Why The Surge Will Fail and Worsen the Situation

January 9, 2007 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Osama Bin Laden, Republicans, War, War on Terror | 64 Comments

There are two indications why Bush’s surge will fail and worsen the already horrible situation.

Bush needs 20,000 additional troops (according to Fred Kagan’s plan), but he really does not have extra troops sitting around. So what is he going to do? Withdraw them from Afghanistan of course!

“As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

“Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

“According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s…

“Conway said U.S. commanders understand that the Afghan war is an “economy of force” operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq…

In other words, the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11 are second priority to the Bush administration to a nation that did not attack us…..

As Brian Ulrich of American Footprints says:

If Vali Nasr is right that the Iraq surge is aimed at destroying Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army – and I haven’t seen much supporting that beyond his post – then the United States policy will be to retreat further from the battle against the forces which attacked us on September 11 to as to stamp out the main military support of the government we helped install in Baghdad, and which also happens to be a sworn enemy of al-Qaeda.

So we let Afghanistan burn to put troops in Iraq that actually won’t be able to fix the problem because, well, here’s the second indication why this surge is going to fail. General David Patraeus, the new general overseeing Iraq, previously wrote the counterinsurgency field manual for the Army. In it he recommends at least 20 soldiers for every 1000 people. In a city the size of Baghdad, well, that’s a lot more soldiers than we have in the whole country. Read the following:

Petraeus and his co-authors discussed this strategy at great length in the Army’s counterinsurgency field manual. One point they made is that it requires a lot of manpower—at minimum, 20 combat troops for every 1,000 people in the area’s population. Baghdad has about 6 million people; so clearing, holding, and building it will require about 120,000 combat troops.

Right now, the United States has about 70,000 combat troops in all of Iraq (another 60,000 or so are support troops or headquarters personnel). Even an extra 20,000 would leave the force well short of the minimum required—and that’s with every soldier and Marine in Iraq moved to Baghdad. Iraqi security forces would have to make up the deficit.

Fred Kaplan continues:

But security is the prerequisite, and to achieve enduring security, the hard arithmetic indicates that Bush needs to send in a lot more troops than 20,000. The problem is, he doesn’t have them, and he won’t be able to get them for many years, under the best of circumstances. (Even if he reimposed the draft—a sure way to convert popular disenchantment with the war to rioting-in-the-streets opposition—it would take a few years to get the Selective Service System running and to mobilize, train, and equip the draftees.)

So because he doesn’t have them, Bush is forced to make a choice. Does he take soldiers away from the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida (and Bin Laden) or does he allow Baghdad to dive further into its civil war? What happens when you still don’t have enough troops to accomplish victory? Does that not lead not just to failure, but a worsening of the situation? We know, from Porter Goss’s testimony in Congress that insurgents are using our military presence in Iraq to recruit more jihadists. Just what do we expect to accomplish by sending in an insufficiently sized force? Further, what are we telling Afghans? Most importantly, what are we telling Al-Qaida? This president of ours, George W. Bush, finds every way possible to worsen the situation. It is time for him to go. Fire. George. W. Bush. Now!

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64 Comments

  1. It’s a sort of test of how serious he is about what he claims his priority is really.

    Afghanistan might be where Bin Ladin is hiding, but it doesn’t have oil, wheras Iraq has lots and now that the weakened Iraqi government is about to sign over the rights to it, I guess he needs the ‘surge’ for extra pipeline security or something?

  2. caractacus,

    Thanks for commenting. It really is a foolish plan. I really hope Americans reject it.

  3. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting response.

    Thus former House minority leader, now Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing General Shinseki in May 2004, on “Meet the Press”: “What I’m saying to you, [is] that we need more troops on the ground.” Thus, too, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, just four weeks ago: “If it’s for a surge–that is, for two or three months–and it’s part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I’ll go along with it.”

  4. Cameron,

    Com’on, you can tell that the Wall Street Journal Op-ed is cherry picking. Nancy Pelosi is quoting General Shinseki who, before the war, recommended (rightly) that for a venture like the one we were about to embark on required at least 400,000 to 500,000 troops. Nancy Pelosi is right in quoting that number. That is the number that would have ensured victory in Iraq. General Patraeus updated the new counterinsurgency field manual, and in it, he recommends 20 combat troops for every 1000 people. In a city like Baghdad, that requires 120,000. For the whole of Iraq? We’re getting close to General Shinseki’s numbers aren’t we? He seems to have had it right back then. That would also be the number required now, too. But see, you don’t find Bush recommending those types of numbers. That said, why should Pelosi back Bush’s dismal troop increase, when such a low number will only ensure failure? As for Senator Reid’s comments, he clarified a few days later. But even his comments are clear. If it is a surge for two or three months, he’s fine with it. What Bush recommends is far from what Reid said he would back.

  5. If what is needed is an increase of troop levels to 500,000 troops, why aren’t Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid advocating that now? I think that is what the editorial is asking.

  6. Because that is no longer a possibility. Think about it, where are you going to get an additional 350,000 troops? Do you realize that in order to increase America’s forces in Iraq by 20,000 combat troops, Bush has to withdraw soldiers from Afghanistan?

    The only palatable and realistic option is to start withdrawing soldiers. It is time for Iraqis to start governing and controlling their country on their own. Jack Murtha’s plan, I believe, is still the best and most viable option on the table.

  7. If you’re going to die. Dying for a weak man’s vanity seems like the least appealing option. Auto-erotic asphixiation has rather more dignity. Which is sad.

  8. As the WSJ points out, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid called for more troops some time ago. Were there more available then, but not now?

    The WSJ also comments on the prospect of withdrawal:

    Most reckless is the contention, also by Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi, that “it is time to bring the war to a close.” No one serious–not even the Iraq Study Group–believes that the war will end if we leave. Instead, it will change into a civil war in Iraq, and perhaps a wider regional war, that is likely to draw our forces back in again somewhere in the Middle East. As the bipartisan ISG noted in its December report, “If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return.”

  9. Cameron,

    This war should have been STARTED with at least 500,000 combat troops. That was Nancy Pelosi’s point. Why did she make that point? Because it would have been a political disaster for the president to have recommended such a policy, and the war would not have been started. This would have been the right move for the president and for America. Our focus should have been and should still be Afghanistan, not Iraq. By starting with such few troops, Bush failed Iraq and America. That’s the point she was making. Would she have backed a plan calling for half a million troops? Heck NO! No one would have. That’s the point. Bush put himself and the country in a dangerous position by still going to war, but with far too few troops to win the peace.

    As far as withdrawing now, Jack Murtha’s plan is still the best (which of course the Wall Street Journal will never tell you), because it doesn’t withdraw American soldiers from the Middle East, but places them there as a rapid reaction force. It however forces the Iraqis to govern themselves. Right now Iraqis still use Americans as a massive crutch, and as such it allows for far more corruption within the various departments (like the Interior, which is heavily infiltrated by Shi’ite death squads) than if Iraqis were forced to rely on those organizations for all that they rely on Americans right now.

    I know Americans hate to lose, and hate failure, but dang man, you’ve gotta be realistic when reality is what it is!

  10. That’s not entirely accurate. The WSJ editorial quotes Speaker Pelosi’s interview in 2004 on Meet the Press. Here is what she said:

    MR. RUSSERT: What would you do in Iraq today right now?

    REP. PELOSI: What I would do and what I think our country must do in Iraq is take an assessment of where we are. And there has to be a leveling with the American people and with the Congress of the United States as to what is really actually happening there. It’s very hard to say what you would do. We need more troops on the ground. General…

    MR. RUSSERT: American troops if necessary?

    REP. PELOSI: …Shinseki said this from the start, when you make an appraisal about whether you’re going to war, you have to know what you need.

    MR. RUSSERT: So you would put more American troops on the ground?

    REP. PELOSI: What I’m saying to you, that we need more troops on the ground. I think it would be better if we could get them to be not American, that we could appeal to our European allies, NATO. I agree with Senator Kerry in that respect to come…

    MR. RUSSERT: But if they say no, would you put more American troops on the ground?

    REP. PELOSI: Clear and present danger facing the United States is terrorism. We have to solidify, we have to stabilize the situation in Iraq. As secretary of state has said, “You break it, you own it.” We have a responsibility now in Iraq there. And we have to get more troops on the ground. But when General Shinseki said we need 300,000 troops, Secretary Wolfowitz said “wildly off the mark,” because they knew a commitment of 300,000 troops would not be acceptable to the American people. So they went in with false assumptions about rose petals, not rocket-propelled grenades, and we’re in this fix that we’re in now.

    MR. RUSSERT: Well, let’s assume all that is wrong. In order to stabilize the situation, NATO has said they have no troops for Iraq, the French, the Germans and Russians saying no.

    REP. PELOSI: We have to send…

    MR. RUSSERT: Would you send more American troops in order to stabilize the situation?

    REP. PELOSI: Yes. And let me just say this, we have–we must, though, internationalize the situation. We cannot take no for an answer. We have to use our diplomacy to the fullest extent to get more international troops on the ground. And we have to truly Iraqitize, internationalize and Iraqitize the situation. Before we can proceed, we have to know what we’re dealing with. There’s quicksand over there. It’s Chalabi one day on the payroll, the next day we’re raiding his house. It’s Brahimi one day

    making the selection of who the new prime minister will be. The next day it’s the Iraqi Governing Council putting forth a name and he finds out about it after the fact. What is going on? What is going on? There’s serious questions here that jeopardize the safety of our troops and their ability to accomplish their mission and come home safely and soon.

  11. Cameron,

    Yes, she did say “yes,” to an increase, but note that she did not say “American” troops. She wanted to see an internationalization of the mission. And again, note what she said:

    But when General Shinseki said we need 300,000 troops, Secretary Wolfowitz said “wildly off the mark,” because they knew a commitment of 300,000 troops would not be acceptable to the American people.

    The RIGHT number of troops would be politically unacceptable to Americans, so the president opts for fewer troops and a failing mission. Why should she support it now? What good does it do now? Would it have done good back then? Yes. But it would have spelled political disaster for the president.

  12. “but note that she did not say “American” troops”

    Actually, she did. The question was:

    MR. RUSSERT: Well, let’s assume all that is wrong. In order to stabilize the situation, NATO has said they have no troops for Iraq, the French, the Germans and Russians saying no.

    Would you send more American troops in order to stabilize the situation?

    So, we get that Speaker Pelosi would like to have more nations involved. But the follow up question was, what if they say no? What then? Do we still send more troops? She said yes.

  13. She still added that the situation needed to be internationalized.

    But seriously, we’re nitpicking right now, Cameron. The issue here is not what Nancy Pelosi would have done. That is a red herring. The essence of this post here is that the current surge advocated by Bush will fail because it 1) does not provide a political solution (the only way to really solve this problem and 2) he’s asking for too few troops for even what he does want to do. He has to pull troops out of Afghanistan in order to have enough for his measly amount! That should tell you something about the ridiculousness of this “surge.”

  14. The intent of the WSJ editorial is that Speaker Pelosi spent the last two and half years calling for more troops in Iraq, even if it meant only US troops, and now that President Bush is calling for more troops, she doesn’t want any. That’s just political gamesmanship.

    Also, in calling for a withdrawal she contradicts herself again. From the same Meet the Press interview:

    Clear and present danger facing the United States is terrorism. We have to solidify, we have to stabilize the situation in Iraq. As secretary of state has said, “You break it, you own it.” We have a responsibility now in Iraq there.

    She linked Iraq to terrorism. She said Iraq is a mess and we have a responsibility to stablalize it. What changed? Has the situation gotten better in Iraq since 2004? Or is it no longer our responsibility?

  15. What changed since 2004? Well the bombing of the mosque in Samarra, for one, starting the civil war. The additional troops would have been handy in 2004. They are no longer handy now. The situation on the ground has changed so as to make what Nancy Pelosi was advocating in 2004 no longer possible. That’s been the way of things with the Bush administration in Iraq. They are constantly doing things two years too late, mostly because they feared a political backlash in the 2004 election.

    To fix Iraq today there are only two viable options. Leave or flood the country with troops (i.e. in the 400,000 to 500,000 range). No other option will succeed.

  16. So now it’s so bad there that it’s no longer our responsibility? We don’t have to fix it anymore like we did in 2004? I thought she said, “you break it you fix it.”

    The two options you give for Iraq are pretty different. What will leaving do? What will flooding the country with troops do?

    If we leave, will the civil war you describe end? Is leaving Iraq going to “fix” it?

  17. Cameron,

    Do you really want to try and manage a civil war? Whose side would you take? No one has ever attempted to manage a civil war, because civil wars are unmanageable. You think insurgencies are bad. Civil Wars are the worst you can get.

    Leaving Iraq removes the crutch and forces the region to get involved. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how we play it. It will end up being good if we negotiate with ALL Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran. This option will never happen with Bush in power, sadly.

    Flooding the country with troops will basically mean that Iraq’s current system will not exist anymore, and we start from scratch. The thing about flooding the country is that you make sure this way that all the borders are secure, that there is no hiding place anymore.

    We broke Iraq, but apparently, at least under Bush, we cannot fix it. As long as Bush is in power, the best and only viable option is to leave Iraq, until America gets better leadership. Otherwise, Americans out there are dying for a losing cause.

  18. Manage a civil war? Isn’t that what Bosnia was? Didn’t they have a bunch of groups that hated eachother trying to kill eachother?

    The point is that Ms. Pelosi said it was our responsibility to “fix” Iraq. I suppose that if leaving it in such horrible shape, civil war and all, is the best way to fix it, then we ought to do that.

  19. In Bosnia, they had an overwhelming force. General Patraeus, who wrote the new counterinsurgency field manual, got his number (20 combat troops per 1000 people) from the experience in Bosnia. 20 combat troops in Baghdad equals 120,000. In Iraq as a whole we currently have about 70,000 combat troops (and an additional 60,000 some odd support troops). Add Bush’s surge of 20,000 and you get 90,000. Just for Baghdad alone and her six million people, you’re still shy 40,000 troops if you place all American combat forces in Iraq into Baghdad!

    It may sound cynical, but the evidence really points to Bush punting Iraq to the next administration. Let the next administration deal with the consequences of withdrawing troops. Note that Bush did not mention what would happen if Iraqis failed to reach his benchmarks. Just what would happen? Revisiting the strategy? More talk? Meanwhile people are dying.

  20. If overwhelming force is needed, and Speaker Pelosi thinks it is our responsibility to fix Iraq, then why isn’t she asking for overwhelming force? Is it solely because it would be political suicide for her to do so, as you claim that to be the reason for President Bush not doing so?

  21. Basically. America never had the political will to sacrifice enough soldiers to accomplish the mission Bush set out to accomplish. Nancy Pelosi was attempting to show that. Bush never recommended the overwhelming force either (even though his own Pentagon did a secret war games back in 1999 and they recommended 400,000 troops—even with that many they foresaw chaos in Iraq).

  22. But you said that our best option is to leave Iraq until America gets better leadership, since President Bush can’t fix the situation.

    But if the only way to fix it is to send more troops, and nobody is willing to send more troops, who is this leader you are waiting for, and why is this person so different than everyone else?

  23. The only way to fix Iraq is to send in 400,000 – 500,000 troops. No one will ever advocate that because it is political suicide, therefore the best plan B is to leave Iraq. Having Americans there worsens the situation. Jihadists are recruiting in numbers based on our presence there. We keep killing many many people, yet terrorism is getting worse, not better. That should send a signal to everybody that the plan is not going well.

  24. Where did you get your military education? What makes you an expert in military strategy? General Patraeus helped author the new joint field manual on counterinsurgency and he believes we have a good chance of success with his new strategy in Iraq.

    I believe that the war will not be won or lost on the battlefield in Iraq. I believe that the war will be lost here at home because uninformed people like you want to give up the fight.

    Be careful what you wish for, our military may be forced to leave Iraq because of defeatists like you. Then, a masacre like history has never seen will spread through Iraq. Chaos will prevail in the region and we will never see peace in our lifetime.

    Richard S. Lowry
    author and military historian

  25. Mr Lowry,

    Welcome to my blog. Thank you for your comments. One thing that might help you out is if you read General Pace’s and Defense Secretary Gates’ recent testimonies to Congress. I quote:

    Pace and Gates said they did not think debate in Congress would hurt the morale of troops in combat, undercutting an assertion by many congressional Republicans that members opposing the war were undermining the fighting forces there.

    “As long as this Congress continues to do what it has done, which is to provide the resources for the mission, the dialogue will be the dialogue, and the troops will feel supported,” Pace said.

    Gates added that troops understand members of Congress want to find the best way to win the war. “I think they’re sophisticated enough to understand that that’s what the debate’s really about,” he said.

    It seems you and your friends at the National Review must rethink your strategy of attacking Americans (wouldn’t that be considered “anti-American”??), and instead believe in a democracy. This is what democracies do. If a policy is failing, they debate and communicate about what might be a better strategy.

    In regards to General Patraeus, I see a discrepancy in what he wrote and what he testified in Congress. Were I a Congressman I would have stressed this point. Why does he think having a ratio of 20 combat troops for every 1000 people is good enough for the official counterinsurgency field manual for the Army, but in an actual situation, he favors far fewer troops? That’s a pretty big contradiction. And it should raise doubts in everybody’s mind about the policy of the “surge.”

    I believe that the war will be lost here at home because uninformed people like you want to give up the fight.

    Hardly. Wars are won and lost on the battlefield. Those who you should be berating are the military and civilian leaders who are failing you, Mr. Lowry.

    Let me give you an analogy. Say you are playing chess with an opponent. You decide you want to move your knight to a certain position. I see that the move will be bad for you and whisper in your ear to reconsider. You berate me and move anyways. In the next move, your knight is taken. Who failed? Was it me who told you the plan was bad, or you who executed the plan?

    Finally, I offer Theodore Roosevelt for your learning and instruction:

    “The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

    You are on the wrong side, Mr. Lowry.

  26. Again,

    You need to check your facts. I am not the Rich Lowry from the National Review.

    And, your answer, while certainly interesting, had nothing to do with my original comments.

    You commented that the only way to fix Iraq would be to send 400,000 or 500,000 troops, then you pick at a general rule of thumb in the new fm3-24 of 20/1000 ratio.

    Again, where did you get your military experience? Do you even know what the ratio will be once the build-up in Baghdad is complete? Did you know that the Iraqi Army is sending three additional Brigades to Baghdad?

    Do you have any clue what the Baghdad Security Plan is all about?

    Next, you say that wars are won and lost on the battlefield. Where did you get this pearl of military wisdom? Wherever you got it, ITS WRONG!

    We won every single battle in the Vietnam War, yet we lost in Vietnam because, right or wrong, the American Public lost their will to continue. Ask any military expert. Wars are won by eliminating ones opponents desire to continue.

    As for your analogy, it is well and good to speak out for what you believe is right. Although, as an author who is read by many, you have a responsibility to make sure you segregate your opnions from the facts.

    If you want to comment on military strategy, I suggest you read FM3-24 and myriad other documents and books that are available on the subject of our conflict in Iraq.

    Richard S. Lowry
    author and military historian

  27. Richard, you had me up until this sentence: We won every single battle in the Vietnam War, yet we lost in Vietnam because, right or wrong, the American Public lost their will to continue.

    I don’t think that’s correct. I don’t think that can be proved per se. You are confusing qualitiative and quantitive results.

  28. Mr. Lowry,

    Forgive me for confusing you with the other Rich Lowry.

    Do you even know what the ratio will be once the build-up in Baghdad is complete? Did you know that the Iraqi Army is sending three additional Brigades to Baghdad?

    Yes, I know what the ratio will be, and it will not be enough. The Generals themselves say so. Read here

    The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus’s team are:
    · Insufficent numbers of troops on the ground

    This is General Patraeus’ generals who are saying this. Who are you listening to, Mr. Lowry?

    Do you have any clue what the Baghdad Security Plan is all about?

    Yes I do. This is a plan that should have been implemented THREE YEARS AGO, but the incompetent Bush was too concerned with the 2004 election. He didn’t want to be perceived as a failure during that election.

    This “security plan” is intended to dampen the violence in Baghdad. It is intended (foolishly) to go after al-Sadr’s forces in Sadr City, as well as Sunni insurgents in Sunni territories. Unfortunately Mr. Kagan at the AEI and all his followers, don’t realize that this situation requires a political solution, not a military solution. Shi’ites have all told each other to sit back, lie low, let the Americans do the killings of Sunnis for them, and wait until the “security plan” is complete. Then they can do what they want when the Americans leave.

    The real answer lies in the political realm. Can a military historian understand this? Does a military historian have the qualifications to talk about political processes? I think a military historian has as much qualification to talk about the political world as a political scientist has to talk about military strategies, what do you say, Mr. Lowry?

    Next, you say that wars are won and lost on the battlefield. Where did you get this pearl of military wisdom? Wherever you got it, ITS WRONG!

    Huh, let’s see, Japan lost because their military failed to stop the United States from dropping two nuclear bombs on its cities. Germany lost the war because their military was decimated against the Soviet Union, not because political support failed back home. Hmmm, let’s look at all sorts of other failures and see just why people lose wars. And you know what you find, wars are lost on the battlefield. Are you sure you are a “military historian?”

    We won every single battle in the Vietnam War, yet we lost in Vietnam because, right or wrong, the American Public lost their will to continue.

    We have have won the battles, but we lost the hearts of the Vietnamese. I am still befuddled by this, how the mighty United States could lose to the puny Vietnamese, but there we are, we lost. It had nothing to do with what was going on back home. It was all a matter of how well we won the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese, and let me tell you, we lost, badly.

  29. by the way, you didn’t comment on General Pace and Defense Secretary Gate’s comments about debating the war at home and troop morale in the field:

    Pace and Gates said they did not think debate in Congress would hurt the morale of troops in combat, undercutting an assertion by many congressional Republicans that members opposing the war were undermining the fighting forces there.

    “As long as this Congress continues to do what it has done, which is to provide the resources for the mission, the dialogue will be the dialogue, and the troops will feel supported,” Pace said.

    Gates added that troops understand members of Congress want to find the best way to win the war. “I think they’re sophisticated enough to understand that that’s what the debate’s really about,” he said.

    Are they wrong?

  30. Let me try to address your statements, one by one.

    “Yes, I know what the ratio will be, and it will not be enough. ”

    It may now not be enough if we are forced to send 4,000 American troops south, but you quote this article in support of your argument and ignore another point where Petraeus’ Brain Trust is quoted as saying that loss of heart in the American government is another factor. That is my point exactly.

    “This is General Patraeus’ generals who are saying this. Who are you listening to, Mr. Lowry?”

    I have read fm3-24 in its entirety. I have read “28 Articles” by David Kilcullen. I have read “The Advent of NetWar,” by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt and “Crack in the Foundation,” by H.R. McMaster and many more studies and presentations. Additionally, I am in direct communication with Colonel McMaster and General Petraeus. (While the article you quoted is hot off the press, I have not yet had a chance to confirm these opinions with them directly.)

    Suffice it to say that their biggest worry is that they will not have the time to make the Baghdad Security Plan work before the American people “pull the plug.” This was precisely my argument.

    Petraeus wants to implement a counterinsurgency war. You will find that military operations will only be a small component of his plan. He wants to establish security so Iraqi children can go to school and their parents can work to support their families, in peace.

    To do this, the Multi-National Force-Iraq will move in and clear neighborhoods and then stay. They will establish 32 Local Security Stations throughout the City. These neighborhood police stations will be manned by American and Iraqi Army troops, as well as Iraqi Police – 24/7. Once a modicum of security has been established, the Iraqi government is going to move in and conduct SWET operations, with the help of the American forces.

    SWET stands for Sewers, Water, Electricity and Trash Collection. In addition, the Iraqi government is preparing to pour megabucks into local construction projects. The “Surge” is much more than a military plan to kill all the bad guys.

    According to modern counterinsurgent doctrine, our forces will not go looking for a fight (they will defend themselves and they will defeat insurgent attacks) but their primary goal will be to bring peace and prosperity to the people of Baghdad.

    In my opinion, the security forces WILL NOT go after Sadr. They will work to marginalize his position and show the people of Baghdad that Sadr’s methods will only bring more violence and unrest.

    This will be a very difficult task, and yes, the task would be easier with more boots on the ground.

    “Unfortunately Mr. Kagan at the AEI and all his followers, don’t realize that this situation requires a political solution, not a military solution.”

    Politics will be an integral part of the Baghdad Security Plan, both at home and overseas. Have you missed the announcement that the US is now willing to sit in on multi-national talks between Syria, Iran and Iraq, to be held in Baghdad soon? These talks are part of the plan.

    “And you know what you find, wars are lost on the battlefield. Are you sure you are a “military historian?””

    First, Sir, there is no need to insult me. Second, The Vietnam War was NOT won on the battlefield, it was LOST because America withdrew its support of the South Vietnamese Government. Again I will state; American Forces won every military encounter on the battlefield in Vietnam. Lastly, let me quote the first paragraph from the new Counterinsurcency Manual FM3-24

    “The United States possesses overwhelming conventional military superiority. This capability has pushed its
    enemies to fight U.S. forces unconventionally, mixing modern technology with ancient techniques of insurgency
    and terrorism. Most enemies either do not try to defeat the United States with conventional operations or
    do not limit themselves to purely military means. They know that they cannot compete with U.S. forces on
    those terms. Instead, they try to exhaust U.S. national will, aiming to win by undermining and outlasting public
    support. Defeating such enemies presents a huge challenge to the Army and Marine Corps. Meeting it requires
    creative efforts by every Soldier and Marine.”

    General Pace was speaking of the morale of our troops when asked about Congressional debate. Our young men and women in uniform will never give up the fight, but as you read above, these debates and criticisms are eroding our national will.

  31. Mr. Lowry,

    First, Sir, there is no need to insult me.

    You’ll find that this insult is somewhat a retaliation of your insult to me. You call me a “defeatist” and question my knowledge of history. It is only fair. If you wish not to be insulted, don’t insult first.

    Petraeus’ Brain Trust is quoted as saying that loss of heart in the American government is another factor. That is my point exactly.

    On the other hand, General Pace and Defense Secretary Gates contradict that logic, saying that our debate here does not hurt troop morale. This contradiction is quite stark. Who am I to trust telling the truth? The Defense Secretary and Chief of Staff or General Patraeus? One is lying and the other is not. And I note, you still haven’t responded to my question regarding what the two top leaders of the United States military have said about troop morale and democratic debates at home….

    Suffice it to say that their biggest worry is that they will not have the time to make the Baghdad Security Plan work before the American people “pull the plug.”

    Can you blame Americans? This plan that Patraeus has in mind should have been implemented THREE YEARS AGO. If you don’t give Americans a victory they turn on you. And as far as who is a “defeatist,” I’m sorry but you are basically calling 70% of the American people defeatist. That’s about how many are against the “surge” and the war in Iraq.

    By the way, the way you describe the plan sounds very sensible and, well, very accurate to what needs to be done. I wonder why Bush is not selling the surge in such detail? Does he think he will bore Americans to death?

    I’m no anti-war dove, Mr. Lowry. I’m for doing the job right if you are going to do it. The problem is that Iraq was wrong from the start, just like Vietnam was wrong from the start. When your plan is flawed, it will not work right, no matter how good the people are. In the case of Iraq, it is doubly worse, because the people running the show are not only flawed, but utterly and even criminally inept! What the hell was Bremer thinking disbanding the Iraqi Army? What the hell was he thinking with his stupid de-Baathification plan? Who the hell did he think was going to be able to run all those complex governmental institutions, except those who had run it for all their lives? What an idiot!

    The “Surge” is much more than a military plan to kill all the bad guys.

    Then why is it being sold like it is?

    In my opinion, the security forces WILL NOT go after Sadr.

    I’ve heard conflicting reports, some saying a confrontation is looming, while others saying it would be nigh impossible to do so without severely undermining Maliki’s government (after all Sadrites are his base!).

    Have you missed the announcement that the US is now willing to sit in on multi-national talks between Syria, Iran and Iraq, to be held in Baghdad soon? These talks are part of the plan.

    That was part of the plan all along? That is hard to believe, seeing that this president has publicly stated that he will not have talks with Iran and Syria. Then he moved the goalposts and said “direct talks.” But then again, we already know that Bush is a certifiable liar. How can anyone trust any word that comes out of his mouth?

    Second, The Vietnam War was NOT won on the battlefield, it was LOST because America withdrew its support of the South Vietnamese Government.

    Vietnam was lost for many reasons, the greatest of which is that Americans saw that they were duped falsely into this war (Gulf of Tonkin resolution), and that there were no certifiable gains (no matter how many North Vietnamese we killed, they still fought us with greater ferocity than we were willing to fight them—after all, we were invading their land; if someone invaded America, we would fight like rabid lions).

    America is pretty simple to read regarding military conflicts. If you give America a victory, they will back you. If you can’t give them a victory, they will turn on you. So you better be damned well prepared to win, or you better not start a fight at all.

    “Instead, they try to exhaust U.S. national will, aiming to win by undermining and outlasting public
    support.”

    And if we were in the same position, we would be employing exactly the same strategies and tactics. As a military historian you should understand this, and when preparing a nation for war, account for the fact that the enemy will try to undermine your support at home. How do you counter that? By calling your political opponents “defeatists” and Chamberlain appeasers? Certainly not! The more you insult your own, the more you divide them from yourself. The more you call me a defeatist, the more I will not relate to you and consider you a war-mongering loon. How does that help in unifying the country behind the conflict?

    Secondly, look at wars that we won with great support from the people. Can you see any difference in how political leaders then differed than political leaders now who insult half the country?

    as you read above, these debates and criticisms are eroding our national will.

    Again, General Pace and Defense Secretary Gates contradict this. Whom am I to believe?

  32. And if we were in the same position, we would be employing exactly the same strategies and tactics.

    Let me expand on this if I can. The British fought a rebellion in the Americas against the 13 states that withdrew from His Majesty’s Magnificent British Empire.

    How many of the battles did the British win against Washington’s armies? How many battles did Washington win against the British? Why did the British finally decide to let America go free? You’re a military historian. What say you?

  33. You are a much better debater than I. I concede that I will never pin you down. And you certainly can hurl insults better than I.

    Defeatist

    war-mongering loon

    This will be my last post, because you are too slippery for me.

    “On the other hand, General Pace and Defense Secretary Gates contradict that logic, saying that our debate here does not hurt troop morale.”

    The article quoted a military concept that loss of political will on the homefront will be a contributing factor. Neither the article, nor I said anything about a conflict between what Patraeus’ guys think and what Pace and Gates said about the morale of our troops. I am sorry I was not clear in the differentiation between morale of the troops and support at home.

    “By the way, the way you describe the plan sounds very sensible and, well, very accurate to what needs to be done. I wonder why Bush is not selling the surge in such detail? Does he think he will bore Americans to death?”

    Thank you. The plan is sensible. I can’t speak for President Bush. We all know that one of his short comings is public speaking. But, making disparaging remarks about the president is completely off subject and not pertinent to my explanation of the plan.

    “That was part of the plan all along? That is hard to believe, seeing that this president has publicly stated that he will not have talks with Iran and Syria. Then he moved the goalposts and said “direct talks.” But then again, we already know that Bush is a certifiable liar. How can anyone trust any word that comes out of his mouth?”

    No, that was not part of the plan – all along. Did you read the entire Guardian article. The plan is changing daily. Please try to give General Petraeus a chance at success without dragging up past mistakes with insults. My point again was simple, and addressed your first statement. Politics is being considered and the plan will include all political parties in Iraq and the region.

    There is one basic law of winning wars. “Remove your opponent’s will to continue” You can kill all the enemy or you can cut off funding to the enemy’s troops. All wars are multi-faceted and there are many reasons for going to war and for winning and losing. But, it really boils down to one side no longer having the will to continue. In Vietnam, (Like I said earlier, for right or wrong) the American People no longer wanted to continue the fight.

    “And if we were in the same position, we would be employing exactly the same strategies and tactics. As a military historian you should understand this, and when preparing a nation for war, account for the fact that the enemy will try to undermine your support at home.”

    And what does this have to do with our discussion, or the current situation in Iraq?

    “Again, General Pace and Defense Secretary Gates contradict this. Whom am I to believe?”

    Read carefully. Gates and Pace were speaking of the morale of our troop. My comments and the intro to FM3-24 speaks of PUBLIC support.

    Parting observation. You should really restrict the use of the word “liar” and the correct spelling is Petraeus.

    Richard S. Lowry

  34. Mr. Lowry,

    well thank you for stopping by then. Sorry for the mistake in General Petraeus’ name. For some reason I kept thinking I saw it with an “a” in news sources. Forgive the error.

    There is one basic law of winning wars. “Remove your opponent’s will to continue”

    I think you state something very important here about winning wars. No matter how many battle victories one side wins, wars are lost when the will is gone to fight. We lost Vietnam for that reason; we’re losing Iraq for that reason; the British lost the Revolutionary war for this reason.

    That said, why don’t our military and political leaders account for this and prepare the people to stand united? Why do they resort to divisive politics, calling those who question policies “defeatists?”

    I hope you still frequent the site, but I understand.

  35. Daniel,

    Thank you for the gracious invitation to return. If you would like, I could drop by occasionally and update you on what is really happening in Baghdad.

    BTW, I just received an email from Baghdad. General Petraeus will be holding a press conference next week and I am told that he will address the Guardian article then.

    Kind Regards,

    Richard

  36. If you wish not to be insulted, don’t insult first.

    Seriously? Wow, that’s reactionary. Ever hear, turn the other cheek…Oh, and Dan, don’t insult me when you respond to this. It isn’t becoming.

  37. We have have won the battles, but we lost the hearts of the Vietnamese. I am still befuddled by this, how the mighty United States could lose to the puny Vietnamese, but there we are, we lost. It had nothing to do with what was going on back home. It was all a matter of how well we won the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese, and let me tell you, we lost, badly.

    Actually, this is another qualitative or normative answer to a quantitive observation. We didn’t lose per se because we “lost the hearts” of the Vietnam people. We lost because we were using conventional warfare in a unconventional war. We lost because we found ourself in the middle of a civil war that we didn’t understand as such. There’s other reasons, but I personally prefer the descriptive explanations rather than the normative.

    Richard, I hope you come back. I appreciate your comments.

  38. Mr. Lowry,

    Yes, I would very much like that. Forgive my defensive posturing in earlier comments. You had come on here calling me defeatist, which I’ve heard before, and as such responded strongly.

    I’d love to have a good and healthy conversation on what is happening in Iraq, whether or not we are winning or can even win. We certainly won’t be achieving the original goals of the mission: a pro-western representative democracy. If we can barely get the country stable that would be a miracle.

    I have high respect for General Petraeus. His work in Najaf was successful. Unfortunately for him, and for America, Donald Rumsfeld’s foolish attempts to do nation-building with too few troops make General Petraeus’ work in Najaf in vain, because the moment he left, it fell again to sectarian violence.

    I am befuddled at the Pentagon. In their own 1999 war games on invading Iraq, they recommended at least 400,000 troops, and even then they were highly concerned that chaos would ensue and that sectarian bloodshed would envelop the country. General Shinseki had also recommended that number before the war and Rumsfeld threw him out. Will Petraeus’ plan counter these negative initial and very costly errors? My gut feeling tells me no, but I am allowing myself to be surprised.

    My concerns with this “surge” is that in August of last year, another “surge” was attempted in Baghdad. True, that surge did not include SWET operations, as far as I can tell. Violence increased by 21% after that Operation failed.

    With Shi’as telling each other to lay low, what’s to say the same won’t happen now?

  39. Yes, I would very much like that. Forgive my defensive posturing in earlier comments. You had come on here calling me defeatist, which I’ve heard before, and as such responded strongly.

    I’m impressed Dan.

    As far as General Petraeus goes, I respect the man. I’m really interested to see what happens. Honestly, my expectations with the surge are very low, but I’m not hopeless yet about the Iraq situation.

  40. Mr. Lowry,

    I created a page called “On Iraq” where we can talk about any updates from the country about the war and about the surge.

    Dan

  41. “I think the ‘surge’ is working,” -Jack Murtha

    Having a fun time reading all this stuff about how the surge would fail. LOL

  42. Too bad Jack Murtha is wrong.

  43. I thought I would post a quote from one of your posts many months ago:

    “To fix Iraq today there are only two viable options. Leave or flood the country with troops (i.e. in the 400,000 to 500,000 range). No other option will succeed.”

  44. Ah, Mr. Lowry. I see you’ve come to gloat at your apparent “victory.”

    I wonder, just how is that political reconciliation going, Mr. Lowry. Was that not the STATED intent of the all-powerful Surge? If you wish to gloat over a victory, please do so only AFTER you actually achieved a victory. To this point you have not.

  45. Furthermore, in this piece here I quote the following:

    “Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

    “According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s…

    “Conway said U.S. commanders understand that the Afghan war is an “economy of force” operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq…

    Now that’s truly fascinating seeing that the Bush administration is realizing that they are failing in Afghanistan, the source of the REAL enemy of the United States.

    The military is realizing, too late of course (always too late) that their actions are having detrimental effects in other critical areas. Of course, if the Bush administration would have given the military the proper amount of troops, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Or, hey, here’s a brilliant idea. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq in the first place.

  46. The SURGE worked in Iraq.

  47. welcome back Mr. Lowry. And no, the surge did not work in Iraq. I go solely by the original stated goals. On those goals, the surge failed miserably. Now, on the moved goalposts, yeah, the surge got some goals.

  48. Again, the SURGE worked in Iraq.

  49. Looks like the surge worked.

  50. Again, NO, the Surge did not work in Iraq. But then again, this is your idea of “victory” which I quote from one of your long ago comments up above:

    “We won every single battle in the Vietnam War, yet we lost in Vietnam because, right or wrong, the American Public lost their will to continue.”

    So if in your mind you think we won, then we won, regardless of what the facts on the ground actually look like. Congratulations, Mr. Lowry, you always win.

    In the real world, sectarian violence continues; the various sects no longer live in mixed neighborhoods; Baghdad is torn apart by walls and blockades and checkpoints; al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to kill Iraqis and supposedly plant their own flag in the country.

    However, if we go by Mr. Lowry’s fantasy, then surely he’s all for leaving the country right away. Why waste more money on this if we won, right?

  51. 396 civilians dead last month. Heckuva job.

  52. 396? That’s not bad. I thought you said the surge was going to make things worse? 396 civilian dead probably puts Iraq back where it used to be with Saddam running things. So…. looks the surge worked.

  53. no, actually it didn’t.

    but hey if your measure of success is to get a country to the level of a two bit dictator, wow…you really think low of America and her capabilities.

  54. according to you, the only way to make things work is more troops. If you’d like I can find your closest recruiting station?

  55. um, not anymore. The window of opportunity closed long ago.

  56. well whose fault is that? Anyways

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/3584117

    looks like Obama thinks the surge worked good enough…

  57. huh, I don’t see him extolling the virtues of the surge in that speech. He promised to end the war by this August, and now he has done it. Good for him. That’s exactly why I voted for him. He’s fulfilled his promise, and as such I shall reelect him in 2012.

  58. 2+2=4. If the surge hadn’t worked, we wouldn’t be able to pull troops out. If the surge had failed and made things worse as you predicted we would have left firing over our shoulders. Such is not the case though. Obama can pull troops out because the surge worked. 2+2=4.

  59. 2+2 does indeed equal 4, but I don’t think you know what is equal to the first 2 and the second 2. More American troops did not come into that 2+2=4 equation where 4= a reduction in violence. The first 2 was the completion of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and of all mixed neighborhoods in Iraq, which was essentially over before the surge began. The second 2 was the rise in the Sunni Awakening which occurred in the September before the surge was even announced. Sorry dude, but you’ve got it all wrong.

  60. watch how easy it is to move the goalposts. 2+2+2=6. See. It’s that easy.

  61. The first 2 is the change in military strategy (the surge) the 2nd 2 is a security state conducive to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from iraq and 4 is the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

  62. well sure, in fantasy world, those 2 and 2 do equal 4. But nowhere in your equation do you account for ethnic cleansing or the Anbar Awakening which both occurred before the surge even began. please stop the madness now. If you continue on this topic, I will delete your comments.

  63. sure of course you’ll delete comments that you can’t refute. I would expect nothing less. But first, can you please inform me what “ethnicity” was trying to cleanse what other “ethnicity” from Iraq? Thanks. If you delete this I will consider that you have conceded to defeat.

  64. Sunnis and Shiites. Duh.


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