Friday, November 17, 2006


I'd like to write more about this, but as you can tell I've been pressed for time this week, so here’s the short version. It's fashionable right now, among opiners I respect and some I don't, to favor an escalation in Iraq (and yes, "escalation" is the appropriate term to use for adding tens of thousands of troops in an effort to salvage a quagmire, though temporal and hope-based euphemisms like "securing Baghdad" and "stabilizing the situation for the next few months" make that reality a bit more palatable). William Stuntz writes that an extra 30,000 troops "would make a large difference," and 20,000-50,000 seems to be the range that those in favor of escalation think would prove decisive.

But we know now that before the war, our military, diplomatic, and intelligence communities determined together that it would take 400,000 troops to have any chance of success, and that even that force level would not preclude the possibility of Iraq devolving into chaos. (The wire report is here, and the recently-released documents in the National Security Archive are here.) That was the best estimate in 1999, when Iraq was "stable." Anyone advocating another 30,000-50,000 troops (after which we'd still have less than 200,000 troops in theater) needs to explain why Iraq is far "easier" now --after three years of a low-grade civil war -- than it would have been in 1999. I haven't seen that explanation yet.

One other point I haven't seen mentioned is what the Iraqi people (remember them?) actually want. Without exception, every opinion poll I've seen shows that most Iraqis (Sunni and Shia alike, with the Kurds the exception of course) want us to leave and believe that our presence causes much of the violence. Here's a poll from September showing that over half of all Iraqis believe firm U.S. deadlines would strengthen Iraq's government. It also shows that a majority supports attacks on U.S. troops. A tad significant and worth considering, isn’t it? As for Americans, the midterm elections indicated what they think about the war, and they justifiably expect the Democrats they voted for to take action. Anyone advocating escalation needs to explain why the wishes of most Iraqis and Americans should be ignored or why the public's support (both here and there) isn’t necessary for that escalation to be successful.

I'm all for "winning" -- whatever that means today, or next week. What I'm not in favor of is "next six months are crucial" can-kicking for the next few years, benchmark-lacking open-ended mission creep, we’ll-know-victory-when-we-see-it fuzziness, or the perverse logic of "making sure that the troops who have already died did not do so in vain" via more death. We’ve had three years of all that, and a generation ago we learned what the endgame looks like.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, man, oh, man! Another person who has it all wrong. I'm getting sick of this IRAQ dialogue.

There's only one proposal that will work so you all better just quiet down and listen.

IRAQ is in tatters. There's only one way to save it and America. Are you ready?

I call it the BUDDY SYSTEM.
IRAQ population is about 26M (26,783,383 prewar less 800K dead or gone fishing)
US population is about 300M (295,734,134 plus the illegals that will sneak in by the time this sees daylight)

The latest polls suggest that 21% of the US population support the war effort. Using basic math that means that about 60M people want IRAQ to pull through for whatever reason.

I propose we draft the war supporters and send them to IRAQ to shadow each IRAQI citizen. Since we have double what we need, they can alternate on six-month tours. Befriend, guard, lurk in the shadows watching..who cares. Just be there to help out. Sort of like the MINUTEMEN PROJECT but in Farsi. Keep them out of trouble, teach them first-hand about the powers of democracy and free-market economics. You can even preach the Bible to them. They won't understand it since I don't think the Bible has been translated into Muslim yet.

We can even have celebrity buddies. Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity would be quite popular. Hell, even Joe Lieberman could do some 'tecting. If we want to kill two birds with one stone, send over all those displaced Katrina victims. After six months they'll just sorta blend in and maybe they can stay on.

The important part is that we help the Iraqis and get those in America still so stupid to support this thing out of here. That's the only way we'll get a proper dialogue. Get rid of the dissenters...the people who once shouted down the dissenters who turned out to be right. Ironic? History will be the judge.


11/17/2006 1:59 AM  
Blogger Corbie said...

I agree that throwing more troops at this problem is probably a losing proposition.

What happens when we pull out, though? Does the region implode? I'm really hoping that this idea of talking to Iran and Syria goes somewhere, but am not sure the administration is really willing to do that.

11/17/2006 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy talk of "securing Baghdad" at this point. In the capital city of a country we've occupied for nigh upon four years, there's still a Green Zone, which is shelled and rocketed at will, and a corresponding Non-Green Zone, which is completely beyond our control and which is still subject to air strikes when things get extra-special out-of-hand. Remember how the Allied powers occasionally had to call in CAS in West Berlin during the '60s? Same exact deal. Fortunately, a manpower boost of less than one-tenth of the least risible low-ball pre-war estimates of force requirements will almost certainly tip the scales in America's favor within the next Friedman. bringing the war within measurable distance of its end.

Good thing too, because the 300,000+ occupying army wargamed in the late '90s, and which gave us 2:1 odds in favor of securing the country before a strong resistance formed and splintered into sectarian civil war in total disregard of any occupying force, American or otherwise, is just a wee bit out of the question at this point. Remember the Great Sissy Purge? "The war might eventually cost as much as $50-100 billion." Wearer of pink panties! Off with his head! If it weren't for the dead and crippled, it might be almost cute, like young lovers sharing a first kiss at the top of a Ferris Wheel and trying not to bump noses.

11/17/2006 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush and the NeoCons WANT the area to fall into chaos. Then they can NUKE it and the American people will say "We had to do it because it was us or them and we wanted to save lives" (aka the Hiroshima/Nagasaki syndrome). The NeoCons and Bush have divided everything they have come up against (the American public, Afghanistan, Iraqis, Congress, The Supreme Court, even Barney has turned against Laura.)


11/17/2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger OrganicGeorge said...

The "Last Push" is purely for politics.

The administration is looking to the 08 elections.

If the Dems do not support the last push then the Dems are to blame for failure.

If the Dems do support the last push it will talk us to 08 and it will be hard for the Dems to play the stop the war card.

Human lives be dammed, it about control of the White House.

11/17/2006 10:10 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Funny stuff...especially the buddy idea. The democrats will continue just like they did when they were the minority. Offering passive resistance. Just enough democrats making a stink to make it look like they oppose the war...when this is still a mess in 08 they will blame it on Bush and hope for another election success. Politicians always stick with a winning formula until it proves wrong. I think by 08 the US will be so sick of the war the democratic president will pull us out in some fashion. We will probably keep a strike force close by (maybe the new country Kurdistan) to force some compliance from the Iraqi shite theocracy we have put in power. When we pull out the Shite government will rule the Sunnis with an iron fist. There will be mass killings. The Shites have tasted power and the Sunnis are the long run.

11/17/2006 11:36 AM  
Anonymous muddy said...

The next thing you know, the evil Democrats will be suggesting that the Iraqi's guns be grabbed. How can they have a civil society unless they all have guns?

11/17/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger wendyo said...

OrganicGeorge hits the nail on the head.

11/17/2006 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...,,7374-1589157,00.html

11/17/2006 12:17 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Those 30,000 troops need vehicles to do their job. We don't have the vehicles. Oh, and we don't have the troops -- unless we "backdoor" draft the Guard.

11/17/2006 1:39 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Those 30,000 troops need vehicles to do their job. We don't have the vehicles. Oh, and we don't have the troops -- unless we "backdoor" draft the Guard.

11/17/2006 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a wise blogger pointed out elsewhere, and as most people don't understand, 20-30k troops is not 20k-30k infantry men. The typical army ration is ~ 10 support for each 1 infantry/front line guy. So are 2000-3000 combat troops going to make a difference?

No one wants to admit that it's over. The Iraqi people are simply a bunch of muslim foreigners dieing by the truck load far away. Since when has anyone really cared about them?

We deserve everything we get after this Iraqi debacle is over.

11/17/2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger DED said...

What did Bush learn from Vietnam?

"We'll succeed unless we quit."

Apparently 58,000 deaths wasn't enough for Vietnam. Should've stayed the course. By that count, we've got a long way to go in Iraq.

30 years later, Vietnam is now a WTO member and Intel is building a $300 million chip fab plant there. So those 58,000 died for cheap labor. What is the current generation dying for? Cheap oil?

11/17/2006 6:30 PM  
Anonymous rapier said...

What exactly are the X0,000 more troops supposed to do? What stratagy are they to carry out, using what tactics? Nobody seems to say, since nobody seems to know. The generals don't have any plan for them, not that it makes any difference.

It's all a matter of demonstrating our will, in good Gordon Liddy fashion. Great for demonstrating ones big balls from the comfort of your own easychair. Nobody is braver or knows more than the armchair generals.

11/17/2006 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11/17/2006 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11/17/2006 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put Saddam back in charge. There would be less deaths since he knew how to suppress those evil muslims. Keep a lid on them I in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. I think he would deal now.

Any thoughts?


11/17/2006 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for peace and kindness to come about on the is necessary for people to have a gounding in 'power', how it is and has been open minded study across law,ecomomics,govt/politics,religions...much the path of inquiry is seldom a rewarding does not pay with $ plus one stands the chance of being dead wrong...but think the most critical thing is always to have faith that man in general is a good guy at heart...and worth the path of inquiry...

11/18/2006 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the biggest problem for power now is the net...

11/18/2006 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when a child is is not born thinking it will wear a wear a uniform and kill or pay interest when it is an adult...nobel prizes are given to adults these days who lend on interest to the poor...why...

11/18/2006 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first heard about the plan of invading Iraq in late 2002, I had a VERY bad feeling about and thought it would end very badly for us.

That feeling has turned out to be even more accurate than I ever thought possible.


The question only remains just how many lives is the White House and Pentagon willing to throw away (and money that we need desparatly for internal programs)until they face the fact that we are stuck in quicksand and there is no rope anywhere around to help us pull out of this charnel house that this new "democratic Iraq" has become.

Just how bad things are read some of the postings at Washington Note.
The most telling one is this:

Nightmare Confirmed: Things Are Soooo Bad. . .

Sometimes in Washington after years of networking and bridge-building, doors are opened to some extraordinary meetings where elite political players and policy makers really do discuss how to govern the world while sipping wine.

I really can't discuss the participants or venue of a dinner I attended last night but suffice it to say that some of America's and Europe's leading current and former political personalities were there -- 60 people only -- and among them a few former Secretaries of State and foreign ministers, top intelligence officials, think tank chiefs, Senators and House Members, former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of Defense. The attendance list was extraordinary.

And the conversations -- on the whole -- were about the crappy condition of America's national security position. The guests in this dinner probably represented key participants in any new strategic consensus for the country. If there were brilliant, silver bullet ideas that might help this country move quickly beyond its problems, it would have been in such a crowd where such notions might be taken seriously and have impact.

But nothing. Absolutely nothing. People were depressed and dismayed about current conditions. One very, very senior Bush administration official when asked by me what ideas he had to stabilize Iraq and stop our slow bleed situation said he had exhausted what he felt was possible.

Feel free to read this at this site

The blogger is a Senior Fellow & Director, American Strategy Program

11/18/2006 4:07 PM  
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11/19/2006 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is, actually, an end to the war in Iraq that will allow the US to save face...

Hand over Bush, Cheney, Rice, Tenet, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and maybe the trio of assclowns Fleisher, McClelan, and Snow to be hung in Al-Takhrir Square. Low people make great low fruit.

I think that gester would win the American people some face.


11/19/2006 9:46 PM  
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