The Arrogance of American Military Strategists

February 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Iraq | 7 Comments

Thomas Ricks is a fairly intelligent guy, and his pieces on Iraq are generally quite good. But his current one about Iraq really bothers me. It bothers me for a couple of reasons.

One reason is that he (like all his military buds) think American citizens don’t understand enough of what is going on, and we should “trust them” to get it right. These are of course the very same guys who said we should trust them at the start of the war. These very same guys have not yet been punished for being wrong. They have not been fired from their jobs. They continue to spout their trash, and we’re supposed to somehow trust them.

Secondly, note the language he uses:

The thought of having small numbers of U.S. troops dying for years to come in the country’s deserts and palm groves isn’t appealing, but it appears to be better than either being ejected or pulling out — and letting the genocidal chips fall where they may…

…Many worried that as the United States withdraws and its influence wanes, the Iraqi tendency toward violent solutions will increase.

Because of course Iraqis only know “genocide?” What a bunch of arrogant American bull crap. We’re supposedly a more “civilized” nation, and a substandard nation like Iraq cannot be trusted to finding ways outside violence to deal with things. We, the United States. The one that goes around interjecting in the affairs of other nations. We, the United States, who have a lot of blood on our hands. We have killed a hell of a lot of people these past eight years (let alone the past sixty years since World War II in our attempt to “civilize” the world).

It should be noted, for remembrance, that Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party was supported by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. It also should be noted, for remembrance, that it was the set policy of the United States of America, during the 1980s that if Saddam Hussein needed anything against the Iranians, he would get it from the Americans, or America would avert attention from such things as chemical weapons. It also should be noted, for remembrance, that during those same 1980s, the United States of America also sold weapons to the other side, the mortal enemy of Iraq, the fundamentalists of Iran, essentially making the United States play both sides against each other. For what purpose exactly? Who the hell cares. The point was that we ADDED to the violence in the region. And WE’RE supposed to be trusted to reduce violence in the region?

Maj. Matt Whitney, who spent 2006 advising Iraqi generals, predicted that once U.S. forces were out of the way, Iraqi commanders would relapse to the brutal ways of earlier days: “Saddam Hussein taught them how to [suppress urban populations] and we’ve just reinforced that lesson for four years,” he said. “They’re ready to kill people — a lot of people — in order to get stability in Iraq.”

Major Whitney hit it right on the nail, the problem of having the Americans involved in the region. “[Americans] are ready to kill people — a lot of people — in order to get stability in Iraq.” We’re teaching Iraqis how to solve problems through violence and we expect the Iraqis to NOT use violence to solve their problems?

In other words, the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably haven’t even happened yet.

And that is just sad. I hope President Obama sticks to his campaign promise to remove troops from Iraq within the first sixteen months (or so), and not listen to commanders like these who have CONSISTENTLY been wrong about Iraq. Most Americans want out. It is not up to us to decide for the Iraqis how violent they need to be in order to produce a good outcome for them. It is up to them to decide that. We already introduced enough violence upon them. Let them continue the killings amongst themselves if that is what they deem best. We need our soldiers back here to defend our homes, not the homes of Iraqis.

There He Goes Again

May 5, 2008 at 3:22 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Iran, Iraq, Michael Gordon, Military, War | Leave a comment

Michael Gordon carries the water for the Bush administration yet again, unquestioningly passing along any information “American officials” wish to pass along to their best enabler, Mr. Gordon. This time is it the salacious news that Hezbollah (our mortal enemy) has been training Iraqis in Iran (duh duh duh!)!

There has been debate among experts about the extent to which Iran is responsible for instability in Iraq. But President Bush and other American officials, in public castigations of Iran, have said that Iran has been consistently meddlesome in Iraq and that the Iranians have long sought to arm and train Iraqi militias, which the American military has called “special groups.”

In a possible effort to be less obtrusive, it appears that Iran is now bringing small groups of Iraqi Shiite militants to camps in Iran, where they are taught how to do their own training, American officials say.

Because of course, “American officials” are, er…uh, never wrong. But just read those two paragraphs closely. Iran, responsible for instability in Iraq? Who is the biggest provider of weapons and training in Iraq of various militias and non-state actors? Why it is the United States! In a competition between the United States and Iran, which of the two nations has directly killed more civilians than the other? Uh, this should be a no brainer, but for those kool-aid drinking war supporters, the answer is the United States. It is the United States that is sowing instability in Iraq at a far greater rate than Iran could ever do.

Those dratted meddlesome Iranians. If it weren’t for those blasted kids and their dog!

Tens of Thousands of Interrogations

March 13, 2008 at 5:36 am | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

I think the Pentagon accidentally let the cat out of the bag, basically telling us just how many detainees they have and how many interrogations took place (both within the law, and both torture). Tens of thousands.

The officials said it appeared that only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of interrogations worldwide since 2001 had been recorded.

The only reason I care about this number is the same reason I care about the number of bullets apparently fired in Iraq since the war in Iraq began.

Don’t forget the small statistics, which are often the most striking. According to John Pike, the head of the research group GlobalSecurity.org, an estimated 250,000 bullets have been fired for every insurgent killed in Iraq. That’s not just a waste of ammunition; it’s also a reflection of how badly the country has been damaged and how indiscriminate some of the fighting has been.

250,000 bullets for every insurgent killed. Tens of thousands of interrogations of detainees and we’re still nowhere close to knocking out Al-Qaeda. Doesn’t this just seem rather inefficient and wasteful? You’d think after tens of thousands of interrogations we’d get that “Mosaic” that we’re so apparently desperate to view. You’d think after so many bullets fired we’d have killed all of the bad guys out there.

No Link Between Saddam and Al-Qaeda

March 11, 2008 at 6:01 am | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

No surprise to anyone who was against the war from the start, but it is nice to see the Pentagon agreeing with us, that there really were no ties between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.

So let’s review the list of reasons for going into Iraq in the first place.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.

Oh, oops. Scratch that one off the list.

Thomas Friedman on The Reason We Went Into Iraq

March 6, 2008 at 5:09 pm | Posted in Iraq | 1 Comment

Truly astonishing.

The War in Iraq: A Waste of Precious Resources

March 3, 2008 at 9:37 am | Posted in Iraq | 6 Comments

I’ve talked before about how the war in Iraq is a waste, completely unnecessary, and a tragic loss of precious, valuable resources, both human and other. One writer has estimated that the war will cost $3 trillion dollars. Over at Crooked Timber, Daniel puts it in perspective:

* The cost of the Iraq War could have underwritten Social Security for fifty years. This brings home one of the points Max Sawicky always made in the SS debate (in general to a brick wall). Although the headline amounts associated with these problems are scary, they are actually not all that much as a percentage of GDP. The Iraq War is a horrific waste of money, but I don’t think anyone would actually try and claim that it literally can’t be afforded. Similarly with the Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security nexus of funding costs; it’s absolutely clear that the productive capacity of the US economy can pay for these things, it’s just a question of whether there is political will to do so, or whether the government would rather spend the money on killing hundreds of thousands of people overseas for no very obvious benefit.

* It’s not often that one gets to correct a Nobel Prize winner, so I will take the opportunity. Stiglitz is qutoed as saying that “Money spent on armaments is money poured down the drain”. This is actually the best case for armaments spending from an economic point of view. Most of the time, when armaments are used, they damage something valuable. If all the bullets fired in Iraq had been poured down the drain instead, the world economy would be massively better off, even allowing for the cost of cleaning up the pollution caused in the drain.

* Three trillion dollars really could have solved a lot of world problems. For example, it would have funded a once-and-for-all offer to the entire population of Gaza, the West Bank and the UNRWA refugee camps of half a million dollars each to slope off and stop bothering the Israelis. That’s the sort of money we’re talking about here.

Others have written about the cost of the war in perspective, but I just thought those were good points.

At some point Americans are going to have to decide to stop listening to the warmongers like Bill Kristol and the rest of his ilk. It is time to end this travesty.

George Bush and His Supporters Lied About Iraq

January 23, 2008 at 10:27 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Iraq | 1 Comment

and here is all the evidence. George Bush himself was the worst offender, lying 260 times. No surprise there. What is surprising is that the second worst offender was Colin Powell. Shame on you, Mr. Powell.

UPDATE: Mother Jones also has a good timeline detailing the lies.

Quote of the Day – General Schwarzkopf

January 16, 2008 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

“I am certain that had we taken all of Iraq, we would have been like the dinosaur in the tar pit—we would still be there, and we, not the United Nations, would be bearing the costs of that occupation.”

As quoted in Thomas Ricks’ book, “Fiasco.”

Yesterday, we read:

The Iraqi defense minister said Monday that his nation would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012, nor be able on its own to defend Iraq’s borders from external threat until at least 2018.

Those comments from the minister, Abdul Qadir, were among the most specific public projections of a timeline for the American commitment in Iraq by officials in either Washington or Baghdad. And they suggested a longer commitment than either government had previously indicated.

Pentagon officials expressed no surprise at Mr. Qadir’s projections, which were even less optimistic than those he made last year.

One wonders, if they were less optimistic than they were last year, just how this defense minister will feel in January 2009!

The Depravity of Halliburton and KBR

December 20, 2007 at 12:54 pm | Posted in corruption, halliburton, Iraq, kbr | Leave a comment

Out of their many crimes against humanity will this one finally put a stake in their heart?

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

December 17, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq | 7 Comments

Remember, we didn’t actually NEED to go into Iraq. There really wasn’t any urgency. We knew there was no actual urgency in 2002, but the Bush administration pushed for the war anyways, diverting attention from Afghanistan into an unneeded war. Well, guess what? The administration now sees Afghanistan as the bigger threat. Heh. The irony.

Administration officials say the White House has become more concerned in recent months about the situation in Afghanistan, where grinding poverty, rampant corruption, poor infrastructure and the growing challenge from the Taliban are hindering U.S. stabilization efforts. Senior administration officials now believe Afghanistan may pose a greater longer-term challenge than Iraq.

Duh. We could have told you that (and we did) back in 2002 when you were shifting attention to Iraq. Our REAL enemy has always been in Afghanistan, you dope.

Various Items

December 15, 2007 at 6:52 am | Posted in America, American politics, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bush Administration, CIA, Civil War, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democrats, Ethiopia, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, mukasey, Musharraf, Pakistan, Peace, Republicans, secret combinations, Somalia, Terrorism, Thoughts, War, World Events | Leave a comment

There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.

Justice Department Seeks Delay in CIA Tapes

Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?

Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?

I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!

Musharraf Lifts Pakistan’s State of Emergency.

Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.

Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.

So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?

Ethiopians said to push civilians into rebel war.

This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.

Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza a beggar state

I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.

It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?

Voters offer mixed responses on Clemens’ HOF chances

On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.

“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.

“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”

I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.

More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.

Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?

Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.

Remember that.

Mitchell Report can’t be good for baseball’s short term business

Read for yourself:

George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.

As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.

The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.

Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.

American War Hawks, Wrong on Iraq, Wrong on Iran

December 11, 2007 at 9:01 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Iran, Iraq, War | 12 Comments

They were wrong about Iraq. So they shifted their target to Iran. Now that the NIE has proven them wrong, I wonder who the next target will be. Will they turn on Saudi Arabia, where most of our “real” enemies come from? Will they pick lowly Yemen? We’ve got (or had) a bunch of Yemenis in Guantanamo Bay prison. Maybe Algeria if Islamic insurgents overthrow the military government. We know they won’t shift away from the Middle East. They’re too addicted to the oil. In any case, TalkingPointsMemo created a nice little tribute to America’s warmongers.

The Bumbling Condoleezza Rice in Non-Action

November 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Bumiller is writing a biography about Condoleezza Rice and released an excerpt to the New York Times highlighting an aspect of Ms. Rice’s…well, non-action over the last seven years on peace between Israel and Palestinians. Ms. Bumiller perfectly highlights that Ms. Rice was at the forefront of all the bad decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also points out that Ms. Rice pushed Israel to not be so harsh on the Palestinians just before the war in Iraq. After all, we can’t have our coalition be severely hampered by a sideshow.

Then we get to the best part. This is where Ms. Rice shows how inept, how ignorant, and how much of a bumbling fool she really is in regards to the Middle East.

When Ms. Rice became secretary of state in the second term, she told Mr. Bush in a long conversation at Camp David the weekend after the 2004 election that her priority would have to be progress in the Middle East. It was a turning point in more ways than one; Mr. Arafat died a few days later. Although Ms. Rice said in an interview that she had set no conditions when she took the job, her aides said that she had known that her relationship with the president would give her far greater influence to push an agenda, including peacemaking in the Middle East, than Mr. Powell’s.

You’d think that would be enough, but, well…

Accordingly, Ms. Rice spent much of 2005 working on the Gaza withdrawal that she thought would contribute to stability. Instead, it was seen as so emboldening the radicals that in early 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections over Mr. Abbas and his governing party, Fatah.

If one paid close attention to what was happening in Israel/Palestine from 2001-2006, one would have surmised that Israel was purposefully pushing Palestinians toward radicalism. For instance, a suicide bomber would blow himself and ten people up in Haifa. Hamas or Islamic Jihad would claim responsibility. What was Israel’s reaction? Why, they would bomb a Fatah police station! What? Huh? Now, why the hell would they do that, when Fatah was trying to rein in groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Why would Israel purposefully undermine the very organization that could lead Palestinians toward moderation and possibly peace? See, bombing a Fatah police station sends a particular message to Palestinians. The message is: Israelis don’t really want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis.

Enter the bumbling Ms. Rice. She continued this foolish stupid policy, completely ignored Arafat and Fatah, and tried to get Abbas elected and in power. But then when Abbas did win, she offered him nothing. This sent another message to Palestinians. The same one: Israel and the West don’t want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis and the West. See, by raising up Abbas, and then short-shrifting him, Ms. Rice set up the following event:

Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.

“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’

She and the Israelis under Sharon set the stage for Hamas to win and then she is surprised that they won. Either she is acting or she is a complete bumbling ignorant fool. I’m going with the latter.

It then gets even worse. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in a brazen attack, kills several Israeli soldiers and captures two. This set off a wild summer in 2006. What did Ms. Rice do that summer?

Ms. Rice’s credibility was further damaged when she delayed calling for a cease-fire as Israel plunged into a two-front war in Lebanon and Gaza that summer. By the end of 2006, with the peace efforts in shambles and the administration’s time running out, Ms. Rice began to pick up the pieces.

Ms. Bumiller, as a biographer, is being kind to Ms. Rice. She does not mention Ms. Rice’s most unfortunate words:

But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.

What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

RICE: And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.

The birth pangs of a new Middle East?

This is how ignorant and lame Ms. Rice is on the Middle East. Not only was she wrong about Hamas, not only was she wrong about Hezbollah, but both have increased their positions of strength and influence since she got “involved.” Israel lost its aura of invincibility by “losing” to a ragtag group of terrorists. Oh and Israel still has yet to get back its two soldiers.

Just keep all this in mind when Ms. Rice attempts any future “talks on peace” in the Middle East. She is more worried right now about her “legacy” than actually about making peace in the Middle East.

If she truly would want to make peace in the Middle East, her first visit as of right now, should be to Tehran.

Iraq, a Long Hard Slog

November 25, 2007 at 2:13 am | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

Ambassador Ryan Corker, November 2007: “We are seeing encouraging signs of movement,” he said, but added, “This is going to be a long, hard slog.”

Donald Rumsfeld, October 2003: “It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.”

Anything change since 2003? Still a long hard slog, eh?

Michael Gordon Toes the Military Line Again

November 23, 2007 at 7:43 am | Posted in Iraq, Michael Gordon, Military | Leave a comment

He’s back at the New York Times, toeing the line of the military, ensuring the propaganda continues, raising those fears once again. Do it this way, or the whole thing falls to pieces, the military says. Michael Gordon, uncritically passes it along to Americans for consumption. There is no critical analysis from Mr. Gordon, because he is sold on the propaganda. Could it be even possible in his eyes that the military might not know what the hell they are doing? After all, MOST of the problems we are facing are directly attributable to MILITARY DECISIONS! How does Mr. Gordon know that they are suddenly telling the truth, or even that they know what they are talking about? What possibly changed? Mr. Gordon will never tell you because he’s drunk his kool-aid and wishes you to drink also.

With violence in Iraq on the decline and a quarter of American combat brigades scheduled to leave by July, commanders plan to give the remaining brigades an expanded role in training and supporting Iraqi forces, according to officials involved in a confidential military review of the next phase of the American troop deployment.

The plan, not yet in final form, is intended to transfer more of the security burden in Iraq to the Iraqis without giving up the gains that the Americans have made in recent months in pacifying the most violent areas and weakening the Sunni insurgency.

The approach is strikingly different from the plans advocated by many United States politicians, including some Democratic presidential contenders, who have called for a rapid withdrawal of American combat brigades from Iraq — the very units that American commanders see as playing a central role in the transition toward Iraqi control.

Note there the insidious nature of Mr. Gordon’s writing, and the thinking of the military. Their aim is to directly undercut whatever a Democrat has as his or her plan when winning the White House next fall. The VERY UNITS that the military wishes to use to transition control to Iraqis will be the ones that Democrats wish to bring home next summer. Very insidious. Does Mr. Gordon ask the military commanders why they chose those particular units to carry the biggest load? Of course not. Because Mr. Gordon is playing a political game here, and he is not letting you know he is playing a political game. He’s pretending to be a non-player, when in fact, he is playing one of the most important parts. He is the Messenger. He ensures you only get the message the military wants you to hear. No criticism. The military couldn’t possibly be wrong. We can’t have the people at home hold the feet of military leaders to the fire to ensure only the most correct decisions are made, because, well, in the eyes of the military, they don’t make mistakes, so they can somehow be trusted to tell the truth.

This approach differs from proposals by some counterinsurgency experts, like Lt. Col. John Nagl, that the Army establish a permanent corps of highly trained advisers and use it as the principal means to train Iraqi and foreign forces elsewhere.

It is also radically different from that advocated by some foreign policy specialists, who have urged the United States to quickly withdraw combat brigades while leaving behind a limited number of trainers. Such a strategy was outlined by the Iraq Study Group, a panel led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Representative Lee H. Hamilton, and a variant of this approach has been embraced by Senator Barack Obama in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The military really did not like the Iraq Study Group plan, and will do all it can to undermine it and destroy it. They seem to not like Senator Obama either. We can expect more attacks against him from Mr. Gordon.

The Cost of the War in Iraq

November 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Iraq | 2 Comments

I highly recommend this read. Mr. Cowen puts the costs of the war in Iraq in a proper perspective to show that, no in the end, it was not worth the cost.

1. We still have not secured our ports against nuclear terrorism. The $1 trillion we’ve probably spent on the war could have funded the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security 28 times over.

2. The human toll of the war is dreadful: more than 3,800 U.S. soldiers dead and more than 28,000 wounded, plus more than 1,000 private contractors killed and many more injured. It’s harder to know how many Iraqis have died; some estimates claim the war has caused a million or more Iraqi deaths, and even if that’s an overstatement, the toll is still very high. But it’s not just the lives that are gone; we’ve also lost the contributions that these people would have made to their families and to humanity at large.

3. Another major hidden cost: Many of the wounded have severe brain injuries or other traumas and will never return to “normal” life. Furthermore, Washington will find it far much harder to recruit and retain quality troops and National Guardsmen in the future.

4. Don’t forget the small statistics, which are often the most striking. According to John Pike, the head of the research group GlobalSecurity.org, an estimated 250,000 bullets have been fired for every insurgent killed in Iraq. That’s not just a waste of ammunition; it’s also a reflection of how badly the country has been damaged and how indiscriminate some of the fighting has been. Or take another straw in the wind: The cost of a coffin in Baghdad has risen to $50-75, up from just $5-10 before the war, according to the Nation magazine.

5. Above all, governing Iraq has, so far, been a fruitless investment. According to 2006 figures, U.S. war spending came out to $3,749 per Iraqi — almost as much as the per-capita income of Egypt. That staggering sum hasn’t bought a lot of leadership from Iraq, or much of a democratic model for its Arab neighbors.

Even More Evidence the Surge is a Grand Failure

November 15, 2007 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

Absolutely nothing on the political front. And to remind everybody, Bush himself said:

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.

He said that in January when selling the Glorious Surge. Yet there is absolutely nothing on the political front, and, as the article I linked to at the top shows, the American military is getting frustrated. Frankly, they should have known from the start that it wouldn’t work. But they are too caught up in “patriotism” and the worship of Petraeus and Bush to think rationally before venturing on a bad move.

Excellent Review of “Dead Certain”

November 5, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Iraq | 1 Comment

New York Times Book Reviews are generally among the best reviews you can find, and this one does not disappoint, a review of “Dead Certain” about George W. Bush and his presidency.


(courtesy of Doug Mills/The New York Times)

The reviewer ends with a quote from James Madison, who wrote:

“In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. … War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. … It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.”

Excellent Commentary on Iraq, From Early On

November 5, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Posted in conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Republicans | Leave a comment

And another hit and run, in which is asked a most pertinent question:

I find myself with a few spare minutes and make the mistake of reading Thomas Friedman again. His conclusion after a long, dull and witless ramble about the introduction of “democracy” to Iraq (just what the Gulf region needs, more puppet states) reads “If [it is] done right, the Middle East will never be the same. If done wrong, the world will never be the same”. There’s not much you can say to that except “shut up you silly man”. But it does inspire in me the desire for a competition; can anyone, particularly the rather more Bush-friendly recent arrivals to the board, give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:

1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
2. It was significant enough in scale that I’d have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
3. It wasn’t in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.

It’s just that I literally can’t think what possible evidence Friedman might be going on in his tacit assumption that the introduction of democracy to Iraq (if it is attempted at all) will be executed well rather than badly.

This was asked in February 2003.

Why this administration is losing me on Iraq, in which it is clearly laid out in August 2003 that if the Bush administration would not increase troop size immediately, the mission would end up being a failure. An excellent analysis.

The D-Squared Digest One Minute MBA – Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101, in which sound business principles are applied to show how foolish it is to follow Bush into war.

Operation Agent Snipe, in the which it is highlighted how we were bamboozled by the WMD trick to our great detriment.

finally, The duToitification of the Western Conservative, in which the wimpification of the modern Conservative is well highlighted.

It is November…

November 3, 2007 at 10:42 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Iraq | 1 Comment

…where is the Iraqi government to take control of Iraq as Bush promised in January?

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.

None of this has been accomplished. As such, the surge is a failure. Because in the end, no matter how much you stop the violence, if there is no political reconciliation, there is no peace and prosperity in Iraq.

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