Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 22, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SURGE UPDATE....It's hard to know whether the surge has had any success yet in Baghdad, but it certainly seems to have had an effect in Diyala province:

Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi soldiers here have risen sharply in recent months, a problem compounded by an influx of fighters in search of safer havens outside Baghdad. Many of the insurgents are well-trained, highly mobile fighters who refuse to get dragged into open confrontations in which American forces can deploy their overpowering weaponry.

....Since November, when the 5,000-member 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division deployed to Diyala, at least 46 American soldiers have died in the fighting, officers said. Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed in the province from October 2005 to October 2006, according to a Washington Post database.

That's an increase from about one death per month to 8 per month. The answer? Send 2,000 more U.S. troops to Diyala. Sigh.

Read the rest for more. It's not entirely bad news (there's some evidence that American troops are taking advantage of splits among the various insurgent factions), but the rays of sunshine are mighty small among the widening gloom.

Kevin Drum 3:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Gonzalez!

Posted by: none on April 22, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the sound of Garry Owen, as Major Reno and his merry band of 2,000 of the 7th Cavalry come over the hill to save the lst Cav.

Purge the Surge and come home.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 22, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

They send more troops to Baqubah but the Shiite cleansing continues. The 'surge' has been executed as a way to lay seige to the Shiites.

Posted by: Brojo on April 22, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

This is beautiful.

Once we empty Baghdad of the enemy, we can go to Diyala to do the samething, then on to Kirkuk, and then to Basra and then to Fallujah and back to Baghdad again.

Who says the surge is not working? Who says GWB dosn't have a plan?

Posted by: gregor on April 22, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's a shell game - with live shells!!!

Seriously - there is nothing new about this "new way forward." The tactics they are resorting to have been tried in the past and failed spectacularly.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

It is simple, Kevin -- just kill all our enemies while not creating any new ones. Then: Victory, Peace, and Democracy.

Easy.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on April 22, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Matt Yglesias get's it exactly right today, in response to rightwing voices who ask if a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a good idea. He sets out what should happen - if the country were run by reasonable people. But it isn't, the sensible thing can't happen.

"Congressional Iraq plans, meanwhile, have an air of arbitrariness about them since congress isn't staffed properly to assess the relevant operational issues. And the administration won't let the military do any planning for withdrawal. So, naturally, Democrats are left with non-optimal proposals to put forward. And this is then used as a reason to support the very administration whose terrible policy are forcing us into this corner in the first place."

I don't know about you, but I'm heartily sick of those pro-war individuals who think saying "well, what would your plan be?" is any argument in favor of Bush's non-plan. It's like the arsonist asking someone to put out the fire in the barn while said arsonist insists on bolting the door and starting new fires.

Any real plan has to begin by locking up the arsonist. That can't be done, so the next best bet is taking the aronist's matches away from him - which is why congress should take the step of defunding the occupation.

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on April 22, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK


What Iraq needs is more whack-a-mole.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 22, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"... but the rays of sunshine are mighty small among the widening gloom."

Rather poetic.

Well-written.

Posted by: consider wisely always on April 22, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

So that's the good news??
..."there's some evidence that American troops are taking advantage of splits among the various insurgent factions)"
Jeezus Chryst. We are in deep do-do if the bright spot is that we are happily encouraging a civil war within a civil war to make things better.
Hello?!? Crazy Sh*t.

Posted by: Johnny2Bad on April 22, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

another mixed review here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/21/AR2007042101471_2.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: spider on April 22, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Love the smell of Vietnam analogies in the morning....

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 22, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

like maybe "Strategic Hamlet"?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

also in Diyala province:


It is hard to tell from most of these accounts what the Iraqi forces do, if anything. They process prisoneres, and talk with locals, and "support" American actions.

Posted by: spider on April 22, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

We had to build a wall around them so they could be free and pursue liberty and hapiness just like us!

Wonderful!

Posted by: gregor on April 22, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the term we are casting about for, Gregor, is "ghettoization."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

One man's ghetto is another man's opportunity.

Posted by: CEO @ Halliburton on April 22, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a shell game - with live shells!!!"

Brilliant, Blue Girl.

But Kevin, don't say "sigh".
That's "Yippee!" in mhr talk.

Posted by: Kenji on April 22, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

a comment on the bombing at Tal Afar:

http://www.mudvillegazette.com/milblogs/2007/04/01/#008387

Was the Iraqi army effective at quelling reprisals?

Posted by: spider on April 22, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

[a href=""]text to link[/a]

change the brackets to less than/greater than and copy your link between the "" (no spaces please) and you have a clickable link!

On principle I don't read links posted by those to lazy to learn to link. I am not alone. If the link is worth posting, learn to post links!!!

[/bitchiness]

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about you, but I'm heartily sick of those pro-war individuals who think saying "well, what would your plan be?"

Vermont Senator George Aiken was asked 'How can we possibly leave Vietnam?? His answer: "Declare victory, and leave." When pressed on the same question, his answer: "Ships, mostly."

It's hard to improve on the classics.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on April 22, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a link to the best single thing I've seen written about Iraq in the last year:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tish-durkin/iraq-a-place-of-ambivale_b_45145.html

I sent this to Global Girl a while ago but didn't get a response.

Posted by: minion on April 22, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

What email did you send it to? I culled a few out - there was a Kudzu-quality after all these years.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

For all those rove repukes that read this blog; what was the mission in Iraq 4 years ago? What is the mission today? cleve

Posted by: cleve on April 22, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

another comment here:

http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/04/al_qaeda_on_the_offe.php

Posted by: spider on April 22, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul: "Ah, the sound of Garry Owen, as Major Reno and his merry band of 2,000 of the 7th Cavalry come over the hill to save the lst Cav."

A decent historical analogy -- except that the real Major Marcus Reno of the 7th Cavalry, having witnessed a Crow scout get his head shot to pieces right in front of him, lost his nerve at the Battle of Little Big Horn, and thus rendered himself next to inconsequential for the remainder of that engagement.

It was probably just as well. Reno could never have saved Gen. George Custer and the 215 men who rode with him from their rendezvous with fate that day, so at least most of the 200 men under his own command, as well as the nearly 200 men under Capt. Will Benteen -- who were guarding Custer's supply train -- survived the debacle.

Incidentally, do you know what Custer's final communique to Benteen said?

"Benteen: Come quick! Big village!"

A little something for the rest of us to think about, before George W. Bush sounds the clarion call for war with Iran.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 22, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Diyala province is probably the most ethnically diverse province in all of Iraq-Kurds in the north and mixed Sunni/Shia Arabs everywhere else. If you are going to be dividing up Iraq or forming "regions" out of provinces later on Diyala would be a "border state" of sorts that likely will be hotly contested.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 22, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Minion, now I'm puzzled. I am not finding your message. Did you leave it in comments? I would skipped on by if it was in comments and not clickable. If that was the case, it got lost when I upgraded my comment system.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

In what scenario has the U.S. a prayer of winning another countries civil war? Makes as much sense as if Germany had declared themselves the winner of ours a century and a half ago.

How many more lives are you willing to sacrifice I wonder?

And are you encouraging everyone under the age of 43 to join up? Do your duty mhr - you support this clusterfuck, explain to your kids and nieces and nephews that they have to go fight, kill and die because your president is a chickenshit coward and a craven miscreant who has never done anything right in his entire miserable, misspent life.

Get on it. Get your loved ones to put some skin in the game!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously - there is nothing new about this "new way forward." The tactics they are resorting to have been tried in the past and failed spectacularly.

Sheesh -- one of the reason Petraeus calls for so many troops to suppress an insurgency is so they don't/i> have freedom of movement. We dont have enough troops to prevent them moving around, and Bush obligingly showed em our new bases on TV the other day, so all they have to do is -- wait for it -- go somewhere else and wait us out. Sound familiar?

Posted by: Gregory on April 22, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

The "surge" is like this:

There is a dike in a country with 100 holes in it through which water is pouring.

A town in the [host] country is allegedly threatened with desruction if the dike is not repaired by the nation led by Princess Bushie

The dike and its repair have no consequence to the security of the nation led by the Princess.

A boy approaches the Princess and tells him that if 100 people can be found and each sticks a finger in each of the 100 holes and the dike's structure is reinforced, then dike (and town) might be saved.

The Princess tells the boy to go stick his finger in one of the holes.

The boy does so and the water stops flowing through that hole.

Another hole pops up 50 feet away, resulting in an undiminished total of 100 leaks in the dike, but it is ignored by the Princess.

With great pompousness and self-conceit, the Princess announces to all the world that the boy's plan is working and there has been improvement [unsaid that it is simply in the local situation, the immediate locality of the hole plugged], dishonestly implying to the citizenry of both countries that this local improvement is in accordance with the boy's original plan and represents a global improvement in the dike's structure and the security of the host country as a whole, despite knowing that this isn't even remotely a true implication.

The Princess also proclaims that saving the dike has saved the country led by the Princess.

The Princess's followers, especially Duchess McCainnie, chime in and encourage this false belief, dishonestly insisting that those who criticize the Princess's plan and announcement are disrespecting the boy's plan, unwarrantedly undermining the Princess, and ignoring real improvement in the situation.

They castigate the critics for placing the country led by the Princess in danger, despite knowing this to be a false assertion.

The people of the country led by the Princess despair because they know the Princess will continue to lie about and implement this failed plan no matter how many people are drowned or how many businesses and houses are destroyed.

And they know that the Princess's possible successor, Countess Chainnie, is even worse.

The Countess believes (or at least purports to believe) that there are no holes in the dike.

Posted by: anonymous on April 22, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

We're winning. Violence down in Bagdad 80%. Anbar province turning the corner as the local shieks finally turn on the insurgents. Local warlords turning on Al Qeada in Wazzirstan.

Bush has already one. Now Patraus is just putting the cherry on top.

The Bush crowd was right, and you guys can't stand it. These threads are so far from reality it's scary? Why don't you guys fly off to Iraq and witness the progress for yourselves, rather than getting everything spoonfed to you through your liberal media.

Posted by: egbert on April 22, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, egbert. Have you enlisted yet?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

The big question and problem around all this is: just whose side are we on, anyway, when we talk about "The Iraqi Government"? Since Malaki is pushing Shia dominance, and the insurgents are mostly Sunnis fighting back, what the hell kind of good operation can depend on supporting one side of a civil war?

Posted by: Neil B. on April 22, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

And remember - Maliki and Bush don't communicate.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

TLB, WATB, kinda interchangeable, doncha think?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Damn. Wrong thread.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 22, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

The absolute nerve of some people - Why, in Iraq, we are trying to save a splendid new Condo subdivision by building a Berlin style wall around it - Bringing a little Yuppie life to Baghdad, and some clown, probably a busy body, has suggested that we stop.

Now, who the hell does this guy al-Maliki think he is? Next thing, these uppity Iraqis will be trying to run our colony themselves.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 22, 2007 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

The surge is supposed to reduce violence in Baghdad. Violence in Baghdad has indeed reduced. But, Kevin says, "It's hard to know whether the surge has had any success yet in Baghdad."

The surge was not aimed at Diyala province. Violence in Diyala province has gone up. So, Kevin says, [the surge] certainly seems to have had an effect in Diyala province." Meaning, an adverse effect.

According to Kevin, it's hard to know what to make the improvements in Baghdad, but the worsening in Diyala is the fault of the surge.

I think Kevin is bending over backwards to look for reasons to believe that the surge is failing.

Posted by: ex-liberal on April 23, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

the rays of sunshine are mighty small among the widening gloom.

True, but they are numerous. It's not so much that the gloom is widening, as that it keeps moving around.

Doc at radar station: If you are going to be dividing up Iraq or forming "regions" out of provinces later on Diyala would be a "border state" of sorts that likely will be hotly contested.

Diyala is being ethnically cleansed. that is, Sunnis are removing from predominantly Shia areas, and Shias are removing from predominantly Sunni areas. As in tal afar, there are areas where the locals of both main groups cooperate against outsiders, but a large separation has been taking place.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 23, 2007 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler: It's not so much that the gloom is widening, as that it keeps moving around.

That's not much better. We don't have the capability to keep chasing it. The situation needs to be stabilized, at least in key areas, and in short order.

Posted by: has407 on April 23, 2007 at 3:57 AM | PERMALINK

You mean you are questioning the Compassionate Conservative's strategy for killing our way to peace in the Middle East???

Call the Dept. of Homeland Security!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 23, 2007 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps FAUX Lib could share tales about any "surges" from his Yellow Cab passengers. Sorta his own HBO knockoff.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 23, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

For several years I was a drug & alcohol counselor on the Northern Cheyenne and Sioux Reservation in the town of Ashland, Montana, only a few miles from Custer's last stand. Custer's objective that day was to locate and harass plains tribes people into returning to their reservations. Custer had no idea how many warriors that might include.

He should have known that many Indians would be better armed than his own troops, who were carrying single shot Springfield carbines. Many of the Indians owned Henry or Winchester repeaters and more than a few had their own .50 caliber buffalo rifles.

Actually, Custer from higher ground observed Reno to be under serious attack and Custer could have chosen to swoop down from the ridge and relieve the pressure on Reno's men who were falling back. Instead, Custer chose to continue along the ridge, probably thinking he would take the Indians in the rear and trap the Indian warriors between his force and Reno. This might have worked, had there not been so many Indians.

What is really interesting is that the whole U.S. Army did not mobilize the next year. The decision was made to send a few thousand infantry soldiers backed by artillery and Gatling guns. The vaunted mobility of the plains Indians on their ponies had a serious flaw in it in that the warriors were tied to their villages and the villages were really not that mobile and not capable of subsisting except at certain locations where the nomads had been camping for a few hundreds years. In fact, these peoples had only been nomads since the Spanish arrived and brought horses back to North America. Previous to that they had been subsistence farmers in Arkansas and Missouri.

At any rate, the U.S. infantry marched along steadily and before long had the Indians in a vice grip. Gen. Nelson Miles demonstrated great personal bravery in negotiating with the Indians in very tense meetings between the lines and a great loss of life was prevented on both sides. It would be many years later before the Wounded Knee debacle would "revenge" Custer, but that was a whole 'nuther story, one eerily similar in many ways to the behavior of the federal forces that surrounded the Branch Davidian compound at Waco.

Posted by: mike cook on April 23, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK


kd: That's an increase from about one death per month to 8 per month. The answer? Send 2,000 more U.S. troops to Diyala. Sigh.

hey.....they volunteered....

Posted by: g.w.b. on April 23, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK
"The war is lost." Words from that liberal profile in courage, Harry Reid….mh rat 7:44 PM
As opposed to whom, the cowards in the White House like Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfield who are holding the troops hostage to Bush's ego or the cowardly war mongers like yourself who want to see more die needlessly for a failed policy built on lies?
…... bending over backwards to look for reasons ....ex-lax at 12:35 AM
ex-lax is bending over forwards to make up alibis for Bush
…Diyala is being ethnically cleansed… MatthewRMarler at 2:25 AM
Ethnic cleansing is now the RepubliConTarian measure of success.
…The decision was made to send a few thousand infantry soldiers backed by artillery and Gatling guns.… one eerily similar in many ways to the behavior of the federal forces that surrounded the Branch Davidian compound at Waco.mike kook at 10:53 AM
Both are in no way similar to the Bush debacle in Iraq, and neither is in any way similar to the siege of the child molester David Koresh, whose own followers killed ATF agents and burned their buildings. What is the obsession of Republicans to defend a child molester? Posted by: Mike on April 23, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Its basically just a retread of the Strategic Hamlets approach that was a horrifying failure in Vietnam."
_________________

Interesting. However, it shouls be said that while the Pentagon Papers revealed the problems the program had, the reasons for it's failure were scenario-specific and unrelated to the concept itself.

GC, in what way was the failure "horrifying?"

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 23, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"kd: That's an increase from about one death per month to 8 per month. The answer? Send 2,000 more U.S. troops to Diyala. Sigh."
__________________

Well, it's not the US military's function to avoid casualties. Our function is to defeat the enemy wherever he can be found. When you engage the enemy, he always gets a chance to shoot back.

While forcing the action out of Bagdad can be called "what-a-mole," it isn't really. The idea is to force the enemy to abandon long-prepared infrastructure and arrangements. Forcing them into the smaller communities makes them both more visible and less well-supported.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 23, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I meant "whack-a-mole."

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 23, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler- you are kidding, right?

I mean, you know I have read the Pentagon Papers. You are asking a question you know the answer to for the benefit of the rest of the class. Fine. I will play along.

“Strategic Hamlets” failed because there was a lack of common understanding. I believe the Pentagon Papers described it as not so much as three blind men describing an elephant as three blind men trying to construct an appropriate body on the skeleton of the elephant independent of one anothers plans or input.

The horrifying failure of which I speak culminated in the coup that toppled the Diem government and he and his brother were executed. The plan died with them.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 23, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

[Defend Koresh elsewhere. Don't do it here.]

Posted by: mike cook on April 24, 2007 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Now you are turning into nasty little small-minded censors. I obviously wasn't defending Koresh, but highlighting the fact that the FBI disastrously ignored all of its own protocols for hostage situations. Also I made an analogy between the leftist idea that it is sometimes OK to defy government authority when the police are acting illegally and the possibility that the pretext for the original ATF raid on the Waco compound was pretty lame.

I really am astounded to be deleted on my last post. As usual, I used no profanity or Imus-style remarks, made no threats, and tried not to be too insulting. It must have been the idea itself that was so upsetting!

Posted by: mike cook on April 24, 2007 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

From a Marine captain in Anbar Province, courtesy OpFor.com:

All,

I just wanted to let you know what is happening where I am in Iraq. I don't want to say this is in response to Harry Reid, but his comments the other day are not in line with what we're seeing.

We are winning over here in Al Anbar province. I don't know about Baghdad, but Ramadi was considered THE hotspot in Al Anbar, the worse province, and it has been very quiet. The city is calm, the kids are playing in the streets, the local shops are open, the power is on at night, and daily commerce is the norm rather than the exception. There have been no complex attacks since March. That is HUGE progress. This quiet time is allowing the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police to establish themselves in the eyes of the people. The Iraqi people also want IA's and IP's in their areas. The Sunni Sheiks are behind us and giving us full support. This means that almost all Sunnis in Al Anbar are now committed to supporting the US and Iraqi forces. It also means that almost all insurgents left out here are AQ. FYI, the surge is just beginning. Gen Petraeus' strategy is just getting started and we're seeing huge gains here.

However, you don't see Harry Reid talking about this. When I saw what he said, it really pissed me off. That guy does not know what is going on over here because he hasn't bothered to come and find out. The truth on the ground in Al Anbar is not politically convenient for him, so he completely ignored it.

This war can be won. We just need the time to get the IA and IP operating on their own. Gen Petraeus is treating the war like a counter-insurgency rather than a stability operation. For non-military personnel, there is a HUGE difference between the two. What we've been doing in Iraq since Petraeus took over is completely different than what we were doing under Gen Casey. However, you don't hear the press or the democrats say that. Most of them are too committed to saying we've lost to further their own political agendas that they cannot acknowledge we're doing something totally different and it is working.

Posted by: Trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

And I can find another entry by another Captain that says it's FUBAR and we ought to bug out. What's your point?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 24, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

The point is, BG, that not many people here will even acknowledge that most military people still do not think the "war is lost," with all their posts about military uprisings and such. I don't know how many folks here read the milblogs regularly, but for most of us the idea of support still includes support for the mission, not simply treating the military men and women as victims.

I agree that one letter from one captain doesn't prove anything, though there are hundreds of such around other sites. I just figured few here had ever read such a letter. Or cared. It doesn't fit the narrative.

Posted by: trashhauler on April 24, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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