Anbar – The Wild West

Anbar20ops20map20104_1 By Ann Scott Tyson

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006; Page A19 

"The Pentagon is taking "very seriously" a classified intelligence report concluding that the U.S. military has fought to a stalemate in Iraq’s western Anbar province as political conditions also worsen in the "epicenter" of the country’s Sunni insurgency, a senior defense official said yesterday.

In congressional testimony on security in Iraq, Pentagon officials also said the rise of "ethno-sectarian violence" has laid the conditions for civil war, aborting plans by U.S. commanders to begin withdrawing U.S. troops. Gaps in the capabilities of Iraqi security forces leave open the prospect that U.S. forces may have to stay in the country for as many as five or more years, they said. " Washpost


"has laid the conditions for civil war"  Who do these people think they are kidding?  How many angels will have to dance on pinheads for these people to force themselves to use the "CW" words?  Clearly the administration believes that the use of those two words will trigger a dispute, debate and massive revulsion on the part of the American public at the thought that their armed forces are mixed up in someone else’s Civil War.  This is inherently dishonest and the longer the administration keeps doing this, the less confidence and trust the people will place in them.

"stalemate in Iraq’s western Anbar province"  Stalemate?  To quote "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell. "We got the hell beaten out of us.."  He was talking about Burma in WW2.  So far as I know, no American units have been defeated in Anbar, although this is becoming a possibility, but the USA has taken a real "beating" in our failure to pacify the huge western province of Iraq.

In fact, the virulence of the Islamist presence in Anbar threatens to make the province into a "redoubt area" in which AQ in Iraq is the strongest player in spite of the small numbers of foreign fighters on the ground there.

The repeated attempts by coalition and Iraqi forces to pacify Baghdad, itself, has exacerbated the scarcity of military resources available for Anbar.

There have never been enough troops in Iraq.  This continues to be true.  Bremer’s decree abolishing an army that could have been reformed into something useful to the coalition is largely responsible for this situation.  But, then, as he is reputed to have said of that decree, "I have my instructions…"

Pat Lang

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36 Responses to Anbar – The Wild West

  1. arbogast says:

    From a military point of view, are our supply lines from Kuwait sufficiently tenuous that we could face another Dien Bien Phu?
    Clearly, an enemy could not use fixed positions to attack us from, because they would be bombed to smithereens. But perhaps all they need to do is cut the supply lines repeatedly with guerrilla attacks.
    As Joe Frazier said, “Kill the body and the head will die.”

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The IAF did everything it could to bomb them to smithereens.
    You over estimate the effect of air on this kind of defense, especially in towns. pl

  3. michael savoca says:

    It is horrific to watch. For as Iraq spins out of control apparently so to does Afghanistan. In a recent article found at the Times UK, Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards announced his resignation indicating that our tactics are counter productive, as we take control of real estate but fail to capture the support of the people.
    I find it almost incomprehensible that our administration and our top brass could be failing in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am forced to consider the crazy idea that things are going just as “they” have planned! How could this be. Why would those in power in DC want to allow OBL to remain at large? Why choose a strategy in Iraq that leads to decades of ethnic, religious, tribal, factional war. Is our mighty country truly incapable of achieving decisive resolution of these conflicts after nearly 4 years of war? In saner times I would have never considered the absurdity of these ideas.
    Then , recently while thinking about first Iraq war (desert storm) I ran across the notes of a meeting between April Glaspie, our Ambassador to Iraq under Bush 1 and Saddam Hussein. Like a good dog at heel Saddam was asking the first president George Bush’s permission to invade Kuwait. The President responded via our ambassador that this is an Arab matter (the cross drilling at the boarder into your oil field etc), and we have no preference as to how you handle this, just handle it quickly. After Saddam invaded, the first President Bush announced “this aggression will not stand” And we annihilated the regular Iraqi troops but let the vast majority of the elite Republican guard retreat to safety.
    Now our current President Bush, according to more than one reliable source, was reportedly obsessed with attacking Iraq from nearly the first day he took office. (see first Bush II treasury secretary for example, and the official Bush II Biographer, who subsequently had his notes and his book cancelled.)
    If we didn’t go into Iraq we would have likely focussed greater efforts on Afghanistan, where the war is, sadly, now turning against us. The second President Bush’s administration failed to commit US ground troops to the battle of Torra Borra and thus likely enabled the escape of OBL to the tribal autonomous regions of Pakistan. We could have captured or killed that monster and made an object lesson of him to the world. But now, 5 years later he continues to plot against us.
    What’s my point? just this, I no longer believe in straight line thinking. On the Geo-political stage, things are rarely what they seem. Maybe these wars are about reliable income for defense contractors, or maybe not. Or maybe the country needs a war every generation, so we have battle hardened and experienced leaders. Maybe our strategy is to encourage internal Arab and Muslim conflict so they chase each other into butter. Maybe the plan is that annual 3/4 trillion dollar federal budget deficits will make sure that Medicaid and Social Security must be abandoned, and any war is a good war as long as it costs a lot, (the ultra right wingers hate for social programs). Or maybe it is all about blood for oil. I don’t know, but can’t help but feel that I am just a commoner, a pawn, with 3 draft age children, in a very large game and I don’t like being lied to, and used.
    Here is what I do know. Back in the 80’s we supported a long and costly war between Iraq and Iran, with over a million dead, during 8 years of battle. Our support for war in this region goes on an on. We have given our enemies plenty of reasons to hate us and I fear none of this will come to any good.

  4. canuck says:

    Top Aide to Sadr Outlines Vision of a U.S.-Free Iraq
    From the link:
    “First, “there will be a civil war,” said the aide, Mustafa Yaqoubi”
    “”No matter the number of people who would lose their lives, it is better than now,” he added. “It would be better than the Americans staying.””

  5. robt. willmann says:

    The promoters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq were not and are not very concerned about a civil war there, in my opinion.
    Here’s why.
    The number one priority of the U.S. invasion was to prevent
    an independent and nationalist Arab leader from heading Iraq.
    This was above even the greed factor aimed at controlling Iraq’s oil, water, banks, financial system, telecommunications systems, and broadcast media. When you look at the map, you can see why. There is Afghanistan, and then going west there is Iran, then Iraq, then Syria and Jordan, then Israel, and then the Mediterranean Sea. And so Iraq is the keystone to neutralizing or controlling the Arab world.
    Of course the best deal would be a unified Iraq headed by a puppet willing to do the bidding of the U.S., Britain, and Israel, or headed by a weak sister who wouldn’t stand in the way of anything promoted by people outside of Iraq.
    The next best thing is a fractured Iraq. This makes
    control of the business assets mentioned above more difficult, and slows down the money-making, but it still achieves the main objective. I would not rule out that the
    civil unrest and religious violence have been covertly encouraged by the U.S., Britain, and Israel. I am not being cynical, but just realistic about the mentality of the people who pushed this war. And in this regard, look at what has been happening in the Kurdish areas of Iraq.
    I remember reading a couple of articles–the cite and url of each I cannot recall–and one
    said that there had never been a civil war in Iraq (I don’t know if that is historically accurate), and the other described an Israeli who had written that if Iraq was broken up into smaller countries, it would be beneficial to Israel.
    So although a civil war in Iraq is not the most desireable state of affairs for the gangster foreign policy,as it restricts economic control and money-making, and slows down the drive to wage war on Iran, it still achieves the number one goal.
    The present U.S.administration does not want to admit that a civil war exists, because it makes all the earlier false promises even more obviously false. But that, in their minds, is a public relations problem.
    The Iraqi Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, knows what game is being played and what is in the air.
    He of course is opposing the breakup of Iraq.

  6. jonst says:

    They think, and, sadly, with some reasons, given their (and the public’s) track record, that they are “fooling” the American public. And the Congress, with this word game. Though with the latter it is more a question of bribing them than fooling them. I suspect that Sen Warner’s question/ruminations about the relationship between a civil war and the original rationale (going back to the use of force resolution passed right after 9/11)shook them up a bit. So, we all know it a friggin civil war but we can’t say out loud what we all know. This denial of reality is nonsense. It reminds me of people who throw away communications from the IRS. Hide them from their spouse and hope that somehow, something, will turn up and victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.
    The Great Decider mentioned OBL’s name 17 times in one speech last week. He came out and basically announced, proudly, that he was breaking the law with his “alternative methods of interrogation”, and asked Congress to, essentially, to embrace his actions and change to the law to allow what is today illegal. This on a day his own senior JAG people argued the opposite position. And my guess he is going to get away with it. So….as much as I hate to write this he has every reason to think he will go on getting away with this stuff. Just look at his track record. Look how many times he has screwed up in his life and evaded responsibility. Why should he think he has to stop now? Lets face it….we are in big friggin trouble as a nation because this guy et al KEEP getting away with this stuff. Except on the ground that is…..where the boots are. But those chickens won’t come home to roost for while. But they are coming.
    Yep, you can keep throwing away those notices but sooner or later they are going show up at the door with a padlock. Its always painful to see the surprised look on the family’s face (and as a lawyer, I’ve seen it) when the reality hits them.

  7. Michael says:

    I find it incredible that the Whitehouse won’t admit there is a civil war going on in Iraq – they’ve been able to spin everything else, why don’t they feel they could do the same here? It doesn’t make sense to me. As an aside, Col did you happen to catch Keith Olbermann’s comments on 9/11? Great comments I thought. Cheers, Michael

  8. John in LA says:

    Whether or not Shia insurgents could cut the US forces off and thereby expose them to a military assault is sort of a 20th century question.
    In the present, real time media environment a sustained harrassment of the supply lines would create enough internet commentary/media panic/political freakout to doom the mission.
    Per Col Lang’s remarks about the bombing campaign of the IAF — a lot of things were possible in the days when there was a “fog of war” that could shield in-theater events from public view.
    Wartime attrocities or collateral damage can’t be disguised in an era in which cellphone cameras can post video — within seconds — to the internet.

  9. julie says:

    Therr is an article in this month’s Atlantic which makes me think Anbar is hopeless. Evidently in a number of places a decent counterinsurgency was started, our troops wre called away for brushfires and the guerillas came in and killed the cops and other “collaborators.”
    We failed to protect our friends, the people know it.

  10. John Howley says:

    Michael Ware (CNN) says AQ has free run of much of Al Anbar. U.S. commanders say privately they need three times the troops they have.

  11. Walrus says:

    I have been repeatedly reviled by Americans, to the point of being “thrown out” of a web forum for having the temerity to suggest that the tactics and strategy employed in Iraq and Afghanistan are simply wrong, and in fact have the reverse effect of what was intended.
    The entire mindset of the Military appears to be totally wrong. It’s as if absolutely nothing was learned from Vietnam.
    For the record, to succeed in counterinsurgency, you have to create conditions under which the local population gives itself permission to support you and your political goals.
    The first step in doing this is to ensure that the locals are secure, so that they can express their opinions without getting decapitated.
    You cannot do this by mounting “search and destroy” missions and then retiring to your fire base for drinks and medals.
    I could go on…… but I feel like I’m hitting my head against a brick wall.
    It gets worse too.. read this link.

  12. VietnamVet says:

    The War on Terror is a gigantic puss ball of fuzzy thinking. Clarity would require identifying the enemy and how to conquer them. Fighting Al Qaeda “AQ” in Iraq is the current propaganda. “The List” survivors are currently holed up in the mountains under a truce with the Pakistani junta.
    Marines are fighting Iraqis (mostly fundamentalist Sunni Muslims and surviving Baathists dead-enders) and a few imported Jahidi cannon fodder in Anbar Province. The US has never controlled Sunni region because they never had the boots on the ground or a political plan that would convince Sunni Muslims that it was in their best interest not to fight the infidel occupation of their land after they were kicked out of power.

  13. Patrick Henry says:

    This is a good subject for Debate..
    Looks like some Folks are angry its coming out..Being exposed With CREDIBILITY.. Verified..
    Why Hide the Truth..??
    Typical Coverups..
    More Proof of Poor planning and Anticipation by Our Brillant Leaders..??
    The Should not have been allowed to Develope..
    “Our Troops were called away for brushfires and the Gurillas Came in..”
    Dont we have any Intel People over there Keeping Track..?? We Must..The Anbar report came out..
    But..They are stuck in the PIPELINE..
    Blocked Lines of Communication..Chain of Command..and LEADERSHIP.
    Just like all the Failures we saw Pre 9/11..
    Nothing Has Changed..
    One almost suspects the Anbar Ambush was being allowed to happen..
    Why are there never the Appropiate Responses by the Administration..??
    We haveLong known the WAR was poorly planned and Under~Manned..
    STILL IS..
    Micromanaged by FieldMarshal RUMSFELD ..
    By ..Stupidty..or Design..??
    So..Are ther Manipulators..??
    Does Someone WANT Anbar to happen…So Our policy makers could Say..We Told You So..
    Prolong the WAR..??
    Even be Supporting AQ right now..
    Letting them get away with things..??
    So the Game can Continue..
    Letting Bin Laden Live so we can prolong things..??
    Are they enjoying the “POWER” OF IT ALL..??
    Caught Up in the “GAME”
    and “EGO” of it All..??
    Without regard for the LIFES and Civilizations who are Caught Up in it ALL..??
    Col. Lang..There are Several of you Good Highly Qualified Americans and Vets who are Watching and Analyzing all these Events..
    Most of you have Thought of Alternatives and Solutions by Now..
    You know What went wrong and Why.. You Know who is Making the Bad Decisions in Government Right now..
    They MUST Be Fired and Replaced..
    We Need SOLUTIONS and Problem Solvers..
    Our National survival depends On it..
    Right Now…I Consider US..Our Own Worst enemy..
    and we MUST Face Ourselfs..
    Before We can Properly face Our Advesarys..
    or Perish.. Merely Spectators….Sheeple Instead of People..
    Without any SHEPHERDS..
    Not just Watching Towers fall..
    But Also watching the ‘Light go Out..”
    in the Torch of Lady Freedom..
    Our Freedom..

  14. Michael Murry says:

    Historian Barbara Tuchman concludes her elegant and much-overlooked treatment of America’s failed intervention in the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949 — “Stilwell and the American Experience in China” — with this trenchant summary:
    “In the end, China went her own way as if the Americans had never come.”
    Substitute “Vietnam” for “China” and the sentence reads the same.
    Substitute “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” for “Vietnam” and the sentence reads the same.
    Or, as Kipling wrote the epitaph of Western imperialism in Asia:
    “Here lies a fool who tried to hustle the East.”

  15. michael savoca says:

    excellent commentary, by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC about President Bush’s stealth conflation of the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism during his 9-11 speech.

  16. jonst says:

    I wish, for my own sake, if nothing else we could get the following clear: Is it AQ that is ‘in control’ of Anbar? Or, are indigenous forces in control? And if it is the latter, what is the relationship between them and AQ? And while I am asking questions that I can’t get answered….if it is indigenous forces in control of Anbar…what is their makeup? Tribal? Bathists? Former soliders? Can someone point me to a book…or an article, or just give your opinion on this question. At bottom I guess I have to say I am hard pressed to believe outsiders have come in and taken control of Anbar. And if I am wrong about that I sure would like to know that. It seems to me that there has been a total breakdown in our intel capabilities. Or in the press’s capabilities to report on the issue. Or in both. And few, if any, Americans, have a friggin clue what is going on in Anbar. And by that I include Ricks, the Marine officer who issued the report and all in between. Its clear that Ann Tyson does not have a clue on this issue. Or if she does she is not letting on. This lack of precision in logic and language has become pandemic.

  17. TheREALLuch says:

    The Republicans will not admit to there being a civil war in Iraq until after Jan 20, 2009 if, not when, Mr Bu$h vacates our Oval Office. If he actually slouches off into history’s mists and is replaced by a Democratic President, the Republicans will begin their assault on him by declaring there is a civil war and demanding to know why he hasn’t resolved the issues of Iraq.
    But the Bu$h malAdminstration plan calls for chaos in Iraq, because a unified country, led by a strong central government, would not permit ca. 100,000 American troops to reside in the “enduring bases” that are being constructed. Only a weak central government and a country riven by internal strife answers the need for military power projection in the Middle East.

  18. Dan says:

    Jonst —
    “Is it AQ that is ‘in control’ of Anbar? Or, are indigenous forces in control?”
    The overwhelming majority of insurgents in the province(let’s call it 95%) are Iraqi natives of Anbar. Many are ex-baathists, but religious identity in the province, which has always been high, has soared since the US invasion. So many of these “baathists” are now Islamists.
    “And if it is the latter, what is the relationship between them and AQ?”
    Well, which Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is a very important insurgent group, that was founded by a foriegner (zarqawi) and still has important foreign members, but appears (yes I’m using weasel words on purpose; no one knows for sure) to have succesfully Iraqified.
    At any rate, I think the question “who is in control” is the wrong one to be asking. No one is in control of the overall insurgency in Anbar. There are multiple groups all working towards the same general end, with overlapping AOs and methods. They like each other, sometimes they collaborate. They marry each others daughters. But there is no unified command — this lack of a unified command is one of the great strengths of the anbar insurgents. It reminds me of an Onion headline from shortly after Sept. 11 “Bush urges All US enemies to unite in one location so America can destroy them.”
    “what is their makeup? Tribal? Bathists? Former soliders?”
    Yes, yes and yes. Everyone in Anbar is a member of a major tribal group. Many of the financiers and managers of insurgent cells were mid-ranking baath. Many of the operatives are former soldiers. I think sometimes people (not addressing you jonst, but often hear people in Iraq talking about “tribe” as if it’s a secret code that will unluck all the mysteris of Iraq) get confused by these categories in Iraq, because they think they say something fixed about someone. “Oh, he’s a baathist so he thinks like so.” Or, “he belongs to the al-dulaim and so is likely to behave like such.”
    It doesn’t work that way. Tribes, families and former government officials are all split over who and what they support in Iraq.
    I haven’t read the linked article yet — but if it is saying that foreigners control Anbar, then it’s badly misinformed. Iraqis control Anbar. Just not “our” iraqis. And many of them are sympathetic to the goals of the global jihad.

  19. billmon says:

    PL: “In fact, the virulence of the Islamist presence in Anbar threatens to make the province into a ‘redoubt area’ in which AQ in Iraq is the strongest player in spite of the small numbers of foreign fighters on the ground there.”
    Thanks, Colonel. Redoubt area is the phrase I was looking for — although it might also be appropriate to use Guevara’s old concept of revolutionary foci.
    jonst: “Is it AQ that is ‘in control’ of Anbar? Or, are indigenous forces in control?”
    It doesn’t matter whether Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (or whoever is operating under that name) controls Anbar. In fact it’s probably better for them if they don’t — control implies administration and that means taking care of the people, and unlike Hizbullah AQinM isn’t in a position to do that. Just the opposite: When the foreign jihadis were holding some of the Euphrates villages near Haditha back in ’04, they seemed to do a pretty good job of making enemies with their Taliban-style attacks on local folk ways and religious customs.
    i think what AQ needs and wants at this point is simple lawlessness — a base area essentially free of US and Iraqi troops or a governmental administration of any kind — like the tribal areas of Pakistan. According to Time’s Michael Ware, that’s pretty much what Anbar north of the Euphrates has become.
    jonst: “It seems to me that there has been a total breakdown in our intel capabilities.”
    That would be correct if Centcom had any capabilities to begin with. But I think all it’s ever known about the insurgency in Anbar is what it’s Shia and Kurdish allies know, which has never been much, and what Jordanian intelligence has been able to find out. Based on recent events (i.e. the Amman bombings) it may be the Jordanians have lost visibility as well. The Syrians could probably an enormous help, but of course we won’t talk to them any more.
    So what’s going on?
    Up until recently I was under the impression that the neo-Baathist types and the native Islamists had been doing a pretty good job of containing AQinM’s influence — helped to no small degree by Zarqawi’s lunatic behavior. But if that’s not true any more, if the post-Zarqawi AQinM has changed its ways and developed a viable political strategy, then all bets are off.
    I mean, imagine what the US and its local puppets (and the Syrians) would be facing if AQinM had enough political muscle to get control of local grassroots organizations in Anbar — mujadin commander councils, shura councils, Salafist mosques, etc. — and turn all or most of them into front groups. It would be like creating hundreds of miniature versions of the old NLF.
    That may be farfetched, but if AQinM really is able to root itself into Anbar (or create an indigenous proxy there that it controls) it could take years if not decades to root them out. You only have to look at a map to see what nightmare scenario that would be for everybody in the neighborhood.

  20. arbogast says:

    There is a “Perfect Storm” brewing, and I, for one, do not like it. I am scared.
    First of all, it is chilling that the themes in all the comments are the same. Diverse group of people, same themes.
    Then there is the fact that now the call is going out for “more troops”…from the Marines, NATO, the neocons, lots of folks.
    Israel got beat in Lebanon.
    The housing bubble is bursting very rapidly.
    And the leadership in the US has retreated farther and farther into the magic kingdom.
    Specifically, it is the explicit strategy of the Republican Party to brand anyone who doesn’t vote for them as a traitor, guilty of treason.
    Show me a way this ends well.

  21. jonst says:

    Billmon, Dan,
    Thank you both very much for taking the time to respond. I have to say I am starting to get an uneasy feeling. (even more so than i have had). Look every thing I have read…and I believe it fair to say that I read a lot on this issue, and all the ‘evidence’ I have seen to date, indicates that “foreign fighters” have played a relatively minor role in the insurgency. Albeit a deadly one. I have never bought the Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia started the civil war. I think it was there, waiting to start all along. But I’ll grant that they played a roll in egging it on. That said…I still have seen proof that they are vital part of the insurgency. Until now. Two months before the election. When Americans are truly getting fed up and ready to pull out. And I predict thtat if there is one thing that might possibly get Americans to change their mind it a claim that AQ of MES or otherwise, controls large swaths of territory. That is one that dynamic that may, I repeat, may, change the direction the nation has been going. I hope not. But I fear so. And lo and behold, suddenly we get this WAPO story. The timing stinks to me. I smell a psyops move here. Just my two cents.

  22. Happy Jack says:

    But if that’s not true anymore, …, then all bets are off.
    FWIW, a Sunni leader is asking the US to arm the tribes. Here.

  23. billmon says:

    jonst: “And lo and behold, suddenly we get this WAPO story. The timing stinks to me. I smell a psyops move here. Just my two cents.”
    I’d be the last one to deny it’s possible, but publicly revealing that you’ve “lost” an Iraqi province the size of North Carolina doesn’t seem a big vote getter politically. But if the goal is just to shore up Bush’s “Iraq is the central front in the war against terrorism” line, then a psyop might make sense.
    I tend to have a bit more trust than that in the integrity of Marine Corps intel, and Tom Ricks doesn’t seem inclined to do the administration any favors these days, but what do I know?

  24. TR Stone says:

    Has anyone noticed the agressive stance taken by (MS)NBC and our military officers (now serving-not retired), and the allies (vis-a-vie Afganistan), to state the obvious real world situations that our government faces in real time, not their phantasy time!
    It has come time to pile on! This is the only that these leaders will notice the weight.

  25. MarcLord says:

    Billmon, arbogast, jonst, Margaret, et al
    Thanks for the quality of commentary.
    New Babylon is where the AntiChrist will set up his kingdom. New Babylon (in the beloved Left Behind series) is just west of Baghdad. It’s not odd that Al-Qaeda is running Anbar at all. I half expect OBL to show up in a black robe there, along about October 25th.

  26. zanzibar says:

    I’m of the similar opinion of many on this thread that Iraq is in a civil war with no clear lines. Its not like our civil war with Unionists and the Confederates. Iraq for the lack of a better word is in a multi-dimensional civil war with a broad Sunni-Shia divide. But within this broad contour there is the war among Sadr’s Mahdi Army, SCIRI’s Badr Brigades, the Virtue Party militias and others who seem to crop up every other day who are in the larger Shia group and equal or more number of groupings in the Sunni category, then add into the bloody confusion AQinM and other jihadist groups. What’s happening is a “cluster**” and on any given day its not clear who is fighting whom and who abducted whom and who launched mortar or car bomb attacks. AQinM is just another one among the myriad deadly groups and is in no position to dominate the others. We’ve been in the middle for 3 years and even with the best military money can buy have not been able to arrest the slide into open civil war that get’s worse every day.
    IMO, there are very limited options, one, which is they all fight until they are exhausted and all that remains is rubble and every family with scars or two, let Iran, Syria, Saudi and Jordan intervene and bring their respective co-religionists to heel or three, let Iran become the caretaker for Shialand and Anbar confederates with Saudi/Jordan and the Kurds – I guess they already have Kurdistan. In either case the US in the middle is the odd man out. We need to find a way to get the hell out of Dodge.

  27. arbogast says:

    Hmmmm. Republican strategy: make things so bad in Iraq that the only possible way out is conscription.
    Democratic Congress and/or Democratic President = conscription. Why? Because the Republicans in opposition are screaming that the Democrats are losing Iraq and the War on Terror.
    Very, very clever. They get to stay on message. And they have already started blaming everything on Clinton.
    Only problem: it depends on the stupidity of the American people.
    As I said, hmmmmmm.

  28. John Shreffler says:

    We’ve been in the Magic Kingdom for a long time now. When Rummie decided to invade Iraq with 2 divisions, my inner Prussian General Staff Officer told me that he was making a fatal mistake which showed all kinds of really serious underlying problems which weren’t going to be adressed by this government. We’re broke (a total current trade/Federal deficit of $1 trillion per annum) and have taken on a 20-25 division war with a 10 division Army and haven’t gone on any kind of war footing. The Iraq situation is unlike Vietnam, where the Army was more or less the right size but couldn’t stay there for the 20 years required–though there too, we didn’t go on a war footing. If we don’t take a swing at Iran, we have a certain amount of wiggle room; if we do take the swing we have none, or nearly none, and I expect the swing to be took. Buy gold, I guess.
    John Shreffler

  29. João Carlos says:

    What is happening NOW at Pakistan? They ceded Waziristan to the Taliban? Why? How?
    Something very fishy is happening there and no one is talking about it…
    (And Pakistan have NUKES!)

  30. jonst says:

    Thanks for taking the time to provide me with feedback. Whether I agree with you or not I inevitably wind up enjoying your writing style.
    However, I am more than a bit concerned here. First, the issue, I would argue, that threatens the Bush Admin plans, literally, the WORDS, are “Civil War”. ‘You can’t get in the middle of civil war’….’that’s not why we went in there’. And so on. The verbal gymnastics being employed in DC to avoid using that term, and the gotcha games played in the media when someone does use term, speaks volumes.
    AQ, being portrayed as successfully taking over Anbar is, I would argue, a horse of different color in the eyes of Americans. I suggest that there are those who would say “civil war? Get out!” “AQ? Stay and fight”. Reality on the ground has nothing to do with this. Its how it’s spun in DC and in the red states that matters.
    That’s why suddenly having AQ pop up in the mix as controlling land, as opposed to planting car bombs, caught my attention. The timing of it.
    As to Marine intel? I see no particular reason why I should trust or distrust it. It seems obvious to me there are two types of intel personal, in all branches of intel. This guy could be the type that tells it like it and as such Bush et al will jettison his message/findings. And if he persists at it they will have his head. Or the ‘slam dunk’ type that will tell Bush et al what they want to hear. Having no access to the report I can’t say what type this guy is. But if that report suddenly finds that AQ is holding ground…and running the show in Anbar, the burden of proof would be with him to get me, anyway, to buy that. As to Mr Ricks…..wasn’t he the same guy writing (for the most part) those, if not glowing, certainly supportive and upbeat articles in 2003-5 regarding the war? Or is my memory playing tricks on me. Did it take him years to decide that what happened in 2003, and on, was a “fiasco”?
    Anybody can be played. Whether they know their being played or not. Bottom line…you tell the nation they are fighting AQ, straight out, and you will get a different reaction than if you tell them you are fighting Iraqis. Different enough to want to stay and fight? I don’t know…but such a ‘finding’, or hinting at a finding, like the WAPO and Times articles did will push the envelope in the direction of ‘staying the course’.
    My take., anyway.

  31. Leigh says:

    Has anybody ever wondered why Bush would tell his treasury secretary about his plans for Iraq? Could it possibly be that Paul O’Neill was concerned about Saddam’s plans to use the Euro rather than the dollar for his bourse? This would have major effects on the U.S. dollar since countries would not need to keep reserves of the dollar on hand.
    Now, why the sudden concern about Iran? It has announced it will be using the Euro for its bourse.
    If the dollar no longer remains the world’s banking currency, China won’t buy our bonds (and will probably sell them) and suddenly we will be defaulting on our deficit. Then, we will in truth have the Republican’s dream of a smaller government. Of course, we shall also have a bankrupt country. Has anybody noticed that Bush’s cabinet is composed of millionaires with one exception: Condi Rice. Who would be affected most by such depredations? Millionaires, like the Bush family.
    Sure, oil had something to do with it, but is it possible that it was mostly to ensure that the pricing of that oil was in dollars?

  32. zanzibar says:

    The currency in which a product is priced is not so relevant in an exchangeable currency regime. This argument that pricing of oil in Euro would lead to a collapse of the US economy is a bit farfetched IMO.
    Countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Russia are continuously changing their reserve composition. There is nothing preventing them from increasing the Euro portion of their reserves. There is nothing that prevents Iran or Venezuela to exchange the dollars they receive from the sale of their oil to Euros. There is also nothing that prevents Iran or Venezuela today from entering into long-term oil supply agreements with oil priced in Euro – its just a currency exchange factor to the dollar. Many businesses engaged in international trade price their goods in dollars but maintain their books in the “home” currency. So when their bank receives dollars they automatically convert to British pounds or Swiss Francs.
    At the end of the day what matters for financial transactions is confidence. If our creditors lose confidence in our ability to repay they can demand better terms to lend or even stop lending. The big advantage that we have is that we can borrow in our currency. To repay all we need to do is print them up. Now if we do that a lot and our creditors are concerned they may not lend on our terms in our currency.

  33. Kevin says:

    Perhaps this was supposed to happen? 😉

  34. ikonoklast says:

    On the mildy paronoiac psyops front, gas prices in Ohio have dropped nearly a dollar in the run-up to the elections. “Market forces,” intone the pundits. During the Lebanon invasion prices went up, and the southwest Asian situation has steadily detiorated since. It would be cynical to assume that it’s politics driving the market, especially in a swing state. [Insert rolling eyes here.]
    Over all, it’s become impossible to judge the veracity of information about anything this administration has touched, from stem cells to oil to foreign affairs to education to taxes – ad infinitum.
    And whether or not official Washington will use the CW phrase, digging earthworks around Baghdad is eerily reminiscent of Petersburg in the end-game of another … uhhhh … insurgency, let’s say.
    If Anbar is lost, and since Rummy and Co. prefer WWII analogies, perhaps we can expect a Bastogne moment in the Green Zone around November first. “Khalizaid to terrorists: Nuts!”
    Paranoiac whimsy, sure, but their track record indicates that these people will stop at nothing.

  35. ChrisH says:

    It seems so obvious now, Bush/Cheney et. al. and their oil backgrounds, the early secret energy task force, the constant creep of the price of fuel, the Tora Bora fiasco, the fear that is a constant to many, the sabre rattling on Iran. Oil ‘supplies’ were not the target of this (mis)Administration’s plans but the ‘manipulation of the market price’ to ensure that the remaining domestic sources were priced to ensure wealth to the manipulators. “Stay the Course” all the way to the bank.
    “War is a racket” Gen. Chesty Puller; read it

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