Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 20, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FOUR FRIEDMANS AGO....I was rooting around in my archives earlier today and happened to run across an interview from 2005 with (then) Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, the guy who was appointed "war czar" back in May. Here's what he said two years ago:

The US is expected to pull significant numbers of troops out of Iraq in the next 12 months in spite of the continuing violence, according to the general responsible for near-term planning in the country.

....He said: "We believe at some point, in order to break this dependence on the...coalition, you simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward.

"You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country."

.... Last week, Gen Peter Schoomaker, US army chief of staff, said his office was planning for the possibility that troop levels could be maintained until 2009. But Maj Gen Lute said such a worst-case scenario was unlikely.

"I will tell you this, as the operation officer of Centcom, if a year from now I've got to call on all those army troops that Gen Schoomaker is prepared to provide, I won't feel real good about myself," he said.

Just thought I'd share. I wonder if this explains why he's not exactly keeping a high profile in his new job?

Kevin Drum 9:24 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Comments

Has another Friedman gone by already? Where does the time go? Before you know it, it'll be time for the winter Moustache Festival.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 20, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, As I recall about a month ago the painfully honest General Lute whispered the "D" word as something to consider if we want to keep troop levels up. It was in all the lefty blogs and some of the foreign newspapers. The administration shut him down pretty quickly after that.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 20, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admit the "D" word is just about as poisonous as the "N" word to anyone in Washington When General Lute's trial balloon turned out to be radioactive, and talk of a draft ended with Lute.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 20, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if this explains why he's not exactly keeping a high profile in his new job?

Didn't General David Petraeus replace him? Since General Petraeus is far superior to Lute, there is no reason to put Lute out there to the public. Especially after how MoveOn.org attacked the honor and integrity of General Petraeus, Lute's probably staying in the background because he doesn't want the same thing to him.

By the way all of the gotcha games you're playing with what people said in the past is very unbecoming. We could have a far better political discourse if we started talking about the future of Iraq instead of engaging in one-upmanship like you just did.

Posted by: Al on September 20, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

That had to be one of your best comment's yet Al. I loved it.

I don't know about Kevin, but I won't bring up what Lute said in the past if you promise to never remind us that Bill Clinton once said something about not having sex with that woman.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 20, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

By the way all of the gotcha games you're playing with what people said in the past is very unbecoming.

It's only becoming behavior when a thuglican does it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 20, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

You call it unbecoming behavior, I call it accountability.

Actually, it wasn't that long ago that EVERYONE called it accountability...

If Iraq were becoming more stable, Iraqis would be returning at a rate of hundreds per day.

The reality is that since August, Iraqis have been leaving Iraq at a rate of thousands per day.

Now ask yourself why no one in Washington circles is using those numbers as a measure of success/failure in Iraq.

Posted by: tubino on September 20, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, the war czar, the previous New Jesus to Patreus.

Shorter Al: "Please just forget what we said last week and only listen to what we're saying now."

Shorter me: portrait of an administration and its lockstep followers in full flounder mode.

Hey, how come the "Al" who posts on Yglesias's site is more intelligent (though no more rational) than ours? We demand better Als!

Posted by: DrBB on September 20, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's not clear the Al there is more intelligent.

Yglesias' blog has a lot of 3 watters, so it makes Yglesias' Al's 5 watts seem a bit brighter and stand out a bit more, than our Al's 5 watts does amongst the typical 40 watt CFLs that can be found here.

I've wondered if it was the same Al or if there is someone handing out Al-co-troll licenses.

Posted by: feh on September 20, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Where is Lute? Is he still on the job or not? I'm not so sure he's a very good Czar!!

Actually, I'm serious about that. Is he still controlling (chuckle) the war?

Posted by: HopefulOkie on September 20, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

I thought we were we more than 40 watts. Guess I oughta finish that book I started to read. I'm sleepy. G'night.

Posted by: absent observer on September 20, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just thought I'd share. I wonder if this explains why he's not exactly keeping a high profile in his new job?

Lute's job was to be seen being appointed to his job. Fill a couple news cycles. Create the illusion of adapting to changing circumstances.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 20, 2007 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

But it is a plum job.

Posted by: Brojo on September 20, 2007 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

OT...I just have to say that it is poor thing when the MSM and even the intertubes can't inform us that Nelson Mandala is dead and we have to be told by Bush at his press conference today. Sad. He'll be missed. R.I.P.

Posted by: R.L. on September 20, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

OT....Someone should have asked Bush if Cheney would be attending Mandala's funeral.

Posted by: R.L. on September 20, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

When they make a macho movie about this war, why don't they make it about the current crop of generals and their wrangling with the media and Washington, and call it For a Few Friedmans More...

Posted by: Swan on September 21, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

This statement about Mandela is wrong. Bush was responding to questions he said he heard people had been asking, about where the 'Mandelas' of Iraq were (meaning, apparently, leaders of Mandela-like magnanimity and stature). Bush answered that Saddam executed them.

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/09/20/bush-mandela/

Posted by: Swan on September 21, 2007 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Here it is, linked-up, for people who don't know how to cut-n-paste:

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/09/20/bush-mandela/

Posted by: Swan on September 21, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

I recall a certain Saudi King who said if America pulls out troops then we will finance the Sunnis.

America has become the referees in a Muslim proxy war in Iraq.

Protect Israel? Why? The Sunnis an Shiites, Iran, Iraq, Saudi are perfectly happen to fight each other..And strangely I am reminded of the book "A Mote in Gods Eye"

Posted by: Ya Know.... on September 21, 2007 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Might want to remember how they scrambled around trying to find a "czar" (what a rediculous title) and how many turned it down. I think he pretty much got ordered in there and, knowing this administration, there's no clear defining his responsibility, just window dressing.

I gotta feel sorry for the guy except he's just another one who can't stand up and say "Enough!"

Posted by: notthere on September 21, 2007 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

A 40 Watt CFL is like the equivalent of a 100 Watt! So we're green!

Posted by: feh on September 21, 2007 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK


this is the past Al

it keeps repeating

heh...

Posted by: donkey on September 21, 2007 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK


everybody

knows a czar

is but a human and Petraus

is an immortal beyond

reproach

heh...

Posted by: donkey on September 21, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

..And strangely I am reminded of the book "A Mote in Gods Eye"

Posted by: Ya Know.... on September 21, 2007 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK


Oh good...it's not just me then.

Posted by: Cognitive Dissident on September 21, 2007 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

I, for one, am fast approaching a "Crazy Eddie" moment.

Posted by: Xenos on September 21, 2007 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Yes Al, you outdid yourself! Petraeus is a toady; the admiral was correct. Gen. Douglas Lute at least attempted to speak some truths. As a reserve officer on active duty way back in the sixties, I met many officers such as Petraeus.

Posted by: Captain Dan on September 21, 2007 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

I met many officers such as Petraeus.

He rather epitomizes the "staff puke" remark Rush Limbaugh made about Paul Hackett last fall, doesn't he?

He made a career of carrying paper for other four stars, and was never shot at, other than by his own men, prior to the 2003 invasion.

I believe the appropriate sneering term is "Perfumed Prince."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 21, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

"shot at by his own men" - The new CIB with Frag Clusters.

Don't fret over Lute - He has currently been de-plucked and awaits new guts and/or catlines.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 21, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

If, only, there were more officers of the caliber and stiff spines of the fictional Colonel Dax to confront the equally fictional Generals Broulard and Mireau. We need a remake of "Paths of Glory" in Iraq.

Posted by: stupid git on September 21, 2007 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Dollar tanks on lower U.S. interest rates
.
Jane and John Doe must now pay to bail out the culprits.
When I next gas up my vehicle I will be paying extra because the dollar's buying power has taken a hit.
The financial types that made the suspect mortgages have walked off with big commissions from making the loans, packaging the loans, reselling the loans and repackaging and reselling the loans until the "Ring around the Mortgages' game came full stop.
Jane and John Doe now have to pay for greedy, shoddy asset allocations in the financial sector not only by having margins on their next loans increased but by watching the greenback crash world wide as government 'of the banks, by the banks' lowers interest rates to bail out the thieves.

Capitalism spills more uneconomically useful cash annually than the combined unfunded requirements of social security and Medicare. Place a one one hundredth of a percent VAT tax on non consumer capital flows so the Doe family can eat at the same trough as the CEOs and their extended family.

Posted by: cognitorex on September 21, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

al, By the way all of the gotcha games you're playing with what people said in the past is very unbecoming. We could have a far better political discourse if we started talking about the future of Iraq instead of engaging in one-upmanship like you just did.

If someone made bad predictions in the past, we can expect the predictions they make today will likely be mistaken, too.

al, don't you fit in that category?

Posted by: bobo the chimp on September 21, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Put his face on a milk carton and send out an Amber Alert.

Posted by: Cinderella Ferret on September 22, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Lutefisk!

Posted by: Nancy Irving on September 23, 2007 at 5:45 AM | PERMALINK
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