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February 24, 2009

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I read Sullivan earlier today, and couldn't get out of my head that he seemed to be missing something. Then I read this, and it hit me--he believes that it is our choice to remain in Iraq, not the Iraqi's, even though we returned sovereignty to them.

It's as if sovereignty means something else when it's someone other than America.

One largely unspoken, intuitive component of our reluctance to leave is the sunk costs of embassy/military base construction. The waste of our resources on those contracts is more obvious if we don't use the bases. (actually, even more money is wasted if we finish construction and maintain strategically useless bases, which may actually harm American interests by inciting terrorism, but that's not quite as self-evident a waste).

The other side of that coin, tho, is that we could make back a tiny bit of the money we blew on this insane venture by leasing the bases back to Iraq for its own Army. I doubt we have the property rights after SOFA, but since the permanent-occupation lot are ignoring SOFA anyway, what the heck, let's make up some facts of our own.

It's as if sovereignty means something else when it's someone other than America.

Isn't that one of the basic assumptions for neocons?

I think Eric is on the right track here, and starting the withdrawal now serves several good purposes. Besides the noted effects inside Iraq, it would also be a beginning of rebuilding credibility with other Arab nations.

It's as if sovereignty means something else when it's someone other than America.

[slaps forehead]

So that's what they meant by a "unipolar moment" !

And here this whole time I thought they were talking about some expensive boondoggle of a physics experiment, searching for magnetic monopoles or some such.

Can I haz my 2 trillion dollars back, pleaz?

I've been watching this internecine fight between Petraeus/Odierno and the President shape up for a for the last several months as statements coming out of CentCom repeatedly differ materially from intentions stated by the actual (not ostensible) Commander-in-Chief. I know that it is considered gospel far and wide that General Petraeus is a guerilla fighter second only to perhaps Geronimo or Cochise but if he and his second in command think that the thing to do is attempt to strategically undercut their commander-in-chief in order to achieve a goal of their own, I suggest they study up on Truman/MacArthur and deGaulle and the para Colonels.

I think the 2015 date comes from the projections on a viable Iraqi Air Force. You would think that since they previously had an Air Force, it would not take so long to recreate one, but this is one area where there is significant delay.

It is not simply the pilot training, but the systems to keep airplanes in the air. While the ground forces have similar systemic issues, they are not quite as instantly catastrophic as can occur in the air.

Im not sure Petraeus has done anything worth criticizing; certainly, when the shoe has been on the other foot Ive been in favor of military commanders expressing their opinion to the people rather than being silenced by the Administration and forced to adhere to the party line. Recall eg the Shinseki incident.

There is a line there someplace- but going into a meeting with Obama and coming out disgruntled, or saying what you think to be true (ie that it could take us a year to figure out when and how to much disengage) isn't near to it.

That isn't to say that I agree with Petraeus; I dont, I think he's completely mistaken. And Im not saying that this couldn't get ugly and inappropriate. But I think his opinion shouldn't be supressed (within some limits) just because we think he's mistaken.

On the third hand, I haven't been following this very closely, so maybe there's some stuff happening that I would object to.

I suggest they study up on Truman/MacArthur

or McClellan in 1864.


Petraeus/Palin 2012 - you heard it here 1st.

Some of the media play has gone over the line, but I didn't criticize anyone too harshly.

The big problem, as I see it, is that it might make Iraqis doubt Obama's sincerity, leading them to vote against the SOFA which could put us on an onerous fast track out.

there was a bit of a national referendum on the war here, too, back in November.

Ohhhh yeah.

It seems relevant to point out this:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama plans to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, administration officials said Tuesday, ending the war three months later than he had promised during his presidential campaign.

The withdrawal plan — an announcement could come as early as this week — calls for leaving a large contingent of troops behind, between 30,000 and 50,000 troops, to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to protect U.S. interests.

[...]

The contingent remaining will include intelligence and surveillance specialists and their equipment, including unmanned aircraft, according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.

The complete withdrawal of American forces will take place by December 2011, the period by which the U.S. agreed with Iraq to remove all troops.

A senior White House official said Tuesday that Obama is at least a day away from making a final decision. He further said an announcement on Wednesday was unlikely, but he said that Obama could discuss Iraq during a trip to North Carolina on Friday.

Etc.

Good news.

Petraeus/Palin 2012 - you heard it here 1st.

Adding together the McClellan reference with Beck's call for civil war, we all know how well that worked out for the general involved.

The assumption that somehow the Iraq war is over seems very cocky and premature to me, says Sullivan.

The point, however, is not to debate whether the war is over, but rather to end it.

Im not sure Petraeus has done anything worth criticizing; certainly, when the shoe has been on the other foot Ive been in favor of military commanders expressing their opinion to the people rather than being silenced by the Administration and forced to adhere to the party line. Recall eg the Shinseki incident.

I haven't followed closely enough to know exactly what Petraeus and Odierno have said, so this is not a comment on whether or not they specifically have done anything wrong. However, there are proper and improper ways for a general to take his case to the public.

Shinseki wasn't actually doing that. He was testifying before Congress, and answering the questions he was asked. The is not only constitutionally permissible, it's constitutionally required. It's very, very different from talking to the press.

If a military officer wants to openly criticize the President, he has a perfectly good way to do it: resign his commission, then chat all he wants. I wasn't in favor of active duty generals publicly criticizing Bush, and I'm not in favor of them criticizing Obama.

Very good point re: Shinseki JMN.

Also, the talk was about Odierno fomenting a movement of retired and active officers to undercut Obama and his stated policies in public, after failing to convince him in a briefing.

To Eric's OP - yes, yes, exactly.

To Petraeus/Odierno. Repeat after me -

Leaving when the leaders of the Iraqi and American republics ask you to leave is not, repeat not, cutting and running.

Leaving when the leaders of the Iraqi and American republics ask you to leave is not, repeat not losing.

Nope, its probably the lowest friction way to complete the mission.

Eric, this is where you belong.

Незаконное порно на новом интернет-портале http://rukablud-com.narod.ru

Mike Schilling is Kinksy. And the winner of a t-shirt.

The withdrawal plan — an announcement could come as early as this week — calls for leaving a large contingent of troops behind, between 30,000 and 50,000 troops, to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to protect U.S. interests.

Sorry to be the DFH at the garden party, but...am I the only advocate of withdrawal who thinks that 30,000-50,000 troops remaining indefinitely in an "advisory" capacity does not, in fact, constitute withdrawal?

Sorry to be the DFH at the garden party, but...am I the only advocate of withdrawal who thinks that 30,000-50,000 troops remaining indefinitely in an "advisory" capacity does not, in fact, constitute withdrawal?

That depends on how "indefinitely" is defined:

The complete withdrawal of American forces will take place by December 2011, the period by which the U.S. agreed with Iraq to remove all troops.

The 30-50,000 will stay beyond August 2010, but will be out by 2011. At least according to the cited story.

Thanks for clarifying, Eric.

T-shirt? I want a red hunting jacket.

J. Michael Neal: I wasn't in favor of active duty generals publicly criticizing Bush, and I'm not in favor of them criticizing Obama.

Nor was I, nor am I.

In fact, no active duty generals that I am aware of did publicly criticize Bush, though I'm open to being corrected.

Thanks, J. Michael, for making the point about the vital distinction between testimony and popping off to the press.

Members of the media and Congress have encouraged an unhealthy approach to policy advocacy by active-duty military vs. that of retired officers.

Scott Horton pointed this out in the fall of 2007, during the period when reporters and politicians were falling all over themselves to canonize Petraeus, promoted because he was on board with the Bush "surge", while ignoring the criticisms of a big collection of retired generals, many of very recent vintage, who were free to speak their minds.

In fact, no active duty generals that I am aware of did publicly criticize Bush, though I'm open to being corrected.

Well, Fallon was an Admiral, and he resigned over it after doing the criticizing.

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