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March 18, 2006

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"...Western document's preoccupation with WMD, which Iraqi Intelligence would have known was gone by then."

I believe the US Gov't knew that the WMD programs etc had been dismantled by the mid-nineties. I believe it became certainty in 1998, when Saddams sons-in-law defected. Clinton, for whatever reason, lied about it and got Congress to re-authorize sanctions. And then did indeed wag-the-dog with that Christmas bombing campaign that Trent Lott criticized. Lott could not spell out his criticisms, for it was everybody's interest to keep up the charade.

Impossible to prove a negative, but deep inside the intelligence agencies around the world everyone knew the WMD justification for war was a lie. Hard to call the President of the US a liar if you can't definitively prove it. Big risk to take if some are found or planted. In any case, Bush might have been the only uninformed idiot in the foreign policy world to believe in them.

Where's that link? I forget. The Kurds were told in 2002 not to worry about WMD by American agents.

History will get thoroughly muddied and confused.

As he does so often, with so many things concerning Middle Eastern affairs Abu Aardvark has what, so far, I see as the best take on the whole "Iraq documents" deal:
Basically, there are just SO many docs to be released; no one has any handle on them yet: and any "analyst" (using that term very loosely) looking at them for "evidence" to support one viewpoint or another is either going to find something to back up their preconceived ideas (correctly or not); or else nothing, in which case the documents will be ignored, or the "evidence" presumed to be still hidden.
So far, though, as pointed out; the stuff published is remarkable for its stultifying bureaucratic inanity (just like our own Government paperwork) - amazing, ain't it?

See, Hilzoy, everyone thinks we're merely a troika of snarky cheap-shot artists, but as soon as a wingnut-studies topic reaches the mainstream, we're suddenly giants in our field.

Ah, if only this happened more often

It may have already been mentioned (I've not been around for a while, as y'all may have noticed; been feeling like sh--, and involuntarily sleeping 14-16 hours a day for the last couple of weeks, and yawning uncontrollably the rest of the time, which sucks), but here's a piece the WaPo got Zeyad to write for them. Cheery, eh?

Good catch Gary

Three Years

Riverbend's first post since 3/6, on sectarianism...and exhaustion.

Marty Lederman has a new post on...Marty has a new post.

Riverbend and Rumsfeld, both marking the three year anniversary. Compare and contrast.

desperation

Okay; it's been three years since the start of the war in Iraq: can we finally start using Vietnam analogies?
Maybe it's just a generational thing, but reading Secretary Rumsfeld's upbeat cliche-fest linked above about how wonderfully things are going in Iraq triggered a really bad attack of deja vu in me: the same claims of ever-increasing "progress" in military actions; the same boasts about ever-more-effective "support" from our brave local allies (champions of "freedom and democracy" to a man); the same confident dismissals of the stereotyped "enemy"; and above all, the same smug, overconfident attitude about the inevitability of our overwhelming "victory" coming from a Secretary of Defense infamous for his air of technocratic supercompetence and unwavering assurance.
McNamara then, Rumsfeld today.
It turns out that my main thought, on reading this, is the hope that we have constructed adequate helicopter-landing facilities in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad. I really really really hope to be proved wrong.

Jay C, don't leave out Dick "Mighty Hunter" Cheney. I heard him on NPR this morning, talking about how there is no civil war, just some dead-enders who are "desperate" because we're "succeeding" in Iraq.

It just occurred to me that, by Cheney's lights, we are succeeding in Iraq. His old company's raking in the bucks, and nobody he cares about is suffering one iota. Chaos, destruction and despair are for the little people. (Actually, that pretty well sums up the entire Bush Admin.)

I own a condo in a gated community ( yes, I know, it is embarrassing). It is very weird how our village politics parallels national politics. Right now the fight is between the people like me who like the community because it is built into a messy natural forest with abundant bird life, and those that wnat to prettify it into a coventional neighborhood. We have three and a half miles of beach including tow estuaries ad a sand spit to argue about. You'd think this cold alll be worked out through education ad discussion but no. The prettifiers come to community meetings and glare, mutter, interrupt and otherwise display bullying tactics and bad manners whenever a view counter tho theirs is expressed. They use behind the scenes conections with te Bo4ard to override the community rules and get specials deals for themselves. now they are engaged in rumormongering. The latest is that "some people" want to close the spit to human acdess and create a wildlife regfuge there. The fact is that a few birdwatchers asked the lawn mowing guy to hold off mowing until after the kildeer have raised their babies, but, as in te case of the right wing blogosphere ad right wing plitics, facts don't matter. And the prettifiers depict themselves as victims! Hell is truly other people.
Our manger's nickname for the prettifiers is FIPs, Formerly Important People. How much do you want to bet they are Republicans?

Cripes, CaseyL; how depressing: yet another Vietnam-era analogy to contemplate: Our era's very own Spiro Agnew bloviating unrealistic pronouncements about the war! And, saddest of all: an "Agnew" too smart to trip himself up over his own corruption!

Oh, and another 'Nam flashback: major publicity pushed by the Admin on show "offensives" like Operation Swarmer: lots of copters, APCs; lots of noise, "biggest operation since....[D-Day? Gettysburg? Gaugamela?]" publicity: all for military goals of astonishingly minor import.
(Except, of course, for showing that our Iraq "allies" won't necessarily crack and flee at the first sign of resistance [if any]).

Did they report on the book on Saddam's shelf with top-secret plans for invading Russia and securing lebensraum for the Iraqi people?

Cleverly disguised by translation into German, but clear proof that there is no such thing as "peaceful Islam." A Power Line exclusive in the making, no doubt.

Remarkable how those right-wing bloggers shoot first, think only after (if at all)...
Did they train with the US military?

I took Operation Swarmer to be a low-risk training mission, myself. Given that 2/3 of the personnel were Iraqi Army, I'd guess that we were there to provide transportation, to backstop them just in case, and of course air support. Most importantly, to observe.

Yes, I had noticed that the RWB had to some degree jumped all over this; my take was that news like this is frequently literally too good to be true, and that it needs to kind of ferment for a bit. I hadn't followed it back to the FAS origin, though. FAS pretty much gave up keeping their pages up to date, which either explains (hey folks, we really need the money) or renders inexplicable (what ARE they doing with the money?) their dunning of the reader with pop-ups.

I took Operation Swarmer to be a low-risk training mission, myself. Given that 2/3 of the personnel were Iraqi Army, I'd guess that we were there to provide transportation, to backstop them just in case, and of course air support. Most importantly, to observe.

See, if that had been the way it had been billed, I would not only have not minded but would likely have been cautiously optimistic. [At least locally.] It's the fact that this was portrayed as The Biggest Assault Since Shock And Awe that pisses me off, especially when that propaganda is so blatantly trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Interesting observations here, BTW.

Whether the reporting of it is propaganda or, well, news reporting is probably a function of the level of cynicism in the reader. Was something in the account factually incorrect? Or even atrributable as hype?

"FAS pretty much gave up keeping their pages up to date...."

You neglected to end this sentence properly, with "for a while, a few years ago, after John Pike left to do globalsecurity.org, but then started upkeep again a couple of years ago." (As usual, my time-sense may be off, but it's certainly been more than a year since FAS started updating again.)

"Was something in the account factually incorrect? Or even atrributable as hype?"

From DoD? This is slightly misleading (technically they attribute their releast to "a Multinational Force Iraq news release"):

Initial reports from the objective area indicate that a number of enemy weapons caches -- containing artillery shells, explosives, materials for making homemade bombs, and military uniforms -- have been captured.

[...]

Operation Swarmer follows closely the completion of a combined Iraqi and coalition operation west of Samarra in early March that yielded substantial enemy weapons and equipment caches.

The name Swarmer, the MNF-I statement explained, was derived from the name given to the largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever conducted, in spring 1950 in North Carolina. Soon after this exercise, the 187th Infantry was selected to deploy to Korea as an airborne regimental combat team to provide Gen. Douglas MacArthur with an airborne capability.

I'd say that this clearly suggests big results should be evoked. Was the evocation of "largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever conducted" intended to minimize the operation?

Slightly digressively, I preferred when DoD/Department of War used random code names for operations, rather than propagandistic ones like "Operation Scales of Justice", "Operation Iraqi Freedom," "Operation Just Cause," etc. Overloard was not entitled "Operation European Freedom," and yet despite the lack of cheery propagandism, it managed to suceed. I prefer my government to give me news, not propaganda. (This is not something I blame the Bush administration for, mind; Reagan started it.)

Given that 2/3 of the personnel were Iraqi Army, I'd guess that we were there to provide transportation, to backstop them just in case, and of course air support. Most importantly, to observe.

The Iraqi soldiers involved in that operation seem to have been those Level 2s that Charles is so fond of -- the US provides the logistics and the locals provide the soldiers. I would imagine that what we saw with Operation Swarmer is what the Pentagon would like to see throughout Iraq by the end of the year.

You neglected to end this sentence properly

No, I said exactly what I meant. Of course, it's certainly possible that the rest of the world has simply slacked off on weapons testing, or it could be that I just haven't been looking at the correct PART of fas.org. Certainly they've updated their front end, but their coverage of specific weapons and programs has, to all appearances, slacked quite a bit.

Was the evocation of "largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever conducted" intended to minimize the operation?

And you have some reason to expect it to be minimized? Why?

"And you have some reason to expect it to be minimized?"

No. I'll take this as agreement that it wasn't minimized. Whether it was "atrributable as hype," is subjective, but I don't think that's an unfair way to view the choice of "Swarmer" as a name. Not that MacArthur was exactly a stranger to hype and putting out self-flattering press releases.

No, of course I don't think it ought to have been minimized. That would be disinformation of a different sort, would it not?

I would say that the use of peacetime is debatable.

Slightly related to the topic of codenames is what Churchill said about them (quoted in Wikipedia

Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their lives ought not to be decided by code-words that imply a boastful and over-confident sentiment, such as "Triumphant," or conversely, which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondency, such as "Woebetide" and "Flimsy." They ought not to be names of a frivolous character, such as "Bunnyhug" and "Ballyhoo." They should not be ordinary words often used in other connections, such as "Flood," "Sudden," and "Supreme." Names of living people (ministers or commanders) should be avoided. Intelligent thought will already supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names that do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called "Bunnyhug" or "Ballyhoo." Proper names are good in this field. The heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses, names of British and American war heroes, could be used, provided they fall within the rules above.

"No, I said exactly what I meant."

Fair enough. Of course, this is factually wrong insofar as it's incomplete: "FAS pretty much gave up keeping their pages up to date...."

"This page" would be a different matter.

Of course, this is factually wrong insofar as it's incomplete

The sentence did end in a period. If you're unhappy that I neglected to provide a paragraph of historical color/trivia, I suspect you're going to find most everything I say incomplete.

"This page" would be a different matter.

Ah, the light goes on (potentially): if you thought I was referring only to the page hilzoy linked to, I wasn't. I used fas.org a great deal even prior to 2000 but stopped using it so much later on because it had gone horribly out of date. Even some of the pages that have been updated are still horribly out of date, and link-rotted even though the claim is that they've been updated. I'd have to have saved a copy of, say, this page in order to be able to tell you what's been updated, but by all appearances (from memory, mind you) it's nothing of any import. Even though the program has resumed testing after a hiatus, that information is absent from the fas.org page.

That's what I'm talking about. That they have completely stopped adding to their site was never my point. If it had been, the words "pretty much" would have been replaced with "completely".

Ambiguous, maybe. Sosume.

I used fas.org a great deal even prior to 2000 but stopped using it so much later on because it had gone horribly out of date.

I kept using them until about 2002, but stopped shortly thereafter for much the same reason. They still have some pretty good FAQs there, though; I think HEW is there and a few others.

"Intelligent thought will already supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names that do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called "Bunnyhug" or "Ballyhoo."'

So no 'Operation Frou-Frou Trixibelle' in the offing. Shame.

I read that quote and thought: damn, I miss Churchill.

"I read that quote and thought: damn, I miss Churchill."

If nothing else, he had a way with words. (His judgment about operations was sort of hit-and-miss, and rather questionable at times, to put it mildly; various of his enthusiasms for various operations, be it invading Norway, or the Dardenalles, are both defensible and questionable; if one is going to criticize Jimmy Carter for micro-managing, say, or Donald Rumsfeld for issuing "snowflakes" left and right, one could hardly avoid criticizing Churchill for his never-ending memos on everything and anything ["action this day!"]; often he was right and brilliant; sometimes he was merely eccentric and enthusiastic; mostly he was open-minded to the point of excess; sometimes he was not, such as in his racism, or judgments, such as that Gandhi was a "fakir," and Indian independence utterly unjustifiable.)

Always an more-than-interesting guy, though.

One should also mention the point that Churchill apparently had a conscience

After World War II, Churchill brooded about Allied atrocities. "If we had lost the war, we would have been in a pretty pickle," he remarked upon hearing the judgment at Nuremberg in 1946. He was likely thinking of the string of civilian massacres wrought Allied city bombing. The Luftwaffe killed approximately 60,000 British non-combatants. The Allied air forces combined to slaughter ten times that number in Germany and Japan.

Guilt stalked Churchill to Washington in January of 1953. During a stag dinner at the White House, the Prime Minister startled Harry Truman with a provocative question about the fate of their souls. "Mr. President, I hope you have your answer ready for that hour when you and I stand before St.
Peter and he says, 'I understand you two are responsible for putting off those atomic bombs. What do you have to say for yourselves?' "

link

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