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February 24, 2006

Comments

If I were a conspiracy theorist I wouldn't put it past the administration to have done this as a civil war provides both (a) an excuse to get out if they decide it's politically necessary; and (b) an excuse to stay to quell the chaos.

If I were a conspiracy theorist.

Unquoted Hanson, passed on without comment.

During this sort of waiting game in Iraq, the American military silently is training tens of thousands of Iraqis to do the daily patrols, protect construction projects, and assure the public that security is on the way, while an elected government reminds the people that they are at last in charge.

snip

It is an odd war, because the side that I think is losing garners all the press, whether by blowing up the great golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, or blowing up an American each day. Yet we hear nothing of the other side that is ever so slowly, shrewdly undermining the enemy.

snip

Most would agree that the Americans now know exactly what they are doing. They have a brilliant and savvy ambassador and a top diplomatic team. Their bases are expertly run and secured, where food, accommodations, and troop morale are excellent. Insufficient body armor and unarmored humvees are yesterday’s hysteria. Our generals — Casey, Chiarelli, Dempsey — are astute and understand the fine line between using too much force and not employing enough, and that the war cannot be won by force alone.

snip

After visiting the country, I think we can and will win, but just as importantly, unlike in 2003-4, there does not seem to be much of anything we should be doing there that in fact we are not.

there does not seem to be much of anything we should be doing there that in fact we are not.

Except, I suppose, for keeping the Iraqis' holiest sites from being blown up, not to mention preventing Iraqi politicians, journalists and religious leaders from being murdered. Aside from the flooding, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.

Maybe if so many wolf-criers hadn't claimed so many times that we have turned a corner, the insurgency is in its last throes, Iraqi troops will be able to take over "soon," "soon," always "soon," I would be able to believe some of this. I'd like to, but I can't.

If things do simmer down, I'm not sure if the cause will be unity amongst Shiis and Sunnis. I would think that Sistani and Sadr will be asking for some sort of deal with the Americans in return for keeping their militias under control.

The fact that this possibility escapes the good-news crowd highlights their genuine cluelessness, given what we know about what happened the last time the Shiis threatened to rise up.

This could still get worse. Bear in mind that the one reason that things have not gone completely pear-shaped to date is because of an octogenarian whose recently had heart surgery.

Once Sistani dies, things will get much, much more interesting.

The finger points to Iran, pure and simple.

An Anglo-Protestant nation occupying an Arab-Muslim nation?

Good luck!

Thomas: Sistani and Sadr will be asking for some sort of deal with the Americans in return for keeping their militias under control.

Presumably something beyond "quit bugging us about including Sunnis in the government"...?

There is, unfortunately, a lot of make-believe in these feel-good links. The premise seems to be that ordinary Shia and Sunni Iraqis would get along if not for those evil outsiders like Zarqawi; this is just more "last throes" talk.

I believe it is accurate to state that the pace of outlaw killings by Badr and other Shia militia that are part of the formal Iraqi state security services is as great as or greater than that by the insurgency. Its not as spectacular as killings by the insurgency, which take the form of bombings or executions that leave bodies strewn about. Its the steady drumbeat of abductions, disappearances, and killings in the night with the bodies dumped somewhere one by one.

There are plenty of resident Sunni and Shia in the killing game. Important voices of moderation exist and are trying to rein in the conflict, but there certainly has not been progress on that score. The overall secuity situation is worse now than at any time; basic services and oil production are stagnant and below pre-war levels, and reconstruction has ground to a halt because of security concerns. These are all the signs of a low-grade civil war in which the state barely functions.

"I would think that Sistani and Sadr will be asking for some sort of deal..."

Plague of Locusts ...via Body & Soul

The Fox News shot floating around:"All Out Civil War in Iraq:Could It be a Good Thing?"

Now Fox has some pretty good contacts in the WH, and has a habit of parroting the WH position even before the WH, kinda like Karnak.

Now it had been rumoured that Sadr and the New Gov't as soon as official would ask the Americans to leave. Only all-out Civil War could prevent it. Now if you scroll her page, Jeanne d'Arc merely links to some tin-foil speculation about American complicity in the recent bombing. I won't directly link to such madness. Everyone knows in their hearts that George Bush has never sought anything but peace for all peoples, and has done his absolute utmost to ensure the security and safety of the Iraqis.

But Zeyad may not make it thru the next 24 hours.

Not all righties are in a feel-good mode --how about this from Buckley at NRO?

"It Didn't Work"

...One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed....

Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. ...

The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymkers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.

This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure....

Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.

He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

Buckley can wish for this all he wants. Me, I wish I'd bought that winning Powerball ticket.

This President hasn't admitted one single mistake. He was asked that very question in 2004, remember? Dick Cheney couldn't admit that he had shot a man in the face for three whole days.

Acknowledging defeat in the largest foreign-policy gamble in our nation's history? These clowns?

Charles' feel-good links telling us how things aren't that bad overlook an easier way to put lipstick on the pig.

Just declare that all out civil war is a good thing! [Fox] and that the mosque attack proves that Bush's plans are working! [conservative pundit on CNN]

Hansen seems awfully optimistic:

...believe that a government will emerge that is seen as legitimate and will appear as authentic to the people. Soon, ten divisions of Iraqi soldiers, and over 100,000 police, should be able to crush the insurgency...

The fact that Shia militias walked into a prison and executed prisoners supposedly under the protection of (some of) those 100,000 police undercuts that bit of wishful thinking considerably. If I were a Sunni, I would not be particularly happy knowing that a sectarian militia could ignore the national security forces at will.

I wouldn't put it past Iranian surrogates to bomb al Askiriya, but it doesn't make sense that a Shiite would bomb a Shiite shrine.

Then why mention it? I can't think of a single reason that the Iranians would want this kind of trouble stirred up to begin with, seeing as the goverment is already extremely Iran-friendly.

If I were a Sunni, I would not be particularly happy knowing that a sectarian militia could ignore the national security forces at will.

If I were a Sunni, I'd probably point out that most of the national security forces are also staffed with Shiites. And that this may -- just maybe -- have something to do with why the national security forces haven't been "able" to crack down on violence against Sunnis.

Hansen seems awfully optimistic

Hansen is paid to seem awfully optimistic.

"Hansen seems awfully optimistic...."

"Hansen is paid to seem awfully optimistic."

"Hansen" is "Hanson." Victor Davis Hanson.

Myself, I'm pretty sure he's sincere in his beliefs.

Idiotic in some of his beliefs, mind, and deeply given to seeing what he wants to see -- like many people are -- but sincere. Of course, not being a mind-reader, this is merely my personal opinion, based on the general consistency of his POV for umpty years.

That some publications enjoy hearing and publishing his optimistic opinions is, of course, a happy thing for him, and for everyone else who is not a "loser-defeatist." (Darn that wimpy liberal loser-defeatist, William F. Buckley!)

I'd very much like to see Charles' response to the Buckley piece. As far as I can see, Buckley is -- in Charles' words -- a "loser defeatist."

Charles -- does the distinction Buckley makes work for you, or would you still scorn him for his "defeatist" attitude?

Nothing is Unthinkable ...Swopa

Tentative report from France, nut paragraph:

"The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours."

I am willing to listen, but I remember very little either from al-Qaeda or the Sunni insurgents in Iraq that resembles this bombing. Help me here, wasn't Kobar a truck-bomb?

...believe that a government will emerge that is seen as legitimate and will appear as authentic to the people. Soon, ten divisions of Iraqi soldiers, and over 100,000 police, should be able to crush the insurgency...

That's more than optimistic given that the only combat-ready Iraqi battalion has been downgraded. That's right: there are now no Iraqi forces capable of fighting without American support.

Well, none that report to the government, at least.

Must be interesting in Iraq then, considering that the Americans are restricted to bases. Shouldn't those loser-defeatists be out supervising the Iraqis?

I'd very much like to see Charles' response to the Buckley piece.

You got it, Louise. My answer is yes, Buckley is taking the loser-defeatist tack; he is concluding that failure has already happened, deciding that we should quit the match while still in the third quarter.

That's right: there are now no Iraqi forces capable of fighting without American support.

Meaningless and misleading, bob. Level 2 or better is the important threshhold for evaluating the quality of Iraqi troops manpower. Also, the levels are fluid, and it takes a lot to reach Level 1. Level 2 "means units that are "in the lead" in the counterinsurgency effort. The units plan and execute their own operations, but they do require coalition support. This support is typically logistics, close-air support, indirect fire, medical evacuation and so on." The most important sentence in the CNN piece is this:

According to the congressionally mandated Iraq security report released Friday, there are 53 Iraqi battalions at level two status, up from 36 in October.
Of course, they buried it, showing their bias by putting all the attention on Level 1.

In regards to level assessments, my understanding is that it focusses on logistical readiness rather than morale and unit cohesivness, so I wonder if this is an apples to oranges comparison. 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

I really wonder if we are coming to this with the same base assumptions.

Rumsfeld, via Belgravia Dispatch:

SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me go back to your question about sectarian violence. I may not have answered the last half of it as fully as I would like. Needless to say, any time there's violence, sectarian or otherwise, it's something that one has to be concerned about and oppose and attempt to do something about. There has been sectarian violence in that part of the world for decades. And I think the important thing to do is for us to be concerned about it and for General Casey and his folks to work on it, and for the political process to go forward in a way that it would mute it and minimize it.

I think we also have to recognize that there's criminal elements at work here, and it's not trivial. It's fairly significant. And I would add that it ought to be put in context. Think back. There -- I don't know whether the number's for sure 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 dead Iraqi people, men, women and children, filling mass graves in that country.

And so it's -- to isolate out violence today and say, "Oh, my goodness, there's violence today; isn't that different" -- which you did not do, of course, but I'm stating it myself -- would be out of context, because in fact there's been incredible violence in that country for year after year after year. And that does not minimize what's taking place today, but at least it puts it in a broader context and -- one would think.

So. Is he ever going to be fired? Probably not, huh?

(I'm not saying this remark itself is a firing offense--it's just symptomatic of a complete failure to act responsibly or take responsibility.)

Shorter Rumsfeld: "What's a few more dead Iraqis, give or take several hundred?"

Even Shorter Rumsfeld: "Still better than Saddam, bitchez!"

"Help me here, wasn't Kobar a truck-bomb?"

Khobar Towers. Sure.

Tim: "Must be interesting in Iraq then, considering that the Americans are restricted to bases."

Except that isn't remotely true.

Charles: "...he is concluding that failure has already happened, deciding that we should quit the match while still in the third quarter."

That isn't true, either. He wrote:

A problem for American policymakers — for President Bush, ultimately — is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.

[...]

And the administration has, now, to cope with failure.

[...]

He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

Find me the word "quit." Why are you such a loser-defeatist, Charles?

Thanks, Charles!

It's interesting that Hansen now says that things weren't being run exactly right in 2003 to whatever date we turned perfect. Because in each of those past years he said it was all being done briliantly and said things like if this is quagmire give us more.

Indeed people like him attacked those who felt there were problems as defeatists and did all they could to hinder reform.

"It's interesting that Hansen...."

Hanson. Hanson. Hanson.

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