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December 12, 2006

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I just want to take this opportunity to say that this charade in which George W. Bush wanders around trying to give the impression that he's interested in other people's views on Iraq strikes me as a very bad idea. This is a war. We do not have all the time in the world in which to figure out what to do.

Well, see, this is just wrong. The Decider knows what he's going to do, stay the course, so if he can go around making it look like he's trying to get the best advice and make people in the United States feel better, more power to him. I mean, if he turns a morose American into a sad one, on any given day that's worth 12 to 15 Iraqis, 20 if it's Sunday and football is on. If we invade Iran those numbers double. Nothing is more important to the world than American happiness.

Besides, D.C. and Milwaukee are just as bad. Sure, there hasn't been a car bombing in either place since, well, when Pinochet was in power, but it's just as bad, trust me.

It seems to me that our forces aren't just hitting pause either, though. It isn't like we stopped everything we were doing while he goes through his prepertions. If it is deteriorating, it is doing so against the best attempts of our guys to stem that tide.

Lines like "The people who are fighting are still doing things, things that will probably make the prospects of success in Iraq even more minute than they already are." strike me as a bit disengenius inasmuch as they do not acknowledge that the people who are fighting (on our side) are doing things that will make the prospects in Iraq more likely than they currently are. If you think that the other guy is winning, that is understandable. Just don't paint it like he is the only one fighting.

If we're lucky, no one will attack our supply lines or try to overrun the Green Zone while Bush is figuring out what to do. But it doesn't seem that smart to count on good luck when we ought to be taking action.

No, I think it's the other way around: if we're lucky, people will try to overrun the Green Zone. It's not organized, massed opposition that's the problem. Massed conflict is exactly where we can prevail.

Which is exactly why they're not going to try anything like that.

It's a standard tactic for today's CEOs to shop for a consultant that will tell them to do exactly what they want to do anyway. Just keep reminding yourself that it's the MBA administration and all will come clear.

Slart is correct. The best thing that could happen to our efforts in Iraq would be a move from insurgency to conventional warfare. The odds of that happening are incredibly low, as I don't think the insurgents are that dumb, however.

As for the ongoing efforts to shift security responsibilities to the Iraqis, I may soon have a better opportunity to speak to that fight.

As for the ongoing efforts to shift security responsibilities to the Iraqis, I may soon have a better opportunity to speak to that fight.

I would be very interested in reading that Andrew.

What Ugh said.

Also: OK, I just say 'attacks on our supply chain'. You can add: blowing up a major religious holy site' if you'd like.

But I stand by the general point, which is: in real life, and I would have thought especially in war, waiting is a luxury you don't always have. A lot of the solutions that are being batted about would have been really good a few years ago, but we have lost the chance to use them with any hope of success. We have conducted most of this war as if it was OK to say: right, we should have figured out in advance what to do about policing/disbanded the militias/not dissolved the Iraqi army/etc., etc., but hey: we've figured that out now, so everything's OK, right?

This is madness.

I liked Jim Henley's take:

1. Declare that we must stay in Iraq to prevent some Bad Thing from happening.

2. Bad Thing happens anyway.

3. Declare that we must stay in Iraq to prevent some Worse Thing from happening.

4. Worse Thing happens anyway.

5. Reiterate sequence.

An effective attack on our supply chain is of necessity organized. Sure, a sustained series of IEDs might slow things down a tad, but we'd simply step up surveillance, step up sweeps, etc. In order to break our supply chain, they have to both take ground and hold it. That's not going to happen, and we'd wind up killing a great lot of them if they tried it. This would be very good for us, so there's no possible way (barring protracted mass mental illness) that's going to happen.

The insurgency is finding effect in doing what it does best: sneak up on a bunch of unsuspecting civilians and detonate HE in quantity. Oh, and occasionally dragging unarmed people from their houses and executing them in the street. Engaging our armed forces would be suicide of a kind that doesn't get them all that much of a yield in terms of body count. The way they're doing things, they can kill 20 or 40 people at a time and only lose one person, and possibly one weapon.

A holy site is completely doable for them, provided we've not already restricted vehicle access to same.

OTOH they have to be very careful in the way they conduct these attacks, lest the native population turn on them.

Slart is correct.

I figured it'd have to be my turn eventually.

For a short time, they could probably completely shut down the supply chain. AFAIK, most of it is private trucking that would bail if it got really hot. There are also a few bridges they could blow that would have to be replaced.

For a short time, they could probably completely shut down the supply chain.

Agreed, depending on the value of short, and definition of completely. I'd imagine, though, that we're set up to tolerate short interruptions in supply, and that we can fly in temporary provisions by air if needed.

things that will probably make the prospects of success in Iraq even more minute than they already are

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was immoral and criminal. When you long for the "prospects of success", you long for the success of a crime.

Well, I don't know yet about attacks on the Green Zone or supply lines. But if we are actively moving to aid Hakim in taking out Moqtada, we may be soon killing masses of Shia militiamen, and taking the weaker and less viable side, and at that point I would be concerned about the Green Zone and supply lines. There are maybe 20k Sunni insurgents.
Moqtada might be able to incite a million Shia.

I think we are in an endgame. Hakim appears to me to making a desperate and suicidal move. The Iraqis pay close attention to American politics, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a coup, and events that are decisive, or decision-forcing, by around the time Democrats take control of Congress. I would not be surprised if we were forced out of Iraq by next summer.

Unless Bush attacks Iran. Then who knows.

Andrew wrote

The best thing that could happen to our efforts in Iraq would be a move from insurgency to conventional warfare.

Which we would win, and then what? The only "gain" from such a move might be a short-term bump in Bush's approval. "See? We are winning".

Anyway, the insurgents are not equipped to fight a conventional war, so it's a fantasy anyway. And the fact that conventional war is a fantasy should tell you something about the reality.

Anyway, the insurgents are not equipped to fight a conventional war, so it's a fantasy anyway. And the fact that conventional war is a fantasy should tell you something about the reality.

I think if you were to perhaps go back and read what Andrew read a bit more closely, you'd notice that he and I both agree with you.

Well do not put it beyond insurgents to overrun the Green-Zone. Tet was in the planning for months before. Besides your "conventional warfare" trump card is only a trump card outside the green zone. Inside there are huge issues of fratricide, that would eliminate choppers, tanks, and make APV's death boxes. Not to mention flip house to house searches on their head. Lets just call it split-up units hiding from house to house, translators being shot by supposed friendly americans, nurses correspondents MOST IMPORTANTLY giving live feeds from the carnage...of course until their batteries gave out.
So I don't know where you would get that a switch to conventional warfare in the green-zone would be favorable. By the time daylight hit and special forces arrived the damage would be done. So all of you armchair warriors waiting with your shovels to dig fox-holes you can watch the recap on Fox News with the 101st

So I don't know where you would get that a switch to conventional warfare in the green-zone would be favorable.

I don't see where anyone said it would be favorable, Sean, just that it would be a great deal less favorable to our adversaries than they prefer, by all appearances.

Maliki snubs Bush in Jordan.

Hakim flies to Washington to meet with Junior in the Whitehouse. Jeez. What, you think that expanded and strengthened Hakim's base in Baghdad and Basra? Do you think that there are a thousand people left in Iraq who don't hate Bush?

It is unbelievable, incomprehensible. There is no level of bloodbath that can now make Hakim acceptable to the people of Iraq. Maliki had an excuse. Hakim was signaling that he was taking the side of Americans against Iraqis. Or something. Hamik is probably the worst politician I have ever seen.

Ugh,

Sadly, the Army is cracking down on blogging from Iraq, so if it happens I doubt I'll have much opportunity to report on it.

Slartibartfast wrote

if we're lucky, people will try to overrun the Green Zone.

This fantasizing is what I was (or was meaning to be) questioning.

Slartibartfast: "An effective attack on our supply chain is of necessity organized. Sure, a sustained series of IEDs might slow things down a tad, but we'd simply step up surveillance, step up sweeps, etc."

So far the guerrillas have been quite capable of continuing to plant IED's. The big worry would be an organized surge - perhaps by various Shiite militias, who've been serving as de facto government in many areas. That would both stretch our surveillance/prevention capabilities, and decrease supply lines.

I'd be very surprised if supply line integrity wasn't the biggest worry of the honest generals in Iraq.

Quote 'draft the speech he is supposedly going to give before Christmas, but which he might delay, etc., etc., etc'

I read a moment ago that this is now definitely going to occur AFTER Christmas. Let's start counting how many lives our lost between now and then.

Andrew, that crackdown is no surprise. The Bush administrations number one enemy is the truth. It has to be ferreted out and stomped on, wherever it may be. I wish you and other servicemen the best of luck in the world.

Sadly, the Army is cracking down on blogging from Iraq, so if it happens I doubt I'll have much opportunity to report on it.

That is too bad, but if it does happen perhaps you can report when you return (and stay safe while there).

Barry,

If not, they should be fired. However, it's actually a lot easier to protect a supply line against IED attack than to defend against IEDs in general. The enemy can plant IEDs anywhere in order to simply disrupt patrols, but if they want to hit our supply line, we know the terrain that must be guarded. That allows us to take some useful countermeasures.

Nick,

I think the Army's concerned a lot more with OPSEC than suppressing the truth. A few bloggers in Iraq have released information that could put people at risk (information about operations, pictures of translators, that sort of thing).

Ugh,

Heh, you sound like my Dad. He's all excited about the idea I might be able to write a book when I get back.

Wow, I didn't know Andrew was going to Iraq.
I wish he wasn't. But considering Andrew's expertise...

Sneaking Away ...Saudi Ambassador suddenly quits. Emptywheel at Next Hurrah speculates.

Blindess Touch Perfection ...Spencer Ackerman on the anti-Sadr Putsch.

Hakim might be able to put down Sadr, maybe, with carpet bombing which is really all Hakim has ever wanted from the US, just massive B-52 waves of genocide. But Hakim cannot win anything. He is toast.

"One last push-putsch". Bush may have caught a sense of urgency, and we may be on our way out of Iraq. We just put the Navy and Air Force under Hakim targetting, and start to move the ground troops out, or into hiding in bases. Gilliard would say the Green Zone is completely infiltrated by Sadrist Shia, and Sean's prediction of 11:37 will come to pass. Slit throats of sleeping diplomats.

Moqtada won. Deal. It's a hearts and minds thing, not bribes to collaborators, exiles, and other "friendlies." The stupids have just gotten stupider.

Post title is appropriate. I think the horror is about to become unspeakable.

The sad thing is that if Bush makes any good decisions, it will be against his will. The ISG, for all its faults and merits, gave Bush cover to change course and make some sane decisions. But Bush has no desire to do so. Currently, we'll be stuck in Iraq 'til at least 2008 because it seems no "intervention" for Bush will work. Our troops deserve better.

"Currently, we'll be stuck in Iraq 'til at least 2008..."

I no longer think we will be in Iraq in 2008. I do not think this is good news.

Saudi Ambassador Resigns ...Steve Clemons. The comments have good people like Paul Lukasiak, there is a little hard information and more speculation. Remember, the oil industry in the NE corner of SA is worked by Saudi Shia.
OTOH, Saudi tribes have family relationships with Iraqi Sunni.

Were there people thinking Bush would go down with a whimper? Gilliard maybe. For Jim Baker to publicly slap the punk shows real fear, even desperation. Bush will blow it all up on the way out.

Well, it looks like Bush put-off the decision until next year.

Phew.

So far the guerrillas have been quite capable of continuing to plant IED's.

Randomly. It probably isn't a stretch to suppose that random placement of IEDs is quite a ways from protracted disruption of the supply line.

Hopefully.

I'd be very surprised if supply line integrity wasn't the biggest worry of the honest generals in Iraq.

Me too. Maybe worries of this sort might lead them to take some sort of measures to protect the supply line.

Interesting juxtaposition of words, "honest generals". Are there some dishonest ones that you know of?

This fantasizing is what I was (or was meaning to be) questioning.

Ah. Well, think of it as a counterpart to "if we're lucky, things will continue as they are". Believe me, I'm well aware that there are lots of noncombatants that would end up dead in the Green Zone in the event of a concerted effort to take it.

The action we ought to be taking is putting soldiers and Marines onto aircraft and trucks and getting them the heck out of Iraq.

Slartibartfast: occasionally dragging unarmed people from their houses and executing them in the street

Try 'nightly' for 'occasionally'.

While we are talking about Slarti's 10:09 AM post I feel I have to say that the people "occasionally dragging unarmed people from their houses and executing them in the street" aren't the insurgents. The insurgents are Sunnis, The death squads are Shia; our friends, and they were organized by US personel. I know you'd like to forget the Salvadoran option, and that Negroponte was brought in to start it up, but I won't let you.

The insurgents are Sunnis, The death squads are Shia; our friends, and they were organized by US personel.

Both groups have more than enough death squads, and most seem ad hoc rather than trained.

I know you'd like to forget the Salvadoran option, and that Negroponte was brought in to start it up, but I won't let you.

Mindreading, lose 100 points.

DPU- Whose mind was I engaged in reading? I haven't seen any evidence of Sunni death squad activity, they have other methods. Have you got a pointer or link to Sunni death squad activity?

Randomly. It probably isn't a stretch to suppose that random placement of IEDs is quite a ways from protracted disruption of the supply line.

Unless I'm seriously misremembering, the road from the airport to Baghdad was one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the world, largely because people were getting lots of IEDs planted on it. [Don't know what the situation is now because, after the brother of a friend of mine drew a midnight patrol there, I couldn't bear to look.] I'd call that both non-random and bang-smack in the middle of the supply line.

I think it's ironic that 43's approval (21% approval, 75% disapproval, and I guess the rest undecided) is now the mirror image of 41's approval. And yet he was going to outdo his dad. How weird, in this odd Oedipal saga that has no business playing out before us and no business claiming the lives of so many Iraqis who were just looking for work, that 43's failures are going to be compared against his father's successes.

I guess he succeeded in rehabilitating his father's image after all!

"I guess he succeeded in rehabilitating his father's image after all!"

Bah. Bush I raised an irresponsible thug, ran interference for him all his life, and called in the family consigliore to help the thug into the White House.

If anyone on this planet knew how unfit Bush II was for the Presidency, it was Bush I. If Bush I had had any respect for that institution - or for the country, in fact - he wouldn't have put the family resources at Bush II's disposal during the 2000 election.

I just want to take this opportunity to say that this charade in which George W. Bush wanders around trying to give the impression that he's interested in other people's views on Iraq strikes me as a very bad idea. This is a war.

Here, I think, is what the problem is. We're facing one the more significant crises we've faced in our nation's history, and we're led by a man who is not up to the task.

George W. Bush is wandering around because he has no idea what to do. None. Not one clue. With both hands and a flashlight, he will not find a single, solitary clue. The proverbial blind squirrel will stumble across the proverbial nut -- make that one thousand and one proverbial nuts -- before this man stumbles across a single, solitary clue.

Unfortunately, he also appears to be endowed with a suffiently ample supply of some combination of insecurity, lack of imagination and mulish pride that he will not listen to folks who do have a clue. Even if they are on his side. Also unfortunately, he is by Constitutional mandate the Commander in Chief, aka "the Decider".

I hardly know what to say about Iraq anymore. I think the outcome there is, really and truly, no longer something we have much say in, and that saddens me more than I can say. Iraq is now, and will for the forseeable future be, FUBAR.

In any universe of possibilities that has any remote chance of being realized, the outcome in Iraq is out of our hands. If we stay, it will suck. If we leave, it will suck. Perhaps differently, but it will. We are now just along for the ride, and we should just hope and pray for the best possible outcome.

Good luck to us, and even more so, good luck to the people of Iraq. We'll all need as much as we can get.

Thanks -

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