Better Late Than Never?

In January, Pentagon officials acknowledged that Paul Bremer, the senior U.S. official in Iraq during the first year of the war, told Rumsfeld in May 2004 that a far larger number of U.S. troops were needed to effectively fight the insurgency, but his advice was rejected.

Bremer said his memo to Rumsfeld suggested half a million troops were needed — more than three times the number there at the time.  NY Times


"The president’s military advisers felt that the size of the force was adequate; they may still feel that years later. Some of us don’t. I don’t," Powell said. "In my perspective, I would have preferred more troops, but you know, this conflict is not over."


"At the time, the president was listening to those who were supposed to be providing him with military advice," Powell said. "They were anticipating a different kind of immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad; it turned out to be not exactly as they had anticipated."

Rumsfeld has rejected criticism that he sent too few U.S. troops to Iraq, saying that Franks and generals who oversaw the campaign’s planning had determined the overall number of troops, and that he and Bush agreed with them. The recommendation of senior military commanders at the time was about 145,000 troops.  NY Times


I don’t know about other people but I am tired of folks who held high positions before the invasion of Iraq, who said nothing public before the operation commenced and who now claim that they knew better.  If they knew better, if they knew that the inadequate troop list for the operation was a recipe for disaster, then why did they not protest, even unto the last desperate means of resignation?  (Yes, I ask a lot of rhetorical questions.)

It wasn’t rocket science, people.  Anyone with a modicum of common sense knew better.  You had to be willfully ignorant and determined to see the world through your own peculiarly Utopian prism not to know better.


Today William Kristol, the publisher of the "Weekly Standard," said on FNS that "a year ago although things were tough in Iraq, it looked like we were making progress."  Hello!  On what planet did it look like we were "making progress?"  Does he mean that because the political drama of elections was going forward, purple fingers and all, that he actually thought that this was progress?  My God!  The fate of the Republic is in the hands of such people.

A decent silence would be more fitting.

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67 Responses to Better Late Than Never?

  1. lina says:

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
    With all the pre-war blame to go around, Colin Powell has the most blood on his hands. Why? Because he knew better and did nothing, said nothing.
    “This is about the moral bankruptcy of general officers who lived through the Vietnam era yet refused to advise our civilian leadership properly,” said one Army major in the Special Forces who has served two combat tours. ”I can only hope that my generation does better someday.” [from THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: THE MILITARY; Young Officers Join the Debate Over Rumsfeld By THOM SHANKER AND ERIC SCHMITT,
    Published: April 23, 2006, New York Times]
    And if you advise them, and they don’t listen, YOU RESIGN.
    Although not at the Pentagon, Colin Powell was part of the civilian leadership that betrayed the soldiers and the country.
    I don’t know how he sleeps at night.

  2. Eric says:

    It wasn’t rocket science, people. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knew better. You had to be willfully ignorant and determined to see the world through your own peculiarly Utopian prism not to know better.
    I flunked out of VILLAGE IDIOT NCO SCHOOL, but I knew better!

  3. zanzibar says:

    Colin Powell in my mind is a sellout. During GW I he postulated the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force. The coalition had over half a million troops. And Bush Sr., Powell as the head of the military and Cheney as SecDef decided not to topple Saddam’s regime for the exact reasons that have now occured in Iraq.
    Yet, when he had the opportunity to be a cabinet officer of the Bush administration and knew better he was silent when Gen. Shinseki was laughed out of dodge. And worse he carried water for the administration to deceive the world and his troops when he presented the administration’s case to the UN to invade and occupy Iraq which he must have known then to be false. Now he wants rehabilitation by trying to wash his hands off the debacle. I don’t think so. His hands are dirty with the blood of our troops who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians killed and displaced in the crossfire.

  4. Patrick Henry says:

    I agree..
    I think this will go down as One of the Worst decisions and the Worst Military Planning in United States History..
    They have even refused to correct any Long apparent Now..
    Put our Troops and thier Familys through extreme Hardships..3-4 Tours..etc..
    Sad Mis-used of Guard Troopers..Stretched to Thin..should be home with thier Familys and Working thier jobs..
    Don’t we have a R/A any more..??
    The Only Reason I can think of is because with insufficient Troops…there will be more Conflicts..the War will drag on..
    and they can Continue to Justify our Presence spite of talks abput Troop withdrawls..
    They have still detailed at least another five years of Occupation..
    The was One BIG Sucker Plan..for ALL of US..
    This War was One of the Worst Decisions and Most Poorly Planned Wars in the History of the United States..I Think..BASED on the FACTs and the Overwhelming EVIDENCE..
    You are Right Colonial..
    People in Power should have seen this For what it is..BAD POLITICS..BAD PLAN..BAD PLANNING..
    Terrible consequences for the United Several Ways..
    People KNEW Better..
    And they should have Protested..LOUD and PUBLIC..Because if anyone saw the TRUTH and KNEW the Truth..
    That the WAR was a BAD Idea..based on FANTASY PLANS ,,a PIPE DREAM..EGO..
    The Insiders and Decision Makers KNEW BETTER…. ALL OF THEM..and they all Played the GAME..
    Its on all thier Heads..
    Alibis will never cover thier Sins..
    If they are waiting for TIME to Tell rather this was a Bad Plan and BAD Idea..
    Then TIME will TELL..
    Worst CASE Scenario..
    Something Wicked This Way Cometh..
    I Say..Hope for the Best..
    And Prepare for the WORST..
    I Think..I Hear Hoof Beats..Coming..

  5. jonst says:

    “I would have preferred more troops, but you know, this conflict is not over.”
    He is sending us a signal here. This war [er, “conflict”] is going to expand outside of Iraq.

  6. jonst says:

    Oh, one more thing…whatever I think of Powell, and I have fervantly disliked him, and distrusted him, since the My Lai investigations, I have to love this quote from him:
    “”And my responsibility was to tell him what I thought. And if others were going in at different times and telling him different things, it was his decision to decide whether he wanted to listen to that person or somebody else.” That has to be a pun coming less than a week after the Pres said, “I’m the decider”
    Beautiful Gen…I do salute on that one!

  7. Some Guy says:

    I’m with lina in that these “advisors” need to publicly resign and take responsibility for their bad advice. The most disturbing quality of this administration is its concern for power rather than efficacy. That and yesterday’s Boston Globe estimating Bush has broken at least 750 laws in office, what with his “signing statements” where he basically says he’ll do what he wants anyway.
    Extremely dangerous times for a republic. An executive who clearly sees himself as the final word on what laws count, an penchant for extermely reckless and poorly planned military adventures, and a thoroughgoing disregard for the public good (as opposed to his power). A very disturbing time.

  8. bh says:

    Gordon and Trainor’s book Cobra II clearly documents Rumsfeld’s method of asking Franks for plans and then rejecting them because Franks and the generals wanted to use too many US soldiers. Franks was Rumsfeld’s guy because he always came back with lower troop levels. This method allowed Rumsfeld to always claim that Franks was the guy who thought he had enough troops.
    The fact was that Bush and Rumsfeld couldn’t afford politically or logistically to invade with more than 150,000 US troops. In the first Gulf war, they had the full cooperation of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and all of Europe. Gulf War I was also relatively popular in the US. Bush and Rumsfeld wanted lower troop levels for political reasons, not military ones.
    They were lying about the reasons for the war. Most Middle Eastern and European governments knew it, and many Americans suspected it. Bush and Rumsfeld went with the low troop levels because they were the maximum they could get away with and not face unsustainable opposition at home and abroad.
    Our leaders are supposed to lead. Resignation is always an option. Powell’s public cooperation was key to the Bush/Rumsfeld strategy. Remember, Powell didn’t just “not resign” . He was Bush’s mouthpiece at the UN in an outrageous performance that we now know even he doubted. His performance was beyond dishonorable.

  9. Curious says:

    By now, adding troop to Iraq will have the opposite effect. Unless we know why we are in Iraq, each additional person is just adding another variable into the chaos.
    onto relevant morning news:
    Refinery fire in Italy and oil climb $2. This after UK oil refinery blowing up? (coincident? yeah right. Modern refinries are efficient and pretty safe. But nobody designs it to get bomb)
    So is has been what? 2 weeks with oil above $70? Another 5-8 weeks, and Al qaeda will sucessfully bring US economy into full recession. And Bush has no monetary policy left to fight recession + inflation. (rising rate will collapse the housing bubble, and default the massive consumer debt)
    Al qaeda has sucessfully tied up all of our resource in places that they can win.
    Nigeria: they can keep blowing up oil facility (with tacit support of government, to raise up the oil price)
    Europe: there certainly no love left for our policy.
    In Iraq they certainly are winning big time. (eg. none of our strategy holds traction and situation is getting worst)

    and the geniuses at Pentagon say they can win a war against Iran? What are these idiots thinking?
    Do they have the technology and man power to protect ALL major oil facilities in persian gulf ?
    These people are about as smart as the chimpie in charge.
    And to think the solution to all these are so easy. (but costly and take time)

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think people like quick, short, and victorious wars. And Powell is only following the path first blazed by Mr. McNamara in his book: “In Retrospect”.
    I believe we will see similar tomes published in the next few years as the former officials of the current US administration leave the government.

  11. Frank Anderson says:

    They related to a medical corps screw up in WWI, yet Rudyard Kipling’s 89 year old words are eerily current in the context of recent strategic screw ups in Mesopotamia:
    “MESOPOTAMIA 1917”
    “They shall not return to us, the resolute the young
    The eager and whole- hearted whom we gave;
    But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
    Shall they come with years and honor to the grave?
    They shall not return to us, the young men coldly slain
    In sight of help denied them day to day;
    But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
    Are they too strong and wise to put away?
    Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide-
    Never while the bars of sunset hold.
    But the idle minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
    Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?
    Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
    When the storm is ended shall we find
    How softlfy but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
    By the favour and contrivance of their kind?
    Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
    Even while they make a show of fear,
    Do they call upon their debtors and take council with their friends,
    To confirm and re-establish each career?
    Their lives cannot repay us – their death could not undo
    The shame that they have laid upon our race.
    But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
    Shall we leave it unabated in its place?”

  12. Curious says:

    Congratulation. We have new clusterf–k. Whew, we can practically set out clock with this people incompetence. I’d say the chance of confrontation with Iran just increase slightly.
    “Iranian forces bombed border areas in the Haj Umran area, the Iranian forces crossed 5 km over the border and bombed Lolan with more than 180 heavy artillery shells targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK),” a ministry statement said. [Reuters]
    The Iranians were targeting PKK guerrillas, not Iraqi or US forces. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Washington and Tehran have to say about these incidents.
    What Collon prower has to say right now is to say “quit effing up with Iranian diplomacy, Condi. YOu twit.”
    instead of…whining about how he was correct. Who cares. He was a f—–g liar, and LIE in front of the world with that UN presentation.
    his only chance of redemption is to stop another war and more death.

  13. Sally says:

    It’s possible Powell wanted Rumsfeld to fail, even knowing the horrific events that would follow, and thus the lies he told at the UN to justify the Iraq invasion. Powell is among the long list of dishonorable men who engaged, and are engaging, in trampling our democracy. A pox on them all. I would rather not hear such feeble attempts to redeem any long-lost honor.

  14. Fred says:

    Pat, this shows conduct that is both morally and legally a dereliction of duty. This is the leadership we are given when our constitutionally elected representatives vote for men like Tom Delay to lead in the House of Representatives.

  15. MarcLord says:

    ‘My God! The fate of the Republic is in the hands of such people.’ Yes, and it would seem the Republic hangs by a thread.
    Pat, you must have heard the story of the cadets at West Point rioting:
    Noam Chomsky (!) addressed the cadets in Thayer Hall five days earlier. A very strange sequence of events. Has anything similar happened at a US military academy? What’s your take on it?

  16. MarcLord says:

    Correction, Chomsky addressed the West Point cadets six days earlier:

  17. ckrantz says:

    If I remember correctly from reading Cobra II the war plan depended on the assumption that the Iraqi military would surrender or switch sides early on. And that they would be available later for policing and protecting the borders which I found strange.
    Sort of like using the Wermacht in 45 to provide security. How many generals make invasion plans with the idea that the defeated enemy will provide security after the war. And then says nothing when the political leadership fires all former enemy soldiers without any pensions or pay.

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We could have used the Wehrmacht in 1945. In essence that is what we did six or seven years later in forming the Bundeswehr. The same families ran the two armies. Please note that personnel of the Waffen SS were banned from the Bundeswehr and ended up in the Bundesgrenzschuts (spelling?)the Border Guard. pl

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t pay much attention to collegiate news. Chomsky? So what.
    WP tends IMO to be overly grim and puritanical about cadets, etc. These young people are going to be out leading troops in close combat against tough people. I do not think it is a good preparation for a junior combat leader to try to make him/her into a 21st Century version of Cotton Mather or Oliver Cromwell. Every time your unit makes contact with the enemy, you stand for re-election. They all have guns. Leaders are what are needed not grim little martinets.
    This is not to say that they can be allowed to get away with this kind of behavior. They must be punished so that they know that nothing is free in life and that their troops must know the same thing.
    I was in a similar riot at VMI in 1960. Eleven cadets were dismissed, never to return. Hundreds received major discipline. Nobody thought that any of these people were BAD. They just had to be punished. In the 1920s at VMI a whole class of seniors disobeyed orders and went uptown on a Saturday afternoon to see some movie. They were all dismissed.
    So far as I know nobody has ever seriously maintained (least of all west Pointers)that VMI is an easy place.
    It is important to distinguish between the necessity of discipline and virtue.
    We see the eleven often at reunions. pl

  20. canuck says:

    Powell’s loyalty to the administration was misplaced. By being reluctant to rock the boat, he failed to sink the plans to invade Iraq.
    Larry Wilkerson, Powell’s right-hand man should be held to the same standard. He didn’t resign in protest at the time when it was critical that America knew the facts about the invasion of Iraq.
    Did Tommy Franks invade knowing he didn’t have enough troops? If he did, he’s no hero. All those who were complicit in the decision made grievous errors.
    Some. military leaders did resign their posts, but they didn’t speak out
    Does Fukiyama get a free pass?
    Seems kinda pointless to finger individuals who were responsible after the fact. Do we know what their motivation was for staying in their posts? They may have felt that as hopeless as it was to offer opinions about preventing the invasion in Iraq that they could exert influence on the conduct of the war and its aftermath. That’s turned out to be a disaster too.

  21. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You have to make an example “pour encourager les autres.”
    To say that you went along with stupidity because you could mitigate it is itself stupid. pl

  22. canuck says:

    Possibly true…but who of us has a crystal ball and can foretell accurately what the future will be?
    My Prime Minister knew Saddam was contained, but he wasn’t listened to either.

  23. canuck says:

    This administration had plenty of warning and nothing had an effect. They were intent on war. Are they intent again to wage one in Iran?

  24. ked says:

    let me see now…
    We are in a Long War against an ill-defined (who is terrorism?) adversary, executed to minimize domestic opposition (guns AND butter – what a novel concept!), by self-righteous elders manipulating a mediocre politcal hack (whose true faith is hubris, buffered by palace eunuchs) who can’t understand the Constitution, much less be constrained by law.
    Clearly, we have a hard lesson to learn, and we are not yet even close to learning it. Things need to get a lot worse. It probably will.

  25. canuck says:

    How can this rogue administration who rules the sole superpower be stopped from committing yet another mistake and plunging the world into deep recession or worse?

  26. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A lot of people had a “crystal ball” adequate to this task. pl

  27. ckrantz says:

    What I find strange is the assumption that the Iraqi troops would be available. Besides the WMD much of the warplan seems to have been based on bad information or a bad understanding of Iraq if that is the case.
    In WW2 wasn’t there a ready military government with officers specially trained to run the country, constabulary unites to keep order and a process to deal with former Wermacht officers or nazis. In Iraq much of that seems to have been missing.
    Who should blamed? What supprised me most in Cobra II was the political micro management of the combat commanders war plan. The White House basically dictated the battlefield reality and a lot of people in a position to know better choose to say nothing. It’s sad that the least informed where the American people.
    The question in the end is if military officers or civilians should resign and speak out if they disagree with their political leadership or is it better to stay inside and try to influence events which Colin Powell seems to have tried.I hope I will never be in such a position.

  28. ceebs says:

    What I don’t understand is how even when the fact that the plan was obviously rubbish, to the extent that when the British governments representatives came back, they were convinced there was no plans for after the invasion. If they were convinced of this, then I would have thought that they were already committed to disbanding the Iraqui army ahead of time, not it being some event that happened out of the blue later, otherwise, I would have thought those reprasentatives would have come back with the idea that there was a plan for the aftermath of the invasion.
    To my way of thinking, the person who probably has the most blood on his hands is my prime minister. We have it on paper that his advisors told him that there was no plan for the aftermath, but he still went ahead and added an air of legitimacy to the plan.

  29. MarcLord says:

    re: my WP question, thanks for your reply, particularly the VMI perspectives. Still seems puzzling that they would drug-sniff the rooms of 4,000 cadets while they waited in the square in skivvies unless there was a real good reason to do so. They claim no drugs were found.
    I agree, good order demands cadets be dismissed or disciplined, but from the way it’s being positioned in PR it wouldn’t surprise me that they’ll let it fester.

  30. ckrantz says:

    Ceebs: Didn’t Tony Blair argue for a removal of Saddam long before the Bush administration?

  31. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Sounds like you might be a grad of USMA. I was proud to be a faculty member since so many fine members of my profession came from there.
    I think they tend to take themselves too seriously. They need more people like MacArthur who hold themselves above the fray.
    Cadets should not be dismissed from the service academies for wild behavior if it can be avoided. “The merry hearted lads make the best of our men.” pl

  32. rpe says:

    Sending more troops would have simply given the resistance more targets to shoot at.The plan was to turn Iraq into a puppet state with the privatization of nearly all Iraqi state assets including the oil fields, the hospitals, the schools, the utilities, the industries, and just about everything else of value in the country. Privatization, of course, means the selling of these assets to American corporations at a tiny fraction of their true value. The monies realized by the sale would have been under the control of the American occupation government and would have ended up in the coffers of assorted Pentagon affiliated companies.
    As soon as it became apparent to the Sunnis that the American occupation was designed to turn them into helots in their own country, they began shooting and don’t seem to be inclined to stop. There was no way to sell this to the Iraqis. No way at all. It was allways going to end badly and bloodily.

  33. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Morgenthau” 2003? pl

  34. ckrantz says:

    rpe: Yeah but what should be done with Iraq? Can the US afford to leave a failed states and what would the consequences be for the region? As I see it the fate of Iraq will decide which direction the region head and with that much of the worlds oil supply. And then there is Iran.

  35. ceebs says:

    yes, but it had always been argued that this could only successfuly be done if the Iraqui population did it themselves, the problem with this was this was always going to be spectacularly bloody, and would probably going to end with much of the country in an at least Iranian style theocracy, if not an expanded Iran, in control of a larger percentage of the worlds oil.
    The Gamble of doing this so badly, is that it almost guarantees the worst outcome.

  36. rpe says:

    Col Lang,
    As I understand the original Morgenthau plan, it was barely concealed genocide and was quite properly rejected by President Truman as something ” Americans don’t do.” It also envisioned the deindustrialization of Germany and the death, through an artificial famine, of about half the population. The plan for Iraq was to steal everything under the sun. I still am awestruck by the idea of an American company copyrighting the traditional Iraqi seed varietes, which was done, and then charging the Iraqi farmers a fee to plant their own seeds, which wasn’t done because of this pesky rebellion. Now, that is neocolonial theft on an epic scale.Our goal was to pull off the largest gas station robbery in the history of the world.We didn’t plan to massacre the Iraquis. We were going to transform them into docile workers, not corpses unless of course they got uppity.

  37. rpe says:

    What we want doesn’t seem to matter any more, if it ever did. We are going to end up with a government run by and for Shia theocrats who loathe us and love Iran, Shia theocrats ( Sadr)who loathe us and aren’t terribly fond of Iran, and various CIA assets rather poorly masquerading as ” secularists and technocrats”. Our agents might end up with titular control of the defence or interior ministries but real power will be in the hands of the Shia thugs who are running them now. The Iraqi civil war will continue apace and we’ll be slowly bled out in the Iraqi sands. The next President will withdraw whatever is left of our army and the civil war will eventually end. Iran will be the big winner and we’ll be the big loser. If the Kurds attempt to secede and set up on their own, they’ll find out why the Turks used to be known as “the Terrible Turks”.
    For centuries to come historians and political scientists will hold up George Bush and the Neocons for ridicule as the stupidest people to ever run a great country into the ground.
    As bad as all this is, it will be much worse when we bomb Iran.Something to look foreward to. As to what we should do, its quite simple. We should cut and run for the border as quick as our little feet will let us. The final idiotic delusion is thinking we can influence events in Iraq in a favorable direction.Not a chance.

  38. bh says:

    I think the question of whether we went in with enough soldiers to do the job is beside the point in some ways. Everything we have learned post-invasion about the Saddam regime indicates that the Clinton policy of containment was arguably the best one. As bad as Saddam and his sons were, their government and economy were in much worse shape than Bush’s intelligence people (actually what Chalabi was feeding them) believed.
    Containment coupled with sustained efforts to generate a coup internally would have would have kept the Iraqi military leadership in place and preserved what economic and social infrastructure there was at the time. Even if the regime lasted five more years after 2003, you could make a very strong argument that it would not have been worse than the chaos that the US created with the invasion.
    The real question should be whether the US could have accomplished the same ultimate goal of replacing Saddam with someone more friendly to the US while preserving Iraqi civil society.
    Rumsfeld’s perfidy or Bush’s competence are not really the issue. Hindsight is always better than foresight, but one could make a very good case that they simply fought the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is the ultimate betrayal of soldiers by politicians.

  39. Patrick Henry says:

    I just turned on CNN tonight…Saw SAtreets full of Protestors and Banners all over the Place..People Yelling..
    I think I just had a Flash Back to the 60’s…
    I wonder if this Administration is Having the Same Flash Backs..??
    DOES..History repeat Itself..??
    Wake Up Call..Guys..

  40. taters says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    Excellent, and sadly so. I simply have no words after “Better Late Than Never?” You said it all, Col.
    Re Mesopotamia 1917 – I’m sure you already know Kipling was a changed man after 1915 when he lost his oldest John at the Battle of Loos.

  41. ckrantz says:

    RPE and others:
    What I was talking about was the effects on the region by a US pullback and if the likely civil war could be contained inside the Iraqi borders.
    An interesting wapo piece on the merits and dangers of partioning below even if it didn’t mention the potential intervention by Iraqs neighbours in a civil war.

  42. ckrantz says:

    By the way checkout Iran and Turkey shelling PKK in Kurdistan. I liked the phrase on how Nato member Turkey and Iran were committed to “intelligence co-operation and increasing border guards”

  43. Norbert Schulz says:

    To me the Kurds are just like any other ethnic group on a nationalist quest: They are trouble. Some neo-cons like to see them as Amaerica’s ‘noble savages’. I disagree. They have their own plans, and as for now they and America enjoy some synergy. But what they really want is an independent Kurdistan. They are already conductione some ethnic cleansing against Turkmen, if I am not very mistaken.
    An independent Kurdistan is, as I see it, no longer in America’s interest. But then, the Kurds are just another radical lobby with some pull in D.C. so that might not be a criterium.
    What’s worth more: A friendly Turkey and unhappy Kurds or a pissed off Turkey, in alliance with Iran against an emboldened and agressive separatist movement, and a thankful Kurdish microstate destabilising three or four neighbour countries?
    Turkey could have perhaps avoided lots of trouble by giving the Kurds political participation, but, alas, they didn’t. I see it a natural consequence of a Kurdish state that it will make Kurdish minorities gravitate to them. A Kurdish state would likely be expansive. It would become a state sponsor for Kurdish minorities beyond their borders.
    The neighbouring countries will hardly accept that, and so the Kurds may become the 21th century Armenians, caught in the meatgrinder between Turkey, Syria, Iran and perhaps even the rest of Iraq, be it only for the raison d’etat (and Kirkuk oil revenues). But then, they have established a realtive position of strength, thanks to intensive U.S. support, but I doubt they could resist a joint Turkish/ Iranian/ Syrian backlash.
    They are a bunch of Don Quixotes, and the next separatist terror problem in case they are stupid enough to declare a state. And I am confident they are just that stupid. And that the Bush administration would be stupid enough to accept it.

  44. rpe says:

    Norbert Schulz,
    Partitioning Iraq, which means an independant Kurdistan, seems to be the flavor of the month in the media who take their cue from the idiots who run our government. It is such a breathtakingly bad idea that I’m frankly surprised they didn’t think of it sooner.The Kurds would be surrounded by very hostile countries, with much larger populations, militaries, and economies. The new Kurdish state would also have irredentist claims on all of them and a history of actively supporting violent seperatists.
    Someone once described the foreign policy of Poland between the World Wars, marked as it was by inveterate hostility and irredentist claims against both Russia and Germany,as that of ” a canary trying to swallow two cats at once.” Our brand spanking new Kurdistan would be attempting to swallow 4 cats- Iran,Turkey, Syria, and Arab Iraq- all at once. Good luck with that.
    What still amazes me isn’t the feckless idiocy of this administration, which is awe inspiring in it’s own demented fashion, but the way that the supposedly responsible adults in the major media outlets report these events without noting, even in passing, the blithering idiocy of such an attempt.Truly, the media is now little better than “the public stenographer to power.”

  45. canuck says:

    Cordesman weighs in on the partitioning of Iraq:
    “Analysis: Partitioning Iraq not a viable option
    By Martin Sieff
    UPI Senior News Analyst
    Published May 1, 2006
    WASHINGTON — Partitioning Iraq has become a new, fashionable policy in Washington, but it would easier said than done.
    The idea has been gathering steam in various think tanks over the past year and it took center stage this weekend when Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, advocated it. Biden spelled out his ideas in article with Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, in the New York Times Monday.”

  46. Eric says:

    Here’s something interesting along the lines of the gentleman from Canuckistan’s remarks on opium.
    I’ll just drop it here:

  47. Norbert Schulz says:

    heared what Stephen Colbert said on that at the Whitehouse press dinner?
    “Let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction.”
    He had some other gems, like “I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”
    For some reason dear leader felt offended.

  48. ckrantz says:

    It would be interesting to know the extent of the Turkish unwillingness to cooperate with Washington and how damaged the relationship is.
    Seems Condi requested Incirlik air base for an American strike against Iranian nuclear installations when she was in Turkey and was turned down. Washington’s is also supposed to have requested to build a new air base in eastern Turkey between Lake Van and the Iranian border where US bombers could reach nuclear targets situated in northern Iran. I don’t know if the information is true but shifting Turkish security alliances would make many countries nervous not the least of which is Israel with the informal alliance they have.

  49. Norbert Schulz says:

    There was an article about in in the Asia Times:

  50. rpe says:

    We might be seeing a sea change in Turkey’s strategic thinking. The old model of relying on America and cozying up to Israel to obtain the political protection of AIPAC in the US Congress may be dying a rapid death. Israel seems to be working to establish a friendly, to them, independant Kurdistan. That is a mortal threat to the Turks. America is seen as bullying, irrational, and,perhaps, on the decline. Turkish hopes of joining the EU as an equal are melting quicker than your average glacier while their trade with Iran is exploding. Add it all up and you can easily conclude that the Turks are about to become our former friends.Bismark once said that nations have no permanent enemies or friends, just permanent interests and a lot of Turkish interests are threatened by our currrent policies. By all accounts the Turks have not only refused us permission to use Incirlik airbase to hit the Iranians, they have made sure that everyone knows it. It would not surprise me at all to discover that the Turks are keeping the Iranians well informed of our evolving plans. A unified Iraq, with a properly suvservient Kurdish province is a vital Turkish interest. A politicaly stable friendly Iran doing lots of business with Turkey is a major Turkish interest.Acquiesing to the Bush administration’s latest brain fart isn’t.
    I find the recent military cooperation between the Turks and Iranians against the Kurds telling.They are sending the United States a very clear message and a distinct warning. I’m supremely confident that it will be ignored by the dolts in Washington.

  51. lina says:

    “It would be interesting to know the extent of the Turkish unwillingness to cooperate with Washington and how damaged the relationship is.”
    One component of the damage was incurred by the way so-called negotiators from the Pentagon conducted themselves before the invasion of Iraq. They were sent to make the deal re the 4th I.D.’s use of the southern Turkish border. Apparently, they showed up in Istanbul and started making demands (as opposed to negotiating). Didn’t sit very well. The rest is history.

  52. John Pfeifler says:

    I, like you, think GHW Bush’s and Clinton’s containment strategy had a lot to recommend it despite Scott Ritter’s criticisms. Now, I see two issues that appear to merge in what increasingly looks like a Machiavellian plan: partitioning Iraq and bludgeoning Iran. A wise man told me when I got married some 35 years ago that I should quickly establish my incompetence in certain domestic areas. President Bush similarly established his incompetence in certain foreign policy areas–nation building for instance. He expressed his disapproval of nation-building during his 2000 presidential campaign. And, Iraq, as evidenced through the “tell-alls” of O’Neil and Clark, was always on his [Bush’s] mind. The neoconservative influence in the Bush administration is clearly documented, and the neoconservative goals of remaking the Middle East fit nicely with Bush’s moralistically/idealistically driven and realistically pursued vision of American foreign policy (right justifies might). Ikenberry has described this as obtaining an American conservative Leviathan.
    The Bush administration orders the invasion of Iraq and, after a brilliantly executed military operation, fails to execute the transition from Saddam Husayn to Ahmad Democrati. Somehow the same government system that successfully maneuvered Germany and Japan into successful market democracies after WWII and concluded a relatively bloodless end to the Cold War against the vast Soviet Empire could not manage Iraq. I must seriously doubt the Bush administration’s commitment to Iraqi unity (not to mention the absorption of any lessons learned from Vietnam, Gulf War I, Somalia, etc.) Now, we find the pro-Iraq War Senator Biden (D) calling for partition. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Something is rotten in Washington D.C.”
    Last month, William Kristol, the neoconservative, pens an article calling Iran “Unacceptable?”. He returns to the appeasement analogy of 1936, throws in Raymond Aron’s quotes for effect, and calls upon the US to fulfill its duty. He points out the obvious: “That action [in Iran] would be easier if the situation in Iraq improved–which implies an urgent push to make progress there, with the deployment of more troops if necessary.” Amazingly, the same man who publicly stated on the Colbert Report that Rumsfeld should have been fired urges action in Iran despite the instability in Iraq. You have to ask yourself is this intention or is this planned incompetence?

  53. lina says:

    “You have to ask yourself is this intention or is this planned incompetence?”
    Kremlinology: The study of politics and policies based on efforts to understand the inner workings of an extremely opaque central government, named after the Kremlin, the seat of the Soviet government.

  54. Curious says:

    Well Congratulation Condi. Iran just call her bluff. Now it’s Condi’s turn to answer.
    (my prediction, she will cave. or double the bet. She doesn’t know anything else)
    Obviously Iranian intention is to buy time until their first uranium based bomb is ready, than lit up the reactor to start pumping plutonium. The next 12-18 months is all about diplomacy. And all we got is Condi.
    We are screwed. The russian plays her like a cheap neocon whore that she is.
    Iran threatens Israel if US acts “evil”
    TEHRAN (Reuters) –
    Iran threatened on Tuesday to attack
    Israel in response to any “evil” act by the United States and said it had enriched uranium to a level close to the maximum compatible with civilian use in power stations.

  55. John Pfeifler says:

    I guess I must be a Potomacologist. The decision-making and policy apparatus of our government are as clear as mud.

  56. McGee says:

    Colonel Lang et al,
    Great discussion as always! And, Colonel, it’s “Bundesgrenzschutz”.
    Bitte sehr! McGee

  57. zanzibar says:

    From an Iraqi blogger’s perspective. What PL and others have stated, the primary beneficiary of the Bush-Cheney Iraq strategy is Iran.
    Riverbend: Blogging from Iraq
    “One television station that had been broadcasting since the beginning of the war was an Iranian station called “Al Alam”. They had been broadcasting for the Iraqi public in Arabic with permission from the former government and they continued broadcasting even after the Iraqi stations stopped. Their coverage of the war was rather neutral. They gave facts and avoided unnecessary commentary or opinion and that, to a certain extent, made them trustworthy- especially since we really didn’t have any other options.”
    “Looking back at it now, it is properly ironic that our first glimpses of the ‘fall of Baghdad’ and the occupation of Iraq came to us via Iran- through that Iranian channel.
    We immediately began hearing about the Iranian revolutionary guard, and how they had formed a militia of Iraqis who had defected to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. We heard how they were already inside of the country and were helping to loot and burn everything from governmental facilities to museums. The Hakims and Badr made their debut, followed by several other clerics with their personal guard and militias, all seeping in from Iran.
    Today they rule the country. Over the duration of three years, and through the use of vicious militias, assassinations and abductions, they’ve managed to install themselves firmly in the Green Zone. We constantly hear our new puppets rant and rave against Syria, against Saudi Arabia, against Turkey, even against the country they have to thank for their rise to power- America… But no one dares to talk about the role Iran is planning in the country.”

  58. ali says:

    “And then there is Iran.”
    The big dumb thing with this war wasn’t troop levels; it was failing to take into account what destroying Iran’s principle foe would do to the balance of power in the region. A little local nastiness in Iraq really isn’t something to cry about a major regional war is. The French were right, often for the wrong reasons but right still. That Tony Blair preferred to play the loyal courtier rather than responsible friend to an enraged and very apparently irresponsible DC is shameful.
    Powell did have a doctrine of overwhelming force named after him so his tardy dissent is hardly a surprise. Wilkerson has said the reason there wasn’t a plan for the occupation was simply that planning would have revealed the dire risks that were being taken. Dwelling on things going wrong and the cost of a long large deployment could have scuppered the whole adventure politically and it has continued as it started. Of course this is not an excuse, rather it’s criminal negligence.
    A larger invasion force would have been more sensible but the US simply didn’t have enough troops fit for constabulary work on this scale, a rapid drawdown would have been inevitable as they had to rotate troops out. I’m not convinced that this would have made a great difference three years on. The problems are deeper, ideological in DC and structural in Iraq.
    In the face of that Rumsfeld is still stubbornly pursuing the wrong kind of tech heavy transformation at the Pentagon. He should be building an army for 21st century wars of which Iraq is probably typical. Why he isn’t being called to resign over that baffles me.

  59. ckrantz says:

    Most comments here misunderstand the events in my opinion. I don’t think it was just rumsfeld bullying generals or the neocons conspiring that brought the current dissaster but a fundamentally flawed policy being executed without any public scrutiny or understanding. And the people who knew better said nothing or very little as the Col. says above. Of course the congress or the media with a few exceptions didn’t bother to check facts either.
    Also few people seem to remember that it was official US policy to overthrow Saddam since 98. And the contaninment policy had the same objective. We had what I would describe as a low intensity war continuing from the first to the second Iraq war.
    What worries me is all the other activities the same guys are running both domestically and abroad with the power grab from rumsfelds pentagon. How many people have heard of CIFA for instance?
    And by the way ‘good news’ from Iran. Mohammed Ghannadi, deputy chief for nuclear research presented new sites of “economically viable” uranium deposits found in central Iran’s Khoshoomi region.

  60. ckrantz says:

    I know it’s a hopeless question but what would be your wish, hope or solution for the future of iraq?

  61. ckrantz says:

    rpe: What i’m seeing is the beginning not of a civil war but a regional war and in the long term a potential break up of Turkey from both Nato and the EU process and potential sea of instability from north africa to india to the balkans and central asia. With oil and nuclear arms involved. And don’t forget the Pakistani nuclear state who is currently at the brink of civil war. I’m of course a pessimist.

  62. rpe says:

    Pessimist? I suspect that, in the end, our worst predictions might be seen as the last vestiges of traditional American optimism. Reality could easily be so much worse than our worst imaginings.

  63. bh says:

    I agree that the situation we face all across the Middle East and Central Asia is pretty grim and is bound to get worse.
    This would be a difficult situation for a smart, focused US administration. We now have an aimless President with no foreign policy, except a failed one. US foreign policy drift only heightens the danger for the US and the rest of the world.

  64. zanzibar says:

    While the Bush-Cheney administration seems to want to regain their poll numbers by talking tough on Iran, the forgotten war in Afghanistan seems to be going the other way with the Taliban regrouping.
    Taliban threat growing
    “The arrival of large numbers of Taliban in the villages, flush with money and weapons, has dealt a blow to public confidence in the Afghan government, already undermined by lack of tangible progress and frustration with corrupt and ineffective leaders.”
    “Uruzgan is not the only province teetering out of control. Helmand and Kandahar to the south have been increasingly overrun by militants this year, as large groups of Taliban are reportedly moving through the countryside, intimidating villagers, ambushing vehicles, and spoiling for a fight with coalition or Afghan forces.”
    “The Taliban are warning the people to expect more attacks, the shopkeeper, Mr. Saifullah, told General Eikenberry. “During the day the people, the police, and the army are with the government, but during the night, the people, the police, and the army are all with the Taliban and Al Qaeda,” he said.”

  65. zanzibar says:

    It looks like the backdrop is being prepared for action against Iran.
    The house voted overwhelmingly with support from both parties for the Iran Freedom Support Act. Very likely something similar will pass the senate.
    I don’t know what is in this act but I am sure Bush could use it as congressional support for the use of force against Iran.
    News reports also claim that Condi was requesting support from Turkey for using their territory for airbases and overflights, which apparently was refused.
    Are we seeing a repeat of what preceded Iraq?

  66. rpe says:

    They’re playing the same old music but this time around no one wants to go to the party with us.

  67. canuck says:

    I suppose it had to happen sooner or later…
    Without resigning
    “Any action militarily is very complicated,” Lt Gen Victor Renuart, the director of planning for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Daily Telegraph.
    “And any action by any country will have second-order effects, and that is a strong case to continue the diplomatic process and make it work.”
    His comments are a rare public statement from the US military on what is the most contentious international issue of the day.

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