Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE....This is an obvious point to make, but I want to make it anyway. Just in case there's anyone who doesn't know this.

Surge discussions often go something like this: At the beginning of the year we had 132,000 troops in Iraq. Now we have 160,000. That's only a 20% increase in troop strength, and it's ridiculous to think that such a small increase could have a serious effect on the country.

But that's exactly backwards. The surge was always intended primarily to target Baghad, and in Baghdad U.S. troop strength approximately doubled, from 17,000 to 34,000. Frankly, with an increase like that, you'd expect some pretty tangible results.

And yet, at best, we've seen only a modest drop in violence in Baghdad. So what we're seeing is not a case of too few troops to make a difference. It's worse. We increased troop numbers dramatically and deployed them more effectively, and it still barely made a noticeable difference.

That's the depth of the problem we're dealing with: even doubling our troop presence and utilizing them properly hasn't had much effect on security in Iraq — and it hasn't had any effect on the political situation. Given this, does anyone seriously think that a mere six additional months of the surge will change the underlying dynamics in Iraq enough to have made a permanent difference? Really?

Kevin Drum 8:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Comments

Your never going to get the true dead-enders in the Republican party to admit that the whole fiasco is their baby. Why anyone thinks any of them will ever listen to reason is beyond me. I'm not too enthused with the Democrats this point either. You'd think they'd just cut off the funding and leave it at that. But I don't think they have the balls to do it.

Posted by: Paul on September 10, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Paul is right. I said it before, but ever since WWII both parties have had to "own" a quagmire before it could be ended. It's like some parlor game rule...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 10, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Good questions to ask, Drum. Kos takes a bite off that apple:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/9/10/192614/298

Tweety: Why would a general in the field call for a reduction of 30,000 troops if that wasn't to meet some political ambition to keep the Republicans in line on Capitol Hill?... The army's always said they're undermanned. Why would they say we're not undermanned?

Kos: We've known from the beginning that the surge could not be sustained. This is something that the pentagon has said before, that under the best circumstances they still would have to have a drawdown by March of next year. Now they announce that as some sort of great marker of success when in fact this is something they had noted was logistically necessity.

Tweety: Well done, Markos, well done, because that's something that Colin Powell said a couple of months ago - I heard him say that - that there's gonna have to be this reduction in force anyway by the end of next spring and all he's doing is declaring that a policy.

Posted by: Old Hat on September 10, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is FUBAR. Period. All the goddamned analysis and congressional hearings and soldiers thrown into death's maw won't change that. Ever. Bush should hang. Were it 1946 Judge Jackson would have him escorted to the gallows. That he won't hang says more about the depravity of this nation than anything else that's happened since the day we invaded. Allowing your head of state to conduct genocide unrestrained by laws, common sense or any detectable trace of compassion for those you're destroying merits much derision and shame for our citizenry. Somehow, some day vengence will be visited upon us for what we've collectively wrought.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 10, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

You need to actually check troop rotation since March. They rotated in one brigade at a time. The number did not reach 160,000 until late Summer. In fact, the 5th rotation began in June 2006.

You need to do homework before you making hypothesis. And it is not that difficult either. Check out MNF-I website and see which brigade rotate in and which rotate out, and at what time. A brigade is around 4,000 soldier. A Marine MEU is equivalence to a brigade.

The surge was official signed off by Congress in March. It did not start right on the same day. It took sometime to mobilize units. If you know anything about military operation, it take significant amount of time to deploye 4,000 men and their equipments half way across the globe. Last time I deployed to Iraq, it took us 3 months to get ready.

Posted by: Minhduc on September 10, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK


You know what would be evidence of political progress in Iraq? Taxes.

No entity, local, regional, or national, amounts to a "government" unless it can levy taxes on the population it purports to govern, in order to pay for its operations. Naturally, no Republican is going to use "tax collections" as a benchmark of progress. But Crocker's testimony was striking in this respect. Provincial governments in Iraq apparently have no source of funding except handouts from Baghdad. One assumes Baghdad's revenue is strictly from oil sales.

If, several Friedman Units from now, we start hearing Iraquis arguing about _taxes_, then and only then should a reasonable person entertain the hope of an Iraqui government that can "support, sustain, and defend itself".

-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on September 10, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Westmoreland, where are you when we need you?!

If only Nixon had Al, Egbert, Minhduc, and the Faux News Network! We would have won 'nam!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 10, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think there's any doubt that more troops, more concentration, and/or more time makes for more security. The question is, are we getting benefit that's worth the cost?

This war is now costing us almost HALF A BILLION DOLLARS A DAY, and over A THOUSAND DEAD EVERY YEAR, not to mention many times more maimings, many times more death and destruction in Iraq, and the continued erosion of US reputation and leadership.

Quibble all you want about whether ten percent more troops for ten percent longer would make more or less than twenty percent more progress (as though the progress could be measured, or indeed that we could sustain the "surge" much longer). It's all, as they say, down in the noise.

We're not going anywhere until Bush leaves office, and the Right-Wing Noise Machine is gonna make it tough as hell to get out afterwards, so there's no real point to argument. But at least could we not beat the dead horse QUITE so hard? It's ... mean.

Posted by: bleh on September 10, 2007 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

it is meant to prolong the war til Bush has to leave office then it is up to the next prez, Dem or Rep, to find ways to end the mess. If I were a Dem, I would wait til 2012. 2009 looks awfully bad with many potnetial crisis at hands. The economy could crash next year. The war will go on. etc...

Posted by: bob on September 10, 2007 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

We aren't winning.

We're just losing a little bit slower.

And that's all Bush needs, because he's just running out the clock.

He's going to point to his successor, and pretend there was a hat with a rabbit in it, and if only (if only!) his successor hasn't made a mistake, hadn't lost faith...we could have pulled that rabit out of the hat. After all, things were improving for awhile...

20% more troops can't win this war. If it's about defeating an existential threat to our nation, this surge is three years late and three hundred thousand troops short.

It's not a strategy to win--it's a strategy to lose slightly slower.

Unbelievable.

Posted by: anonymous on September 10, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

And on top of all that, Iraq was the wrong stinkin' country in the first place:

www.asecondlookatthesaudis.com

Six years and counting. When will we hold those truly responsible for 9/11 accountable?

Posted by: Bill in Chicago on September 10, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but we still have time to see if tripling the Baghdad troop strength works.

We should keep doing this until we have reached parity in Baghdad with the population, and we have 1 U.S. soldier on the ground for each and every man, woman, and child in Baghdad -- approximately 7 million troops, then.

Adding any more U.S. forces beyond that would just be silly.

No, at that point, we would hire the Chinese army, and at their cut rate pricing (negotiated with the help of Wal-Mart), we could see if it would help to have 70 million troops in Baghdad, thus having a 10-to-1 ration of soldiers to Baghdad residents.

If that doesn't work, we may have to consider re-thinking our plan, and move onto the plan of actually building a separate Baghdad for each and every current resident of Baghdad, approximately 7 million different simulated Baghdads scattered across the globe, staffed by hired actors to portray the other inhabitants.

If that doesn't work, then we may have to rethink our plans.

Posted by: El Cid on September 10, 2007 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Prostitute to provide details of "surge" affair

"Nancie" has declared that the funding for her services is inadequate for the job at hand.
In a taped interview shortly after today's congressional hearings "Nancie" opined -
"how the hell do you expect me to swallow "All THAT?"
In an attempted follow up, her business manager, No Scents, said she was unavailable
for further comment.

Posted by: jay boilswater on September 10, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

OK it wasn't just my cognitive dissonance. All the talk seems to be about how great Anbar is.

But the surge went to Baghdad. And if you take into account the success of ethnic cleansing in the neighborhoods i.e. eliminating targets de facto, what exactly has the extra 20,0000 troops accomplished?

Would Anbar have been as "pacified" as it is if we did nothing?

Christ what a stupid war.

Posted by: paulo on September 10, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hey folks,

Perhaps just a trivial matter, but seeing the recent (last couple years) emphasis that has been put on the importance of words and phrases (think Lakoff) and the early debate about what to call "the surge", I find myself wondering why anti-war-in-Iraq-folks are accepting "surge" as the indentifying terminology and not sticking with calling it "an escalation" (or something similar that evokes previous military mistakes like Vietnam). Maybe I missed the end of this debate, but any thoughts/reminders?

Posted by: Zachary on September 10, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Given this, does anyone seriously think that a mere six additional months of the surge will change the underlying dynamics in Iraq enough to have made a permanent difference? Really?"

Al, Egbert, and President Bush

Posted by: reino on September 10, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

You know, it's kind of remarkable you even feel a need to post this, but more remarkable that you still try to sound astonished.

Well done.

Posted by: bdr on September 10, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Since getting rid of Saddam have we gained ANYTHING?

It's been time to leave Iraq for a while now.

Dems should vote to cut off spending that would continue the war and let Republicans decide whether they're going to own it all by themselves.

Posted by: MarkH on September 10, 2007 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well one thing is interesting, Petraeus said that the Anbar "rebellion" (that is what they are calling the tribal shieks having had enough of AlQaeda) was totally unexpected. So it is what economists would call a White Swan event (something unlikely that is good). I'm sure they are now hoping to get another White Swan in Baghdad. Of course by definition White Swans only come along once every few Blue moons (and a Black Swan is just as likely to rear its ugly head). But I think these gamblers don't want to quit now that they discern (imagine) a winning streak.

Posted by: bigTom on September 10, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at the "briefing" Petraus did with Brit Hume:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/052755.php

Can you believe how well this guy lies?

Posted by: pol on September 10, 2007 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

BigT,

There were no swans involved. They paid off the tribes in Anbar, they needed SOME good news. Think Iran circa 1980.

Results are not important, chaos is important. If we left Iraq, then what would the American people have to talk about.

The magician needs for you to look at his OTHER hand.

Posted by: little tom on September 10, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's even worse than that.

Nobody is talking about the contractors, which at last guestimate numbered more than the 'on the books' number of troops:

At his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, said that the "surge" by US forces in Iraq might not include enough American troops. "However, there are tens of thousands of contract security forces and [Iraqi] ministerial security forces that do, in fact, guard facilities and secure institutions," he added. "That does give me the reason to believe that we can accomplish the mission in Baghdad."

When the number of troops surged, so did the number of private contractors, which is a classified subject.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, we can expect that when the inevitable drawdown of troops occurs (for political purposes), they will be replaced with contracting forces:

"In my view, the role of contractors is just going to continue to escalate, probably at an ever-increasing rate," says Deborah Avant, a political scientist at the University of California, Irvine, whose research has focused on civil-military relations.

For example, the new US Embassy now being completed in Baghdad – 21 buildings on 104 acres, an area six times larger than the United Nations complex in New York – is likely to be a permanent fixture needing hundreds if not thousands of civilian contractors to maintain it and provide services.
Does anybody see this as a good thing, as something that will quell unrest about Americans' designs on the Middle East?

Another 'mouth to feed' driving the forces that want to keep this war going:

Other observers also foresee an increase in military contractors – for darker reasons.

The "military-industrial complex" that former President Eisenhower warned of has been overshadowed by the "war-service industry," says Dina Rasor, coauthor of the recent book "Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War." The complex relied on the cold war to keep its budgets high, knowing that the weapons it produced probably would never be used. The war-service industry, by contrast, "doesn't build weapons but has to have a hot war or an occupation going on in order to keep its budgets high," says Ms. Rasor. Constituencies will be built within the military and in Congress to promote this growing industry, she predicts.

Posted by: Maeven on September 10, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Zachary wrote:

Perhaps just a trivial matter, but seeing the recent (last couple years) emphasis that has been put on the importance of words and phrases (think Lakoff) and the early debate about what to call "the surge", I find myself wondering why anti-war-in-Iraq-folks are accepting "surge" as the indentifying terminology and not sticking with calling it "an escalation" (or something similar that evokes previous military mistakes like Vietnam). Maybe I missed the end of this debate, but any thoughts/reminders?

"Surge" is the name everyone is using now, and it's not that much worse than "escalation," so if a website like this was to start using "escalation" now, it would only confuse people who were new to the blogosphere who read the site when 50 percent of us are writing about a "surge" and 50 percent are writing about an "escalation." They will wonder if we are talking about two different things.

Posted by: Swan on September 10, 2007 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

For the Petraeus statement and slide show, MSM news coverage, comparisons of recent Iraq assessments, new public opinion polls from Iraq and the latest news, surge progress reports and other essential documents, see:
"The Iraq Documents Center."

Posted by: Angry on September 10, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

We invaded the country with about 160K but were unable to secure the country and that was when it was stable. Now, the country is clearly less stable than before the war and I'm suppossed to believe 160K is going to secure the country. If we couldn't do it when the country was relatively stable, how will we do it now? It's just illogical and defies the obvious.

Posted by: William Jensen on September 11, 2007 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not too enthused with the Democrats this point either. You'd think they'd just cut off the funding and leave it at that. But I don't think they have the balls to do it.

Funny you should ask. Have you seen this?

I thought that this would have gotten broad play, but I always underestimate the effect of the Bush *shock and awe* campaigns on the American people when he's cramming everything in before a vote that gives him carte blanche. It is, after all, a smoking gun that exposes how the Petraeus's 'September song' was just one more in a long line of fake-outs, lending the illusion that ending this war was ever going to be a possibility.

Posted by: Maeven on September 11, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

The longing for defeat reminds me of 1940 France. And 1864 New York City. Vallandigham has his descendents in the Democratic Party.

The surge was not just the troop addition. It is the new field manual and the development of new strategy involving COIN methods that Creighton Abrams had begun to introduce in Vietnam and which the British used successfully in Malaya. The troops were able to run AQI out of Baghdad and they are now chasing them around the provinces while they build an alliance with the Sunnis who had provided the "sea" in which the fish could swim. Now they have turned on AQI. The next step will be to reconcile the Shia and that has already begun.

I still think the Democrats are crawling way out on a limb but be my guest.

Posted by: Mike K on September 11, 2007 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

At TalkingPointsMemo Josh Marshall makes the point that the latest poll of Iraqis indicates that 97% of Sunnis want a central Iraqi government -- only 56% of Shia and 9% of the Kurds want this.

Problem is, as Josh Marshall points out, the Sunnis are very much excluded from the government as it's currently constituted. This by itself would strongly suggest continued civil war when we leave.

But that, I think, doesn't get at the real rub here.

Only a few years ago, the Sunnis essentially ran Iraq. Does anyone seriously expect that they will be seeking anything less when the Americans leave? Who is foolish enough to think that they will settle for anything short of that, if there's nothing to stand in their way but the Shiites -- a group they know they have successfully disempowered in the past?

Obviously, if the Sunni population won't accept power sharing -- and Sunni leaders are surely only less likely to do so -- then there is no possible good outcome when the civil war proceeds in full earnest after we leave. One side, the Sunnis or the Shiites, must win; neither side will accept a solution tolerable to the other. It's really the worst possible circumstance.

Personally, I expect that the Sunnis will ultimately prevail, because they seem to know how to.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 11, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

I still think the Democrats are crawling way out on a limb but be my guest.

Oh my God, I'm sure you're right -- if the Democrats do exactly what the vast majority of Americans want them to do, then we are doomed -- doomed! -- as a Party.

How we ever find our way out of the political wilderness of advocating extremely popular views?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 11, 2007 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

I noticed from an NRP article that the Anbar Council was created by some 25-31 tribes that pledged 30,000 young men to fight AQI. That is about the same number as the surge and the reduction.

Anyway, this is the tribes, not the INF, though they helped. And If am not wrong I noticed on Petraeus chart I saw Partnership.

Hmmm.

Posted by: Ya Know... on September 11, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Paul is right. I said it before, but ever since WWII both parties have had to "own" a quagmire before it could be ended. It's like some parlor game rule...
Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station

Well, if you look at the UN/US Iraq resolution to use force the quagmire lies in both hands, and here I am not talking unelected hands, but elected ones. The Democrats just happened to be the first ones to say, "Hey,enough of this" while the Republicans have fallen back on the "support the troops!" game.

The fact is they both own it,we have the votes to gander at. Now, I think, its, "Whos gonna get blamed for it" game.

Plus, the Afghanistan thing is, for now, pretty much forgotten, by both sides.

We really need a third party in this game. =)


Posted by: Ya Know... on September 11, 2007 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

The longing for defeat reminds me of 1940 France...I still think the Democrats are crawling way out on a limb but be my guest.

This is about a failed policy by Conservatives who have insisted, no, make that demanded, that their policies be adopted and that they be in control of America's foreign policy. Conservatives have controlled U.S. foreign policy for the last 50 years, and they have been wrong every step of the way. They've used fear tactics to keep control over the hearts and minds of American citizens who have had no choice but to take Conservatives' word for it. "We don't see the bogeyman lurking everywhere, but Conservatives do--what if they're right?"

The America that Conservatives have created is not the America that its citizens long for.

You shouldn't confuse the Democratic party (which is controlled by moderate-Republicans, aka the DLC, the corporate wing of the party) for Americans who identify themselves as democrats. Democrats apparently have decided to give Bush everything that he wants, in case you hadn't heard. Democrats are in lock-step with Bush, their mantra being, "It doesn't matter how he lied us into this war, we're there now and we can't just leave." Utter nonsense, but you would know that had we a populist-government and a non-corporate controlled media. You would be learning about all manner of options, instead of "it'll be a bloodbath, with Iran winning." It is a bloodbath now, more ethnic cleansing and genocide on their watch. Every day we move closer to Conservatives greatest fear and desire--Asserting imperial designs on Iran.

Neither Democrats (notice the big 'D') nor democrats "long for defeat," but we little 'd's do long for the day when the people who have been wrong about everything stop being invited to the show and given more chances. How many times do they get to get it wrong before somebody says, "Conservatives are not the ones who pay with their lives (or their children's or grandchildren's) when their experiments go bad"?

We can't afford to give them any more second chances.

Posted by: Maeven on September 11, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

Given this, does anyone seriously think that a mere six additional months of the surge will change the underlying dynamics in Iraq enough to have made a permanent difference? Really?

Probably not.

Is staying in Iraq really worse than pulling out completely and soon? (which apparently even Harry Reid is not pushing anymore).

Probably not.

Will French soldiers be deployed to Iraq in support of American soldiers within the next 6 months?

Probably not -- again. does anyone any longer think that the answer is "certainly not"?

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 11, 2007 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

How is Petraeus claim of reduced attacks consistent with the high level (for Summer) of American fatalities? Does it mean the insurgents are getting more efficient?

Posted by: bob h on September 11, 2007 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K:which the British used successfully in Malaya

Really, Mike? First of all, as numerous commenters here have noted before, the Anbar Salvation Council and others like it, formed prior to the surge. The US has simply adopted a line of propaganda that the surge "caused" the sheiks to ally themselves with the coalition and therefore, the surge is working. There aren't any reports of how much we're paying those sheiks, but it's a certainty the sheiks aren't doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.

Actually, if you knew what you were talking about, you'd know that the British Malaya approach wasn't tried by Abrams, it was tried by Diem. What do you think the Strategic Hamlet program was intended to do? Do you even know what strategy the British employed? And how long it took them to even know there was an insurgency?

See, Mike, if you based your comment on facts instead of something Neal Bortz or Rush or your freeper pals said, you'd realize that in Baghdad, the blast walls around neighborhoods (you know, the ones that sort of emulate the British approach?) aren't what's helping drive AQI out. In Baghdad, the Shi'i are driving all the Sunna out, thereby draining the "swamp".

Posted by: TJM on September 11, 2007 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

Is staying in Iraq really worse than pulling out completely and soon? (which apparently even Harry Reid is not pushing anymore).

Probably not.
Posted by: MatthewRmarler on September 11, 2007 at 1:27 AM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Matthew obviously isn't riding around in an under-armored Humvee dodging IED. Leaving now as opposed to staying is a moot issue, unless of course you want to consider all those U.S. soldiers killed because we choose to stay. But hey, they volunteered so fuck'em, right Matthew?

Posted by: steve duncan on September 11, 2007 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Marler asks: "Is staying in Iraq really worse than pulling out completely and soon?"

Wrong question. For logistical reasons alone, it would take weeks if not months to get all of our folks out.

For other reasons (as I keep reminding people) a substantial part of our forces are coming back early next year anyway, and can't be replaced cuz we don't have the troops.

So the question is simply: what is the BEST way we can get out of Iraq, the way that best serves our national interest?

Lord, I wish folks would FOCUS.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 11, 2007 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Wrong question. For logistical reasons alone, it would take weeks if not months to get all of our folks out.

It's "wrong" in that MRM is once again pretending that anyone has suggested that it's possible to get all the troops out immediately. No one has done so, but it's useful to his line of malarkey to imply that people have.

For other reasons (as I keep reminding people) a substantial part of our forces are coming back early next year anyway, and can't be replaced cuz we don't have the troops.

You and about half the non-right blogosphere; here's a medal. Not sure why you keep pretending you're the only one saying this. Perhaps you don't read much.

Posted by: jesus wants me for a sunnibeam on September 11, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

The soldiers who sat in the same room Sunday night had few details: Hollinsworth was killed by a roadside bomb while riding in a truck on patrol in Baghdad early Sunday . No further information was available yesterday.


Hollinsworth served in Afghanistan in 2002, then participated in the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 before returning for a second tour in February.


He loved life in the Army, his family said.


"This is what he always wanted to do," Antonio Coaxum said. "He loved to travel. And the people he met there in the Army - his buddies - they were a family."


Hollinsworth loved Army life so much that when he married this year, it was to a former soldier who understood the life.


His wife, Stephanie Errebo-Hollinsworth, who has a child by a previous marriage, lives in Kansas City.


The war in Iraq was clearly on Hollinsworth's mind when the family heard from him three weeks ago.


"He was down. He said a couple of guys in his unit were killed," his mother said.


"And he said that the insurgents had gotten stronger - that they had gotten a lot stronger than before - and there was more violence than the first time around."

Posted by: ny patriot on September 11, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Marler wrote: Is staying in Iraq really worse than pulling out completely and soon? ... Probably not.

As others have observed, tell that to the Marines, jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I do know what the Malaya program was and yes, Abrams had begun to adopt it when the Democrats pulled the rug out. Westmoreland had used a "search and destroy" strategy and ignored the British who were trying to advise him. You can say that only you know the story but that doesn't make it true. Diem should have been left in place but that is why Maliki must not be interfered with. When Diem was assassinated by Kennedy, the US forces consisted of almost exclusively special forces. Different war.

Posted by: Mike K on September 11, 2007 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Diem should have been left in place

And thus endeth whatever feeble claim Mike K had to credibility...his fantasies in pursuit of the Dolchstosslegende 1.0 has Mike in complete cloud cuckoo land.

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Mikey, I wasn't claiming a monopoly on any of the facts, I was asking a question; I do take notice that your comment on Diem missed the mark completely. You clearly don't realize what strategy was embodied by the Strategic Hamlet program under Diem. Let me make it clearer.

The British succeeded in Malaya by interning the Chinese population, the minority and the support for the insurgents. They were forcibly moved into forts where access, entry and exit were controlled by the British undercutting the insurgent's source of supplies and recruits.

Diem was advised to try the same thing in S. Viet-Nam. There was obviously a lot more to it than that but what the US is attempting in Baghdad grew out of that British strategy.

Every situation is different, but the Strategic Hamlet attempt failed in S. Viet-Nam, not when Abrams used it (because he didn't), but much earlier. Abrams tried to get back down to the local level to fight the VC and the NVA regulars with the CORDS program, but even that had limited success.

Maliki isn't from a minority elite in Iraq like Diem was in Viet-Nam. He's from a minority party, Dawa, but he's part of the now ascendant majority.
It won't be a US backed (well, more of a wink and a nod) coup that replaces Maliki, nor should it be, the history is that won't work.

Nice try.

Posted by: TJM on September 11, 2007 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

The Americanist: the question is simply: what is the BEST way we can get out of Iraq, the way that best serves our national interest?

Good question, here's what Bill Richardson has to says: I am the only leading Democratic candidate committed to getting all our troops out and doing so quickly.

I am convinced that only a complete withdrawal can sufficiently shift the politics of Iraq and its neighbors to break the deadlock that has been killing so many people for so long.

Logistically, it would be possible to withdraw in six to eight months. We moved as many as 240,000 troops into and out of Iraq through Kuwait in as little as a three-month period during major troop rotations. After the Persian Gulf War, we redeployed nearly a half-million troops in a few months. We could redeploy even faster if we negotiated with the Turks to open a second route out through Turkey.

He has more experience than any other candidate in more areas including international and domestic success and he understands the immigration issue better than any of the others. He seems to have a focus, no?

Posted by: TJM on September 11, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

When Diem was assassinated by Kennedy

Excellent! Someone who believes the telegram in Howard Hunt's safe even after Nixon's staff deemed it too poor a forgery to put out! Mike, you fuzzy little psycho, do you have to take the tinfoil off before you scrub up?

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, you are certainly a great debater ! Cogent points all of them ! Who do you think ordered the Diem assassination ? Just curious.

Posted by: Mike K on September 11, 2007 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Another way to put Kevin's point goes like this. We doubled the troops in Baghdad, but the decrease in violence that is being trumpeted is in Anbar province, NOT Baghdad. Who knows, maybe this means decreasing troop density by vectoring troops from Anbar into Bagdad helped? Does someone know more about this? JHH

Posted by: jhh on September 11, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, you are certainly a great debater ! Cogent points all of them ! Who do you think ordered the Diem assassination ? Just curious.

Strange that someone would refer to foraml debate and pull the lame and transparent trick of attempting to disguise their own failed affirmative by asking for an alternative case.

You're the one making assertions, Mike K, and on the basis of laughably weak "evidence." I know that's the only kind that supports Republican derangement, but if you contend Kennedy ordered Diem's assassination, support it, or kindly STFU. No one else is obligated to propose an alternative.

(Personally, I'm still laughing at Mike K's delusion that leaving Diem in power would have been good policy!)

By the way, Mike....what were you doing during Vietnam? Did you serve in country ... or did you have "other priorities?"

Posted by: Gregory on September 11, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Love the reference to that great song from HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban! (Oh, and great point about TEH SURGE! too).

Posted by: Vaughan on September 11, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory's right, Mike; it's up to you to support your statement, not for me to propose an alternative. But since I know you're a big Kennedy fan (I recall you attempting to chastise us for not properly observing Nov. 22 one year), I'll play.

As near as I can recall, the current thinking based on documents and tapes released a few years ago is that Kennedy and his circle very carefully avoided thinking too much about whether Diem's heart was likely to stop beating if a coup were successful. They decided that they would not act to prevent a coup. That could be interpreted as letting an assassination happen, or more accurately, it can be construed as allowing a chain of events to go forward that were reasonably certain to lead to an assassination.

I can't be any more fair than that. Now, would you like to share your solid evidence that Kennedy personally ordered Diem's murder?

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Since you are deleting my comments when I try to carry on any sort of discussion, (and I have no idea if this will appear) it's pretty futile to continue. Where was I in Vietnam ? I was on active duty in 1959 (late) then again in 1961-62. How about you ? Want to compare DD 214s ? I was an EM from 1959 to 1962 and an officer after that.

As far as November 22, you are hallucinating.

The comments have been deleted fairly regularly the past few months so I've pretty much stopped trying to comment. When I complained to Kevin, he replied that he doesn't manage comments anymore. I don't think it's a good idea to cut yourself off from contrary opinions, that's why I read this blog, but you can suit yourselves. Those who think you represent the majority of the US voters might wonder why your party doesn't just cut off the Iraq war funding.

Posted by: Mike K on September 11, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's a good idea to cut yourself off from contrary opinions, that's why I read this blog, but you can suit yourselves.

Now, see, here we find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma. It isn't opposing viewpoints we don't want to debate. It's mental illness.

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on September 11, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Those who think you represent the majority of the US voters might wonder why your party doesn't just cut off the Iraq war funding.

Because we know that 50+1 ain't enough to force anything, and you know it. There is another election coming up, and we know first hand the importance of a veto-proof Democratic majority. No matter who is president.

By the way, intellectual dishonesty isn't a valid debate tactic either, and you know that, too.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 11, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Those who think you represent the majority of the US voters might wonder why your party doesn't just cut off the Iraq war funding.

Because we know that 50+1 ain't enough to force anything, and you know it. There is another election coming up, and we know first hand the importance of a veto-proof Democratic majority. No matter who is president.

By the way, intellectual dishonesty isn't a valid debate tactic either, and you know that, too.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State "

I know about intellectual dishonesty; if only you knew that, as well:

"I still think the Democrats are crawling way out on a limb but be my guest.

Oh my God, I'm sure you're right -- if the Democrats do exactly what the vast majority of Americans want them to do, then we are doomed -- doomed! -- as a Party.

"Vast majority" was more than 50 + 1 when I took calculus.

Of course, that was before fuzzy math.

Posted by: Mike K on September 11, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Huh. Mike K doesn't seem to have presented any evidence for his big statement that JFK explicitly ordered Diem's murder. Who among us could have predicted that?

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Vast majority" was more than 50 + 1 when I took calculus.

Evidently you did better in calculus than in reading comprehension. Seventy-odd percent, the number of Americans who want us out of Iraq and the number to which this poster was obviously referring given the sentence structure, does in fact constitute a vast majority.

Of course, that was before fuzzy math.

Someone's fuzzy here, Gramps. But his name ain't "Math."

Posted by: shortstop on September 11, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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