“Late Edition” 18 March, 2007

"BLITZER: Welcome back. Year five of the war in Iraq is beginning with a new U.S. commander on the ground and a new security crackdown that will eventually be backed up by nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat and support troops. But is it enough to pull Iraq from the brink of civil war?

I’m Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Joining us now to discuss this and a lot more are three guests: the former NATO supreme allied commander, retired U.S. Army General George Joulwan; Pat Lang, a retired U.S. Army colonel, former intelligence analyst at the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency; and Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent for the New York Times and the co-author of the book "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq."

Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming in.

Let me start with you, General Joulwan. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll asked, was the war in Iraq worth it? Back in 2003 when the war started, 68 percent of the American public said yes. It’s gone down every year since then. Now as we enter year five, only 35 percent, only one-third of the American public believe this war was worth it. What you do think?

GEORGE JOULWAN, FORMER NATO ALLIED SUPREME COMMANDER: Well, I think it’s too soon to say. I think what we have to figure out is what is the long-term strategy that we need to try to achieve some degree of stabilization within Iraq? We haven’t done that yet. Would it be worthwhile if we could stabilize Iraq in a way that will bring about some degree of peace and stability? Yes. We are not there yet. So I think it’s still out.

BLITZER: Do you think it’s still feasible?

JOULWAN: The jury is still out. I think it’s much more difficult now than it would have been four years ago when we had the opportunity after the fall of Baghdad to stabilize a country. We didn’t do it then. We’re trying to do it now, only it’s much more difficult now.

BLITZER: Pat Lang, let me ask the same question to you. Was the war worth it?

COL. PAT LANG (RET), U.S. ARMY: Well, the American people’s opinion on this is tied to the lack of success there thus far. If you’re asking me about it, no, I don’t think it was worth it at all. I think it was not, in fact, an essential part of the war against the jihadis across the world and has been a diversion from that and has put us in a real mess.

BLITZER: Let me get to the statistics out there, grim statistics, indeed, Michael Gordon. And you’ve covered it from the beginning. U.S. troop casualties now 3,220 and they’re going up. Those are killed in Iraq. Among the wounded nearly 25,000, 24,042, according to the Defense Department.

You speak to these guys every single day, top U.S. military commanders. Do they honestly believe they can turn it around and win this war?

MICHAEL GORDON, NEW YORK TIMES: I think the word "win" is probably not the best term to use to describe the objectives of the current strategy. I think the United States has embarked on new strategy. It’s applying the counterinsurgency manual really for the first time in Baghdad. It’s dispersed forces in the neighborhood.

And the goal is to leave something stable behind, basically to create a political space so that the Iraqi government can try to do the right thing. That’s what the strategy is now. And it’s early days for the strategy. You know, they’re deploying five brigade combat teams and only two are there. So it’s premature to form a judgment on it.

BLITZER: Because I spoke recently with General Odierno, who’s the number two U.S. military commander on the ground in Iraq. And he says six to nine months before anyone can make an accurate assessment whether this new strategy is working. You think it’s going to take that long? GORDON: Well, we’ve reported in The New York Times that General Odierno, basically taking a cue off your program, has recommended that the surge be continued through February of ’08. And that’s because counterinsurgency really is a long-term gain. If you’re really trying to solidify your gains and if you do have some success, it takes awhile to sustain it.

I think if it fails dramatically, we’ll know that soon. But if it begins to succeed, I think it will, just from a military point, require some sustainment.

JOULWAN: While I agree with all of that, I think, in my view, the surge event is a tactic, not a strategy. A strategy is much broader-based, much more political in nature. And I think we have to understand what is that longer- range strategy that we are talking about?

And the Iraqis play a big role in that. I think the surge can help create a secure environment for that to take place, but the Iraqis are going to have to decide whether this war is going to be successful or not.

BLITZER: Pat Lang, listen to what Army Colonel J.B. Burton, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, said at a Pentagon briefing on Friday about this latest strategy in the Baghdad area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. J.B. BURTON, U.S. ARMY: The key about all of those IEDs that we are finding is not only have they decreased in number, but they have decreased in effectiveness. And I believe that has to do with us being out in the neighborhoods constantly, 24 hours a day, day and night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, what you do think? Because a lot of these guys are saying they see some initial signs that the new strategy under General Petraeus is working.

LANG: Well, it’s been a feature of various counterinsurgency wars over the last century that we go through periods of reform and a tryout of new methodology. And I think that we are seeing this again in what we are doing in Iraq.

And, actually, I think the adoption of a new methodology like this and the near unanimous vote for a new commander in the Senate deserve a prolonged trial period to see if this is going to work. And people like that colonel deserve a chance to try to make it work. Six months, nine months seem reasonable to me.

BLITZER: And so, at this stage, for the U.S. simply to withdraw quickly would achieve what?

LANG: Well, I think there is no doubt whatever that if we withdrew suddenly, it would further destabilize the country. And if you like to talk about civil war now, what you would see afterwards amongst all these different groups of both Shia and Sunni would be truly spectacular.

BLITZER: You have a piece in The New York Times today, Michael, talking about the surprise in who’s the bigger threat to this latest U.S. strategy in the Baghdad area. Explain to our viewers what you’ve learned.

GORDON: Well, Wolf, there is no shortage of adversaries in Baghdad, unfortunately. But when the surge began, it was commonly thought that one of the primary antagonists would be the Mahdi army or splinter groups, basically Shiite militias because they had been involved.

BLITZER: These are the militias loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American, radical Shiite cleric?

GORDON: And some of them were not loyal to anybody really, but were carrying out sort of a Shiite agenda and trying to do ethnic cleansing in Baghdad. I saw some of that myself in October. And people thought that would be the main antagonist. And, as it’s turned out, they’ve largely, but not entirely, gone the ground and sometimes gone south or gone north.

BLITZER: The Shiites?

GORDON: These Shiite militias.

BLITZER: But are they just temporarily laying low, holding their fire, waiting to attack, to pounce on another day? Or have they had a change of heart?

GORDON: It’s too soon to say they had a change of heart. I think they’re probably trying to outwait the coalition, lie low while the surge is going forward in Baghdad. But what’s happened is Al Qaida of Iraq, Aquino…

BLITZER: Which is Sunni.

GORDON: It’s a Sunni-based group, 90 percent Iraqi, although with foreign leadership, has tried to accelerate the violence in Baghdad by launching car bomb attacks, which have gone up. And, using enclaves, Sunni enclaves in the Baghdad area, this is forcing American commanders, when they think about Baghdad security now to think not only about the neighborhoods they have to protect, but also carrying out operations in these Sunni enclaves.

BLITZER: We’re going to a break but, General Joulwan, I want you to react to that.

JOULWAN: Well, I think what we are seeing now is what even the commanders on the ground will tell you is a very adaptable enemy. This enemy has adapted over the last four years to every tactic or strategy that we’ve come up. And I think you’re going to see an adaptability to this one, to what we call the surge. And I think it’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to happen, not just in three or four months like some politicians want the surge to end, but in months or years that I think it’s going to take to bring some sort of stabilization to this country.

BLITZER: What you do think, Pat?

LANG:  It’s certainly going to — to see whether or not this works is certainly going to take six or nine months. I doubt if there is the political patience of this country to go on with this for years.

I definitely think it’s true that the Shia militias are lying back to see how we’re going to deal with the Sunnis during this period of advanced American operations.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by because we have a lot more to talk about. Coming up, our panel’s assessment of the military challenges ahead in Iraq. Do the sectarian militias have the upper hand when all is said and done?

And later, Donald Trump’s take on President Bush, the war in Iraq and the 2008 presidential candidates. This is an interview you’re going to want to see. Stick around. "Late Edition" will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: A precipitous American withdrawal from Iraq would be a disaster for the United States and the entire Middle East.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The vice president speaking here in Washington earlier in the week. Welcome back to "Late Edition." I’m Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

We’re talking about the U.S. military strategy in Iraq, as well as the war as it ends year four, moving into year five. Joining us, the former NATO commander, General George Joulwan; New York Times chief military correspond Michael Gordon; and a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, retired U.S. Army Colonel Pat Lang.

The vice president very tough on this issue saying a precipitous withdrawal would cause chaos throughout the region, not only in Iraq.

JOULWAN: Well, first of all, even the most ardent critics aren’t calling for a precipitous withdrawal. I think they’re calling in a change of mission. They’re calling for a different tactic to be taken on the ground.

So I think what we need to be able to see is what that change of mission is. I think a negotiated settlement rather than victory — because I could never figure out what victory meant — is a much more viable mission than defeating of all the enemy in Iraq.

So I don’t agree with the vice president. I think we could weather — even if it was precipitous withdrawal we could weather that. But I think we need that clarity in terms of what you want to accomplish. And I think a negotiated settlement between the warring factions is crucial here.

BLITZER: The administration argues, Pat, that if there was a date certain a year from now, let’s say, for a complete withdrawal of combat forces, the enemy would simply wait it out, wait for that date and then take over.

LANG:  I’m not in favor of announcing a date certain for American withdrawal. I don’t mind if we have a date, and we don’t announce it to anybody. But, in fact, to announce it in public would merely set the stage for the kind of collapse that the vice president was talking about.

In fact, although I think there would be a general amount of chaos in the neighborhood if we did that, I don’t think it would lead to disaster to the United States, but it would be hell on earth in various places in the Middle East.

BLITZER: What would happen inside Iraq — and you spent a lot of time over there, Michael — if the U.S. were to announce a year from now all combat forces were out? What would happen within Iraq?

GORDON: Well, one thing, Wolf, is there is really a disconnect between the reality in Iraq and the political debate in the United States. And this is really evident in the National Intelligence Estimate, a public document — your viewers can read it in unclassified form — which was issued in January.

What it said is that the Iraqi security forces, particularly the police, are not equipped to take on alone the responsibility of controlling the country in 12 to 18 months.

And it said that if U.S. forces were to leave entirely, which not all the Democrats are proposing, but if they were to leave entirely within 12 to 18 months, the national institutions would begin to fracture, outside countries could get involved, and could you have — as bad as the situation is now could get even worse.

BLITZER: General Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs says the U.S. has enough troops around the world to deal with other crises if they should emerge. I want to play this little clip from what he said on January 12th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Most important for the American people and for anybody who is a potential enemy of ours out there, we have 2.4 million Americans, active, Guard and Reserve. We can handle anybody out there who might make the mistake of miscalculating about our strength.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. You accept that? Because there’s a lot of suggestions the U.S. military’s about as stretched as thin as it can be right now, given the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.

JOULWAN: When you look at what we call infantry, boots on the ground, Marine and Army units, they’re not 2.4 million. I know what Peter Pace is trying to say, but it’s much smaller than that. It’s about a third of that, and that’s high.

And so we are stretched thin. And I think it’s very difficult to meet the sort of commitments we have, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but globally. And the increase that we’re going to see in the Army and the Marine Corps is very much needed, and I think is very much in keeping with the commitments that we have.

BLITZER: You heard Zbigniew Brzezinski in the previous segment suggest that he’s really worried about a possible military engagement with Iran, even in these final two years of the Bush administration. Given the experience in Iraq, what you do think?

LANG:  If there were such an engagement, it would be a terrifically foolish thing to do. We don’t have the forces to do anything like that on the ground, just as General Joulwan was saying.

And in fact, this would be an air campaign, which would have some iffect but probably could not achieve the goal of the desired degree of destruction in the Iranian nuclear program that people might want.  And the devastation wrought to Americans’ position in the world would be even worse than it is now. So I think that would be a really terrible thing to do and it would be a very foolish idea.

BLITZER: We keep hearing about contingency plans. The Pentagon, they’re always having contingency planning for everything. But how far advanced are contingency plans, Michael, involving Iran?

GORDON: I think the administration has looked at Iran as a contingency because of Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons, really. But I think that the policy that I see forming is not really an offensive policy.

It’s really an active containment policy, to contain Iranian power in the Persian Gulf region, basically to prevent Iran from intervening through its operatives in Iraq. So I see kind of an aggressive containment policy at this point in time, not offensive policy.

BLITZER: You get the last word, General Joulwan.

JOULWAN: And it must include our allies and partners. I think we have to have not just pulling the military trigger, but the diplomatic and political one, as well. I think that is what’s going to be needed for Iran.

BLITZER: General Joulwan, thanks for coming in. Michael Gordon, thank you. Pat Lang, as always, good to have all three of you here on "Late Edition." "

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25 Responses to “Late Edition” 18 March, 2007

  1. confusedponderer says:

    Interesting interview.
    I recently read an old piece by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller from September 8, 2002 about ‘Saddam’s WMD program’, namely the aluminum tubes:
    http://www.realdemocracy.com/abomb.htm
    And on February 10, 2007 Gordon wrote a front-page article: “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq is Made by Iran, U.S. Says.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/10/world/middleeast/10weapons.html?ei=5090&en=a969c2a825f5e668&ex=1328763600&pagewanted=print
    On target (*sarcasm*) I am very sceptical about that guy. If he’s benign, he’s either gullible or a true believer.
    There are rumours however, that Michael Gordon is not an actual person but a voice activated device, devoted to record statements by anonymous administration offcials. Could you please shed some light on that, Colonel?

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Norbert
    I have known Mike a long time. It seems to me that he is a “work in progress,” torn between a desire to be optimistic and the evidence of his eyes. pl

  3. confusedponderer says:

    Col,
    in fairness, I must admit that I imagine it hard for a journalist to resist writing about such ‘scoops’. These ‘anonomyous administration officials’ certainly know how to play the press.
    When I read the US press I sometimes wonder where patriotism ends and poor journalism or outright propaganda begins. When I think of folks like Judith Miller, I have a hard time to believe that she did not know what was going on.
    Maybe it’s like everywhere else, that people believe what they want to believe. In light of the climate of patriotic fervor and outrage after 911, the willingness to give the administration a substantial benefit of a doubt becomes comprehensible.
    Maybe journalists ought to heed the lessons of political antropology and generally approach politicians and officials on the basis of, something newly learned, EMIC – ETIC ūüėČ

  4. Chuck says:

    “JOULWAN: . . . I think, in my view, the surge event is a tactic, not a strategy. A strategy is much broader-based, much more political in nature. And I think we have to understand what is that longer- range strategy that we are talking about?”
    General Joulwan here puts his finger on one of the two fatal flaws of the Iraq venture/fiasco. From the get-go the administration has not been up front with the American people as to what the core strategic objectives were at the outset. This is not a first in American history, by the way. (If they’d been frank, it would nearly have been a first.) But given modern communications and a much more highly educated public than in the past, the days have passed when an administration can get away with scamming the people. My guess is that we won’t know the true strategic objectives unless and until the proceedings of Cheney’s 2001 Energy Task Force are made public. These will show, I suspect, that the plan was to install a puppet Chalabi government that would award long-term contracts to US-based oil companies at concessionary terms. For public consumption the administration came up with the WMD justification. (The fact that when that blew up in their faces they quickly segued into a series of strategic justifications of the month was a tell-tale sign.) Again, given the likes of al Jazeera and the internet, this arrangement would have stuck in the craw of the Iraqi people sooner rather than later.
    This leads in to the second fatal flaw, the utterly fantastic wishful thinking that went into the “planning” for the post-combat, occupation phase, starting with Chalabi himself. Don’t get me started.

  5. Charlottesville, Virginia
    18 March 2007
    Dear Sir;
    Mr Gordon came accross as a toady. This passage in particular was rather toad-like in tone:
    “I think the administration has looked at Iran as a contingency because of Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons, really. But I think that the policy that I see forming is not really an offensive policy.
    It’s really an active containment policy, to contain Iranian power in the Persian Gulf region, basically to prevent Iran from intervening through its operatives in Iraq. So I see kind of an aggressive containment policy at this point in time, not offensive policy.”
    So, if I am reading Mr Gordon right, those two aircraft carrier groups (among other warships) now hanging out in the Gulf are just there for a few friendly port calls and take out ethnic food. It is simply not a credible argument to be making. Every time George W Bush gets a chance to blow the shit out of someone (or some country), he takes it. Why should we expect any different of Iran?
    Mike Gordon would be better off in swamp, croaking interminably until chowed down by a passing gator, or a some redneck geek gigging frogs.
    Your most humble servant,
    Subkommander Dred

  6. ked says:

    it bears repeating, foolish people do foolish things.

  7. walrus says:

    And as an addendum to Dred and Ked, as has been pointed out elsewhere, rational people consistently underestimate the damage that a stupid person will cause, as well as the nature of the act that caused it, because the acts, being totally irrational, are always so preposterous and completely unexpected.
    Bush WILL bomb Iran.

  8. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Per announcing “a date”: It seems to me such a move unnecessarily constrains not only our military flexibility but also our diplomatic flexibility. The technical date of a withdrawal is not the fundamental issue. The regional situation is the core issue, plus the operational security of our troops during any withdrawal (and reconstruction?) phase, plus considerations of our position in the region down the road.
    As General Joulwan, and those in command authority, have emphasized there is a critical political and diplomatic dimension here. The situation is beyond our military’s ability to resolve through military means.
    For the United States to extract itself from this unnecessary quagmire (calculated Neocon trap?), effective diplomacy and ACTIVE engagement at the regional level as recommended in the ISG report is vital. This means dealing with Russia, China, Japan, and others with stakes in the region as well as with resistance movements such as Hamas and Hizbullah.
    So far, it does not appear that Rice at State, Hadley at NSC, the VP, the Decider and the whole menagerie of vapid hollow men and women in the Administration are capable of the serious effective policy necessary at this juncture. So will we have to wait until 2009 and will that offer any improvement? Meanwhile, the blood and treasure meter is running.

  9. Got A Watch says:

    “Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the success of the mission, which was starting well, could not be measured for months and that it was designed to give the Iraqis more time to settle political and sectarian differences.
    The issue that we’re all trying to figure out is how best do you get the Iraqis to reconcile their differences ‚ÄĒ because after all, this is not going to be solved by the military. It has to involve political reconciliation in
    Iraq, among Iraqis,” Gates said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
    “We’re basically buying them time,” he said.”
    From: “U.S. troop deaths show Sunni resilience”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070318/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq
    Juan Coles take: “That is a worthy goal, but if it is the reason for the escalation in the number of US troops in Iraq, then that lays an especially heavy burden on the al-Maliki government to accelerate efforts at national reconciliation.
    I don’t see any particular evidence that it is doing so. Nor can I see any signs that the government is able to act at faster than a glacial pace….If it takes him months to so much as decide who his minister of health is, when is he going to be up to the challenge of finding a way to make peace with the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement (which he dismisses as Saddamists and ‘excommunicators'”
    http://www.juancole.com/
    Seems there is still a “reality disconnect” here. The “time” being bought is to be used for what, exactly? The Bushies/AIPAC don’t want to see Iran and/or Syria at any serious negotiation table in case they actually agree to something, making them (Bushies) look bad. The Sunnis and the Shiites in Iraq don’t look likely to negotiate peace on their own, they are entrenched in their world-views. The Turks seem unlikely to negotiate with the Kurds.
    One side will doubtless negotiate a peace, after they have been defeated by the other, or both have become exhausted after years of civil war – in which case the “surge” just postpones the inevitable struggle for dominance and eventual peace.
    Not to mention the mission creep, this is what, the fourth or fifth time a “new” reason for US troops to remain in Iraq for the forseeable future has been announced.
    I would have to argue that the presence of American troops and the “surge” are preventing the Iraqi’s from reaching any long lasting stabliity, by simply trying to maintain the present unbalanced political and sectarian status quo in the short term.
    Whatever the future may hold for Iraq, it seems clear America will have only a very minor long term role in determining the outcome- only the Iraqi’s themselves can do that.

  10. DeWitt Grey says:

    “BLITZER: The administration argues, Pat, that if there was a date certain a year from now, let’s say, for a complete withdrawal of combat forces, the enemy would simply wait it out, wait for that date and then take over.”
    How is it possible that in the course of a reasonably elevated discussion of the issues that one of our allegedly leading tele-journalists can refer to a “take over” by “the enemy”? The Pentagon and the White House, having sown the wind of trying micro-manage and manipulate information about the situation in Iraq, are now reaping the whirlwind of widespread public dissatisfaction and distrust. Downplaying the multilateral aspects of this conflict and even further downplaying its negative effects on Iraqi economic reconstruction, political reconciliation, and restoration of the Iraqi security forces, has made it exceedingly difficult to have a rational discussion about the few policy choices that remain.
    I would most earnestly wish to be proven wrong, but I strongly suspect that the Army’s after-action assessment of this sorry state of affairs will conclude that even more comprehensive effort needs to put into “information management”, i.e. psychological warfare designed to shape public opinion, especially in the United States. If the Army starts to whine that it lost the support of spineless civilians living the good life at home, it might start by considering how it could possibly hope to maintain support from any quarter on the basis of misinformation and being “economical with the truth”.

  11. jamzo says:

    michael gordon, judith miller and many (most?) mainstream journalists rely on “inside_ the_lesdership_clique” sources to provide them with information they need for page space and broadcast space
    because of their dependence on their sources it can be said that they operate as “agents” for their sources
    they present themselves with expert knowledge
    this is what my source is saying, this is how my source is thinking
    the suppress their own views, their own analysis
    first because their own opinions are less important in the scheme of things than their source’s information
    second they can’t risk alientating their source for fear of cutting off their opportunities
    remember how cheney was quoted speaking of tim russert during the libby trial
    seymour hersch is in a different league – he has a different kind of job and a different relationship with sources

  12. Chris Marlowe says:

    American wars are lost and won not on the battlefield, but in the living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens of American homes. Americans like swift victories, unless there is a clear good cause, as in WWII. As far as the American people are concerned, this war has already been lost.
    The war which is really being fought now is “Who gets the blame for losing the war?” The Bush/Cheney/Rove stand is to blame the Democrats for undercutting the troops, while the Democrats, in typical fashion, have a hard time agreeing on what to do.
    If you look at it this way, the only thing the Republicans and Democrats are REALLY fighting over are withdrawal dates. In other words, Americans are fighting and dying over DATES ON A CALENDAR and the FACE OF BUSH/CHENEY and the Republican Party which was bamboozled into backing this war (by DeLay/Rove and their corrupt lackeys) and this failed neoconservative dream, which has not only destroyed Iraq, but will most likely be interpreted by historians as the first and second acts of the end of the Pax Americana. (My guess is that the final nail in the coffin will come in some socio-economic form. When that happens, Americans will no longer be able to say that “We are the greatest nation in the world.”)
    This reminds me of a meeting which took place between an American and Vietnamese officer after the war. The American said “We never lost to you on the battlefield.” The Vietnamese replied “That’s irrelevant.”
    The Vietnamese officer had it right.

  13. Gilbert Foster says:

    Col Lang I have long thouht that you were the most rational, sane and by far the most informed of the so called ‘experts” that the cable news flacks trot out to give thier opions on the disaster the Mr Bush has gotten us in to. I am always glad no relieved when I see you make one of your all too rare appearances I remember watching cnn one morning before Bush started his war you were making a good case for caution and were rudely cut off by Bill Hemmer I wanted to reach into the screen and slap that blow dried ignoramus I visit your website daily to hear your words of wisdom I wish you would post when your appearnces will bo so I can view them in real time thank you for your wisdom and realistic world view Gil Foster

  14. Sandy says:

    While everybody devotes all their time to thinking and talking about funding and getting out of Iraq…or staying in indefinitely….and whichever is the latest new scandal today — whether it be the firing of the U.S. Attorneys….or Walter Reed mismanagement….or Anna Nicole…or 2008 candidates….
    meanwhile…..
    just as Walrus says…….meanwhile….
    Bush and Cheney and Company are counting the days until
    THEY BOMB IRAN.
    We really shouldn’t — at this point…before it happens — be talking about anything else.
    When they get away with bombing IRAN….everything changes. Permanently.
    You think they’re ruining the country now?
    Small potatoes.

  15. JM says:

    I’ve now read several times the “Late Edition” exchange that Col. Lang has posted, as well as the comments so far, and I keep coming back in my mind to something that has been troubling me for some time:
    There are people within or advising or close to the OVP who have emphatically supported, either through their writings or public lectures, the notion that our objective in the Middle East should be to “create chaos,” in the sense of ensuring that the Middle East is nothing more than a bunch of small, powerless, constantly squabbling nation-lets who won’t pose any threats either to us or our main regional ally.
    I’m talking about the folks of the Wurmser-Pipes-Gaffney persuasion.
    So it might seem that any notion of “stability” of the sort that Gen. Joulwan talks about is precisely the opposite of what some high level neocons actually want to happen.
    There are many on this thread who are convinced that Iran is next. If that “creative chaos” viewpoint still holds some sway, they might be right.
    (And then I read through my own comments on “preview” and could swear that they were written by some wacky conspiracy theorist.)

  16. ked says:

    DeWitt, That future AAR (no doubt classified) will conclude that the problem with The Big Lie is not the Lieing part, but the Bigness – need more Bigness… and Sexiness… and Fear… and Production Values… Yeah, that’s the ticket – no charge (Profit component was just fine, thanks).

  17. Stan Henning says:

    Regardless of what transpires in the wake of the plus up of forces in Iraq, the whole affair was, is, and ever will be a blunder of massive proportions reflecting gross incompetence among both our civil and military leadership.
    It has laid bare the meaninglessness of depending on “high-tech” warfare to cope with human factors, which are at the core of all conflict beyond initial clashes by “conventional” forces. We completely defeated the Germans and Japanese in WWII and took complete charge of their “rehabilitation”. However, their populations were not fractious, so we were successful in these two cases. Except for initially mauling her “conventional” forces, we never really defeated the Iraqi military (we just caused them to scatter and retaliate as we continue to experience). We also did not take complete control of their “rehabilitation” and their population is abysmally fractious, so we have reaped what we have sown. We have met the enemy and they are us.

  18. Stan Henning says:

    Regardless of what transpires in the wake of the plus up of forces in Iraq, the whole affair was, is, and ever will be a blunder of massive proportions reflecting gross incompetence among both our civil and military leadership.
    It has laid bare the meaninglessness of depending on “high-tech” warfare to cope with human factors, which are at the core of all conflict beyond initial clashes by “conventional” forces. We completely defeated the Germans and Japanese in WWII and took complete charge of their “rehabilitation”. However, their populations were not fractious, so we were successful in these two cases. Except for initially mauling her “conventional” forces, we never really defeated the Iraqi military (we just caused them to scatter and retaliate as we continue to experience). We also did not take complete control of their “rehabilitation” and their population is abysmally fractious, so we have reaped what we have sown. We have met the enemy and they are us.

  19. sybelia says:

    Sunday, March 18, 2007
    This Administration should never again be able to get away with accusing ANYONE of “not supporting the troops”
    The situation at Walter Reed is even worse than what we’ve known up to this point:
    Washington, DC (WUSA) — A major 9NEWS NOW EXCLUSIVE — allegations from a former inspector at Walter Reed of widespread and dangerous problems in nearly all the buildings at the Army’s premier hospital.
    Burst steam pipes near electrical cables, rats, mold, and holes in floors and walls — all of that extends far beyond the well-publicized problems at the notorious Building 18.
    And 9NEWS NOW has learned managers may have been slow to respond. A worried quality control inspector, Mark Cordell, finally quit last week in frustration, and brought his fears to 9NEWS NOW.
    “I won’t sit back and watch someone get killed,” he says while running through 81 pictures of the problems on a laptop computer…..If you needed further proof that to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the entire neocon cabal that got us into this mess in Iraq, these young men and women are nothing but cannon fodder — meat puppets to be deposited into a war zone and then forgotten — here it is.
    They give lip service to supporting the troops, but then outsource the maintenance of the facility to — wait for it — a subsidiary of Halliburton. It’s all about the money to this bunch — money stuffed into Cheney’s pockets, money stuffed into the pocket of the other Bush cronies who have been feeding at the federal trough ever since this bunch of criminals took office in 2001..
    http://brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com/2007/03/this-administration-should-never-again.html..

  20. BadTux says:

    Who is “the enemy” in Iraq? And what qualifies as “victory” in Iraq? Given the dozens of factions, “the enemy” changes by the hour. And “victory”? What is “victory”? A free and democratic pro-American Iraq? Might as well wish for a pony for every boy and girl on their birthday. Simply physically not possible. Any true democracy in the Middle East is inherently anti-Israel and thus anti-American as long as America’s knee-jerk support of Israel continues. So what is “victory”, then?
    Closest I can see if the goal is a *stable* Iraq is “Saddam Lite in power”. Is it really worth more American blood and money to make that happen, when in the end it will happen anyhow, with or without American involvement? Is it merely the desire to put a pro-American Saddam Lite in power rather than allow an anti-American Saddam Lite to spontaneously arise that keeps American troops in Iraq?
    -BT

  21. Peter Eggenberger says:

    A friend of mine comes from an aristocratic and very distinguished Iraqi family. I get the impression from him that the civil society of the Middle East is like 18th century Europe: peasants and gentry. He says that if the U.S. left, Iraq would stabilize quicky. The gentry would arrange compromises, agree to revenge killings or suitable compensation, etc. And the neighbors would act according to custom, seeking peace and stability. I suppose he must be wrong, because his view implies that the U.S. is at bottom an irrelevant and destructive interloper.

  22. 4 billion says:

    I once saw an interview of an Australian football supporter, who’s team was doing badly, he said he viewed a loss by less than 10 goals to be a victory…Iraq will be seen as this, as we lost, but at least we didn’t lose 60 thousand like last time.

  23. FB Ali says:

    Underlying the discussion on Blitzer’s show is the assumption that it is the US which decides how long it will maintain troops in Iraq, and pursue this strategy or that tactic. This assumption also underlies most of the debate in the US on Iraq.
    Get real, fellas! Those days are long gone. You are still in Iraq because the Kurds and, critically, the Shia still want you there, fighting Sunnis. The day the Shia decide they are better off without US troops there, your forces will only be able to remain in Kurdistan, and in air-supplied, heavily-fortified bases in other parts of Iraq. Sure, you’ll be able to bomb the hell out of anything and anyone, but what would that achieve?
    Time to wake up and smell the coffee!

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    FB Ali
    On programs like that one is somewhat “trapped” by the questions.
    I completely agree with you.
    1 – Unfortunately it is unlikely that the Kurds will want us to leave. as a result we will be “stuck” up there for a long time.
    2 – The Shia thing is a ticking time bomb that can blow up in our face any time. pl

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All:
    Today (20-th of March) is the New Year according to the Persian Solar Calendar; No-Ruz (New Day in Persian) is being celebrated from Syria all the way to the Chinese border.
    The festivities will be on-going for the next few days; in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey ( by the Kurds), in Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and parts of Pakistan.
    This is the biggest holiday of the year ‚Äď and the year is 1386.

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