots at Iran, but for now they will run faster to stay in the same place.

'Well, in OUR country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else--if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'

'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'

Posted by: bellumregio on January 5, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK
Frankly, I'm more worried about people getting a bunch of Americans killed over this than senior officers and civilian administrators ruining their careers, but maybe that's just me.

I am in awe of cmdicely's intellect and grateful for his numerous contributions to our collective intelligence, but I do wish that his criticisms of Kevin were leavened with a little generosity of spirit.

Indeed, as a rule I think any criticism is made more effective when it includes a measure of heartfelt respect.

Posted by: obscure on January 5, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Rogers,
As opposed to a soft-bellied conservative.

What are ready to give your life for?
Would you have to think about it, like the old Jack Benny skit,"Your money or your life...?" and Jack Benny pauses and has to think about it.

Tell us all Norm, were you ever in the green machine or did you defer?

Norm, what are you going to have written across your headstone?

Will you have something like this?

"I SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH", in big letters and in little letters, "and the troops."

Norm, give it a rest.

Posted by: John Smith on January 5, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

apparently, as with Al, some people are too obtuse to get the Norman Rogers joke.

Posted by: Nathan on January 5, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I do a great Jack Benny imitation.

"Oh Don" (Turns head and puts fingers to chin.)

Posted by: Brojo on January 5, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Did not know that a new etching has been made to Norman's tombstone - I thought the old one read, "Veni, Vidi, Relabens" with a matched set of crossed Springfields and spats below was sufficient. There is no verification that the "relabens" part was done at the gallop.

Posted by: stupid git on January 5, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo,

Well!

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 5, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Is Nathan a Mr. Rogers admirer?

Please Nathan won't you be my neighbor.

Feel free tell that to the 3,000 plus U.S. Iraq war dead, 20,000 plus wounded, Iraqi people, not do not forget the Afghanistan War dead, comma exclamation point.

Can I interest you in some ocean front Afghanistan property?

Explain this joke for the rest of the obtuse impaired readers.

Posted by: John Smith on January 5, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Obtuse? Perhaps, or pompous at times. Hubris can be such a cloud over one's mind.

Posted by: stupid git on January 5, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Free your bank account, free your mind.

Posted by: John Smith on January 5, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

John Smith,

The pompous remark was meant for those on other threads - Ones who take themselves sooooooo seriously and are sooooooooooo learned. Veils over the eyes as it were.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 5, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

It is outright blasphemy to even imply that something might improve in Iraq. Get back on track, Cole.

Posted by: dnc on January 5, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

"THOSE,THEM,THEMSELVES" THEY ARE NOT US

ARE THEY?

Who's on first?

The oooooooooo's make me dizzy.

"Life is a blur of Republicans and meat!"-Zippy the Pinhead

Posted by: John Smith on January 5, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"... he who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however, advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat; if U.S troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last US troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters’ skids.

--Martin Van Creveld

"To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel;"

But it works. Your opponent is dead. It has worked for thousands of years of recorded history. The term "hearts and minds" was unheard of until this century.

At some point, maybe after the first major WMD attack on a U.S. city, it may be the only choice left if we give up on the slower and more painful methods of selective warfare that often result in more U.S. casualties. As Clinton knew, nobody comes back in flag-draped coffins from aerial bombardment missions. The coffins are all somewhere down below, where nobody cares about them.

Incidentally, the suicide rate in Iraq over the past three years has yet to reach the average U.S. rate for that age group.

Posted by: sdi on January 5, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

I came, I saw, I retreated.

Posted by: Ghost of George Caesar on January 5, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

John Smith:

um, Mr. Rogers is a liberal masquerading as a geriatric Massachusetts investment banker.

Posted by: Nathan on January 5, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

While others masquarade as a "moderate" and try to emulate Steve Martin's portrayal of Orin Scrivello, DDS in "Little Shop of Horrors" by singing, while dismounting from a Harley, "I am a Lawyer".

As he enters his office, throwing his black leather jacket atop a Martindale-Hubbell and resuming his duties with the other clerks of the paralegals.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 5, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Authoritarians decry human empathy and universal human rights. In the darkness of their hearts they lament the passing of the True People, the omnipotent empire, the iron fist, and the jackboot. They long for the security of the overlord and reassurance of his orthodoxy.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 5, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

[sigh]

If I were a parody, the moderators would remove my posts. Has that happened? No. But when someone is making excellent points and taking the liberals to task for their insanity, the person doing so "has" to be a parody because any other option is beyond the capability of certain foolish people to comprehend. It is striking to me that the general consensus is that "only a liberal" would be intelligent enough to write my posts.

Sorry, junior--I am intelligence enough to write my own posts, and various theories are just that--they are theories.

Someone asked:

Tell us all Norm, were you ever in the green machine or did you defer?

Graduated Princeton in 1965; attended Duke University afterwards for a masters degree. Lived overseas for a time and avoided the US draft. Worked for my father at the height of the war.

Norm, what are you going to have written across your headstone?

My name. Duh.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

A boy named Nathan:

um, Mr. Rogers is a liberal masquerading as a geriatric Massachusetts investment banker.

No, I have no license to practice as an investment banker, thanks to an overzealous prosecutor working for the Federal Trade Commission.

Given that you are demonstrably wrong every time you tangle with even the most simple-minded liberal, I would think a young man like you would be averse to making pronouncements.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, junior--I am intelligence enough to write my own posts, and various theories are just that--they are theories.

Or am I?

Hilarious.

Should read: Sorry, junior--I am intelligent enough to write my own posts, and various theories are just that--they are theories.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

At some point, maybe after the first major WMD attack on a U.S. city, it may be the only choice left if we give up on the slower and more painful methods of selective warfare that often result in more U.S. casualties.

Iraq was not a terrorist threat to U.S. security prior to the invasion. Your bizarre conflation of these two situations suggests we perhaps we should embark on an aerial bombardment of Belgium before they get any ideas.

"To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel;" --But it works. Your opponent is dead.

No it doesn't work, not in guerilla warfare with a heavily armed populace. It only motivates them to fight harder against you.

Secondly, we didn't have "opponents" in Iraq prior to the invasion. We only have opponents there now to the extent that we are in the middle of a civil war that we started. You understand that our forces have taken attacks from at least three "sides", right? And at least one of them has strong ties to the government? Which one is our "opponent?"

Starting a civil war in another country and then calling for the genocide of arbitrary "opponents" is not legal, moral, or sane. Nor is it tactically wise. Both Iraq and the rest of the world -- not being mentally and morally challenged like yourself -- would see such an attack for the criminal horror that it is. Choosing to execute a massive aerial bombardment of Iraq that wiped out both innocents and insurgents who see themselves as freedom fighters would certainly invite blowback down the road.

Your strategy, in addition to being inhumane and morally repugnant, would only make the U.S. less safer. It's self-evidently terrible analysis based on bad thinking.

Posted by: trex on January 5, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

sdi on January 5, 2007 at 1:48 PM:

Incidentally, the suicide rate in Iraq over the past three years has yet to reach the average U.S. rate for that age group.

In other incidental-ities, the average life expectancy of an Iraqi citizen in 2000 was 66.5 years...Five years later, that number has dropped to 60 years.

But judging by your prior sentences, sdi, you seem to think that ethnic cleansing is a good and sometimes necessary thing.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 5, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

you are delicious, I'll give you that NR

Posted by: Nathan on January 5, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

you are delicious, I'll give you that NR

Moderator, make this pervert stop, please.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Bremer, Cheney, Rumsfeld were Larry/Curly/Moe when it came to nation-building. Petraeus is terrific.

Rumsfeld's overweening arrogance in throwing out Gen. Garner and the Arabist team at the start and giving the nod to Bremer/Khalilzad [Bremer refused to work with Zal & got him booted] started the string of disasters that the clueless "Decider" still doesn't understand.

I hope Rummy gets nabbed in Germany, not for war crimes, but for arrogant stupidity.

Posted by: daveinboca on January 5, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

What is missing in all of the right wing rhetoric of training the Iraqi forces is the motivation factor.

For example, the US can train, say 100,000, enlistees in the various US forces - They will receive excellent training and will be, to a very high percentage, motivated to follow orders from their new commanders. However, we can train 100,000 Iraqis, who will receive excellent training, but will they be motivated to fight under their new commanders? And for whom will they be motivated to fight for or against?

So the trools and the their dullard leader can throw out all sorts of numbers concerning the numbers of trained Iraqis, but they are meaningless when many refuse to fight. However, do not forget for a minute that many of these newly trained troops will and can be motivated to turn and fight us.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 5, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

People have busted Bush's balls, and rightly so, to push through a change of direction & leadership in our occupation of Iraq and Bush has finally responded. I know the instinct is to bash whatever the President does, again a justified reaction considering how badly this occupation has been managed but he has responded with a pretty sweeping amount of personel moves. Based on what I've read, I tend to agree with Juan Cole. These people from Gates on down, deserve a chance to try and turn this thing around.

Posted by: Nathan64 on January 5, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK
These people from Gates on down, deserve a chance to try and turn this thing around.

And what punishment do they face if they fail?

Posted by: SavageView on January 5, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK
The term "hearts and minds" was unheard of until this century.

Well, sure, previously, in imperial wars to impose a great powers preferred system on some peripheral state, different terms were used for efforts to get substantial elements of the subject areas population and/or power structure on the side of the occupier rather than involved in the resistance to imperial power, such as "divide and conquer".

The idea isn't all that different, though changes in culture and technology make the means that work different as applied to the subject population, and make the terminology that is politically acceptable to describe the strategy for the metropolitan power different as well.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 5, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK
And what punishment do they face if they fail?

The Medal of Freedom, of course.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 5, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK
The Medal of Freedom, of course.

And highly paid sinecures at right-wing "think tanks" or on boards of directors. There's no true punishment for failure if you're a Repub.

Posted by: SavageView on January 5, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
People have busted Bush's balls, and rightly so, to push through a change of direction & leadership in our occupation of Iraq and Bush has finally responded.

The few people left who still believe in the war may have done that, the much larger number of people who either never supported or have lost faith in the war have pushed Bush to get the US out of Iraq. Inasmuch as Bush has responded to them, it is with a (figurative) middle-finger salute.

Hence, why people in that group are upset.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 5, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

It is likely this change of command is in preparation for an embargo and air attack on Iran. Naval operations will be central to such an assault because they will have to protect the flow of oil in the Gulf.

Seymour Hersh warned us an attack on Iran was being prepared. Now, it seems, all the stars, or generals, are aligned for just such an engagement. They will tread water in Iraq, but charge ahead in Iran.

George Bush sees himself as the pacifier/liberator of the Middle East. He is trying to bring the strategy of Dual Containment of Iraq and Iran into a new era. Success will return domination of Middle Eastern oil reserves to the Anglo-Americans. It will also eliminate the last of Israel's conventional enemies. This is why the Israeli delegation was so ecstatic after they met with Bush.

Democracy (or more accurately- realignment with the Western order) is the long-term goal. They first have to cut these nations down to size and that begins with the destruction of their infrastructure. With one hit they can remove the threat to the Gulf States and to Israel. If it all turns to civil war and terrorism than that is fine because it is less expensive and the Arabs and Persians pay the price.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 5, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Note to self: Stop reading bellumregio's posts until after work when I can have a drink...

Other than that, good summation.

Posted by: cyntax on January 5, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

But it works. Your opponent is dead.

This is what I dislike most about war, it allows one to think about killing those in oppostition to one's views. If the US attacks Iran, I will be having many such thoughts about my perceived opponents.

Posted by: Brojo on January 5, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, folks. This Norman Rogers is like one of those little chihuahua dogs - they yip a lot, but they couldn't hurt a flea and have balls like BBs. Ignore this pile of puke completely and he will go away. Don't even acknowledge that he exists.

Joe Bob

Posted by: Joe Bob Briggs on January 5, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

If I were a parody, the moderators would remove my posts.

A Norman Rogers' post was deleted just the other day. I think it was in the Saddam's Execution thread. Another commenter requested his 9:59 PM post be removed. Both comments were removed, so there is nothing to see and, of course, no proof. I read the comment to be removed and could not understand what the issue was.

Posted by: Brojo on January 5, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Briggs,

I have read all of your books. You are the consumate critic of the Drive-In movie genre and I salute you for being a true genius and a fine author. I particularly enjoyed the first book you wrote with that John Bloom fellow and I think you are talented beyond words and I am sorry your TV show failed.

Having said that, you are wrong to suggest that I can somehow be ignored.

I am a Republican, and you can't kill me, you can't moderate me, and you certainly cannot ignore me.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on January 5, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo,

I believe the reason for that deletion was that Norman had had a lucid moment; had actually said something coherent with no typos - That will not be accepted by any moderator worth his or her salt.

Posted by: stupid git on January 5, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio wrote: "Success will return domination of Middle Eastern oil reserves to the Anglo-Americans [...] Democracy (or more accurately- realignment with the Western order) is the long-term goal."

Democracy has nothing to do with it, indeed geniune democracy is the last thing that Cheney and Bush want for the region, since a truly democratic Middle East would not tolerate control of the region's oil by the "Anglo-American Western order", i.e. the ultra-rich corporate elites of the US and UK based multinational oil companies.

The entire history of UK and US involvement in the region has been opposing popular democracy in the oil-rich countries and instead imposing and supporting authoritarian rulers who would acquiesce to US/UK corporate control of the oil in return for enriching themselves as well.

And that was exactly the original Cheney/Bush plan for post-Saddam Iraq: Chalabi as the "new, improved" Saddam. And to this day they have not ceased their efforts to establish a US-supported puppet regime that will hand over control of the vast bulk of Iraq's oil wealth to the US oil companies and agree to a permanent US military presence to enforce that control.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 5, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that strikes me is that Bush will never, ever admit any kind of defeat. The simple fact being that no matter what anyone thinks, as a nation we are there until, at the very least, June of 2009. We can either keep up what we are doing, "staying the course" or we can bring new people in and try to turn the tide so it isn't a total freaking disaster for us, and the region when we finally do leave. To that end I'm glad to see changes in the people who manage the occupation. It may not be the recognition of disaster that most of us see but it is at least an acknowledgemnt that changes in thinking need to occur. Sad to say it is the best any of us can expect from this president and this administration. I'm just happy Bush seems to have moved people into positions of power who would appear to be upgrades than what we had before. Personally I opposed this war from the beginning and still don't understand what we invaded Iraq for and what our goals & objectives were or are. And the last thing I ever wanted to see happen was our troops having to choose sides in a civil war were all sides look at us as an additional enemy but the painful truth is we are there. Short of leaving the Iraq, which again is something this president will never do, the only hope I have is for something close to pragmatic leadership on the ground trying to put our soldiers in the best possible position where there is greater safety for them and for the Iraqis we were supposed to be liberating. To that end, I hope Bush made the right moves.

Posted by: Nathan64 on January 5, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Think Iran.

It's Iran, stupid.

Posted by: richard on January 5, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan64 wrote: "... still don't understand what we invaded Iraq for and what our goals & objectives were or are."

Dick Cheney's goal and objective was quite clear: to install a US-backed puppet government headed by Ahmad Chalabi and his colleagues in the Iraqi National Congress that would hand over Iraq's oil to the control of Cheney's cronies and financial backers in the US-based multinational oil companies and acquiesce to a permanent US military presence to enforce that control.

US control of Iraq's oil and the profits from its explotitation continues to be the goal of the occupation.

That's what more than 3,000 US troops and many tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have died for, and what many thousands more will die for, as long as the occupation continues.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 5, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Many Americans are confused about W. Bush's war for oil. Some think think the US invaded Iraq to provide oil to the people of America. That is incorrect. Bush invaded Iraq to provide oil to the big petroleum companies so they could sell it to the highest bidder.

Posted by: Brojo on January 5, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo wrote: "Some think think the US invaded Iraq to provide oil to the people of America. That is incorrect. Bush invaded Iraq to provide oil to the big petroleum companies so they could sell it to the highest bidder."

Exactly.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 5, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

>These are competent professionals...

So why weren't they in charge in the first place?

Giving the unprofessionals a chance to screw things up?

This means we have lots of unprofessional top officers in the military. What the hell is happening at West Point?

Why did Bush start out with the unprofessionals anyway? Did Bush feel sorry for them?

Bush is incompetent and so are the generals he sends, any general.

Bushco lost Iraq. Get over it.

Posted by: James on January 5, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

In 2004 General Casey called the city of Falluja "an angry disaster," and saw major signs of US caused war damage, saying reconstruction needed to be accomplished. Plus, we know the Iraqi people have lost so many of their relatives and friends, they have to hate the very thought of us. France's Chirac is calling for a Middle East Peace Conference, fearing the conflict in the wider region could grow "on an unimaginable scale." Every country over there has to be enormously concerned about their welfare, their security, their very future. I would like to see participation in this peace conference. Bush faces opposition from officials in the military, Congress, and the American people if he tries to escalate this war. I hear the president on tv on Lou Dobbs acting like a smart alec in a press conference, saying 'nice try' to a reporter, like some spoiled frat boy. We are doomed.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 5, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Cole knows it too little to late, sorry pal. Bush finally tried to do what he SHOULD done months ago.

Most Americans are already done with this war, but poor, retarded little Bushie, as usually Bushie is still dragging his knuckles far behind him, a neanderthal lost in modernity.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 5, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK
I do not encourage my Republican brethren to continue to reward failure; that is what liberals do. Norman Rogers at 11:29 AM
You don't have to encourage Republicans, they are happy to do it their own. Democrats, however, replace those who have failed. Remember Les Aspin was replaced quickly, Rumsfeld lasted for years despite greater failures. More importantly, Democrats will stop failing policies; Bush continues his failed tax cuts, his failed war, and his failed No Child program. Mule headedness is not a good trait to have in your leaders.
I can guarantee you that no U.S. carrier is going to come within 120 KM of an ... Nathan at 12:40 PM
Interesting, because there are ships in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea
I am a Republican... Norman Rogers at 4:03 PM
And therefore respond best to bribes and payoffs. Posted by: Mike on January 5, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK
No, I have no license to practice as an investment banker, thanks to an overzealous prosecutor working for the Federal Trade Commission. Norman Rogers at 2:28 PM

One has to commit a really egregious fraud to have the FTC come down on you, something on the order of buggering Tiny Tim out of his life savings. That is, of course, par for Republican business "ethics." Crooks are as crooks do so there's no pity for those who pride themselves on their lack of scruples.

Posted by: Mike on January 6, 2007 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

According to Lt. Col. Paul Hughes, a the ISG Military Expert and hero of the invasion it'd take 130,000 US combat troops to take, hold and clear Baghdad alone. That's based on the 1 to 50 soldier/civilian ratio. The entire country would require 500,000 based on that ratio. That may be lowballing it. I think 1 to 30 is more like what's in Kosovo.

But that number is based on a permissive environment. It might actually have worked in March 2003. To succeed now in the face of overwhelming hostility it'd take a lot more soldiers and money than we have. To disarm militias, clear the country of munition caches, secure the borders and rebuild the infrastructure while employing let's say 8 million breadwinners it'd probably take 1.5 million US troops and $50 billion a year in reconstruction money for several years. You want overwhelming force so the occupation army can be everywhere making resistance not only futile but crazy. At the height of the Vietnam War we had half a million troops in South Vietnam, a nation of 15 million vs. 25 million for Iraq. We all know how that panned out.

Seeing as the realistic resources needed to accomplish the goal aren't available it makes no sense to throw more lives and treasure away.

The only silver lining I see in this mess is letting the boy king have one last shot at fixing his mess. Pass the supplemental with the caveat that this is his last chance. Come June the jig's up, negotiate a base agreement with the Iraqi government in Kurdistan and if they don't go along with the Kurds themselves. Base some of our troops in Kuwait. Send some to
Afghanistan for a real effort to clear, hold and REBUILD before they hate us more than they hate the Taliban and bring the rest home.

The US Army is degrading into a non functioning force. A surge will cripple it even more but the final refutation of the neocon strategy of US military hegemony over the rest of the world will be worth another $100 billion and the lives it'll cost. It may be the only way.

Never getting bogged down in a hostile occupation propping up a puppet government was supposed to be our booby prize, the lesson learned for all those dead in Vietnam. Apparently the Cheneys of the world just didn't get it. So let them hang themeselves. Give them another 6 months to thoroughly discredit themselves in the eyes of the American people. And then never again. I want these fools out of our government and shunned by serious people forever.

Life will go on. Iraq will eventually
pacify itself for better or worse. Arabs will still sell oil. And we can go back to forming a more perfect union.

Posted by: markg8 on January 6, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

I did not know the FTC got involved with investment banking cases. How did you avoid oversight by the FDIC and SEC? Enquiring minds want to know...

Still, as an administrative agency, it can easily put someone out of business with scandalously little evidence.

Posted by: Xenos on January 6, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting, markg8, but factor in a U.S.-British-Israeli-Saudi attack on Iran and see what that does to your prediction that "life will go on," etc.

Posted by: richard on January 6, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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