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September 04, 2007

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...and that the country's politicians "need to view politics and democracy as more than just majority rule, winner-take-all, or a zero-sum game."
Who let this pinko commie in? ;-)
--
I cynically expect a return to the old "Frontbewährung". Why not clean US death rows by sending the people (except Muslims of course) waiting for execution to Iraq instead to do the really dangerous jobs (without giving them arms of course)?
Survivors will get a reduced sentence.
Hey, if US inmates can be used for medical experiments without consent...
--
New slogan: If we don't kill them there they will kill each other once we leave.
--
[/snark of the day]

The Dems of either House o' Congress have the power to halt our occupation of Iraq this month.

But aren't they really just gonna look at the Petraeus Report! and decide whether it offers them enough political cover to kick the occupation past the next election or not?

My guess is it won't disappoint them.

And to think, we might have been out of there already if the left didn't do every single thing they could to obstruct and destroy George Bush.

Shameful.

Assuming that "x" is for real and not a drive-by joke, I wonder how well that particular line of attack will play? Surely there can't be that many people in the US with the memory of a goldfish?

As they are planning on moving the goal posts, yet again. They just need another freidman unit,and all will be well/won. yes :P

Hey 'x', assuming you are sincere (as Jes said), I have a message for you and your ilk that I wrote last night. (A note for work filter folks: like a lot of my writing, profanity abounds. Plus, it's pretty DFH-ish.)

I can fill in one of the missing numbers:

8. The Bush Administration doesn't believe that the surge has markedly improved the security situation. Otherwise, they would not have had an "unannounced" visit to Iraq over this weekend to meet with the Iraqi government. How many other heads of state and/or government has Bush met with where the existence of the meeting could not have been announced beforehand?

the "surge" is going to last until 2009, at least.

I'm not sure your logic holds, Dan. The security situation in Iraq has been bad enough that it could improve quite a bit and still make the secret service very nervous about announced visits.

Cleek, are you saying that Bush will require the army to continue the surge to 2009 so that his successor will be faced with an absolutely no-win situation? Pull out a broken army and be blamed for failure, or leave the broken army in iraq until things really fall apart?

That's cold. I can see Bush/Cheney doing that despite the moral objections, but wouldn't it be risky? What if things fall apart too fast? They can't blame it on Democrats cutting funding, the Democrats have given them everything they asked for. They could blame it on inadequate cheerleading, but would that even work?

G'Kar,

I will disagree. We are talking about a very basic level of security to make the skies safe enough for Air Force One to land and take off and to make a military base safe enough for the President to hold a meeting. If we are not achieving that, it does imply that the security situation is far worse than the Administration is admitting to.

And that is even ignoring that military progress is a sideshow compared to politcal progress in showing the surge's effectiveness.

Cleek, are you saying that Bush will require the army to continue the surge to 2009 so that his successor will be faced with an absolutely no-win situation?

i'm saying Bush isn't going to end it because it will always need a little bit more time to fully succeed; and no Rep or Dem with any chance of winning in 2008 is going to pull out either, for the same reason.

we're going to be stuck fighting in Iraq for another 4 years.

(book)mark my words.

This war is a major cash cow on both the U.S. and the Iraqi side. Any report that might jeopardize that had no chance of being written.

We'll be in Iraq until the money runs out.

I can see the set up right now, "the surge had to end because the left has spent the last 30 years destroying the ability of the military to wage war by de-funding, therefore it is the democrat's responsibility for the quagmire..."

btw, what happened to #4?

btw, what happened to #4?

You forgot about Poland.

Oh noes! No 4? Well, it was very late last night. Oh well.

Cleek, you figure this will be like lebanon but on a massive scale?

We sent in a little force mostly to hold the airport, with no clear mission, and they held on there while everything fell apart around them until they got hit hard. Then Reagan pulled them out.

I can't see a draft before 2012, and without that, how are we going to avoid some lebanon-type incidents? We're getting tired and the army's getting slowly degraded. Individual soldiers spending half their time in a hot desert hellhole for no particular reason. Not nearly enough prostitutes. It sure isn't helping many Reservist careers. Our guys get tired and a little careless and they make mistakes. We lose a few more supply dumps. A few more DFACs. The other sides start getting weapons that are effective against our aging helicopters. (That hit the russians pretty hard in afghanistan.) And the next president tries to hang in there because (s)he can't think of an adequate excuse to leave? Like Beirut but 500 times larger?

No. Certainly within the next 5 years there will be an iraqi government that we recognise as the legitimate government of iraq. There's one of those right now. All we have to do is let them tell us to get out, and we have a perfect excuse to get out. What, are we going to overthrow them and replace them with a new government so we can occupy iraq longer? No way.

I figure the timeline something like this:

November 2008: US president-elect quietly tells the current head of the iraqi government to ignore all those previous threats about what happens if they tell us to go away.

January 2009: Iraqi government tells us to go away.

June 2009: US forces have withdrawn from iraq.

Bush could delay that though by making sure there is no iraqi government in November 2008.

Cleek, you figure this will be like lebanon but on a massive scale?

i figure it's going to be just like Iraq has been - lots of US troops trying to get the Iraqis to stop killing each other while politicians here and there screw around.

We're getting tired and the army's getting slowly degraded.

we've been hearing that for years. Kerry ran on that message, and lost.

And the next president tries to hang in there because (s)he can't think of an adequate excuse to leave? Like Beirut but 500 times larger?

the next president hangs in there because he/she doesn't want to be the one who lost Iraq - in addition to whatever delusions of Flypaper and Fight 'Em Over There he/she harbors.

What, are we going to overthrow them and replace them with a new government so we can occupy iraq longer? No way.

i'm not suggesting anything like that.

but they won't really ask us to leave, if we're the only thing keeping them in power.

it's gonna be more of the same, for many more years. maybe it'll be called something different (peace-keeping, advising, training, etc). but it'll be the same.

listen to the politicians and the media. the options they discuss, even today, are "immediate withdrawal" and "stay the course". everyone scoffs at "immediate withdrawal" (even though nobody in any position to make it happen is advocating it), leaving "stay the course" as the only alternative. leaving is for pussies. nobody wants to be a pussy.

four more years.

There must be fifty ways to leave Iraq.

Oh noes! No 4? Well, it was very late last night. Oh well.

Still...it's only mostly prime.

Dan,

As you wish. Still, I think you underestimate how easy it is for someone to take a shot at an aircraft. Any fire and forget weapon like that is extraordinarily difficult to defeat in this type of fight, no matter how good the security situation is.

What cleek said re: '09. Wouldn't be surprised if his '4 more years' prediction proves to be accurate, either.

The gripping hand is Iran. If reports of an imminent attack pan out, Iran will throw everything it can into the Shia insurgency. I suspect that given their longstanding involvement with irregular forces in Lebanon they have a pretty good idea of how to fight effectively in the sort of conditions prevailing in Iraq.

If "the iraqi government" can't survive without us, then we have a tremendous amount of leverage with them. We can quietly tell them to tell us to get out, and slip them few billion dollars in "reconstruction" money, and they'll do it. If they won't we can dispose of them and get an iraqi government that will.

On the other hand an iraqi government that can survive without us would get a whole lot of public support by telling us to go away. Certainly there'll be many a dry eye in iraq when we're gone. And they get a whole lot more credible as an iraqi government as opposed to our puppet, after they defy us that way. So I think that approach could definitely work.

But what happens if we get into a war with iran? We start losing a lot of vehicles in iraq, maybe we start losing aircraft, our supply lines get kind of unreliable in iraq. Meanwhile we're doing whatever we do in iran. Presumably congress feels obligated to give 100% support to Bush's iran war. What do the candidates say? I have no idea how to predict the 2008 election in that case. I can't predict what the next president will do. I can't predict how bad the economy would get. I can't predict china or the UN. Or for that matter NATO. Is there any chance we'd get thrown out of NATO after we started a war with iran?

All in all, war with iran looks likwa good move for Bush. As it is, he looks real real bad and there's no prospect for anything better. Holding out in iraq until he can pass the quagmire off to some sucker doesn't make him look good, it just keeps him from looking even worse. But if he gets us into a big war that actually scares people, maybe one that gets most of the world united against us in opinion though not actions, maybe he'll get more support. Maybe not, but he can't win if he doesn't gamble.

So if the army gets in really serious trouble, will we blame Bush or will we blame iran? It could be argued that it's treasonous to blame Bush while the war is raging.

It looks like his best chance.

"So how is this integration going? Not so good:"

Hilzoy, for some reason, linked to the subscription-only link; here's a free link to the whole story.

"We are talking about a very basic level of security to make the skies safe enough for Air Force One to land and take off and to make a military base safe enough for the President to hold a meeting. If we are not achieving that, it does imply that the security situation is far worse than the Administration is admitting to."

I don't quite follow this. The primary threat to the President would be, I assume, handheld anti-aircraft missiles, of the Strela/Stinger sort. Since these can be fired by a single person, and there are doubtless more than a few around in Iraq, the "basic level of security" that Dantheman seems to presume is some sort of easily-obtainable measure would seem to require the locating and restraining of every single human being over the age of 12 for several miles around wherever Bush would land, to make sure they're not in possession of a missile.

This would seem to require a considerable amount of manpower, perhaps on the order of a division or more. I'm unclear why dantheman reqards this "very basic level of security" in, say, the area surrounding the Baghdad International Airport, as some sort of trivial task, which lack of doing proves "that the security situation is far worse than the Administration is admitting to"; I'm pretty sure that the Admin, for all its faults, hasn't claimed to have made it impossible for there to be man-portable SAMs in Iraq, nor to have killed off the population of Baghdad.

The issue of wanting to limit that risk doesn't seem to speak to the situation in Iraq in any way not already perfectly clear to anyone who reads a newspaper. We already know the security situation in Baghdad is poor, and that man-portable SAMs get around, and that there are lots of people hostile to the U.S. in Baghdad; this isn't information the White House has successfully suppressed.

Gary,

"the "basic level of security" that Dantheman seems to presume is some sort of easily-obtainable measure would seem to require the locating and restraining of every single human being over the age of 12 for several miles around wherever Bush would land, to make sure they're not in possession of a missile."

Funny, no one seems to think that searching the area for missiles (not restraining all adults, a task which would likely require a far higher number of soldiers than a single division) is a necessity in any other country where the President goes.

Also, as a non-trivial aside, the President did not go to Baghdad (where a plane with several members of Congress on it was recently shot at), but rather to Anbar Province, an area which the Adminsitration is holding up as an example of how the surge has worked entirely. This drives home that the military situation is not as rosy as the Administration claims.

listen to the politicians and the media. the options they discuss, even today, are "immediate withdrawal" and "stay the course". everyone scoffs at "immediate withdrawal" (even though nobody in any position to make it happen is advocating it), leaving "stay the course" as the only alternative. leaving is for pussies. nobody wants to be a pussy.

I listen, I also saw Hilary and Obama both vote 'Yes' on Getting The Heck Out Now a few months back. I guess they could flip-flop, but with the Army as badly worn down as it is, they might flip-flop yet again. In fact, I'm almost certain there'll be a 'Missile Gap'-like moment shortly after inaguration. "Whoops, we didn't have nearly the army strength left we thought we had! We'll have to rethink our strategy..."

"Funny, no one seems to think that searching the area for missiles (not restraining all adults, a task which would likely require a far higher number of soldiers than a single division) is a necessity in any other country where the President goes."

Probably because the president hasn't been traveling to any other war zones. It's a noticeable distinction.

"Also, as a non-trivial aside, the President did not go to Baghdad (where a plane with several members of Congress on it was recently shot at), but rather to Anbar Province, an area which the Adminsitration is holding up as an example of how the surge has worked entirely."

Yes; obviously, I assume that that choice was made primarily for security reasons, beyond the ostensible "visiting Anbar" (as if one sealed Army base gives you a significantly different view than another). That was my point in mentioning Baghdad, which seems to have escaped you.

"This drives home that the military situation is not as rosy as the Administration claims."

Film at 11. The point is that where Bush lands doesn't, in fact, tell us a thing we didn't know the day before; trying to insist that it does is just silly. At this point, most people have actually noticed that "the military situation is not as rosy as the Administration claims," as it happens.

"I listen, I also saw Hilary and Obama both vote 'Yes' on Getting The Heck Out Now a few months back. I guess they could flip-flop,"

If you listen, you'll have noticed that Hillary's version of "Getting The Heck Out Now" seems to come with an asterisk that says "except for the tens of thousands of troops who will stay, to train and advise the Iraqis, and to fight terrorism, and keep our forces safe."

I also saw Hilary and Obama both vote 'Yes' on Getting The Heck Out Now a few months back.

a vote that was pretty much theater, as Bush was absolutely guaranteed to veto it.

they're both firmly in the "large residual forces" camp.

what does this large residual force do? if they're not out in the streets projecting force, what is their purpose? are they "training" Iraqi troops while refusing to shoot back to defend themselves, or does it fight back - chasing bad guys all over the country, intercepting weapons, busting down doors looking for enemy fighters? how is that any different from what we have now?

"out" means out, not reshuffled and relabeled. "large residual force" means, "we're not out, but those of you at home please pretend we are"

Gary,

"Probably because the president hasn't been traveling to any other war zones. It's a noticeable distinction."

Except the Administration is saying Anbar is pacified, which would lead one to believe it should not be treated as a war zone.

"Yes; obviously, I assume that that choice was made primarily for security reasons, beyond the ostensible "visiting Anbar" (as if one sealed Army base gives you a significantly different view than another). That was my point in mentioning Baghdad, which seems to have escaped you."

It certainly escaped me that when you said "I'm unclear why dantheman reqards this "very basic level of security" in, say, the area surrounding the Baghdad International Airport, as some sort of trivial task, which lack of doing proves "that the security situation is far worse than the Administration is admitting to"; I'm pretty sure that the Admin, for all its faults, hasn't claimed to have made it impossible for there to be man-portable SAMs in Iraq, nor to have killed off the population of Baghdad." that you were not actually making the modest proposal of killing off the population of Baghdad, rather than the population of the few square miles surrounding the Army base in Anbar which was not mentioned. So foolish of me not to have inferred that.

"out" means out, not reshuffled and relabeled. "large residual force" means, "we're not out, but those of you at home please pretend we are"

"Large residual force" means... well, anything that Sens. Clinton or Obama will want it to mean in February 2009. It could mean staying the course, drawing down to levels similar to where we're currently at in Afghanistan, or even just a large residual force to protect the Green Zone while we pack up anything of value.

The Army's broken, and all the King's horses and men won't put it in enough shape to maintain the status quo for four more years. I just don't see it.

In the category of great minds thinking alike, TPM makes a similar point to mine.

It's hard to tell how broken the army is. At this point it's all statistics. By the time it turns into horror stories that show the army is in serious trouble it will be pretty late in the game for doing things to improve the situation.

My wife plays an online game and has been tracking one of her fellow players. He'd committed multiple felonies and was finally in serious trouble. But they let him join the army. The army said he was going to be a truck mechanic and they'd think about letting him have access to weapons after a year, if he stayed out of trouble for that year. Once he went into training we didn't hear from him very often. The army is keeping him very busy. Every few weeks he gets access. The first time he said the army put up firewalls to keep him restricted to a limited selection of sites, and it took him 20 minutes to get past that. He was very busy and he liked the training. The last time he said he did very well with weapons training and he got to blow up an APC. He did so well he thought they'd give him advanced training in that but they didn't. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if he'll be in a year before they send him to iraq.

I thought he'd cause trouble in the army but he seems to like it so far. They give him macho challenges that he can win. From what he says he's doing a whole lot better as a recruit than he ever did as a civilian. I wouldn't say the army's broken just because it has people like him in it.

But then, when real problems show up bad enough that the public hears about them, it will be a big slow task to fix them.

"Large residual force" means... well, anything that Sens. Clinton or Obama will want it to mean in February 2009.

the sum of their statements points towards it meaning "large residual force staying until the pony army takes over"

@J Thomas: Much more of the breakage in the army is due to who isn't in it than to who is. The draining away of officers in the last 18 months has been serious. That creates some serious vulnerabilities when combined with the way in which units have been shorted on training time.

cleek: Suddenly, I want Iraq to be occupied by a Seven Nation Pony Army...

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Whatnot


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