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1/8/2007
MISSING SOMETHING?
CATEGORY: War on Terror

I haven’t written anything about Iraq recently and there’s a reason for it; I’m waiting until we hear from the only guy who counts - the Commander in Chief.

Bush is set to unveil his proposals to improve the situation in Iraq on Wednesday night. I will say this; it’s about damn time. The current uptick in violence started at the beginning of last summer and by August, we had begun transferring more troops to Baghdad to deal with it.

In September, the Iraqis and our military came up with another plan to deal with the sectarian killings because the one we had drawn up in August not only wasn’t working but wasn’t being implemented thanks to the refusal of some Iraqi army units to deploy to Baghdad. Out of 3,000 troops promised to assist Americans in their “sweep, clear, and hold” operations, only 1200 had deployed. Meanwhile, the President, fearful that any change in plan would be seen as a political downer, let things simmer in Iraq as the number of deaths skyrocketed.

After the election, the idea was that the Administration would wait for the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group to change policy. Once it became clear that the ISG was not the answer (except, perhaps for Syrians and the Iranians), only then did the President initiate this in-house review - about 6 months too late in my opinion.

But better late than never. And amidst all the talk of surges and jobs programs, I have yet to hear much about the political initiatives that we need from the Iraqis that should go hand in hand with any surge in troops. For in the end, it is only at the conference table that the various factions in Iraq will find peace - not using the barrel of a gun.

So I have taken a wait and see attitude regarding what the President will do. Couple that with the track record of most major media when it comes to these leaks actually reflecting the President’s thinking rather than one faction or another playing cheerleader by publishing recommendations they want to see included, I’ll keep my powder dry and hold off on commenting until the CIC speaks.

Have I lost faith in Bush? The answer, I’m afraid, is yes. It will take a jaw dropping speech along with imaginative and realistic ideas on how to tamp down the violence for me to believe that the Administration has a clue on how to save the situation from getting even worse much less making a start toward healing Iraqi society.

I’ll have much more to say in the days and weeks following the President’s speech. I hope that we can have a civil debate on those proposals here without having the conversation degenerating into conspiracy mongering or name calling.

Somehow…I’m not optimistic about that last part.

By: Rick Moran at 1:59 pm
23 Responses to “MISSING SOMETHING?”
  1. 1
    Can't See the Center Trackbacked With:
    2:39 pm 

    The new Iraq strategy

    We lack the ruthlessness to prevail in Iraq.

  2. 2
    Fritz Said:
    2:59 pm 

    My only concern with our invasion of Iraq; that we wouldn’t crush them into submission. Military planners thought that a swift decapitation of the regime would substitute for destruction. It didn’t work in Iraq, but it did quite the Arab Street. I think we have bent over backwards with the Sunnis, but as Fred Barns commented, the whining over Saddam’s execution is a clear indication that the Sunnis don’t get it. The Sunnis had their chance, it is time to crush them. If the President changes the terms of engagement, the Left may cry foul, but Iraq not Washington is where the war will be won.

  3. 3
    steve sturm Said:
    3:05 pm 

    here’s my thinking on the new plan….

  4. 4
    Drongo Said:
    3:26 pm 

    “The Sunnis had their chance, it is time to crush them.”

    Unless by “crush” you mean “exterminate”, it won’t work. Fallujah should demonstrate that quite amply.

    Are you really willing to exterminate the Sunnis in Iraq?

    What then to do about the Sadrists? Exterminate them as well? Leaving Iranian backed SCRI in charge?

    Bleak though it may sound, these are the sort of choices faced now.

  5. 5
    Evil Progressive Said:
    3:58 pm 

    “The Sunnis had their chance, it is time to crush them.”

    Ahem! Most of the Muslim world is Sunni. Saudi Arabia — the great friend of the Bush family — is Sunni. Do you think for one second that the Saudis are going to support ethnic cleansing in Iraq? Or the rest of the Muslim world? Why do you think that Cheney was summoned to Saudi Arabia in December?

  6. 6
    headhunt23 Said:
    4:17 pm 

    here is a really good essay by a soldier who was over there:

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/JBSmith/2007/01/05/a_soldiers_thoughts

    Rick, you might want to put on your front page

  7. 7
    Irritated_Prof Said:
    4:19 pm 

    “Somehow…I’m not optimistic about that last part.”

    Man, I wish to hell I didn’t agree with you.

  8. 8
    doctorrick Said:
    4:27 pm 

    new out here. What most of you would consider a liberal.
    Thought this column was quite interesting.
    Don’t most think that any kind of severe attack/extermination/attempt to crush the Sunni population be looked at aghast by the rest of the Sunni states, i.e. Saudi Arabia, our truest and bestest Arab friend in the middle east?
    Wouldn’t this send oil prices through the roof?
    Can’t imagine Saudia Arabia would stand by as we had some type of systematic program against the Sunnis.

  9. 9
    Tom Said:
    4:59 pm 

    Evil Progressive Said:
    3:58 pm

    “The Sunnis had their chance, it is time to crush them.”

    Ahem! Most of the Muslim world is Sunni. Saudi Arabia—the great friend of the Bush family—is Sunni. Do you think for one second that the Saudis are going to support ethnic cleansing in Iraq? Or the rest of the Muslim world? Why do you think that Cheney was summoned to Saudi Arabia in December?

    Most of the folks posting on this site do not know the difference between Sunnis, Shia, Kurd, or the blue light special at Kmart. Learning about the differences between those people is paramount to bringing peace to the middle east. But see, it takes time and effort to understand what makes them different, and that is just too much to ask. So they spout their nonsense about killing them all or just killing the ‘bad guys’. It really exposes the limits to their global history knowledge. It is vital we understand the various people in the ME. We should have known that BEFORE we occupied their country, but we didn’t. Now we don’t know what to do.

  10. 10
    wobbert Said:
    7:52 pm 

    Kudos for you, I guess, for giving Bush the benefit of the doubt when the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others in a position to offer expert advice say that a “surge” isn’t really going to help at this point.

    I think the best we can hope for is a small “surge” (there aren’t enough troops available for a large one) aimed at holding the status quo a bit longer. That’s a slow-motion disaster that will cost more American lives to no good end, but seriously, is there anything about a small “surge” that could accomplish anything else?

    I fear that what we’ll really get, either explicitly or in effect, is a decision to back the Shi’ites against the Sunnis. If they haven’t had a clue about the interactions of the various sects up until this point, why should they get a clue now?

  11. 11
    Charles Bird Said:
    8:16 pm 

    More like 30 months too late, Rick. The insurgency started picking up steam in the latter half of 2003, and we haven’t really conducted sustained counterinsurgency ops except for a few locales such as Fallujah. I’m just digging into Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency manual, and it’s pretty damned informative. It’s a full spectrum approach that blends military ops, reconstruction, diplomacy, etc. If Bush does as per the Petraeus manual, then I believe our chances are good for turning Iraq around, but it’s going to take more manpower, more U.S. embeds, and more training of U.S. and Iraqi forces.

    BTW, I’m with you on Bush and his failing presidency. I listed you as one of the Dissatisfieds several months ago.

  12. 12
    gil Said:
    10:20 pm 

    charles.

    Congrats. Finally I found some people actually doing some reading before they talk. I was just in another blog (stratasphere) that is full of morons with the good old slogas of “victory” and “cowards Democrats”nothing of substance to say but attacks to the Left and to the Right.

    As for your comment. Tell me what you think of the following.

    We keep on hearing about “winning” in Iraq. But Al-Malaki the Iraqi head of state owes his position to Al Sadr and his Militias. Not a single Shiite Militia has ever been disarmed or directly confronted by Al Malaki or the Interior Ministry…. But, we are asked to support this so called Government of unity” and is in fact the benchmark for the so called “victory” That is to say to support the Government until they can establish security in Iraq. How on heart can we “win” by giving Al Malaki and Al Sadr the power. Do we understand that Al Sadr is backed by the Iranias ? Do we understand that the only “security” that Al Malki’s Government can produce in it’s current configuration is that of the Shiite as masters and the Sunni as slaves? DO we understand that the Sunni are in a battle to the death for their survival and that it is too late to convice them otherwise after all the killing?

    The “surge” of 20,000 troops will be used to go door to door hunting for Sunni and Shiite revels and Militias. Let me run the following numbers by you: Bagdhad is a city if 6.5 Million People Shiite, Sunni for the most part. The book you make reference to, gives a ratio of 50:1 as a base to try and control an insurgency. That is to say one soldier for every 50 civilians. That comes to 130,000 Higly trained soldiers needed in Bagdhad AT LEAST. Today we have 120,000 security personnel in Bagdhad 70,000 are police (Shiite and infiltrated ) worthless in combat, the rest are Iraqi Army units infiltrated to several degrees. That lives us with aprox 15,000 U.S Front Line troops and our surge of 20,000…. You see the math??? We are at least 70,000 highly trained soldiers short.

    On top of that unless Shiite and Sunni are totaly stupid they will not stay and fight, they will move around in a Nation of 26 million people, and hit us at their convenience as they have been doing all along.

    For the life of me I don’t see how Bush can believe this is going to help the mess he created… OK, I can see why… He is an idiot.

  13. 13
    harrison Said:
    10:57 pm 

    headhunt 23, thanks for the link. Even the soldiers on the ground are not demoralised, yet the MSM would have us believe otherwise.

    gil, agreed that Maliki is not one to naturally trust, especially since he has shown the penchant for using al-Sadr as political cover.

    I’m beginning to seriously doubt Maliki’s sincerity:

    During his meeting with Mr. Bush in Jordan in November, Mr. Maliki presented a plan that would shift most Americans to the periphery of Baghdad so they could concentrate on fighting Sunni insurgents while the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government asserted more control over the capital. That has left some American officials wondering whether the Maliki government was making a legitimate bid to exercise sovereignty or is committed to a sectarian Shiite agenda.

    And this:

    The Americans have not been the only ones underscoring the need for benchmarks. The Maliki government has pressed to gain direct command of Iraq’s 10 army divisions, insisting it should be achieved by June. Some American officials have been concerned that it is overambitious. Nevertheless, an administration official has indicated that it is among the goals.

    With Fallon’s appointment confirmed, and the possibility of a sea/air assault on Iran, perhaps Bush will devolve responsibility of ground forces (partially) to the Maliki government. Of course, it is surely sceptical to trust that Maliki would not simply undermine the Iraqi forces by turning them over to al-Sadr - as he has betrayed his penchant for using the Sadrists as political cover - and so this represents a crucial juncture at which Maliki himself can prove that he sides with us rather than allow sectarianism and militias to flourish in Iraq.

    If he spurns this opportunity - and trust me, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised, and neither should anyone - then it’s safe to say that Maliki’s authority - or whatever’s left of it - should be overridden without hesitation or second-guessing.

    Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, or placing too much faith in Bush, rick, but let’s hope he does something substantial, concrete and fast.

  14. 14
    JML Said:
    1:24 am 

    Rick,

    “I haven’t written anything about Iraq recently and there’s a reason for it; I’m waiting until we hear from the only guy who counts – the Commander in Chief.”

    You’re almost right. You see, W is the Commander in Belief. You just have to Believe that we will prevail in Iraq and all is well. It would really help if everyone in America could join hands and pray; then we would be invincible. At the very least, we should all show “resolve” (what ever the f**k that means) and then Victory will be At Hand.

    We constantly hear Iraqi this or Iraqi that… Question: Do the citizens of Iraq think of themselves as Iraqi first, Sunni/Shiite/Kurd second, or is it vice-versa, that is, Sunni/Shiite/Kurd first, Iraqi second? Would it have been worth considering this before invading Iraq and assuming that modern Jeffersonian Democracy could be not only imposed, but successful, virtually overnight? Would it have been to America’s advantage to elect a Resident who understands, however remotely, the world beyond Texas and the Confederacy?

    Rick, you on the Right wanted W, now you have him and his glorious legacy. Are you telling me that you were for W before you were agianst W? I’ve got some flip-flops with your name on ‘em…

  15. 15
    Rick Moran Said:
    3:24 am 

    JML:

    1. The next time you toss an F-bomb here, your comment will be deleted and you will be banned.

    2. Grow up. Your last statement makes me doubt you’re old enough to be commenting here. Only a fool (or a liberal) doesn’t constantly rethink his positions on anything.

  16. 16
    Pinky Said:
    6:07 am 

    I have to say, as a liberal finally taking the time to look at some conservative blogs, I was impressed to find one that actually questions the competency of the commander-in-chief. Now if only I could find a conservative with some foresight! One that wouldn’t actually need to see the wreckage to spot a bad idea. And how about some humility? How about, “Liberals, we mocked you, attacked you, called you traitors, but in the end, you were right about everything. Iraq wasn’t a threat. It wasn’t a cakewalk. It’s not easy to invade and occupy a country. There were no WMDs, there was no link to Al Qaeda, the invasion did foster terrorism, and George W. Bush is no great leader. This war has been an unequivocal disaster, wasting thousands of American lives and billions of American dollars with only destruction to show for it. Oh, if only…if only we had listened to you at the beginning!” Because we were saying these things, oh yes we were, from the get-go. And then, of course, once admitting thusly, the only option for the honest conservative would be to completely support the removal from power of the architects of this war, giving control over foreign policy to someone who was actually right. About anything. If a conservative could concede all that, I might just be able to respect him or her. After all, I’m not sure what more evidence a person could possibly require in order to realize that their political loyalties have been tragically misplaced.

  17. 17
    jvf Said:
    9:17 am 

    amen, pinky.

    It is indeed time for those responsible for this national catastrophe to have an Accountability Moment.

  18. 18
    headhunt23 Said:
    1:06 pm 

    Pinky…

    Interesting name for a liberal…freudian slip perhaps?

    In seriousness, the war was not a strategic mistake - the mistakes were made in the execution.

    Had we:

    Invaded with a more robust force capable of securing the country
    and
    Kept the Iraqi Armies entact

    We could have done a more robust reconstruction sooner and given people confidence in their government’s ability to secure them and provide services for them. We also could have put more Iraqis to work sooner, thereby keeping them off the streets.

    But, we did it on the cheap and now we get what we have earned.

  19. 19
    PatD Said:
    3:02 pm 

    It is gratifying to see another conservative get off the sauce and join the KAA (Kool Aid Anonymous). Welcome back to the real world.

  20. 20
    epicenter Said:
    3:11 pm 

    we don’t have the combat power to secure Bagdhad

    we acn argue it all day long

    but these folls ahve hurt us in this way

    our armed forces are overextended, undermanned, exhausted

    and for what?

    all this quarterbacking a war from a keyboard.

  21. 21
    Pinky Said:
    3:15 pm 

    No, the name is quite intentional, an ironic embracing of the derogatory terms conservatives have often used to try to intimidate liberals away from their beliefs.

    As for the war not being a strategic mistake, does it not bother you that as each justification for war has been disproven, the war supporters have shifted to a brand new one, as if that was the one all along, without missing a beat? If someone wanted to borrow a hundred bucks from you, and changed his reasons for needing the money not once, not twice, but at least three times, you’d be suspicious of him, even if you were the most naive person on earth. You’d have to be a fool to believe his latest rationale without question, right?

    That’s what I don’t get about conservatives, and this war. No matter what your party affiliations, or foreign policy opinions, or how deep your political loyalty, I simply can’t believe that you’ve had the meaning behind your war changed so many times, and never will you say, “Hey, wait a minute…Maybe this guy’s not being straight with us!”

    And, I’m sorry, as a justification for war, “helping the Iraqi people” doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t. If that had been the reason from day one, America would have said thanks but no thanks and you know that. Besides, it can’t be true, because we did nothing about Rwanda, nothing about Darfur, it doesn’t make logical sense to say that we felt compelled to intervene for humanitarian reasons, while at the same time ignoring one of the worst genocides of the decade, which we could have been very effective at stopping.

    And before you say, “to create stability in the Middle East,” remember that Iraq was one of the most stable nations in the region, technologically advanced, and free from the religious extremism you claim to fear so much. I know, I know, “You’re a Saddam lover! You must love Saddam!” I’m talking about the mature pursuit of global stability and American security interests. In that respect, we were way better off with Saddam in power than we are now.

    So, in light of these things, maybe, just maybe, you’ll forget party loyalty and open your mind to the possibility that your leaders are not being straight with you. That rulers of powerful nations just might conceal their true agenda from the people. I know, it sounds totally nutty to you, like something from a James Bond film or a conspiracy theory website, but to us liberals, “nutty” is to catch someone in multiple lies, and then believe their latest claims without suspicion or criticism.

  22. 22
    epicenter Said:
    3:29 pm 

    Here’s what Jay Rosen says regarding war supporters

    The intelligence fiasco in the build-up to the invasion is an exceedingly ugly story and rather than receding into the past, its significance grows every day. It’s like the decomposing body under the expanding executive house. More keeps coming out about the fraudulent case for war, and the consequences of having only an imaginary plan for the occupation.

    For Bush supporters who soldier on, the choices resemble what the go-getters from Enron faced: confront the bad accounting that’s gone on for years or adopt even more desperate measures to conceal losses and keep your hand alive. But if the AP had fabricated a source and relied on that source 60 times, maybe the tables could be turned again and the reckoning put off.

    so true

  23. 23
    Charles Bird Said:
    8:24 pm 

    gil,
    I don’t know if 20,000 more is the right number, or 70,000, or somewhere in between. But the point about the COIN manual is that there is a major difference between the ops conducted today versus the steps recommended by Petraeus. More troops are needed to be sure, but just as important is the taking the right approach in clearing-holding-building.

    I agree that al-Maliki needs to get on board with the Bush plan, assuming the Bush plan follows the steps outlined in the COIN manual. If Maliki doesn’t separate from Sadr, then no strategy will really help.

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