The Coming Crisis

20030313_pletka_2 I have maintained for several years that the biggest reason for our failure to pacify Iraq has been that we are operating in the "Iraq of our dreams," rather than the Iraq in which the various kinds of Iraqis live and which is regarded with mixed greed and fear by its neighbors. 

In the mind of George Bush, Iraq is a country inhabited by a unified single people who are governed (sort of) by a constitutionally elected regime headed by Nuri al-Maliki who is expected to fulfill the role of a George Washington in leading the unitary Iraqi people forward if only the pesky Sunni Arab insurgents could be suppressed or bought off with economic incentives that somehow have not yet been offered.  Another, unassimilable and unaccountable difficulty, is the similarly pesky alignment that exists among our George Washington candidate (Maliki) and the various Shia Arab factional party and militia leaders.  Conclusion and Decision:  Reinforce US forces in the Baghdad region to destroy the Sunni insurgents and force a separation between Maliki (Washington) and the Shia militia and political leaders.  Why the latter decision?  Because Bush’s illision about Maliki is not tenable without it.

Problem:  Maliki is not George Washington.  He is only disguised as George Washington. He is in fact, just another Shia political and militia leader, and not the strongest either.  His Washingtonness exists only in the Mind of the Decider and in the "life illusion" (look it up) of many in the 3rd World (especially in poor Iraq) where many of the best people know what it is they should be and can not admit to themselves that they are not.  Is that their fault?  Hell, no! We broke their country and reduced it to a state of factional chaos.  We broke a country that had been trying to become a nation since the ’20s.  I will here quote my hero, Mr. Jefferson, "I fear for my country when I know that God is just.

Because of the rich Bushian fantasy life it will be demanded in the New Plan that Maliki distance himself, and indeed fight, if necessary, to disarm and render impotent Shia Arab militias.  He is INCAPABLE OF DOING THAT!! He is one of the Shia Arab leaders.  His role in history is to empower the Shia Arabs and to consolidate their power over the Sunni Arabs.  Was that clear enough?

The United States is going to pressure Maliki HARD to confront Sadr.  He will not do that, and there will then be a massive crisis.

Danielle Pletka, the "sweetheart of the regiment" over at AEI said on "Late Editions," yesterday that Maliki knows that if he "does not perform"…


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40 Responses to The Coming Crisis

  1. pbrownlee says:

    Pletka is among the scarier loons — all those teeth — and has the required rat terrier ability not to be deflected by the real world. Was it Sophocles who warned against threatening when you cannot enforce? This will be far worse than Vietnam — perhaps it would have been prudent to hang Bill Kristol and a few Kagans rather than SH but you can see why Maliki may be wary of US u-turns and so moved a major piece off the board.

  2. Chris Marlowe says:

    The next Saddam Hussein is out there; we just don’t know his name or whether he is Kurd, Sunni or Shi’ite.
    Here are the questions he will be asking:
    “How can I use the Americans to kill my enemies, while training and shepherding my best forces for the war of national liberation and unification after the Americans leave?”
    “How can I position myself as the liberator of Iraq when the Americans leave, even though I do not plan to expend too much energy early on?”
    “Who are the people I need to reach out to, so that I can bring their tribes and factions under control, and what do I need to give them in return, and how do I insure their continued support and loyalty?”
    “Who are my early enemies, my middle enemies and my late enemies, and how can I get the Americans to neutralize them so that I don’t need to use my own forces and resources?”
    “How can I encourage my enemies to take the battle to the Americans so that they can destroy each other?”
    “How can I get my enemies to consistently underestimate me until it is too late?”
    “What is the right time to make the right moves?”
    “Who is the main enemy I need to kill after the Americans leave, and what are his weaknesses?”
    “What mistakes did Saddam make which I must learn from?”
    Last of all, he would say: “I must use the Americans the right way; well-armed disciplined idiots are very hard to find.”

  3. walrus says:

    Col. Lang, I’ve read Kagans expanded report on the AEI website and these AEI folks make me almost want to cry.
    The bit that got to me was this totally naive description by Kagan of what a “clear and hold” operation (P22) would look like:
    “They determine the enemy’s strength
    and disposition, how the enemy is organized and
    conducts operations, and so on. When the operation
    begins, joint U.S.-Iraqi teams isolate the district
    through checkpoints and other outposts, patrols,
    surveillance, and obstacles. American and Iraqi
    infantry then sweep through the district. They cordon
    off each house or apartment block and then
    knock on the door, asking to examine the inside. If
    they are granted permission, they enter politely and
    then examine every part of the structure for weapons
    caches and evidence of enemy activity. The Iraqi
    forces with them provide a vital cultural interface
    with the inhabitants both by communicating with
    them and by sensing irregularities. On the rare occasions
    when the occupants attempt to refuse permission
    to examine the house, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers
    enter by force and continue their search”.
    This strategy is not going to survive the first IED, if indeed it is implemented at all.
    The rest is equally Pollyanna-ish. It may have worked three years ago, but not now. Do you think Sadr and others are going to sit idly by while this is done to them?
    We will have to reduce these suburbs to rubble and kill every male of military age to “pacify” or “secure” Baghdad, and the security we offer will be the security of the grave.

  4. meletius says:

    Ideologues always live in a world of illusions created mostly in their own minds.
    As I recall, the Iraqis didn’t even get to pick this George Washington as their national leader–they had picked al-Jafari and WE refused to “permit” his election as PM. So I guess he’s really our Nouri al-Washington.
    And if he’s forced out for failing “to perform” (interesting choice of words by Miss Pletka), that’ll really commend his American-approved successor to the Iraqis. More delusions and illusions.
    All George Bush can do is foment crisis after crisis in Iraq–probably something to do with that “Iraq of our dreams” problem!

  5. J says:

    once again we see life being ‘set up’ through the prisim of a no-nuthin think-tank like the neocon aei. where life consists of plush chairs and suits and ties, where life has known no reality, only air.
    we as nation started down a slippery slope when we let think-tanks do our thinking and policy making for us, instead of politicians doing what the American people pay them to do — roll up their sleeves, put their thinking caps on and work and toil to achieve real substantive national policy and its subsequent putting policy to practice, practical practice.
    pletka is just one more sad example of a senator aide put into a think tank decide-n-tater position with no practical experience or working background. and sadly our soldiers have to live and die by what a ‘think-tank’ sayz. what a sad way for a white house & congress to conduct national policy wouldn’t you say?

  6. MarcLord says:

    These are the kind of basic realities which are disgustingly, screechingly obvious, but which are somehow throttled into silence in the dark alleys behind the Muffled Zone.
    There must be a lot of throttling going on. Even Tim Russert could see this one.

  7. John Shreffler says:

    It’s all kind of rich, all this fantasy life that appears to be going on in D.C. Maliki came in under Sadr’s wing and handed Saddam Hussein off to the Mahdi Army for execution. I can’t imagine that he’s going to attack Sadr City but I can imagine that when we do seeing all the Iraqi Army and Police formations very expertly attacking our communications and supply routes with Iranian assistance. What a pack of fools. Pity the troops–this is worse than the stuff I was hearing back in ’71 about Nam from the returning vets.

  8. Frank Durkee says:

    Col. If , as I’ve read, the additional Iraqui troops are Kurdish, how will that play in either Sunni and/or Shia areas in Iraq? And are they able to operate at a decent level of readiness? Or is this another fools errand?

  9. Frank Durkee says:

    Col. If , as I’ve read, the additional Iraqui troops are Kurdish, how will that play in either Sunni and/or Shia areas in Iraq? And are they able to operate at a decent level of readiness? Or is this another fools errand?

  10. Will says:

    The conundrum is that if you only go after the Sunnis then Egypt, Jordan, Arabia, and the Gulf residents are offended. But if you go after the Sunnis and the Mahdi Army, then you risk driving them into each other’s arms.
    “It is an abiding paradox of contemporary Iraq that the Mahdi Army and the Sunni Arab guerrillas are slaughtering each other daily, but that young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (the leader of the Mahdi Army) has a better political relationship with Sunni Arab MPs and leaders than any other Shiite.
    During the first siege of Fallujah in late March and April of 2004, Muqtada’s Sadrists sent aid convoys to the besieged Sunnis there. …….. This open accusation caused a political crisis between AMS [Sunnis] and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq……..It was Muqtada al-Sadr who engaged in shuttle diplomacy to calm the two parties down. He could play this role because he had credibility with both sides.
    From his side, Muqtada makes a distinction between “Sunnis” on the one hand, and “Saddamis” and “Nawasib” on the other. (Nawasib are those Sunnis who have a violent hatred for the Shiites and the family of the Prophet , and nowadays in Iraq “al-Qaeda” would be such a group in Muqtada’s eyes.)
    So many Sunni fundamentalist MPs and officials of the Iraqi Accord Front (some of them rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood) are acceptable to Muqtada. He would argue that the Mahdi Army is not killing Sunnis, only Saddamis and Nawasib.
    From the Sunni Iraqi side it makes most sense to think of it in negative terms. Most Sunni Arabs in Iraq now hate the United States and Iran. Muqtada hates the United States and expresses resentment of Persian dominance of Shiism. So if you think of them as Iraqi nativists, they have a lot in common. If the fundamentalist Sunnis could gain the Sadrists as allies, they would have a better chance of getting rid of the Americans, their main goal in life. And, allying with Shiite Islamists who are perceived as real Iraqis isn’t so hard for them.
    The hardline Salafis in the mold of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the hardline neo-Baathists, both ethnically Sunni, reject this strategy of talking to Muqtada.”

  11. lina says:

    Ms. Pletka on 11/16/06:
    “After 9/11 many Americans, the president among them, awakened to the reality that the only antidote to the poison of Islamic extremism was freedom. In the early days after the attack, the United States worked to empower Arab and Persian democrats to fight the extremists. Once liberated, those forces cannot be eliminated. And sooner or later, the United States will again turn to them as the only salvation against our shared enemy.
    The president may no longer be persuaded, and the leaders of the Democratic party may be too consumed by antipathy toward even the relics of the Bush agenda, but George Bush’s 2003 clarion call for liberty continues to resonate for a simple reason: it is true. ‘Sixty years of western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe–because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.'”
    # # #
    Somehow I doubt she’s spent much time in a war zone. I’d like to see her go work in a Baghdad hospital for a week and report back to us on stability being overrated.
    HEY DANIELLE. . . go get a little taste of anarchy and chaos and come back to let us all know the value of President Bush’s clarion call for freedom.

  12. John says:

    What a waste of time to listen to people from the AEI. When is the country going to wise up to these clowns.

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In the eternal words of Humphry Bogart: “Who is the dame?”

  14. Davy says:

    I ran into this Pletka character on CSPAN today. In a word: odious. Lawd!
    She introduced her boy Kagan before he got all excited about soldiers, and he means from Kansas not Kerbala, going door to door in Baghdad.
    I saw the aftermath of a building collapse in Harlem last week (link to story below with ill prediction.)
    Buildings can be more dangerous than dead dogs!
    And what are we going to do when this surge fails? Send over suburban Philadephia girls singing Eagles fight songs?
    I mean really. We’s got some brains in this country. Bill Belichick and Vince Wilfork would know instinctively what to do.
    A longtime lurker.
    Thanks for your crucial contribution, Pat.

  15. zanzibar says:

    Thanks PL. This is something that even a 12 yr old should understand now.
    Of course the Decider does not want to understand but instead continue with his fantasy.

  16. Peter Eggenberger says:

    The proponents of the “surge” argue: “We need a surge to win; otherwise, we face catastrophe.” The probabilty of the surge succeeding seems to be near zero. On the other hand, the catastrophe will probably be less than catastrophic. But what is it likely to be?

  17. anna missed says:

    The implications of what you’re saying are perhaps more frighting than the more obvious imperial narratives that we’ve all become used to in explaining our excellent adventure in Iraq
    Could George Bush really be so far removed from reality to believe all the pervasive and relentless slicing and dicing of the Iraqi culture, economy, political, ethnic, and religious realities (so far undertaken) would somehow then be birth-panged into an innocent newborn babe of democracy?
    Could this be the “Dick and Jane” of neo-colonial playbooks, or is the man an idiot, under a spell, or a believer of his own propaganda? Because if this is really what were workin with folks, we’re way beyond incompetance — and into the total realization, on a global scale, of “destroying the village to save it”.

  18. PrahaPartizan says:

    So, what happens when Maliki doesn’t perform according to the “benchmarks” (lordy, it sounds just the running joke in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”) as we try to implement our clear and hold strategy in Baghdad? Our only leverage is to deny Maliki finanical support. If we do that, we cannot support the rebuilding effort in Baghdad. Just how does our “strategy” in this fiasco intermesh?
    Maliki knows Bush will not withdraw and, therefore, can disregard any “benchmarks” placed before him. Only our troops on the ground in the kill zone are going to be required to abide by the orders of The Decider.

  19. DeWitt Grey says:

    Historical analogies are tricky at best, but close to useless when those doing the analogizing don’t even understand the history, much less how to draw the appropriate parallels.
    How conveniently people overlook the fact that George Washington did not become president until 5-1/2 years after the British departed our shores, or that indeed 4 years elapsed before our Constitution was even drafted, and then subjected to a bruising battle over ratification. How conveniently also do people overlook the fact that while we would not have overthrown British rule without the French Navy, a French corps expéditionnaire, and French artillery, muskets and gold, neither did Rochambeau’s troops remain in the United States, attempting to stop patriots from confiscating loyalist property and running them off to Canada, nor did we have a Talleyrand sitting in Annapolis and Philadelphia, meddling in the affairs of the Congress of the Confederation.
    The irony, of course, is that the guy who more closely fits the bill of an Iraqi Bolivar (if not George Washington) is Moqtada al-Sadr.
    The guy we really wanted was an Iraqi Sh’ia Mustapha Kemal — but Bremer fired him, whoever he might have been, and now the chances of an Ataturk emerging are not very good.

  20. Will says:

    the appropriate psychological construct is “cognitive dissonance” (“CG”). Where a strongly held belief flies into the brick wall of reality. Aesops’ fox in the fable when unable to reach the sweet grapes adjusts his belief to declare them falsely sour.
    You can see it (CG) in Neokon Likudniks NYT columnst David Brooks’ latest column-” Making the Surge Work.” He scapegoats Gen’ls Abizaid & Casey and praises the Weekly Standard, Kagan, and Bill Kristol. All convenietly forgetting that it was the NeoKon Likudniks that set up for this Irak quagmire by 1)invading a country that neither threatned us nor desired war with us; 2) doing it lite and on the cheap despite and contrary to Shisenski’s advice with the subsequent raping, pillaging, and looting of the infrastructre of said country; and 3) under the direction of the NeoKon Likudniks’ No. 3 civilian pentagon’ Douglas Feith and Vice POTUS’s brain Irving “Scooter” Libby that one hapless Lewis Paul Bremer, III was directed to deconstruct the Iraki Army against Gen. Jay Garner’s and Gen Petraeus’s advice and therefore guarantee an insurgency.
    Wars w/o end= NeoKon Likudnik agenda

  21. Is it possible to intend unintended consequences? As in: “don’t know what will happen but whatever happens will be salutary!”
    This all reminds me of the nuttycon CHAOS THEORY proposed in the mid-nineties, surmising that chaos would be sobering for the despotic Muslim regimes of the mid-east. Oh, and there’s a lot of money to be made too amidst the reconfiguration. Remember, Democratization wasn’t central back then.
    !The excerpt about hold and clear could not serve any training purpose!
    The Pesh Murga? Oh, that will go over well.
    This seems to me all headed toward a very long term world war in this region, and the escalation seems aimed at dealing a superhawkish political hand -with a card or two up the sleeve.
    “All in” anybody?

  22. raincat100 says:

    Col. Lang and others:
    Here is a piece by Chris Floyd: New Oil Law Means Victory in Iraq for Bush
    I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
    Good to see you back on the Newshour.

  23. salabob says:

    “The hardline Salafis in the mold of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the hardline neo-Baathists, both ethnically Sunni, reject this strategy of talking to Muqtada.”
    Will, you have an excellent grasp of the neoKhawarij and the targets for their wedge campaign. Bush’s follies has been the perfect vehicle for establishing their Zone of Savagery, but their game turns complicated. They manipulate their American patsy to eliminate the one Shi’a that can credibly reach out to the yet-to-be- transformed Sunni masses, yet their patsy is a clumsy creature whose actions could forge the alliance that the neoKhawarij work so hard to break into Hobbesian hell.
    Zarqawi smiles in his grave but ponders whether it is time to replace his unknowing American partner with the sons of the Bay’ah Council as well as continue to further entangle the Persians

  24. Will says:

    the analysis was not mine but Don Juan Cole’s. In my opinion, he is America’s foremost expert on Shia Irak and Iran.
    He says he was traveling when he heard that the golden dome had been blown off the Iskariyah mosque. He blogged from his Treo (like a blackberry) that all hell was going to break loose. Gen. Abizaid concurrs that the Golden mosque even is what loosed the sectarian violence past the tipping point of no return and wrecked his withdrawl plan.
    The mosque is located in Samarra, a Sunni enclave. Recently a mock casket of SH was paraded through the mosque– a singulary explosive and incindiary incident. Professor Cole wonders in his blog why adequate security can’t be provided at the Iskariyah mosque so associated with the 12th imam, the Shiite Mahdi?
    Iskariyah means military compound and the Abbasids a quasi Shiite dynasty kept the 11th imam in custdoy there and the 12th imam was born there. He went into occultation at the age of 5. The Iranians believe, if i’m getting it right, that he vanished into a well in Iran. He well return in the end days either after Jesus’ return or with Him to establish justice. Yes Musllims believe in a living Jesus.
    The Sunni Mahdi is not in occultation but when born if his not now living has a birth place of Medina. He is also named Mohammed.

  25. James Pratt says:

    ‘…operating in the “Iraq of our dreams” how true. This is what happens when powerful people perceive others with their tummies rather than their eyes and ears.America in Iraq now has echoes of America in Vietnam in the last two years of LBJ. The war planners tell themselves that the American people don’t really hate the war, they just hate the poor results so far.
    So the plan is to send even more of those occupiers the natives hate and bear down harder until the occupied natives learn to behave.
    The likeliest outcome will be a surge in casualties and Iraqi anger.
    What is the catastrophe that Mr. Kagan wishes to avoid?
    The possibility that access to Iraqi oil reserves will be redirected back to the French and Chinese and away from the US/British/Dutch petro alliance that President Bush favors. It also would put on hold the plans to turn Iran into an American client state.So to avoid losing the game we will spend $8 billion and 50-100 lives a month to keep the lost effort for Iraqi Arab loyalty in overtime. Madame
    Pletka’s claim of Iraqi freedom reminds me of the Mahatma Ghandi’s reply when asked what he thought of Western Civilization, “that would be a good idea”. If the US allowed debate of the occupation in the Iraqi media and allowed overt anti-occupation candidates to campaign then that would indeed be freedom. All Iraq has now is an electorate voting in fear of losing their ration cards and of attracting the suspicions of the US and the militias. Mr. Maliki knows his support is paper thin and he needs Imam al-Sadr.The Sadrists could depose Mr Maliki by a vote of no confidence and the Americans could depose him the same way they deposed Mr.Jaafari. No wonder he wants to quit. The AEI types can find a fourth Shia prime minister. My guess is that it would require a much higher payment than what Mr.Bremer and Ambassador Khalilzad offered the first three.

  26. Jon Stopa says:

    “It is an abiding paradox of contemporary Iraq that the Mahdi Army and the Sunni Arab guerrillas are slaughtering each other daily, but that young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (the leader of the Mahdi Army) has a better political relationship with Sunni Arab MPs and leaders than any other Shiite.”
    –For over a year now I have thought that the Saddam-like personality of the future was either going to be al Sadr or el Zarqawi, and we were engaged in training his troops and police. Either one had the necessary forces and personality. Maybe our future enemies.
    Well, el Zarqawi is dead. Guess who’s left!

  27. Drew Pache says:

    As a Special Forces officer and default student of insurgencies, I can’t help but notice the complete ingnoring of the civilian populace in this new “strategy”. The people are always the center of gravity in an insurgency and it is an absolute truth that to win (on either side) you have to have the people on your side. This plan, like all others before it, puts the emphasis on killing “bad guys” which only continue to reproduce and merge with a sympathetic/apathetic population. The historical record stands: you cannot shoot your way out of an insurgency.

  28. Got A Watch says:

    It has begun to unfold in Baghdad, exactly as we all suspected here. Hearing radio reports and seeing ticker headlines about “Heavy Fighting in Baghdad”. It seems the Shia government are attacking Sunni militants around Haifa Street. US jets and helicopter gunships are firing on the area. No word on whether the government troops are Kurds or Shiites.
    Meanwhile, in Sadr City, all is “relatively quiet” today. Juan Cole links to this story about US troops observing Sadr City but taking no action.
    The clear double standard is obvious to any outside observer, except in Washington, of course. The simple formulae “Sunni Bad/Shiite Good” has been applied. Excepting the Mahdi Army, of course. But if an election were held today, Moqtada might win or at least become the largest Shiite faction. So the Bushies want to confront Iran, yet want to attack an Iraqi Shiite who has spoken out against Iran in Iraq, and reached out to Sunnis, and is probably the most popular leader in the country today by percentage of voters. Go figure – it gives me a headache trying to follow their line of thinking.
    Perhaps this all part of their secret master plan to alienate every Muslim in Iraq and beyond who doesn’t already hate the USA, and cause the present government to fall. The ironies abound.

  29. JF Meyer says:

    “Small wars,” the Marine Corps stated in the 1940 edition of “Small Wars Manual,” “are conceived in uncertainty, are conducted often with precarious responsibility and doubtful authority, under indeterminate orders lacking specific instructions.” While this is indeed a small war, it may well be the only needed fuse to a protracted big war. It’s hard to fathom the administration’s current policy hash with no relief in sight. Truly a macabre Muppet show. We are in sad and very dangerous straits.

  30. Michael says:

    Ted kennedy is going to introduce legislation that will force the President to get congressional approval before more troops or money is sent to Iraq, will be interesting to see if it flies.. and more interesting to see how GWB reacts to the bill.

  31. LA Confidential Pantload says:

    I don’t think the benchmarks and time-released surge have anything to do with Iraq. They’re designed to kill time until Bush’s term is over. Trouble is, they’ll kill a lot of people, too.

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Brother Pache
    Thanks for your views. I agree with them. pl

  33. salabob says:

    Yes, Juan is good.
    There is a generational theory of history that it is cyclical with four “Turnings” that each end in a “4th Turning Crisis; the previous three being the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Depression/WW2. The generations are now aligned (e.g., baby boomers as elder leaders) and we are due for our 4th Turning Crisis (see William Strauss and Neil Howe). On a forum related to this theory, some argue that 9/11 was the catalyst of the Crisis; I argue that it was 2/22/06.
    9/11 brought our country together, with broad international support. We could leave OBL in a cave; he was totally repudiated by most Jihadists for a strategy that lost the only “true Sharia law” nation in the world; it was only a matter of time before a northern Pak tribe would drop the dime on him.
    Then came Iraq; in OBL’s own words, a God-sent, and the neo-Khawarij emerged empowered. Their 2/22 bombing of Al Askari was their true coming-out and, unlike 9/11, it is the harbinger of the tearing open of ancient and not-so-ancient hatreds that the neo-Khawarij intend to spread like rabies far beyond Iraq. The consequences to us will be of a 4T nature rivaling those stated above. And, we be needing smarter leadership that what we have now.

  34. John Howley says:

    “Sixty-one percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces.” The Iraq Study Group Report, p.35.
    Higher in Baghdad, lower in Kurdistan, no doubt.

  35. zanzibar says:

    “The people are always the center of gravity in an insurgency and it is an absolute truth that to win (on either side) you have to have the people on your side.” – Drew Pache
    Common sense. Seems obvious once it has been articulated. Insightful and very likely difficult to accomplish in a foreign territory where our forces are aliens. We have not made the effort to relate to the Iraqis – speak their language, understand their culture and build relationships.
    Its getting clearer at least to me on many levels that we have no chance to win. We are continuing to antagonize the people and with this new escalation we will be lucky to not expand the conflict into a regional conflagration that will take at least another generation to recover from. And in that time we would be reviled throughout the ME and probably in most parts of the world. US credibility will be shot and our military power will not be feared but despised for its brutality and the sheer arrogance and hubris with which it is applied. We live in a new communications world – the age of YouTube and blogs; the cellphone camera and downloadable video. Opinions and shaping that are independent of the controlled corporate media and government information operations. How people in the world perceive is something that the Decider cannot control with any certainty? The problem is that we are going to get tarred with the same brush as the Decider despite our dissent. I really feel for our troops and the Iraqi civilians caught in the middle of the Decider’s ego and the war for power between the Iraqi tribal leaders.

  36. Chris Marlowe says:

    The only way such fallacies such as the “Iraq of the mind” are made possible is decision-makers have a fundamental lack of exposure to foreign countries, do not speak foreign languages, and have not lived with non-Americans.
    The result is that policymakers have all kinds of silly ideas about non-Americans. The most fundamental and harmful is the highly insulting and arrogant belief that if Chinese/North Koreans/Iraqis/Iranians/Syrians
    and everyone else would want to become Americans, if they only had freedom.
    Can you name a single policymaker and decision-maker in the Bush administration who has lived in a foreign country for an extended period of time?
    This consistent ignorance across party lines is part of the reason I’m so pessimistic for the future of this country, regardless of who is elected.

  37. Chris Marlowe says:

    Are Sun Zi’s Art of War and Mao on People’s War taught at West Point? If so, then why doesn’t any of it show up in their tactics and thinking?
    Did Petraeus reference them in his new counterinsurgency manual?
    Or do the US armed forces continue to prefer that insurgencies just did not exist so much that they refuse to study and learn from it?

  38. tequila says:

    COL Lang, I was wondering what you thought about Bing West’s latest article in the ATLANTIC MONTHLY. He is basically advocating a redo of the CAP program in Vietnam combined an Iraqi/American military overthrow of the Maliki government and the installation of a military dictatorship for the duration:

  39. Annie Burns says:

    I totally agree with Tequila about American ignorance of other cultures. Furthermore, we seem to have developed the belief that even an understanding of another culture represents abrogation of our own.
    Take immigration “mythology”. Here’s a fascinating (IMHO) quote from the NYT:
    …“The arrivals are of the classes which in later years have come to be considered undesirable citizens. Italians from both North and South, Russian and Polish immigrants….Germans, English and Scandinavian poor….[yet] It is hard to say how our subways would be dug, or our railways would be built, without the coarse labor which Americans despise, but demand to be done…”
    New York Times, June 11, 1914, pg. 10

  40. PSoTD says:

    Granting Maliki’s Wish

    “I didn’t want to take this position … I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term”
    – Iraqi…

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