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Tilting at Windmills

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January 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE SURGE....From a Washington Post story about the surge:

Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq.

Maybe the Chiefs' reluctance comes from talking to troops on the ground who are trying to train the Iraqi army:

Five days with American trainers assigned to Muqdadiyah found the Iraqi army there divided, sectarian, underfunded, cold and hungry. It lacks equipment, motivation and a common belief in its mission. The old guard is suspicious of the American Army, which defeated them and now trains them. The young guard is suspicious of the old guard.

....The American trainers said teaching counterinsurgency doctrine had become secondary to more basic pursuits, such as how to load a weapon, take care of equipment and even find basic supplies: food, water and bullets. In U.S commanders' sparse offices and barracks, piles of books on counterinsurgency tactics sit unused behind desks.

Those "renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq" better be good....

Kevin Drum 1:47 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (95)

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"because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq."

Surely they aren't so stupid as to believe that this will actually happen?

Posted by: weichi on January 10, 2007 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

If they haven't read the counter-insurgency books by now, it doesn't much matter, does it?

http://themandarin.blogspot.com/2007/01/iraq-war-as-metaphor-for-adjusting-lawn.html

Posted by: The Mandarin on January 10, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

i don't know what's more incredible

the fact that W will suggest this surge

or the fact that it will happen

Posted by: maccabee on January 10, 2007 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq.

In short, the Pentagon is going along with it as long as there is (finally) a concerted effort on the part of the administration to bring about a non-military solution. That has always been the problem, and there's little reason to believe that problem will be remedied. And Bush's (apparent?) focus on a troop "surge" would suggest how little this administration has learned.

Posted by: has407 on January 10, 2007 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

It'll work, because everything W tries comes off perfectly.

Oh, shit: I thought I was Al for a second there.

Posted by: Kenji on January 10, 2007 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

No, no, let me put down another bet! I'm due, man! Gimme some money - it's time to go big! Let me double down, I swear, this streak is going to end right now. Dude! Gimme your car keys! This is all going to come good, I swear. I swear! Come ON, man! Right now!

[repeat until Shrub is dragged away, possibly, but not definitely, some time in 2009...]

Posted by: craigie on January 10, 2007 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like just a means for Bush to save face...there will be no surge, just talk about one, especially once the National Guard revolts over the whole thing. Before that happens, they may be counting on setting up the Democrats to deny funding for the phantom surge in order to try and displace some blame in the inevitable chaos that will be Iraq into the future. That in mind, denying the funding for this war is the right thing to do, because it would be a waste to go through the whole charade to begin with, and it's also another example of failing strategy from the Right. The strategy of moving blame won't work, unless the Democrats get wishy-washy. The public is against the war...making moves to honor their wishes and votes, including if necessary denying funding for the surge, is the best strategy. Bush just knows he can't take credit for it, because he's hung himself on his strategy so far. The best he can do is prevent the Democrats from winning this round with the Royal Flush in their hands by folding.

Posted by: Jimm on January 10, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

The parallels to Vietnam are ominous, and that's why I'm pretty sure there's no serious intent to go through with a surge. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see that really working for the nation's National Guard soundness as well as recruitment/retention. In other words, it's an impossible, stupid plan that is harmful to the national interest and political suicide.

Posted by: Jimm on January 10, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq.

Does this mean that Bush was previously telling the truth when he claimed, to much derision, that the generals in Iraq were not requesting more troops?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 10, 2007 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

Edward Luttwak, a Senior Fellow at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (csis.org) was on Cspan this morning, and he talked at length on numerous issues, and I paraphrase--- he said the situation is really terrible with the Iraqi army, you can't tell their loyalties, you don't really know who the men are, you can't arm them--they trade away or sell the equipment. I think the US was buying used pick up trucks for them as a result, he may have said. It sounded pretty dire. He was a man of great prestige, quite educated--thick accent. I came away from it feeling it is all so damn hopeless.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 10, 2007 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Does this mean that Bush was previously telling the truth when he claimed, to much derision, that the generals in Iraq were not requesting more troops?

No.

There is no form of words that can parse to "Bush told the truth about something." It's like dividing by zero - it just can't happen.

Posted by: craigie on January 10, 2007 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

Does this mean that Bush was previously telling the truth when he claimed, to much derision, that the generals in Iraq were not requesting more troops?

At the beginning, the generals felt their lack of manpower, but were let know through back channels not to request more troops. Now that the situation is hopeless and the generals know more troops won't help and will just serve to raise casualty rates, Dubya if forcing them down the generals' throats.

The man has a positive genius for always doing exactly the wrong thing.

Posted by: jimBOB on January 10, 2007 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

The comparisons to Viet Nam are apt in many respects, but these comparisions do not reveal the gravity of the situation. Viet Nam was not sitting on top of the world's supply of oil.

I can accept military commanders who go along, grudgingly or otherwise, with the civilian commander in chief. We don't want to join the Bush Junta in trashing the constitution.

What concerns me, though, is that they allow Bush to use them for political propaganda. If they get called up to the hill, they've got to tell the truth.

Posted by: James E. Powell on January 10, 2007 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

what most seem unwilling to accept is that Bush HAS found a political solution to the problem of Iraq: failure. To echo Catch 22: if he can just manage to lose this war in such a way that the loss can be blamed on someone else, then for sure he will have won it. Liberal defeatism doomed the surge! The unworthy Iraqis betrayed the surge! That's some catch, that catch 22.

Posted by: saintsimon on January 10, 2007 at 6:47 AM | PERMALINK

This "surge" is a fig leaf for Bush to either (a) kick the Iraq can down the road for his successor to deal with, or (b) provide additional troops and staging to attack Iran. Nothing good can come of it. Most American troops think the “surge” is a bad idea, as your link suggests, as well.

I plan to take an hour over lunch today and call my representative and senators and urge them to resist the surge. Democrats should force a constitutional crisis over this and if Bush persists, impeach him! It's long past due....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 10, 2007 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

This is from an earlier thread about the surge:

there is no evidence whatsoever that "losing" in Iraq will have any effect on Islamic fascism [sic] anywhere, much less worldwide.

No matter if the issue is the surge, or other related topics, the Democrats are letting down the America citizenry. This is a hugely important policy debate, but the left is not fulfilling its obligation to completely examine all aspects of this issue.

Key here is the concept of whether or not “losing” Iraq is a truthful concept. This is a point that needs much more scrutiny, yet there has been no organized analysis from the Democrats.

The difference between possible and probable effects of a US drawdown has similarly not been explained to Americans. Supporters of the President usually state with much (assumed) gravitas that the dominoes will fall westward and by next year the terrorists target Toledo tomorrow.

Again, the Dems don’t fully engage despite reports, experience, and analysis that show this is nearly complete fantasy.

Further, except for a few throw away lines, Dems are not addressing the condition and needs of the US military. Their fecklessness here is quite insane.

All many Dems seem to want to do is to throw a few well worn barbs at the Prez and the neocons.

Policy development at this level is nearly a 24/7 process and it must be explained from the ground up in vigorous, clear and honest terms. The Democratic Party is not engaged and they bare significant blame for what is happening.

Remember, words and “framing” count hence by editorial comment vis a vis “fascism” above.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of which (as if on cue), I just heard Tony Snow give an interview saying that no one can doubt that America will be less safe if the US military pulls out of Iraq.

If we are going to get out of this mess sooner rather than later, this is where the debate needs to be focused.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

If things are bad in the Iraqi army, which is heavily funded and trained by the most powerful army on earth, it must be doubly bad among the insurgents, who are untrained and poorly equipped. One last push and they will collapse like a house of cards.

Posted by: Al on January 10, 2007 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not at all certain what the additional 20,000 troops can do at this point. That's not to say they aren't needed - a competent commander can always find uses for additional troops. It's simply difficult to conceive of what larger difference they can make at this point.

It's entirely possible that they can facilitate the execution of the ISG "plan," whatever parts of which remains popular this week. An additional, single division isn't enough for a distinctly new offensive, but it might assist a redeployment within the country.

But we need to stop thinking in terms of Bush, Bush, Bush. We've got people - friends and relatives - over there working hard, fighting under dangerous conditions. They'll be there in Iraq and the region for some time to come, no matter what the President or anybody else wants. Whatever the surge entails, the pros and cons won't be decided through opinion polls.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 10, 2007 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

That's some catch, that catch 22.

It's the best there is. (Sorry, it's like that shave-and-a-haircut thing in Roger Rabbit. I have to complete that line.)

If things are bad in the Iraqi army, which is heavily funded and trained by the most powerful army on earth, it must be doubly bad among the insurgents, who are untrained and poorly equipped. One last push and they will collapse like a house of cards.

Either that, or they've still got tons and tons of materiel lying around in caches all over the country, left over from the Saddam era, as was reported a number of times over the last few years, including lots taken from depots we left unguarded for months after "winning" the invasion, plus a continuing and ever growing stream of recruits thanks to our blundering ineptitude in running our occupation. Also thanks to the natural advantage insurgencies have, in which they provoke ever more attrocities by making it impossible for the occupier to distinguish innocent from insurgent, friend from foe. A strategy any reasonably intelligent person could have seen coming from the get go and only a complete set of dumbasses would have found themselves so utterly unprepared for. Meaning you and your beloved (mal)administration.

But hey, you're going to get your "surge," so I guess we'll see won't we. Just another oh-so-critical Friedman Unit from now.

Posted by: DrBB on January 10, 2007 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

weichi: Surely they aren't so stupid as to believe that this will actually happen?


It will happen as long as "renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq" means more contracts for Halliburton. Actual rebuilding? Maybe not so much.

Posted by: anandine on January 10, 2007 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

That must be the Defeatocrat exit strategy: leave a tent full of books on how to defeat the insurgency. We know education solves all the problems.

You can count on the Defeatocrats to talk big about stopping the President's plan but they won't be able to.

Back to raising taxes and raising that oh so important minimum wage.

Posted by: Orwell on January 10, 2007 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

Except that democracy is the ultimate "opinion poll."

If you lose an insurgency politically -- especially if you're a democracy -- you lose an insurgency, period.

Battlefield losses, as you well know, didn't doom the Vietnam misadventure. The Tet Offensive was a tactical failure for the Viet Cong, as we all know now.

Didn't mean squat in the final analysis.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 10, 2007 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure a lot of money has been allocated to uniforms, food, bullets, etc., for the Iraqui army. The reason those things are scarce is that they have been sold or stolen--to or by the Sunni insurgency or Shiite militias.

Posted by: Matt on January 10, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Still cleaning up the Clinton mess.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/01102007/postopinion/opedcolumnists/terrorizing_terrorists_opedcolumnists_ralph_peters.htm

Posted by: Orwell on January 10, 2007 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Ponies for all Iraqis!

Posted by: trifecta on January 10, 2007 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

12 term Republican Jim Saxton, Armed Services cmte. member, on cspan now/says Bush has to introduce the correct number of troops to bring a security level to Baghdad, already there or on their way there...says they were briefed yesterday by white house deputy JD Crouch. Saxton actually made a reference to how tactics had to be changed during the civil war so out come the talking points, i.e., Can't look thru the rear view window, have to look thru the windshield... says Crouch outlined a strategy for enhancing the coalition that exists in the middle east to stabilize Iraq. The president's program Saxton says is to enable Iraqi forces to be trained, and there will be many more Iraqi troops in Baghdad than US troops--says the effort as in Somalia is to "flush them out," identify the snake hole and eliminate it, says "it is about ideology that has spread they have to fashion tactics to take care of." Talking points abound

Posted by: consider wisely on January 10, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

The surge:

Final proof that Bush is as much a war criminal as Saddam.

Impeach.
Now.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on January 10, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The parallels to Vietnam are ominous, and that's why I'm pretty sure there's no serious intent to go through with a surge.

"Waist-deep in the big muddy, er sandy, the big fool says to push on..."

Posted by: Vincent on January 10, 2007 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ya think that when we're done rebuilding Iraq we can have a renewed effort in America? Maybe use some of that money for things like education and health care here?

Bwahawahawahawahawa. Oh mercy I kill me.

Posted by: klyde on January 10, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

The first item on the House Democrats' "100 hours" legislative agenda, a measure to implement some of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, passed on Tuesday evening. The vote was 299-128.

Clearly, over 100 Republicans care more about partisanship and pissing on Democratic legislation than they do the security of this country.

Why does the GOP love the terrorists and want to help them attack our country?

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

"To make it part of a 100-hour show shamefully trivializes an issue of life or death," Rep. Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, told The Associated Press.

But never making it a part of the GOP agenda didn't trivialize an issue of life or death?

But putting partisan support for Bush and hiding the GOP Congress's ineptitude and misjudgment above the safety of the country didn't trivialize an issue of life or death?

But the GOP Congress ramming through other alleged national security legislation, not to mention resolutions on the war in Iraq including the initial approval to consider invasion, with essentially no debate and sometimes without the knowledge of anyone but the GOP leadership, didn't trivialize an issue of life or death?

Too, too funny.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell: Still cleaning up the Clinton mess.

Still getting your information from partisan, non-credible and trashy news sources and still lying, I see.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell: You can count on the Defeatocrats to talk big about stopping the President's plan but they won't be able to. Back to raising taxes and raising that oh so important minimum wage.

If they can't do the former without Bush and GOP aquiescense, then how are they going to be able to do the latter without Bush and GOP aquiescence?

Orwell: Okay to help Iraqi workers; not okay to help American workers.

You have become twice the idiot you were.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

As all the military people are saying, the "escalation" is a political, not a military "solution." And by political, I mean domestic US, not Iraqi politics.

The only good I can see coming out of this is that it will sink the campaign of any
'08 presidential candidate who supports it.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 10, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Marler: Does this mean that Bush was previously telling the truth when he claimed, to much derision, that the generals in Iraq were not requesting more troops?

No, but it does mean you are still the mendacious twit you always have been.

Note to Mendacious Marler: The generals were asking for more troops in the beginning and through the middle part of the insurgency, when they might have done some good; now after it is too late and more troops are not the answer, Bush sends more troops.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Al, an insurgency can only be said to callapse when a significant number of beleivers in the goals of that movememnt "cash in their chips". You seem to be of the opinion that the insurgency is hierarchically directed. It is not. It is a neighborhood by neighbor, tribe by tribe affair.

In Sader city, a place where hatred of the presence of the US military is quite high, there are reports this AM that actions are being taken to insure that every household has an automatic rifle and a cache of grenades.

Even if household A does not want to frag an American, they know that the members of houshold B (fully committed insurgents) will be around long after the US leaves, and we must eventually leave.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

. . . long opposed the increase in troops . . .

Note to Mendacious Marler:

The generals oppose the increase in troops is a clear reference to the current Bush escalation plan; the statement was not written "opposed to an increase in troops since the beginning of the war".

Your mendacious misinterpretation is that the writer is saying the generals have "opposed since the beginning of the war any increase in troops."

That misinterpretation is a lie.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

And let's not forget General Shinsheki, who was very clear that holding Iraq after the Saddamists fell would take in excess of 250K troops.

And don't forget the Operation Forward Together was a "surge" that became permanent and was an utter failure.

And while we are at it -- what is this ecomonic development stuff? Halliburton, et al have been spending money like it is going out of style in Iraq with little to show for it. AND they imported alot of labor (from the Phillipines, from Pakistan, from Nigeria) to do it. This is part of the craziness that we are paying for. They should have been employing Iraqis from the start -- a man who is busy bringing home the bacon for his family does not have much time left over for insurgencies.

I am calling my reps and Senators to day too to recommend that they make BushCo come up with something better than more of the same failures.

Posted by: cassandra m on January 10, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

There's a run on Radio Shack this morning. Folks are buying up surge protecters for Bush's speech tonight.

Posted by: curveball on January 10, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the question:
If the surge succeeds, what will it have done? Will this give us the victory we need so we can go home?
Or will it enable us to stay and die some more?
As with everything about this war and this occupation, there are never any objectives cited--and therefore no way to judge whether anything has worked. So, of course, we just have to take Georgie's word for it.
Seriously, are they saying that this surge will win the entire war? Pacify the warring factions? Magically turn all the lights back on, like at the end of TRON?

Posted by: pbg on January 10, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Sometime during the last election, I believe it was Kerry or Biden suggested that we bring the Iraqi troops to the US or Europe for training. I can't imaging the cost would be greater the what is currently being expended, and it might do what US boot camp has been doing for generations, breaking down regional allegiances and forging new common bonds among the troops. Urging such a change would show a realistic new approach that changes the current course and does not involve more US troop presence.

Posted by: BobPM on January 10, 2007 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ya think that when we're done rebuilding Iraq we can have a renewed effort in America? Maybe use some of that money for things like education and health care here?

Tell ya what. Go to the Federal budget documents online, tally up what we spent in 2006 on entitlements, health care, welfare, housing, other social programs, and education. Now take $100 billion, which is about what the war has cost per year, and see what kind of dent it makes in that immense number.

Just a hint: $100 billion would cover just Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for about five weeks.

Posted by: kelly on January 10, 2007 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Good article in the Style section of today's Washington Post about a DC lawyer named Adam Tiffen who served with the Guard in Iraq. He has a blog called The Replacements.

The article goes into detail about how Tiffen's platoon spent six months pacifying a town outside of Baghdad called Saba-al-Bor. They left the town relatively peaceful and handed off their pacification role to a group of replacements. He went on to other assignments and then came home.

After he was home a few weeks he got copied with an article about how Saba-al-Bor had been transferred back to Iraqi hands by Tiffen's replacements and the town had become a bloody battlefield, complete with decapitated corpses, bodies every morning, death squads.

The point is that escalation may give a temporary impression of success but not eliminate the root conflicts of the Iraqi civil war, which will flare back up as soon as the Coalition of the Willing leaves.

So what's Bush's point of his New Way Forward? Sounds like he wants to make a temporary impression of success through 2008 and then hand off the ultimate failure of his policies to his successor.

Opponents of the Surge need to stand firm. It's pointless to increase US troops now. Even Tony Blair doesn't support Bush on this.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 10, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

My Quote of the Day:

'First, it's largely confined to the arts of war. There is no equivalent in our government when it comes to health care or education, retirement or housing. No well-funded government think-tanks and lousy-with-loot research organizations are ready to let anyone loose dreaming about our planet's endangered environment, for instance. The future -- the only one our government seems truly to care about -- is most distinctly not good for you. It's a totally weaponized, grimly dystopian health hazard for the planet.' - Pentagon Dystopia
Tom Engelhardt - http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?pid=155768

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 10, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Once the Iraqi people learn about the plans to liberate their oil fields by our oil companies, they will lay down their arms and bring out more flowers and candy.

Posted by: asdfg on January 10, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: "The Objective Historian" (alice/keiser on slightly more effective meds) advising people to think.

Posted by: Gregory on January 10, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

TOH, your gloom and doom forecasts remind me of how we were told that if we withdraw from Vietnam we would be fighting the communists next in Hawaii, and then in Peoria. I seem to recall that this did not happen.

As far as Iranian control of oil, no. The historic ethnic tensions between the Arab Shia of Iraq and the Persian Shia of Iran indicate that Iranian control of Iragi oil is a false boogey man. Influence, yes; control no - unless of course our military actions drive the Iraqi Shia into the hands of the Iranian mullahs as a matter of life or death.

No, your exhortations are not objective, but only partisan grasps at straws to rally support for an American regime that has found more ways to fail than any in my memory.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

No, no, let me put down another bet! I'm due, man!...

This really made me laugh Craigie. Then I realized that it truly is a tragedy, Bush is gambling with other people's lives and our money.

Posted by: ckelly on January 10, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

How is sedning 20K more troops into Baghdad going to stop the violence happening in the rest of the country?

Seriously ... we only have control of 3 of 18 provinces (or something close to that). Is this another "trickle-down" idea, where Bush thinks that if peace is restored in a single city, the rest of the country will just become a land of love and flowers?

Also, if I hear Bush say "this new strategy ... " I may drive to DC just so I can punch him in the mouth. IT'S NOT A STRATEGY! It's a tactic. They have no strategy, as evidenced by the clusterfuck they've created.

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 10, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Welcome back, Trashhauler. I trust your surgery went very well?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 10, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

TOH-

Just once, I would like the folks who feel as you on this issue to be able to clearly show me what realistic threats to US security would eminate from an Iraq free of its American targets.

I am not so nieve as to assert that there would not be negative consequences. There would be.

I believe that those consequences can be managed more effectively and humanely than with the blunt and so far ineffective instrument of US military occupation and escalation.

Show me the battalion of unaligned experts on whom you base your views. That's the least we should require from those whose plans will cause so much death and destruction and still not be successful.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Stacks of Counter-Insurgency books stacked in corners - What a waste of the time and effort of the writers of those plans. Can not they be put to good use? Why not the old college method many of us used - Stack them so doors from homes of "insurgents" our troops have kicked down, can be placed on top to create desks for the new war plans to save Shrub's Kingdom which can then be stacked atop them. Perhaps Halliburton can build them at, say, $100,000 a pop.

Iraq is truly becoming an "Alice in Wonderland" event.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 10, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Notice that in the rare event a timeline is given for the surge it is 12 to 18 months. Let's consider that.

Why would it be usefull to make minor gains in Iraq from now to the middle of 2008? Is it because we think the insurgents can't wait out 18 months of slightly increased troop levels? Or is it because making them wait it out will *look* like we've made progress just in time for campaign '08?

Posted by: Gex on January 10, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

>>Iraq is truly becoming an "Alice in Wonderland" event.
Posted by: thethirdPaul

Where the task is to believe at least three impossible things before breakfast ala The Red Queen?

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 10, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "Those "renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq" better be good ..."

I think it's safe to say that we can count on the Bush administration to perform at or near the optimum level of its prior well-established standards for performance in Iraq.

And therein lies the problem.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 10, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK
We've got people - friends and relatives - over there working hard, fighting under dangerous conditions. They'll be there in Iraq and the region for some time to come, no matter what the President or anybody else wants.

Only when the words in that statement are interpreted so vaguely as to make the entire statement a grand equivocation. What decisions are made by the political leadership of this country, especially the President, has considerable influence on how long Americans are exposed to dangerous conditions in Iraq and the region, how much they are exposed to those conditions while they are in teh region, and how dangerous the conditions are in the region.

Your attempt to absolve the US government, and particularly the President, of any responsibility for the deployment of US troops and the conditions they experience in that deployment is shameful.

I remember when "personal responsibility" was a watchword of the Right.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Google_This: Note to Mendacious Marler: The generals were asking for more troops in the beginning and through the middle part of the insurgency, when they might have done some good; now after it is too late and more troops are not the answer, Bush sends more troops.

And the numbers they said they needed in the beginning were an order of magnitude greater than 20,000.

Posted by: anandine on January 10, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Ooops:

'Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.' And, of course it's the White Queen.

Demerits to me.

And: 'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 10, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I am not so naive as to assert that there would not be negative consequences. There would be.

I believe that those consequences can be managed more effectively and humanely than with the blunt and so far ineffective instrument of US military occupation and escalation.

Tell us how. Details, please. The Democrats have had no viable alternatives other than unconditional surrender since the war started.

Posted by: monkeybone on January 10, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK
The comparisons to Viet Nam are apt in many respects, but these comparisions do not reveal the gravity of the situation. Viet Nam was not sitting on top of the world's supply of oil.

Neither—quite—is Iraq. Admittedly, its sitting on top of significant oil reserves (which is why the US is involved there) and also central to a region with even more oil reserves, but then, that's a difference in degree, rather than kind, to the situation of Vietnam and the South China Sea.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK
The Democrats have had no viable alternatives other than unconditional surrender since the war started.

I don't think you know what the phrase "unconditional surrender" means. A complete pull-out from Iraq would not be unconditional surrender by the US.

What Japan and Germany did at the end of WWII was "unconditional surrender".

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

maybe if the sauds stopped sending jihadis to anbar, it might quiet down a little. oh, my mistake, saudis would never do anything to harm americans.

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think you know what the phrase "unconditional surrender" means. A complete pull-out from Iraq would not be unconditional surrender by the US.

Withdrawing our troops from Iraq in the face of an active enemy, during an ongoing shooting war, on a specific deadline, without regard for preconditions of any kind, is what the Democrats have been proposing. You can slap as much lipstick on that pig as you want.

Posted by: monkeybone on January 10, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

as long as we don't talk to the iranians, cause they attacked us, once, wait -- cause they invaded their neighbors, no that's not it -- cause they would be the first country in the region to have a nuc -- hold on, cause they insist on religion's central role in govern -- shit, i want my million body count award! help me, joe!

Posted by: dubya on January 10, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK
Withdrawing our troops from Iraq in the face of an active enemy, during an ongoing shooting war, on a specific deadline, without regard for preconditions of any kind, is what the Democrats have been proposing.

Yeah, because that "active shooting war" is not, and has no prospect in any circumstances of, serving the interests of the United States.

You seem to worship war for its own sake, without any regard to what purpose is to be served by it.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

as long as we don't talk to the iranians...

What do you propose to tell them?

What will you say that will suddenly cause them to see the light, and decide that they are okay with a Western-sympathetic democracy next door? Will it be anything along the lines of what the U.S., Europe, and the United Nations have been telling Iran to keep them from building atom bombs? Is that working?

Talks are not an end. They are a means.

Posted by: monkeybone on January 10, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

It is clear that life for the average Iraqi isn't better, the water supply line in Baghdad was cut today, insurgents were blamed (?), we already know electricity is undependable. The many deaths the families have experienced, continued gunfire, fear for their children--that's the reality there. George wants to prove he's no wimp and aspires to seize additional neo-conservative political power here at home--- in the guise of eliminating the last terrorist on the planet.
Our continued occupation is a cause of terror.
What is all this money being used for? Bush/McCain and Lieberman are trying
to get us into an ill-fated, wider war.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 10, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK
maybe if the sauds stopped sending jihadis to anbar, it might quiet down a little. oh, my mistake, saudis would never do anything to harm americans.

If the Saudis stopped exporting frustrated extremists that are unsatisfied with the status quo in the Middle East, the Saudi royals would have to deal with them more at home.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone:

Define "the enemy." Thanks.

cmdicely:

Nice :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 10, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone, iran is the only country in the world that's glad that we invaded iraq. now that we've helped set up a shi'ite-dominated government. iran will have more influence than ever -- especially if we throw maliki under the bus and back al-hakim (the u.s. government is about to throw their weight behind the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- imagine that! but i digress) they would like to solidify the government in power, without the kurds splitting off.

What do they gain from the violence in iraq? What would we lose by talking to all of iraq's neighbors? -- it's really pathological that the only answer i hear to those questions is the "PR victory" they would gain. the holy joes think this is more valuable than the lives of our soldiers. as do you, apparently.

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

a Western-sympathetic democracy next door?

is that the current democracy that includes the muqtada faction, or the democracy in which, to marginalize al-sadr, we support the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq?

Talks are not an end. They are a means.

That's true. You got a point?

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Tell us how.

Just a few quick thought before lunch

1)A US military that is largely tapped out for at least a decade. That is the greatest threat to our security that I can imagine. Nation-states who have reason to be concerned about our military are less concerned these days.

2)If we quickly draw down we can begin implementing the fix immediately and vigorously and restore our military to a credible long-term threat to those who want to harm us.

3)Sitting on oil does not pay the bills. That only happens when you pump it and sell it. Right now neither Iraq nor Iran can get oil out of the ground fast enough to meet their dire economic needs. That is one reason why Iran wants to develop nuclear power ASAP. Of course there are other reasons too. Neither Iraq nor Iran is likely to really want to use oil as a weapon against us. In fact if we were to finds ways to help Iran update its decaying oil infrastructure, so much the better toward good will.

Monkey, you seem to be a “hammer kind of guy” and everything to you looks like a nail.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone, you've gotta mighty familiar sound aboutchoo.

Posted by: shortstop on January 10, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK
What will you say that will suddenly cause them to see the light, and decide that they are okay with a Western-sympathetic democracy next door?

I think the idea that a regime could be produced by outside impetus in Iraq that was simultaneously "Western sympathetic" and a "democracy" has always been somewhat foolishly optimistic.

Talks are not an end. They are a means.

True of talks, likewise true of war. Which isn't, it might be noted, producing a viable Western-sympathetic democracy in Iraq, either.

So, maybe we shouldn't discard the idea of talks with Iran simply because they don't seem a valid means to an ends that is not apparently attainable by alternative means, either. Instead, we need to figure out what reasonably can be accomplished in our interest, and what means can reasonably be expected to produce those results.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 10, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

also, let's keep in mind the results of the last iranian election (couple weeks ago) ahmadinejiad's party got spanked. of course the MSM sits on it to better scare the rubes for the upcoming action.

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Benjoya - I tried to get the word out on the Iranian Thumpin.'

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 10, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Let's try that again with a working link...

I tried to get the word out on the Iranian Thumpin.'

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 10, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Just a hint: $100 billion would cover just Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for about five weeks."

US military spending is slightly more than medicare + medicaid.

It's not just the $100 billion in extra short term costs for the war every year, its the other $400+ billion every year to maintain an oversized military.

Posted by: jefff on January 10, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

benjoya quote: 'monkeybone, iran is the only country in the world that's glad that we invaded iraq'.

I think there was one other country that was OK with us invading Iraq. I believe Joe Lieberman is its senator....

Posted by: Paul in KY on January 10, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

thanks, global. good link. but as far as your speculation

You can bet that the Bush team will try to spin this as a victory for him

Would that it were. there's no way to spin the iranian election that doesn't eat away at the image of a monolithic iran that we should have no qualms about bombing (all the while spouting pieties about the 'democratic aspirations of the iranian people'). so they shut up about it. as has the media, again, to better scare the rubes.

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, as far as the initial push, you may be right (although the sauds and kuwaitis were glad to have us rid them of saddam, as well), but only iran has really benefited from the war as a whole.

i'm sure before the war sane voices in israel realized an iran-influenced quasi-theocracy was more dangerous to israel than a secular arab nationalist loon like saddam. these sane voices were drowned out there, as they were here.

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

It is interesting that conservatives consistently (when promoting their own agenda that is) maintain that the collective judgment of the American people is far superior to the judgment of the Washington elites (e.g., in this case, Bush, Cheney, et al.), but when that collective judgment is at odds with the plans of their mendacious and bloviating political god-figure (Bush), they demand that the collective judgment be rejected in favor of the now sage wisdom of those who they claim are the public's betters.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

on further thought, the saudis have benefited from the war as a whole -- crippling their biggest economic competitor AND giving them a cause celebre to get rid of their jihadis.

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Benjoya. If you go to that site and type "Iran" in the search bar at the top you'll get a deluge of posts. It's an obsession of mine.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 10, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think there was one other country that was OK with us invading Iraq.

I find discussions about support for the war (in advance) to be incomplete and just not rational, to wit:

If someone offered/garenteed to repair your car totally, quickly and well below market; one might be very likely to say yes.

Unfortunately now when you walk in the shop, your car is in 1000 pieces, with no hope of a quick repair, the bill quickly approaching what you paid for it and the shop owner can only blame the voices echoing in his head.

You've been had and there is not much to be done, except maybe right it off and move on.


Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone, I'd send you $5 to buy a clue, but I'm afraid you wouldn't know what to do with it and then the five bucks would be a waste.

So instead I think I'll use that $5 for something only slightly more useful like funding research for cures for right-wing cravenness, mendacity, arrogance, power-lust, and stupidity.

Posted by: Google_This on January 10, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I heard on NPR last night that it is the surge that Dems MAY block funding for, not the efforts on the ground as of now. A Dem said it would be difficult to seperate the two which is where I got my idea. Am I incorrect in embracing that?

Posted by: zit on January 10, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

What will you say that will suddenly cause them to see the light, and decide that they are okay with a Western-sympathetic democracy next door? Will it be anything along the lines of what the U.S., Europe, and the United Nations have been telling Iran to keep them from building atom bombs? Is that working?

Iran already has a "Western-sympathetic democracy" next door. It's called Turkey.

Posted by: Arminius on January 10, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

benjoya commented: 'i'm sure before the war sane voices in israel realized an iran-influenced quasi-theocracy was more dangerous to israel than a secular arab nationalist loon like saddam. these sane voices were drowned out there, as they were here.'

Thank you for your quick response. IMO, Israel (the Likud side, anyway) thinks or thought that Iraq was more dangerous than Iran because Israel is surrounded by Sunni Arabs for most part & Saddam was a Sunni Arab who could conceivably inspire a Pan-Arab style challenge to Israel's territorial ambitions. Iran can/could never do that, simply because they are not Arab (and not Sunni also).

Posted by: Paul in KY on January 10, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Zit, as I recall, the last Congress already approved the next year's (to Oct 2007) defense spending.

I believe that the Pentagon can use that $ for escalation. Of course other programs would be shorted.

At best Democrats could propose something like the Boland Amendment (remember Iran-Contra?), but that would be a rather blut instrument and could backfire.

Posted by: Keith G on January 10, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Lex has a good draft for his next Truthout post up at P E J News http://pej.org/html.index.php
Look for George and the Fruits of Victory ( Lead Story )
If you think that establishing pipeline security might be easier when there are no locals nor local interference : that's about the only "rationale" I can think of for any of this shit. Is it genocide when traditional enemies are encouraged to do each other in ?

Posted by: opit on January 10, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, funny we're discussing this. http://www.forward.com/articles/israeli-experts-say-middle-east-was-safer-with-sad/">The Forward writes: "Israeli Experts Say Middle East Was Safer With Saddam in Iraq"

Posted by: benjoya on January 10, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen wrote:

"Welcome back, Trashhauler. I trust your surgery went very well?"
_______________

It went very well, indeed, GC, thanks very much. I just got back home today and I'm still rather woozy.

The surgeon was pleasantly surprised (as was I) that I have gained substantial sensitivity in all four limbs. I actually have hope of regaining some mobility lost years ago. In the meantime, I'll rely on friends to drive me to therapy and I'll catch up on my writing.

Hope everyone had a pleasant holiday season.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 10, 2007 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

benjoya, thank's for the link to 'Forward'. IMO, the article sort of dovetails with what I've said up above. The article is written in hindsight & my comments were related to what the Likudnicks in Israel thought back before this whole fiasco began. The article mentions how dangerous they 'thought' Saddam was & how he turned out not to be so dangerous to Israel (in hindsight, of course). Therefore, I will stand by my previous posts on this subject.

Posted by: Paul in KY on January 11, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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