Mullen has it right.

Biography5chires_061204d6090j002 "While prudence dictated planning for an eventual pullout, Mullen said that under one scenario it could take three to four years just to halve the 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq. Many Democrats want to pull out combat troops by April.

"I do think we will be there for years, not months," Mullen told the Seante Armed Service Committee at his confirmation hearing. "But I don’t see it (Iraq) as a permanent — you know, on a permanent base at this point.""  Yahoo


I listened to this man’s testimony today.  He seems to understand that even though greatly "evolved" attitudes and methods are now being employed by US forces in Iraq, and that these are rapidly improving the tactical situation, the issue of whether or not Iraq will remain a seriously united country rests in the hands of the Iraqis and most specifically in the hands of the Shia religious politicians of the present government.  He candidly states that there has been little or no progress in teconciliation of the major communiities in the country.

AQinM will be largely exterminated if the US military continues in its present course.  The takfiri jihadis will be eliminated not by the super-soldiers of the SOF community.  No.  They will be eliminated by outraged Iraqis.

The adoption of the present tactical regimen would not have been possible if the AEI crowd were not so weakened.  The present course of action represent a repudiation of their fantasies.  Now is the winter of their discontent even as the generals pursue the war.  pl

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22 Responses to Mullen has it right.

  1. schwifty says:

    Reza Aslan and Jon Stewart pointed out exactly that kind of demise re: AQinM nearly three months ago.
    “Jon: This idea that Al Qaeda could take over Iraq.. WE couldn’t take over Iraq and hold it; what makes them think Al Qaeda could? At that point, the Sunni and Shia turn on Al Qaeda, and smash them, and then they have their..
    Reza: There’s no chance of Al Qaeda taking over Iraq, they’re like 7% of the insurgency and they’re tolerated. I mean as soon as we leave the first thing that the insurgents do is massacre Al Qaeda..
    Jon: Oooh!
    Reza: I know!
    Jon: Hey wait a minute.. I just had an idea!
    It just makes you want to bury your face in your palms.

  2. David W says:

    best line, from Dana Milbank:
    “I think if he testifies like that one more time, he’s going to win himself a hunting trip with the Vice President.”

  3. dano says:

    The adoption of the present tactical regimen would not have been possible if the AEI crowd were not so weakened. The present course of action represent a repudiation of their fantasies. Now is the winter of their discontent even as the generals pursue the war.

    But if the US prevails in the end, watch AEI claim the victory, morally and intellectually.

  4. verc says:

    I was a lowly PFC in the Army way back in the early eighties.
    It seems like you military fellows are patting yourselves on the back now.
    As if to say: “Ha, we’ll be there for at least ‘years'”.
    Have at it then.
    Wreck the Army for your own righteousness. Mullen is Navy for God’s sake.
    America doesn’t care about Iraq. Pull the plug now.
    Abandon pride. All the CIB’s in the world aren’t going to right this wrong.

  5. searp says:

    If AQ is eliminated and yet we are there for years, isn’t the only possible combat role to modulate the violent fight for power among Iraqis?
    What is our national interest there? If we insist on arming Sunni tribals and training Shia (oops, Iraqi) security forces, why wouldn’t we be the universal target?

  6. jonst says:

    I watched the same testimony. The man is a thoughtful person. And he, at least, did not speak AEI nonsense. I agree with him we will be there longer than many Americans now think. I do not agree with him that that is a necessary, or even desirable, thing. For those interest in news, if news it be, that won’t make the MSM you might want to read this. It has some very,very interesting, but suspect, things to say about withdrawal.
    See post titled “Islamic Army of Iraq takes issue with certain American claims”

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  8. jamzo says:

    The adoption of the present tactical regimen would not have been possible if the AEI crowd were not so weakened. The present course of action represent a repudiation of their fantasies. Now is the winter of their discontent even as the generals pursue the war. pl
    and yet AEI claims credit for the “surge”, claims to have superseded the generals plans, and disputes the notion that they are weakened
    Arm chair generals help shape surge in Iraq
    Jul 25, 2007 11:30 AM (
    by Rowan Scarborough
    WASHINGTON (Map, News) – When it comes to the troop surge in Iraq, a bunch of arm chair generals in Washington are influencing the Bush Administration as much as the Joint Chiefs or theater commanders.
    A group of military experts at the American Enterprise Institute, concerned that the U.S. was on the verge of a calamitous failure in Iraq, almost single handedly convinced the White House to change its strategy.
    They banded together at AEI headquarters in downtown Washington early last December and hammered out the surge plan during a weekend session. It called for two major initiatives to defeat the insurgency: reinforcing the troops and restoring security to Iraqi neighborhoods. Then came trips to the White House by AEI military historian Frederick Kagan, retired Army Gen. John Keane and other surge proponents.
    More and more officials began attending the sessions. Even Vice President Dick Cheney came. “We took the results of our planning session immediately to people in the administration,” said AEI analyst Thomas Donnelly, a surge planner. “It became sort of a magnet for movers and shakers in the White House.” Donnelly said the AEI approach won out over plans from the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command. The two Army generals then in charge of Iraq had opposed a troop increase.
    In January, President Bush announced the surge, which kicked off the next month. “I think without the AEI exercise, it would be highly unlikely we would have followed a completely different course over the last six months in Iraq,” Donnelly said.
    Keane already had done some ground work. He won a private meeting with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in September. The retired four-star bluntly told him that he would lose the war unless he changed tactics.
    The emergence of AEI as a power player on Iraq belies the notion that neo-conservatives are on the decline in Washington. AEI brags an impressive roster of neo-con thinkers. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, an Iraq war architect, arrived at AIE this summer, joining such prominent conservatives as John Bolton, David Frum and Michael Ledeen.
    With its plan in place, the AEI Iraq team is not sitting still. Keane is an adviser to Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. He has inspected war conditions on two visits. Kagan left for Iraq this week.
    “It was kind of the 11th hour, 59th minute,” Donnelly said of AEI’s surge plan. “It’s the function that think tanks are supposed to perform to provide independent advice and analysis”
    You and I corresponded over this comment of yours this AM. I believe I now understand your comment to mean that AEI et al are among those who maintain that the increase in troop strength (the surge) is directly responsible for the improved security situation in Anbar and Diyala and that you are taking not of my opinion that the surge has little to do with it.
    My position is that a change in US Forces in Iraq’s policy towards making at least temporary allies of non-jihadi insurgent groups is responsible for the improvement. pl

  9. Curious says:

    Anybody who says AQ in Iraq is a “problem” is either a fool or a tool.
    Yes they are blowing up buildings/mosque/market. Yes they know how to assassinate the right person to fan ethnic strife. But they are trivial. At this very moment their action can’t sustain their cause in Iraq. The sunni and shia knows who they are.
    What fuel Iraq
    – We are. We prop up fools and hacks that are not legitimate in Iraqis eyes. We also shoot anything and everything while implementing idiotic policy. Our presence stop the sunni/shia political process. (let’s face it. we don’t like none of their leaders. None of them want to give us oil and let us stay there forever.)
    – Iran. Because we are there, Iran has to play the game. The Iranians are not stupid. They can read how the entire thing will end 10-15 yrs from now. And they are winning.
    – Israel. Let’s face it, Israel is the biggest monkey in US middle east policy back. They own congress and DC think-tank. So, we are going to give them more weapons so eventually they can whack Syria/Iran and do their regularly programmed show in Lebanon/Palestine. Same old. same old. Israel will continue its expansionist policy because it’s cheap for them to do. They don’t kow what else to do. (read: we are about to give them $30B worth of advance weapons)
    – Saudi. This country is freaking out. They have border they cannot defend and a leadership structure that is not flexible enough to handle fast changing time. (age, demographic, media change, technology, etc. The leadership is made for the 70’s in the net era.) We cannot leave Saudi hanging because we need their oil.
    so, now Iraq is regional war. (who didn’t see this coming?) We cannot get out because Saudi/Israel want us to stick around and Iran knows we can’t stay in Iraq forever.
    In the meantime the longer we stay in Iraq, the more damage we create in civilian infrastructure and Iraq leadership/human resource. Pretty soon, all competent and smart people who are able to run a country will be dead. (aka. just like what soviet did in afghanistan. At the end of 20 yrs occupation. only taliban/guerillas groups left standing. )
    Iraq will become a black hole once we implement Kissinger gambit “bomb them all to stone age”
    This is all very predictable. Soviet did it. We did it in Cambodia, etc. It’s logical move in modern military bureaucracy.
    More of the same until Iran have nuke. Then Israel will start shooting and Iran will retaliate. Russia and China will have to enter to defend their energy/geopolitical interest. Saudi will probably be collapsing.
    Democracy is “spreading” nicely.

  10. Montag says:

    Colonel, you’ve taken that quote from Richard III out of context. Richard says that at the beginning of the play to demonstrate the END of the War of the Roses, and the coming of PEACE:
    “Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
    And all the clouds that lower’d upon our house
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
    Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;….”
    It’s still a long, hot summer in Iraq. And Richard warns a few lines later of the mischief he’s about to instigate:
    “And therefore,–since I cannot prove a lover,
    To entertain these fair well-spoken days,–
    I am determined to prove a villain,
    And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
    Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
    By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,…”
    In other words, Richard doesn’t see the victory of the House of York as HIS victory. The Neocons still have their bag of tricks and their stenographers in the MSM.
    Montag – Actually Shakespeare was a bit of a hack working often against deadlines for production of his plays. He used a number of “catchy” phrases repeatedly, among them this one. Do you know the other instances in which he used this phrase? pl

  11. Binh says:

    I’m sure Gates had a hand in making sure this guy and not some Neo-con fool got picked.
    In any case, what happens once AQinM is eliminated? I think that would make a Shia-Sunni anti-US alliance a lot more likely once they stop fighting eachother, they’ll focus their fire on the occupier. Don’t believe me? Read the polls of Iraqis.

  12. searp says:

    Now the other shoe has dropped: there is nobody on the receiving end for the “country” of Iraq.
    Good God, when will we actually look at this mess and say: it is a mess. How do we get out of it?
    Our Armed Forces are supposed to be an instrument of national power, not a health care system for country wannabes.
    The politics of Iraq has moved backward since 2004. We are now in approximately the 18th century. There is no “there” there politically. Waiting and hoping, like we have been doing for several years, isn’t a policy. Keeping our Army there is not a policy.
    Define what we want out of our intervention, take it to the public and ask the American people to bless it. No more stupid wishful thinking, please.

  13. confusedponderer says:

    The takfiri jihadis will be eliminated not by the super-soldiers of the SOF community. No. They will be eliminated by outraged Iraqis.

    Iirc Gilles Keppel said something like that some time after 9/11, based on his observations on the example of Algeria – that the Tafkiri’s indiscriminate carnage will ultimately prove self-defeating and alienate their base of support.
    This ‘who’s not with us is against Islam’ (and deserves death) mindset is in my view the greatest weakness of Jihadi terrorists. That is good news for all of us.

  14. Jim Schmidt says:

    Dr. Louise Forest would thump me, but I cheat now.
    Lots of fun. Only wish I had the internet back then.

  15. lina says:

    Shakespeare was a TOTAL hack re Richard III. He took Thomas More’s bio. of Richard and twisted it into the villainy of the ages. Both More and Shapespeare were propagandists for the Tudors.

  16. Jim Schmidt says:

    I think the AEI and the Decider “perchance to dream” of Henry V: IV,iii.
    But, for those wide awake, the following “carp of truth” rings clearer:
    And let me speak to the yet unknowing world
    How these things came about: so shall you hear
    Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
    Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
    Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
    And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
    Fall’n on the inventors’ reads: all this can I truly deliver.”
    Horatio, Hamlet: V,ii

  17. frank durkee says:

    A query? If Shakespeare is such a ‘hack’, why are we quoting him and arguing about his worth 500 years later?

  18. MarcLord says:

    This is a great post, and a great thread on a great ray of hope. Thanks to PL and you all for being an oasis in the desert of some days. And thanks Zoomie for reminding us about the USO. I’ll drill through your link, credit card at ready.
    AQ is a refinement on the Diocletian device of exaggerating the barbarian at the gate to prop up a thoroughly corrupt system. BushCo took it a step further in crafting its barbarian. AQ’s center is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere. As a psyop, it’s perfect (Now let’s get out there and sell some weapons!), but it works better on a mythical level than in reality.
    Mullen is one stud who lacks the distinctive Cheney Farms brand (imagine a symbol for that one…) and the suitable air of tense obedience. The fact that he went ahead and said the truth is proof that either the man is protected, the King’s grip is slipping, or there are only so many work-ups His Highness can do at once. That, or Mullen is about to get the career-beating of his life.
    Either way, telling the truth in these circumstances is a hero’s behavior. Bravo, Mr. Mullen. You made my month.

  19. frank durkee says:

    I ran into a blog[ cannot recall which ] inwhich the AEI types were crowing about the ‘surge’ being successful and that they were/are resposible for saving the country’s bacon in iraq. has any one else run into this?

  20. Montag says:

    For all of Shakespeare’s faults–he was a dramatist, not a documentarian–there’s no question that he can still create strong feelings in his audience. Some years ago there was an outdoor production of Henry V in England. At one performance there was a group of burly Scots Nationalists among the “groundlings” just under the stage. At one point the King’s ministers talk of the need to raise money for the war in France, and then there’s the possible invasion from Scotland to consider. Suddenly the performance was interrupted:
    Looking down in surprise at the boisterous Scotsmen who couldn’t resist a challenge, one of the actors decided to roll with the punch and ad libbed, “You see? They’re closer than you think!”
    The play resumed without further news bulletins from Scotland.

  21. Homer says:

    PL: the issue of whether or not Iraq will remain a seriously united country
    Why would the `Shia religious politicians of the present government’ ever reconcile with the ex-Baathists?
    From Galbraith, The War Is Lost, NYRB:
    Abdul Aziz al-Hakim leads the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC, previously known as SCIRI), which is Iraq’s leading Shiite party and a critical component of Prime Minister al-Maliki’s coalition.
    He is the sole survivor of eight brothers.
    During Saddam’s rule Baathists executed six of them.
    On August 29, 2003, a suicide bomber, possibly linked to the Baathists, blew up his last surviving brother, and predecessor as SCIRI leader, at the shrine of Ali in Najaf. Moqtada al-Sadr, Hakim’s main rival, comes from Iraq’s other prominent Shiite religious family.
    Saddam’s Baath regime murdered his father and two brothers in 1999.
    Earlier, in April 1980, the regime had arrested Moqtada’s father-in-law and the father-in-law’s sister — the Grand Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr and Bint al-Huda.
    While the ayatollah watched, the Baath security men raped and killed his sister.
    They then set fire to the ayatollah’s beard before driving nails into his head. De-Baathification is an intensely personal issue for Iraq’s two most powerful Shiite political leaders, as it is to hundreds of thousands of their followers who suffered similar atrocities.

  22. pbrownlee says:

    Didn’t Orwell say somewhere that “in times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act”.
    “…we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
    “When one looks at the all-prevailing schizophrenia of democratic societies, the lies that have to be told for vote-catching purposes, the silence about major issues, the distortions of the press, it is tempting to believe that in totalitarian countries there is less humbug, more facing of the facts. There, at least, the ruling groups are not dependent on popular favour and can utter the truth crudely and brutally. Goering could say ‘Guns before butter’, while his democratic opposite numbers had to wrap the same sentiment up in hundreds of hypocritical words.
    “Actually, however, the avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences. The Russian people were taught for years that they were better off than everybody else, and propaganda posters showed Russian families sitting down to abundant meal while the proletariat of other countries starved in the gutter. Meanwhile the workers in the western countries were so much better off than those of the U.S.S.R. that non-contact between Soviet citizens and outsiders had to be a guiding principle of policy. Then, as a result of the war, millions of ordinary Russians penetrated far into Europe, and when they return home the original avoidance of reality will inevitably be paid for in frictions of various kinds. The Germans and the Japanese lost the war quite largely because their rulers were unable to see facts which were plain to any dispassionate eye.
    “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it. Political predictions are usually wrong. But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating. In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality. If one recognizes this, one cannot, of course, get rid of one’s subjective feelings, but one can to some extent insulate them from one’s thinking and make predictions cold-bloodedly, by the book of arithmetic. In private life most people are fairly realistic. When one is making out one’s weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean word where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one’s political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.”
    George Orwell: ‘In Front of Your Nose’, Tribune, London, March 22 1946, (reprinted in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, 1968)

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