“Can this man save Iraq?”

Petraeus1 I listened with interest to his "presser" today.  Very well done, very plausible, impressively educated, good on his feet.  All he has to do is win in Iraq and he can follow in Eisenhower’s footsteps.

He did not "write" the COIN manual.  His command at Leavenworth wrote it and to some extent he participated in the process.  He deserves credit for participating in the process.  Most generals would not.

He clearly now understands the complexities of the inter-communal struggle for Iraq and its relationship to the "outside" players in the surrounding countries and across the Islamic World.  He is careful in what he says.  He knows that the struggle is "political" in the broadest sense and that the historical balance of power in the Islamicate World is what is at stake.


He sees that the "galaxy" of insurgent groups; Sunni and Shia secular Iraqi nationalist, Arab tribals, Baathis, specifically Iraqi jihadis, AQ  in Iraq takfiris, etc, are a melange that have little in common other than a deep desire to avoid the long term control of Iraq by some coalition of Iranian oriented Shia parties and militias.  Having seen that, he sees the utility of using the less "offensive" groups against the more "offensive" ones.  This is wisdom.

He will have a hard time doing that in the context of the simplistic simpletons in power and the masses of people whom they taught to bray "Bad!  Bad!" every time they hear the word, Baath.

I wish him luck.  I really do.  pl

Download how_to_work_with_tribesmen.pdf


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48 Responses to “Can this man save Iraq?”

  1. jonst says:

    I was not impressed. Let me rephrase that. Compared to who the Bush Admin usually sends out, I was very impressed. His cheap shots/scare tactics/exaggerations were delivered smoothly and not in an obvious manner, to those who have not followed the Iraq war closely. I have no comment with regard to the questioners other than to say I have utter contempt for the vast, vast, majority of them. They are, the majority, gutless and/or clueless cheerleaders. Though many of the cheerleaders do have a look, and a tone, hinting they are beginning, finally, to sense it is late in the season and ‘no, we ain’t gonna win the title’.
    The general took advantage, as is his right, of the inability of the questioner/listener to request that the general define, precisely define, his terms.
    He overestimated (hyped) AQ’s role in Iraq for obvious domestic reasons. I will await the transcript before commenting further other than to say the following: I considerer myself a good lawyer. I would love to depose this guy.

  2. chimneyswift says:

    It’s hard for me to wish him too much luck since I’d rather have my cousin come home (“stop loss”+”surge” = tough luck). That being said, however, I really hope there is some success. I think it’s the best chance for a stable Middle East in the years to come. But on the other other hand, what we are looking at is a situation where the best chance of success is awfully slim.
    Honestly, regardless of the smaller theater, I think he has a harder row to hoe than Ike did.

  3. TR Stone says:

    Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press the vote was not helpful.
    “We see some negative signs in the decision because it sends wrong signals to some sides that might think of alternatives to the political process,” al-Dabbagh said. “Coalition forces gave lots of sacrifices and they should continue their mission, which is building Iraqi security forces to take over.”
    Yes the Iraqi establishment wishes to see more Ameican sacrifices. Nowhere in this comment ia a view of the political process. We (the Iraqi government) wish for you to do the dirty work and keep sending the checks, while we consolidate sectarian power.

  4. Tim G says:

    And he will be working with the best Arabist Ambassador DOS has to offer. Too bad this is all 4 years too late.

  5. b says:

    Yeah, he is really, really taking my breath away: Petraeus: Progress In Anbar ‘Breathtaking’
    As long as there are people like him, defending the undefensible, the situation on the ground will get worse.
    But there are lots of these folks who like the stars coming with it …

  6. knut royce says:

    Even Rommel couldn’t save Germany from itself.

  7. zanzibar says:

    If Gen. Petraeus gets it why does he not convince the American people as well as the Decider and the Congress that he would need more troops, more equipment and several years to create stability and “political reconciliation” in Iraq.
    IMO, the American people are willing to support anyone who would be candid with them and provide a realistic and credible plan with well defined objectives and end goals.
    I realize he is walking a thin line and may not want to come across as usurping the Decider’s role BUT if he understands the issues it would be most helpful to the country that he articulates it. The country needs leadership and if Gen. Petraeus can provide it he should step up.

  8. Tom S says:

    If Petraeus had been in command from the beginning, with 300,000+ troops, with no civilian administration of inexperienced and incomptent Bush loyalists…maybe it would have succeeded.

  9. JFM says:

    And I also wish him luck! But, as you know well, it’ll take much more than luck to fish this bus out of the ditch. Undoubtedly he has a better and maybe even sufficient grasp of the complexities of the task he faces, but that is probably not enough as the folks who need that understanding even more than him, namely the Congress, have neither the patience or the constituent latitude to go much further. Unfortunately anyone in the Iraqi mix of whatever stripe he-General Petraeus- identifies as useful in the ongoing nation building effort will be immediately marginalized as a puppet of the Americans.
    The more I consider what needs to be done in Iraq, the more convinced I become that a deadline and finite troop withdrawal schedule is the way to go. I base my belief largely on two firmly fixed assumptions: First, a population in a situation such as Iraq largely only moves when they have to. A series of fixed future events created by the outside world generally moved the parties in the Balkans toward some resolution. The absence of any such parallel timeline, I believe, allows the Palestinian issue to languish with neither party moving toward solution. The second and equally important assumption in my calculus is that my conclusion is diametrically opposed to that of Dubya and his Muppet show of advisors. Knowing that George ain’t been right on anything yet, I take great comfort in the correctness and righteousness of my new deduction. As I now hold the complete opposite conclusion he today forwards, I am assured of being spot on correct!

  10. Richard Whitman says:

    JFM-you malign the Muppets, otherwise I agree with you. Please note the complete absence of any talk about “what we do after we win”.Even Dubya does not really expect to win.

  11. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    From a foreign policy perspective, my take at the moment is:
    1. The decision to launch a “preventive war” against Iraq is the greatest strategic mistake in US history, as General Odom points out.
    2. That said, as a Nation, we confront an array of potentially catastrophic consequences in the near, medium and long term because of this decision by the Congress and White House.
    3. It is therefore prudent at this time to devise a real plan, rather than sound bites and smoke and mirrors legislation, to get ourselves out of this mess and to minimize the catastrophic damage.
    No matter how able the General may be, and I also wish him all the best, there are larger factors to be considered.
    First and foremost is our National Strategy. Just what is it these days other than a shambles?
    We must have realistic, comprehensive, and integrated National Strategy that takes into account the actual international situation, rather than some fantasy “unipolar” world or “globalised” world.
    Then we must have a serious diplomatic effort to reach a settlement on the Iraq situation at a minimum. This means a serious diplomatic offensive at the regional level (Syria, Iran, and all the other players), at the major power level (Russia, China, EU, Japan, India), and at the UN level.
    But what are the politics of this? The White House has seemingly rejected the ISG report. The Republican Party is dominated by Neocon ideology and the Zionist money (“campaign finance”) and Fundamentalist political base. The Democratic Party, as George Soros points out, is unlikely to free itself from the death grip of the Zionist lobby (AIPAC etal). So there are considerable obstacles to a necessary policy change.
    And what about the competence necessary to implement a serious foreign policy in the national interest. So far, as events have shown, we do not find this at the White House, in the National Security Council, nor in the office of the Secretary of State. While there are myriad competent professionals throughout our institutions — State, Intelligence Community, Military, Law Enforcement — there is little they can do if the political layer is as corrupt and incompetent as it is in today’s America.
    A tall order to change the current situation and to extract ourselves minimizing strategic damage. I think it is still, perhaps, possible but some radical change is needed in Washington, particularly in the White House with its faux Texan Decider (all hat, faked twang accent, bicycle and no horse) and a stranger than Strangelove Veep.

  12. VietnamVet says:

    If Gen. Petraeus had been in charge and outsourced Pakistani and Bangladesh troops were part of the “Coalition of Willing” 4 years ago, he just may have stabilized Iraq. To get Muslim troops a political plan would’ve been in place beforehand. The Sunni Arabs would not been disenfranchised. Iraq would not have turned into a lawless neo-colony.
    William S. Lind indicates that the basis for the success in Northern Ireland, one of the few cases where the states armed forces won, was that the problem was treated as a criminal one, troops were strictly controlled and reprisals avoided
    It is all blood washed under the bridge. Every action of the Bush II Administration has been to assure that the USA is engulfed in a never ending Holy War that cannot be won.

  13. TR Stone says:

    I just watched the Democratic Presidential debate.
    Is the crazy Mike Gavel the only one who can speak the truth to the establishment?

  14. Grumpy says:

    Col. Lang,
    Both Eisenhower and Petraeus were/are both teachers and leaders. They were/are also focused on BOTH military history and military leadership. For this situation, this is an excellent mix. His problem is this, “How do you unspill milk?” This is exactly right, you can not do it. The other problem is this, neither the “spilled milk”, nor “the floor it was spilled upon” was ours. Therefore, we have a major ongoing responsibility in Iraq.
    About your article on “Tribesmen” is right on target. It is a shame, we did not use this document during “Persian Gulf I”, it might have stopped this grief earlier.

  15. zenpundit says:

    I apologize for going off topic:
    Colonel Lang, I just wanted to draw your attention to what some of your peers were sayting about your Tribesmen paper:
    BTW – a good read !

  16. TR Stone says:

    I have a very off the wall concept here, let’s elect a crazy person as POTUS, not a stupid one.
    I bet every culture has a restiction on dealing with the infirm. In my lifetime we have tried every other strategy.
    Let’s give this one a chance!

  17. Peter Eggenberger says:

    You applaud Petraeus for seeing that the “galaxy” of insurgent groups are a melange, etc.. That sounds like applauding a 20th century Catholic bishop for recognizing that Galileo was right. I wonder if Petraeus has “advanced views”, i.e. the equivalent of endorsing evolution, DNA, geology. I hope so, although I assume he doesn’t talk about it in visits to the White House.

  18. Leila A. says:

    While Baghdad burns, look at Nero hard at work.
    Or is he more like Caligula?
    He’s the leader of a country wounded by war and homegrown mayhem. His behavior is grossly disrespectful to the office he holds and the people he supposedly serves.

  19. b says:

    This is some high level fragging in the Armed Forces Journal by one Lt. Col. Paul Yingling: A failure in generalship

    In 2007, Iraq’s grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.
    These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America’s general officer corps. America’s generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy.

    That would include Petraeus …
    More by WaPo:
    Army Officer Accuses Generals of ‘Intellectual and Moral Failures’

  20. Chris Marlowe says:

    The situation is unsalvagable, ever since the US occupation forces and Al-Qaeda got together to destroy the Iraqi educated classes, and literally opening the Pandora box of religious/political factions and strife in Iraq and the rest of the ME.
    Iraq is the logical end of the Pax Americana and the American 20th century. There is no victory for the US in this situation; only various bad scenarios are available. And none of the choices are good. Only the postscript is waiting to be written.
    Petraeus is not going to be Eisenhower, he will be Jodl.

  21. jonst says:

    TR Stone,
    Why do you say Gavel is crazy?

  22. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “…Gen. David Petraeus said the war will require “an enormous commitment” by the United States.”
    Here’s what makes no sense to me. We could achieve some positive outcome in this mess if we really, really took the initiative. But there would have to be some sort of sacrifice by all of us.
    Someone said earlier that we Americans will rise to the occasion with the right leadership. I believe that to be true. But it won’t be painless – we cannot “ensure victory” by shopping every day and slapping a yellow ribbon on the car.
    These knuckleheads like to scream that “Freedom isn’t Free” every chance they get but never, ever have they proposed any real sacrifice by the American people who are not serving in the military.
    An “enormous commitment” would require tons of cash, boatloads of troops and a swarm of diplomatic types to make this work. That means higher taxes and a real recruitment drive for the military and civilian agencies with El Presidente at the lead.
    But they won’t do this. They refuse to do this. So the “enormous commitment” line is empty rhetoric. The public has turned against this war because the rhetoric is so disconnected from the actions.

  23. John Hammer says:

    Col.- I saw Gen. Petraeus on Charlie Rose last night. He said that-
    1.Enough oil has been discovered in Anbar to make Iraq the world’s #2 reserve holder.
    2.The tribal groups of eastern Anbar have joined the fight against AQ.
    Are these to points related? Is this a game changer?

  24. Got A Watch says:

    The AP story referenced by TR Stone above is also cited by Needlenose today:
    Quote:” U.S. military commanders say a key goal of the ongoing security offensive is to buy time for Iraq’s leaders to reach political benchmarks that can unite its fractured coalition government and persuade insurgents to stop fighting.
    . . . Ten weeks into the security plan, even as U.S. lawmakers propose timelines for a U.S. troop withdrawal, there has been little or no progress in achieving three key political benchmarks set by the Bush administration: new laws governing the sharing of Iraq’s oil resources and allowing many former members of the banned Baath Party to return to their jobs, and amendments to Iraq’s constitution. As divisions widen, a bitter, prolonged legislative struggle is hindering prospects for political reconciliation.
    “They are all up in the air,” said Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite who is chairman of Iraq’s Supreme National Commission for De-Baathification. “They are certainly not going to be produced in any timetable that is acceptable within the context of the current political climate in the United States.” Other benchmarks such as provincial elections, a political agreement on dismantling militias and a program for reconciliation announced last July also have not moved forward, Iraqi officials said.
    . . . Even if compromises are reached on the three benchmarks, it is unlikely the final legislation will resemble anything close to the Bush administration’s blueprint. Maliki’s aides are already stressing that they cannot control how the divided 275-member parliament will react to the proposals.
    “When the Americans give orders, people will be more against it,” [Kurdish pol Mahmoud] Othman said. “That’s what the Americans don’t understand.” ”
    Needlenose take: “Although the Iraqi government is happy to send out a spokesman to pay lip service to Dubya’s desired spin, lip service is all the Bushites are going to get from them — the Shiite-dominated government doesn’t want to share power, or give the U.S. an inside track to its oil, etc. So, much like Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army during the current would-be crackdown, the government is lying low and hoping to wait us out. That’s the point of the Chalabi quote dismissing the possibility that any of the laws will meet Dubya’s desired timetable.”
    My conclusion: the Oil Law looks like it won’t be passed as written by Dick Cheney. Shiites are not going to compromise with Sunnis, or vice-versa, until they are forced to – after American troops depart. As has been stated , the Iraqi government is willing to fight to the last American soldier, before any willingness to negotiate a real peace will develop.
    As I stated before, the March ’08 pullout date has taken on a political life of its own, Bush veto notwhithstanding. The Bushians are stuck between defeat and defeat on all sides. Gen. Petraeus task is to resolve this mess, how?
    When cornered, rats get desperate – I wouldn’t invest in Tehran real estate anytime soon.

  25. Stanley Henning says:

    General Petraeus is sadly in a no win situation. Democracy is clearly a meaningless term in the equation. So we essentially appear to be “surging” to support the Shia who are not even united and are thus not fully cooperating with our efforts, and even if they prevail Iraq will not likely be pro-US, but will likely fall within an Iranian sphere of influence. The Sunni insurgents don’t appear to have any desire to talk, so the killing will go on — so what’s the plan – dither about and continue to waste more lives and resources while blindly hoping for a miracle? We’ve lost it big time!

  26. VietnamVet says:

    Reading excerpts of John Keegan’s A HISTORY OF WARFARE places Lt. Col. Paul Yingling’s article, cited above, in an interesting context. No doubt there is denial throughout the political classes and the military. But, there are millions of Vietnam Veterans around who are profoundly familiar with counterinsurgency. Yet, the last Democratic Presidential candidate did not defend his medals or his youthful statements about that War. Media Propaganda and Pentagon Agitprop went unchallenged. Why?
    There is an essential corruption in the American Empire just as profound as the Praetorian Guard selecting the next Emperor. The money spent on the military industrial complex is wasted graft to re-fight WWI. Indiscriminate killing and incarcerating Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq exasperates the problem. To fight the actual war, the USA has to pacify radical extremists who could detonate a nuclear weapon in a Western city. How?
    Reinstate the US Constitution and the rule of law. End Torture. Throw out the corrupt Democratic and Republican politicians who feed off the military industrial complex. Withdraw from the conflicts in the Middle East. Reinstate the draft. Secure American borders. Assure that Intelligence is as close to reality as possible. Resume diplomacy and rebuild alliances. Breakup media monopolies and return ownership to local companies. Wean the USA off of Middle East oil. Finally, select leaders who have moral courage and the well being of American citizens in their hearts.

  27. Will says:

    My niece is doing a paper on
    Consociationalism goverment
    . When based on faith, as in Lebanon., it is called Confessionalism. It is a way of powersharing, and also found in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, South Africa.
    Some of the favorable conditions for it are:
    Multi-axis balance of power – The presence of 3 or more disparate groups, all constituting minorities, yields equilibrium.
    Multi-party system – One party cannot impose its will to the exclusion of the others. Thus, it becomes necessary to build coalitions.
    Small size – The elite members of society are more likely to be familiar with each other within the context of a smaller society.
    Overarching loyalty – The disparate groups share a feeling of belonging to the same political environment.
    Segmental isolation – Close contact would mean a higher likelihood of conflict.
    Tradition of elite accommodation – Good environment created
    Leader-follower relationship – The elites are firmly in control and have the support of followers.
    In Lebanon, Sometimes it has worked, sometimes not. In 1958 Civil War erupted aggravated by the foreign disruptor of the disintegration of SEATO after the fall of Royalist Irak, the founding of the UAR, and later in 1975 under the maturing of the armed Palestinian presence.
    Yet the elites were always there to talk to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, and the leaders were willing to follow. Often willing to change sides- to form a newer and more stable coalition-letting bygones be bygones. In march 15 movement
    erstwhile opponents Hariri (Sunni), Jumblatt (Druze), the anti-Syrian) came together to give amnesty and let him out of 15 years of solitary confinement Samir Gaegea “JaJa,” the leader of the militia :lebanese Forces who had been convicted of the murder of Lebanese P.M. Rashid Karami.
    The second example of course is Michel Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement (mainly Maronite Christians) also amnestied after 15 years of exile to make friends with Nasrallah of Hezbollah (Shiite).
    In Irak, the Kurds have their elite leaders to make deals, so apparently do the Shiites. But the leaders of the Sunnites have been de Baathed by at first the Americans and then the Shiites. That’s why Irak is a loser and will remain that way.
    The Americans need to get out, the sooner the better, and let the Irakis sort their mess out. The Sunnis will come up with their own elite leader and the three grouping will set up their own accommodation. There is NO military solution. Withdrawal is the answer.

  28. peterp says:

    Col Lang: “All he has to do is win in Iraq and he can follow in Eisenhower’s footsteps.”
    All he has to do is walk on water and he can follow in Jesus’ footsteps. But that doesn’t seem very likely, either.

  29. robt willmann says:

    Danger, General Petraeus . . . Danger!
    When this Iraq War II more publicly started going down the toilet last fall (2006), the promoters of it scrambled to jam a stopper in the bowl. Enter the Un-American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and
    its “Choosing Victory, A Plan for Success in Iraq” by Fred Kagan, retired Gen. Jack Keene, and others.
    The Kagan/Keene paper speaks approvingly of the “recently released military doctrinal manual on counterinsurgency operations” and its emphasis on “establishing security for the civilian populace”, which statement “encapsulates the wisdom of generations of counterinsurgent theorists and practitioners.”
    After this “sub silentio” praise of Gen. Petraeus, who was involved in creating the counterinsurgency manual, Kagan and Keene sneer at Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, who had “emphasized the need for Iraqis to solve their own security problems”.
    The federal government adopted the AEI plan.
    And the media began to massage the anatomy of General David Petraeus. Fawning articles and segments appeared, culminating in a cover of Newsweek magazine with its puzzling caption, “Can this man save Iraq?”
    Save Iraq from what?
    Itself? Its estimated two million internal and two million external refugees? Depleted uranium contamination?
    I hope that for his sake, Gen. Petraeus does not start believing all this publicity.
    Let us get one thing perfectly clear. The large television, radio, and print media in this country are not independent, objective reporters and investigators of domestic and foreign policy; they are active promoters of the policies.
    As we say in the criminal law, these media have, since September 2001, “intentionally and knowingly” helped with a propaganda and psychological warfare campaign against the American people which seeks to consolidate authority in the federal government at home and implement a gangster foreign policy abroad, especially in the Middle East.
    Those who remain in denial about this fact can still, as an academic or intellectual exercise, pretend that the propaganda exists and try to spot it in the language and images used. If you do this for a few days, a disquieting realization will appear.
    The pathetic and blatant lies of vice president Dick Cheney (the insurgency is in its “last throes”), and Donald “We Know Where the Weapons Are” Rumsfeld (the resistance is just “dead-enders” and “remnants”), won’t fly anymore. Now we move to Plan B and admit that Iraq has a complex social environment of
    tribes, clans, religions, and ethnic groups, and that there is an active resistance and guerilla presence.
    Wednesday night, C-Span ran a repeat of a few Senators who emerged after a briefing by General Petraeus to talk about the Iraq War funding bill and his briefing. Then Petraeus came out for just a few minutes before reporters. He acknowledged the large mix of groups in Iraqi politics and that “prime minister” Maliki is trying, though he was elected by just one vote. But then Petraeus spoke of the
    violence largely in terms of Al-Qa’ida and Iran’s help with
    more powerful roadside bombs.
    At that point, you could see that he was on the bandwagon.
    But he seems smart enough to try to avoid the flippant falsehoods of Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.
    I did not see Gen. Petraeus’ press conference yesterday (Apr. 26) or, as one comment said, his appearance on the Charlie Rose show. After his brief appearance Wednesday night, my impression was that he was brought back here to help keep a lid on Congress and dampen the efforts of some to take concrete, definite steps to end the war.
    As a soldier, Gen. Petraeus is to follow all legal policies. But he is implementing a policy that is creating an Iraqi West Bank and Gaza Strip. Massive concrete walls chopping up city areas. Checkpoints. Fingerprints and eye-scans of residents. Controlling “access” to areas in the “free” Iraq. Merchants and workers now have a harder time getting around.
    Treating people that way is contrary to natural law.
    Gen. Petraeus is now running with civilians in and out of the U.S. government who are among the most vicious in memory.
    I hope he realizes that.
    This game is about controlling the oil, water, banking, and finance in the Arab and Persian Middle East, and suppressing or destroying some of the moral and business principles of the Muslim world.
    General Tommy Franks (retired) knew when to play his cards, when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em. He got out when the getting was good.
    And what about you, David Petraeus?
    Watch your back.

  30. Salsabob says:

    “… avoid the long term control of Iraq by some coalition of Iranian oriented Shia parties and militias.”
    No, no, no, no — this is THE stupid fear that keeps us in Iraq. Take it away, and then us rolling back out of ‘Shiastan’ becomes acceptable. Rollout of ‘Shiastan’ allows us to concentrate on ‘Sunnistan’ where AQ is buried. Together, this rollback and concentrate not only allows but requires the tribal tactics that rely primarily on SpecOps – we can get the hell out of the Green Zone and we can get gone ASAP the ill-equipped and ill-suited units that make up the bulk of our combat presence – they simply will not be needed.
    Our FEAR of Persian influence on Shiastan keeps us stupid. The bad blood between Arab and Persians predates that of Sunni and Shia by centauries. It just wasn’t Iraqi Sunnis manning those machine guns that mowed down human wave after wave of Persians back in the 80’s; how long will that take to boil over once again. Let the Shia have their Shiastan and let the Persians foolishly get entangled in trying to influence that hellhole.
    Bottom line – why is the frickin UNITED STATES OF FRICKIN AMERICA so g-d scared of a pint-size ‘Shiastan?’ Our fathers should be as ashamed of our lack of confidence as they are of our stupidity.

  31. JDubbs says:

    “Even Rommel couldn’t save Germany from itself.”
    that’s why we burn the village to save it from itself.

  32. James Pratt says:

    Wasn’t Casey supposed to be a big improvement over Gen. Sanchez? Wasn’t Arabic-speaking Abizeid going to be an improvement over Gen. Franks?
    The over privileged war party can sell us hope in a new package, but they cannot deliver an Iraqi Arab population that wants either a US occupation or an “Iraqi” government elected under US censorship of everything except street demonstrations and Friday mosque sermons.

  33. walrus says:

    It would appear from the latest “news” alleging Iranian involvement in Iraq (of which there can be not the slightest doubt) that Gen. Petraeus has drunk the Kool-Aid.
    We are going to attack Iran, since the surge is obviously not working as well as it should because of Iranian interference, and they therefore must be taught a lesson.

  34. TR Stone says:

    Atfter seeing Dick Durbin and Geo. Tenet give their mea culpas, my question, is there no one in government who can put the common interest of America above their own self-interst?

  35. TR Stone says:

    To jonst:
    That was not a negative! His position is so far removed from the mainstream of politics, that his positions would be considered “crazy” by the MSM.

  36. Ben P says:

    From what I can glean – via the website “the swoop,” which is one of the better/plugged in sources for inside the beltway gossip – Fallon and Gates think Petraeus is too optimistic and too willing to be led around by Bush’s team.
    Here’s there analysis:
    “The circle of those in Washington who believe that President Bush’s current strategy will deliver tangible success is shrinking. Committed advocates of the war in institutions like the American Enterprise Institute continue to produce “strategies for victory” but, based on our contacts, these enjoy little credibility in the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and Central Command (CENTCOM) commander Admiral William Fallon are said to be significantly less hopeful than General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq. Their assessment is, we are told, closer to the picture described in the April 25th UN Human Rights report. Personal relations between Fallon and Petraeus are distant and the latter is unpopular in the Pentagon for what is regarded as his willingness to accommodate Bush in an unpromising strategy that will damage the US Army. Further, Gates has little confidence in the Iraqi political leadership, notably Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A comment we hear time and time again is “the worst lies ahead.” The crunch will come after the summer when the results of the “surge” are to be formally assessed. Against that background, senior Republicans are urging Gates to act as the intermediary between the White House and Capitol Hill to launch the process of reducing US force levels in time for the 2008 presidential campaign. In addition to the debate about military tactics, the Administration is being advised by petroleum experts to soften its pressure on the Iraqi government to conclude the hydrocarbon law governing access to oil resources. They are concerned that the “production sharing agreements” set out in the law are so favorable to foreign companies as to be “unsustainable.” “Even we are concerned,” one oil executive told us. “This could be Russia all over again. That is, we would invest heavily, only then to be dispossessed once Iraq recovered from its present weakness.”

  37. searp says:

    COL Lang:
    I wish him luck too, as I will be returning to Iraq shortly. However, wishing is thin beer. A better question is whether, wishes aside, this has any chance of working. Your opinion on that subject is more relevant than your opinion of Petraeus.
    My impression from the last trip is that the region from the southern approaches to Baghdad through Baqouba to Balad is essentially lawless. I include both sides of the river, Diyala, etc. Much of this region reverts to a Hobbesian state of nature once our patrols pass through.
    OK, if this is the case, how does once go about providing a COIN/security presence for what must be in the neighborhood of 10 million people in tens of thousands of square miles with ~100,000 troops (the other troops are support)? Is this actually possible? It seems awfully thin to me.
    I don’t discount IA/IP forces, but my view is that they are essentially sectarian (Shia/Kurd) forces and not particularly welcome in much of this territory. Where they are welcome, they may be welcome because they accomodate Shia extremists.
    COL, please contradict me and offer a plausible win strategy…

  38. W. Patrick Lang says:

    SEARP et al
    My analysis mirrors your own. I think that the odds are bad for success, but as Harrison Ford said in one of the space operas “Never tell me the odds.”
    The force is inadequate. It always was. The Iraqis are very much a mixed “bag,” as you say mostly Pesh Merga or Shia militia that we are re-training while insisting that we feel good about that process. The omens are bad. I am not surprised that Fallon and Gates are not as “up” as Petraeus. They are a little further away and seemingly more detached.
    A thought that I will expand on later is my opinion that it will be very risky to leave logistical and advisory people in the country if we withdraw our main combat forces. Someone will have to protect them as well as the embassy complex. Once you take into consideration the forces needed for real “force protection,” then I doubt if the numbers of advisors+loggies+protectors comes out to much less than what we have there now.
    My solution? It is the same as that contained in my article “Towards a Concert of the Greater Middle East.” pl

  39. jamzo says:

    as usual – bush admin iraq expectations shift like desert sands – now that the fccus event is over, the goals are changed
    “April 28, 2007
    The White House Scales Back Talk of Iraq Progress
    WASHINGTON, April 27 — The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.
    In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.
    That prospect would entail a dramatically longer commitment of frontline troops, patrolling the most dangerous neighborhoods of Baghdad, than the one envisioned in legislation that passed the House and Senate this week.”
    everyone seemed to agree that the army has severe manpower constraints
    can anyone project the numbers?
    how long can the surge strength be maintained?

  40. FB Ali says:

    I am bemused at all this discussion (not only in the MSM but even in this blog) of whether “the surge” is going to succeed or not. Guys, it doesn’t matter a damn whether the graph of killings and mayhem goes down or not. The real issue lies elsewhere.
    That issue is whether the various factions in a broken Iraq can come to some understanding on how to live reasonably peacefully in that territory. The US military action only postpones that stage of serious negotiation. All that talk of giving them a “breathing space” is a crock. Only when they know that the US is going to really pull out will they get down to talking turkey.
    All that’s happening now is a Kabuki show in which American blood and treasure is being spent in order to give Bush time to save face – and Karl Rove to pin the blame of defeat in Iraq on the Dems.

  41. zanzibar says:

    Good luck and God Bless!
    One reason why I am sceptical is that to be successful in creating some degree of stability we need a much larger force and all the regional actors in some sort of deal. This will not happen until the Decider and the Shooter level with the American people and of course the world. They’ll have to admit what everyone already knows – that they unilaterally attacked Iraq on false pretenses for ideology and domestic political reasons. Their ego will not allow them to do that. As a result any opportunity to salvage the situation in Iraq is never taken. With continuous loss of life and the American people recognizing more and more that with the Decider there is no chance of success they are slowly but surely turning against the further senseless loss of American life. Hence the appeal of withdrawal although it would be very difficult and dangerous as PL states in his post with respect to force protection.

  42. searp says:

    COL Lang: appreciate your last comment. I go to help the soldiers; I am focused on helping them to stay alive. Like so many others, I love the team, despise the coach, don’t like the game. Interesting situation, in the Chinese sense.

  43. John in LA says:

    Been 3 months since I’ve commented and I’ve just lost the energy. So what if “we” “win”?
    Our “prize”? Sitting on the powderkep of Iraq trying to keep it from blowing up again. A dysfunctional, totally artificial construct of the British Empire and some pink guys drinking gin at the London Capital Club 75 years ago.
    This “country” doesn’t meaningfully exist now and it is the insistence of the pink guys (this time drinking beer in Washington) that hold together.
    Hello! These people absolutely don’t want to be part of the same country.
    The never did, never were, never will. It is our insistence that they live together that is causing the war.
    We leave, the country will break into constituent parts in six months. The fighting will stop per Cyprus, Per Yugoslavia etc. etc.
    There will be a pause…we’ll think…hmm.. maybe it’s going to work out.
    Then Turkey will invade Kurdistan.
    Sorry, but this war is just the warmup.
    I feel so badly for all the DOD people being killed over nothing.

  44. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A lot of us know that, but we must try to do the best for our people. pl

  45. Bernie says:

    Col. Lang,
    I wonder if you or your readers are familiar with ‘Baghdad Burning’ a blog by an educated and articulate Iraqi girl. She started blogging the day the bombs started falling, and though she is heard from far less frequently today, every entry chronicles another chapter in the relentless destruction and dismemberment of a country. The latest entry announces the intention of her family to leave Iraq.
    Baghdad Burning

  46. Chris Marlowe says:

    How do Americans know that the American presence in Iraq is not one of the reasons for violence? They don’t.
    It is not for the Americans or any other non-Iraqis to decide whether Iraq should be one country, or divided into parts along ethnic/religious lines. Decent people have a deep fear for the murder of innocents, but ultimately it is up to the Iraqis (or their successors ) to decide.
    The murder of innocents has already happened. It should now be allowed to run its course until new leadership/s arise.
    The US cannot decide the fate of Iraq, and should give up attempting to do so, not only for the good of Iraq, but for the US as well.
    The best “victory” the US can hope for, is the day it recognizes this fact and leaves Iraq without trying to install any puppet regime.

  47. FDR_Democrat says:

    Developments in Iraq bring to mind, of all things, the evolution of the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Despite some setbacks, the British Empire forces won the conventional struggle and took the capitals of the Boer republics, only to become bogged down chasing elusive Boer “commandos.”
    Tactics were changed to eventually overcome this resistance, with Lord Kitchener imposing the blockhouse system, caging Boer insurgent families in what were arguably concentration camps, expanding the fighting role of black Africans, and also vastly increasing the numbers of British Empire forces. Even then, as a political matter, the Boer War did not end as a success inasmuch as the “Baathists” of the time, the “bitter-einders” among the Boers, were able to return to power after the treaty. The Boers had to accept they would be part of the Empire, but in exchange managed to preserve their dominance in post-war Rhodesia and South Africa.
    The two situations differ, of course. The Boers still fighting were more isolated than the Iraqi Sunni insurgents – who have the help of many Sunni brethren in neighboring states – are now. And the Iraqi Shia and their Iranian allies are vastly more formidable militarily than the black South Africans betrayed by the treaty that ended the Boer War.
    I am surprised the Second Anglo-Boer War has not surfaced that much so far in discussion of outcomes in Iraq. Lord Kitchener put in place policies that were arguably more brutal than those available to General Petraus, but he was still unable to achieve more than an exhausted half-victory against a vastly-outnumbered and out-gunned foe.

  48. rebel07 says:

    All comments in this string are regarding the “surge”, but I would like to make a different comment. I thought your paper on dealing with tribesman was very informative as I have never dealt with Bedouin Tribesman (even though I was in Iraq in 2003). But with your points from the paper in mind, aren’t your points basically common sense in dealing with any people, you just framed it to deal with tribesman? I would approach any person in any diplomatic scenario the same way you discussed dealing with tribesman. Are these guidlines not how we should approach everyone? The problem is that very few people in these situations actually think this way. America needs to get away from our arrogance and tap into the reservoir of goodwill (a term coined by Ambassador Scassa) that I believe still exists on a person to person level.

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