"He is now caught between admitting the war was a mistake and his policy has failed, or trying to tough it out," said Joseph Cirincione, a foreign policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank.
"It looks like the president would rather let the whole operation go down in flames than admit he was wrong." Reuters
Bullheaded. That is the characteristic described above. Persistence and tenacity can be virtues but an unwillingness to adjust to a realization of failed planning and execution is mere stubbornness.
Iraq is not the place Mr. Bush was told that it was. The various Iraqi peoples are not the peoples he was told that they were. The Middle Eastern region is not, etc…
Things are NOT going well. The president is going to approve a reinforcement of 4 Army brigades and two or three marine regiments for the express purpose of fighting a decisive battle of attrition first against the Sunni insurgents in the Baghdad area and then to "disarm" Sadr’s Mahdi Army. This is a hell of a gamble.
The reinforcing units will be gotten by pulling units out of the rotation queue and sending them back to Iraq early. To make up the shortfall in the queue thus created the president and his advisers expect to create new, additional units over the next year and a half through an expansion in Army and Marine Corps end strength.
They think that the battle will have been won (or lost) by then, but, in any event larger ground forces are needed for the "long war." pl
I vigorously disagree with much of what you wrote in this post. First, I disagree the President is “bullheaded”. Which, as you note, can be seen as a virtue. In the right doses at the right times. I think the President is behaving in a mean spirited, self centered, and selfish, childlike manner. He is putting his own personal need to deny reality ahead of the good of the nation.
Second, it is, I believe, less a question of what he was told about Iraq…than about what he wanted to believe. Most of the events that manifest themselves in Iraq were predictable to even the most casual observer of the ME. No, it was dramatically much less about what he heard…than it was about what conclusions he reached on his own. His famous ‘gut instinct’. After he had made up his mind on what he knew it really did not matter what he was told.
And finally, I don’t think this is a “hell of gamble”. Gamble implies it has a chance to work. I don’t believe that. If we look at the timeline of the Kagan/Keane/Bush plan (assuming that is the plan they are going with) the entire thing won’t come to head (so they think, anyway, I have a hunch it may come to a head sooner, and in ways they have not anticipated) till the fall of 2007. Then if they can milk it a bit more, in to 2008, they will say ‘well, you can’t change course now, it would be unfair to the next President’ or some such nonsense like that.
No, this is no gamble from their perspective. This is about them getting out of office without the 21st century photo op equivalent of someone dangling from the landing pad of a chopper, being airlifted out of the green zone.
I have to say I am impressed by the NeoCon/AIPAC spin machine.
First, the Baker report is allowed to sit on the table and it is picked at by the News media as if it was a brides first experiment at cooking a roast.
Bush then announces he is going to go on a listening tour….with caveats that he is still the deciderer. So he goes and listens to the predictable voices who will tell him what he wants to hear.
Then Kagan at the AEI comes out with a plan that is the reverse of the Baker plan, that panders to everything that Bush believes. It uses the word “Surge” instead of escalation and calls for about a one year effort to break Iraqi militia resistance.
Then the Democrats are asked if they are in favor of a short “surge”, and predictably those who have most to lose or gain from their AIPAC connections are in favor of the surge.
Then Kagan changes the goalposts today …. the surge isn’t going to be six or nine months, why it may take eighteen months! Surprise! Surprise!
So now Bush will shortly announce with suitable fanfare, that he has read the Baker report and adopted some of its conclusions, despite the fact that Baker has said that cherrypicking is a mistake. Bush will tell Americans that he has listened to a broad range of people, when he actually hasn’t.
He will tell us that he has analysed the situation in detail, when what has been done is a justifying exercise for his proclivities. He will then announce the new “surge” strategy with suitable fanfare and claim it has bipartisan support.
There will be no talks with Iran or Syria, and when the veneers of carefully constructed bullshit are stripped off this plan, it’s obvious that its implementation requires the destruction of whole Iraqi neighbourhoods and the killing of any males of military age that attempt to escape.
There is no other way of “rapidly clearing and holding” an area and disarming the militias.
The rosy picture painted by Kagan is one of squads going from house to house and knocking on doors, searching houses for weapons, and questioning the occupants.
I respectfully suggest that after the first three squads have knocked on doors in Sadr City, only to be met by an IED, and discovered that the only way to remove an AK47 from an Iraqi is to pry it from his cold dead hands, they will adopt the “Rattenkrieg” (rat war) tactics used by the Germans in Stalingrad.
For the record that means an HE round from a tank or gun into the house, followed by the killing of whatever runs out of the rubble.
The only question to me is will Iran stand idly by while this happens?
I have a sneaky feeling that tactical nukes are being considered. Ramadi and Sadr City being obvious candidates.
I guess its time to dust off the “Mission Accomplished” banner.
Your comment lacks generosity.
I do not presume to judge their motives.
Ir IS a gamble. I judge the probability of success at around 10%. pl
“Rattenkrieg” seems likely. pl
Will the escalation (Walrus’s Rattenkreig) actually be “implemented”, or is the “surge” merely a phoney device by which to maintain the status quo (our occupation) through Bush’s term?
If the “surge” is merely a status quo enabler, doesn’t mucking up the troop rotation schedule cause big problems vis-a-vis “breaking” our Army and Marines?
And if the escalation battle is implemented, and it is indeed an 18 month operation, then doesn’t that necessarily result in a broken Army as well, whatever the outcome?
“If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms—never—never—never”!
Lord Chatham to Parliament during the American Revolution.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
President Bush has one and only one “plan” for Iraq, and that is to pass it off to the next president. Short of a catastrophic defeat in the field or the sudden development of congressional backbone, Mr. Bush seems determined, some might say “bullheaded”, to walk, drag, or push Iraq past January 20, 2009. He has crapped his bed and must lay in it until the bitter end. Otherwise, he surrenders his place in history without a fight (apparently he believes if he can just hang on he will become Trumanesque). So, like you, jonst, and walrus, I think Mr. Bush wants to avoid outright failure in Iraq during his term in office. The Baker-Hamilton Report supports a surge in Baghdad, and, of course, the Kagan mission concept demands a surge. Even warrior Krauthammer wants to go down with guns blazing. However, rhetoric aside, the beltway bubbleheads are setting the stage for the next president to pull the plug. At any rate, backing out of a failed preventive war ought to provoke serious debate about the “national interest.”
I also agree that this is merely a ploy to bide tiome until “they” transfer command to the next administration. This would provide “them” a way of not taking the blame for anything that may happen when it all goes to hell.
I for one, do not look forward to any more rotations to that part of the world, no matter how much flight time I may get while there.
More Life at the Ramadi Outpost
Endless patrols for nothing.
To pacify Iraq and control the oil supply, the Sunni have to be ethnically cleansed, the slums flattened to kill the Shiite Mahdi Militia, and the survivors placed in concentration camps.
This is a scenario that has many in America steaming: The serving soldier is given a choice of reenlisting with a bonus or of serving the same extra time past an enlistment period under a stop-loss order without a bonus. The resulting high reenlistment rate is then
sold to us as evidence the soldiers support the war. Here is another one: the main benefit of military service for enlisted ranks is the education benefits used after service. In the last six years the prospective recruits’ parents have seen a small tax cut and a huge increase in their health insurance co-pays. They also have to spend more on retirement because their pension has become a matching 401.K. Their ability to help their children with tuition has
been redirected into someone else’s bottom line.
Of course the insurance exec’s kids and the Wall Street exec’s kids won’t serve in a nasty war like Iraq any more than George W Bush and his three brothers were willing to volunteer to serve in Vietnam. But they will put a nice “support the troops” magnet on their cars.
MATTHEWS: Thomas Ricks is the military correspondent for The Washington Post.
He‘s author of “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.”
Will this be more or less of a fiasco, Tom, if we put 30,000 more troops over there?
THOMAS RICKS, THE WASHINGTON POST: It could easily be more. The U.S. military chiefs, that is the joint chiefs of staff, have been arguing against it because they don’t see what the reason is.
They are not saying don’t do it at all, but they are saying we don‘t see the payoff here. We already put 8,000 troops into Baghdad last summer. Not only did it not help, Baghdad fell apart in September and October.
So they say why would two or three times that number make much more of a difference?
MATTHEWS: Is this an ideological thing? When I hear something coming out of the American Enterprise Institute, I immediately assume it‘s coming from the neoconservative bastion that this is the thinking of people like Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, the people who loved the war in the beginning. Is this what we are hearing, an ideological push, a la John McCain, for more troops because it‘s ideological, or is it really military thinking here.
RICKS: I think it is not military thinking. And I think it‘s even more Machiavellian than you may suspect. I suspect what is going on here is an excuse is being built here. You didn‘t put in more troops and you gave up.
MATTHEWS: Oh, so they are hoping that the Democratic congress will rejection the call for 30,000 more troops for Iraq?
RICKS: Well, I actually think the joint chiefs have already rejected it. And I think it will be unlikely that the president actually does it. I think the White House is pushing the Join Chiefs to do it and they are pushing back hard.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I get you. So the ideologues at the AEI are pushing the idea because it looks like they would say, if you had only do done what we told you to do, which by the way is what every ideologue I have ever met left and right, always says—if you only did it all the way, you would have won.
The whole Bush/Cheney adventure in Iraq looks like the French invasion of Mexico with the Battle of Puebla yet to come. Bush was a history major at Yale so perhaps he knows of Cinco de Mayo.
Lest we forget, friends, the deciderer may be imbibing
a daily shovelful of medication – the ones that come to mind have the effect of stabilizing mood, reducing anger etc. I am certainly not saying that he is taking these meds. But his reactions, from our view of normalcy, seem tragically off somehow: (1) “I’m sleeping just fine” ….(2) “How’s this playing in the media?”……(3) “This is a hard decision, I need time and a vacation”. Honest evaluation of a way forward seems to be lost in a la-la landscape that is perhaps beyond the scope of bullheaded. (my guess is chemically induced) We are, as your print indicates, Col. Lang, headed into deeper water. Thank you again for your time and SST
Walrus: Iran will stand idly by during this “rattenkrieg.” They will have the privilege of watching as the Greatest Country in the World engages in a massive war crime. And then they can tell their people this is what Americans mean by “liberation.” That will help the anti-clerical forces, I’m sure. We are moving from a strategic defeat to a moral catastrophe.
I wonder what medal the Pentagon has planned for the “Rattenkrieg” veterans?
PL, how can any army officer agree to carry out such operations?
I am glad North Bay raised parallels to the American War of Independence, your American Revolutionary War.
The British were blind, arrogant and stupid in their approach to the colonists and the American situation from before, during and for some time beyond the war. The British conduct in that episode of our common history is the nearest I can find as a parallel to the current American administration’s conduct of a war that should not have been and it now cannot win – ever.
If we are to take it a step further, changes in British administration did not for some considerable time actually change the British calculus. You could argue that they never changed the calculus, it was done for them by the colonies themselves and the French. Sadly, looking at the Democrat elites inside the Beltway, the current calculus may yet have some legs.
We can, I suppose, anticipate Sadr City or wherever as providing this generation its own Yorktown moment, but I suspect that it will not be as clear cut as that.
And what would Bush 43 say at such a time? Would he echo Lord North, “Oh God, it’s all over”? On second thoughts I suspect not, it is not in him.
Regards and all the best for 2007, may it be a year in which clarity, sanity and concern for the true national interest returns.
I’d like you to forecast the days after the reinforcements arrive, assuming the gamble fails. The received wisdom used to be that we must “win” in Iraq or divers Armageddons would ensue. What Armageddons are possible, and which are most likely? (The futures markets are doing well, so presumably financial castrophe isn’t expected.)
Pardon my tinfoil, but.. is Bush’s sniffy rejection of the ISG report really the last word on it? Will the Establishment which the ISG worked and spoke for really just accept having its interests disregarded and its advice brushed aside?
Are we seeing a power struggle between two factions within the governing elites? Might one
crudely oversimplify matters by referring to this power struggle as the Axis of AIPAC versus the Petro-Financial Establishment? And if so, which side has more tools in
its toolbox? And which side
has more staying power as they fight to decide “who governs America”?
I have to wonder whether the ISG study group wasn’t convened , in part, to give Bush his “last warning”. Since he appears not to have
“gotten the message”, is the
Establishment prepared to resort to “other methods”?
Iraq has had an ability to not follow the Decider’s script. The “Rattenkrieg” strategy was deployed in Fallujah and Ramadi and Tal Afar. Yet, the Sunni resistance to domination by both the US military and the Shia continues. They are slowly being cleansed out of many Baghdad neighborhoods so its possible there could be the grand battles for survival coming up. What is confusing are the alliances. On the one hand the Bandar-Israel-Cheney group are trying to undermine Iranian and Shia influence through financing and arming Sunni and Christian militias in Lebanon and also possibly attempting regime destablization in Syria. On the other hand the Decider and Cheney want to knock the snot out of the Sunni in Iraq as well as Sadr who it seems is more of a Iraqi nationalist and strengthen the hands of Iranian allies SCIRI. So does this mean they want to strengthen the Iranian position in Iraq and weaken their influence in Lebanon and Syria? Maybe there is method to this madness that a doofus like me does not get.
PL wrote….”I do not presume to judge their motives.”
Why not? If the “motives’ are relevant to understanding the direction he, and his cohorts are taking the nation? Now, presuming to judge is not the same thing as accurately judging. I grant you that. However, their “motives” are much too important to dismiss as being beyond the pale of discussion and contemplation.
As to the plan being a “gamble” or not…the phrase ‘ten monkeys banging on typewriters’ springs to mind. Sure, it’s possible they will pull it off. Like it’s possible that the monkeys, if given a sufficient amount of time, will come up with a War and Peace.
Sir, with this group the time has long passed, long passed, to think about generosity. The lack of it you rightly note in my answer is intentional.
Bullheaded. Yes, and supremely arrogant. As David Corn reminds us, there is more to the famous statement by Churchhill than usually quoted, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in…” He added: “except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Considering that almost all agree that there is no more chance of a military “victory” in Iraq, I see the contemplation of a “surge” (read, escalation) at this point as motivated by concern for self above concern for the military on the part of Bush. The kicker for me was the Pentagon’s quarterly report to Congress which identified the Shiite militias as “the gravest threat to the security and stability of Iraq.” Not al Qaeda. Not the Baathists. Not the Sunnis. Not the foreign fighters. The Shiite militias. And the government our troops are supporting and defending is in cohoots with them. It’s over, folks. Get out yesterday.
has anybody seen this: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=NAZ20061116&articleId=3882
How can you look at this (a NATO map presumabely) and think we are not going to increase troop counts let alone leave. Give me a break. Do I think this is achievable, absolutely not given that Iran will fight to the last man to ensure that a startup country doesn’t just waltz in and split of the region and leave 60M people without any natural resources (the “new” Iran would exclude most of the countries natural resources).
This is all getting grotesque. I feel like throwing up.
Walrus descries it all nicely…
If one sits down and goes one by one through all venues of power in the country and estimates which ones support Baker and which would be hostile to him, like:
and so forth, one would see clearly that Baker is really on the ropes. Baker can’t “win” in a public debate, or in Congress. Anyone remotely for a change in the present course would be labeled a “surrender monkey” and ridiculed as a Hitler supporter (BTW, in a previous post I defined a Straussian as someone fixated on the fact that the Weimar republic was a democracy).
So the question really comes down to: how the present administration will enlarge the army. Several possibilities are discussed: draft, foreign recruitment. My guess would be the latter, because the former would likely get people involved in politics in a more “rational” way. And so here we come, a new Rome…
I think one needs to bear in mind that Bush most probably has an apocalyptic view of the world.
That being said, he may not be planning to leave his mess for the next president.
He may indeed view himself as the last president.
Perhaps I’m mistaken, but the escalation ( or surge if you prefer ) being punted here would take the US troop count back up to about 170k; this is the same level as obtained in the 2004-2005 period, in the wake of Fallujah I and the associated Sadrist uprisings. This level was clearly insufficient for killing off the Sunni insurgency, destruction of Fallujah notwithstanding, and the Sadrists, also not killed off, seem to be in a far stronger position today. I’m curious as to why it has ANY chance of working two years later, let alone 10%.
Militarily, the US seems to be stuck in the entropy trap in Iraq, requiring ever greater levels of resources to simply stand still/hang on; and in the interim, a number of coalition contingents have departed the scene totally, whilst others have drawn down and are positioning themselves for withdrawal or further force reductions, adding an additional level of “tactical jeapordy” in the region between Najaf and Basra City.
The only way that the end-strength of the marines and army will be achieved is by increasing retention, at the expense of National Guard and army/marine reserve recruitment, with large bribes to re-up along with the associated “threat” of being stop-lossed gratis, combined with a further dilution of recruitment standards.
This is going to “break” a lot of people very rapidly.
Considering the administration’s ongoing refusal to put the US on a “proper” war footing ( continued tax reductions, go shop, FCS, let’s close Red River etc ), I would anticipate the 2008 elections being a referendum on withdrawal.
I had seen that map a few months ago – yet another pipe dream.
Its designer does not understand the social formation of the Muslim polities and even how they could possibly function.
I think it already has cast a very negative shadow on the perception of US intentions in the Levant, the Persian Gulf, and the greater Middle East.
The map is a direct threat to 2 of US allies: Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Hmm, I tried to post this once, and got a message teling me that I was “spam”. So let’s try again!
This is an interesting read; I just wish he was as eloquent on TV – if he had been, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess . . .
wisedup asks, “how can any army officer agree to carry out such [Rattenkrieg] operations?
The Rattenkrieg may be in the form of a Luftwaffe operation, as it were, rather than an army one. Can we really assume Bush would not resume an air war in Iraq?
it is fascinating and educational to read your blog and the comments. I like the points ‘jonst’makes about his intentional lack of generosity – I wholly agree that the time for generosity is long past. I also would add that AEI , and other think tanks of whatever color or flavor or persuasion should not be the the source of policy making.
Happy New Year,
PODCAST: Col. Patrick Lang (US Army, Ret.) On A “Concert of The Middle East”
I had the pleasure of talking with Col. Patrick Lang last night on the air. We covered a wide range of subjects, but this post at his blog and this post were the touchstones. Give them a read and then give the podcast a listen.
good point. I am not expert in force projection etc but it seems that the AF is a mirror of the army (actually, probably the reverse)
The AF has developed away from massive air assaults toward surgical strikes — Rattenkrieg sounds to be too damn expensive and not sure the AF can maintain the planes flat out.
Besides, the Pentagon has treated the troopers like shit from day one and I see no reason for them to change.
Is Bush saying that if we kill all the O’Kennedy’s that democracy will flourish? or is it if we kill all the Baptists? I don’t understand the logic.
To my comment on resuming an air war in Iraq, I would just add that that kind of Rattenkrieg is exactly what has been going on in Gaza. Israel has been attacking that ghetto with American-made fighter jets and gunships for about five months now. Bush could keep this up for months in Iraq until he was able to hand the whole thing off to the next president to deal with.
How much depends on the Iraq’s vote to privatized the oil?
If they keep the oil production nationalized, we’ll be gone in 6-12 months.
As the train-wreck that is the Bushies careens towards the final cliff, the rest of the world stands back in awe and shock. It appears they have studied the Osama Plan on how to destroy American power and influence around the world, and are determined to follow it to the letter. Perhaps that is the only logical conclusion: Bush and his supporters are really deep cover Al-Qaida operatives who are committed to carrying out the Osama Doctrine. If you analyse the Bushian actions and their results, there are only two conclusions that make sense to me: either they are just monumental screw-ups, a new Everest high water mark in total stupidity and incompetence, OR they are really working for the Other Dark Side.
Either way, the range of possible outcomes ranges from really bad to total catastrophe – somewhat akin to trying to choose the Best Way to commit suicide. The clock is winding down, so time pressure may force a bloodbath in Iraq as a prelude to Invasion:Syria and Invasion:Iran.
I think part of the problem is that the Neo-MoroCons (new word alert, just coined it!) still(!) mistakenly assume they are in a 50’s era, where the Gubmint can control the News and Public Opinions, so they think that the world will not see the real effects of the Surge to Disaster. This would explain the recent ReThuglican assaults on free speech and blogs. In the real world, the Rattenkrieg will be carried live on Al-Jazeera, winning hearts and minds everywhere.
I know I promised to be more postive, but I don’t see an upside here. Excellent posts from all, as ususal.
The role of “think” tanks, their “research” and perpetual spin (and slime) machines — as well as the use made of such virulent swill by the supine mainstream media — will be a rich vein for doctoral dissertations for decades to come. Perhaps the only silver lining in this very dark and dense cloud will be the final exposure of such absurd, bloody clowns as Kagan at the AEI and similar chickenhawk feedpens.
OK, Rider, I get your point.
Bush will not go full bore Rattenkrieg but merely continuous air attacks until the clock runs out.
I’m curious about the way people are talking about “Rattenkreig”.
My understandign was that historically, Rattenkreig came about because the Soviets took advantage of the complex landscape of the ruins of Stalingrad to hug the German positions and neutralize the German advantages in armor, artillery and air power. More generally I’ve always taken it to mean close quarters infantry combat in an urban setting.
Notions of fighting a “Rat War” with the Air Forces Eagles and Falcons seem a little wrong to me.
That said, I’m curious as to whether the posters here thing the various Iraqi Insurgent groups and millitias will be able to adapt Soviet tactics if it comes to an all out battle for control of Baghdad. Can they get close enough and stay close enough to American forces to render American air power moot, or at least dramatically reduce it’s effectiveness, without getting chewed to pieces in the close quarters fighting that this would entail?
Got A Watch, don’t call them morons. They aren’t. This is a bad habit on the part of many posters here to diminish the mental capacity of the neo-conservatives and others. Neo-cons aren’t stupid, you simply don’t understand them.
Sun Tzu said that only those who know themselves AND their opponent well would always prevail.
“Notions of fighting a “Rat War” with the Air Forces Eagles and Falcons seem a little wrong to me.”
Yes, Grimgrin. You are right. Not a classic Stalingrad battle of the sewers. Look to the IDF in Gaza to see how it’s done. The result would make parts of Baghdad look like Fallujah, but done with more air and fewer boots. This is what I fear. I hope I’m wrong.
plp: Would you continue re NeoCons? Are they like a “hydra” with multi heads in positions of power? Their strength should not be underestimated? Or am I way off base?…..Now I’m curious….thanks..
plp – Would you feel better if I called them geniuses?
I just judge them by the outcomes of their policies – and if you believe they are actually on track with their devious plan for world domination, well, you sure see hidden depths there I cannot perceive.
They may actually think their cause is right, just and victory is near – to me that just proves how detached from reality they are and always were (read some old writings by PNAC or AEI, for example, they still look totally clueless to me now, same as they did then).
In the end, future historians will render the final judgement on the Bush years, if the planet survives them. I doubt it will be kind.
They had the genius to activate a moronic policy. Can they do it again?
When he took over from Mac, Clark Clifford famously queried the generals (to paraphrase) when they asked for a ‘surge’ of a quarter million more troops:
“Have you detected any diminution in the enemy’s will or logistical capacity?
–No. If anything, an increase.
If we send another 250,000 soldiers, do you expect this will reduce the enemy’s will or logistical capacity?
U.S. fatalities in Iraq, fourth quarter:
I use these figures neither to be ghoulish nor to overlook Iraqi deaths but simply because it is the only objective yardstick a citizen like myself has access to.
Is Gates asking these simple but hard questions about the proposed escalation?