Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 6:36 am

Rather than sitting back and allowing the Iraq Study Group to dictate an endgame for the Iraq War, George Bush has decided to go all in and make one final effort to turn the security situation around and get the political process moving so that our troops will be able to start coming home and America can claim some kind of victory in Iraq:

An offensive on several fronts is in the works that includes more troops, political progress on Iraqi reconciliation, a regional summit, and increased funds for training:

Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers. This figure is far fewer than that called for by the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. But by raising troop levels, Mr Bush will draw a line in the sand and defy Democratic pressure for a swift drawdown.

Point two of the plan stresses the importance of regional cooperation to the successful rehabilitation of Iraq. This could involve the convening of an international conference of neighbouring countries or more direct diplomatic, financial and economic involvement of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Point three focuses on reviving the national reconciliation process between Shia, Sunni and other ethnic and religious parties. According to the sources, creating a credible political framework will be portrayed as crucial in persuading Iraqis and neighbouring countries alike that Iraq can become a fully functional state.

Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts

In effect, Bush has co-opted the ISG and forced them to concentrate on “a strategy for victory” rather than “phased withdrawals” and timetables.”

As recently as a month ago, the Baker Commission was all set to declare the war lost and begin bringing the troops home:

A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, “Stability First” and “Redeploy and Contain,” both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, “Stability First,” argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.

Bush has altered the Commission’s deliberations and changed its dynamic by engaging the bureaucracy in a long delayed (too long?) review of Iraq policy from which these recommendations have sprung. Baker’s group had little choice but to incorporate them into their report or risk being shunted to the sidelines in the policy debate.

Given the amount of flack I’ve taken from both the left and right recently whenever I write about Iraq, I am hesitant to lay it all on the line here. At times, I’ve truly felt battered and bruised by friend and foe alike. It’s one of the reasons I’ve altered my comments policy (see below). However, if y’all promise to be gentle, I will sum up for you exactly how I feel about this plan:

Too little. Too late.

The fact is 20,000 American troops is less than half of what people who know a helluva lot more about the subject than I do have been begging for. And any plan for “National Reconciliation” may be good on the macro level. But the violence in Iraq has now degenerated into micro conflicts:

General Maples said that the violence continued to increase in “scope, complexity and lethality” and that it was “creating an atmosphere of fear and hardening sectarianism, which is empowering militias and vigilante groups.”

. . . Reinforcing this view, General Hayden said the C.I.A. station in Baghdad assessed that Iraq was deteriorating to a chaotic state, with the political center disintegrating and rival factions increasingly warring with each other. “Their view of the battlefield is that it is descending into smaller and smaller groups fighting over smaller and smaller issues over smaller and smaller pieces of territory,” he said.

National polity has been shattered. It is doubtful whether even the 50,000 troops recommended by many observers - including Senator McCain - could restore any semblance of peace and security in the 4-6 months that General Abizaid says we have before the situation becomes irreversible. Unless we are willing to stay for 5-10 years with this level of commitment and expenditure of blood and treasure, I can’t see how the faith of the Iraqi people in government, in law and order, in civil society can be re-established.

I doubt whether there would be very much support in America for that kind of commitment. Especially since there is absolutely no guarantee that Iraq won’t devolve into a jungle anyway.

There is still good that can be done that has a small chance of improving the situation. Going after the militias with those additional troops would at least solve one of those macro problems that are bedeviling the Iraqi government. And the idea of a regional summit is intriguing. Not direct talks with Iran and Syria but rather engaging them in the context of regional security with other nations might be just the ticket. Because once we leave, the real bloodbath begins. And unless the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States as well as Syria (although the ruling class in Syria are Alawis, the country is 90% Sunni) want to see their co-religionists in Iraq led to the slaughter, their best course may be to assist in securing a modicum of peace prior to our departure.

The idea that we can accelerate the training and deployment of the Iraqi army is all well and good except that to date, the Iraqis have been close to useless. When we moved additional troops into Baghdad to help with security back in August, Prime Minister al-Maliki promised us 3,000 Iraqi troops to assist us in holding neighborhoods where our sweeps ferreted out terrorists and death squads. To date, less than 1,000 have shown up. The reason: wholesale rebellion by entire units of Iraqi troops who refuse to serve in Baghdad.

I will let that fact speak for itself regarding the accelerated training of Iraqi troops.

I am going to support this last roll of the dice by Bush even though I don’t think it will work. I am glad he is trying it. But if this is the best we can do at this late date, I fear that we will have to be satisfied with achieving the noble goal of kicking Saddam Hussein and his murderous henchmen out of power while falling short in our efforts to stabilize Iraq and bring some form of democracy to that bloody, tragic country.

Far short of victory, I’m afraid. And despite the catcalls and bric-a-brats thrown by the left, a noble undertaking, botched from the start, incompetently prosecuted, and in the end, a failure.


Allah’s thoughts bear reading in their entirety but here’s some first class analysis:

The Guardian’s source expects that if things don’t look better within six months of the new deployments, the pressure on Bush — including from Republicans worried about the party’s prospects in ‘08 — will be so intense that he’ll have no choice but to withdraw. To which I say, what prospects in ‘08? If he doubles down and craps out, we’re done. He’s betting everything here; whether it’s because he believes that fervently in the cause or simply because he can’t bear to lose face is almost beside the point.

And of course, he’s not the only one who’ll be making a last big push. If I were in charge of AQ and feeling “reinvigorated,” I’d target those 20,000 new troops with everything I have. I’d even reassign resources I was saving for attacks on the west if it’d help. Nothing would strengthen the anti-war crowd’s hand like a mass slaughter of people who wouldn’t have been there had Bush listened to the Democrats. One spectacular attack, especially if it involved WMD, would purchase years of American isolationism.


Ed Morrissey is even more dubious of the plan than I am:

Forgetting about the “democracy crap” means that all of that long-range strategy has just disappeared. Instead, the US presumably would put a strongman or military junta in place in Baghdad, probably secular, as a way of achieving stability. The new junta would likely attract the Ba’athist elements that have operated the majority of the insurgencies in Iraq, helping to end one form of terrorism in the country — but putting the terrorists back in charge again. The Iraqi people, who turned out in force for three elections and who want democracy to work, would essentially be sold back into some form of authoritarian executive by the US.

Pardon me, but I hardly see how this strengthens us in the Middle East. If we send 20,000 troops to Baghdad in order to stand up a strongman, why would anyone in the region support democracy? Why would anyone trust us if we promised to back their activism for freedom and liberty?

Are we back to “He may be a sonufabitch but he’s our sonufabitch?” I sincerely hope not. As Ed points out, such a policy would not help the small group of democrats in the Middle East who are attempting to reform their governments. In fact, it cuts the legs from underneath them just when they need us the most.


Buttressing my analysis above regarding the loss of national polity is this piece in WaPo that everyone should read:

Since midsummer, Shiite militias, Sunni insurgent groups, ad-hoc Sunni self-defense groups and tribes have accelerated campaigns of sectarian cleansing that are forcing countless thousands of Shiites and Sunnis in Baghdad to seek safety among their own kind.

Whole towns north and south of Baghdad are locked in the same sectarian struggle, among them the central Shiite city of Balad, still under siege by gunmen from surrounding Sunni towns after a bloody spate of sectarian massacres last month.

Even outside the epicenter of sectarian strife in the central region of the country, Shiite factions battle each other in the south, Sunni tribes and factions clash in the west. Across Iraq, the criminal gangs that emerged with the collapse of law and order rule patches of turf as mini-warlords.

Read the whole sad, tragic, thing.


  1. Sadly, I agree. It’s too little, too late. Twenty thousand troops is not that big a number to make a decisive difference. And it’s also too much like Vietnam in that you can gain territory one day and lose it the next. The time to make a difference was right after the war, when we should have dazzled them with our competence, as we did after World War II in Japan. But even if we did make some gains after a push by twenty thousand, then what? They don’t have more electrity, more safety, more money, more anything than they did when they were ruled by one of the world’s most vicious dictators. This must be one of the biggest wasted opportunities in the history of the world. It is an almost immeasurable tragedy.

    Comment by Sheila — 11/16/2006 @ 7:45 am

  2. This left-wing blogger agrees with everything you wrote. A tragedy. We owe it to the Iraqi people to provide security and help build lasting institutions and we have blown it. It could have been done.

    Comment by Dave Johnson — 11/16/2006 @ 9:25 am

  3. [...] I mostly agree with rightie blogger Rick Moran (yes, hell did freeze over) on what’s going on here. In effect, Bush has co-opted the ISG and forced them to concentrate on “a strategy for victory” rather than “phased withdrawals” and timetables.” … [...]

    Pingback by The Mahablog » Twenty Thousand Troops — 11/16/2006 @ 10:03 am

  4. [...] I dunnnnnoooooo…I don’t think you can win a war with an expedient maneuver, particularly if the effort is understood to be followed by withdrawal. Anything can be waited out. Rick Moran says Bush is trying to get the single-minded “pull-out” Democrats and the ISG to think strategy for Victory, here. Gaius says Bush Dumb Like Fox. Meanwhile… [...]

    Pingback by The Anchoress » No, really, I can’t blog today… — 11/16/2006 @ 12:42 pm

  5. [...] Of course we get all the shrill cries from the left about it not working, and even cries from the defeatist conservatives such as Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse, Tom Moran at JustOneMinute, and the always pessimistic Allah at Hot Air. I shake my head in wonder at these people and wonder what they would have written about in 1943 and 1944. “It’s all doomed”, “they all screwed it up”, “I knew better then everyone else”. [...]

    Pingback by Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » Drawing That Line In The Sand — 11/16/2006 @ 12:46 pm

  6. Bush meets with panel on Iraq, but not on policy

    The bipartisan Iraq Study Group spent Monday at the White House meeting with President Bush and his

    Trackback by Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator — 11/16/2006 @ 1:45 pm

  7. “Too little. Too late.”

    Much, much too late, I wholeheartedly agree.

    I find myself thinking “Maybe noble, maybe malicious, but certainly hopeless” with regard to the whole invasion.

    Unfortunately, I almost guarantee that this won’t be the last “Big push”.

    Comment by Drongo — 11/16/2006 @ 2:01 pm

  8. Congressional Casualties via the Military

    If they do not listen to the Generals and the people ON THE GROUND in Iraq, then once again, they are doing the exact same thing they “claimed” the president was doing before the elections. Rock meet hard place.
    One has to wonder if Hillary has any …

    Trackback by Wake up America — 11/16/2006 @ 2:09 pm

  9. I agree more with Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard. His new editorial on their site calls for an increase of at least 50,000 more troops. Kristol basically says, ’send in 50,000 to pacify the violence or don’t even bother at all’.

    Comment by Johnny Tremaine — 11/16/2006 @ 9:00 pm

  10. [...] Update: Moran hit it on the head this morning, so I’m obliged to quote: National polity has been shattered. It is doubtful whether even the 50,000 troops recommended by many observers – including Senator McCain – could restore any semblance of peace and security in the 4-6 months that General Abizaid says we have before the situation becomes irreversible. Unless we are willing to stay for 5-10 years with this level of commitment and expenditure of blood and treasure, I can’t see how the faith of the Iraqi people in government, in law and order, in civil society can be re-established. [...]

    Pingback by Hot Air » Blog Archive » Calling all military: Critique this Iraq plan — 11/17/2006 @ 12:56 am

  11. Rick:

    Sadly, there was nothing noble about taking out our former ally Saddam, in that it had exactly nothing to do with the true global war on terror in re: Al-Qaeda.

    Many smart folks, including Bush 41, knew this was the likely outcome.

    This isn’t spilt milk, to be wiped up.

    This is like pulling out a shotgun, blasting someone in half, and then saying: “What do I do now?” This booboo can’t be kissed all better, no matter how hard we clap.

    Oh, and Osama got his wish: we pulled out of Saudi Arabia, home to the Wahhabi Islamists.

    Comment by SteveAudio — 11/17/2006 @ 4:44 am

  12. Bush’s statements, yesterday concerning what he had learned from the Vietnam war left me spluttering and thinking about the nature of ‘Folly’.. First, I would like to recommend a great book by
    the great American historian Barbara Tuchman, ‘The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam’. In this book Tuchman sets out what constitutes true Folly as committed by a nation, using the fall of Troy in the Homer’s Iliad as example. She saw Folly as having four components:
    1) The act must be one of choice , something not closely bound to the national interest. In her first example, the Trojans had no pressing need to bring that big wooden horse inside the gates of the city.
    2) The nation must have been clearly warned against this action.
    In the example, Cassandra’s warning, ”Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” falls on deaf ears.
    3) The act must be done without thought of any of it’s consequences. In the example, ‘Why would you want a big Greek horse inside the walls of your city, in the first place”?
    4) Having committed the act, a nation must do something to make the possible negative consequences much worse. In the example, after bringing the Trojan horse inside the gates the army of Troy sets out to get dead drunk.

    In her book Tuchman sets out about half a dozen historical examples of true national ‘Folly’ ending with Vietnam. There is no clearer textbook example Folly in recent history than Iraq. That it was a war of choice and that all warnings against it were ignored is obvious, as is the lack of any consideration of consequences .The disbanding of the Iraqi army and ‘debaathification of the civil government are strong contenders for point #4 but there are of course others….

    The Greeks had a word for the real lesson of all this, ‘Hubris’. Arrogant leaders never learn from their mistakes and nations that willfully believe they will, whether in Nixon’s ‘Secret Plan for Peace in Vietnam’, or Bush’s ‘New Course in Iraq’ are bound for tragedy.

    Comment by Woody Y — 11/18/2006 @ 7:48 pm

  13. “Too little. Too late… a noble undertaking, botched from the start, incompetently prosecuted, and in the end, a failure.”

    And again, too soon to draw that ["Myth of Incompetence"] conclusion Rick.

    AJ Strata writes:

    “[T]he Iraqis and the US military, the ones there day in and day out, are not sending signals all is lost. In fact just the opposite.[...]

    “… the zone of violence in Iraq is shrinking (much of the country is already under Iraqi control), and those remaining zones are being flooded with resources and being worked with Iraqis to ferret out the insurgents.”


    Comment by Nick D. — 11/20/2006 @ 4:36 pm

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