"BAGHDAD, Iraq – Bomb blasts killed six Marines in western Iraq, and U.S. forces killed 29 militants in U.S. offensives aimed at uprooting al-Qaida insurgents ahead of the country’s vote on a new constitution, the military said Friday." Yahoo News
"My Time In Hell" was a book and then a television production about the Second World War in the Pacific. Lee Marvin, a WW2 combat marine narrated the TV show. At the end he said that as they died off it would be appropriate for the survivors to announce their arrival at the Pearly Gates with the words. "Another Marine reporting, sir. I’ve served my time in hell." Now they have hell on the Euphrates. They, and their Navy medical corpsmen brothers deserve the gratitude of us all.
Yesterday, the president spoke. He said many things, but the one that stands out in my mind is his repeated insistence that the enemy in Iraq is ONE and that this enemy is the international jihadi movement. Recently, a new chief military intelligence officer in Baghdad has taken to saying the same thing. Everyone I know who is recently back from Iraq says that this is not true, that in fact AQ Iraq and its allies are a small portion of the total strength among the insurgencies although they make a lot of noise and kill many. I think the president and the general in Baghdad are wrong about this. I think it is clear to everyone fighting the insurgents that what the president and the general have said is untrue.
Why would they say that?
The president’s rationale for intervention in Iraq has disintegrated into progressively more embarassing disarray. WMD? Out. AQ-Saddam Alliance? Out. Fight them there rather than in Cleveland? Madrid and London pretty much defeat that argument. Fightng Terrorism wherever we find it? the number of lethal terrorist incidents is dramatically up the last two years. What is left? What is left is the assertion (made yesterday) that Iraq is THE central battlefield in the war against religious fanatics (now specifically Islamic) who are the most fell enemy the human race has faced in millennia, and who threaten the very existence of life as we know it. It is interestng if a few thousand jihadis from 3rd world countries are that potent. Interesting.
In any event, this assertion is the president’s last ditch defense against those wish him ill as well as those afflicted with sadness because more marines and soldiers are reporting for duty in heaven every day.
If the majority of the insurgents are Iraqis fighting us for specifically Iraqi reasons, then the president’s argument over Iraq falls to bits. He doesn’t have many more places of refuge in his rhetoric.
The military intelligence general in Baghdad?" Oh, well…
GWB’s PR strategy is to keep repeating a falsity that the coopted media will amplify and disseminate. And hope that the the American public will continue to buy into it. Although the recent polls show that the majority of people want a withdrawal from the carnage in Iraq. But it is quite interesting that many people still link Saddam and Al Qaeda despite evidence to the contrary.
GWB’s PR strategy has worked so far! Why not continue it until you can’t and have to go down with the ship. Reminiscent of “Baghdad Bob”.
I saw today on the IOL South African web site that U.S. aircraft dropped sections of 7 bridges into the Euphrates River this week. Four other bridges remain under “coalition” control, according to the report. It was done, according to a U.S. military officer, to deny use of the bridges to insurgents. To me, this seems a lot like a) vandalism and b) an admission that there are simply not enough reliable troops on hand to secure transportation routes. We keep being told we’re “building up” Iraq, when instead we continue to demolish cities and already severely compromised infrastructure. Heck, if we can’t trust the Iraqi military to guard bridges, what *can* we trust them to do?
Second, the story of a week or so ago of more than 20 Iraqi men found murdered was interesting, and not in a good way. It certainly didn’t seem like a terrorist act, since terrorists generally try for splashy public outrages and then can’t wait to brag about their actions. This seemed a lot more like a military operation. Does this mean the insurgency (as opposed to the AQ terrorists) is beginning to develop a relatively high level of operational security and control? And doesn’t that mean things might be a lot worse than we’re being told by this criminally incompetent administration?
Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…
Pat’s mention of GIs announcing their arrival at the Pearly Gates reminds me of a popular song we reluctant Monolithic-World-Communist exterminators had in Vietnam. The band called Country Joe and the Fish sang it. I can still hear it rattling around in my head thirty-five years later — the “I feel like I’m fixin’ to die rag”:
Come on all of you big strong men
Uncle Sam needs your help again
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books, and pick up a gun
We’re gonna have a whole lot of fun
Well, it’s one, two, three — what are we fightin’ for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn
Next stop is Vietnam
Well, it’s five, six, seven — open up the Pearly Gates
Ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopeee! We’re all gonna die!
Great Stuff. i remember bands like that, usually playing things like
“I gotta get outa this place if its the last thing I ever do. Girl, there’s a better life for me and you.”
Yup. He has to know.
I think it does mean that the insurgentos are growing an army below the “horizon” of people who won’t admit they exist.
This is a guerrilla army. i wouldn’t look to see more than that for a while.
Colonel, as you say the president’s claims on reality are in tatters. No one who is capable of changing their mind could really take him seriously anymore (I believe, there is always the vast chance I don’t know what I am talking about).
In the chance that I am more or less correct, why he would say that I think has as much to do with his futile attempt to pretend this just isn’t happening as it does with his own need to reiterate the glossy manichean narrative the wrapped this whole mess in. There is a taint of desperate self-persuasion in his robot-like reiteration of themes.
One thing that comes out in a lot of reports is even where we are “victorious” much of the opulation is still not cooperating and those who do die.
My own understanding of Vietnamese style guerrilla warfare was that setting up these shadow governments and proving the official government is powerless is the first stage. I thought of this as the socalled “infrastructure” with protection rackets for income, logistics etc.
I thought the next stage was small scale actions with the option to retreat to stage one.
I was pretty sure that this was at least one model of guerilla war and I felt that whenever stage one is accomplished you’ve got a big problem like a mafia running a neighborhood, hard to unroot, corrupting the cops, but a lot more dangerous because if you let down your guard: BOOM.
I also have the impression that in much of the south the Shia militias are putting in their governments so the whole country is loaded with the underlying guerilla “infrastructure.”
Is this wrong or simplistic? I don’t see it touched on much.
Late one sleepless night, about a year into the American War on Iraq, I wrote a little poem and posted it to an obscure Internet bulletin board. I just rediscovered it and thought I’d post it again in this forum, now that another year has passed with only more of the same — meaning nothing — to show for it all. Anyway, I call it:
“The Ballad of George the Former”
By: Michael Murry
Time: 12:07:08 AM
You lie, George Bush, you lie.
You know no other way.
You lied about Iraq and now
The young have got to pay.
You cannot tell the truth,
We’ve often heard it said.
You sent them to Iraq and now
The young have come back dead.
You can’t tell three from five,
Or so your school grades show.
But, hey, with daddy’s friends and all their bucks,
Who needs to know?
Your sentences don’t parse.
Your nouns and verbs don’t square.
Your lips they move but all we feel are
Blasts of heated air.
You think that schlock and blah
And all that folksy spin
Will get you out of all the deep dark
Doo-doo you are in.
But this we know shall pass
And brighter days arrive
When we have rid ourselves and others too
Of all your jive.
You lie, George Bush, you lie.
But truth will have its say
When we who love our country send you
Off and on your way.
Copyright Michael Murry 2004
I am afraid that his personal problems overwhelm him. pl
You’ve pretty much got it right. The old Iraqi military were well read. Where do you think they are in Giap’s model? pl
Pat: re his overwhelming personal problems: toss in that jaw thing he does, and the mush-mouth, and would you guess stress or pharmeceutical? Or both? And drinky?
Just guessing to me it seems they kind of started at stage 2 over 2 years ago, though they had the basics of stage 1 in old Saddamite connections and tribal ties.
It seems to me they’ve strengthened control of the neighborhoods and villages since then, bringing in some of the criminal gangs that we saw since the looting. We get sporadic reports of hndreds of shootings in Baghdad each month, reports of peole working for the Americans killed… it’s certainly unsafe to go into those places.
Which I don’t think was so totally true of Vietnam.
We sometimes hear of platoon and company sized adventures, but I think they’ll staytoned down until American pressure decreases. Then just guessing because of the military background of some of their leaders they’ll have an easy time shifting into battalions, though my sense based on no military experience is that it will take work and equipment to make well integrated units that are much bigger.
My impression is a battalion is kind of a basic unit for light infantry, but you hit complexities of scale going beyond it. Just an impression.
But I suspect they would be better at it than the Shia.
This guy has his own readings. Hs thought uses a fair number of buzzwords and I think sometimes calls old techniques new.
But the new technology and just modern ways of thinking is encouraging things like “swarming” and “smart mobs”
I think you are right that the Sunni Arabs are probably better at this than the Shia. This would be because they have devoted themselves to the martial occupations more over the centuries.
It is definitiely more dangerouas than the towns were in VN where the war was almost all the time outisde in the countryside and the towns were pretty safe. When I could get to town, Saigon, Bien Hoa, Nha Trang, I used to wander around, go out to dinner, etc.
A guerrilla battalion is typically a small light infantry unit with 300 to 400 men. Rifles, machine guns, mortars, maybe recoiless rifles.
I think that the non-jihadis are preparing and will emerge with units like that when, as you say, our pressure diminishes.
Looks like stress caused by massive internal conflict, but I’m no doctor.
As our friend RAM correctly observes above, the wanton destruction of Iraqi infrastructure like bridges (not to mention “safe houses”) only makes the lot of the desperate Iraqi citizen worse: engendering further resentment and resistance. In Vietnam, we called this “destroying the village in order to save it.” Pure lunacy.
I agree, as well, that the policy of just bombing stuff from above harm’s way loudly and clearly advertizes nothing so much as the inability of our forces to patrol and secure the ground. Most of today’s sentient world can clearly see and read this message. I doubt seriously, though, if anyone has yet read it to the President of the United States.
The typical guerrilla army will, of course, restructure itself in line with its political objectives and opportunities. I have to suppose that the regular Iraqi army (mostly Sunni Baathists, I take it) that dispersed in the face of massed American firepower will reassemble itself, as I believe Pat has said, whenever it makes military sense to do so. This means that the guerrilla army has the initiative, good intelligence, and a plan for what to do next — all things that the occupying American army lacks.
In knocking over the established political, economic, and social order of Iraq, America created a predictable power vacuum that it could not fill itself. Interested parties noticed this almost immediately and predictably rushed to fill the vacuum — either by fighting for it themselves (the Sunni Plan) or letting the Americans do the fighting for them (the Shiite-Kurdish Plan.) Through its own ill-advised actions, America created a three-sided civil war in Iraq; then undertook to champion two sides of the conflict against the third — and chose poorly.
I don’t see how Shiite religious militias can ever compete with a secular Sunni political party that has its own real army. America, for its part, has started going broke paying outrageously for a cakewalk that George W Bush promised wouldn’t cost anything. The bad economics (otherwise known as the Law of Diminishing Returns) favors the Sunni Baathist guerrilla army and will compel American withdrawal in preference to national bankruptcy. This means that the Sunni Baathist guerrilla army will “wait us out” for two reasons: (1) they have nowhere else to go, and (2) they don’t have long to wait.
“Yesterday, the president spoke. He said many things, but the one that stands out in my mind is his repeated insistence that the enemy in Iraq is ONE and that this enemy is the international jihadi movement.”
What stands out in my mind is that if we don’t fight them there… Well, it’s the domino theory all over again.
As my son said, “So retro.”
And, the light at the end of this particular tunnel is the train.
The real news here is that the public doesn’t listen to the President on this topic. He has simply lost all credibility. Another convenient falsehood, yawn. The administration statements on the war are almost not worth comment – nobody believes them.
I have the distinct impression that the people echoing the administration line don’t even believe what they are saying, they say it for personal or tactical reasons.
It will be up to the public to determine a reasonable course of action; our government is simply incapable of that job. Hence the importance of COL Lang and the posters here.
Speaking of credibility gaps, I live here in southern Taiwan and recently heard a classic comment on the subject by the economics correspondent for CNN International. It seems the guy finally got fed up with US Treasury Secretary John Snow insisting on America’s “strong dollar” policy while simultaneously running record trade and budget deficits — practically the universally acknowledged cause of a “weak dollar.”
When the program’s anchor woman kept loyally repeating the Bush admninistration’s stated claim to want a “strong dollar,” the man exploded:
“They’re like drunks at the bar, promising to stop drinking. You can’t believe a single thing they say.”
I believe that about covers it.