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July 23, 2008

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I would love to pretend that McCain making sh!t up about what happened and when in Iraq with respect to Teh Surge™ and how we've now "succeeded" would get him laughed off the national stage as an incompetent, ill-informed, out-of-touch crank, but it won't happen.

A lot, if not the majority, of Americans will find the "surge has led to a glorious victory for the Armed Forces of the Homeland and the American People in Iraq" narrative appealing. Who are they going to vote for? The guy waving the flag, shouting "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!", proclaiming success in Iraq, while lowering your taxes? Or the other guy, who's patiently trying to explain how Iraq is a disaster, how there has been little or no political progress, how there is no end in sight, and who is going to raise taxes?

I hope I'm wrong. Maybe the economy will continue its implosion such that Americans won't respond in their usual fashion to jingoistic and nationalistic appeals. Maybe I've overestimated the general stupidity of the public in this country, but I won't be the least bit surprised if on the evening on November 4 John McCain is elected President.

I hope ugh is being slightly too pessimistic, but he's probably right. Notice that the media's great expert on all things Middle Eastern says in today's column that McCain was right on the surge and Obama was wrong, but benefiting from the surge that McCain supported. No nuance there, nothing about the Anbar awakening starting before the surge, nothing about the ethnic cleansing of Iraq. If Americans like Friedman can give full credit to American military action, they will do so.

Well, to be fair, in the middle of the following paragraph Friedman makes a reference to Sunnis detaching themselves from their extremists. I'm not exactly sure who he thinks the Shiite extremists and non-extremists are--

"Forget about our narrative on this war — how we “liberated Iraq.” Think about the Iraqi narrative. No one likes to be liberated or occupied by someone else. It is humiliating. France still hasn’t gotten over the fact that it had to be liberated by the Allies. What is important is how, with the help of the surge, Iraqis have finally started to liberate themselves — the Sunnis from their extremists and the Shiites from their extremists. The question in Iraq is: Can these parallel liberation movements actually merge into a single national liberation/unity movement? I don’t know"

I also think it's cute how Friedman talks about "our" narrative of liberating Iraq, implicitly assuming that he speaks for all Americans, and how he is so kind and understanding in saying that people like to think they've liberated themselves. That's right, those funny little foreigners aren't a clear thinking adults like Friedman, who knows perfectly well that any good thing that happens in Iraq is mainly to the credit of Americans who think like him, but we'd better go along with their delusions, wink, wink.

True, the Surge did not cause the Anbar Awakening. The Surge supported and supplemented the awakening, but the Awakening had already started when it was the Surge was implemented.

Fairer to say is that the Anbar Awakening helped to inspire the Surge. The tactics used in Anbar were replicated elsewhere in Iraq, which, coupled with other developed and more troops, started to improve the situation countrywide.

Hey von, nice pretzel.

Hey von, nice pretzel.

Are you saying that Iraq isn't a pretzel?
(Metaphorical, of course.)

If you're trying to say that I've contradicted myself, go ahead and show me where.


I'd be more impressed by the sanctimonious claims offered by Hilzoy if she actually knew what makes a fact a fact. Judging by her post on PB&J, she doesn't. Admittedly, she is never going to be president, but that's a pretty limited qualification. Sure, McCain screwed this one up, but we could use a bit less of the preening self-righteousness. Those without sin.....

Fairer to say is that the Anbar Awakening helped to inspire the Surge.
..
If you're trying to say that I've contradicted myself, go ahead and show me where.

von,

Here's a couple of points of non-equivalence between Anbar and the Surge that leap to mind immediately, which IMHO show weaknesses in your first statement:

The Surge: isolating the urban population by building large walls between different enclaves in the middle of very large and densely populated city. What is the Anbar equivalent of this? I can't think of anything.

Anbar: organizing and even arming Sunni factions previously treated as insurgents. What was the Surge equivalent of this? If we had bought off Sadr by helping to organize and train JAM this would have been equivalent but obviously nothing of the sort was done.

As a parenthetical note, I very much appreciate reading what you have to say (and more top level posts would be nice) so please continue.

First, I was just admiring your attempt to salvage something out of this. Fine work counselor. And I mean that. I was joking mostly, but the part that I would take issue with was this:

Fairer to say is that the Anbar Awakening helped to inspire the Surge. The tactics used in Anbar were replicated elsewhere in Iraq, which, coupled with other developed and more troops, started to improve the situation countrywide.

It just seems like a way to shoehorn the Surge into being the force behind these developments.

I mean, sure, we started buying off Sunnis outside of Anbar to stop fighting us, turn on the salafists and sit back vis-a-vis the Shiite/Kurdish dominated government. But we didn't need extra troops to achieve this, nor were the extra troops how we achieved this. It wasn't the Surge. So it's not right to say that the Anbar experience inspired the Surge, and that the Surge somehow allowed us to replicate the Anbar model elsewhere.

Sure, McCain screwed this one up, but we could use a bit less of the preening self-righteousness. Those without sin.....

But argonaut, this wasn't an honest mistake. This was a deliberate attempt to distort the record in order to bolster his image, and the perception of his strategic acumen so that Americans will endorse him and his plan to continue our presence in Iraq regardless of what the Iraqi government or people want.

That's a consequential error of fact that needs to be exposed so that John McCain and others can't rewrite history in order to continue authoring the future.

Slightly more important than peanut butter and jelly vs. a cheeseburger.

Note how much it would help if Couric knew the basic facts enough to call McCain on his distortions/misrepresentations/ignorance/or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it. This episode is thus also a commentary on the incapacity of the popular press. And the result is that, while inside-politics junkies like the people who read this blog can read the debate and make judgments, the people who watch network (or cable) news as their major source of news are not likely to be able to put McCain's statements in context. And people who watch the news are relatively well informed compared to the general public.

When all is said and done, McCain's strategy is the same brutal Rovian mix that won Bush two elections: Fear and Greed. Once McCain makes statements such as Obama would lose a war to gain the presidency or My Surge started all things good in Iraq, it stays in the voters mind. The Soviets had a word for it: "Agitprop." It not the truth; it's delivering the message that counts. "I won the Iraq war." Just get it out there. Think: "Swift Boat." Obama would betray the US for an election win. Sotto voce: Fear the Traitor Obama. And, by the way, I'll cut your taxes....

ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

The Surge: isolating the urban population by building large walls between different enclaves in the middle of very large and densely populated city. What is the Anbar equivalent of this? I can't think of anything.

Anbar: organizing and even arming Sunni factions previously treated as insurgents. What was the Surge equivalent of this? If we had bought off Sadr by helping to organize and train JAM this would have been equivalent but obviously nothing of the sort was done.

That's an overgeneralization of both the Surge and Anbar Awakening -- and its inaccurate. Anbar occurred in part because the forces there adopted COIN tactics (Blackfive has a reasonable explanation her).

Those same COIN tactics were a fundamental part of the surge, which involved much more than simply building walls in Baghdad. Walls, actually, were a very limited part of the strategy. The Surge primarily involved more face-to-face contact with the Iraqi people and reaching out to Sunni and Shia leaders in a manner similar to what occurred in Anbar. The Surge also was not limited to Baghdad. Indeed, IIRC, the Surge at least doubled the number of forces in Anbar to secure and build upon the gains that had already occurred; it also freed up trustworthy Iraqi forces for other duties -- such as the clashes with Sadr (which, despite initial reports, now appear to have been partially effective).

Eric, see comments above. The Surge in part applied the lessons of Anbar -- indeed, as the (2007) Blackfive link explains, that was one of its primary purposes.

Argonaut, you're really overstating your case. Hilzoy cited a thinly-supported study on the particulars. She didn't lie or intend any misrepresentation -- I mean, criminy, she's a blogger and that's what bloggers sometimes do. Not everything is a scholarly work with endless citations (indeed, if you add a lot of citations, some % of the commentariate blast you for the alleged "infernal Linkorama"). More to the point, there's really no dispute that she was right on the larger issue: all things equal, creating a pound of meat involves the realease of more CO2 than creating a pound of plants.

" Hilzoy cited a thinly-supported study on the particulars. She didn't lie or intend any misrepresentation -- I mean, criminy, she's a blogger and that's what bloggers sometimes do."

Umm, I mean, bloggers sometimes cite "a thinly-supported study." Certainly, I have, when the study was interesting or worth talking about. Some bloggers also "lie" and "intend misrepresentations," of course, but that wasn't my (awkwardly-phrased) point.

Thanks, Hilzoy,for your vigilance in showing McCain to be the doofus that he is.

George Washington could not tell a lie. Bill Clinton could not tell the truth. John McCain cannot tell the difference.

If you define "the Surge" as "everything that reduced violence in Iraq," then the claim that "the Surge worked" is unexceptional, if trivial, for a limited definition of "worked" (one that, e.g., does not include political reconciliation). That appears to be the line that McCain is taking: everything that reduced violence, both before and after the literal Surge, whether or not it was caused by the literal Surge, is "the Surge." Therefore "the Surge" reduced violence, and anyone who opposed the literal Surge was wrong. As if opposing the literal Surge also meant opposing the Anbar Awakening and the Mahdi Army ceasefire.

By the way, thanks for the kind words Eric and That Left Turn.

If you define "the Surge" as "everything that reduced violence in Iraq," then the claim that "the Surge worked" is unexceptional, if trivial, for a limited definition of "worked" (one that, e.g., does not include political reconciliation).

Well, true. But if you have to define the Surge to include its key components, which include a revised counterinsurgency strategy that previously worked in Anbar. Otherwise, you won't have learned from history.

By the way, I'll mildly push back on the claim that there's been no "political reconciliation" as a result of the Surge. There are no guarantees, but the absence of violence and the Government's growing monopoly on force are aspects of a political reconciliation. It may not last, but it is real.

There are no guarantees, but the absence of violence and the Government's growing monopoly on force are aspects of a political reconciliation.

First of all: There has not been an "absence of violence." Between 500-1000 civilians and ISF are still being killed each month. That doesn't include the numbers of Iraqi insurgents/resistance fighters killed.

Second: The government's growing monopoly is still incomplete and is based, in part, on the willingness of various combatants to sit back and wait out the current period. Unless political reconciliation takes hold in the interim, then that illusory and incomplete monopoly will not be an indicatoin of political reconciliation, but a victim to its lack.

Hilzoy, Von, Eric, That Left Turn and others:

Please keep the discussion going. This is something very interesting to me vis a vis this election. How it's being portrayed matters a lot, which is one of the points of the post. And, as one that is nowhere near as informed as most commenters/posters here, I find the back and forth more enlightening that reading for hours on my own.

So, query: I understood the "Awakening" to have more than just the initial Anbar Awakening, but also to reflect the broader "awakening." Wasn't the name of the council changed from Sahawah al Anbar to Sahawah al Iraq to reflect this fact? And that occurred later (spring 2007 to my recollection). So I'd be interested in what was accomplished between Sept. 2006 and the name change and whether it is fair to say the broader awakening occurred after/in conjunction with the Jan. 10, 2007 surge announcement. And whether it is fair to refer to the latter spread of the "movement" as the Anbar Awakening.

I do not dispute that the surge reinforced the Awakening. But the thing about McCain's comments is: he didn't make that unexceptionable point. He said this:

"Colonel McFarlane (phonetic) was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening."

That's just false. Moreover, it's a false statement about what McCain says is his great strength, the area where Obama is naive and he is knowledgeable. And, as Ilan says, it's not a little slip, like the Iraq/Pakistan border (which I didn't blog, because it was just a slip); it's a basic misunderstanding of what happened, which suggests the view that it was military force, not careful diplomacy and a willingness to take advantage of developments on the ground, that was responsible for the dramatic turnaround in Anbar province.

That's a big deal, I think.

Eric Martin and Von, there is a basic difference between stating that something is plausible, and that it is factual. This is a clear divide, and attempts to divert attention by talking about how not everything is scholarly are rhetorical and dishonest. The difference is clear - and the issue is ethical. Fudging the issue by talking about how the broad-brush picture was right is a far cry from justifying the very specific "facts" explicitly endorsed by her.

Furthermore, a number of commenters on that thread pointed out that what was offered was not factual, and hilzoy failed to acknowledge this or to post a correction. This is irresponsible and dishonest, no matter how you, her colleagues, try and defend it. Given the nature of her objection to McCain's distortion or creation of facts, I'd assume a little consistency would be required of his critics here. Or do you feel that only McCain must supply facts, while Obsidian Wings can simply make do with self-righteous assertions? It's your credibility as a blog that's at stake, not mine, so if you want to paper it over rhetorically, go ahead. Not my loss.

"That's an overgeneralization of both the Surge and Anbar Awakening -- and its inaccurate. Anbar occurred in part because the forces there adopted COIN tactics (Blackfive has a reasonable explanation her)."

The second sentence seems to be a non-sequitur. Which words/phrases/statements of Eric's are "inaccurate," specifically?

"But if you have to define the Surge to include its key components, which include a revised counterinsurgency strategy that previously worked in Anbar."

Von, the revised Counterinsurgency Field Manual final draft was released in June, 2006, and the final release was in December, 2006. How does "The Surge" also get credit for that, too? It really does seem like you're defining "the Surge" as "everything good we eventually started to decide to do at asome point."

"The surge" was simply the pumping in of additional brigades, amounting to about 20,000 additional U.S. troops. That's all. Speaking of "That's an overgeneralization of both the Surge [...] -- and its inaccurate."

Maybe you want to refer to the whole "new way forward" strategy that was adopted in January, 2007, rather than trying to cram all that into the rubric of "the Surge"?

Information.

argonaut: I've responded on the original thread. Basically, I didn't reply earlier because I wasn't sure what, exactly, was supposed to be wrong with the sourcing. If you explain to me what inadequacy you see in the underlying paper, I'd be glad to respond. If you just want to say "this is thinly sourced", without addressing the actual sources, and then use that allegation as evidence that I have no intellectual integrity, and am irresponsible or dishonest -- well, then I guess we just differ about what those terms mean.

OT: Robert Novak cited for hit and run. (He hit a pedestrian and was stopped by a bicyclist about a block away. He says he didn't know he hit anyone. The bicyclist says that he couldn't not have known, as the pedestrian was splayed across his windshield.)

More here.

"It's your credibility as a blog that's at stake, not mine, so if you want to paper it over rhetorically, go ahead."

This sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Not to mention that it's completely OT for this thread, which makes the motivation for it being shoehorned in even more questionable?

Speaking only for myself, I think the credibility of ObWi will do fine, regardless of how closely we look at peanut butter sandwiches.

I could, of course, be wrong, and there will be film at 11.

Come on, Gary. Surely it's not unreasonable to expect a blog post about PB&Js to be held to the same standard as a statement by a major presidential candidate about the war in Iraq he claims as his main area of expertise.

The thing about PB&J is: before I blogged it, I looked at the sources. They seemed fine to me, though God knows there are bits of the equations where I could very easily be persuaded that I had missed something. I mean: this is not my field, and while I did try to do due diligence, I'm a lot more likely to make mistakes here than, say, in philosophy.

But that's partly why "thinly sourced" didn't seem like something I wanted to respond to (maybe I would have if I had infinite amounts of time, no other job, etc.): it actually had sources that purported to confirm the conclusions, so while I could easily see making some objection to those sources' arguments and reasoning, 'thinly sourced' didn't seem like it needed much of a response.

Re: “Awakening”

McCain is correct. But McCain does not understand it either. This war was lost on the 12th of October 2005 as witnessed by Article 2, Section A of the Iraqi Constitution:

2A: No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.

Which pretty much nullifies what comes next.

The Iraqi tribal chiefs are simply exercising part 9:29, and every other relevant part of their Constitution. They are collecting jizya from the Dhimmis. The money changing hands should be made public information. Unfortunately, it is only rent.

The people of Iraq would be better served by a dictator like Tito, Ataturk, the Shah, or, gasp, Hussein. This dictator should be given a 10% cut of the oil revenues. The ignorance of the American handlers will be studied at some time in the future.

That's an overgeneralization of both the Surge and Anbar Awakening -- and its inaccurate. Anbar occurred in part because the forces there adopted COIN tactics (Blackfive has a reasonable explanation here).

von,

Thanks for your rapid and substantive reply (and why oh why can’t we have conversations like this on a national level?).

First a clarification – I wasn’t trying to characterize either AA (Anbar Awakening) or the Surge en toto, merely to highlight some specific aspects of each that seemed to me to be lacking in a counterpart, so no overgeneralization was intended. Now let me address this narrower issue in more detail:

Regarding the role of COIN tactics in AA, my impression from stories at the time (sorry but no time for digging up links right now) is that one of the major reasons why it succeeded as well as it did was a realignment in the political relationships between our troops and local leaders at the leadership level, going well beyond what would be expected from just taking a COIN oriented approach to dealing with the local populace.

I call this a political realignment because IIRC it involved a major re-conceptualization on the part of both sides (our guys and the local Sunni tribal leaders) of the relationship between our forces in Anbar and the central government based in Baghdad, which had been part of the problem in Anbar before the AA.

The local Sunni tribal leadership switched from viewing our guys as being purely proxies for a Shi’ite dominated central Iraqi government which they saw as profoundly hostile and inimical to their local interests, to instead seeing our guys as more independent from Baghdad and the Shia, and more concerned with local issues of civil order and protection of the population from predatory forces (both AQI and hostile Shi’ite militias). This amounted to a de-facto form of regional federalism or soft partition, at least as far as the alignment of military force with ethnic strife and security issues was concerned.

Now this sort of nuanced adjustment to local politics certainly is a part of a good COIN strategy, but one which is very specific to the local history and context, and what I am questioning is to what extent that makes it relevant for the operations in Baghdad which were a central focus of the Surge operations (IIRC the principle increase in our force levels during the Surge was felt in Baghdad and the surrounding parts of east-central Iraq, while force levels in Anbar remained relatively static), because the politics of the two areas are so different.

I don’t see how this political aspect of the AA was replicated (or realistically could be replicated) in the Shia dominated areas, because the political problem in the latter was very different from in the former.

The AA solution worked in part because we effectively decoupled that region from the central govt., in a way which relaxed tensions between the two and allowed our guys to step out of a dysfunctional role vs. the local population, whereas the political problem in central-eastern and southern Iraq is not so much locals vs. the central govt., but rather fragmented authority amongst the Shi'ites and an unresolved competition for power and popular legitimacy between the Sadrists and other factions both locally and within the central govt. itself (e.g., contrast the state of militia infiltration of IA vs the police and Interior Ministry at the time of the Surge).

It appears to me that we have chosen a solution to the latter political problem of helping Maliki to suppress the Sadrists. Whatever the merits (or lack) thereof, it would be fair to characterize this as opposite in sense from what we did in AA. In the AA we were able to co-opt and defang former insurgents and insurgent sympathizers by moving towards a position of greater support for their interests vs. the central govt., whereas in dealing with the Sadrists we are supporting the central govt. in an increasingly polarized confrontation with their opponents which is designed to resolve the competition for power between rival Shi’ite factions.

Thus the story of AA compared with the Surge is a story of two different problems with two very different solutions (one de-polarizing, and the other polarizing), or so it seems to me.

Please correct both factual and conceptual errors that I’ve made above, as you see fit. I am trying to listen and learn from all sides here.

Many thanks!

von,

Thanks for your rapid and substantive reply

Seconded. Thirded?

That's the use of reasoning, facts and perspective that could make me change my mind. (Oh, horrors...horrors...)

This seems to support what LeftTurn wrote:

"McCaffrey and other former officers say that a surge of 30,000 additional troops into a country of 30 million could never have enough of an impact alone to turn things around.

"The least important aspect of the so-called change in strategy was the surge," McCaffrey says.

Once Insurgents, Now Allies

If it wasn't just the surge, how did it happen?

It could be, in part, exhaustion among Sunnis, tired of fighting and dying. Or also, in part, a cease-fire declared by the largest Shiite militia, others say.

But another part, and possibly the most significant, can be traced to the end of last May. That month, 126 U.S. troops died; it was the second deadliest month for U.S. forces during the war. Petraeus was under pressure to reduce those casualties.

"Petraeus seems to have concluded that it was essential to cut deals with the Sunni insurgents if he was going to succeed in reducing U.S. casualties," Macgregor says.

The military now calls those "deals" the Concerned Local Citizens program or simply, CLCs.

It's a somewhat abstract euphemism. The CLC program turns groups of former insurgents, including fighters for al-Qaida in Iraq, into paid, temporary allies of the U.S. military.

McCaffrey just got back from a five-day trip to Iraq where, he says, he "went to a couple of these CLCs, you know, five awkward-looking guys with their own AKs standing at a road junction with two magazines of ammunition — and they're there as early warning to protect their families in that village. I think that that's good."

from:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17899543

Gaffes Happen has become the official teeshirt of McCain's campaign and he may come to regret 'whining' for more news coverage.

Politicians put their foot in their mouth on a regular basis. Sometimes it may be the result of long hours on the campaign trail, sometimes because they simply can't keep their facts straight and sometimes because they can't keep their lies straight. Many times it's simply because they do not understand or refuse to acknowledge the facts.

From the controversial Couric/McCain Interview:

Couric: “Senator McCain, Sen. Obama says, while the increased number of U.S. troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?”

McCain: “I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening.”

Per Col. MacFarland, the Anbar awakening was already well under way through organized efforts by the tribal leaders well before the surge began. These events took place months before the surge was even announced. Per McCain, the surge 'began' the Anbar awakening.

“But now that the population and the tribal leaders are beginning to make common cause against al Qaeda, the tide is -- the table is turned completely against al Qaeda, and now it's the al Qaeda forces that need to be worried about living in those neighborhoods.” [Col. MacFarland, 09/29/06]

“And I really do think that the dynamic in Ramadi has changed and changed in an important way. You know, any previous reports from my predecessors that you, you know, may have heard notwithstanding -- the tribal dynamic is new here. It's got legs, it's moving forward and it's because success begets success.” [Col. MacFarland, 09/29/06]

McCain also neglects the fact that although the surge helped to support an awakening already in progress, the new troops headed for Baghdad, not Anbar. He also gives little credit to the pre-surge ongoing Sadr truce and makes no mention of the ethnic cleansing and mass migration.

The Couric interview gets even more interesting as McCain tries to multi-task not answering a direct question and distancing himself from the numerous failed Iraq policies under the Bush administration - all in the same breath:

Couric: “Sen. Obama also told me, Sen. McCain, that the money spent on those additional troops, on the surge, might have been more effective had it gone to Afghanistan or even to a better energy policy in the United States. What's your response?”

McCain: “The fact is we had four years of failed policy. We were losing. We were losing the war in Iraq. The consequences of failure and defeat of the United States of America in the first major conflict since 9/11 would have had devastating impacts throughout the region and the world.”

Why did McCain evade an answer to her question?
Why did McCain support a president responsible for “four years” of failure?

“no one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.” [John
McCain, 03/28/08)

“The fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I’ve been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.” [John McCain, 06/19/05]

“I am proud of this president’s strategy in Iraq.” [John McCain, upon receiving endorsement from President Bush, 02/13/08]

Thanks to the Internet, gaffes and old quotes are a living history of our thought processes, how well we think, what we think and when we think it. Even Carly can't change history...or the facts.

“To say that John McCain was aligned with President Bush on the prosecution of the war in Iraq is to change history.” [Carly Fiorina, McCain Campaign Advisor, 07/13/08]

Perhaps, considering the above along with mainstream media's major political and ethical gaffe of not reporting the full McCain with regard to his voting record on veteran issues, his actions during the MIA/POW hearings to open up trade with Vietnam, and media's total lack of reporting on the nine out of ten chance, per studies on Korean POW, that he most likely suffers from PTSD, McCain should quit whining about his fair share of news coverage and not look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Among U.S. servicemen taken captive during the Korean War, as many as nine out of 10 survivors may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders more than 35 years after their release, psychologist Patricia B. Sutker of the New Orleans Veterans Administration Medical Center and her colleagues report in the January AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY.”

'Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can result from wartime trauma such as suffering wounds or witnessing others being hurt. Symptoms include irritability or outbursts of anger, sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, extreme vigilance and an exaggerated startle response.'

http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSN17282413

What are the odds of McCain not suffering from some degree of PTSD?

What are the odds mainstream media will ask that question?

Love the Annie Hall reference. Problem is, these days, the editorial page of the Washington Post would just say that they know McLuhan's work better than he himself does and he did SO say that.

Argonaut, I've called Hilzoy out on what I think is inappropriately -- sometimes grossly so -- claims that McCain or his spokespeople are lying, dispicably lying, being disingenuous, etc. Leave aside whether or not it's true:* I just don't think it's a persuasive way to argue. Who's going to agree with you, save for those who already do?

Why would I disregard my own advice by charging Hilzoy with lying when, clearly, she wasn't? It's not like I'm particularly humble :-).

von

*And in many circumstances I don't think that the charge is true.

I'm tied up in other matters now, so I must be brief:

BC, IMHO, the Anbar Awakening started when Anbar first started to "waken", which occurred before the surge.

Gary, you're misreading me. I didn't say that the surge resulted in COIN; I said that the surge implemented COIN, which had previously been implemented (an in part developed) in '06 in Anbar.

That Left Turn, I appreciate the response and have very little to disagree with it. You're right that the tactics implemented in Anbar and with the Shia were different. My point is that the strategy -- local involvement, more patrols, more involvement, more responsiveness to local concerns -- is the same, and that it's primarily a result of good COIN strategy. Mao's famous instruction on insurgency, after all, was to swim with the waters. The waters don't always flow in the same direction. A lot of COIN is about making sure that you are swimming in the right direction.

"Gary, you're misreading me. I didn't say that the surge resulted in COIN; I said that the surge implemented COIN, which had previously been implemented (an in part developed) in '06 in Anbar."

Okay, fine. This seems to me a rather oversweeping use of the term "surge," but there seems little more to discuss about it.

I don't recall seeing you comment, Von, on McCain's gross misstatement of the facts: comment?

And I'm still seriously wondering just what it is that you think makes McCain the superior presidential candidate that we should all vote for: won't you ever please take advantage of your bully pulpit to explain and try to persuade us? If not, why not? I'm certainly nothing but serious in wondering what your reasoning is, and have no intention of doing other than giving you a respectful reading, of course.

Incidentally, notice what Maliki doesn't mention?

Gary, I'm running off, but my post on July 23, 2008 at 07:58 AM is my comment: I agree with Hilzoy that the surge did not cause the Anbar Awakening.

"I agree with Hilzoy that the surge did not cause the Anbar Awakening."

What's your explanation for why McCain said it?

I understand you won't be able to respond to this query for some time, but I'd be quite interested if you can give one when you have a moment over the next few days. If so, thanks!

Also, a response about why we should vote for McCain?

The Surge: isolating the urban population by building large walls between different enclaves in the middle of very large and densely populated city. What is the Anbar equivalent of this? I can't think of anything.

Those same COIN tactics were a fundamental part of the surge, which involved much more than simply building walls in Baghdad. Walls, actually, were a very limited part of the strategy.

I'll take your word for it, thatleftturn. you've posted some solid analysis. fine writing.

but as one who spends a lot of time in Cuba banging up against totalitarian walls, mostly in the form of uniformed human beings, I wouldn't reduce the significance of the demoralizing impact of having concrete slabs erected in your neighborhood to separate you from someone else.


and this sounds like something DoD would fax to katie couric:

The Surge primarily involved more face-to-face contact with the Iraqi people and reaching out to Sunni and Shia leaders...

right, I'm sure we treated them if not as equals than as those for whom we reached out a helping hand.

harder left. you missed skeptical street.

I think it is worth echoing hilzoy's point:

[McSame] said this:

"Colonel McFarlane (phonetic) was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening."

That's just false. Moreover, it's a false statement about what McCain says is his great strength, the area where Obama is naive and he is knowledgeable. And, as Ilan says, it's not a little slip, like the Iraq/Pakistan border (which I didn't blog, because it was just a slip); it's a basic misunderstanding of what happened, which suggests the view that it was military force, not careful diplomacy and a willingness to take advantage of developments on the ground, that was responsible for the dramatic turnaround in Anbar province.

That's a big deal, I think.


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Whatnot


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