“The Road Home” NY Times

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"And it created a new front where the United States will have to continue to battle terrorist forces and enlist local allies who reject the idea of an Iraq hijacked by international terrorists. The military will need resources and bases to stanch this self- inflicted wound for the foreseeable future.

The Question of Bases

The United States could strike an agreement with the Kurds to create those bases in northeastern Iraq. Or, the Pentagon could use its bases in countries like Kuwait and Qatar, and its large naval presence in the Persian Gulf, as staging points.

There are arguments for, and against, both options. Leaving troops in Iraq might make it too easy — and too tempting — to get drawn back into the civil war and confirm suspicions that Washington’s real goal was to secure permanent bases in Iraq. Mounting attacks from other countries could endanger those nations’ governments.

The White House should make this choice after consultation with Congress and the other countries in the region, whose opinions the Bush administration has essentially ignored. The bottom line: the Pentagon needs enough force to stage effective raids and airstrikes against terrorist forces in Iraq, but not enough to resume large-scale combat."  NY Times

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We have now reached a point at which the NY Times’ thoughts and mine are nearly congruent on Iraq.  This sounds an awful lot like the argument that I have assembled for future action in the region.

– It will not be possible to operate in Iraq with forces stationed outside Iraq.  The distances are too great.  Once again, Logistics Rules.

– The Times neglects to tell us if it wishes to continue to train and support the forces and police of the government that we did so much to create.  What is the alternative to doing that?

– Activities like those, plus the force protection for; those activities, the SOF people continuing to hunt the jihadis, and the embassy will require the size force which I have written of before.  This will be a reinforced division task force operating from a secure base.  The idea of putting that base in Kurdish territory northwest of Baghdad is attractive if agreements can be reached with the neighbors.

Once Petraeus "reports" in September, it will be clear that what he wants is more of the same.  That will be the time for the Congress to "get serious" about this.  pl

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/opinion/08sun1.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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52 Responses to “The Road Home” NY Times

  1. frank durkee says:

    the option to withdraw to closeby countries is similiar to the one retired LtG Odom has been pushing for at least three years. Of course the critical issue if we move into Kurdish territory is how to deal with the Turkish concern about kurdish terrorists operatiing from with the Iraqui Kurdish area. Unless the US secures both the border and the pipeline we will still be caught in the middle. Momentum id clearly moving in the direction the Col. has been pushing. Late last week Kissinger had an article in the International Herald Tribune that mirrored much of PL’s earlier proposals. to me the critical key is what, if any, carrot can be provided for the Sunnis to keep them from embracing volence toward the rest of Iraq. It will take tough nuanced and clear diplomacy for the US to be any thing but the supplicant in this situation. the best outcome may be some stability and an operating concert to manage the new status quo, which will be dynamic and moving.

  2. 505th PIR says:

    Well, the last of the surge troops deployed three weeks ago. I wonder what tune The Times will be singing come Sept. if Petraeus gains traction.
    So the question is: If the politicians are at this moment in time waiving a white flag hedged in “I’m doing this for the troops” and man it is obvious that most of em are positioning themselves most advantageously for the election and the surge is making more than localized progress then is the Coalition force and the Iraqi’s that have bought in being sold out on the brink of success however it has evolved to look like?
    Maybe hammering and I mean now the gloves have come off, really hammering at the insurgency(s) is going to give the Iraqi govt and diaspora of centrist tribal militias a chance to build a confederacy of non-theocratic forces that can stave off an AQ or Iranian backed theocracy/competing regional theocracies.
    Face it gang, whatever Iraq is going to look like it isn’t going to be what the delusional White House Gang thought it would be but we can still avoid the abyss with a deft hand and liberal use of the big stick now “in country”. Let AQ and Iranian backed militias get completely entrenched and the current situation will look like a Norman Rockwell painting by comparison.
    I smell a mayor sell out. I am sooo sickened by the “wise old senior senators” and “retired general so and so on CNN who would serve his country far better by just shutting-up and being just that…retired”. What do they really know. Speculators with faded credentials most of em.
    However we got into this thing we are in it and it is not yet a lost cause however many folks say it is.
    Colonal Lang, surely the officers running the show in Iraq have some optimistic thoughts on this on the QT? Surely there are some in the intelligence community who think that a favorable outcome is possible (I didn’t say victory.) Do these voices not leak out? Do you see a scenario where Iraq does not turn into a feudal theocratic hate hole?

  3. frank durkee says:

    col. If we are not there or not that active, is it likely that the salifis and/or al queda will actually gain a genuine foot hold. that they could remain as spoilers is perhaps possible. Unlessm however there is a state collapse similiar to what occurred in Afganistan
    after the Russian pull out, isn’t as or more likely that the existing tribal forces will seek to consolidate ther power and/or turf. it would appear that the real extremist’s are tolerable only as they actively attack us or shites in some areas and sunnis in other areas. Won’t both band to oppose them and to drive them out of their areas of influence?

  4. Will says:

    “the surge beginning to take traction”
    “all the naysayers will wind up with egg on their face”
    ————
    the stab in the back, the betrayal.
    there are some that still believe in the WMD bullcrap.
    what is the def’n of not being square with reality. Repeating the same acts with the expectation of different results.
    Tony Blair said recently “America was attacked on 9.11, so he had to support Bush on Irak” HUH?
    We invaded a secular country that did not threaten us nor desired war with us and turned into a flaming religious cauldron.
    What did it have to do with 9.11 Mr. Blair?

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    505
    I would be glad to eat crow. pl

  6. jonst says:

    Questions:
    1. Are we simply setting up, from a geopolitical perspective, an artificial, and, ultimately, unsustainable, political entity? (Dramatically artificial that is, I grant that most of the states in the ME are artificial entities set up by Western govts) . Is this what we really need in the ME? Another Israeli like entity; with land locked, hostile, supply routes?
    2. Is the so called AQ of Mesopotamia so powerful, so vital a force, that only the long reach of US Special Forces, et al, can restrain it? I seriously doubt that. And think it near delusional on the part of people who do think that. If the so called AQ of M is really to be stopped it will be stopped by the forces in the area who, so one would imagine, are threatened by it. It is one thing to tolerate it as a foil against the Americans. It is another thing to let it grow, to the extent it HAS the ability to grow, as a large force threatening its neighbors. And it, AQ of M, have antagonisms with ALL the nations/forces in the area.
    3. It will be interesting to see if the American people get presented with a choice in this decision to stay or go. Or, if both political parties, and the MSM, that covers them, will reach a consensus that, no matter what, we have to stay ‘engaged’ in the ME in the manner we have been. As, indeed, the same group reached a consensus that we had to go into Iraq, and stay in Iraq, in the first place I would love to put the question to a pure vote in the following manner:
    Do you, American citizen, want to continue the policy of ‘active involvement’ in the ME…or would you like to withdraw from the ME and let things go as they may: cut the military budget by a 100 billion this year, and over the next 10 years as well, invest it in health care, critical infrastructure, and energy independence projects?
    Sure, sure, simplistic populism or whatever. Still, I’d love to see the results. I bet the elites in this country would not dare to allow it, the question, or a campaign, to be framed that way. Because, they, we, all have a hunch what the majority (dare we speculate, vast majority?) of Americans would say?

  7. Dana J says:

    Pat: We have permanent bases in Iraq, we have spent billions on them, and we are not going to leave them. Want to see them, just go to Google maps, select satellite view, zoom in on Iraq and start looking around, they are quite visible. Just North of Bagdad is a huge double runway airbase that appears on the image as a huge rectangle. There are about 5 more this big, and about 1/2 dozen single runway bases. I don’t think we are just going to walk away from these, if anything we will demand a treaty from our Mr. Sock-puppet government to “allow” us to keep troops & equipment there as long as we want. And I agree with Frank’s comment above that we will have to have some kind of deal with the Turks re the Kurds or the Turks will decide to occupy the north of Iraq and there is not much we can do if they do it. Are we going to get into a conflict with Turkey now too?

  8. Binh says:

    So Colonel are you for continuing to train and equip the Mehdi Army and Badr Brigades? Oops I meant the Iraqi police force and Army…
    And if there is a significant drawdown of troops or a pullback to large fortified bases outside of urban areas, how does that work in Baghdad. Most U.S. forces right now are in Baghdad (or in neighboring provinces). Wouldn’t drawing down make it very easy to cut off the supply line to the Vatican-sized embassy and an easy target to hammer with artillery even more so than it is now? Maybe they should set up that embassy in Kurdistan?
    Also, will it be possible for the U.S. to establish bases in the north if the Kurdish parties refuse (or are unable) to clamp down on the PKK attacks on Turkey?

  9. JM says:

    505th PIR: “[Ungloved hammering of insurgents will give]…the Iraqi govt and diaspora of centrist tribal militias a chance to build a confederacy of non-theocratic forces that can stave off an AQ or Iranian backed theocracy/competing regional theocracies.”
    505th PIR,
    It seems to me that two of the most significant players in Iraq’s government consist of al-Maliki’s Islamic Call [Da’wa] Party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) – both of whom are theocratic parties generally allied with Iran. The Sadrists are also big players, and are theocrats not very closely tied with Iran.
    The Iraqi Vice President is a Sunni fundamentalist, apparently.
    Which “non-theocratic” forces in the Iraqi government or wider society are you rooting for?

  10. Montag says:

    At this point I think that all the warhawks can hope for is the proverbial Hail Mary Pass, like the Athenians toward the end of their disastrous siege of Syracuse in 415-13 B.C. To lose the siege required merely simple incompetence, but to lose their entire army required a remarkable degree of carelessness to boot. They staked their hopes on a “surge” as well, only to lose the lot.

  11. Leila A. says:

    Nobody talks about God much on this blog, but I think that if you have a mustard seed of belief in a Higher Power, you should consider praying for Iraq (and the USA, and Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Darfur/Sudan, etc.)
    There is indeed always hope. Miracles do happen – I know it. We need some. If more of us just turned our thoughts to the Source of All Good (or say a novena or whatever prayer you practice) maybe we can make a difference.
    Sorry to interject such non-material comment but I feel compelled. With God all things are possible. We humans have messed things up pretty darned well with our fear and petty egotistical concerns. Now it’s time to turn inward, upward, wherever.
    I appreciate Col. Lang’s humility and willingness to be wrong for the sake of greater good. We need more of that in our leaders.
    Blessings to all.

  12. Abu Sinan says:

    I guess spending a lot of time in the north of Ireland, before and after the last IRA ceasefire, and all over the Middle East, I cannot help but compare the two.
    The British Army did the same thing basically. It has some posts in areas that were very welcoming, ie the loyalist/unionist community(Kurds), and it had other posts in areas where it was so dangerous that even the trash had to be flown out because the squaddies were so afraid, ie South Armagh and the Crossmaglen area (Sunni and some Shi’a areas).
    Either situation was a loose/loose situation for the Brits. As they wouldnt mind telling you, “all of the Paddies look the same” whether they were Prods or “Taigs” (not PC word used for Catholics).
    The fact is that the majority of the opposing forces are operating in their homes. It is the vast minority of opposing forces that are foreign born.
    The US cannot and will not be able to stop a local Iraqi based insurgency. US troops are ill-equipped and trained to do so and there is little if no history of US troops being successful in this role.
    Whereas the US might be able to find some fairweather friends, these are not friends that could ever be 100% relied on and chances are motives are for tribal reasons rather than support for American goals or ideas.
    This is where the simularity ends. The Brits, long experienced with counter-insurgency warfare couldnt control the relatively small area that was the north of Ireland. A small band of IRA in the South Armagh area was able to make the roads so dangerous that the British couldnt even truck in fuel, food or carry out it’s waste and forced them to build the largest heliport in Europe at it’s time in the area.
    This in a very small area with a dedicated local IRA membership that probably never exceded a hundred, but had the overwhelming support for the local populace.
    The situation in Iraq is much more complicated and covers areas much much larger than those in the north of Ireland.
    If a well trained and experienced British Army couldnt beat the IRA, which the BA admitted as much last week, the US will never be able to come close in Iraq.
    The question is not when the US leaves Iraq, it is a question of how many troops die before they figure out it is a lost cause.

  13. Dave of Maryland says:

    It will not be possible to operate in Iraq with forces stationed outside Iraq. The distances are too great. Once again, Logistics Rules.
    Why would a power half a world away be justified in operating in Iraq at all?
    If they have a problem with elements inside their borders, that is an internal problem. They are free to ask for money or training from outsiders. If they are not strong enough to put the trouble down, well, revolutions happen.
    If what’s going on in Iraq spills outside its borders, that’s a problem for Iran or Turkey or Jordan, etc. Typically those options range from diplomacy to limited war.
    So far as unpleasant things “escaping” the region & “contaminating” the outside world, that’s a job for the local cops.
    Where is the necessity for an overseas base? Any base?

  14. Rider says:

    Any comments on this proposal by Sen. Hagel? It’d be nice if they would give some attribution when they steal your ideas.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/334eb9ec-28fe-11dc-af78-000b5df10621.html

  15. Margaret Steinfels says:

    This morning (July 9), Juan Cole pointed to a statement by one of the Ba’athist leaders. Cole’s comment: not enough attention is being paid them.
    My Question: Post-U.S. withdrawal does the professional Iraqi army come back and give that country another dictator?

  16. VietnamVet says:

    The one true reality is that the USA is a foreign Christian invader. The Neo-Crusader Castles are just as viable as the first generation versions. Sooner or later the logistic tail to the 14 permanent bases will be cut by the Iraqis. Their only chance for survival longer than a decade is the political and military advantage the Neo-Castles would give to some Iraqi faction, like the Kurds. This is an Iraqi decision not American.
    Also, the American people may just say the hell to Iraq and pull out to the Gulf States Neo-Castles. Even the future of these bases are in doubt with the onset of peak oil, Chinese holding most of America’s treasury bonds, and the free trade in oil in doubt as shown by Venezuelan shipping of gasoline to Iran.

  17. MarcLord says:

    505th PIR,
    yes, my friends in the military tell me they’re eagerly awaiting the completion of a major effort by Disney to build a theme park outside Western Baghdad. It’s to be called “Arabian Nights.” They can’t wait to take their families there when it’s done!

  18. Will says:

    Debka.com makes an interesting observation
    “Two months ago, military high commands in the Middle East stopped asking when the American army would leave Iraq. They took for granted that a major pull-back is in the works and not far away. ”
    they say the open question is not the pullback but whether there will be war with Iran.
    they say half a pullback to gigantic north and south semi-permanent bases. They give as a model the British base at Basra which is mortared constantly- not a good model!

  19. FDChief says:

    “Maybe hammering and I mean now the gloves have come off, really hammering at the insurgency(s)”
    I’m sorry to hear a trooper from my old battalion using the “gloves off” newspeak for ethnic cleansing and genocide, if that’s what our “options” have come down to.
    Our guys in-country have hardly been fighting a white-glove COIN. When you’re using tac air and arty to target urban guerillas in a country you occupy it’s hardly fighting “with the gloves on”. So I’m not sure what “taking the gloves off” would look like but I suspect it would be something like the Russians have been doing to Chechnya.
    It works – no argument. If you kill everything that walks and make a wasteland you can call it “peace” as much as you like. And it is “peace”. There is a whole lot of peace in the grave.
    IMO the idea that with 180K we can commit enough mayhem to glut our enemies with blood is delusional. But it’d be a WHOLE lot worse to commit that bloody, atrocious mayhem and wind up short of the “victory” wading through all that blood is supposed to provide.
    I, too, would be glad to eat my words in the case that, short of “gloves off” genocide we can get the factions to the negotiating table. But my bet is that we can’t do it.

  20. mo says:

    Just to add a small point. In the Arab world, the talk is that the rulers of the various Gulf nations are absolutely petrified of an impending attack on Iran, which is why they are lining up to speak up about Iranian rights to Nuclear energy. The rulers of Kuwait, the Emirates and Oman especially know that their small but rather expensively built cities would not be able to take a war in the gulf.
    How this will effect the US bases in those countries I suppose depends on how scared they get and how much of a spine they can grow.

  21. TR Stone says:

    …With God all things are possible…”Leila A”
    Read Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers From Prison” for an understanding of one person’s faith, in a time of war.

  22. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    On logistics:
    “BAGHDAD — Attacks on supply convoys protected by private security companies in Iraq have more than tripled as the U.S. government depends more on armed civilian guards to secure reconstruction and other missions.
    There were 869 such attacks from the beginning of June 2006 to the end of May this year. For the preceding 12 months, there were 281 attacks….”
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-07-08-convoys_N.htm
    Mo,
    I was just out in the Gulf in the UAE in June and had a number of cabinet-level talks on my agenda. Gulf countries are extremely concerned about a war against Iran. Their cities and infrastructure are exposed and they have significant trade links with Iran which they do not want disrupted.
    UAE officials characterized the overall relationship with Iran as “normal” and the economic dimension of the relationship as “excellent.”
    The UAE supports Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy under proper international safeguards but is naturally deeply concerned over
    development of nuclear capability for military purposes. Officials indicated to me that there is a concern over the Bushehr facility as the UAE gets it drinking water from the Gulf and does not want to see any “Chernobyl-like” situations arise.
    The assessment out there is the United States “has no plan” with respect to Iraq where the situation gets worse by the day. The United States is perceived as not listening to the countries of the region so, naturally, there is a certain frustration with Washington despite excellent overall relations.

  23. Cold War Zoomie says:

    FDChief said…
    “I, too, would be glad to eat my words in the case that, short of “gloves off” genocide we can get the factions to the negotiating table. But my bet is that we can’t do it.”
    The Brits bombed the crap out of Iraq during the 1920 uprising. Some sources make it sound like it was definitely a “gloves off” strategy. The bombing worked in the short term and halted the uprising.
    If we completely ignore the moral issue of killing more innocent people than we already have, I still don’t think it would work this time around. The 1920 uprising only lasted three months and Al Jezeera wasn’t broadcasting the horrific results around the Muslim world.
    With today’s mass media network it would be impractical as well as morally reprehensible.

  24. Steve says:

    Is it just for the occupier to bomb the occupied?

  25. Montag says:

    Whenever I hear the “gloves off” argument I think of the Neocon in the sinking boat who knocks extra holes in the bottom “to drain the water back out again.”
    General Guderian’s criticism of the “Ferdinand” version of the heavy Tiger tank still holds true. Noting that the inexplicable absence of machine guns would leave it no option but to fire its 88 mm cannon at individual soldiers, he remarked caustically, “That’ll be like killing ants with a sledgehammer.”

  26. Peter Principle says:

    “This will be a reinforced division task force operating from a secure base.”
    How secure can a single reinforced division operating in a country like Iraq (with a country like Iran right next door)possibly be?
    Or, perhaps more to the point: How can it be secure and still accomplish the tasks it is assigned?
    The word “beleaguered” comes to mind . . .

  27. zanzibar says:

    Abu Sinan
    Your Irish analogy is very good. The American people by an overwhelming majority believe the Iraq occupation is a mistake and would like to withdraw our troops. The problem is that Cheney, Bush and Lieberman and many senators don’t really care how many soldiers are killed and maimed because of a policy mistake they made.

  28. different clue says:

    Are the Iraqis fighting us in Iraq an “insurgency” against an Iraqi government of some standing? Or are they a “resistance” fighting an Anglo-American Occupation and its percieved-to-be local collaborators? Would either
    word be equally accurate? Or would one word be more accurate than the other word
    for what we face? And if so, which word would be the more accurate; assuming that
    using the more accurate word would help us think more clearly?
    I think that the Iraqis who are fighting us think we
    are trying to take something
    away from them which they think is rightfully theirs. As long as they think that way, rightly or wrongly, they will keep fighting us about it.
    I have been a tinfoily oily for years, and I am afraid I still remain one despite the Colonel’s stern rebuke. But my opinions matter not the least bit to anyone in Iraq. What matters is the opinions of the people in Iraq, because they will act on the opinions and perceptions they rightly or wrongly hold. I suspect a number of
    Iraqis are tinfoily oilies, including at least some of the resisturgents who are fighting us. If we are not there for the oil, and if, indeed, we never were; what harm does it do to our position to come right out and say so by means of the sort of actions which speak louder than words?
    Several years ago, early into the Occupation, I remember reading a little article or news story about some little part of Iraq. The story told about how a middle-aged man-in-the-street ordinary-taxpayer-type Iraqi said to one of the American soldiers the word ‘bilafia’, which the article claimed meant ‘bon apetit’. If that is roughly
    what ‘bilafia’ means, would that speak to that Iraqi individual’s belief that America was there to ‘eat the oil?’ What would convince him otherwise?
    What if our government were to renounce the permanent bases, as Senator Webb has suggested at least once? What if we were to renounce our self-contained sealed-off siege-ready Embassy compound in favor of
    some smaller more gracious single building which the Iraqi government would let us build? What if we renounced any effort to seek a Status Of Forces agreement with this or any Iraqi government? Most importantly, what if we removed the passing of the Oil Law from our menu of Mandatory Benchmarks? What if we declared that we recognized all the oil in Iraq to be the National Property of Iraq, and subject to nationalization, re-nationalization, etc? And that we accepted that no
    America oil company would get any sort of preferential
    Production Sharing Agreement
    structurally different from what any American oil company gets in any other country where the oil itself
    is nationalized? And that we realized this or any future Iraqi government had a perfect right to re-nationalize any recently privatized asset or industry? Taking those steps would display that we have no interest in any of those material benefits, which would be no loss to us
    to say if indeed the truth is that we have no interest in any of those material benefits.
    If our government refuses
    to take actions like those I
    suggested above, then what would tinfoily oily Iraqis be expected to think? And how might those thoughts affect their attitude towards supporting or taking part in the “resisturgency”?
    Even if my opinion doesn’t matter a bit to event in Iraq, the opinion of Iraqis really really does
    matter. If our government is not prepared to address their material anxieties, the question would be..why not?

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Steve
    Logistics Rules. pl

  30. FMJ says:

    Colonel,
    Slightly off-topic, but any thoughts on this:
    http://www.nysun.com/article/58168

  31. Barry says:

    “Well, the last of the surge troops deployed three weeks ago. I wonder what tune The Times will be singing come Sept. if Petraeus gains traction. ”
    -505th PIR
    After four years of promises of success followed by failures followed by more promises of success, that’s something that only the true dead-enders worry about.
    As for eating crow, any war supporter has four years of serious eating to do, before having the moral right to criticize others.

  32. Syndroma says:

    FDChief: I’m not sure what “taking the gloves off” would look like but I suspect it would be something like the Russians have been doing to Chechnya.
    I think you have wrong impression of what Russians do in Chechnya. It’s not about mass murdering or genocide. Every Chechen was awarded with the choice – either be lawful Russian citizen or else. It’s obvious what choice have made those who still alive.
    There’s a way to win Iraq. US should grant citizenship to every Iraqi and freedom to move to mainland US. And when they’ll own large businesses, and their children will attend American universities, they will start to think why they need the war.
    That’s the Chechen model.

  33. jamzo says:

    from the swoop
    http://theswoop.net/ln_english/index.php
    Washington’s World – July 9th – July 16th, 2007
    Despite intense lobbying by Administration officials, President Bush suffered two major defeats last week: on immigration reform and trade promotion authority. These have raised new questions about his ability to deploy US power during his remaining period in office. There is little doubt that his political credibility is weaker than ever. Nonetheless, his powers as commander-in-chief remain formidable. People close to him describe him as feeling “liberated” and confident that history will vindicate him. The next test of his strength comes in mid September when progress reports from US commanders in Iraq are due. These are likely to support Bush’s emphasis on patience and to make the case for sustaining current, including “surge”, troop levels until Spring 2009. Behind the scenes, however, Defense Secretary Bob Gates is concerned that this approach is not politically viable – in the light of eroding Republican support. He does not accept the analysis from Baghdad that the “surge” is buying time for the Iraqi government to reach political reconciliation. In confidential debates within the Administration and on Capitol Hill, he argues that the military could face irresistible demands for rapid withdrawal unless a realistic alternative is on offer. “Gates’ trump card,” one official remarked, “is to evoke the fear of a Vietnam-style evacuation.” He favors a reduced mission concentrating on training Iraqi military and police forces, operations against Al-Qaeda and securing Iraq’s borders. According to White House officials, Bush is reluctant to curtail the mission in Iraq. So he may side with his generals.
    the article describes a new scenario – bush “siding” with the generals in baghdad against the secretary of defense”
    is this a creidble scenario?

  34. pbrownlee says:

    Will there be enough miracles to go around?
    In Iraq (whatever that ends up as)?
    Kurdistan?
    Iran?
    Afghanistan?
    Palestine (with Father Blair as the instrument of the One True Church)?
    Saudi Arabia?
    The Gulf States?
    And Pakistan now that Mushareff has created his own “Golden Temple” moment?
    Seems to be asking rather a lot of The Great Architect.

  35. PeterE says:

    Suppose that the U.S. leaves Iraq, and that some terrorist forces roam that nation of 24 million. (1) Are they “one for all and all for one” or are they groups fighting each other? (2) If the latter, why should Americans stick around to “combat terrorist forces”?
    (3) The U.S. has limited military resources: Why is keeping military in Iraq a better investment than increasing military in Afghanistan or other places?
    The arguments for remaining in Iraq remind me of day traders who had a position in Enron. Rather than cutting their losses as Enron’s stock collapsed they kept the stock on the grounds that they needed to recover from their losses.

  36. Steve says:

    The President talked about the occupation of Iraq in his press conference today.
    “Since America began military operations in Iraq, the conflict there has gone through four major phases. The first phase was the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. The second phase was the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and the holding of free elections. The third phase was the tragic escalation of sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.
    We’ve entered a fourth phase: deploying reinforcements and launching new operations to help Iraqis bring security to their people.”
    President Bush 7-12-07
    Can any see what was left out of the President’s official history of the occupation of America’s newest hydro carbon colony?

  37. VietnamVet says:

    Decades ago my first hand conclusion was that the only way to win the occupation politically was to make Vietnam the 51st state. No different in Iraq but just as futile there without a total commitment. But, the conquest of other cultures is difficult; full of passion, blood, intermarriage and twists of fate. In 2042 the Spanish speaking will become the majority in California. If still a democracy on that date, the border between California and Mexico will again be open to all of the descendants of the original Native Americans.
    The strangest aspect of corporate propaganda is the demonization of Islam; instilling fear to keep the hoi polli preoccupied and the Pentagon funded. But, they are on the other side of the world and to kill all the young male Muslim radicals is to kill them all, billions of people. A job that would even blanch Stalin.

  38. Will says:

    have new respect for CIA chief Hayden. my initial take on him was military guy, another bullet headed admiral/general that had drunk the Kool-Aid.
    But according to Woodward, Hayden advised the Iraq Study group “ISG” that the Irak Maliki gov’t was built for balance not goverance & Irak situation was irreversible. This led ISG to frame its reccommendations. accordingly.
    Dumbya is not listening to Hayden, however; but to his own dumbself.
    Hayden briefs ISG
    i have done my duty and tested the WashPo link

  39. frank durkee says:

    Re: Will’s post, perhaps this is the time to reccommend a book by an emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton called “On Bullshit”. It’s a contrast of ‘spin’, lying, and their respective relationship to ‘truth’. A necessary handbook for parsing todays public statements. the key assertion is that ‘spin’ has no reguard for truth, while lying does.

  40. Steve says:

    It looks like the President sent the WMD’s down the memory hole. No one asked the President at the presser why he forgot to mention this in his brilliant historical review of the occupation of Iraq. I guess the President is not a very good historian.

  41. Arun says:

    Decades ago my first hand conclusion was that the only way to win the occupation politically was to make Vietnam the 51st state. No different in Iraq but just as futile there without a total commitment. – Vietnam Vet
    If I was the President that actually believed in the KoolAid that I sold the American public, then the first thing I’d have after Saddam’s army melted way is made a national telecast to the Iraqis, not Americans, and of course, live translated, and leaflets dropped and so on.
    The message would be – US was there to get rid of Saddam, not to remake Iraqi society, not to relieve them of their oil, not to establish a permanent presence. US just wants a constitutional clause like that with Japan for the future Iraq to be pacificist, perhaps embodied in a international treaty. US would help the reconstruction start. There’d be a definite date for US withdrawal. US would look to turn over to the UN.
    Finally, there would be a census and elections to a Constituent Assembly and caretaker govt would be on a geographical basis, not on a sectarian basis.

  42. The idea of putting that base in Kurdish territory northwest of Baghdad is attractive if agreements can be reached with the neighbors.

    This may be difficult. According to the Jamestown Foundation:

    Definitive proof of cooperation between the PKK and Turkish al-Qaeda members must await the results of further investigation by Turkish, U.S. and coalition authorities. It is highly unlikely, however, that numbers of foreign fighters could move into and through northern Iraq and its numerous Kurdish villages on a continuing basis without at least the knowledge of the PKK, if not its complicity. Even more disturbingly, cooperation between the two Turkish foes carries with it the possibility that the PKK also assists Turkish al-Qaeda operatives inside Turkey, which can only increase the danger to Turkish citizens and visitors to Turkey.

  43. David W says:

    Vietnam Vet: Good points all–I believe they are reflections of a bunker mentality: the Power Elite fear a siege, and they are viewing this ME adventure as one last throw of the dice to win it all, before they are waved over by the brown people of the world.
    The demonization of Islam aspect is simple: in an ever-shrinking global society, there are less people that can be put forward to play the part of the Implacable Enemy to Mankind. It’s a hard act to follow after the Beast of Communism was slain by St. Ronnie, so they’re working with what’s available…

  44. David Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I know that your are not particularly fond of Robert Fisk, but I thought this article in the July 14th Independent worth reading. The quote from T. E. Lawrence is very interesting…
    Regards,
    David
    ==========================
    Web Address:
    http://news.independent.co.uk/fisk/article2768261.ece
    =========
    Text:
    ==========================
    Robert Fisk: TE Lawrence had it right about Iraq
    ‘Rebellions can be made by 2 per cent active and 98 per cent passively sympathetic’
    Published: 14 July 2007
    Back in 1929, Lawrence of Arabia wrote the entry for “Guerrilla” in the 14th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is a chilling read – and here I thank one of my favourite readers, Peter Metcalfe of Stevenage, for sending me TE’s remarkable article – because it contains so ghastly a message to the American armies in Iraq.
    Writing of the Arab resistance to Turkish occupation in the 1914-18 war, he asks of the insurgents (in Iraq and elsewhere): “… suppose they were an influence, a thing invulnerable, intangible, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile as a whole, firm-rooted, nourished through long stems to the head. The Arabs might be a vapour…”
    How typical of Lawrence to use the horror of gas warfare as a metaphor for insurgency. To control the land they occupied, he continued, the Turks “would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than 20 men. The Turks would need 600,000 men to meet the combined ill wills of all the local Arab people. They had 100,000 men available.”
    Now who does that remind you of? The “fortified post every four square miles” is the ghostly future echo of George W Bush’s absurd “surge”. The Americans need 600,000 men to meet the combined ill will of the Iraqi people, and they have only 150,000 available. Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of “war lite” is responsible for that. Yet still these rascals get away with it.
    Hands up those readers who know that Canada’s Defence Minister, Gordon O’Connor, actually sent a letter to Rumsfeld two days before his departure in disgrace from the Pentagon, praising this disreputable man’s “leadership”. Yes, O’Connor wanted “to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your many achievements (sic) as Secretary of Defence, and to recognise the significant contribution you have made in the fight against terrorism”. The world, gushed the ridiculous O’Connor, had benefited from Rumsfeld’s “leadership in addressing the complex issues in play”.
    O’Connor tried to shrug off this grovelling note, acquired through the Canadian Access to Information Act, by claiming he merely wanted to thank Rumsfeld for the use of US medical facilities in Germany to ferry wounded Canadian soldiers home from Afghanistan. But he made no mention of this in his preposterous letter. O’Connor, it seems, is just another of the world’s illusionists who believe they can ignore the facts – and laud fools – by stating the opposite of the truth. Bush, of course, is among the worst of these meretricious creatures. So is the late Tony Blair.
    Oh, how we miss Lawrence. “The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern (guerrilla) commander,” he wrote 78 years ago, accurately predicting al-Qa’ida’s modern-day use of the internet. For insurgents, “battles were a mistake … Napoleon had spoken in angry reaction against the excessive finesse of the 18th century, when men almost forgot that war gave licence to murder”.
    True, the First World War Arab Revolt was not identical to today’s Iraqi insurgency. In 1917, the Turks had manpower but insufficient weapons. Today the Americans have the weapons but insufficient men. But listen to Lawrence again.
    “Rebellion must have an unassailable base …
    In the minds of men converted to its creed. It must have a sophisticated alien enemy, in the form of a disciplined army of occupation too small to fulfil the doctrine of acreage: too few to adjust number to space, in order to dominate the whole area effectively from fortified posts.
    “It must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 per cent active in a striking force, and 98 per cent passively sympathetic … Granted mobility, security … time, and doctrine … victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive, and against them perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain.”
    Has the US General David Petraeus read this? Has Bush? Have any of the tired American columnists whose anti-Arab bias is wobbling close to racism, bothered to study this wisdom? I remember how Daniel Pipes – one of the great illusionists of modern American journalism – announced in the summer of 2003 that what the Iraqis needed was (no smirking here, please), a “democratically minded strongman”.
    They had already had one, of course, our old chum Saddam Hussein, whom we did indeed call a “strongman” when he was our friend and when he was busy using our gas against Iran. And I do wonder whether Bush – defeated, as he is, in Iraq – may not soon sanction an Iraqi military coup d’état to overthrow the ridiculous Maliki “Green Zone” government in Baghdad. Well, as one of my favourite expressions goes, we’ll see.
    But wait, Pipes is at it again. The director of the “Middle East Forum” has been writing in Canada’s National Post about “Palestine”. His piece is filled with the usual bile. Palestinian anarchy had “spewed forth” warlords. Arafat was an “evil” figure. Israeli withdrawal from Gaza had deprived Palestinians of the one “stabilising element” in the region. Phew! “Palestinianism” (whatever that is) is “superficial”. Palestinian “victimisation” is a “supreme myth of modern politics”. Gaza is now an “[Islamist] beachhead at the heart of the Middle East from which to infiltrate Egypt, Israel and the West Bank”.
    One of these days, Pipes concludes, “maybe the idiot savant ‘peace processors’ will note the trail of disasters their handiwork has achieved”. He notes with approval that “Ehud Barak, Israel’s brand new Defence Minister, reportedly plans to attack Hamas within weeks” and condemns the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, for buoying Mahmoud Abbas’ “corrupt and irredentist Fatah”.
    So we are going to have yet another war in the Middle East, this time against Hamas – democratically elected, of course, but only as a result of what Pipes calls “the Bush administration’s heedless rush to Palestinian elections”? It’s good to see that the late Tony Blair is already being dubbed a “savant”. But shouldn’t Pipes, too, read Lawrence? For insurgency is a more powerful “vapour” than that which comes from the mouths of illusionists.

  45. McGee says:

    Sidenote to our discussion…. when Bush states (as he constantly does) that we have to leave decisions on force strength to the military commanders – isn’t this a little like asking a baseball manager if he needs more pitching?

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Vietnam Vet:
    What you proposed about Vietnam would have been a sensible solution if it had been applied to the Philppenes – it was 50 years too late for Vietnam.
    The historical time for incorporation of alien peoples in an existing polity is passed. Likewise the times no longer permit the killing of 20% of the population to defeat an insurgency; this was the standard practice of the Ottomans, the Safavids, the French, the English, the Chinese, the Romans, and numerous others.

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All:
    FYI:
    http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/politicsphilosophyandsociety/0,,2125887,00.html
    Gray’ views are close to mine.

  48. confusedponderer says:

    duncan,
    the idea of the PKK being allied with Al Quaeda Turkey must appeal to many, no matter if is is based on facts or not, in fact that’s almost irrelevant.
    Labeling the PKK as AQ sympatisers (which doesn’t make much sense to me as the PKK is socialist-nationalist and thus godless, ‘jahilliyya‘ – but of course, the PKK could have changed it’s direction) has a number of pleasant advantages:

  49. It gives the US a politically correct pretext to finally act against the PKK under the GWAT rubric.
  50. It is remarkably ‘good news’ for Turkey as it offers the US an incentive to finally take into account Turlish interests.
  51. It allows the US to save face when changing course to confront the PKK.
  52. It gives the Iraqi Kurds an excuse to break with the PKK over their ‘radical Islamism’.
  53. If the Kurds in North Iraq might themselves engage in hunting down the PKK, that eliminates for them a rival, eliminates a lot of trouble and earns them the gratitude of the US, and perhaps even a compromise with the Turks (which I am sceptical about)
    Being denied allies in northern Iraq might drive the PKK to seek help in Iran, allowing the Bush administration to blame the Iranians for the Iraqi and Kurdish troubles and and add it to their casus belli talking points.
    But that’s my inner cynic speaking.

  54. Steve says:

    From the LA Times 7-15-07
    “Prosecution witnesses testified that Thomas shot the 52-year-old Iraq at point-blank range after he had already been shot by other Marines and was lying on the ground.”
    “Lopezromo said a procedure called “dead-checking” was routine. If Marines entered a house where a man was wounded, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead, he testified.”
    “”If somebody is worth shooting once, they’re worth shooting twice,” he said.”
    This is barbarism. Thanks General Mattis. We have lost this occupation, and at the same time our moral fiber as a Nation. This is disgusting beyond words. I am ashamed for our country.

  55. Donovan says:

    What is beneficial of the “Surge gaining traction” without the political reconciliation of the waring parties as well? We can win tactically at every level, but if we don’t win strategically in the political arena then our government has failed at it’s latest attempt at nation building.

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