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February 25, 2006

Comments

Charles, the 'little logistic support' you imagine as all that is required becomes full blown battle ops when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Buckley just realized that Bush's War on Iraq is lost. I've been trying to tell conservatives for years that we lost this war from the moment Bush launched it.

Now the only question that remains is how much longer will people like you remain in denial?

As I noted in the earlier thread, when Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace suggests that

if he had to use the same scale that was used for Iraqi troops today he'd have to rate his Marines at level two, because they'd need Air Force help to transport them and Army assistance to support them.
link

If the Marines aren't Level 1, who's misleading who?

with the U.S. there to provide a little logistical support.

Dude, if you're going to decry CNN's "bias by ommission," you need to watch you don't engage in it yourself. Communications, transport, artillery, air support, etc, are more than "a little logistical support." Something about amateurs studying tactics and professionals studying logistics comes to mind here, as well.

In any case, we should all consider the possibility that the US (among others) probably doesn't really want the Iraqis to have that many (if any) genuinely independent Level 1 military units. Imagine the trouble they might get themselves into.

Charles:

That's very nice, but we're all waiting for the post on Loser-Defeatist Bill Buckley.

Assuming you're correct about level 1 and level 2, you've not shown or made any attempt to show this was anything other than an honest and understandable misunderstanding on CNN's part, of the sort reporters, who are not experts, make all the time. (And worse!) And yet you feel free to charge that they are deliberately "talking down the war in Iraq and trying transform good news into negative news" and that this is evidence of bias.

And we wonder why so Americans believe not just that we're losing, but that we've already lost.

Blaming the media for your own failings is awesome. It's a perfect way to deflect attention from the massive incompetence and corruption that you've helped enable by unquestioningly supporting the administration and its policies.

Also, Chazzy-babe, please pipe up on the loser-defeatist Bill Buckley. Please, please, please.

Level 1 is the highest rating, where units are fully independent in all aspects. This includes being able to plan and conduct operations without coalition support.

seems like that's the level required in order to fulfill VD Hanson's prophecy:

    Soon, ten divisions of Iraqi soldiers, and over 100,000 police, should be able to crush the insurgency, with the help of a public tired of violence and assured that the future of Iraq is their own — not the Husseins’, the Americans’, or the terrorists’.

Swopa's comments mention that many Iraqis think the bombing was directly planned and orchestrated in Saudi Arabia. "Insurgents, rejectionists, bitter-enders" hell. You obviously now have the completely predictable regional religious war.

Fought largely the Saudi way, with terrorist surrogates, bombings, assassinations. Reprisals, polarization, overreaction. Ask the Israelis, takes a lot of battalions to fight this kind of war.

"That means there are 40,000± Iraqi troops capable enough to competently fight and defeat terrorists and militant Sunni rejectionists, with the U.S. there to provide a little logistical support."

"A little logistical support":

BLITZER: Here's what General Abdulqader Mohammed Jassim, commander of Iraqi ground forces, is quoted as having said in the New York Times, August 27.

"Soldiers with Kalishnikovs and pickup trucks is not an army. To make the Iraqi army stand on its own without American or coalition forces, we need command and control equipment, transport vehicles and training."

And what they point out, the Iraqis themselves, is they have Nissan pickup trucks. They don't have well-armored or up-armored vehicles. They have AK-47s, old kind of Soviet-era rifles. They want M-4s. They have these rocket-propelled grenades, these old systems.

BLITZER: They want RPG-29s, better systems. They have no air support of their own, virtually. They want at least helicopters.

As long as the United States does the work for them, what incentive do they have to go out and really take charge on their own?

"...they are being factually accurate but misleading. Also, dare I say, biased."

Charles, what unbiased sources do you go looking for as your sources on Iraqi military news? Can you name three, please?

Is Roggio "unbiased"? Or does he, and do you, instead look for "good news"?

If so, isn't it hypocritical to attack news sources for being "biased," when you are, yourself, looking for biased news?

Here is a less abstract piece on what can make the difference between what "Level" an Iraqi unit is judged to be at, by the way.

Now, in fact, I agree with you that the number of Level 2 battalions is a far more important number than the number of Level 1 units. But it's not "CNN" that is being particularly or unusually misleading. They're just reporting what the U.S. Army and the DoD tells them.

Who is to blame? Let's listen to General Peter Pace:

Pace: Military to blame for readiness perception

By Robert Burns
Associated Press

If the American public has a distorted picture of the combat readiness of Iraqi troops, the U.S. military is largely to blame for it, the most senior American military officer said Thursday.

“We have done ourselves a disservice in the way that we have defined how we are tracking the progress of Iraqi forces,” Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an audience of military and civilian students at the National Defense University.

It was his first public speech focusing on Iraq since he became Joint Chiefs chairman on Oct. 1, and his remarks came one day after President Bush outlined his administration’s strategy for achieving victory in Iraq.

[...]

Pace said the U.S. military’s own means of measuring progress in training Iraqi forces have created confusion in some quarters.

“In an attempt to be very precise with ourselves, to give ourselves metrics that we could all understand, we have done ourselves and everyone who is listening to us a disservice,” he added.

Pace made the remark after mentioning that people often ask him, “How can there be only one — count them — only one Iraqi battalion capable of independent operations?”

He was referring to the public stir that arose when Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told Congress in September that the number of Iraqi army battalions rated at “level one” proficiency — meaning capable of combat with no U.S. support — had dropped from three to one. Some interpreted that as evidence the Iraqis were regressing.

But let's blame CNN instead.

If so, isn't it hypocritical to attack news sources for being "biased," when you are, yourself, looking for biased news?

Gary, we've decided to redefine "biased" as "people who don't agree with Charles."

Charles, if you want to look for positive spin, instead of resorting to regurgitating Spiro Agnew as written by William Safire (it's the press's fault for reporting what the government tells them!), try this:

But the number of Iraqi battalions capable of leading the battle, with U.S. troops in a support role, has grown by nearly 50 percent. And the number of battalions engaged in combat has increased by 11 percent.

[...]

...while the number at Level 2 had grown from 36 last September to 53 now. The number at Level 3 fell from 52 to 45, in part because some were upgraded to Level 2.

Thus, the total number engaged in combat has increased from 88 in September to 98 now.

I really hate it when I have to play both sides of the conversation to make it remotely interesting or a challenge. :-)

"Those waiting for an American style stand-up fight with skirmish line battles a la Antietam will be waiting for a long time" ...Cunning Realist today

Got a book on my harddrive about the history of the ME, need to read it, but I don't remember with inadequate knowledge a lot of set-piece battles between Muslims, army facing army. I guess the Ottomans had to build an empire somehow.

But I was trying to describe Arabs and the ME in war without being racist, the truth in the old scorpion story. And I came up with Renaissance Italy, maybe France & Britain. Other examples? Feudal(pre-feudal?) societies don't muster huge armies, and poison, treachery, claiming alliance while backing the opposition, mercenaries, sabotage, assassination, etc are the preferred form of war. Even Juan Cole had a post in which he worried about divisions facing each other in Tikrit. It ain't gonna happen.

And 100 battalions won't help. If you ask me, the Iraqi Sunnis have been restrained...

...umm, is it ok not to take a side in this Civil War now? Do I have to be an ally of Moqtada Sadr, Hakim, and Iran? Charles can say the Mehdi Army is the good guys, I won't.

...there have been terrorists and Baathists, but the Iraq Sunnis have no militias and have engaged in less ethnic cleansing by what I have seen. More secular, for one thing. If they decide to fight en masse, I expect the Shia to fold. Unless America does some more carpet bombing.

I have said for a long time, the Shia can't run the country. Too divided, too pious, too corrupt and compromised. The only option is probably another Sunni strongman.Or hell.

Bob,

If they decide to fight en masse, I expect the Shia to fold.

Disagree. The Sunnis who are really good in a fight, the ones who made both Fallujah battles so difficult, are a fairly small proportion of Iraqi Sunnis. They're motivated, usually have training from the previous regime, and utterly ruthless, but they are by no means the norm.

The bulk of the Sunnis will probably fight like the bulk of all Iraqi armies (either on our side or against us) tend to fight: Without much motivation.

...the Shia can't run the country. Too divided, too pious, too corrupt and compromised.

Sadly, I'm in full agreement there. The track record of how they've handled the various government ministries they've had over the last year or so is not terribly impressive.

The biggest problem is, that no matter what the state of readiness, there is no indication that these troops are actually loyal to the Iraqi Government and Constitution.

Most every close up reporting of Iraqi Army units seem to indicate, that they consist to a large part of militias in army drag.
The lack of loyalty to their Government would be a very good reason not to give them communications equipment and vehicular support.

A little logistical support.

Cakewalk. Will pay for itself. Greeted as liberators. Hearts and minds. Dead-enders. Turning the corner. Last throes.

A little logistical support.

Come on, where's the epistemological analysis here?

Some military spokesman says that the number of "Level 2" battalions has increased. We have no independent verification for that statement; moreover, "Level 2" is defined in terms of *supposed ability* to fight in a certain way, rather than actual proven success at fighting in that way.

Why does this statement by the military have any evidentiary value at all? Why should we believe that they are well-informed and honest about "Level 2"-ness, when they have shown themselves ill-informed and dishonest regarding so many other aspects of the progression of this war (# of troops needed to secure the country, likely reception by the population, etc etc etc)? The downgrading of the "Level 1" battalion is at least a statement against interest. But this "Level 2" progress thing is something they have every incentive to say whether or not it's true, and we have no way of checking it.

This is the really important defect of a lot of pro-war thinking about Iraq: not cherry-picking of good news per se so much as an uncritical trust in Pentagon press releases.

"...but I don't remember with inadequate knowledge a lot of set-piece battles between Muslims, army facing army...."

I suppose that it depends what you mean by "set-piece," but actually there were plenty of them. The Battle of Badr, the Battle of Uhud, the conquest of Makkah, the siege of Taif, the battle of Yamamah -- okay, those were all Muslims against people who then became Muslims, but I'm not sure if that distinction matters -- then, Khalid's attack on the Persians at the Battle of Chains, the conquest of Hira, the battle of Ajnadein, the conquest of Damascus, the battle of Fahl, the battle of the Plain of Yarmuk, the conquest of Eqypt, the conquest of Chalcedon, tthe battles between the Shi'a 'Ali and the Umayyads, the Abassids' defeat of the Marwani calphis, the Kara-Khanid conquest of Bukhara, the capture of Somnath in Gujarat, the Seljuk conquests of Baghdad and Iraq, the Janissaries against the Egyptian mameluks. Etc.

"Feudal(pre-feudal?) societies don't muster huge armies...."

I'm thinking you have in mind many European medieval battles, but if we look instead to the Mongols, to the lands now known as India, to ancient Korea, to the Mideast, and to plenty of other pre-feudal societies, well, perhaps it depends what you mean by "huge." I'd count armies of over 10,000 troops as "huge," and there are/were hundreds and hundreds of such cases. But I'm not really clear what the relevance of the ancient history of how battles were fought is to how civil war in Iraq might go.

"But this "Level 2" progress thing is something they have every incentive to say whether or not it's true, and we have no way of checking it."

Actually, an awful lot of internal U.S. Army paperwork is unclassified, and quite checkable. It's not exactly a completely opaque organization viewable only through press releases. There's tons of open source material to peruse.

Gary: I apologize for the confusing wording. I don't mean that we can't check that Officer X has certified, in some piece of internal paperwork, that Battalion Y is at Level 2 (though I certainly see how you'd think I might have meant that). I mean that we can't check that Officer X's certification translates into any real-world truth about the actual combat effectiveness of Battalion Y.

Thanks for the info on MSM shenanigans. I have six ports to sell to the highest bidder, no questions asked.

Here are some questions I would ask. How much money and time was wasted on private firms to train Iraq forces? How long did it take to get "up armor" on our own forces? Is there any reason to believe this administration will ever comprehend the art of nation building, with their avowed dislike of diplomacy and embrace of Potemkins like Chalabi?

"I don't mean that we can't check that Officer X has certified, in some piece of internal paperwork, that Battalion Y is at Level 2 (though I certainly see how you'd think I might have meant that). I mean that we can't check that Officer X's certification translates into any real-world truth about the actual combat effectiveness of Battalion Y."

But even there, it's not all that hard -- although we certainly have some idea of how dangerous it can be -- for an American reporter to follow around a given Iraqi battalion or small unit for a few weeks, and give her or his own evaluation, along with that of U.S. personnel on the ground. I just linked to such a piece in my 3:01 comment above; there are others; there will be more, though, again, there are risks involved (but no more than to the Iraqis themselves).

Shorter CB: "There's a pony in here somewhere."

Oh, and folks? The Bushist Right has already given its verdict on Bill Buckley. He's (1) senile; and (2) still believes in "old conservatism," not the wonderful shiny new conservatism.

At least they haven't gotten around to calling BB a liberal. Yet.

There's a limit to the number of times one can extend the benefit of the doubt. Kevin Drum's view seems more believable than Charles's blind acceptance of the latest from the Pentagon:

I suspect it's fairly easy to fudge the difference between level 2 and level 3. But you can't do that with level 1. A battalion can either operate on its own or it can't. The fact that not one single level 2 battalion has made it to level 1 in the past year suggests that perhaps games are being played with the level 2 designation.

And Step2, six ports was the initial story. It's now been revealed that the deal involves 21 US ports (map).

A reading of Christopher Allbritton, a nuanced reporter currently in Bagdad, certainly supports the assumption as stated by many here, that "metrics" of readiness have no semblance to the reality on the ground in Iraq. A sample:

"Shi’ite militiamen, probably Mahdi Army, and Sunni gunmen fought pitched battles in the streets of southern Baghdad yesterday and today, while the Iraqi police and Army — praised by the Americans and the Iraqi “government” for their professionalism and efficacy — stood by and watched. During the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the Lebanese Army sat out much of the conflict there, allowing militias free reign. The same is happening here in Baghdad today."

Charles,

What good are these Iraqi battalions, at whatever readiness level, if they are unable or unwilling to contain the violence of the past week?

Is this trend line positive? Is standing by and watching the violence really better than running from the battle? I think it could just as easily be interpreted as ominous.

Over the past three years we have gone from Mission Accomplished to "there's no insurgency, just dead-enders and jihadis," to the transfer of sovereignty in secret, to purple fingers, to the insurgency's last throes, to more purple fingers, to "as Iraqis stand up we will stand down," to this.

How many more times are you willing to try to kick that football held by Lucy van Pelt?

"I suspect it's fairly easy to fudge the difference between level 2 and level 3. But you can't do that with level 1. A battalion can either operate on its own or it can't."

That's actually pretty ridiculous. Of course you can fudge level 1 if you want to.

Define "operate on its own": how long does it have to do so for? A day? A week? A month? Three months? Does that mean that it has to haul all its own water for that long? Food? Gasoline? Ammo? Spare uniforms? Does that mean it has its own med support? At what level? Medics? Aid station? MASH? Operating theater? Heart transplant? What kind of organic air support does it have "on its own"? Choppers? Fixed-wing spotters? Bombers? B-52s? Does it have satellite intel on its own? What level of organic intel support? What level of repair capability for its vehicles? What level of organic artillery? What level of repple-depple?

Etc., etc., etc. As I said, it's competely easy to play with the definitions, for any of these levels.

Kevin is a bright guy, but he doesn't particularly know anything about the military, and I don't think even he would claim he does. But you don't have to know much for this to be obvious.

The initial story on ports has been going on for years, and has little to do with who has a management contract for the terminals. But don't get me started on all the either ignorant or wilful demagoguery going on on that. (Just read the Unfogged threads I've had my say in, if you need my opinion.)

On balance, the media has been kind regarding Bush war propoganda, and has reprinted it frequently without critical comment. Indeed, it has frequently been a cheerleader. When history is written about these years, it will include the observation that the media failed to exercise a critical function regarding a war built largely around official lying.

The problems in Iraq are not about peception from unfair media coverage, but about the numerous substantive failures that, to quote Buckley, have resulted in "defeat." Whining about negative media coverage as an alleged cause of "defeat" is wankery -- all problems are directly traceable to Bush administration policies and decisions. The current mess is a direct product of undermanned occupation, disbanding of the secular army, and making up for the difference since 2003 with religious militia. Also, turning over control early to the Iraqi elements whose power is based in religious militias -- surprise! -- we now have a militia problem and sectarian strife.

What I would like to see is some honest coverage regarding the actual deployment, operations, and successes of these level 2 troops. It seems that security continues to worsen even as the alleged number and quality of newly trained Iraqi troops increases. Events on the ground seem a far better indicator of progress rather than artificial ratings. Plus I agree with those above who note that the new Iraqi army is most likely just recycled militia, and the Iraqi army will be under the control of the same Shia leaders who employ religious militia. How is it possible for a non-sectarian and nuetral Iraqi army to come into existence in these circumstances?

No discussion of media bias in Iraq can be complete without this screen shot

Charles,

"Talking down the war in Iraq?" Puhleeeze!

This is about like extolling the quality of food in first class while the plane is making a nose first beeline towards the ocean.

Historical nitpicking time:

...but I don't remember with inadequate knowledge a lot of set-piece battles between Muslims, army facing army....

Iran - Iraq, 1981 to 1988.

Also, Kuwait - Iraq in 1990, and the Egyptian, Saudi, and Gulf Arab forces in Desert Storm the following February.watching

As for the level 1 / level 2 debate, I'm wondering if this has less to do with equipment and more to do with the Iraqi Army being so secterian-ridden that we don't trust them to work completely alone.

Gary, I agree that Drum overstated the case. It's not impossible to fudge level 1. But surely if you declare a battalion to be at level 1, and thus able to operate on its own, there's at least some expectation that you'll allow it to, you know, operate on its own, especially when US forces are stretched thin. And that's less fudgable.

I disagree with Gary here, which doesn't happen very often. The gap between "being able to operate on its own" and "operate with American support" is clearly much larger than the gap between the latter and "operate alongside American troops". That's because operating with American support means operating alongside American troops. The difference is between operating alongside US combat troops and operating alongside US support troops. It's funny, but combat engineers, which are the latter, look a lot like combat infantry and can serve the same function, though it's an inefficient use of resources.

My guess is that there are plenty of Category 2 Iraqi batallions that have US support troops that also perform combat operations.

I disagree with Gary here, which doesn't happen very often. The gap between "being able to operate on its own" and "operate with American support" is clearly much larger than the gap between the latter and "operate alongside American troops".
Um, not trying to be weaselly, but I didn't say anything about how large the gaps were; I just said that there was plenty of room for fudging level 1.

If anyone is saddened by a lack of new posts here, by the way, I know somewhere that has a couple.

"ancient history of how battles were fought is to how civil war in Iraq might go."

Well, I am trying to look several steps ahead here. We don't and won't have a force like the NVA sweeping down to quell the chaos. The only ones that could, the Turks won't, and the rest really don't have the forces. Iran would have no easier time invading Iraq than vice versa; the mountains work both ways. Sadr's people running around in jeeps firing rifles into the air; Hakim begging for Blackhawk support so that the Badr Brigade can watch the battle from a safe distance. The Shia are punks. They are going to lose.

So my most precious desired scenario looks more possible every day:that Hakim and Sistani and Talabani and Barzani and even Sadr get tired and frustrated and frightened. And with 120 thousand American troops in country, and the world looking on, by popular acclamation the Shia and Kurds beg Saddam and the Baathists to come back, because however bad Saddam was, he was far far better than Bush.

Bob, I said to a co-worker the other day that if things in Iraq go on as they've been (not even "get worse," mind you; just "go on as they've been") all Saddam has to do is escape from prison and he's likely to be re-instated as Iraq's President by popular acclaim.

My co-worker agreed.

After all, nowadays the only difference between Saddam and the legitimate government of Iraq is that the country is poorer, more violent, more dangerous to ordinary Iraqis, and more unstable than it was under Saddam.

Gary,
I only need to know one thing about the ports deal to realize there is a money trail leading back to the administration. Bush's immediate threat of a veto is a guaranteed sign of coverup.

The ovious reason to look at how many level 1 battalions there are is that the US is stuck in some capacity in Iraq until there are quite a lot of them, and the trend here is not good. By saying that the number of level 2 units is what matters, Charles is essentially saying that the US ought to keep a large body of troops in Iraq for ever.

The fact that these are logistic, signals and artillery troops seems to me to be beside the point because a) support troops are needed in huge numbers to make a modern army function, and b) support troops seem to suffer high loss rate in the Iraqi theater due to the prevalence of IEDs.

So the horrible trend on level 1 troops is indeed worth reporting if you worry about the prospect of tens of thousands of US soldiers spending their time on IED infested roads for the next decade or 2.

I had two points to make, and WDT made them both and better than I would have. Thank you for taking care of that for me.

Ted

Bob, I said to a co-worker the other day that if things in Iraq go on as they've been (not even "get worse," mind you; just "go on as they've been") all Saddam has to do is escape from prison and he's likely to be re-instated as Iraq's President by popular acclaim.

Understandable hyperbole, but no. The Shias are in the saddle, and they correctly regard Saddam as a murderous enemy of the Shias. Nor do the Kurds miss him.

Welcome, Ted :)

Charles - like the good tin-foil hat soldier he is - misleads and misinterprets in what he thinks a good cause. There is clearly a lot of fixin' and fudgin' going on between level 3 and level 2 designations of Iraqi forces. Mostly to pretend something is getting better. Alack, it is hard to pretend about level 1. Basically, CNN undeplayed both the military lying and the implications to US troop pulldown. In a couple months when this is obvious Charles will pretend he said the same thing all along - but things are better now. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - the Wingnut approach to telling the truth in Iraq, never gonna happen.

Don N.

the only real way to know when there are adequate numbers of Iraqi troops/police of any level is when the US military leaves.

until then, all this clapping and pooh-poohing is nothing but entertainment for the domestic audience.

Don Newell,

If you'd be so kind as to leave

Charles - like the good tin-foil hat soldier he is -
this sort of ad hominem out of your future posts, we'll have fewer invocations of the http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2003/12/the_longawaited.html>posting rules. Leaving those out will also increase the chances that your posts convince skeptics of the soundness of your arguments.

For comparison, try Nicholas Weininger's http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2006/02/cnn_misleading.html#comment-14366130>9:24 post earlier in this thread; better arguments on the same topics you covered, no ad hominem distractions.

You do hope that people read what you are writing, and at least give it some consideration, yes?

all Saddam has to do is escape from prison and he's likely to be re-instated as Iraq's President by popular acclaim.

I don't see it. Saddam's no Qaddafi, his popular support was never more than an inch-thick at best. If he were to escape, I'd wager even money that he'd wind up on a meathook a la Mussolini, or - at best - Mayor of Tikrit.

"Leaving those out will also increase the chances that your posts convince skeptics of the soundness of your arguments."

I'd further suggest that the way to convince people of the soundness of one's arguments and claims is to provide cites and evidence for them.

Restating an assertion firmly, whether by translating "it is my firm conviction" or "it is my hypothesis" into "there is clearly...." actually suggests that one has no evidence, since the writer provides none, but instead seems to think that stating an assertion strongly will substitute for actual evidence.

Of course, someone utilizing this technique might, indeed, be perfectly correct in their assertion; it would be a shame, were that the case, for them to undercut their argument by using non-arguments such as "there is clearly...."

On the same sort of front, when someone writes "I only need to know one thing about the ports deal to realize there is a money trail leading back to the administration," what they seem to be saying is "I have no facts and no citations, but what I imagine must be true, and if I assert it, surely others must believe me."

Again, what they imagine might, in fact, be true, but indicating that one believes that the above is a logical or convincing argument suggests that one can't, in fact, tell an argument from an assertion, and tends to lessen the credibility of the writer.

Possibly something to keep in mind when trying to actually convince other people of any particular argument. Or not. If simply venting is the notion, that's something else.

However, when uttering such things about, say, G. W. Bush, consider what you might think of someone writing "I only need to know one thing about the Vince Foster deal to realize there is a murder trail leading back to the Clinton administration."

Obviously, same words, different nouns, same logic, same degree of convincingness.

And if something is, in fact, clear, one doesn't need to state that it's clear. It'll be, you know, clear. Adjectives won't change that.

This has been your Tips On How To Convince Others moment of the day.

"Saddam's no Qaddafi, his popular support was never more than an inch-thick at best."

You think Qaddafi would win a free and fair election by popular acclaim?

You think Qaddafi would win a free and fair election by popular acclaim?

There's no way to be certain, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was. At least from my observation, he appears more genuinely populist than your run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern strongman.

And we wonder why so Americans believe not just that we're losing, but that we've already lost.

Who is the "we" who are wondering in that sentence?

(Most people have already made any other points I would have made: this is a very trivial query, but I am curious who you were thinking of as "we" in that context.)

Here's another front-line report, by the way. I've generally found Ricks' reporting in the past to be honest and good. The report strikes me as plausible, although, of course, I can only guess at that.

But the fact that one can read this sort of thing is one reason I'm, unlike others, not all that worried (for now) about the reliability of Army certifications and reports.

When the Saigon circus was taking place, and the brass were lying like crazy to the press, themselves, and their bosses, it was no secret; all the reporters knew it, and you could read what they wrote; similarly, in this war, I don't put any faith in Pentagon press briefings, but we have good reporting from the field, which gives us a fair check on the official reports. Not perfect -- but adequate.

"At least from my observation, he appears more genuinely populist than your run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern strongman."

A massive police-state can do that for you.

And if something is, in fact, clear, one doesn't need to state that it's clear. It'll be, you know, clear. Adjectives won't change that.

This has been your Tips On How To Convince Others moment of the day.

Of course, Gary, you forget that with the ease the internets have brought to searching, finding, and linking to evidence, there are a ton of lazy people out there who would rather be told something than have to select google from their "Favorites" list. How many people will believe anything they read these days simply because of where they read it, and how closely it ties into their world view.

And of course, presenting one's own side of an argument using "buzzword" adjectives, not including conflicting factual evidence, maybe using some soundbites or small portions of interviews, one can make a very convincing argument for whatever they want. Those are the key points for producing propaganda.

This has been your Tips On How To Convince Others Without Having to Resort to Using Facts moment of the day.

Obsidian Wings misleading

Anyone who glanced at the blog and saw the first 3 posts lately would infer that this is Charles's blog and an annex to RedState.

But that's not true! When will ObWi disabuse the public of this notion?

Something to keep in mind, from IraqiPundit:

When will they wake up and realize that this is not a White House scandal. This is about Iraq and its people. Yes some people are being aggressive and I pray that the violence doesn't spread. But why do the media report exaggerated numbers of attacks and damage when it can only make a bad situation worse.

IraqiPundit also points out ignorance from the right

So I suppose for the Iraqis, there are more important issues that proving once and for all whether it is the wingnuts or the moonbats that are correct. But the news tends to cover this sort of thing from the a wingnut v moonbat angle, or the "OhMyGod all is lost! Everybody panic!" kind of sensationalism.

I find it humorous that anyone would invoke the posting rules to defend Charles from those oh-so-dreadful ad hominem attacks when he, in turn, brands all those who disagree with him on the status of the war as "loser-defeatists."

Heavens to murgatroyd. After the MSM refused to touch the Downing Street memos for nearly a month, kept the NSA story out of the press for nearly a year (a year which made the difference between its coming out before the election and its coming out afterwards), keep trying o pretend the Abramoff scandal is "bipartisan", etc., etc., etc., do we still have to pretend that they are biassed to the left?

(My take is not 'biassed any which way'; it's 'lazy, too close to people in power, and cowed by the right.')

(The UK was great. But sheesh, to come back to complaints about how no one is reporting all the good news about Iraq, when the country seems to be on the verge of the all-out civil war that is everyone's nightmare scenario -- on the verge of, not in, because it might still draw back -- is surreal.)

As I understand it, there's a very good reason to report level 1: it determines whether, and when, we get to leave.

By saying that the number of level 2 units is what matters, Charles is essentially saying that the US ought to keep a large body of troops in Iraq for ever.

I don't like the point Charles is making, but I think you're misrepresenting what he's getting at. The idea is, if we look at Iraq and see ten Level 1 units, ten Level 2 units, and a hundred Level 3 units, that's okay but it doesn't bode well for the future -- the 'pipeline' is not full of units ready to make the jump to Level 1. If we see only a single Level 1 unit, but a hundred Level 2 units... Well, there's the possibility of many more Level 1 units to come as the 2's train up and get better equipment.

I'm not saying that is how it is on the ground, but I think that's what he's arguing and there is a certain logic to it. 'Frontloading' all your work into getting a few camera-ready Level 1 units but ignoring the pyramid beneath it is a sure way to sabotage your work.

The war was lost when our fearless leader used the word "crusade" in a speech right after 9/11. Innocence? Ignorance? You decide.

Mr Ed, while I never thought it was possible to make unjust cheap shots against the Bush administration, that's a cheap shot and it's unjust.

Sure, Bush shouldn't have used the word "crusade". (That none of his advisers/speechwriters realized this was indicative of their ignorance, yes.) But, as I recall, he took correction on that point very well, and the word "crusade" has not, in fact, been used since it was pointed out to the White House what a blunder it was.

The "war against terrorism" will never be won so long as the US supports terrorists, which - judging by its past track record - it always will. (Though admittedly the current administration is even more blatant in its support for terrorism than the Reagan administration was.)

The "war against al-Qaeda" won't be won so long as the Bush administration is running it, because the Bush administration sees it primarily as an excuse to get whatever it wants.

The war in Iraq (if victory is defined as achieving a stable democratic state) was likely lost when Bush decided to go in with about half as many boots on the ground as would be needed and to not bother with any planning for the occupation. Many other decisions by the Bush administration contributed to losing the war in Iraq, from the decision to encourage looting in Baghdad to the decision to keep killing civilians by aerial bombing campaigns, including in illegal imprisonment, torture, and murder on the way, but most of the bad decisions that lost the war stem from the original pair of bad decisions - not to bother about having enough resources, and not to bother about any forward planning.

Using the word "crusade" in an early speech was symptomatic, but not a direct cause of failure.

What do you expect from the Communist News Network? The sister station of Al Jazeera?

The truth is things are getting better and better in Iraq. A civil war may be positive in the long run. Freedom is messy. Remember this country had a bloody and divisive civil war and emerged stronger than ever. Why shouldn't that happen in Iraq?

The truth is things are getting better and better in Iraq. A civil war may be positive in the long run. Freedom is messy. Remember this country had a bloody and divisive civil war and emerged stronger than ever. Why shouldn't that happen in Iraq?

I just was snarkin' (the very agreeable) James Joyner on this talking point. As long as the Right cuts & pastes its issues, we can do the same with our rebuttals, right?

ROTFLOL … after 3 years of defending our miserable prosecution of this occupation, we now see the latest spin: CIVIL WAR … NOT SO BAD!!!

Here’s a question to ponder, Bush fans, & I don’t expect it to be answered in this thread. I just want you to think about it, for purposes of intellecutal hygiene:

What would “failure” look like in our Iraqi adventure? What could happen that would indicate that the U.S.’s occupation of Iraq was a “failure”? Would you know it if you saw it?

"All right so far," said the optimist as he fell from the top of the skyscraper.

"What do you expect from the Communist News Network?"

There is a word for people who believe that a company which provided regular paychecks for years to the likes of Bob Novak, Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan and Howard Kurtz is communist. Unfortunately, stating that word would be a posting violation.

Also, Chazzy-babe, please pipe up on the loser-defeatist Bill Buckley.

Already did, in comments, in another thread. Yes, I believe Buckley has taken to the loser-defeatist tack.

Assuming you're correct about level 1 and level 2, you've not shown or made any attempt to show this was anything other than an honest and understandable misunderstanding on CNN's part, of the sort reporters, who are not experts, make all the time.

CNN isn't ignorant, Katherine. David Petraeus explained all of this months ago. Fred Barnes knew about this months ago (and he's right that the administration has been poor at communicating this information).

In an update, I wrote a little more about logistical support. I haven't read through all the comments yet, but I'll get to them.

CNN is part of the librul MSM's jihad against this White House. Ted Turner owns the company and Ted Turner hates George Bush. Everything that comes out of CNN filters through that lens.

And to answer the question about what would constitute failure, the answer is simple: cutting and running. We will stay until the mission is completed, civil war or no civil war. That's what a real leader does. Clinton would have cut and run months ago. That would have been failure.

One suspects that Leonidas is trolling. But re the "failure" question, I don't think that's really answerable -- there's no "pencils down" moment when the situation is ready for grading, and there's no rubric anyway. Things will get worse and they'll get better, there will be good and bad consequences, winners and losers. Who knows how history will view the war?

Anyway, I think war opponents should be careful not to turn these recent events into a mirror image of the Mission Accomplished banner.

Incidentally, I should clarify that I'm not mad at you, LJ; I was just exasperated.

"One suspects that Leonidas is trolling."

One doesn't have to read whatever he's written to know that's so. Trolls are, as always, best ignored.

Some commentary by Emily Bazelon on Hamdan and Al Odah-Boumediene, by the way.

Leonidas:

You say: "We will stay until the mission is completed, civil war or no civil war."

Having defined failure as not completing the mission, it's now incumbent on you to define "the mission". Removing Saddam from power? Already done. Eliminating WMDs from his control? Also already done. Making it impossible for him to help Al-Qaeda? Also done.

So what's left to do, and how much time/money/blood should we be willing to spend doing it?

Ted, we will stay until Iraq is a peaceful democracy. It may be one country, it may be three. That's up to the Iraqi people. Freedom is messy. But we cannot leave now and let Iraq backslide back into Islamofascism. That is not an option.

Sure, Bush shouldn't have used the word "crusade". (That none of his advisers/speechwriters realized this was indicative of their ignorance, yes.)

Arrogance and/or sycophancy are more likely than "ignorance." The scenario that springs to my mind is not that a dozen people looked at the script and not one of them spotted that the word "crusade" could remind Muslims of the, um, y'know, Crusades. No, the way this sort of thing happens in real life is that some bright young thing with more erudition than common sense puts it in, the pointy-haired boss, played here by Georgie the Wonder Boy, leaves it in either out of arrogance or stupidity, and everyone else assumes that he was doing it on purpose, and either agreed with the plan, or didn't dare argue about it. As you may have heard, argument is not encouraged in the Bush Administration.

"Obviously, same words, different nouns, same logic, same degree of convincingness."

Not the the same logic. If you had added that Clinton had mandated no further investigation or that anybody found complicit would be pardoned, I would be perfectly willing to accept the scenario that there was a murder trail leading back to the White House.

It is not the fact that he supports the deal that betrays him, it is going for the most extreme option available to him that shows his cards.

This has been your Tip On How To Play Poker moment of the day.
just">http://www.mediacynic.com/cgi-bin/mediacynic.pl?cynic=223061/">just a citation


Dangnabbit! I thought I had it in there right. Long version:

http://www.mediacynic.com/cgi-bin/mediacynic.pl?cynic=223061

I look at cnn and TV news sometimes. It is what peo[le want which is short sound bites and the story which clicks off certain responses.

The majority who even listen to news seem addicted to this Pavlovian presentation. And it works to the advantage of both parties.

Look at the simplified models of the last 2 dem presidential candidates. Not favorable.

The media is the message.

The print news does hold the larger story, it provides facts that the literate can check even if they are arranged with some bias at times.

Consistently the right uses these to ground their stories taking as you Mr. Bird have done facts found in the MSM to attack the MSM.

Do remember who you are serving. These blamket attacks by Limpbowel and others are designed to destroy the credibility of the media and ideally to criminalize it (if you publish things we don't like you are traitors.)

You are joining in this attack assuming that the institution is invulnerable that it will always be there. But in a number of societies it has been destroyed and once it's gone despite it's imperfections you will miss it. You will also find that because you think for yourself you are high on the list of Limpbowels traitors.

These people want to kill their enemies. They say so openly. Limpbowel has said one liberal should be left alive on every campus to mock. "Raghead" Annie is even more nasty.

They are no more joking than Mein Kampf.

First they came for the liberals, but I didn't complain because I wasn't a liberal... then they came for...

Mr. Bird learn history. The desire to make our imperfect press completely illegitimate in the eyes of the masses is a strategy of communist, Nazis and other totaltarians.

One *suspects* Leonidas is trolling? He's not even trying to pretend those are his actual thoughts.

Amen, Hilzoy. We've gone well past farce in history-repetition terms.

update.

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