“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An Old Trick Revived.

A previous post, on a published NYT article, "The War as We Saw It" was signed by seven active duty soldiers.

Some have speculated that the seven will testify before Congress. It is a cleverly crafted political move. Too clever by half, in my opinion. The cleverness begins with the selection of the group. How will serious inquiry be conducted?

So few Americans now serve in the military that there has evolved a kind of genuflection and political correctness, even silliness towards the few that do. Supporting the troops you know.

There is no question that these troops are serious soldiers in combat. One of them was shot in the head, but they have stepped beyond that role and are now in political combat. This is a political move. It also makes them fair game for question.

This political group has inoculated itself from serious inspection, by the disengenuous "bow your head, here comes a soldier" presently in vogue. In the previous national election, the Democrats were waiting at the separation centers to induct veterans to run for congress. This is more of the same. It is my opinion that there is more to this story.

Let the seven debate with another group of soldiers with not a civilian amongst them. They can all leave their chevrons at the door. Then, and maybe then, we will have some interesting testimony and inquiry. Thank you for your service.


  1. "Let the seven debate with another group of soldiers with not a civilian amongst them."

    I had roughly the same thought.

    And THAT is something worth tuning in to.

  2. "Let the seven debate with another group of soldiers with not a civilian amongst them."

    BIG plus one on that.

    I definitely smell something funny about that OpEd.

  3. PS: Nice M1 rifle.

    Those things are a work of art.

    CMP has them back in stock too.

  4. I understand the grands are going for a grand. Whoda thunk it?

  5. Pakistani Court Says Exiled Leader Can Return

    The ruling on former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is another setback for the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

  6. 2164th said...
    I understand the grands are going for a grand. Whoda thunk it?

    Only on the market Deuce, will you pay the grand.

    $395 for a rack grade and $425 for a field grade from CMP.

    Get 'em while they're hot. No home should be without at least two.

  7. Well, hermanos, it is not a perfect world. If those soldiers are called to testify, it will not be in a select debate, but before Mr Levin and Ms Clinton and the rest of the Armed Services Committee.

    That's the reality.

    In the mean time, the US is searching for a scapegoat:
    NEW YORK (Associated Press) -- A new assessment on Iraq may shed some negative light on Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The New York Times is reporting on its Web site that U.S. intelligence agencies will issue a new assessment Thursday expressing doubt about al-Maliki's ability to end the violence that's tearing his country apart.

    The assessment will also reportedly show doubt in the fledgling government's ability to meet benchmarks toward achieving political unity. The Times' story cites unidentified officials.

    It comes just a day after President Bush scrambled to show his support for the embattled Iraqi leader. Bush called him a "good man with a difficult job," after expressing frustration with the ongoing political tensions in Iraq.

    Which is what those paratroopers reported, which is what I have been saying since before Mr Maliki was chosen for the PM post.

    No reconciliation without victory.
    The Shia majority will not allow a replay of 1920, if they can help it. And they can.

    Iraq is in the middle of a Civil War and no amount of discussion or negotiation will end it. Exactly what the paratroopers said.

    The US can quell the violence, it can control whereever its' military stands, as General Lynch said 3 or 4 weeks ago, but it's impact is limited to that geopgraphy. Where the US military does not stand, it does not control.

    That was true a year ago, it will be true in September, it will be true in November of 2008.

    To secure Iraq would take at least 250,000 US troops, true in 2003, true in 2007, true in 2008.

    The US choose a different path, one that took US to where we are today.
    Golly, it did not take US to the promised land!
    The Bush Administration got it wrong, Mr Powell, Mr Bremmer, and most of all, Mr Bush. He took Mr Cheney's 2002 advice, not his 1992 advice. Mr Cheney, right in '92, wrong in '02.

    Mr Maliki cannot deliver what the US desires, but neither can the US.
    Now the Federals in DC will now try to delegitimize him and the government we spent three years standing up.

    The spin will make you dizzy.

    Truth be known, those paratroopers will provide an after action debriefing, more truthful than General P's report, the one being written by White House staffers.

    Instead of standing Mr Maliki and his democraticly chosen, in a US approved process, up. The US will now try to tear it down. In an attempt to reinstall the Baathists, and make King Saud happy.

    Then, perhaps, we'll see just how much juice the Shia can squeeze.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. The hubris of the US demanding a soverign State pass certain laws, amend it's Constitution, and allow insurgents an active role in the Government, just amazing.

    Similar to Mexico demanding the US keep its' borders open and providing a path to dual citizenship for anyone now in the United States.
    Oh wait, they did, Mr Bush tried to comply, but the people, the grass roots majority rejected that program.
    Same as the people of Iraq, the majority, rejecting the US program in Iraq, through their elected representitives.

    So, jingoists, let's fire up the draft, cut military pay and benefits and secure Iraq with the required 250,000 troops for the next 20 years. If that is really in the US's best "Interests". The blood will flow, the oil will slow.

    Let's git er done, one way or the other.

  10. General P, surronded by Brass, reading from a White House script, or seven NCOs in their dress greens, speaking from the heart.

    I'll tell you which will be the more compelling television.
    Remember Ollie North?

    Especially if SSG Murphy is able to be there, with bandages or not.

    He may get double duty, testify to the improvements or lack there of at Walter Reed.

    Political theater, perhaps it will be. But it will be as accurate and truthful as the White House's show.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Should this soldier be included in the debate?

    "I think about how the Army is taking it's big green cock and sticking it in our ass. Someone please explain to me the sense in stop loss? 160,000 soldiers in Iraq and 10,000-some are stop lossed? Seven fucking percent. What. The. Fuck. Let me tell you something, America; I don't owe you SHIT. I've shed blood, sweat and tears for this country. And I'll continue to do so until the fucking idiot in charge decides to let me go on my merry way... but let's get one thing straight: I'm gunna be on expired time for thirteen months. I have friends who are already on expired time; they were supposed to be out of the Army a month ago, they're still here and we haven't even left yet. After I watch the day I'm supposed to get out pass me by on a calendar and go out on patrol the next day... I don't owe anybody anything. Nothing. I've paid my debt to king and country. Fuck you.

    I think about whether my twelve month deployment that already got extended to fifteen months will get extended to eighteen months once they realize the US Army is BROKEN. You heard it here first, folks, from the horses mouth. We're fucking broken. And don't let anyone tell you different.

    I think about how the Army is going to look in ten years because of the war. I could write an entire entry on it. It's not going to pretty. Stop loss policy ALONE can be blamed for half the problems we have. When people stop caring things get shitty real quick. A person can only take so much and I'm already reaching my breaking point. Out of my little generation of soldiers, the guys I came in with, went to war with, got promoted around the same time... I can't think of ONE SINGLE SOLDIER who is going to reenlist. I know guys who have been in for ten years plus and are getting out after this next deployment. Good soldiers are getting out of here as fast as they can and the NCO Corps is slowly being decimated. Because we all realize how ridiculous this lifestyle is, the war and everything else.

    I think about how what's gunna happen if I get recalled out of civilian life to go back to the war. Guess what? I ain't coming back. I'll make up medical problems, I'll claim I'm all cracked out with post traumatic stress disorder, I'll start smoking pot, I'll leave the fucking country. I. WILL. NOT. GO. BACK. Believe me, it's a pretty shitty feeling to question your own patriotism. To know that if World War III broke out you'd desert."

  13. That fellow no paratrooper, aye, ash.

    Regardless, West Point graduate officer retention is down.

    There is a growing shortage amongst Captains and Majors.
    Opting out, instead of up.

    Something fishy about that, aye?

    250,000 troops are the minimum required to secure Iraq. With only 170,000 the PKK flourishes. The Kurds are subject to horrific attacks and Basra slips into Iraqi control.
    What some describe as anarchy. Described as success by Ms Rice and Mr Cheney, just last Feb.

    But most likely just your normal Iraqi politics in a post Saddam age, seems to me.

    Not quite what was envisioned by many in 2003, but the obvious destination for the course that was charted.

    There is an old adage:
    Be careful what you wish for,
    you may get it.

    Well we have gotten what we wished for, a democratic Iraq.
    Soveriegn and freely chosen leaders.

  14. ...bankrolled and defended by the good ole USA.

  15. How long is the US going to let the shiites take it for a ride, that's what I want to know.

  16. The paratroopers are compelling. The report about the incoming NIE does not surprise me.

    I am suspicious, because this is a one-two punch from the New York Times.

    Who are these soldiers, and who are the "unidentified source" in the NIE report?

    I am trying to be objective, but the NYT has a long and sordid history in publishing BS that serves their agenda.

    That being said, I never thought Maliki was worth a damn, because he represented Shia Islamists, and ultimately, Iran.

    The current strategy, from a geo-political standpoint definitely smells of "whoops, we did Iran's work for them and now the Saudniks are upset."

    From the current COIN doctrine standpoint, where civilian security trumps annihilation of the enemy, a pacified Anbar is success, and must be looked at devoid of geopolitical implications.

    Then there's the Trotten report, where we are not being attacked because we are on top of Shia insurgents who are waiting for "go" to start trouble.

    My questions:
    The US beating on Maliki serves what end?

    If Maliki is the fulcrum on which the "go" to the Shia hinges, why are we undermining him?

    Is this an Iran thing? Are we undermining Maliki to get the Shia to go violent to draw in the Iranians?

    If the Shia go violent, then our COIN center of gravity - the security of the civilian population - will have been shattered.

    I am perplexed.

  17. So, consider this: When Gen. David Petraeus delivers his September report on the war, his Washington audience will include two militant factions. Perhaps nothing he can responsibly say will sway either, so September will reinforce animosities.

    One faction -- essentially, congressional Democrats -- is heavily invested in the belief, fervently held by the party's base of donors and activists, that prolonging U.S. involvement can have no benefit commensurate with the costs. The war, this faction says, is lost because even its repeatedly and radically revised objective -- a stable society under a tolerable regime -- is beyond America's military capacity and nation-building competence, and is politically impossible given the limits of American patience.

    The other faction, equal in anger and certitude, argues, not for the first time (remember the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, Iraqi voters' purple fingers, the Iraqi constitution, the killing of Saddam's sons, the capture of Saddam, the killing of Zarqawi, etc.), that the tide has turned. How febrile is this faction? Recently it became euphoric because of a New York Times column by two Brookings Institution scholars, who reported:

    "We are finally getting somewhere" ("at least in military terms"), the troops' "morale is high," "civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began" and there is "the potential to produce not necessarily 'victory'" but "sustainable stability."

    But the scholars also said:

    "The situation in Iraq remains grave," fatalities "remain very high," "the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark," "the Iraqi National Police" are "mostly a disaster," "Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position," it is unclear how much longer we can "wear down our forces in this mission" or how much longer Americans should "keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part," and "once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines."

    The rapturous reception of that column by one faction was evidence of the one thing both factions share -- a powerful will to believe, or disbelieve, as their serenity requires.

    George Will in a piece entitled
    "What September Won't Settle"

    250,000 troops, ten to twenty years. That's what it'd take.
    To even stand a chance of building an Iraqi nation we'd approve of.

    Who wants to ante into that pot?

  18. William Lind on the upcoming report - The Petraeus Report: More Kabuki?.
    In reality, the report will make little difference in what the Democratically-controlled Congress does, because it has already decided what it will do, namely pretend to try to end the war while actually ensuring its continuation through the 2008 elections.

    Exactly the nightmare we were tossing around here after the congressional election last year.

  19. DR said:
    250,000 troops, ten to twenty years. That's what it'd take.
    To even stand a chance of building an Iraqi nation we'd approve of.

    Who wants to ante into that pot?

    In the new COIN manual, it says there needs to be 20 counterinsurgents to every 1,000 people.

    In a nation of 25,000,000, that's 500,000 troops.

    Ante up indeed.

  20. I don't think the democrats could end the war if they wanted to - they need the republicans to join with them 'cause Mr. Bush will veto til the cows come home.

    brother b day, no need to be perplexed, there is no grand geopolitical game going on, at least at Mr. Bush's end - he really, really, wants them all to just get along and become just like Germany and Japan.

  21. The pussies from west point always bail as quick as they can when the shit hits the fan.

    Reenlistment is just fine among the 101st and the Marines.

    Fuck the pussy Captains and Majors. All they ever did was try to get me killed, anyway.

  22. Well then, rufus, we should believe the NCOs, no?

    E4s, E5s and E6s.
    Like those that wrote the piece.

    Everything they said jives with the other reports, from Mr Trotten, Mr Yon, General Lynch ...

    It is a report from those on the ground, closest to the ground. The reported IED, planted with the assistance of the Iraqi Army and Police.
    Typical? They seem to think so.

    I doubt they are just making this stuff up, it is all fairly well reported, these men not anonymous, using aliases, avatars or false names. No indeed, these fellows are standing up and telling it like they see it, right or wrong.

    I happen to think they are right, as there is ample collaberation of their storyline.
    From civilians to Generals.

  23. Interesting that a report of the realities of combat in Iraq is seen as politically motivated, when it does not conform with the readers perspective.

    Seen as a confirmation of realities when it does.
    Just as Mr Will describes.

  24. Things so topsy turvy that rufus now agrees with Mr Levin and Ms Clinton, abandoning the GOP position as articulated by Mr Bush.

    There is a breakdown of communication, or something.

  25. Seems as though you guys aren't considering the fact that as areas are "pacified" Iraqi troops can take over freeing US to concentrate on the hotspots. Also, the nascent "ground-up" security developments are a huge development.

    The 250,000 to 500,000 number can be acheived by a combination of both forces.

    The question is: What do the Iraqi people want?

    Do they want peace as has been reported or war as has been trumpeted? Sunnis and Shia coexisted for years under Saddam and we have to hope that they want peace and prosperity. The problem has been the lack of security. No security means no reconciliation. We will see what results from the surge - huge steps towards peace or on-going civil war. Also, don't forget the Anbar violence is primarily al-Qaeda handiwork and the trouble in the south is primarily Shia on Shia.

    It's too early to give up.

  26. but whit wasn't that the strategy that was considered wanting? Clear the area and turn it over to the Iraqis. I thought the surge abandoned that and employed a clear and hold strategy.

  27. Then you discount, whit, that the Iraqi Police ambushed the Brits, the Iraqi Army planted the IED?

    You assume that the 1920 Brigades will be lotal to the Iraqi Government when the US draws down in Anbar, come Spring?

    If so, what leads you to that belief. Whose reporting, when?

    The 250,000 fully trained Iraqi troops, out of the 350,000 in uniform, are loyal to whom?

    If added to the 170,000, we have, by your reasoning 420,000 troops on the ground, now.

    Why is there not more security, if those Iraqi troops are functioning in the COIN operations.

    Why does the Marine General, whose name escapes me, say he needs two more years, south of Baghdad?

    If one google's the subject the Iraqi Army has been increasingly about to "turn the corner" since 2004.

    Blasts from the past, again, as Mr Will described, the tide always about to turn. The DoD is reluctant to share data with Congress about the Iraqi capability, as that has, after four and a half years, a direct correlation to US military effectiveness in Iraq, or lack of it.

    the House Armed Services Oversight Subcommittee asked this question, voiced by the Democratic panel chairman Martin Meehan. "Whether it is realistic to expect the Iraqi security forces to take the lead in providing security by January 2008."

    Experts told the subcommittee there is likely less progress in training capable Iraqi forces than the Bush administration and U.S. military officials have portrayed.

    Anthony Cordesman, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, believes Iraqi forces, military and police, are years away from being able to take over primary security responsibilities, much less by 2008 when Congress, the president and military officials would like to see a transition. "I have seen us rush under-trained, under-equipped, and inexperienced [Iraqi] units into combat and missions for which they were not ready. I have seen us basically create a force that can sometimes win, but is not ready to hold, and is certainly not ready to build," he said.

    Cordesman delivered this harsh assessment statistics on Iraqi forces. "Much of the official reporting on Iraqi force readiness and progress in Iraqi force development is the same tissue of lies, spin, distortion and omission I saw in Vietnam. There is no integrity in the reporting on manpower and in the number of [Iraqi] units in the lead," he said.

    Despite this, he says some real progress has been made and could continue with what he calls a meaningful and honest long-term force development program over three to five years.

    Three to five more years before the Iraqi are ready.
    Is Mr Cordesman a reliable source?

  28. The "Best" Iraqi Army Division, the 8th.

    Iraqi Army Division Takes Step Toward Full Combat Readiness
    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2005 – The staff of the 8th Iraqi Army Division was certified today in counterterrorism operations and tactics, which means the Iraqis can plan and conduct operations against enemy forces with limited support of coalition forces, military officials reported today.
    Division units now are striving to achieve full combat readiness, officials said, adding that final coordination with local and central administration will be completed soon to finalize the process of battlespace transfer.

    Long-term training, including exercises and combat operations, officials noted, preceded the certification process. Before the division staff was certified, six battalions and two brigades of the 8th completed their certification processes.

    Training for the staff was highlighted with classes in planning and executing counterterrorism operations, which encompassed cordon-and-search techniques, checkpoints, patrolling and convoy protection. Tactical training, such as weapons proficiency, engineering, communication, medical support and logistics, also contributed to the overall certification process, a Multinational Force Iraq statement said.

    "The main and final test was to check the capabilities of the division's soldiers during parliamentary elections in December," the statement added.

    Division staff, under supervision of Multinational Division Central South military transition teams, planned and conducted operations to provide the security environment during elections. Staff and Iraqi soldiers passed this exam successfully, officials said.

    Notice the dateline. 20 Dec '05

    Over two and a helf years ago.
    The locale, Basra, where the Brits take incoming mortar rounds, daily.

    From the area secured by the best and longest trained of the Iraqi Army Divisions.

    Fellow Peacekeeper has reported on the 8th, in the past, as I recall.

    The success in Basra, to be copied around Iraq, soon enough.

  29. "Have to be the one to tell you---your Sponge Bob journel has been recalled! LEAD DYE--Jen"

    Note taped to the computor this morning. Not my Sponge Bob Hotpants Journel bought at Wal-Mart just before our trip! No! I took this to Lincoln's Tomb for goodness sake. Sponge Bob went with me all across America.

    That does it with Wal-Mart and me.

  30. Circles and cycles, scenes that we;ve all seen before. Even the names are the same

    From 16 August, of 2005

    "An awful lot about this is feel," says Lt. Gen. David Petraeus in a telephone interview from his headquarters in Baghdad. Gen. Petraeus was brought in to lead the effort to build new Iraqi security forces after the Iraqi units largely fell apart in April 2004.

    In recent months, Gen. Petraeus and his aides have fashioned a new system for evaluating Iraqi security forces that relies heavily on "feel," mixing hard data with subjective assessments from U.S. advisers who live and fight with the Iraqis. U.S. advisory-team leaders are asked to make monthly assessments of their counterparts' leadership ability. Judging more than 50% of the leaders "capable" is one measure of a unit's overall ability to conduct military operations with U.S. support. Less than 50% triggers an incapable rating.

    They also rate the Iraqis' training, determining whether they can perform key tasks such as setting up a roadblock or running an effective cordon and search of an area. And the advisers judge the ability of the unit's staff to analyze and disseminate intelligence.

    Based on the advisers' assessments, more than three dozen of the 110 Iraqi battalions have been judged "capable" of taking the lead in counterinsurgency operations -- albeit with U.S. forces providing some logistics and medical support. The remaining units either are still in training or capable of fighting with U.S. troops in the lead.

    The advisory teams, many of which linked up with their units only in the past six months, have "been invaluable in providing real ground truth" to commanders in Baghdad and Washington, Gen. Petraeus says. Reports from the teams are one reason U.S. commanders have begun to say they could begin to reduce the size of the U.S. presence in Iraq as soon as next year.

    That was two years ago, now we need another three to five years?
    Two years, at least, according to General Mixon and the Marine, south of Baghdad.

    The tide is still turning?

  31. Things don't look so good, I'll grant you that. Hard for a guy like me to get a good handle on it.

  32. Trying to make one country out of an area that is naturally three. Hard to do.

  33. I didn't argue that the Iraqi Army will take over right now. I didn't argue that the Police are ready right now. Nor did I say that they would be ready next spring but based on recent events - the surge and Sunni cooperation in the western provinces, as well as some talk of Shia Sheiks coming on board, there is hope. The Police force has never been functional but building police forces from the community level up should make a difference in creating a civil society which can foster a relative peace and prosperity.

    As to the soldiers quote that no one he knows "will reup." Reminds me of the NY socialite who said that she knew no one who voted for Bush and was shocked when he won in 2000.

  34. Why the Lights Go Out

    They might benefit from the expertise from Schweitzer Engineering Labs.

  35. I would discount ash's favorite milblog, but that's just me.

    I don't discount the seven from the 82nd. They are credible, more than. Their story echoes the reorts of others, others that are also credible.

    If turning over Iraq to the Iraqi takes another two years, President Clinton will get all the credit.
    Just as Ike did, in Korea.
    Democracies vote for peace, not war. President Bush should read his own speaches, not just recite them, by rote.

    Lose the US to "save" Iraq, a bad trade, seems to me. But hey, it's all good. We'll stay the course until we don't, be that October '07 or Feb '09.

    The NCOs of the 82nd will soldier on, the US safe and secure from the Iranian and NorK nuclear developments. The IAEA guarentees it and the US government agrees or we'd not be financially subsidizing both those regimes.

  36. However one feels about what's going on, I feel a lot of gratitude, etc. for the people in our Armed Services.

  37. Word up, Bobal.

    I agree.

    Let's hear it from a Marine.

  38. Senator Warner, just back from Iraq

    Warner Says U.S. Should Start Withdrawing Iraq Force (Update1)

    By William Roberts

    Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Virginia Senator John Warner said President George W. Bush should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq on Sept. 15 to show the Iraqi government that the U.S. commitment there isn't open-ended.

    Bush should announce that ``we will start an orderly, carefully planned, thought-out redeployment,'' said Warner, 80, a Republican and former Navy secretary who three times chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    The number of troops to be withdrawn and the timing would be up to the president, he said.

    Warner's comments at a press conference in Washington are the first time he has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. One of the most respected Republicans in the Senate on defense issues, he has grown increasingly critical of the war over the past year. His influence is such that many in his party may follow his lead, Senator Susan Collins of Maine said last month.

    Warner, who returned last week from a trip to Iraq, said he was offering recommendations, which Bush had solicited in a speech to Congress Jan. 10.

    The president should ``send a sharp and clear message, throughout the region, the United States, and one that people can understand'' -- that the U.S. will not stay in Iraq indefinitely, he said.

    He suggested that Bush pick a few thousand soldiers out of the 162,000 U.S. combat troops now in Iraq, or ``whatever number he wants,'' Warner said.

    Intelligence Analysis

    ``Say 5000 could begin to redeploy and be home not later than Christmas of this year,'' Warner said.

    Warner made his remarks the same day that U.S. intelligence agencies said that Iraq's political leaders still can't govern effectively, and the level of sectarian violence in the nation will remain high over the six to 12 months.

    These findings are bleak news for the Bush administration. Only yesterday, the president reiterated his confidence in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as part of a broad argument to rally support for staying in Iraq and fending off attempts by Congress to set a timetable for withdrawing the 162,000 U.S. military personnel in the country.

    ``I don't for a minute advocate any type of rapid pullout'' and am ``not in any way trying to pull the rug out from under the troops,'' Warner said.

    Still, he said, ``I really firmly believe the Iraqi government under the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki has let our troops down.''

    Warner said he isn't siding with Senator Carl Levin, who accompanied him to Iraq last week, in calling for a timetable for withdrawing most U.S. troops by mid-2008. ``We are very different on this,'' Warner said. ``This is not a timeline.''

  39. WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The influential former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has called on President Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by Christmas.

    Republican Sen. John Warner is urging President Bush to begin a troop withdrawal from Iraq in September.

    Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican, said Thursday that a pullout was needed to spur Iraqi leaders to action.

    He has recommended that Bush announce the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal in mid-September, after a report is released from the top U.S. officials in Iraq, and that those troops should be back in the U.S. by Christmas.

    "In my humble judgment, that would get everyone's attention that is not being paid at this time," said Warner.

  40. Warner met at the White House earlier Thursday with Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official responsible for coordinating Iraq issues.

    Warner said the president and other leading Bush administration officials have repeatedly said the American commitment to Iraq was not open-ended.

    "The time has come to put some meaningful teeth into those comments -- to back them up with some clear, decisive action," the senator said.

  41. Mr Warner, he'd be listening to those paratroopers testify, as well.
    Seems he may agree, or not.

    But his patience has run out, that much is obvious. Mr Warner, whose term expires in 2011 is not concerned about his own reelection.

    One thing is certain, John Warner has voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues 84.6% of the time during the current Congress.

  42. The new NIE can read in its' original form here in PDF format

  43. "Well, hermanos, it is not a perfect world. If those soldiers are called to testify, it will not be in a select debate, but before Mr Levin and Ms Clinton and the rest of the Armed Services Committee.

    "That's the reality."

    Indeed. But they won't be asked to testify. Because the message, or rather remedy, they have is one that neither side wants to associate with.

    As for Petraeus presenting a realistic assessment: Petraeus now serves the policy he was brought to Baghdad to pursue. (Though he is free to offer what opinion and counsel behind closed doors that he will.) And I add without judgment that one must never underestimate the extent to which the United States Officer Corps selects for optimism.

  44. "Fuck the pussy Captains and Majors. All they ever did was try to get me killed, anyway."


  45. "No security means no reconciliation."

    Except when no reconciliation means no security.

    Not trying to be a smart ass. It's a discussion we've had here many times.

    54% below strength in command-qualified captains. That came out through PERSCOM in about May. O-4s aren't significantly a better number.

    We can muddle through for awhile. When we'll really miss them and their experience - 'cause they aren't coming back - is about ten years down the road.

  46. On the other hand Christopher Hitchens seems to make some sense Here

  47. "President Bush's speech lays down the clearest of markers: The United States has a choice between holding off genocide in the hope of seeing a stable government and renewed region come out of that effort and great sacrifice, or the U.S. can disengage and permit the killing to commence. President Bush is for the former."

    - Hitchens

    What're you for, bob?

  48. I'm for the constitution, equal rights, women's rights ,gay rights(though I wish they'd knock off the parades) freedom of religion(up to the point where it threatens the constitution--I think Habu is right on that, islam and America are not a fit),free men and women making sane secular choices on economic affairs through the elected legislature, nuclear power, and free greyhounds.

    I wish I knew what was best in Iraq but I don't. If I could get a real idea of what would really happen if we just left, I might be able to form an opinion, but I don't, and therefore can't. I think Hugh Fitzgerald makes some great points, but we'd still be involved around the edges, and who knows what the public would think. And who knows how it might careen out of any control. I hope a day comes in the far future when islam is reduced to a nearly forgotten cult. I'm for Israel, and the EU. I'm for building a fence and basically shutting off immigration, and I'm for preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, if it can be done.

    I'm for wishing you God's Speed on your coming trip, and hope you can check in once in a while and tell us what it's like.

  49. The Hakims vs. The Sadrs

    They are going to bury the hatchet.

    I remember an Israeli general saying at the start of all this, we might look back to Saddam with longing.

  50. from "Life Everlasting"

    Chapter Three--The Paradise of the Righteous


    2. Numerous descriptions of paradise show that it contains--
    A. Lakes

    B. Forests
    C. Grass
    D.Wilderness Trails
    F. Flowers
    G. Bright foliage, including pink, orange, lavender and gold
    H. Landscaped Parks
    I. Shrubbery
    J. Walled compartmemts
    K. A sweet calmness
    L. Gardens
    M. The Tree of Life
    N. An unchanging climate
    O. Many buildings constructed in a manner superior to Soloman's Temple
    P. Large buildings built on the plan of the Order of Zion
    Q. Apartment buildings(this interests me)
    R. Workmanship suited to the merits of one's earth life
    S. A temple with golden domes
    T. An atmosphere of peace and happiness
    U. Order and Government
    V. People organized in various groups
    W. No death, darkness, disorder or confusion (taxes?)
    X. People living and organized in family groups
    Y. Families left incomplete because of the unrighteousness of some family members
    Z. Self thinking, acting people.
    AA. Everyone performing some task
    BB. Work similar to Church work on earth
    CC. People conversing
    DD.People walking
    EE. Meetings being held
    FF. Standard dress was loose white robes
    GG.Clothing being prepared
    HH. Some people dressed in temple clothing
    II. No babies in arms


    With the exception of M.-N.-W.-FF.-and II.---it's SALT LAKE CITY!

    This is the paradise of spirits before the resurrection, when body and spirit are again joined. A Mormon spirit is not immaterial, rather made out of really, really fine ethereal 'stuff'.

  51. Ambassador Crocker, he does not not count the Iraqi amongst the troops available to secure the portions of Iraq controlled by the Iraqi.

    He is clear on one point, the US does not have enough forces to secure the country from the Iraqi militias

    "Under a different set of circumstances, you might argue—as some are now doing—that we need a Basra surge," Crocker told me. "But you'd need a fairly large force, and we don't have the troops. And if we even proposed it, the political element in the U.S. would go nuts."

    Not enough trust worthy boots, to be on time and on target.

    Basra, an example of things to come. It is, after all, a success.

  52. Salt Lake City, bob.
    Heaven on Earth.

    Not quite Las Vegas, though.

  53. "I'm for wishing you God's Speed on your coming trip, and hope you can check in once in a while and tell us what it's like."

    That's very kind of you, bob.

    Son and I will be there for a year and a half, leaving my husband a geographical bachelor for half a year (but he's well used to that) for the sake of our daughter who doesn't much care for the idea of us being so far away for so long - and who has no interest in South America. (Asia: now that'd be a different story.) These things are so much easier when the kids are very young. (And I've got a sneaking suspicion that much of the appeal for my son has to do with...Latin women. Univision women. Otherwise he'd be packing off to boarding school.)

    Amen on the nuclear power.

    If you knew, absolutely knew, that Iraq would continue its trip to hell without us, albeit in speedier fashion, would you commit us to staying?

    I mean, Islam isn't going anywhere in the mean time, regardless, and you're for all intents and purposes committing us nationally to its safekeeping in the bloody guardianship of Iraq. Never mind Afghanistan. Ironic, don't you think?

    What're those Iraqi lives - those millions of Muslim lives, if you prefer - worth, bob?

    That's the question that needs answering.

  54. "Not enough trust worthy boots, to be on time and on target."


  55. Columbian woman are all that they are advertised.

  56. Your son's instincts are well honed. No pun on the missing "r"

  57. "Your son's instincts are well honed."

    Roger that. What sixteen year-old boy's aren't? (Or fifty year-old man, for that matter?)

    It's the father who worries about the daughter.

    It's the mother who worries about the son.

    (Nature's convenient division of labor.)

    Trying valiantly all the while to never let it show.