Unless I am mistaken (possible) I heard Charles Krauthammer make some interesting statements today on FNS about the counterinsurgency situation in Iraq.
It has been generally accepted (I think) that sectarian communal and ethnic hostilities are the underlying problem in Iraq, and that this problem is inherent in the governmental situation that we created there. In other words, the Shia are not willing to concede much of anything to the Sunni Arabs (who they see as permanent rivals for power) and the Sunni Arabs are unwilling to be ruled by the Shia Arabs. This situation makes it difficult if not impossible to affect a "reconciliation."
Recently, an "addendum" to this understanding has been the encouraging news that in Anbar and Diyala Provinces a good many Sunni tribal Arabs have taken up arms against AQI (and friends) and that this development (in conjunction) with increased US offensive action has been bringing a much improved situation in both provinces, but especially in Anbar where the process has been underway longer.
It seems clear (to me) that the reason for the diminution of AQI activity and control in these twp provinces is largely the result of tribal (and now secular insurgent) cooperation against AQI. Motivation? Nobody likes to have a bunch of fanatics come into one’s area and proceed to re-organize one’s life to their taste. There were several important studies written for the US DoD on the vulnerability of AQI to this kind of approach. (0ne of these, "The Tribes of the Al-Anbar Governorate" was written for DIA and has not been released to the public) They were written about a year ago and seem to have had effect on US methods (TTP). The main thing the tribals and secular insurgents bring to this fight is the ability to FIND THE ENEMY.
Today, on FNS, Dr. Krauthammer skipped boldly across all that to assert that the increased US force made available to Petraeus by the "surge" simply enables the US to exterminate the insurgents with such thoroughness that it will not matter whether or not the "warring" Iraqi parties can resolve their differences. In other words, the US will simply break the back of the insurgencies, and all will be well. If that is where we "are headed" why did we waste a lot of money on the NEW COIN manual?
It is possible to do things that way, but it has not been the method espoused by the Bush Administration until now. Surely, someone will correct me if I heard him wrongly. pl
The title of this piece explains our dilemma–while Dr. Krauthammer is indeed an eminent psychiatrist, he has been allowed to stray far from the realm of his expertise and credentials. ‘Dr. Krauthammer’ should be quoted as a medical expert, but in the geopolitical realm, he should properly be referred to on political talks shows as ‘neocon tubthumper Charles Krauthammer.’
Since the good doctor has taken the liberty of straying into the military/political realm, I will in turn diagnose the ills of our current body politic: Too many ‘unlicensed quacks’ offering unqualified diagnoses: what real expertise and experience do quacks like Krauthammer and Kristol really have, outside of the conservative beltway think tank circle jerk?
Krauthammer typlifies the hubris and megalomania of the Cheney/Bush administration–men who hold their ideas higher than the facts on the ground, whose proclamaitions sound wonderful in a Georgetown drawing room, far from accountability for their ‘kill ’em all’ rhetoric.
Krauthammer and his ilk are a cancer on the US body politic.
I know you don’t care for power point presentations, but this short one I think is worthy of attention.
I’m curious to see what you think of it. I sad to note the author, CPT Travis Patriquin, was killed recently by an IED.
Krauthammer is aptly named, I think. On the other hand, there is a buildup and increased use of U.S. airpower in Iraq, on the grounds that even with a drawdown of U.S. troops the Iraqi government forces will need air support–the details of HOW they will actually use it might not bear close scrutiny by the squeamish, of course.
Mussolini won using Krauthammer’s tactics in Libya in the 1920s-30s. But he was fighting a unified resistance and was willing to utilize scorched-earth tactics, deportations, concentration camps, and random bombardments. He was also able to cut the resistance off from outside aid via Egypt with the “Graziani Wall,” a 60-mile barbed wire fence with minefield. And he flooded Libya with troops–some 400,000–one for every two inhabitants. The commanding general was Rodolfo Graziani, who thereby gained the happy moniker of “The Butcher.”
So yeah, Krauthammer’s tactics can work, if we’re willing to keep company with the likes of Mussolini–making war on the people of Iraq in order to starve the insurgency. But this tactic has always been a two-edged sword–fail to carry it far enough and you’ll end up cutting off your own head.
Given you heard Charles correctly, and it does sound very much like the macho crap, incomplete thinking we’ve heard from Charles previously … killing insurgents one at a time, without regard for simultaneously creating more insurgents … why would simply more troops who do not speak the language,nor understand the culture, while requiring road maps help in finding/recognizing the enemy they have been unable to locate thus far? Haven’t we had close to these numbers on the ground previously? Is this really a surge? Incidentally, how many more rotations before they develop fluency in Arabic and/or Farci and aculturate themselves?
If genocide is what these folks want, then let Charlie Krauthammer lead the way from his wheelchair.
I’m sure he’d do well in the first house (killing) raid he goes on. Oh yeah, that’s right. The killing and dying are for other Americans to do.
These people have no limit – and they must be stopped.
“It is possible to do things that way, but it has not been the method espoused by the Bush Administration until now.”
Not openly, but quietly – see the increase in air-attacks:
Air Force Quietly Building Iraq Presence
/quote/ Air Force and Navy aircraft dropped 437 bombs and missiles in Iraq in the first six months of 2007, a fivefold increase over the 86 used in the first half of 2006, and three times more than in the second half of 2006 /endquote/
Neocons like Krauthammer don’t want COIN, they want an “endlösung” for the Middle East with Iran being the next issue.
The Saudi nuts, even though they are the real problem, helpfully finance Krauthammers and this strategy. If that strategy is successful, Bandar and his ilk could find themselves as neocon targets, but they seem to be confident it will never get there.
We can exterminate insurgents all we want, but in order to leave, we have to hand security over to someone. Thus, blithely dismissing the Iraqi government’s failure to function seems to imply/assume that we will be in Iraq forever.
And are we back to an idea of attrition? As if we can kill off all the bad guys? There are few obvious facts in Iraq, but one is that there are plenty more bad guys around to replace the ones we kill.
Pleae explain why CK’s comment was interesting. It seems simply wrong and ridiculous to me. And do not most of the insurgents come from the members of the various Iraqi factions themselves? CK seems to think they are different things. I’ve read in Larry Johnson’s blog that AQI make up 3%-5% of the insurgency. If the Iranians make up as much, and Saudis are the largest group, say equal to the total of the other two -then any insurgency apart from the Iraqi factions themselves, make up 20% of the insurgency. Suppose this 20% is doing all the car bombs and attacks against US forces. That leaves the death squads who leave bodies around town and in the rivers (and which has been most damaging to police forces), oil sabotage, and small scale neighborhood ethnic cleansing, which has been a huge scale factor in the civil violence taken together around the country.
Also, do you think the neocons will be looking happier, now that by their own logic we should attack both Iran and Saudi Arabia simultaneously, and the sooner the better?
“increased US offensive action has been bringing a mush improved situation in both provinces”
i like “mush improved.” It more accurately illustrates the current situation in Iraq than “much improved.”
Also, re: “In other words, the US will simply break the back of the insurgencies, and all will be well….It is possible to do things that way….” Do you really think that’s even possible at this point, or are you adding some of your sarcastic wit to your posting? (it’s hard for me to see body language on the internet)
Krauthammer is mentally ill. He is also pathologically bigoted against Arabs. I don’t listen to anything he says – life is too short.
No, Pat, you didn’t hear him wrong; he merely continues the exercise of making the facts on the ground half a world away conform to outlines of his paint-by-numbers picture of the worldfrom Washington.
In the Friday July 13 WAPO, Krauthammer did allow that
“the insurgency can be neutralized and al-Qaeda defeated at the local and provincial levels with a new and robust counterinsurgency strategy.”
His column started out with this from the NYT:
The key to turning [Anbar] around was the shift in allegiance by tribal sheiks. But the sheiks turned only after a prolonged offensive by American and Iraqi forces, starting in November, that put al-Qaeda groups on the run.”
— The New York Times, July 8
Finally, after four terribly long years, we know what works. Or what can work. A year ago, a confidential Marine intelligence report declared Anbar province (which comprises about a third of Iraq’s territory) lost to al-Qaeda. Now, in what the Times’s John Burns calls an “astonishing success,” the tribal sheiks have joined our side and committed large numbers of fighters that, in concert with American and Iraqi forces, have largely driven out al-Qaeda and turned its former stronghold of Ramadi into one of most secure cities in Iraq.”
So it appears that he does in fact appreciate the utility of tribal militias as a counter insurgency tool.
But that’s as far as it goes. He perceives utility, but confuses utility with the latent character of the tool: “the tribal sheiks have joined our side and . . . .in concert with American and Iraqi forces, have largely driven out Al-Qaeda. . .” (emp added)
So he distinguishes tribal sheiks from “Iraqi forces” and conflates the former’s self-interested actions with “joining our side”, a characterization that the sheiks would surely find laughable.
But the title of his piece, ‘Deserting Petreaus”, and the subsequent thrust of it make clear that his perception is that “we” and not “they” are the crux of the solution, the conclusion being that “they” succeed only by joining “our” fight, when obviously that is bass ackwards. Talking heads daily espouse the need for the Iraqis to resolve these things themselves whilst pols argue about the critical need for unquestioned support for “our” solution. Hence, it is simple to gloss over the fundamental role of the sheiks, as opposed to us and “Iraqi” forces” to conclude that “after four terribly long years, we know what works” (emp added).
As though the Sheiks and the tribes only awaken to their interests after we perceive what works, our perceptions a condition precedent to their reality far away.
Without which, presumably, they will be lost.
Apropos of anon’s Larry Johnson citation of AQ as 3-5% of the insurgency, today Juan Cole reports that of the 19,000 detained in Iraq, 135 of them are foreigners.
He has the most unfortunate moniker for a trick cyclist.
I am a mere wilting Englishman, but the thought of such a Germanic superman storming into my brain hammer aloft gets my knees in a spin.
And he does all this from a wheelchair? Does he perchance have a black-gloved lefthand which every so often tries to strangle him live on “Meet the Press?”
There is a special place in Gehenna reserved for Krauthammer, all of the Kagans, Luttwak, Feith and the rest of the Israel loving commentariat that has wheedled, cajoled and deliberately misled America into the tragedy of the Middle East.
What concerns me is that their work is not yet finished until we are persuaded by them to attack Iran.
I cannot listen to any of them for more than a few minutes without my blood pressure rising, especially their casual disregard for killing muslims.
What mostly comes to mind is their flagrant, deliberate ignoring of the Golden rule as famously expressed by Rabbi Hillel: “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”
To clarify my previous comment on insurgency and Iraqi police forces. I meant domestic Iraq factional insurgency is most damaging to police forces because, from what I have read, the bad domestic insurgents serve as corrupt police, or two-time as both police and death squads, and they are the most efficient means of eliminating the good Iraqi police. And the next most efficient means are locally grown insurgents who know enough bout their neighborhood to target the police from outside. Now, seriously, if anyone knows now foreign insurgents, from wherever, can effectively infiltrate a local police force, or effectively target local police, please inform me.
The current domestic debate seems like joke to me. There are tens of thousands of local Iraqis who believe enough in their faction’s cause to kill themselves and/or other Iraqi civilians. For this to happen, there must be hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of native Iraqis who will tolerate this happening, and offer at least tacit or perhaps overt support.
Finding for a TV news clip a few neighborhoods where factions unite for local protection, or a couple of people who would be more afraid if the US left quickly, are not signs of hope or progress. They are heartbreaking exceptions.
How can 160,000 foreign troops with no reliable allies in the government, and no reliable intelligence info, counter this purely through military means? Is it not a putrid evil joke? I am not nearly the expert on these matters as most others here. I have read about what Malyisa after WWII, the US in the Philippines, the local semi-successes in Vietnam, and Kenya and Ghana. But that is a small part of this kind of history. The Cheney administration and their hangers on, are simply looney. Even under their Korea analogy, it would not be 50 years of semi-peaceful occupation with a supportive population, it would be 50 years of what we see now, only very gradually tapering off even assuming unlikely success, and with progress made only through what would be considered war crimes. It took 10 or 12 years in the Philippnes, when we had much more of an advantage technologically, and were willing to be much more ruthless. Ha, even Teddy Roosevelt admitted we were using torture against the Philippinos, but it was less frowned upon then. So, even if the Philippines where the guide that means 6 to 8 more years of what we experience now. And the likelihood that Iraq would ever be pacified to the extent of the Philippines is very low.
Yet we have a domestic debate that focuses very narrowly on military means -stay the course or leave, withdraw fast or slow, or should some kind of military middle ground compromise occupation be found. It just seems like a ghastly wicked joke.
Why no discrenable national discussion of the diplomatic and political and financial means needed to augment any military course?
Why do both the Democrats and enlightened Republicans focus so much on the solely military, when it seems obvious that this focus is a mistake. For the Democrats it is especially puzzling, since it offers an opportunity to condemn both the current administration and the GOP presidential candidate Cheney-war-bots much more thoroughly than they can now. And for the Republican who found their nerve and senses, it seems they would want to take the opportunity to save their party.
But the bottom line for me is that this focus on military posture and tactics is a sick joke. Why not say so at every opportunity? I am not saying discussions here on this blog are sick jokes. Assuming the current policy, or some minor variation, contintues, there will be tactics, and they will be important to analyze. But it does become a sick joke when important people who should think about strategic issues, seem completely clueless. It seems odd to me that the mere plebs I know (the unsophisticated store managers and orthodontists unworthy of notice, and absurd to consider capable of responsible national affairs thought by pundits) think about this. I barely see it mentioned on TV, except by nerd analysts like Col Lang, and a few dazed survivors of the ISG committee.
to the proprietor: Sorry for violation of protocol on previous comment. The computer does these automatic things that I neither understand nor notice most of the time.
i find it sad that krauthammer is being given any credence. krauthammer’s thesis espouses the active commission of war crimes that would be on the scale of those of wwii. for that promotion, krauthammer is placing himself in legal jeopardy as those who propagandized/promoted in favor of wwii war crimes wound up in the nuremburg criminal docket right along side those who actually committed the wwii war crimes.
i trust your impression
you probably heard him say that
first and foremost krauthammer is a “provocateur”
on krauthammer from wikipedia
“In1985, he wrote one of his most influential essays, “The Reagan Doctrine”, which first introduced that term.”
“In 2006 the Financial Times named Krauthammer as America’s most influential commentator, saying he “has influenced US foreign policy for more than two decades [and] writes with wit and occasional venom. … Lately, his proclamation of the ‘dawn of a glorious, delicate revolutionary movement in the Middle East’ looks less prescient than a year ago, but he is a long-term thinker.”
On February 1st, 2002 Krauthammer claimed in his column:
“ Iraq is Hitlerian Germany, a truly mad police state with external ambitions and a menacing arsenal. ”
On April 19th, 2002 Krauthammer insisted in his column:
“ Saddam survived, rearmed, defeated the inspections regime and is now back in the business of building weapons of mass destruction. ”
In 2002 Krauthammer warned:
“ […] if he [Saddam Hussein] comes into possession of nuclear weapons in addition to the weapons of mass destruction he already has, he is likely to use them or share them with terrorists. The threat of mass death on a scale never before seen residing in the hands of an unstable madman is intolerable — and must be preempted. […] I happen to believe that the preemption school is correct, that the risks of allowing Saddam Hussein to acquire his weapons will only grow with time. ”
In April 2003 Krauthammer called the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which had recently begun, a revolution in world affairs:
“ Which [the surgical destruction of a totalitarian regime] is what makes the Three Week War a revolution in world affairs. It is one thing to depose tin-pot dictators. Anyone can do that. It is another thing to destroy a Stalinist demigod and his three-decade apparatus of repression — and leave the country standing. From Damascus to Pyongyang, totalitarians everywhere are watching this war with shock and awe. ”
In August 2003, he predicted:
“ With its oil, its urbanized middle class, its educated population, its essential modernity, Iraq has a future…. Once its political and industrial infrastructures are reestablished, Iraq’s potential for rebound, indeed for explosive growth, is unlimited. ”
I know Krauthammer is a psychiatrist but I am unaware that he has achieved eminence as a researcher or theorist. Anyway…
“So he distinguishes tribal sheiks from “Iraqi forces” and conflates the former’s self-interested actions with “joining our side”, a characterization that the sheiks would surely find laughable.”
Yes. It seems obvious that the tribal sheiks are using the US to support a short term cause for the sake of a long term cause. In effect, the US is arming the Sunni side. I reckon they won’t be disarmed once AQI is kaput.
A cynic might suggest arming the Sunni tribes is an insurance policy guaranteeing a perennial US mission while perennial native rivals jockey for best position for the civil war blast off.
Just as obviously, the GWOT won’t be won by exterminating the enemy to the last man. This is, as an old fashioned Freudian might intone, a ‘phantasy’.
VERY apt analogy! You just solved the mystery of why Krauthammer keeps calling Tim Russert “Mein Fuhrer.” In the movie Dr. Strangelove has Americanized his name from “Merkwurdigliebe.”
Also, there’s a sly bit where Maj. Kong’s primary target is an ICBM complex at Laputa. In Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, Laputa is a place inhabited by caricatures of scientific researchers.
Why on earth has it taken so long for most serious commentators to identify the real problem in America.
It is not George Bush or ‘neocons’, but the most powerful Vice President in US history, who has been laughing all the way to the bank as the Middle East and world stability collapses.
It was Cheney who ditched the ISG strategy and championed the ‘surge’. It is Cheney who has been pushing for military action against Iran ever since the invasion of Iraq. One barely reported part of the ‘surge’ logic is to reinforce the Baghdad and border garrisons in anticipation of a strike on Iran.
Geronimo from the Guardian.
After paying close attention to all of the talking heads today (except Fox: there is a limit to the punishment I will take), I am coming to the tentative, hopeful conclusion that the flapping gums in the beltway are finally getting at least part of the picture. The first always was obvious, Bush will do absolutely nothing differently until the votes are cast to strip funding for the war. If he doesn’t like what his generals say in September, he will get new generals.
But he’s not the only one playing for time. The Al-Maliki government is also playing for time, and playing us for chumps too during their Shiite sectarian power grab. Al-Maliki’s comments, and those of his aides are here, http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/07/14/iraq.military.ap/index.html, and show that it is our Anbar policy of limited cooperation with Sunni tribes which has them more worried than our pulling troops out. The last thing the Shiite led government wants is stability in the homogeneous Sunni areas. That would potentially create another political power base in the tribes which could gain enough legitimacy (in our eyes) to demand a seat in negotiations with the “central” government. This reality flies in the face of the entire premise of our involvement with the Al-Maliki government. If we aren’t there to build them up as a budding democracy, then why the hell are we there? To help them form an Iranian-aligned Shiite state with control over the majority of oil reserves and the only sea access?
If the combination of these comments and the government taking a monthlong vacation has made it obvious enough to our oblivious chattering class what Al-Maliki is up to then he has either tipped his hand or reached a tipping point. If that tipping point is reached then god help our forces. If we thought fighting the insurgency was tough, how tough do we think it will be to fight both the insurgency and the Iraqi police and army?
Maybe we should ask Krauthammer, he seems to have an answer for everything.
How can someone supposedly trained in human psychology be so fundamentally unfamiliar with the human mind?
Almost any child knows that self-interest can often trump alleged “principles”…so what’s Krauthammer’s problem? I think too much punditary pontification and not enough review of the material of which he is supposed to be a legitimate expert.
So now, if I get this right, the goal of US policy, or at least the main one, is to attack and destroy a group that did not exist prior to invasion of Iraq? And, inevitably, it seems to me, given the dynamics of this plan, ‘success’ will weaken the shia’ dominated forces that call themselves the govt of Iraq. Whom we had put in power and backed, albeit it ineffectively, for years now. That is our plan?
as per HG’s comment: “If we thought fighting the insurgency was tough, how tough do we think it will be to fight both the insurgency and the Iraqi police and army?” It might really be easier. At least the police and armed forces wear uniforms, so we’d be back to old-fashioned war and be able to see who our enemies are as they “march in a straight line” a la Bill Cosby
Seems to me a trained psychiatrist might be useful in psychological operations undertaken by a foreign power that targets US opinion.
Wiki bio indicates his parents were French nationals and he was raised in Canada. Family from Alsace region like August “Belmont,” perhaps?
He has space on editorial pages because the editors of the editorial pages run his columns. He is syndicated by the Washington Post.
For those interested in running some content analysis, here is a handy tabulation of his columns done by Jewish World Review,
“Iraq is Hitlerian Germany, a truly mad police state with external ambitions and a menacing arsenal.” – Krauthammer (via jamzo).
Such unwitting irony from the NeoConNazi spokesman — many throughout the world would find that an utterly precise description of the US currently!
I checked with Col Lang and he OKed me advertising here, so:
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All: Did anyone read the article that was tucked away in the back pages of the paper late last week about Iraqi security guards walking out of a bank in Baghdad with $280 MILLION in cash? Thats right, $280 million. That should go a very, very long way to funding the insurgency/resistance or Al Quack-Quack in Messopotamia. I’ve been trying to find any follow up on this but so far nothing. Has anybody else read or heard anything else about it?
“Seems to me a trained psychiatrist might be useful in psychological operations undertaken by a foreign power that targets US opinion.”
Most people specialize in psychiatry because they hate medicine and are too dim or too squeamish for pathology.
For PsyOps one would recruit mothers.
Why are these people who have been wrong from day one still on television? Obviously they have no shame.
Krauthammer thinks that a measely 30,000 additional troops is the difference between an insurgent victory and utterly smashing and defeating them? Then he is a much bigger fool than I thought.
“Nobody likes to have a bunch of fanatics come into one’s area and proceed to re-organize one’s life to their taste.”
Dunno about that one. It seems to work just fine for the modern Republican Party.
I appears you heard him right,Col, as his op-ed today echos it.
Krauthammer simply has to know how misleading this is. But I suppose it is to be expected that the neo-cons will never accept or acknowlege failure in Iraq.
“Give us more time” is now their mantra.
While browsing for this, I encountered a truly strange
piece by Kristol that makes me wonder if the neo-cons are BSing us or are now truly self-delusional.
For Kristol, I am inclined to go with self-delusion.
For Krauthammer, BS.
Yes, I read the article. This is what we’ve come to: theft of hundred of millions of dollars deserves less attention than the outcome of a golf tournament.
“as per HG’s comment: “If we thought fighting the insurgency was tough, how tough do we think it will be to fight both the insurgency and the Iraqi police and army?” It might really be easier. At least the police and armed forces wear uniforms, so we’d be back to old-fashioned war and be able to see who our enemies are as they “march in a straight line” a la Bill Cosby ”
Posted by: Leigh |
Why would they do such a thing? I’d expect a war of ambushes, mortars, snipers and IED’s. This time, however, the IED’s would be planted by the guys maintaining the roads and policing the area. That’d really suck.
Krauthammer is an idiot. He hasn’t practiced medicine since 1978. Keep in mind, this is a guy who sits in a wheel chair because he dove into a swimming pool without any water in it. A very useful metaphor for the quality of his decision making.
Swift and Strangelove are a dynamite combination to help skewer yet another scarcely credible Yahoo in this eminent conclave.
Just saw the bits of the NIE we are permitted to see — what will the delirious K boys make of that?
Reality has a proven capacity for biting back those who ignore or deny it — and they still have to navigate their own turgid fantasies.
Pat: Just curious. Did my recent comment regarding the debut of the MQ-9 “Reaper” UAV in Iraq and accompanying news link “cross a line” somehow? (Or alternately, did it perhaps meet an untimely demise at the hands of a strictly automated filter?)
Just wondering, assuming you’re actually aware of that one. The submission was made the afternoon of the 16th. (If you’ve since attempted to reach me by email, you’re no doubt aware that my supplied address is non-functional.)
Being new to the site, I’m unfamiliar with its particular, established protocols and nuances, so I thought I’d ask in the hope of clarifying same.
Well, I’m certainly confused. The original post concerning the MQ-9 “Reaper” UAV is still conspicuously absent here, the question regarding its fate was broached above, yet there’s no actual answer.
Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear — that particular, posted comment (with news excerpt and link) never made it to “publication” in the thread. And I was wondering if there was an explanation available. Pat?
(It could just be “gremlins”, I suppose. But, of course, that’s part of my question.)
Oh Hairy One! I probably deleted it by mistake. Send it again. pl
Krauthammer’s pre-punditry focus on psychiatry is revealing. Everyone I’ve met who majored in psych was unhappy. Krautie is no exception.