...warned against a precipitous troop withdrawal from Iraq, and was open-minded regarding a temporary surge of modest scale in Greater Baghdad. President George W. Bush is doing that. The report called for a reinvigoration of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as part of a regional diplomatic blitz. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been doing that. The report called for a reconstruction czar for Iraq, as part of a process of infusing the country with more economic aid. President Bush indicated he will do that. The report sought to give the President a swift kick in the rear end—toward a more dynamic policy on Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton report, together with the November election results, have accomplished that...
Army Lt. Gen. David Petreaus told me months ago that because the Army promotes people for commanding American and not foreign troops, sometimes the least talented people get assigned to train Iraqi forces: therefore, the policy needed to be reversed.
Niall Ferguson, also writing at the Atlantic, A War to Start All Wars, says that the middle east looks like Europe, circa WWI and he concludes with this:
Fallon could eventually be proven right on China. Whatever the case, it may not necessarily say anything meaningful about his stomach for a confrontation with Iran. Like a lot of people, he may put China in a completely different category from Iran. One thing is clear: he will be extremely cautious over the need for military action against Teheran. So the question becomes, can Gates and the man he has chosen to lead his war fighting command in the Greater Middle East frighten the Iranians sufficiently to make negotiations meaningful? For the history of naval pressure shows that it must communicate the willingness to fight if it is to have the desired impact on an adversary. I worry that we do not sufficiently grasp the fact that the Iranians may not be reading from the same set of instructions as us, on the real-life political-diplomatic board game we are about to embark on. What if the Iranians watch our beefed-up naval and air presence, combined with increasing economic pressure on them, and say, so what? That's where the partial and tenuous overlap between what the Baker-Hamilton report advised we should do, and what neoconservatives say we might do under better circumstances, evaporates. That's where it may come down to a confrontation between Vice President Dick Cheney and the Gates-Fallon team at the Pentagon, which is essentially the Baker-Hamilton team.
Only then will we know if Bush has truly repudiated the Iraq Study Group. For the moment, he has co-opted enough of its recommendations for those in Congress who praised the report, and now denounce the President's surge, to be labeled hypocrites. As I said, a report like that of the Iraq Study Group is never intended to be liked; or openly implemented. It is meant to subtly influence policy. That it has surely done, so far.
What will the United States do if Iraq’s neighbors fail to contain the ethnic conflict that is now consuming Iraq? The simple answer would be to leave the people to kill and displace one another until ethnic homogeneity has been established in the various states. That has effectively been American policy in central Africa. The trouble, of course, is that Iraq matters more than Rwanda, economically and strategically. Does anyone seriously believe that a regional conflagration would leave Israel and Saudi Arabia—America’s most important allies in the Middle East—unscathed?
Ask a different question. Did anyone seriously believe that a war in Central and Eastern Europe in 1939 would leave Britain and France unaffected? The really sobering lesson of the twentieth century is that some civil wars can grow into more than just regional wars. If the stakes are high enough, they have the potential to become world wars too.
General Petraeous also told Congress, "The situation in Iraq is dire. The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard. ... But hard is not hopeless."
As I said, A Couple of Days, Ago!ReplyDelete
U.S. Intel Sparks Iraqi Shift on MilitiaReplyDelete
You have to read the whole thing to pick up little bits regarding the headline.
Anybody believe it?
U.S. Intelligence Convinces Iraqi Leader to Drop Protection of Anti-American Cleric's Militia
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's prime minister has dropped his protection of an anti-American cleric's Shiite militia after U.S. intelligence convinced him the group was infiltrated by death squads, two officials said Sunday.
It is hard for me to envision Iraq not ending up like Lebanon or partitioned like Yugoslavia. The unfortunate reality is that at this stage most Americans do not think it is worth the price or the price will be too high for the expected meager results. I fail to see the way for the politics to be turned in the President's direction.ReplyDelete
Tue Jan 23, 05:03:46 PM EST
I read the whole thing. I believe the purpose of the attack in the black suv's was to create suspicion and alarm amongst any US imbeds with Iraqi troops and further create fire fights between friendlies. Who do you trust? Shoot first, ask questions later?
It is a good strategy if the last best US hope is based upon the US following the Iraqi armies lead. What a better way than to cause a complete breakdown and get the US and new Iraqi army turning and firing on each other.
Training, as per the snake eater link of the other day, takes seven months before basic fire contol can be expected. About a year, total, to get them really up to speed.ReplyDelete
Same as always.
The "Surge" can last about seven, maybe nine months, then the rubber band of deployment duration will be streched beyond PR limits.
Some of the Iraqi Army has to be dependable, no?
I suspect that al-Maliki was convinced that the US had proof of the Sadrist death squads and if he continued to support them, he could be found complicit and end up like Saddam.
Been there, Done That: That's the kind of thing that can be successful, once.ReplyDelete
Those Manpads, though, that's troubling.
Most of the Sadr folks have been detained, not killed. A propagandist was shot by a GI during a raid. I do not recall another killed, most have been detained.ReplyDelete
Being detained is a cost of doing business, in Iraq. As it is in the mob. Just watch the Sopranos.
Saddam did time, Dr Z did time, most all MidEast politically active people are detained, during their career.
The only number that counts is of the heads, then only if the count mounts, alot.
Yes, I believe that protection has been withdrawn from the Mehdi Army, al-Sadr's people, in the areas of the city in which the operation is going to take place. The Kagan Plan is not to clear out Sadr City in Phase I, so that won't be happening. However, there are al-Sadr forces remaining in the Sunni & Mixed areas of Baghdad which are part of Phase I, and those will be treated the same as the Sunnis.ReplyDelete
Maliki and the Shiite leaders really have no choice over the matter. If they try to protect the Shiites in the zones where we are operating, news will quickly leak out, and the Democrats will pounce. Times have changed.
I believe that this will quickly go in one of two directions based on politics, more than the military situation.ReplyDelete
If the Iraqi factions all want to fight, and especially if Maliki's government leans strongly to the Shiite side, then Operation Baghdad will be abandoned because the US doesn't want to fight in a civil war.
On the other hand, if some or most of the Iraqi factions want peace & a central government, with Sunni willing to fight Sunni for peace and Shiite fight Shiite, then violence will drop in Baghdad and Iraqis will quickly be able to take over from our troops.
It is way, way too late in the game for the public to support the US single-handedly pacifying all of Iraq. We don't have the troops for that over there anyway. So it is up to them. The Petraeus strategy is a good one, but it assumes that a lot of Iraqis will be willing to fight and die for their country instead of their faction.
I doubt the Sunnis much more than the Shiites.
AR RAMADI, Iraq - The 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division officially took charge of independent operations in west Ramadi during a ceremony at Camp Ali Jan. 22.
This is the third battalion in the 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division to assume authority over another area in the city during the past five months, signifying the continued progress of the brigade.
The 2nd Battalion commanding officer, Col. Khalid, said after the ceremony the transfer of authority was the result of the cooperative effort with the Coalition Forces' Military Transition Team.
"They are serving our country in a great way and I am very grateful to them," he said.
The Coalition Forces Military Transition Team under 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, acted as advisors to the Iraqi battalion staff in training and operations.
Marine Lt. Col. William Jurney, battalion commander for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, spoke during the ceremony and praised Col. Khalid's leadership as well as the ability of the Iraqi soldiers.
"We are proud of the progress this unit has made," Jurney said after the ceremony. "I believe they are capable of conducting security operations against those Anti-Iraqi Forces who want to do further harm to the people of their country."
Marine Lt. Col. James Bailey, the Military Transition Team Leader for 1st Brigade, 7th Division, said the Iraqi battalion is very capable and will continue to work with Coalition Forces and Iraqi Police.
"They've been performing magnificently ... We're already seeing positive things happen in the battle space," he said. "It means progress for the city of Ramadi and Iraqi security forces."
I have to hand it to whit, wu and rufus. You guys know how to plant your heels.ReplyDelete
Truly love your politics, but surely that's a typo in the header and I'm the only one rude/ supportive enough to mention it?
As you say, let us pull for Petraeus's pull. The ME faultlines run too far and wide for us to quit this game of Risk.
Btw, Desert Rat, thanks for the link credit in the previous thread. Please keep telling us what's what, (while keeping some hope alive!)
To gain some sense of why the Kurds might be a little hesitant in joining the Iraqi Shi’a v. Sunni war, see:ReplyDelete
The Kurds and Islam
The Kurds and Islam. Martin van Bruinessen
“Compared to the unbeliever, the Kurd is a Muslim.”
“Compared to the camel, the Kurd is a Muslim.”
Note, from above header, I did not use the term “civil war” because that would require a level of past simpatico not evidenced by historical fact.
As for the regional context, if we "lose" Iraq, it would metastasize into a proxy battleground between Iran and KSA, thus ensuring with grim certainty the absolute anarchy and devastation that will turn Iraq into the killing fields of the Middle East. If Iran somehow manages to wrest control of Iraq, it will be turned into either a patron puppet state like Syria, or that of a buffer state like Lebanon: the repercussions will spread, and virulently so.ReplyDelete
Losing Iraq would also deprive us of a pressure point against the other belligerent regime of Syria - encirclement of Assad's regime would require that Iraqi, Jordanian and Turkish borders are equally tight and effective. It is undoubtedly an extremely difficult objective to accomplish - Jordan is probably the only ally we can count on right now to police their borders, for they have a very valid concern with regards to insurgents, Shiite or Sunni alike. Remember, they took care of Black September.
Turkish cooperation would be a bonus, but if Kurdistan were to be forged and realised, a significant portion of the Turkish border would be controlled by the Kurds themselves - the Turks would be even more hard-pressed to secure their borders.
Even more ominously, without Iraq acting as a state hostile to Iranian interests, the transfer of arms and personnel from Iran to Syria will be allowed to burgeon and prosper - and that directly affects Lebanon, Palestine and Israel as the Foreign Legions of Iran such as Hezbollah will be able to create their own states-within-states and wield power without accountability.
Just as Germany was deemed to be too important to be left weakened and ravaged by the vicissitudes of vengeful powers post-1918 and then post-1945, the same can also be said of Iraq: its geographical location speaks for its own importance.
H/Ts to Ace of Spades and Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller
Entire Spanish Town Suspected Of Murder In Nanny-Mayor's Death
How'd that fellow get elected in the first place with an attitude like that? Or maybe they appoint the alcaldes from Madrid. Guy sounds a little like a couple of local pols I know here, but then we is civilized, and have formed a loose party to vote em out next election.ReplyDelete
Israel and the United States will soon be destroyed, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday during a meeting with Syria's foreign minister, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) website said in a report.ReplyDelete
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad… assured that the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives," the Iranian president was quoted as saying.
"Sparking discord among Muslims, especially between the Shiites and Sunnis, is a plot hatched by the Zionists and the US for dominating regional nations and looting their resources," Ahmadinejad added, according to the report.
The Iranian president also directly tied events in Lebanon to a wider plan aimed at Israel's destruction. He called on "regional countries" to "support the Islamic resistance of the Lebanese people and strive to enhance solidarity and unity among the different Palestinian groups in a bid to pave the ground for the undermining of the Zionist regime whose demise is, of course, imminent."
Syria's Foreign Minister, Wailed Mualem, accused the US of attempting to carry out a "massacre of Muslims" and of sowing "discord among Islamic faiths in the region."
Mualem called on "regional states to pave the ground for the establishment of peace and tranquillity… while preventing further genocide of the Muslims," the IRIB website said.
An insightful snippet from your post:ReplyDelete
Army Lt. Gen. David Petreaus told me months ago that because the Army promotes people for commanding American and not foreign troops, sometimes the least talented people get assigned to train Iraqi forces: therefore, the policy needed to be reversed.
An institutional problem with the American Military is that the services place the appropriate emphasis on the value of enabling foreign forces through advisory efforts. If you are an Army infantry major, it is unlikely that a stint as an advisor in Iraq or Afghanistan is going to be career enhancing; often, personnel are in advisory billets because they are not on the "fast track" and in prized assignments at the Battalion or Brigade level. Many advisors are reservists or national guardsman, who lack the operational experience or training to truly enable foreign militaries.
Even the Special Operations community, where one would to find an unconventional mindset that greatly valued the ability to work with indigenous personnel, possesses a conventional mindset: Aviators have presided over the United States Special Operations Command for nearly a decade, and no "pure" SPecial Forces Officer (ie someone who grew up solely in the community that specializes in operating by with and through indigenous personnel) has commanded USSOCOM since its inception.
General Petraeus' description of the military's cultural aversion to advisory missions is telling, indeed.
The 2006 National Security Strategy describes the struggle we are in as "The Long War"; based on the way the military insists on understanding and arraying its forces for it, perhaps many in uniform would prefer to call it "the Wrong War".
Elijah, the ME without Israel , would be the same problem it has been since the early Christian-Muslim conflict and later the Western-Muslim conflict. The difference is that for most of the time, the Muslims had a pretty good run at the Christians. They love that old time religion.ReplyDelete
Welcome back Bob W.
2164th wrote, "I fail to see the way for the politics to be turned in the President's direction."ReplyDelete
I can see the way. Bush stops with this pantywaisted 'Senior Drug Benefit' crap and this nancyboy 'Guest Worker Program' crap and this sissy catch and release crap in Iraq, and puts a $1 million dollar bounty for the head (not living body) of any al-Qaeda or Sunni insurgent. We're spending $300 million dollars a day driving up and down the streets of Baghdad getting our asses blown up, let's pull back and put that $300 million on the street. I want to see three hundred dead terrorists every day, and correspondingly, three hundred brand new millionaire rat-fink Iraqi former insurgents living in their villas, no longer wishing to associate with their unwashed brethren and their violent camel-lusting ways.
Venturing momentarily away from my "beloved" Kurds:ReplyDelete
I just never tire of finding and disseminating stories of Islamic multi-cultural accomplishments. It is so important, you know, to support the President and Mr. Blair’s “religion of peace” meme.
Being a Minority in an Islamic State
Yemen's Last Jews Threatened and Banished
A glimpse of life for Jews in an Islamic state
“The Yemeni Jewish community has been there for nearly two thousand years, according to some, and for two and a half millennia, according to others. But Islam, that religion of tolerance and peace, has apparently convinced some of its adherents that Jews cannot live in peace with Muslims.”
Certainly, if Israel were to deport one of its million plus Arab citizens for good cause, the condemnation of the international media would reverberate far and wide. How many readers were aware of the plight of Yemen’s Jews until now? The silence is deafeningly prophetic.
Very well done, indeed!!!
I rise and second Allen on Teresita!ReplyDelete
I have not watched the SOTU address this evening - mainly because I could have written it.
Teresita, I recognize that we might have a slight problem with Iraqis killing their least-favorite brother-in-law, and passing him off as AQ's newest terrorist; but, what the Hey, I LOVE the Idea. Beats Bush's plan all to hell.ReplyDelete
Okay, I'll start. Pretty good speech. I'm sure the terrorists will be mighty confused seeing this "beleaguered" President getting standing ovation, after standing ovation.ReplyDelete
They've gotta be thinking, WTF? I thought his Government was Falling? (they tend to think in terms of "Parliamentary" Systems)
maybe your right rufus, but are you sure you didn't mean "paramilitary"? I thought the tone was correct for the speech.ReplyDelete
“To the Islamists of both flavors, their dark and murderous totalitarian ideology is worth fighting for, even dying for. Whether or not we in America and the West in general believe that democracy is worth the same to us hangs in the balance. Democracy, and liberty, are principles too sweet to give away. They are values to strive for and live by, not to die by. Western civilization is not a death cult shackled to self-defeating ideology.ReplyDelete
That is why we must continue to fight and believe that freedom and democracy are good in and of themselves. American cannot give up on it now.”
Can a democracy wage war to impose democracy? Must it not, instead, take on the imperialist mantle for a season and wage ruthless war to defeat and then occupy territory antithetical to its liberty? Does it not then follow that first thought is security and only afterward the remediation of the enemy (if then)? And if remediation is the goal, can the precipitating philosophical/ideological culture of the enemy be permitted to remain intact? Is the Germany of today, the Germany of 1870-1945? If the United States intends to rid itself of those security threats inimical to its liberty as exemplified in the ME, how then can Islam of any shape or form survive the fire of war anymore than German imperialism/fascism?
While I hope for the resounding success of the “surge”, it will buy merely a respite. Ultimately, Islam must be destroyed as a functioning principle of governance. Indeed, Islam must be thoroughly discredited and extirpated. If things settle down in Iraq, there will be talk of peace and a peace dividend. This talk will be short-lived. As the West worries itself to distraction with “Global Warming”, Wahhabism will continue the unrelentingly spread of its toxin throughout the globe. There must be and there will be a fight to the death. Time is not the friend of the West.
“We are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history. That we are in action at many points — in Norway and in Holland —, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. That the air battle is continuous, and that many preparations have to be made here at home.
I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs — Victory in spite of all terror — Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.”
___Sir Winston Churchill, 13 May 1940
Sounded ok on radio, but then I'm usually easy to please. Wondering how Hilllary was frowning, wincing, smiling, acting up for the camera.ReplyDelete
As the centrefuges keep whirring away, with a little help from the Koreans too.ReplyDelete
That was a Huge Commitment on Alternative Fuels. It will require tens of thousands of stations installing E-85 Pumps, and a Serious move in "Cellulosic" Ethanol.ReplyDelete
It's, more or less, being overlooked, but it was a Big, Big Deal.
No security, no intel. No intel, no security.ReplyDelete
Sad but true.
Where is this found at CQ.com (a pay site)?
Are you having trouble accessing the article? Cut 'n paste should do it.ReplyDelete
Got it! Thanks
Wow! This is worth anyone's time with an interest in the ME. And I use ME advisedly and in the largest possible geographic terms because I doubt the problem is isolated to Iraq.
Rollin's paints a dark picture of Bush I's handling of post-war relations with the natives, doesn't he?
In re SAMs:ReplyDelete
They can already bring down choppers with RPGs.
If they had SAMs, they'd wanna hit something rather more precious and theretofore out of reach: jets.
I thought so much of that CIA link that I shamelessly plugged you and it at the BC and Westhawk. If it weren't so late and I weren't so lazy, I would rephrase the former, but...
Do you mean this, for instance:ReplyDelete
“Given the promises that were made and unfulfilled after Desert Storm [in 1991, when the first President Bush encouraged Iraqi Shiites to rebel against Saddam Hussein then stood aside as they were slaughtered]..."
I don't know the story behind that, but it wouldn't be the first time we encouraged rebellion in order to exploit for political/diplomatic purposes the reaction to it, rather than with the intent to assist in any way.
And, no, the collection problem isn't limited to Iraq. Iraq is simply the worst case within CENTCOM.
re: worst case CENTCOMReplyDelete
Are you certain?
4) Whoa! Going a little heavy on the snark there, aren’t you?
Sorry. But sheesh! We’ve got a war effort that the country is abandoning. The more craven elements of the president’s own party want to build a Chinese Wall between the war and themselves to maximize their electoral prospects. We have an enemy that’s talking genocide and making a headlong rush to acquire some nukes so it can get the job done fast. And the president’s going to be talking about malaria. Give me a break.
8) What would you like to hear from the president tonight?
Honesty. I would like to hear him finally say the words “radical Islam.” I would like him to put the Iraq war in context. I would like to hear him offer a full explanation of why we can’t lose there rather than just stubbornly postulate that as a fact.
H/T Ace of Spades: SOTU/STFU
Within CENTCOM's province, yes.ReplyDelete
If Kabul, for instance, lost its rather more permissive environment, we'd truly be in a world of hurt.
Other intel personnel, less risk averse, pick up some slack, but there's only so much that they can pick up.
It's important to keep in mind that Negroponte was quite right when he said that not all Agency personnel are assigned/confined to the Green Zone. There are other bases of operation within the country. But the (understandable) concentration in the capitol means a lot of personnel unable/unwilling to do what they have to do. And everyone suffers for it.
(Outside of CENTCOM? Damascus would be easier than Baghdad, for instance. The security's better.)
Malkin is unimpressed with the SOTU, going so far as to H/T Ace of Spade’s while having the decency not to quote him. She did have something nice to say:ReplyDelete
Okay, I found something nice to say. There are many extraordinary people in First Lady Laura Bush's box tonight.
Old Lonesome George
What happens to a guy up Sh*t Creek without a canoe or a paddle?
"I would like to hear him finally say the words 'radical Islam.'”ReplyDelete
The problem is that this will always be code for "those Islamists that are not on the payroll." It doesn't clarify, but obfuscates.
> What would you like to hear from the president tonight?ReplyDelete
It is what he says tomorrow and the day after that matters. The enemy, both inside the US and outside it, has a 24 X 7 media campaign to turn people against the Iraq war and the war on terror overall. Bush needs to realize that giving one speech every few months won't get the job done.
Bush will lose if he controls the airwaves for only five days a year while Al Qaeda, Nancy Pelosi, and Cindy Sheehan control the headlines on the other 360 days.
Yes we are really attacking Shiite militias. US military says there were 52 recent operations against Shiites, compared to 42 against Sunnis.ReplyDelete
Quotes from article in bold:
US Shiite crackdown
More than 600 members of Iraq’s Mahdi Army are in detention awaiting prosecution, the US military announced in a statement late on Monday – the latest indication that operations against the radical Shia militia have been stepped up and that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has withdrawn political protection from the group.
The statement is unusual in that it detailed the number of operations against specific organisations and seems intended to show that there is a new emphasis on neutralising the Mahdi Army. It said that in the past 45 days, the US-led coalition and Iraqi security forces had carried out 52 operations focused primarily against the militia, compared to 42 targeting Sunni insurgents.