Friday, September 07, 2007

No Surprises

In March, as the surge was ramping up, I posted:
We know that victory, as the White House defines it, is that magical day when Iraqis forget centuries of ethnic and religious differences and decide to turn in their weapons and live peacefully. If that doesn't happen and the violence continues, we stay. And if it does somehow happen this year or five years from now, "maintaining the peace" will then be the justification for our continued presence.
NYT:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has told President Bush that he wants to maintain heightened troop levels in Iraq well into next year to reduce the risk of military setbacks, but could accept the pullback of roughly 4,000 troops beginning in January, in part to assuage critics in Congress, according to senior administration and military officials.

General Petraeus’s view is considered overly cautious by some other senior military officials and some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. But they said it reflected his concern that the security gains made so far in Baghdad, Anbar Province and other areas were fragile and easily reversed.
Any questions? Continued chaos, we stay. Success? Can't risk leaving now. There's never been a single, viable, realistic scenario in which large numbers of U.S. troops would leave Iraq. And the occupation's supporters have abandoned any pretense of offering one.

Look, at this point it ain't brain surgery. What you see is what you'll get. You're in favor of keeping 100,000 or more troops in Mesopotamia as occupiers for the next five, ten, or maybe twenty years, or you're not. You're willing to accept about a thousand KIA's and many thousands more injured for each of those years, or you're not. You think spending well into the trillions and courting grave economic consequences will be worth it, or you don't. The rest, really, is just keyboard noise.

Those in favor of the status quo are in luck. Nothing is going to change, save a token "withdrawal" of a few thousand troops in January that would have occurred by April out of necessity. But for those in favor of a different course, there's clearly a lot of hard work ahead.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would that the mainstream media could be so clear about the dynamics of this issue.

9/07/2007 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put another way, Bush is running out the clock.

And if Iraq shows any signs of improvement in the next 18 mos?

Then they can say they handed over a viable strategy to the Democrats (even they presume Democrats win in '08, I'm sure).

And if things get worse?

Let the next President be the one associated with helicopters lifting the last evacuees off the rooftops of our Ga-gillion dollar embassy.

9/07/2007 7:45 AM  
Blogger Vercules said...

Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate not endorsing the status quo.
Even on the Dem side, all the major candidates are supporting the status quo.

So people...
Vote for Ron Paul, or go back to sleep.

9/07/2007 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From an article in Slate


"Biddle also said (again, expressing his personal view) that the strategy in Iraq would require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years—and that, even so, it would be a "long-shot gamble." "

Biddle is an advisor to Petraeus.

9/07/2007 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one speaks of the hardcore economics of this snakepit. China is quietly selling its US bonds, according to TimesUK. Three billion borrowed dollars a week and no accountability. This is insanity.

9/07/2007 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new Cold War:

China selling off our massive debt, while we spend a trillion keeping them away from the MidEast oil.

It's Mourning in America!

9/07/2007 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Petraeus said indirectly: the security gains made so far in Baghdad, Anbar Province and other areas were fragile and easily reversed.

It always frustrates me to hear people say this -- Rush Limbaugh and others have discoursed extensively on this in an effort to "prove" the "surge" is "working": Hey, we've driven them out of Anbar, we've driven them out of the Green Zone, they're on the run, etc.

As John Robb points out in his fascinating blog, Open Source Warfare, this misunderstands the entire point of guerrilla warfare. The guerrillas make nuisance strikes against the superpower here, there, elsewhere, on the peripheries, then withdraw and vanish into the population. We haven't "driven them out" of anywhere; it's their _strategy_ to move around, withdraw, retreat, and change location. The idea is that the superpower over-reacts and devastates civilian areas long after the guerrillas have left, like a bull in a china shop, thereby motivating the populace to throw them out. So when the insurgents retreat from a specific location, like Anbar or whatever -- we did NOT "win", we played into their strategy. There may or may not be ways to defeat this guerrilla strategy, but the way we're going ain't it. I assure you that we're not going to play into their strategy for five, ten, fifteen years or whatever, and then miraculously pull a "win" out of it at the end. As TCR predicts, sooner or later it will end ignominiously as the Iraqi populace finally decides to deny us the support we need to remain as occupiers.

Petraeus and others surely were taught the lessons of Vietnam and how to analyze the situation. I can't help but believe that anyone who phrases the situation in terms of geographic progress, like conquering this or that hill in WWII, is deliberately misleading the American people.

9/07/2007 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate but CR is right....what the Repubs are planning is to run out the clock and pass on the poisoned chalice that is Iraq to the Dems so that the Dems could finally exit Iraq. Once that's done the Repubs could just turn around and blame the Dems for abandoning/losing Iraq. Gotta love it. In the mean time, more Americans killed, money spent (that could be spent on security here!!!) and general political paralysis elswere while the Chinese clean house.

9/07/2007 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Lord said...

Repubs could just turn around and blame the Dems for abandoning/losing Iraq

Most certainly will, but few will believe, and they will most certainly go down in flames. It is beginning to sound like time for new party.

9/08/2007 1:57 AM  
Anonymous James Finkelstein said...

WAITING FOR PETRAEUS

QUESTIONS FOR CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS TO ASK GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS

During the first few months of 2007 the Bush Administration’s answer to Congress when asked when are we going to start withdrawing American troops from Iraq was “wait until September.” Wait for the report from General David Petraeus, the general selected by the President to run the war in Iraq. The general who will tell America whether or not the surge of additional troops sent to Iraq was working. The obvious implication was that General Petraeus would faithfully and accurately report the whole truth about the success or failure of President Bush’s decision to send in additional combat troops to secure Iraq. The message from the President was that after the general gave his report, the Democrats who now run Congress would then be able to decide whether to continue to support the President’s strategy or whether to start a withdrawal of our troops.

That directive from the Bush Administration- to hold off criticism until September, to hold off taking meaningful actions to end the war and just give the surge a chance to secure the peace in Iraq- that directive was the beginning of a shell game being played on America. I say “shell game” because the last few months, as every objective measure has indicated that violence is on the increase, that Iraq’s political situation- which is essential to a peaceful solution to the country’s problems- is disintegrating, that security is non-existent in most of the country while the infrastructure is still a shambles-- as all that has occurred even with the “surge,” the Presidential rhetoric has shifted once again.

Recently, the President has suggested that Iraq is just like Vietnam, but not in the way that most rational people would assume. He says we shouldn’t pull out of Iraq when all indications are that the surge is working– just like those defeatist Democrats did in Vietnam when we were on the cusp of victory. When asked in Australia at the APEC meeting how things were going in Iraq, his surrealistic response was “we’re kicking ass!” President Bush neglected to mention, as Bill Maher astutely pointed out, that if we really were kicking ass and the surge had worked, he wouldn’t have had to fly into the country secretly, spend every minute of his time in Iraq on our most secure air base, Al Asad, nicknamed “Camp Cupcake” by the Marines who serve there, and he wouldn’t have needed Iraq’s President al Maliki to secretly fly from Baghdad to meet him there.

Notwithstanding the mountain of objective evidence that the stated goals of the surge- the “18 benchmarks”-- have not been met (supposedly three were, but none of them involved the most critical- such as having movement forward on a political reconciliation and having the security situation improve so that ordinary Iraqis can safely live in their homes and drive on the streets), the spineless crapweasel Democrats will continue to hem and haw and avoid making an actual decision to pull the plug. They could end the war tomorrow if they so chose by cutting off the cash flow which is the necessity for the continuation of a war which has killed several hundred thousand Iraqis-- no one knows the actual number because the Bush Administration refuses to count-- over 4,000 Americans in uniform, and wounded and maimed tens of thousands of Americans, while costing the nation upwards of $500 billion, with $4 billion thrown down the sewer every week.

So as a public service to the nation, I have some suggested questions for Democrats in Congress to ask General Petraeus when he appears before them and gives them two self-contradictory messages: the surge is working, violence is down, and victory is in sight-- but if we stage an orderly withdrawal over the next 12 months, Iraq is so fragile it will immediately descend into chaos, overt civil war, genocide, and become a failed state and a haven for international terrorism targeting America.

The questions are easy to ask, and any competent commanding general should have made it his business to know the answers:

General Petraeus, what was the population of Iraq before we invaded in March of 2003?

What is Iraq’s population now?

How many Iraqis have fled the country since we invaded it in 2003, toppled their government, and occupied the country?

How many of the remaining Iraqis are involved in acts of violence, including the insurgency and sectarian violence between and within religious sects?

What are the names of each organization which has engaged in acts of violence against United States troops in Iraq in the last 12 months?

How many insurgents are members of the Al Qaida organization which takes direct orders from Osama Bin Laden?

What is/are the name of the top leader(s) of the Al Qaida organization in Iraq?

How many members of Al Qaida in Iraq are Iraqis?

Of those members of Al Qaida in Iraq who are Iraqi, how many of them were members of Al Qaida before we invaded in 2003?

How many members of Al Qaida in Iraq are foreign nationals?

What foreign countries do they come from, and what are the numbers who come from each of those countries?

Of those members of Al Qaida in Iraq who are foreign nationals, how many of them were members of Al Qaida before we invaded in 2003?

How many insurgents are nationalities other than Iraqi?

What is the breakdown in numbers by religion of the insurgents in Iraq (i.e. how many are Sunni, how many are Shia, how many are other)?

What is the geographic breakdown of the insurgents in Iraq, as in how many are there in each province?

General, are all Iraqis found dead from gunshot wounds counted by the American military when compiling statistics as to the effects of the surge?

General, are all Iraqis killed by explosives counted by the American military when compiling statistics as to the effects of the surge?

What provinces have experienced acts of violence committed by insurgents against American or coalition forces in the last 12 months?

What provinces have not experienced acts of violence committed by insurgents against American or coalition forces in the last 12 months?

How many of the insurgents who exist in 2007 were actively involved in violence against Americans before we invaded in March of 2003?

How many Iraqis oppose retaining America’s military presence there?

How many Iraqis, while not actively involved in violence towards America’s troops, do not object to attacks on American troops?

How many billions of dollars in cash did the United States government airlift or otherwise sent to Iraq after our invasion in 2003?

How much of that is missing?

Who got the missing cash?

How much of that missing cash has been used to fuel the insurgency and to attack and kill American troops?

How many weapons that were handed out to Iraq’s police forces and Iraq’s army have gone missing? How many of those missing weapons have been used to attack American troops or kill Iraqis in sectarian violence?

What is the total number of Iraq’s police forces?

How many of Iraq’s police have been killed in 2007? In 2006? In 2005? 2004? 2003? 2002 (before we invaded)?

How many Iraqi police officers can be counted on to impartially enforce the law rather than participating in the insurgency, in sectarian violence, or in criminal acts?

What is the total number of Iraq’s combat forces?

How many of Iraq’s combat forces can be counted on to impartially enforce the law rather than participating in the insurgency, in sectarian violence, or in criminal acts?

In the last six months, how many of Iraq’s combat troops have been “stand alone” and have carried out missions without active American troop support or American military advisors accompanying them?

What was the civilian population in Baghdad in August of 2007?

What is the average high daytime temperature in Baghdad in August?

How do Baghdad’s Iraqi civilians cool their homes?

General, during the month of August of 2007, how many hours a day on the average was electricity on in homes in Baghdad? In August of 2006? 2005? 2004? 2003? 2002 (before we invaded)?

How many hours a day is electricity on in your headquarters?

How many acts of sabotage were committed against Iraq’s electrical grid in the last 12 months?

Who was guarding Iraq’s electrical generators and grid systems in those 12 months?

How many acts of sabotage were committed against Iraq’s oil pipelines in the last 12 months?

Who was guarding Iraq’s oil pipelines in those 12 months?

Is the drinking water in homes in Baghdad safe to drink?

Would you advise Americans to drink the tap water from civilian homes in Baghdad?

General, my friend’s daughter is planning on visiting Iraq next month. Can you tell me what hotel you recommend she stay in outside the Green Zone and the names of some stores where she can shop without needing a security detail of U.S. Marines and attack helicopters?

General, if an American tourist wishes to take his family to Iraq, wearing clothing adorned with American flags, and without bodyguards or a military escort, which cities would you recommend they not visit, not stay in, and not go shopping in?

What would an American tourist's life expectancy be in minutes if he walked the streets of Baghdad during the daytime?

Can you name any member of the Iraqi Parliament who can walk on the streets in Baghdad, wearing some insignia identifying himself as a member of the Parliament, without body guards, who has more than a 50 percent chance of returning alive?

Name every city in Iraq in which the mayor and city council members may walk the streets safely in the daytime without body guards?

Name every city where it is not safe for the mayor and city council members to walk the streets safely in the daytime without body guards.

Are Iraqi women who are not dressed in traditional Muslim clothing safer walking the streets today, or were they safer on March 19, 2003, before we invaded?

What percentage of your patrol vehicles have armor that will withstand improvised explosive devices planted in the street?

How many more IED resistant vehicles do you need?

How many have you ordered?

How many were delivered?

How many citizens of Iraq died from acts of violence there in 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007? What were the numbers who died from disease or hunger during each of those years?

How many Iraqis left their homes in 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007?

How many Iraqis left the country in 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007?

Are American troops in Iraq to provide democracy to the country?

Are the people of Iraq are free to choose their own fate or is their future being dictated by American military and civilian authorities?

Do you have any objection to asking Iraq’s government to schedule an election to allow the Iraqi people to vote: American troops are to leave within 12 months, or stay in Iraq for years to come?

What is America’s mission in Iraq?

When will that mission be accomplished so that all American troops may come home?

General Petraeus, how many nuclear weapons have American forces discovered in Iraq?

How many facilities capable of making nuclear weapons were discovered by American forces in Iraq?

One final question, General Petraeus: how many of the 20 9-11 hijackers were Iraqis?

9/08/2007 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone blames petraeus. folks, this is bush and cheney's war. petraeus answers to them. if they ordered him to pull out, he would. until that moment, he must continue the occupation and do whatever he thinks it takes to win. so lets re-focus the anger from petraeus to bush, where it belongs. you're missing the big picture if you do otherwise. and of couse the chinese are selling treasuries. "reagan proved deficits don't matter." don't forget that.

9/09/2007 2:08 AM  
Blogger Grodge said...

This definitely is Bush's and Cheney's war. Now we are seeing the masses rise up to blame the "crapweasel" Democrats too!

I am hardly a partisan Democrat-- trust me on that-- but this is not the fault of the 50 Deomcrats in the Senate. Bush vetoed the funding bill that contained benchmarks. He vetoed it!

If you what to blame someone, look around you at the 50 million numbskulls who voted criminals into office (twice!) I'm starting to think we don't deserve a Democracy; let's just outsource our whole government operation to the corrupt Chinese plutocrats.

9/10/2007 6:38 AM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Sorry, Grodge -- even though Bush, and the, **err, ahem** misguided voters who elected him twice, are the proximate cause of the war...

But some of us have longer memories than last summer's funding bill. The Congressional Democrats richly deserve the blame they are just now, belatedly, inheriting. After all, in October of 2002, 29 of the 50 Democratic Senators (a solid 58% majority of Dems) voted to authorize the war -- as well as 81 of the 207 Dem Congressmen, for a grand total of 43% of Congressional Democrats; nearly half of sitting Democrats. These Congressional Dems placed their trust in Bush and Cheney's "secret information we can't show you" instead of the literally tens of millions of voters who marched in protest with highly specific information casting doubt on the President. So really, the Democratic Party bears a substantial share of the blame for getting us into this. And the reason they acted thus was exactly the same as their losing electoral strategy for so many years: "We can do this and we won't be held accountable by our base, because where the hell else are they gonna go."

Not that you hear many prominent Democrats today talk about actually exercising Congressional war powers and ending the war, of course. I'm sick to death of Democratic activists telling us that we need to support Democrats in order to end the war, while Hillary and Obama are both still up there talking about how obviously we can't have a precipitous withdrawal because that would cause chaos in Iraq. Chaos in Iraq, can you imagine? But we gotta, just gotta, vote for Hillary after she takes the preordained nomination because, well, because where the hell else are ya gonna go...?

The wheels are falling off our country because of this war, but switching a broken wheel for a flat tire isn't going to solve the problem. Peace-minded voters need to keep criticizing and pressuring the Democrats until they change their stance and then stay united on it. That's what representative democracy is, and we've had precious little of it for the past 30 years.

This blog has had this discussion before. I said earlier and I'll say it again:
http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/2007/06/they-broke-it-and-they-own-itfor-now_13.html
http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/2007/06/always-ws-war.html
In the long-term verdict of history, this war belongs to Democrats about as much as it does to the Republicans -- it belongs to all Americans who didn't protest what was being done in our names -- and future generations will recognize it as such.

9/11/2007 2:02 PM  

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