Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 4:12 pm

The Iraq Study Group (I wrote about them here) held a press conference yesterday during which nothing much was revealed publicly but that off the record chats with the Group’s members told the story; it is likely that when they present their recommendations to the President after the November elections, they will present him with a couple of pretty stark choices. We can make a supreme effort to internationalize that conflict while at the same time talking to Iran and Syria and getting them to halt their support of the insurgency. Or we can leave.

Eli Lake of the New York Sun:

According to participants in that meeting, the two chairmen received a blunt assessment this week of viable options for America in Iraq that boiled down to two choices.

One plan would have America begin its exit from Iraq through a phased withdrawal similar to that proposed this spring by Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat of Pennsylvania and former Marine. Another would have America make a last push to internationalize the military occupation of Iraq and open a high-level dialogue with Syria and Iran to persuade them to end their state-sanctioned policy of aiding terrorists who are sabotaging the elected government in Baghdad.

In actuality, the fix has been in from the beginning with the formation of this Group. Given its makeup, it is more than likely that the ISG was set up to provide our national leaders as well as members of both parties political cover for an Iraq exit.

This is a time honored exercise in Washington. Whenever a problem is just too sticky to be resolved in a normal political way, form a Commission and take cover behind its recommendations. The list of the use of such a device is long; social security, Medicare, base closings, the solution to racial riots (Kerner Commission) to name a few.

Will Bush acquiesce in this charade? Much could depend on the outcome of the November elections. If the Republicans hang on, Bush may thank the blue bloods for their recommendations and continue his own way. If the Democrats take control, he will probably be forced to listen closely to what these national security wise men are proposing and throw in the towel on Iraq.

Because, let’s face it. There is no way on God’s green earth that any sort of international force is going to come to the rescue of the United States in Iraq. Hell, they can’t even get 15,000 troops to sit down in the southern Lebanese desert and play cards while Israel and Hizbullah gear up for round 2 in their war for the survival of the Jewish state. And Syria and Iran are perfectly content to continue their support for the murderous insurgents and terrorists who are bleeding Iraq white. Why not? At the moment, they are winning.

Kevin Drum:

So: Bush should either plan to withdraw from Iraq or else open up talks with Syria and Iran. It’s hard to know which of those two options he’d loathe the most, and even with Baker delivering the bad news it’s hard to see Bush agreeing to either course. By the time the ISG delivers its recommendations officially, though, he might not have much of a choice.

Indeed, things are really starting to turn for the worse in Iraq even with our stepped up presence in Baghdad. In a countermove, the insurgents have attacked all over the country:

The U.N. reported that 3,009 people were killed in Iraq during August, a slight decrease from July’s toll of 3,590. The report warned that although the numbers decreased at the beginning of the month, they escalated again by month’s end, especially in Baghdad.

The current level of violence, the report said, “is challenging the very fabric of the country.”

The trend in the national figures echoed recent statements by the Baghdad morgue, whose reports on deaths in the capital have been most often cited in tracking civilian casualties from sectarian fighting and the insurgency.

These past few weeks have been even bloodier than usual in the capital, with a torrent of execution-style killings coming despite an American-led crackdown. Even as U.S. commanders have focused on Baghdad, attackers have struck in northern and western parts of the country in what appears to be a coordinated campaign.

Another 46 bodies were recovered today in the capitol. Attacks on US forces are increasing although this was to be expected given our more aggressive posture. And in perhaps the most disheartening news, Prime Minister al-Maliki may not have the political cohones to do what is necessary to fight for his government’s survival:

Four months into his tenure, Mr. Maliki has failed to take aggressive steps to end the country’s sectarian strife because they would alienate fundamentalist Shiite leaders inside his fractious government who have large followings and private armies, senior Iraqi politicians and Western officials say. He is also constrained by the need to woo militant Sunni Arabs connected to the insurgency.

Patience among Iraqis is wearing thin. Many complain that they have seen no improvement in security, the economy or basic services like electricity. Some Sunni Arab neighborhoods seem particularly deprived, fueling distrust of the Shiite-led government.

Concerns about the toughness of the new government seemed reflected in President Bush’s comments when he met Tuesday with Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani. Mr. Bush said he wanted Iraqis to know “that the United States of America stands with them, so long as the government continues to make the tough choices necessary for peace to prevail.”

One can certainly sympathize with al-Maliki’s situation. On the one side he’s got the Mehdi militia and Badr Brigades jostling for influence and control in the streets while he tries desperately to hold his fractious government together in the face of horrific sectarian violence. If he authorizes the Americans to go full bore after Mookie al-Sadr and his militia, Baghdad becomes a war zone - Beirut of the 1970’s. But in the meantime, the radical cleric continues his efforts to undermine the government by carrying out sectarian attacks that sap the confidence of the people and kill their hope for the future.

The question of whether there is or isn’t a civil war anymore is moot. There are a variety of reasons for so many dead Iraqis and sectarian differences are only one of them. There is also targeting of government workers, Iraqis involved in reconstruction, locals cooperating with American forces, anyone who speaks out against al Qaeda, and the innocents who are simply murdered in car bombs and terrorist attacks or who get caught in the cross fire between the insurgents and the Americans.

Through all of this, al-Maliki dithers. Bush aides are angry at his seeming inability to make a decision. In reality, there are too many factions, too many voices to appease. And Maliki seems to be at a loss as to how best to proceed. His relationship with al-Sadr - who seems to be supporting him in the councils of government while undercutting his position in the streets by carrying out massacres of Sunnis - has prevented the Iraqi army from forcefully disarming the goons with the guns.

ISG Co-Chair Lee Hamilton, who also was co-chair on the 9/11 Commission has been quoted as saying that the next 3 months in Iraq will be critical. While not being specific, one gets the feeling that the ISG will give Maliki that long to prove he is up to the task of dealing with the crisis in the streets. If not, the ISG recommendations will probably reflect the reality that it is time for either a massive increase in our own forces or a humiliating withdrawal.

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that when asked how we were going to leave Viet Nam, President Kennedy said half in jest “As soon as we can put someone in power who will ask us to leave.” Perhaps Bush should keep that story in mind when James Baker and the ISG come calling after the election.


  1. If those will be the actual recommendations then I seriously question the judgment of the poeple on that committee. How is one supposed to internationalize the conflict when Europe’s Armies are so small. The entire German military has about the same number of total personnel as our Marine Corp and Coast Guard put together. Even if they had the desire to, the Europeans don’t have the military capability to send and support more than a token force which will do nothing to solve the problems in Iraq.

    I don’t know why there continues to be this belief that if only the “international community” somehow got with us on Iraq, then suddenly the insurgency would be defeatable. The problems in Iraq are way beyond international “legitimacy.”

    The continuing ignorance of politicians and even senior military leaders in this country is astounding. We have a large-scale insurgency in Iraq, and have for the past several years, yet we still are not applying any of the basic tenets of counter-insurgency warfare doctrine. These stupid calls for “more troops” is a common example of the idiocy among the political elite. I’m particularly disappointed with the military I love so much, especially the senior Army leadership which is somehow ignoring all the lessons learned from Vietnam and other insurgent conflicts. With a few notable exceptions the only leaders in the military who understand the fight we’re in are resident in the Special Operations community. Unfortunately, the are not in command of the campaign.

    What scares me the most is the same dumb-ass politicians will ultimately decide if we will go to war against Iran or not. Their abysmal track record fuels my cynicism.

    Finally, it looks as though the blame game for our impending loss in Iraq has already started. People on the right are already giving excuses similar to those given after Vietnam. The left is at the top of the blame list for “dividing” the country. Next is the fallacy that we’re fighting with “one armed tied behind our back.” The illusion here is that if we would only allow our forces to be more violent and more aggressive then we could defeat the insurgents. There are many more.

    I think this war is now lost, but not because it’s unwinnable. It’s lost because we’ve largely wasted three years of political capital given by the American people, who are running out of patience. Even if we adopted effective strategies tomorrow, I doubt America’s patience will see it through to the end. The only hope I have is that we reduce our conventional forces considerably and turn the show over to our SOF brethren who will then engage in true counter-insurgency operations. We will have to choose sides and it will be very bloody, but in the end I think we could still be successful.

    Comment by Andy — 9/21/2006 @ 2:56 pm

  2. I am afraid there is a third option which the ISG will not suggest to Bush, but which he may do anyway: “internationalize” the conflict by attacking Iran. In for a penny, in for a pound. I would put the odds of this at about 50/50.

    Comment by Gary Buell — 9/21/2006 @ 3:51 pm

  3. Well, the make-up of this committee is not too impressive to me.
    I just wish we had been allowed to fight this war the right way but it has been fought by arm chair generals and the politicians sitting on their asses in Washington arguing instead of trying to protect us Americans, I think that is so outrageous. !!!!!
    Andy, you are right, we learned nothing in Nam, the next attact will be nukes and I am very afraid.

    Comment by Drewsmom — 9/21/2006 @ 4:49 pm

  4. Moran: “Given its makeup, it is more than likely that the ISG was set up to provide our national leaders as well as members of both parties political cover for an Iraq exit.”

    Why should the Democrats need political cover, they didn’t create this mess. It was you rightwing nut jobs thirsty for revenge over 9/11 that pushed us into this ill advised war. Now your looking for someone to share the blame with. You constantly insinuating that liberals are too dumb understand what real “chickenhawk” men like you know needs to be done.

    John Murtha is no chickenhawk, nor is he a dove. He is a real military man and he didn’t need any political cover to stand up and speak the truth. It’s over in Iraq. Unless the U.S. is willing to put 150-250,000 more troops in Iraq it will not be able to secure Iraq. It’s just that simple. He didn’t blink, I might add, when your kind hurled cut-and-run or defeatocrat or what ever other sophomoric slogans you were willing to play political games with at the expense of the lives of American troops.

    Moran: “President Kennedy said,… “As soon as we can put someone in power who will ask us to leave.” Perhaps Bush should keep that story in mind when James Baker and the ISG come calling after the election.”

    Yeah, look how well Vietnam turned out. And don’t forget Sistani asked the U.S. to leave soon after Baghdad fell. Maybe we’ve over stayed our welcome.

    This war is different in many ways from Vietnam, but exactly the same in one way, the best and the brightest got it totally wrong…

    Comment by Turnabout — 9/21/2006 @ 6:40 pm

  5. Tunnabout, turn your rear end back over in kos land or code pinkie city, we normal folks don’t wanta hear your crap.
    murtha is a national disgrace, I don’t care if he was in the military, he ain’t standing up for the military now PERIOD.!!

    Comment by Drewsmom — 9/21/2006 @ 7:24 pm

  6. Turnabout

    A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives wrote a letter to the President in December 2001 saying that Saddam must be removed from power. Going into Iraq was largely a bipartisan decision, however, the execution by the Administraion has not been as well as it should have been or could have been. From the make up of the group, I don’t think this is being done to help the Administration. It may be being done to give America cover. America includes both Democrats and Republicans. I suspect, if Congress ultimately decides to withdraw, most of the blame will be pinned on the “neo cons.” While they do share much responsibility, to pin all of the blame on them is overy simplistic, however, it will be done becuase it is the easiest group to blame. They lack the clout within the msm to mount an effective defense, even if they wanted to.

    Fortunately we are not there yet. We have not lost yet, however, you are to point out that it will require a massive infusion of more troops. If we can’t or won’t make the commitment of troops that this will take, we should scale back the mission. We can withdraw to Kurdish areas and monitor the situation and intervene, if we need to, to prevent the establishment of terrorist camps. The sooner the Government makes a decision on this the better.

    Comment by B.Poster — 9/21/2006 @ 8:57 pm

  7. I meant to write: “you are correct to point out that it will require a massive infusion of troops.” I apologize for the typing error.

    Comment by B.Poster — 9/21/2006 @ 10:16 pm

  8. there is always option 4. Take Saddam out of court,,,,tell everyone he is running the country again. Of course this would just be a trick.

    Comment by Bob Zimmerman — 9/22/2006 @ 3:49 am

  9. We need to get past the “massive infusion of new troops” fantasy. Even if such advice were sound at this point in time (it did have utility in 2003), it is simply not possible. The Army is operating at peak capacity and is sacrificing readiness to keep the maximum number of troops possible in Iraq and Afghanistan. At any one time, almost 50% of the Army’s brigades are deployed. The other 50% just returned and need to refit to replace those that are there. There simply are no more troops to deploy. Even this 50/50 ratio is unsustainable in terms of personnel and equipment readiness, which is why readiness levels have consistently declined since 2003.

    Comment by Andy — 9/22/2006 @ 10:08 am

  10. Andy

    I think you are right. Right now we probably do not have the troop capacity to get to the level we need. You are also correct to point out that this had more utility in 2003 than it has now. We should have figured this out in about June 2003 that we did not have enough boots on the ground and mad the appropiate adjustments then but we did not but this is past tense. We need to figure out how to move forward.

    More troops would be a good option, if they were available. The Europeans don’t have the troops to assist here even if they wanted to. We could supply, if we were commited to it.

    According to information from a miliary person who has been deployed multiple times to Iraq, we can maintain combat readiness for about two more years at this rate. If we wanted to, we could probably raise the number of troops we need, in about a year. This still gives us a small window of opportunity to commit the resources we need to give us an opportunity to get this done right.

    If we are not going to make an effort to commit the resources we need, then it is time to scale back the mission. As I’ve discussed before, we can redeploy to Kurdistan and intervene in the Iraqi civil war as necessary to prevent the establishment of terrorist bases and to support whatever factions we wish to support. That is, if we wish to do so. I suspect the scale back the mission will be the option that will be chosen. Right now the American people are not going to be willing to make the commitment that would be necessary to support a larger force structure in Iraq.

    Btw, to get the military forces that would be necessary to achieve the mission of an allied, stable, and democratic Iraq would probably require a draft. Congress will not be keen on implementing such a policy right now. Personally I would be willing to do it but the American people are not, at least at the moment. We can probably achieve an allied and stable Iraq without the democracy we were hoping to achieve with a smaller commitment of resources. In other words, in all likelyhood the mission will be scaled back significantly very soon.

    The situations with Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world should have taught policy makers that we need a much larger army. Even if we don’t plan to use them in iraq or Afghanistan a larger army is still needed. The Islamic extremists we are fighting in the GWOT are not even the greatest threats to American national security. A larger army will be needed in coming years. Hopefully policy makers will get to work on this.

    Another way to free up resources that could be used in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere would be to assist Japan, South Korea, and Tawian, to go nuclear, if they need for us to. A nuclear armed South Korea, Japan, and Tawian would provide a check on China, North Korea, and Russia. This would allow us to withdraw a large number of military personnel from these areas. The populations of Japan and South Korea do not seem to really want us there any way.

    A massive infusion of troops ot Iraq is not fantasy. It is simply a matter of finding the will to do it. Right now the will seems to be lacking. As such, the mission will likely be scaled back. We will probably keep a force in Kurdish areas becuase I suspect it is highly likely we will need to go back into Iraq from time to time to prevent terrorists from establishing bases. In other words, the mission will probably focus more on the special Operations missions that you discussed earlier. I also suspect it will include an element of air support.

    Comment by B.Poster — 9/22/2006 @ 11:17 am

  11. The NYT came out today and basically confirmed what I said above about troop levels and readiness:


    Comment by Andy — 9/23/2006 @ 9:45 am

  12. Andy

    I think I pointed out that we will probably need a draft to get the troops we need to properly address American nationa security interests. According to a friend who I talked with that has served in Iraq we can maintain our curent readiness for about two years.

    I think we can get the troops we need in about a year. This seems to be about how long it took us to raise amssaive troop levels for WWII. We still have a window of opportunity to ger the troops we need. I’m not suggesting that Iraq is WWII, however, a massive infusion of troops is needed and has benn needed for some time.

    In addition to a draft, we could encourage Japan, South Korea, and Tawian to go nuclear. This would provide a check on Russia and China and it would allow us to pull troops from these areas. These troops could be reassigned to defense of the American home land, Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Also, we could begin a phased withdrawl from Europe. It is past time that these countries took more of a responsibilty for their national security. The phased withdrawl will give them time to increase the size and strength of their militaries. I estimate two years would be needed to get this done.

    Of course this will require a sacrifice on the part of the American people. More troops is the one thing that would make a difference in Iraq and Afghanistan. So far polititicans and pundits of all political stripes have made excuses to support the notion that we can’t get more troops. That is what these are. It is excuse making and should be treated as such.

    Now that a few more pundits are coming around to the fact that more troops are needed, the excuse making has become louder. Instead of saying it can’t be done. They should simply tell the truth and admit it is harder than we thought it would be and we should have known it was going to be harder from the beginning. In other words, just say it is to hard and we don’t want to make the sacrifices that would be necessary.

    Personally I would be willing to make the sacrficies but the American people aren’t willing to right now because of this we will probably be seeing a massive scale back of the mission in the coming months. The excuse making is likely done to help people save face. After all, if the excuse is going to be that it can’t be done, some pundits and politicians can cloak their anti-Aemrican rants in the disguise of patriotism. Also, the so called “hawks” may be able to hide behind this excuse as well for a modicum of face saving.

    My friend the Iraq war veteran says if any one wants to “support the troops”, the best thing they can do is ENLIST. More troops are needed. He also says a General is nothing more than a politician in a military uniform. This may be why the ones in charge of Irraq have generally refrained from suggestions that we need more troops.

    The bottom line is the American people don’t want to make a greater commitment to this right now. Politicians know this and because of this they will probably not be suggesting a massive infusion of troops. As a result of this, the mission we will be scaled back and everything we set out to accomplish will not be achieved. Then the finger pointing and the blame game will proceed unabated.

    In the final analysis, policy makers should have learned from all of this that we need a larger military. This is the case even if we do not plan to use them in Afghanistan or Iraq. Russia and China are the greatest foreign national security threats to the USA in the world today. Massive increases in the strength and size of the military will be needed in the coming years to deal with these chanllenges. A draft probably should be a component of this increased military size.

    Unfortunately American politicians are currently fundamentally unserious about national security. They have not even done something as basic as securing the borders. The policy changes I suggested above will probably not happen unless there is another attack on the American home land by terrorists or unless their is a military attack by Russia or China. In the event, of an attack by Russia there may not be time to respond. Huge increases to the size and capabilities of the military are needed whether even if we don’t commit these forces to Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Comment by B.Poster — 9/23/2006 @ 3:56 pm

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