Two Points

A wise man advised me this week to conintue listening to the TV Sunday newsies no matter how boring or irritating they may be.  I agree.

In carrying out that mission this week I fastened upon two points:

– The Shia politicians and militias are not stupid enough to want to "party" with the US Army in Baghdad.  They are all going to "lie low" and wait for us to "let up" in our usual display of limited attention span.  This will lead to a short term (four or five months?) appearance of "progress" in Baghdad.  That will not last indefinitely, but, in the short term, will be hailed by the Bush Administration as proof that they are going to "win."  An alternative scenario will feature massive US pressure against the Shia militias of a nature that Maliki can not endure.  That scenario will witness a quicker disintegration of the present "plan."

– Grorge Casey should not be confirmed by the senate to be Chief of Staff of the army.  Such a confirmation will confirm to the generals and would be generals that it is OK to mislead the Congress of the United States, whitewash the situation to visitors and propagandize the American people on behalf of a political faction’s policy.  What about the civilians?  Right, but, I believe that soldiers are called to higher standards.  Sorry.  pl

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43 Responses to Two Points

  1. Eaken says:

    NATO asks S.Arabia to join the alliance.
    I agree that things will seemingly improve over the course of the next few months not only within Shia Iraq, but within Iran and Syria as well.
    But it will only be skin deep.

  2. Michael Singer says:

    Dear Pat,
    I couldn’t agree more. Reading John Burns in the NYT last week left one thinking that Bush was brilliant and damn! his plan might work. And if you looked at today’s NYT front age you wouldn’t know that 19 more American kids died yesterday over there for no good reason.
    More fuel for those hopeful will be the announcement that Sadr will send his boys back into the parlimentary process. Whoopie! Democracy is a coming, the King will say.
    They are playing Bush and he is playing us, or trying anyway. It’s the big lie again and again.
    I think the question isthis: will John Warner ever get it and lead a group of conservatives into King George’s palace and tell him to step down from the throne, the game is over.
    Michael Singer

  3. Michael says:

    Its certainly not starting out well. 24 US troops died today. How Bush/Cheney can sleep at night throughout all of this is beyond me.

  4. ked says:

    Col, damn right on both counts – please keep watching, so I don’t have to. thanks!

  5. The Agonist says:

    Lang: Casey Should Not Be Confirmed

    Harsh words from Col. Lang:
    George Casey should not be confirmed by the senate to be Chief of Staff of the army. Such a confirmation will confirm to the generals and would be generals that it is OK to mislead the Congress of the United States, whitewash

  6. ali says:

    They may choose to party in the provinces. The trouble in Najaf and Karbala is ominous.
    24 dead. The surge has begun. RIP.

  7. confusedponderer says:

    I found Liebermann outright scary in an Interview with Imus, replying on the question about wether there is a Plan B for the surge:
    Imus: “Well what happens when this doesn’t work which is what is going to happen.”
    Sen. Joe Lieberman: “Well, let’s hope and pray it works.”
    Imus: “No, I know but it’s not going to.”
    Sen. Joe Lieberman: “No…”
    Imus: “You really haven’t answered, well not really, you haven’t answered my question, and my question is what happens, what’s plan B? What happens–”
    Sen. Joe Lieberman: “Yeah.”
    Imus: “…When this doesn’t work?”
    Sen. Joe Lieberman: “Yeah.”
    Imus: “I know we hope and pray it does work. Of course we do.”
    Sen. Joe Lieberman: “Yeah”
    Imus: “I hope and pray I win the lottery.”
    Sen. Joe Lieberman: … Let’s hope it works, pray it works, and if it doesn’t, then we’ll figure out what we’re gonna do then.”
    It’s absolutely embarassing. That the man isn’t ashamed of himself in the slightest … ‘Uh, you know, escalation is basically the only idea we got. So that’s our plan now.’ The man is talking about war, where an entire army and the lives of soldiers, not to mention the lives of the Iraqis, are at stake and that’s as good as he gets?
    Next interviews highlight: Liebermann expects Army Wenck to save Baghdads Green Zone, announces V weapon (V for victory, for a change) program to defeat insurgency.

  8. johnieb says:

    Sounds right to me, Col. Lang. I remember a few too many officers who did not appear to be living to a higher standard, but my acquaintance was far briefer and likely less wide-ranging and thorough than yours.
    I would appreciate more of your thoughts on this, should there be kairos. We hear talk of the effects on the Armed Forces, but little substance beyond the mention of it.
    U. S. MSM: all wide and an inch deep.

  9. Matthew says:

    Col. Lang: Soldiers are held to a higher standard because–in sharp contrast to the civilian leadership of the Pentagon–we actually trust and respect them.

  10. walrus says:

    Col. Lang,
    You make an excellent point about the militias.
    However, I have to make an observation: Is it in the Bush Administrations interest for the militias to quieten down and sort of slither away?
    I’m not sure it is, if one subscribes to conspiracy theories and believes an attack on Iran is imminent.
    I would welcome your thoughts, I would expect that we would like is for the Mahdi army to come out fighting so that we can proceed to defeat them in the mother of all firefights.

  11. John says:

    Maybe I have said this here before —
    When ever someone says let us Hope. My response is that Hope is neither a good (military/business) plan or method of birth control. I know people consider me a hard ass.
    When I see Lieberman on the TV I have to mute the freaking thing before I blow across the room. Just what a poor bunch of leaders we have in this country.
    There has just been far too much Hoping that things will work out the last 15 years.
    Colonel, I see that the Dems are going to have Jim Webb speak after the State of the Union. Do you think this is the powers behind the throne saying this is a guy who has electability for the Dems as top dog?

  12. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Just to be able to follow the debate: What did Casey specifically say/do that bars him from Senate cofirmation and appointment as what, Secretary of the Army?

  13. Margaret Steinfels says:

    I ask the question because on “Meet the Press” today McCain said he was unlikely to vote to confirm, and Kennedy said he was waiting to see what the general had to say….

  14. Mo says:

    “As to the mode of terminating the war and securing peace, the president is equally wandering and indefinite.
    “First, it is to be done by a more vigorous prosecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemy’s country; and, after apparently talking himself tired on this point, the president drops down into a half despairing tone, and tells us that ‘with a people distracted and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace’.
    “Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders and, trusting in our protection, to set up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace, telling us, that ‘this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace’.
    “But soon he falls into doubt of this too, and then drops back on to the already half abandoned ground of ‘more vigorous prosecution’. All this shows that the president is, in no ways, satisfied with his own positions.
    “First he takes up one and, in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another, and goes through the same process, and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up the old one again, which he has some time before cast off. His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no position on which it can settle down and be at ease.”
    Congressman Abraham Lincoln in 1848 on President James Polks war with Mexico.
    The more things change……

  15. MarcLord says:

    Casey should wear perfume and lace under his uniform if he’s going to make statements like he did this week. Is there a Victoria’s Secret for generals?

  16. Frank Durkee says:

    Col. What in your view is the import of and likely outcome of the reports that Maliki has said the Madhi Army is fair game? Does it represent the fact that a sufficient number of Sunnis have been pushed out of there of Baghdad; or that Iranians don’t want a strong nationalist to become the Shite hero; or is it some sort of sham or half hearted aquiesence to our pressure?

  17. prashanth says:

    -the problem is the insurgents can choose the time and place of the fight
    -i think we can expect things to hot up in fallujah as more and more us troops enter baghdad
    -but on the brighter side maybe the 5-6 months calm on the streets of baghdad would give enough time to get some sort of reconstruction and job creation programme going that would stabilize iraq in the long run

  18. 4 billion says:

    Trouble is the Mahdi army cannot stand down, because the Sunni will use it as an opportunity to step up activity, unless of course they have been told to stand down as well, but why should they?, this is a perfect time to stress Maliki/Sadr allegiance.

  19. Different Clue says:

    My first thought is..a Representative or a Senator can only be as misleadable as he or she desires to be and chooses to be. As Homer
    Simpson once told his daughter: “Lisa, it takes 2 people to lie. One to lie, and one to listen.”
    My second thought, a little bit tinfoily, is…what compromising information might the Bush Administration operatives have on certain Members of Congress? What were those “warrantless wiretaps”
    really for, really? Can some of our Elected Representatives be leaned upon or squeezed?
    My third thought is, might some of the Democratic
    Representatives and Senators
    be genuinely concerned about
    that anthrax which was mailed to Daschle and Leahy?
    Might they be afraid of getting some more of it in the mail themselves if they don’t vote the way the Bush Administration and certain key Republicans want them to

  20. Nadeem says:

    What’s more ominous about the “surge” is that it takes place slap bang in the middle of Muharram, a time of introspection about the between truth personnified by Imam Hussain, his family and followers and the darkness of Yazid. It wouldn’t take much for someone to compare the US and Great Britain to the latter and rallying cry to remember Ashura for all hell to break loose.

  21. plp says:

    “WALLACE: According to the National Exit Poll, 67 percent said the war was either very or extremely important to their vote, and only 17 percent supported sending in more troops.
    By taking the policy you have, haven’t you, Mr. Vice President, ignored the express will of the American people in the November election?
    CHENEY: Well, Chris, this president, and I don’t think any president worth his salt, can afford to make decisions of this magnitude according to the polls. The polls change day by day…
    WALLACE: Well, this was an election, sir.
    CHENEY: Polls change day by day, week by week. I think the vast majority of Americans want the right outcome in Iraq. The challenge for us is to be able to provide that. But you cannot simply stick your finger up in the wind and say, “Gee, public opinion’s against; we’d better quit.”
    That is part and parcel of the underlying fundamental strategy that our adversaries believe afflicts the United States. They are convinced that the current debate in the Congress, that the election campaign last fall, all of that, is evidence that they’re right when they say the United States doesn’t have the stomach for the fight in this long war against terror.
    They believe it. They look at past evidence of it: in Lebanon in ’83 and Somalia in ’93, Vietnam before that. They’re convinced that the United States will, in fact, pack it in and go home if they just kill enough of us. They can’t beat us in a stand-up fight, but they think they can break our will.
    And if we have a president who looks at the polls and sees the polls are going south and concludes, “Oh, my goodness, we have to quit,” all it will do is validate the Al Qaeda view of the world.
    It’s exactly the wrong thing to do. This president does not make policy based on public opinion polls; he should not. It’s absolutely essential here that we get it right.”
    The above outlines the conundrum in which we find ourselves perfectly. Perhaps, the whole point of the war was to replay Vietnam, but with a new ending. In Vietnam the US withdrew under pressure from PUBLIC OPINION! The US was weak not because it lacked a military power to smash and burn the opponent, but because it had to deal with a fickle and impressionable public at home. An alternative solution is to ignore the will of the public and to reinforce the power of the president, to make him more of an emperor. Perhaps, the vise president does see himself as an American patriot; after all he wants to make this country stronger.
    The unitary executive doctrine is the legalistic expression of a “strong presidency”. From other sources: “The unitary executive doctrine arises out of a theory called “departmentalism,” or “coordinate construction.” According to legal scholars Christopher Yoo, Steven Calabresi, and Anthony Colangelo, the coordinate construction approach “holds that all three branches of the federal government have the power and duty to interpret the Constitution.” According to this theory, the president may (and indeed, must) interpret laws, equally as much as the courts.”
    The problem of course is with the political system. What does it do to the political system? Is the American democratic system really weak that it requires, indeed demands, a strong near imperial presidency?

  22. DeWitt Grey says:

    There are very few civilians responsible for this disaster who have offered themselves up for Senate confirmation for a new post — they should be held to the same standard as General Casey.
    It is inevitable, particularly for those of us of a certain age, to hearken back to George C. Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower and their level-headed and unsentimental, and relatively apolitical, approach to command. By that standard, General Casey would be headed to the retired list.
    But the same Army that advanced Omar Bradley also advanced Mark Clark (although it is perhaps no accident that he was passed over for the post of Chief of Staff of the Army). I question whether the Army can begin to regenerate itself so long as the current corrupt Administration remains in office — I have no confidence in their ability to choose the right officer.

  23. Peter Principle says:

    “They may choose to party in the provinces. The trouble in Najaf and Karbala is ominous.”
    When your enemy publicly announces to the world that he wants to fight you in the streets of Baghdad, taking the battle somewhere else kind of seems like the obvious move. The Sadrists surely understand this, even if the Cheney Administration and the Pentagon have forgotten everything they never knew about strategy and tactics.

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Frank Durkee
    I think it likely that this is a “half-hearted ploy” intended to blunt our efforts against the shia through apparent cooperation.
    We will see if he is willing to endorse the use of a lot of force in Shia neighborhoods. pl

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Casey is nominated to be Chief of Staff of the Army. That would make him the institutional head of the Army. No one cares who is the civilian Secretary of the army, but the CoS has a place in the minds of soldiers akin to the head of a religious order.
    What did he do? In my opinion, he lied. pl

  26. b says:

    al-Sadr may lay low for a few weeks, but expect him back soon. In an interview with LaRepubblica he said:
    “[Q3] Do you mean you are going to disarm?
    [A3] The Qur’án forbids killing in the month of Muharram [21 January through 18 February 2007]. So they’ll do all the killing then. There is no better time for a true believer to die, Paradise is guaranteed. But God is merciful, we are not all going to die. After Muharram, we’ll see.”
    We’ll see …

  27. JFM says:

    Over the past three years I’ve watched with dismay the repetitive interviews of our Congressional representatives pontificating on military actions needed for success or critical of actions taken. Not surprisingly their sage observations have broken largely across partisan lines. I accept the right of these elite pampered few to babble on national TV but am becoming ever more impatient and angry at their dithering blather particularly given their anemic national security pedigree. Election alone to the Capitol Hill gang imparts an abundance of perks and privileges from an instant security clearance (despite prior disqualifying life events), free parking at Reagan National airport, and an obscene retirement pension. Election alone, however, does not impart national security savvy. As a retired career Army combat arms officer I recoil in many of their prescriptions for what needs to happen. Few have ever squatted between a pair of issued boots and have only the vaguest of sense of things military and particularly the visceral reality of war and the families connected at home to their warrior far away.
    It is indeed fortunate in our republic that not everyone must serve in its defense. Certainly military service should not be requirement for commenting on national security issues, but neither should national security comment by our national representatives be used to pander for election support or personal aggrandizement. Beware the smooth talking and even smoother handed man in wing tips only pretending to know the difference between a lister bag and a jerry can.
    In a TIME magazine editorial last year USMC LTGen (ret) Greg Newbold was eloquently accurate in his stinging assessment of these rascals with his observation: “My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions–or bury the results.”

  28. Chris Marlowe says:

    The Arab media in the Gulf is reporting that the US is planning an attack on Iran in April. Naval forces will be in place by then; some say that the naval formations which will be in place are very similiar to the Feb.2003 deployment, just before the Iraqi invasion.
    My prediction is that Iraqi insurgents and Shi’ite militias will lay low until the US makes the first move on Iran. When the US gets overstretched with an over-ambitious attack on Iran, US supply lines in southern Iraq will be particularly vulnerable.
    On the homefront, the US government will try to stir up the American people into an anti-Iranian frenzy. Get prepared for all kinds of insinuations about how the 9/11 attackers were tied up with Iran, and how Iran helped the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since most American lemmings, er people, can’t tell a Sunni from a Shi’ite, most will swallow the new line hook, line and sinker from the government’s Ministries of Information, otherwise known as CNN and Fox, as well as ABC, CBS and NBC.
    There will be one big difference between Vietnam and the imminent US defeat in the Mideast. US antiwar public opinion forced the US to withdraw, but the Nixon administration was able to negotiate for a “decent interval” with the signing of the Paris peace agreement in Feb. 1973. South Vietnam and Cambodia were not overrun by the Communists until April 1975.
    I don’t see any chance of a decent interval in the Mideast.

  29. Charles says:

    Dahr Jamail reports today “Southern Iraqi Tribes Joining Armed Resistance”:
    After the quiet sustained by compliance with Sistani, and the modest success in restoring the Marsh Arabs and their environs, came reports of increasing problems for the British. Jamail cites increasing and increasingly impatient anti-occupation nationalism in face of coalition incompetence and percieved sectarian complicity rather than an Iranian hand. The kind of nationalism latent in Muqtada’s assertions in La Repubblica that he was against Al Qaeda, the Iranians and the occupiers alike – though in proportion to their “bootprint”, no doubt.
    Whilst “securing” Baghdad, saving the Sunnis, breaking Muqtada, disarming the Mahdi, keeping the Kurds onside, completing Mission Iran, joining the fray in the Horn of Africa, might
    America see all violence temporarily coalesce against ONE target – the occupation (the Green Zone esp.) – while the target’s southern supply lines – and it’s major ally in OZ – are cut to shreds by opponents armed no better than Hizbullah?

  30. Charles says:

    Crikey. Chris Marlowe stole my points – before I even posted!
    We’re the choir singing to the converted. I tell ya, go hang out at anywhere out of your usual haunts, must be excellent to read Arabic or Hebrew or Chinese

  31. rebecca says:

    What is the extent of inter-Shia rivalries in Iraq? And how might such an inter-Shia power struggle be a significant factor — behind the curtain, as it were — in the events that are visible to us?
    Are not DAWA and SCIRI somewhat less than pleased with the popular/street support given Muqtada al Sadr?
    Maliki is DAWA, correct? And al Hakim — who went to the White House & met with Bush in December is SCIRI.
    Al Sadr, on the other hand, has been steadfastly anti-occupation, a nationalist, and the one Shia leader who once could have (and perhaps still could?) made an alliance with at least some Sunnis.
    It looks to me, from reading the latest interviews with al Sadr (from the wonderful links posted in this very forum), that the populist Sadr is being thrown over the side so that the well-connected elite class of Shia politicos can consolidate their power.
    If this is so, does it not beg the question of whether any Iranian interests are being thus served? (and please do not mis-take me, I am unequivocally AGAINST an attack on Iran!)
    All I really have are my suspicions that there is a much deeper game being played by the power elite in Iraq than the peurile bad guys vs. good guys the corporate media and the Bushites would have you believe.

  32. Ed Beller says:

    On the radio today (WWRC in Washington) the CNN news reported that the helicopter shot down on Saturday was brought down by “shoulder fired missiles”. The source of the report was “the Pentagon”. Now on the CNN website they are reporting it was due to hostile fire, nothing about missiles. Weren’t shoulder fired missiles what drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan?

  33. EZSmirkzz says:


  34. binkieandmarcel says:

    Col. Lang: I’m sure you are right about Gen. Casey having lied, but if he is not confirmed as CoS, lying will not be the reason. He is already being set up as the scapegoat (the first of many, no doubt) for the failures of the Bush/Cheney “strategy” in Iraq. I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether he’s hung as a goat or a sheep, it seems to me he has a lot to answer for, not just lying.

  35. Arun says:

    “Retired Maj. Gen. John Baptiste, who once commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said last fall that Mr. Rumsfeld threatened to fire the next person who mentioned postwar plans.”
    Cynthia Tucker
    The Baltimore Sun, Jan 22

  36. Chris Marlowe says:

    The Chinese have very significant energy deals for gas and oil exploration signed with the Iranian government; these contracts are in the 100B+ range. The Chinese government has conveyed to the Bush/Cheney administration that in the event of a US/Iran conflict, they expect these contracts to be honored.
    The Chinese anti-satellite missile test has two audiences. On the one hand, it is to warn Taiwan that their espionage satellites can be easily hit, and to dissuade the pro-independence Taiwan president, Chen Shuibian, from declaring formal independence.
    The other audience is the US; it’s the Chinese way of saying “We can’t stop you from attacking Iran, and we cannot stand up to you militarily, and we won’t. But we have certain global interests and our capabilities are improving, so don’t think that because we won’t/can’t stop you now, we will stand by while you trash the world and try to mold it in your image, serving only your own interests.”
    The Chinese perceive US strength in the ME as being on the wane, and is gradually stepping into the region because of its increased energy needs. China has even appointed a special envoy to Israel and Palestine, who is trying to negotiate a peace between the two sides. Unlike Condoleeza Rice, China is respected by both sides. The Palestinians respect China for its longtime support of their movement; and many Israelis have ancestors who escaped Soviet Communism and the Nazis by going to China. The grandfather of the current Israeli premier, Ehud Olmert, is buried in Harbin in northern China.
    If there is one story most have missed, it is how the Bush/Cheney administration’s bumbling ME policy has facilitated the rapid rise of China on the global stage. The Chinese are very well-positioned to reach all their goals of becoming a global superpower without firing a single shot in anger, just as the Chinese strategist Sun Zi recommended.

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    There are many reasons. This one will do. pl

  38. zanzibar says:

    Anyone have any G2 on the massive intelligence and security failure in Karbala? This required money, planning and skills. Not some ragtag militia operation. What’s ominous is that it happened in the Shia south.
    Gunmen infiltrate secure site and kill 5 Americans
    The armored sport-utility vehicles whisked into a government compound in the city of Karbala with speed and urgency, the way most Americans and foreign dignitaries travel along Iraq’s treacherous roads these days.
    Iraqi guards at checkpoints waved them through Saturday afternoon because the men wore what appeared to be legitimate U.S. military uniforms and badges, and drove cars commonly used by foreigners, the provincial governor said.
    Once inside, however, the men unleashed one of the deadliest and most brazen attacks on U.S. forces in a secure area. Five American service members were killed in a hail of grenades and gunfire in a breach of security that Iraqi officials called unprecedented.

  39. Will says:

    again from nur-al-cubicle
    Interview with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki
    The Corriere della Sera published this interview last week. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was defiant in rejecting pressures from Washington on him to resign. ”

  40. Will says:

    “many Israelis have ancestors who escaped Soviet Communism and the Nazis by going to China. The grandfather of the current Israeli premier, Ehud Olmert, is buried in Harbin in northern China. ”
    actually it’s a japaneese connection starting with a Jewish-American financier, Jacok Schiff, who made it possible for Japan to win the Russo-Japanese War, the Fugu Plan to lure “rich” Jews to Manchuk, the Japanese Schindler,Chiune Sugihara, and the Shanghai refugee colony where Olmert’s parents came from.
    However, the Chineese are hedging their bets and friendly w/ everybody. They get drones and were to get AWACS from Israel. Saudi is filling up their three year strategic petro reserve. Although they voted against Iran in the UN, they are still close.

  41. Chris Marlowe says:

    The Japanese did not come to control Manchuria until 1931, when they established the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Before this period, the “three eastern provinces”, as the Chinese call Manchuria, were under the control of several Chinese warlords, the most famous of which was Feng Yuxiang, who was murdered by the Japanese.
    It is true that the European Jews were sent to Shanghai thanks to the efforts of Chiune Sugihara. However, they lived with Chinese in what was then Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Unlike everywhere else they had been to, they were free from anti-semitic persecution. After the war ended, most of them went to what was then Palestine, or to the US.
    When the PRC was established in 1949, almost all of them had left China.

  42. Chris Marlowe says:

    In my previous posting, I referred to the Manchurian warlord Feng Yuxiang as being one of the most famous Manchurian warlords, and having been murdered by the Japanese.
    That was incorrect, it should have been Zhang Xueliang who was murdered by the Japanese in 1928. Feng died in mysterious circumstances in 1948.
    Apologies for the error.

  43. Sam says:

    The Casey precedent was set during Viet Nam by the elevation of Gen. Westmorland to CoS of the Army.
    The scary thing about Casey is the way things are not (very Joint) is that the CoS of the Army is one of the JCS and the Vice Chief runs the Army.
    That means that Casey has more clout than Westmorland ever had.

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