Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SPINNING THE WAR....The Pentagon said today that Iraq's security forces are still incapable of keeping order and need to be expanded yet again, this time by 20,000 soldiers:

Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years — five years in the case of protecting its airspace — and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq.

....The remarks follow other blunt comments by U.S. military commanders that civilian deaths and attacks on U.S. troops have recently risen and that particularly tough fighting is expected in the coming months....Describing the U.S. effort in Iraq as a labor of Sisyphus, [Dempsey] said the metaphoric stone is "probably rolling back a bit right now in Baghdad. But I don't think it's going to roll over us."

Man, they are really working overtime to lower expectations before September rolls around. The last couple of weeks have been dedicated to nonstop declarations that we should expect (a) an increase in violence this summer, (b) no political progress to speak of, and (c) an even more disfunctional and sectarian Iraqi security apparatus than we have now. By the time Petraeus's progress report arrives, they'll be telling us we should count the surge a success as long as things are no more than 20% worse than when it started.

Kevin Drum 1:47 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (67)

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Instability? Nonsense! Why, Iraq is no more violent than Kansas City on a Friday night!

Posted by: some leftover GOP talking point from circa mid-2005 on June 13, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Hey! I've worked a few Friday nights in an inner city KC trauma center! That's not all that pedestrian and mundane when there is a drug war a brewin'...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 13, 2007 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

It's not clear why Kevin calls Dempsey's gloomy assessment "spin". Dempsey's assessment is similar to that of a lot of war critics.

Nouri al Malaki has an upbeat assessment in today's Wall St. Journal that sounds more like what war critics generally classify as "spin". It's available free at http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010203

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 13, 2007 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

What happens to Sisyphus when the rock rolls over on him? Does he meta-die and go to meta-Hades, where he has to endlessly labor to explain the meaning of the Myth of Sisyphus to morons who never quite understand it?

Posted by: mattsteinglass on June 13, 2007 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Airspace?

Are you shitting me? There is no way that the Iraqis are going to be permitted to build an air defense system. Just as there is no way that they are going to be permitted naval power, or armor.

It's time to get it through our heads--the plan is for an indefinite occupation. If you don't put everything you read into that context, you're going to be haring off side issues that are MEANT to distract you from the plans for permanent occupation.

This September is only the latest shiny toy. "Airspace" is a new one too.

Posted by: jayackroyd on June 13, 2007 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

One can almost see genius in their ability to f*ck up the post-war plan so as to necessitate a long term occupation.

Basically the same strategery they are using for FEMA, no child left behind, and the EPA. Make govt totally ineffective so as to further the Republican political aims.

Could they possibly be that smart AND evil?

Posted by: kis on June 13, 2007 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

A somewhat twisted analogy for you Texas Hold Em Players ( A form of poker where everyone gets 2 cards down and shares 5 common or 'board' cards). You are the first person to act and you look down to find a pretty good hand--a pair of Jacks (the Jack of Hearts and Jack of Diamonds. You make a pretty hefty raise and get 4 callers.

The 'flop' (the next 3 common cards) comes down the Ace King Queen of Spades. There are now successive cards of the same suit higher than the ones you hold on the board. You are looking at possible straights (A K Q J 10), possible flushes (5 Spades), or someone might have 3 of a kind (AAA, KKK, QQQ, etc.). Even if any of the other players only hold a single A, K, or Q (making a higher pair than your Jacks) you are losing. You check (no bet) because your above-average starting hand has now become virtually worthless. The bettors after you start raising and re-raising like crazy. If you are an even reasonably competent poker player, what do you do then?

Only the weakest of the weakest players would say, "Jacks are a good hand and I'm not folding them...I'm gonna call the hand down to the end no matter how much it costs me!".

Like I said, a clumsy analogy but I think I have made my point. Boy, how I wish GWB played poker!

James M.

Posted by: James M on June 13, 2007 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

We.Are.So.Fucked.

Do you suppose our Democratic Congress will grow a pair by then?

Posted by: SteveK on June 13, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

All these problems would be solved if we could just bomb something in Iran.

Posted by: joe lieberman on June 13, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

...or if we could just, like nuke and utterly anihalate the States then Joe and the real Americans wouldn't have any more of these problems to worry about. Maybe some collateral damage but, hey, that's the way the atom crumbles.

Posted by: anotherlander on June 13, 2007 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

The Pentagon I'm sure now regrets calling this thing a "surge" instead of its real name: "long-term escalation of occupation forces". Of course they're trying to lower expectations; Petraeus knows he has to come back in September and smile for the cameras while eating the huge quagmire shit sandwich Bush has ordered him to prepare. And I noticed ex-lib up above noted without much comment that a U.S. commanding general gave an official assessment of the situation in Iraq that largely echoes the observations of the antiwar crowd without claiming he's some kind of Clinton-era surrender monkey. Maybe some progress is being made after all -- if only in the late realization among some of the last dead-enders here that Iraq is fubar and the sooner we get out the better.

Posted by: jonas on June 13, 2007 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

the sooner we get out the better

What, and leave show business?

(Old joke. Sorry.)

Posted by: bad Jim on June 13, 2007 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Cole had a profound informed comment:

"Just an observation that the Bush Administration's "surge" was intended to restore security to Baghdad so as to give the Iraqi parliament and executive breathing space to achieve a number of benchmarks, pass key legislation, and pursue reconciliation among sects and parties. Does that look likely to you?"

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 13, 2007 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

One can almost see genius in their ability to f*ck up the post-war plan so as to necessitate a long term occupation.

I wouldn't necessarily call it 'genius,' but it was what many of us predicted during the run-up to the war.

Just like the current warnings about starting a war with Iran, there were those of us on the left trying to alert everyone to the neocon talking heads who were overwhelming all rational discussion about going to war in Iraq with their flowery predictions for victory (and their refusal to heed warnings by Shinseki and others). If anyone had to do in those months and weeks before the war in Iraq began was ask yourself why Bush wouldn't plan for the worst case scenario and give the effort the full number of troops the generals were recommending. After 9/11, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress were giving Bush everything he wanted. They were throwing money at him, giving him blank checks, not requiring any accountability.

There could only be one reason why Bush wouldn't properly man the war effort: The job of overthrowing Iraq's government and then handing the reins of government over to new leadership that had been democratically elected would happen too quickly and we'd have to leave - "leave" as in "leave all of that oil behind."

Bush never intended for us to leave.

Messengers with ties to the Bush administration and the neocons of PNAC spread that idea around before the war started. Newt Gingrich, Frank Gaffney, Richard Perle, Clifford May and others all appeared on cable news to talk about how American troops have been in S. Korea, Germany, Japan, the Phillipines, etc., for decades. Recently they started floating that same comment again, only this time Democrats have had time to formulate a response ("We weren't still at war with any of those nations, there were no insurgencies, and they were all so war-weary that they were eager for reconstruction.")

The Bush administration sends out emissaries to plant memes that they hope will take root and grow in the general public's consciousness. It only works as long as we allow it, and don't respond with our own memes, the truth. Republicans are relentless, like hyperactive, ADD children. This is the same group that got their start during Watergate, and they've been plotting and brooding ever since. More and expedited investigations need to happen, along with impeachments and prison. And forget about pardons - Gerald Ford's failure to let the process work is directly responsible for what's happening today. He didn't have the stomach for it, or the wisdom to recognize how necessary trying a criminal president is to a democracy.

And unfortunately, the Democrats currently in office don't have that wisdom either. They aren't up to the job of saving the republic. It may take another few election cycles for the politicians and the people to catch up with each other and set this democracy straight. That is, if it's not too late, and there's anything left to set straight.

That's a bleak assessment, but it was seen and predicted by many of us, as early as in those days following the 2000 election when House Republicans' staffers flew down to Florida, pretended to be locals and rioted to prevent the ballots from being counted.

Posted by: Maeven on June 13, 2007 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

This is a typical tactic of the Bush administration. Like their habit of wildly inflating budget projections so that when the numbers come in they can point to how much things are improving: "See, the deficit is significantly less then everyone expected!" Which sounds sort of like a real decrease even though it's as insubstantial as Bush's integrity.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on June 13, 2007 at 5:59 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Kevin, considering that Sunni insurgents just finished off the Askariya mosque in Samarra, one of the Shiite’s most holy shrines, it isn’t looking like a real bright future for the place.

Look, Iraq is a complete disaster whether we stay or leave and since a majority of Iraqi lawmakers want the U.S. out, let’s just leave. O.K.?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 13, 2007 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

The Pentagon said today that Iraq's security forces are still incapable of keeping order and need to be expanded yet again

Yet again: there was a reason Saddam Hussein needed a million man army, and it wasn't because he was the second coming of Hitler.

m, god's little jests

Posted by: max on June 13, 2007 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody ever said that establishing democracy in Iraq would be easy. Just look at our own tortured history in the nineteenth century before we became the beacon of democracy that we are today.

Posted by: Al on June 13, 2007 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

A few facts for Al.

During the "tortured history of the 19th century", the population of the US increased from 5 M to 76 M. That is four doublings in 100 years, which works out to an annual growth rate of 3% per year. And in no period did the population decline.

See the site

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h980.html

While figures for Iraq are of necessity approximate, reports I have seen talk variously of 1.5 M Iraqis having left since 2003, 15% of the population being displaced, and exit rates of 3000 people per day.

Any comparison whatsoever between Iraq and the US is utter nonsense.

jhh

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris on June 13, 2007 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

The last couple of weeks have been dedicated to nonstop declarations that we should expect (a) an increase in violence this summer, (b) no political progress to speak of, and (c) an even more disfunctional and sectarian Iraqi security apparatus than we have now.

Then we should get out. Remember the so-called "surge" was all about decreasing violence, political progress and improved security, and a desperate effort by the Bush Administration to postpone the American public's increasing recognition of this war as a failure. It's beyond clear that the surge never had a chance in the first place, but that won't stop dishonest war supporters -- whose own blood and treasure isn't at risk -- from insisting we stay.

By the time Petraeus's progress report arrives, they'll be telling us we should count the surge a success as long as things are no more than 20% worse than when it started.

Of course -- I and several others have been sayin that for months. As with the rest of the war, they won't have success but will point to isolated anecdotes of "progress." We have Marler and "ex-liberal" giving us examples here all the time.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the lowered expectations aren't part of the game -- just like Bush's deficit reports, they overestimate the projected deficit so they can proclaim the actual deficit comes in below projections, hoping everyone will ignore the fact that the actual deficit and national debt keeps on increasing.

Posted by: Gregory on June 13, 2007 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

A few facts for Al.

Should have stopped right there. Facts are wasted on that numbskull.

Posted by: DJ on June 13, 2007 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin. In light of this latest bleak assessment, don't you think another apology for being one of the cheerleaders in favor of the initial invasion of Iraq would be apropos? It has been a while since you've done that, and, since many more people have died in the interim, and there are probably a few new readers (albeit very few from the post counts here lately!) you might want to consider saying sorry again for your contribution. Maybe make it a recurring item on your calendar?

Posted by: Pat on June 13, 2007 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody ever said that establishing democracy in Iraq would be easy.

So I hope all of you who thought it would be easy will now shut up.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 13, 2007 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

That's the differnece between a lib and a neocon - you guys are worried about the spin and we're worried about human lives. For those of you who don't venture outside the echo chamber why don't yoy watch Al Gore on YouTube - this has been making the rounds on the right-wing blogs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JE48XHKG64&eurl

Posted by: minion on June 13, 2007 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

That's the differnece between a lib and a neocon - you guys are worried about the spin and we're worried about human lives. For those of you who don't venture outside the echo chamber why don't yoy watch Al Gore on YouTube - this has been making the rounds on the right-wing blogs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JE48XHKG64&eurl

Posted by: minion on June 13, 2007 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Just look at our own tortured history in the nineteenth century before we became the beacon of democracy that we are today.

Which foreign army was occupying us during that time ?

Posted by: Stephen on June 13, 2007 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK
By the time Petraeus's progress report arrives, they'll be telling us we should count the surge a success as long as things are no more than 20% worse than when it started.

Yeah, a few more "surges" like that, and everything will be hunky-dory.

For particularly pear-shaped values of "hunky-dory", of course.

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs on June 13, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

minion, and?? I don't see anything in the least wrong with these 1992 comments.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 13, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

With each passing day, the soundbites coming from the Pentagon/White House increasingly sound like the football coach of the team that, after winning the first 2 or 3 games of the seasojn, becomes mired in a losing streak that will inevitably lead to 1) a losing season and 2) the coach being fired. The spinmasters can say what they want, act how they want to, and whistle through the graveyard as much as they want, but in the end we all know how this is going to end.

Posted by: ny patriot on June 13, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

minion wrote: That's the differnece between a lib and a neocon - you guys are worried about the spin and we're worried about human lives.

Thanks for admitting you're a neocon, but we knew that.

Yeah, right, you're worried about human lives. There's no end to the number of people you ghouls willing to see die for your half-assed policies to prevail.

Tool.

Posted by: Gregory on June 13, 2007 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Stephen at 9:09 AM: Which foreign army was occupying us during that time ?

That was the Sioux, the Apache, and, no wait a minute...

Posted by: thersites on June 13, 2007 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

In the November 2005 National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, President Bush defined victory in Iraq to include:

An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.
Has he rescinded that definition?

Posted by: croatoan on June 13, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone see Frontline last night? To make you weep.

And here we are four years later, and LEARNING HASN'T HAPPENED.

Posted by: Jean Arf on June 13, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone see Frontline last night? To make you weep.

And here we are four years later, and LEARNING HASN'T HAPPENED.

Posted by: Jean Arf on June 13, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK
Which foreign army was occupying us during that time ?

The British, which, while a leading global superpower and among the more democratic major powers of the time, asserted the right to override our own local democratic institutions on the bases of their own vision of what needed done for local security, to implement their own global security strategy, and to serve British economic interests.

Once they were thrown out by our local insurgent forces with the aid of an external power that was a far less-democratic rival of the British, however, more effective democracy bloomed in America.

So, if you want to be guided by 18th Century American experience in looking at Iraq...

Posted by: cmdicely on June 13, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

I was reading this morning about how our troops are beating back the insurgents everywhere, winning every single engagement and killing them in record numbers. I was reading this morning about the Iraqis who want us there and about the people who know that if we were to leave, they would be rounded up and shot.

I am not saying there haven't been a few mistakes here and there; but overall, the war is going just fine and liberals need to give it a rest. You are NOT going to force George W Bush out of office. You are NOT going to cause a massive heart attack in Dick Cheney by threatening to put his staff members in Federal Prison. You CAN NOT make the claim that he has not switched personnel out of key posts when they have failed to perform. And you WILL NOT force America into defeat in the face of thugs and terrorists.

Good day to you, Defeat-o-Crats. How is your cereal bowl full of spite, vinegar and surrender tasting this fine morning?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 13, 2007 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

The next six months after September will be crucial.

Posted by: Qwerty on June 13, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

ny patriot on June 13, 2007 at 9:33 AM:

...but in the end we all know how this is going to end.

That is probably the most apt analogy that I've heard in a while...And, after having viewed the various coaches of the Detroit Lions over the past few years, I realize that it's the exact same thing...The Coach arrive with some fanfare, the team shows a bit of early promise, stumbles, and then collapses while The Coach lists all the things they need in order to fix things: Healthy players, good calls, a bit of luck, more effort, better strategy...but he knows that it would take a bloody miracle to turn around a two-win, eight-loss season in order to make the playoffs, much less win the Super Bowl. The Coach knows that the team will be lucky to make four-and-twelve, and that he'll be lucky to have a job next season.

Next season, if he's still there, The Coach points to the six-and-ten season as an improvement, even though it's a losing record.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 13, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Sunni Insurgents Battle in Baghdad

By John Ward Anderson Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, June 1, 2007; A11

BAGHDAD, -- Sunni residents of a west Baghdad neighborhood used assault rifles and a roadside bomb to battle the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq this week, leaving at least 28 people dead and six injured, residents said Thursday.The mayor of the Amiriyah neighborhood, Mohammed Abdul Khaliq, said in a telephone interview that residents were rising up to try to expel al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has alienated other Sunnis with its indiscriminate violence and attacks on members of its own sect.

"I think this is going to be the end of the al-Qaeda presence here," Abdul Khaliq said of the fighting Wednesday and Thursday, which began over accusations that al-Qaeda in Iraq had executed Sunnis without reason.The Baghdad battle is evidence of a deepening split between some Sunni insurgent groups and al-Qaeda in Iraq, which claims allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

Although similar rebellions occurred in Diyala province earlier this year, the fighting this week appears to be the first time the conflict has reached the streets of Baghdad.

One thing this country has ALWAYS been good at--getting a proxy war underway that leaves US hands unbloodied. More of this, I would say! And why not provide arms and other assistance to any Sunni group that wants to kill al Qaeda in Iraq? Or would John Kerry call a hushed oversight meeting and force the DoD to let the Sunnis who wish to fight al Qaeda fend for themselves?

OFF Topic--do not FLAME me for this question.

RE: And, after having viewed the various coaches of the Detroit Lions over the past few years, I realize that it's the exact same thing...

Brother, can anyone tell me why Coach Gibbs hasn't been strapped to a closet door and dragged screaming away from the Washington Redskins practice facility? The game has passed him by, the 'Skins are awful and way too close to the salary cap, and blaming the owner is passe.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 13, 2007 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever anyone may say to justify the continued occupation of Iraq, it is now clear we remain there for only one reason: Bush's enormous ego and pride. His addict proclivities are well documented. His enormous vanity better documented. He keeps gambling with someone else's money thinking he can bluff his way back to success. Every decision he makes is to further his own reputation. Sadly, that commodity no longer holds a value. Congress must call in his chips. Surrounded by doting den mothers, this president has crossed the line into insanity if one can term manifest megalomania thusly.

Posted by: Sparko on June 13, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Brother, can anyone tell me why Coach Gibbs hasn't been strapped to a closet door and dragged screaming away from the Washington Redskins practice facility? The game has passed him by, the 'Skins are awful and way too close to the salary cap, and blaming the owner is passe.

You could ask the same question about Bush. Both Bush and Gibbs have a small but loyal following that believe he can do no wrong, even though all evidence points to the contrary.

The NFL has passed Gibbs by, just as the GWOT and Iraq have passed by Bush. Both Bush and Gibbs are whistling past the graveyard, believing that they can play the game by their rules, even though the rules have changed.

Neither have figured out that by just having the title of Coach/President doesn't mean you set the rules.

As for the rest of your Iraq post: why haven't the Iraqis started fighting for their own security already? It's been what, four years, and they still can't maintain a modicum of security of their own.

They worry about US troops pulling out and being rounded up and killed? Huh? They have all the weapons and training they want, from the most powerful armed forces in the world. You'd think they'd be able to handle themselves against an enemy that has fewer men, fewer resources, and less training.

I guess that's not the case. That means the Iraqis are a bunch of wussified cowards.

Posted by: NSA Mole on June 13, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

For those of you who don't venture outside the echo chamber why don't yoy watch Al Gore on YouTube...

Just like a neocon to bring up a 15 yr old clip. Hey minion, you numbnut, it shows that Clinton and Gore were serious about terrorism long before you rioghtards were.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 13, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Of all the things to flame you about, Normie, it's not your opinion on the 'Skins...

Posted by: grape_crush on June 13, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Norman of Sunnybrook Farm when did you increase your daily dosage of ecstasy. Jeez I know junior high students that have a clearer picture of realty than you.

Posted by: Gandalf on June 13, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Norman of Sunnybrook Farm when did you increase your daily dosage of ecstasy. Jeez I know junior high students that have a clearer picture of reality than you.

Posted by: Gandalf on June 13, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Or would John Kerry call a hushed oversight meeting and force the DoD to let the Sunnis who wish to fight al Qaeda fend for themselves?

Uh, no Normie, that would be GHWB promising to support Iraqi Shiites but sitting around doing nothing while they got slaughtered.

And as a man who acknowledged using his daddy's connections to get out of Viet Nam, you're in no position to criticize John Kerry for anything, you cowardly has-been.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 13, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Just out of curiosity, where are these 20,000 Iraqi troops coming from?

Are there 20,000 male Iraqis of fighting age sitting around bored, just waiting for a chance to take their chances standing in a line at a recruiting center? Haven't most of the ones interested in armed combat already joined up with one group or another?

Have we somehow overcome our inability to convince trained Iraqis to put loyalty to the Maliki government ahead of that to family, tribe, or sect? Don't we have a big problem with the hidden agendas of the troops they already have?

I'm glad that the Pentagon is now willing to admit that this job requires a lot more troops than they previously said it would. But how realistic is this? Isn't it a little like saying all we need is tens of thousands of unicorns? And even then, it'll be five years before they control the airspace, unless they're flying unicorns, I guess. Flying unicorns would definitely help.

Posted by: biggerbox on June 13, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's nice to see Iran and the US acting together to arm the Sunni. Although, I wish the DOD would all get on the same talking points, because we're going to go nuclear on Iran for arming Sunnis in Iraq at the same time elements within our military are touting this as our new clever strategy.

Posted by: Neal on June 13, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

And why not provide arms and other assistance to any Sunni group that wants to kill al Qaeda in Iraq?

What do you do when they start using those weapons to kill Shiites ?

If the Iraqi's were capable of providing security, wouldn't they have already done it ?
We've been arming and training the Iraqi army for years.

Posted by: Stephen on June 13, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

New York Times

BAGHDAD, June 10 — With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past

AND

Indeed, in Baghdad this week a US military spokesman accused Iran of arming Sunni militants fighting in Iraq. Those arms, according to Major Gen. William Caldwell, included mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. According to the BBC, Caldwell went on to charge that the Iranians were not only furnishing weapons to groups fighting the coalition but training them too.

Posted by: Neal on June 13, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Whoa! Big doubletake.

Read this again:

"Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years — five years in the case of protecting its airspace.."

Explain for me what 'protecting its airspace' means in concrete terms. Are we giving the Iraqis Patriot or Hawk missiles? Blackhawks? F-16's? Training them how to use them? Selling them spare parts? Could this just mean training a few dozen air-traffic controllers? But it couldn't mean that, since that doesn't take five years, and Iraq already has a semi-functional airport.

What exactly are we doing to help the Iraqis control their airspace? And to what end? So the Shiites can bomb the Sunnis from the air when we leave? So Sunnis can bomb the Kurds, or Iran?

Please explain this to me!!!

Posted by: lampwick on June 13, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"...incapable of keeping order and need to be expanded..."

That says it all right there, doesn't it?

Posted by: Kenji on June 13, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Can the bar be set any lower without serious digging?

Posted by: ckelly on June 13, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

New York Times

BAGHDAD, June 12 — Iraq’s political leaders have failed to reach agreements on nearly every law that the Americans have demanded as benchmarks, despite heavy pressure from Congress, the White House and top military commanders. With only three months until progress reports are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year.

Kurds have blocked a vote in Parliament on a new oil law. Shiite clerics have stymied an American-backed plan for reintegrating former Baathists into government. Sunnis are demanding that a constitutional review include more power for the next president.

And even if one or two of the proposals are approved — the oil law appears the most likely, officials said — doubts are spreading about whether the current benchmarks can ever halt the cycle of violence gripping Iraq’s communities.

For the handful of party leaders with the power to make deals, the promise of compromise now carries less allure than the possibility for domination. Long-suppressed Shiites and Kurds now see total victory within their grasp. Previous American benchmarks like elections have failed to bring peace and, after four years of unfulfilled promises, bloodshed and sprawling chaos, once wary glances have become cold, unblinking stares.


Posted by: Neal on June 13, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it is spin in that he is saying that 20,000 more Iraqi security (or unicorns) will turn the whole thing around. This is transmuting Friedman units into men rather than time and paying lip-service to the fact that nothing will change anytime soon, maybe a decade or more.

lampwick sums up the air-control comment. In the best possible of all worlds Iraq would control its own airspace, being able to exclude Iran, Syria, etc. I don't know how he puts a 5-year time line on that as nothing has been done yet, nobody trained, and no money allocated!

All adds up to good reasons to get out sooner rather than later. We were able to control their airspace before from outside. We are committed to keeping one or more carrier groups close by.

Get our people out.

Posted by: notthere on June 13, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bush never intended for us to leave.
Maeven, 5:17 am

Bush himself may not have been in the loop concerning the real reasons behind his public proclamations. He is only the script-reader for the real power cartel, and it would not have been an overwhelming task to keep such a dim man in the dark.

Nevertheless, Maeven's point somehow continues to escape many of us:

We are not still in Iraq because of an inept initial assessment or subsequent bungling. We are still in Iraq because the real plan all along was to establish a long-term, major military presence there.

The bases we have built speak for themselves.

Posted by: chance on June 13, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Neal, the Times article you cited shows that newspaper's all too typical spin. First it complains that Iraq's legislature won't implement various benchmark legislation. But, then it adds, "doubts are spreading about whether the current benchmarks can ever halt the cycle of violence gripping Iraq’s communities."

In other words, if Iraq fails to adopt the recommended legislation, then the benchmarks were essential. If they do adopt the legislation, then the benchmarks were irrelevant.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 13, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Everything Bush touches turns to dust.

ex-liberal: Neal, the Times article you cited shows that newspaper's all too typical spin.

ex-liberal, everything you type is all too typical winger spin.

You dissemble a lot and when you are not dissembling you are outright lying.

Here is one of those many times when you manage to dissemble and lie at the same time.

Good job!

Rove must be proud of you.

Posted by: anonymous on June 13, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Nouri al Malaki has an upbeat assessment in today's Wall [Street] Journal.

Astounding.

ex-liberal refers to the statements of a known liar that were printed in a paper known for its dishonest journalism.

It's a two-fer from ex-liberal: two liars in one reference!

Posted by: anonymous on June 13, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK
.... you guys are worried about the spin and we're worried about human lives..... minion at 9:02 AM
Whose lives, surely not American or Iraqi's?
I was reading this morning about ... winning every single engagement.... Norman Rogers at 10:50 A
Iraq is ready for high class tourism. Purchase your ticket here Posted by: Mike on June 13, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

So we need MORE ineffective Iraqi security forces?
Reminds me of the old joke about the business man who was losing $1 on each widget he sold. "I'm not worried", he touted, "I'll make it up on volume".

Posted by: obo78 on June 13, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

minion: That's the differnece between a lib and a neocon - you guys are worried about the spin and we're worried about human lives.


fyi..

fewer americans died by terror under clinton..

bush fixed that..

Posted by: mr. irony on June 13, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Nouri al Malaki has an upbeat assessment in today's Wall [Street] Journal.


“I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007.” - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki 11/30/06

how is that working out?

Posted by: mr. irony on June 13, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Everything is going great in Iraq! The only real problem is that the dirty hippies in the librul media are suppressing the good news about all the freshly painted schools!

Posted by: clueless wingnut troll on June 13, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the Army etc. pretty near broken? Not to mention, the National Guard, which wasn't supposed to be in places like that anyway unless we were truly up against the wall... ? So we can't do it anyway, or if we tried, that would be the end of our military for anything else. Can't the Admin types see that? Is there a hidden agenda, for why someone up there would *want* for the military to be broken?

Posted by: Neil B. on June 14, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Neil B wrote:

"Isn't the Army etc. pretty near broken? Not to mention, the National Guard, which wasn't supposed to be in places like that anyway unless we were truly up against the wall... ?"
______________________

The Army is surely stretched thin, Neil. As is the Marine Corps and, to a lesser degree, the Air Force and Navy and the Guard and Reserves. Ever since the end of the Cold War, we've diminished our redundancy and sheer numbers, both of which are necessary for protracted conflicts. At the same time, those post-Cold War decreases put an end to the idea that the Guard and Reserves are only for existential conflicts. They've been totally integrated by function with the Active Component since immediately after the First Gulf War.

But "broken" is a relative term. We are surely in the position of robbing Peter to pay Paul in order to keep deployed units fully manned and equipped. And the strain is telling. However, the description of the Army as broken is only in comparison to the pre-war establishment. Compared to any potential adversary, our military is still superior in terms of capability.

Such things are worrisome, but can change fast. We went from world conquerors on 1945 to getting our asses kicked by a fourth rate power in 1949. We went from a huge, but crippled, giant of a force in 1973 to a much smaller, but truly formidable military within about nine years later. Now we're stretched thin again.

The wonder isn't that we go through these phases. The wonder is that we always find the men and women who persevere through it all with dedication and integrity.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 14, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK


trash: The wonder is that we always find the men and women who persevere through it all with dedication and integrity.

The struggle to entice Army soldiers and Marines to stay in the military, after 4-years of war in Iraq, has ballooned into a $1-billion campaign, with bonuses soaring nearly sixfold since 2003.

All told, the Army and Marines spent $1.03 billion for re-enlistment payments last year, compared with $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began. - AP 4/11/07

$174 million in 2003

$1.03 billion in 2006


Incentives for Army Guard and Reserve members combined have skyrocketed from about $27-million in 2003 to more than $335-million in 2006. - AP 4/11/07

$27-million in 2003

$335-million in 2006

Posted by: mr. irony on June 16, 2007 at 6:31 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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