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May 30, 2008

Comments

I agree with you that IBC and ICCC casualties undercount, but it seems reasonable that they would undercount consistently,

No, it doesn't. And it'd be clear to someone who understands the methodology.

That's something you've admitted yourself, consistently. You don't understand the statistics, you don't understand the methodology--yet you rely on them to make your points.

I think that's a dangerous thing to do.

As usual, I'm afraid that my response will leave you disappointed.

That's because you're response never actually gets to the meat of the matter. You think political settlement is possible. You think we're moving forward, or capable of doing so. But never, ever, do we hear about how. I mean, we hear about the military side, from casualty counts to COIN strategies etc. But how are the Sunnis, al Sadr's militias, Kurds, etc going to be induced to join a peaceful political settlement?

What I really want is someone who thinks the war should continue, but doesn't reach that conclusion by blocking out any information contradictory to a simplistic formulation that leads them to that conclusion. Maybe this is like asking for a logical defense of Intelligent Design, I dunno.
When Charles says that the political progress needs more work he's a quarter of the way there, but he doesn't seem to want to go any further (of course, he's still lapped the immobile DaveC). I never hear *how* those things are supposed to happen.
How do we go from legitimizing the Sunni militias in Anbar to having a government monopoly on force? If al Sadr has militias, how can we go from there to inclusive government- ie how do we disarm him without a military victory. Or, if we do 'defeat' his militias, how does military victory by al Maliki's faction translate into inclusive government? How are we *not* just aiding one side in a civil war? Abandoning the illusion that al Maliki's faction is somehow morally superior to al Sadr's (or less tied to Iran)- if military victory decides who rules, how do we get to a democracy?

You quote Crocker- but let's face it, anyone who claims with a straight face that the new de-Baathification reform was a good thing has to face the fact that it was supported by the Shi'a parties and *opposed* by many Sunni groups. ... [a] document riddled with loopholes and caveats to the point that some Sunni and Shiite officials say it could actually exclude more former Baathists than it lets back in - particularly in the crucial security ministries that U.S. officials have called the key to their plans for eventual withdrawal from Iraq.... [some Shi'a interpretations] would ban members of even the lowest party levels from the most important ministries: justice, interior, defense, finance and foreign.
That's the level of seriousness we get for discussions of politics. Head in the sand, spin everything as a positive development (again- cease-fire is good news! al Maliki attacking al Sadr is good news! They stop fighting again, it's good news!)
And even Crocker doesn't talk about the road forward. He just spins past events to suggest that they are positive. He doesn't discuss how al Sadr's supporters are going to join the political process, for example- just says that that needs to happen.

You make a post full of snide attacks on Obama, suggest that he let himself be sucker-punched by McCain (ie that McCain has to induce him to care enough about Iraq to visit), say that you think things might get better, but no guarantees and no plan for how that's going to happen.

The statistics regarding media coverage of the Iraq war alone are not valid proof that there has been progress in Iraq.

Shinobi, I know this is hypothetical, but if the situation in Iraq was disintegrating in the first 10 weeks of 2008, do you think the amount of coverage would be the same?

Secondly, I do not recall any statement by the Obama campaign repdudiating Smantha Power's remarks about Obama's Iraq policy. Can you produce such comments?

I take Michael Dobbs at his word. He's one of the better journalists I've seen, and his words stand unchanged since last March without refutation from the Obama campaign.

You make a fair point that Obama wants to remove all combat brigades from Iraq because our military is strained. I think that's a secondary reason at best. He could help unstrain the military by proposing to increase the numbers of personnel.

Of course he wants Obama to go to Iraq where he will be fragged

Let's be clear about what getaclue is saying.

Fragging Fragging is a term from the Vietnam War, used primarily by U.S. military personnel, most commonly meaning to assassinate an unpopular officer of one's own fighting unit, often by means of a fragmentation grenade (hence the term).
I take this to mean that getaclue is saying that I Obama to go to Iraq so that he'll get assassinated. This is just about the worst kind of smear and insult, and a major posting rules violation to boot. I suggest that the powers-that-be skip the warning and go straight to some form of banning.

You make a fair point that Obama wants to remove all combat brigades from Iraq because our military is strained. I think that's a secondary reason at best. He could help unstrain the military by proposing to increase the numbers of personnel.

Actually, he can't do that in any practical sense. If you think he can, then you need to explain how a major increase in forces would be paid for, and why you think such a buildup of forces could possibly be performed in a reasonable amount of time.

I don't think you understand this point Charles: soldiers are not widgets coming off an assembly line whose production can simply be ramped up at your whims. At best, they take a long time to develop proficiency, especially if you're talking about the mid level officers that we're short of. In any event, the public doesn't like this war. That depresses recruitment and the ever present news stories about how the government is screwing over veterans doesn't help either. The latter issue isn't just a media problem: people can see veterans getting screwed over in their communities and their families.

He could help unstrain the military by proposing to increase the numbers of personnel.

Because volunteers are queued around the block to join up... I was under the impression that the army was doing everything short of stapling soldiers' feet to the floor of the humvee to maintain numbers.

You are right though that the strain on the military is only a second order consideration. If the war was worth fighting to this degree, certainly the military should just have to deal. I think Obama's point is that it's not, and it shouldn't.

I don't think it has occurred to you that the corollary for decreased violence, should it obtain, will be growing resentment at the US presence. No one's going to thank you at the end of all this. Apart from the accidental quotidian injustices of a foreign occupation, all armies bread crime, trafficking in contraband and prostitution. Western armies are certainly much better than most others in this regard, but certainly not immune. And these problems grow steadily the longer an army is stuck in one place. They are also particularly problematic if the army is located in a very foreign culture, as is the case with the US army in Iraq.

CB: "You make a fair point that Obama wants to remove all combat brigades from Iraq because our military is strained. I think that's a secondary reason at best. He could help unstrain the military by proposing to increase the numbers of personnel."

Increase the numbers of personnel? IOW, in military terms, "reinforce failure"? Sorry Charles, but when the basic desire of the American public - to say nothing of the Iraqi public - is oriented (except, of course, for the jingo/warmonger fringe) towards reducing and/or ending the US' increasingly counterproductive occupation of Iraq, do you really think that a call for throwing more troops into the meatgrinder is going to be anything other than political suicide?

Jeez: even your idol, Hero Boy McCain hasn't gone out on that particular limb: there's a reason why he has stuck to his future-perfect fantasies in re Iraq: calling for troop increases would seal his fate. Obama's "16-month withdrawal schedule" may not be the wisest or most practicable of plans, but it at least aims at a final result WAY more in line with public sentiment. Sorry if that bothers you, CB: but it's called "democracy".

Oh, and BTW, Charles: if you see "unstraining the military" as Sen. Obama's "secondary" reason for avocating troop withdrawals, what do you imaging the primary reason is?

Quoting Dobbs:
Power's candor was evidently too much for the Obama camp, which promptly disowned her remarks.

Charles:I take Michael Dobbs at his word. He's one of the better journalists I've seen, and his words stand unchanged since last March without refutation from the Obama campaign.

Dobbs claimed that the Obama campaign disowned her remarks. That would mean that they made a public statement, yes? Are you seriously claiming that they made some kind of secret disavowal, but publicly they've not done so? Maybe it was a double-extra-secret disavowal, available only to journalists with impeccable credentials.
That would be pretty bizarre. Isn't the point of a disavowal that it takes place public ally? If so, shouldn't there be a press release or quote someplace backing this up?
Or is this another example of believing what you want to believe rather than getting all fussy about things like evidence?

That's not saying that the Obama campaign didn't make such a statement, just that your reliance on Dobbs's statement is weird. I mean, if you can't bother to look for a disavowal from the Obama campaign, how could you possibly be sure that they haven't attempted a refutation? Maybe while you were performing that exhaustive check for refutations, you could've looked for the actual evidence.

Is it so important to you for Bush to be defeated that you want Al Qaeda In Iraq, or Mogtada Al-Sadr to run the country?

AQI is a fringe group of a 20% minority. So fringe, that most of that 20% minority has turned against it. The claim that AQI could defeat the majority of Sunnis, all the Shiites and all the Kurds in order to run Iraq is sophomoric, although that gives sophomoric a bad name.

Was Basra better when religious police could kill musicians or bartenders? That was the way it was under the control of Al Sadr.

Basra was never controlled by the Sadrists. It was then, and is now, controlled by Fadila. Which is a party formed as an offshoot to Sadrism. Fadila are religiously conservative as well. So is ISCI and Dawa. In fact, after a few days, the musicians and bartenders are being targeted and shut down again. As are women.

You deny or ignore the fact that the Kurdish part of Iraq is any better than under Saddam Hussein.

The Kurdish part of Iraq starting doing better when we imposed and enforced the no-fly zone up north in the early 90's. If not for an intra-Kurdish civil war, it would have been even better. Things have improved in Kurdistan post-invasion, but the most dramatic improvement occurred after the first Gulf War.

But hey, if it makes you feel better, we've spent trillions of dollars, wasted hundreds of thousands of lives, created millions of refugees, greatly empowered Iran, greatly weakened our military, greatly tarnished our image and standing worldwide and ignored so many other pressing needs for the sake of further improving conditions in Kurdistan.

Yay.

One more thing:

Gary Farber pwned this thread. If this thread were a game ball, it would go to him.

but no guarantees and no plan for how that's going to happen

Well we know what Obama's plan is: to allow Iran to take over Iraq by its proxies, similar to Lebanon. This is what most Democrats want: The defeat of democracy in Iraq, Iranian and Hizballah ascendancy, the elimination of Israel by any means and the right of Syria to rule the former nations of Lebanon and Israel, the overthrow of Columbia by FARC and Chavez's regime, etc.

Obama, his wife, his preacher, and his followers hate the middle class, and want to eliminate them, so that there will be two distinct classes, the edumacated rulers, and the rest of the people dependent on some sort of welfare. They want a "strong horse" ruler in Iraq: Hussein is not an option, but as Eric says, all America's liberals must support Al Sadr.

Really now, is it so important for Bush to lose that you want Al Qaeda and Iran to win?

Dave, put down the Everclear and go get some fresh air.

Dave: what matttbastard said.

None of us want Iran to rule Iraq, by proxies or otherwise. The question is, what are willing to do to stop it, now that Bush has made a large increase in Iranian influence inevitable?

And the idea that Obama wants to eliminate the middle class is just off the deep end. I'm sorry, but it is.

If you're going to say something like that, at least do us the courtesy of explaining why you think so. Preferably with cites, and in detail.

Gary Farber pwned this thread. If this thread were a game ball, it would go to him.

Yeah, I have to agree, as much as I hate to. ;) Gary took your lunch money Charles…

but no guarantees and no plan for how that's going to happen

Well we know what Obama's plan is: [paranoid nonsense clipped]

How is it I ask you for a plan, and you can't even do a Chaz and *pretend* to have one? All you can do is recycle some CCC talking points?

You're not even a good shill- the point here is that you're supposed to *pretend* to care enough about Iraq to *pretend* that there's a plan to create political unity. When all of your rants end with the domestic political situation (and you misunderstand Iraq so badly as to think that al Maliki represents some sort of nascent democratic movement), your actual concerns become clear: the absolute butt-kicking that the GOP is going to receive in November.

"By the way, I have sent Gary a few Jacksons and he still hate me."

Yes, I've heard how you've been announcing to people that you've sent me donations in the past. It's good of you to let people know that, so you get all the credit you feel you deserve.

Looking through my records, I see that you are apparently Dave C***, with an AOL address ending in *****[email protected] If that's someone else, please feel free to let me know, so I can recheck to see whom I've confused you with.

I see that you made two $20 donations in late December of 2005, $50 in July of 2006, and another $20 in December of 2007.

I'll gladly return your money if you feel you've not gotten your money's worth from your charity, DaveC.

If you sent me money so you could announce to lots of people that you sent me money, and that that makes you a great guy, hey, mine is not to examine people's motives. But I'm happy to now make clear for the public record exactly what you did, and I'm happy to have on the public all available info from you as what it meant to you and what your expectations were. In case the thank you emails I sent you in response to your donations were insufficient, let me thank you again for your kind donations, which were most helpful, and appreciated.

If, however, your expectations were that I should keep track of who donated what, so as to be especially uncritical of donors, you misunderstood.

If, however, the reason you've been going around telling other people about your generous donations to me -- as you have, and as you do here -- with some kind of expectation that I should factor that into how I do or do not respond to you on blogs -- and largely I simply ignore you as the malicious and vicious lying troll that you enjoy playing on the internet -- and those expectations were unmet, then, alas, there would again appear to have been some misunderstanding involved.

Let me know if you'd like me to PayPal you back the money you've donated.

Otherwise, continue to announce to all and sundry how very generous you are. If you feel that that will make up for the rest of your online behavior, specifically your enthusiasm for making vicious and unfounded accusations as to what other people "want" and what they "believe," good luck with that.

Otherwise I'm going back to ignoring you, troll, as you're not worth time spent on refuting your obvious malicious lies (Obama's "followers hate the middle class, and want to eliminate them," etc.).

Last I looked, those kind of generalizations, particularly when made by someone who has been warned time and time and time and time and time and time and time again, month after month, year after year, were clear violations of the posting rules. But that's not my call, and to all appearances, you have some special out from being banned, no matter how many times you blatantly and intentionally and knowingly flout the rules.

Regardless, good luck with your approach to online discourse, and political persuasion. May it serve you better than it appears to.

"Was Basra better when religious police could kill musicians or bartenders? That was the way it was under the control of Al Sadr."

Basra has never been under the control of Al Sadr. The Al-Fadhila Party are rivals of the Mahdi Army; they shoot each other.

If you were an honest interlocutor, you would want to buy a clue as to what you're talking about.

"If you want Iraq to be like Iran then you are ok here; if you think that Gaza would be a paradise were it not for the existence of Israel, if you think that Hugo Chavez and FARC are the good guys, that waving a Chomsky book and ranting against the USA at the United Nations is somehow virtuous because it is against the hated President Bush, well, then that is what you are."

And who here believes a single one of those things? Anyone?

Unless you can point to a specific person, DaveC, you are lying. And you know you are lying, or you are so recklessly malicious, you don't care. Same difference.

"You want Basra to be run by the Mahdi Army thugs again. "

It never was. Maybe you should read a book about Iraq, DaveC. It really helps to have the least clue as to what you're talking about, if you want to even pretend to be sincere.

"Well we know what Obama's plan is: to allow Iran to take over Iraq by its proxies, similar to Lebanon"

No, that was George W. Bush's plan, and it succeeded.

Go read some actual facts about Iraq and Iran, DaveC: or do you simply enjoy being beaten with clue-sticks until the clue-by-four is long past called for?

Look Gary, even though this is weird to have a personal discussion in public, I am willing to support people that I strongly disagree with. That may seem crazy, but I don't wish that terrible things happen to my "political enemies". I am harsh, because very often other commenters that disagree with me are also very harsh. This is not a deal where I hate you or Hilzoy, or Publius, or whomever. I am just trying to put my 2 cents in, "Mostly Say Hooray For My Side". That's pretty much the deal with me. I am often not very straightforward, and sometimes am deliberately offensive, because I am offended by the posts or some of the comments. When you put all Republicans in prison for War Crimes, have a little bit of sympathy for me.

"I would agree that not enough political progress has occurred, Hil, but a blanket statement that political progress "is not happening" is in direct contradiction with what Ambassador Crocker reported to Congress last month."

Charles, for god's sakes, administration public announcements are propaganda. They're always going to be positive, we see the light at the end-of-the-tunnel.

Please read up on the Vietnam War, and how our government handled propaganda/PR, and how honest or dishonest officials were. Please.

Read the Pentagon Papers. Read Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam; read Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History (or just watch the full documentary series).

Then, just for flavor, read Michael Herr's Dispatches.

You'll be glad you did.

Any statements from any government about what they're doing is going to be positive, and sometimes a downright lie. You do know that, right?

"NV, Obama's a center-rightist?"

From the POV of any leftist, of course. Has Obama been calling for control of the means of production, while I wasn't looking?

You know, something actually leftist, rather than what lunatic rightwingers like to call leftist?

Dennis Kucinich is a mild leftist. Obama is just a centrist liberal, at most. Actual leftists usually want actual socialism, if not communism, Charles. You might want to read up on the history of the left if you're unaware of something so basic, and only aware of caricatures.

"I agree that 'only issues that matter' is political settlement as a long term objective, and a proper COIN strategy is a long-term strategy."

Definite "long-term" for us, please. When do we get there? What year? What six-month period? When is it a reasonable amount of time to take to get there, and when is it insanely unreasonable, and time to admit we're never getting there?

Two years from today? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? One hundred years?

Please give us a time-span by which we can agree that It's Time To Give Up and be loser-defeatists. Or is that never?

"Given the trends since last August, I think the present strategy is worth pursuing. "

Of course you do. You always do. You are nothing if not consistent. The facts don't matter, because all you need is an official to tell you something positive, so you can point to that as proof that We Must Continue.

And when the set of officials changes so that there are no longer Official Officials telling you something positive, you will, I expect, blame the new officials for being loser-defeatists, and you'll appoint to the Real Officials who matter to you on the right wing as possessing the True Knowledge Of Iraq and What Should Have Been Done To Save It.

And you will, I expect, say that it Was Only Because Of The Loser-Defeatist Democrats that defeat was snatched from the jaws of the victory that we're On The Way To.

Hey, prove me wrong, but I've never gone wrong yet betting on your consistency, Charles.

"As usual, I'm afraid that my response will leave you disappointed."

That seems quite likely, but I like to be optimistic. How about this? You take a shot at responding to the points I asked asked you to here, and I'll let you know if I'm disappointed or not. Deal?

Thanks!

"This is just about the worst kind of smear and insult, and a major posting rules violation to boot."

So, Charles, do you see any posting rules violations here?

Yes, or no?

How about here?

Yes, or no?

"Shinobi, I know this is hypothetical, but if the situation in Iraq was disintegrating in the first 10 weeks of 2008, do you think the amount of coverage would be the same?"

Do you believe that if the answer is "no" -- as it is -- that that would be because:
a) the liberal media is biased against reporting news they don't like; or:
b) news is reporting about Bad Things, not about Good Things?

"You make a fair point that Obama wants to remove all combat brigades from Iraq because our military is strained. I think that's a secondary reason at best."

What do you think the primary reason is?

"Look Gary, even though this is weird to have a personal discussion in public,"

I don't recall being the one who introduced the topic of your generous donations to me, or who initiated this conversation between us at all.

"I am willing to support people that I strongly disagree with. That may seem crazy,"

To someone, maybe, but as it happens, I've always been friends with people I disagree with, and have always had friends from an extremely wide spectrum of political views.

As it happens, and as I've always said, I'm far more interested in the quality of someone's arguments than I am with the results. I'd far rather hang out with smart people who challenge my views, and who disagree with me, than with dopey people who agree with me for stupid reasons, and who can only make poor and illogical arguments.

I find people on my side who make bad arguments to be an embarrasment to my "side," insofar as I ever have one (I go issue by issue, myself, and always have).

"but I don't wish that terrible things happen to my 'political enemies'."

And neither do I. I wish nothing but the best for anyone who disagrees with me in any sort of remotely courteous fashion. I certainly wish all the best for Charles, Sebastian, and Von, no matter the lapses in our conversations at times.

"I am harsh, because very often other commenters that disagree with me are also very harsh."

Bullpuckey. You are "harsh" -- I would say that you engage in vicious and malicious lies about people -- because it makes you feel good to do so. You've admitted to this.

Moreover, you've admitted that you do it in response to problems in your offline life, and because you can't reply there as you will, so you come here and "like toi stir s**t up." (Forgive me for not taking the time to link to the actual quote just now, and if I have it slightly wrong; I'm actually very busy today, but am squeezing out some time in between other stuff.)

"This is not a deal where I hate you or Hilzoy, or Publius, or whomever."

I really don't care how you feel. I'll never know, anyway, and it makes no difference to me. I only know how you act, and the way you act is to come here, and elsewhere, and tell vicious lies about us. As in all the quotes I can pull from your comments in this thread about what we "believe" and "want."

They're lies, you know they are lies, you know that they are vicious slurs against our patriotism, our love of America, our support of U.S. troops, and our desire to see America do what's best, and you tell the lies anyway.

Over and over and over.

Because it makes you feel good.

That's what makes me have no respect whatever for you DaveC: your behavior. Change your behavior to respectable behavior, and you will earn respect. Tell lots of nasty lies about people, and they will not be happy with you for it. I don't think I'm unusual in saying that that's how it works for me, and how it works for most people.

Give it a try. Or don't. As always, it's in your hands.

"I am just trying to put my 2 cents in, 'Mostly Say Hooray For My Side"'."

By lying about what Hilzoy, and I, and Obama supporters, and people who know far more than you about any topic we engage on believe and want and think.

Stop lying about us, DaveC. Stop lying.

Just.

Stop.

Lying.

About us.

It's up to you. Just stop it.

"That's pretty much the deal with me. I am often not very straightforward, and sometimes am deliberately offensive, because I am offended by the posts or some of the comments."

Consider that there are alternative responses, when offended, to being deliberately offended.

Or continue on with that; it's worked so well for you so far.

"When you put all Republicans in prison for War Crimes, have a little bit of sympathy for me."

I don't want you to be punished in any way, DaveC. I want you to educate yourself about what you're passionate about, so you stop making a public spectacle of yourself, and can win arguments, and actually understand what you're trying to talk about.

And I want you to stop lying about the rest of us.

If you do that, maybe you'll also do other stuff that will earn you respect from me, and perhaps more respect from others than you currently receive.

It's all up to you.

But since I've explained this before to you countless times, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for this time to be different.

But: surprise me. I always like good surprises.

Reasonable from the perspective that you would acknowledge progress at those points, not that I believe they are attainable any time soon.

That's kind of the point. If the benchmarks aren't attainable, then we can't "win" (where "winning" means acheiving the benchmarks). If we can't "win", what are we staying for?

========================

if the situation in Iraq was disintegrating in the first 10 weeks of 2008, do you think the amount of coverage would be the same?

Depends on what Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton were doing. Seriously.

=====================

When you put all Republicans in prison for War Crimes, have a little bit of sympathy for me.

Not all, just the ones who condoned torture. Which was a War Crime, last I checked. Those who condoned treason should also go to prison, especially the higher-ups, although not to the Hague.

"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."

Did this happen, Charles?

Informally yes, Gary. Ambassador Crocker:And, finally, I'd make the point on another piece of glue that holds the country together, and those are revenues -- oil revenues. While it is true that they have not yet wrestled their way through to a comprehensive hydrocarbon and revenue sharing package, revenues are distributed. And all the provinces and all the communities obviously have an interest in having that happen. And it goes through the center.
"To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs."

Did this happen, Charles?

It is happening. Crocker:

Iraq’s 2008 budget has allocated $13 billion for reconstruction, and a $5 billion supplemental budget this summer will invest export revenues in building the infrastructure and providing the services that Iraq so badly needs.

To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year."

Did this happen, Charles?

They haven't happened yet but they're scheduled. Crocker:

The Provincial Powers Law also called for provincial elections by October 1, 2008, and an Electoral Law is now under discussion that will set the parameters for elections. All major parties have announced their support for these elections, which will be a major step forward in Iraq's political development and will set the stage for national elections in late 2009.

"And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws,"

Give us some cites on the success of that, please, Charles.

Okay. More Crocker:

The Accountability and Justice Law (de-Ba'athification reform), passed after lengthy and often contentious debate, reflects a strengthened spirit of reconciliation, as does a far-reaching Amnesty Law.

"and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution."

How has that gone, Charles?

I haven't seen progress on that, Gary.

"We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams."

How about a cite on the success of this, Charles?

Petraeus, from the Q&A last month:

The provincial reconstruction teams and the so-called EPRTs, the embedded provincial reconstruction, which were actually subprovincial in most cases, have been enormously helpful and valuable. They have augmented, at brigade headquarters, division headquarters, the assets of our civilian affairs -- civil affairs personnel, and brought really useful skill sets to bear in a number of different provinces and districts.

[...]

Beyond that, I think we do need to take a look at the PRT composition. And that is ongoing, actually -- just a report out that that is taking place -- to detrmine, for example, do you need more agrioculture experts in Nineveh than you do in Baghdad? Do you need more oil experts in, say, Kirkuk than you need in, right now, at least, in Anbar -- although there's oil out there, too. So that is what is ongoing. And again, bottom line is, there's been a substantial civilian surge in the PRT arena and in some capacity-building areas. But there is still more neded in others.


I don't have hard numbers on the numbers of PRTs and EPRTs, Gary. You could assume that the numbers of PRTs would be proportional to the reconstruction dollars allotted, but that would only be an assumption.

...the way the "Awakening" groups have been integrated into the national government...

Petraeus:

Senator, what we are doing, in fact, is helping achieve local bottom-up reconciliation. And, in fact, by the way, they are being integrated into the ISF. And fact is a number of the Sons of Iraq in Anbar province, others in Baghdad have been integrated into the police. Some of those fighting in Basra actually are from the 1st Iraqi Army Division, which has a substantial Sunni complement in it.
I do weigh this issue all the time. What we are seeing at local level, actually, in Anbar...

More Petraeus:
Given the importance of the Sons of Iraq, we're working closely with the Iraqi government to transition them into the Iraqi security forces or other forms of employment. And over 21,000 have already been accepted into the police or army or other government jobs.

This process has been slow but it is taking place, and we will continue to monitor it carefully.


More Sunnis in the Iraqi police force:
Some 800 Sunni Muslims are among 2,000 newly trained recruits in the Iraqi National Police, a force that a Pentagon report a year ago called a brutal organization infiltrated by Shiite militias and even death squads.

Another 2,000 Sunnis are expected to be trained and to join the National Police in coming months, a U.S. general in Iraq said Thursday.

America's top military policeman in Iraq, Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, praised the move by Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki as creating "a whole different National Police from a year ago."


Like Petraeus said, Gary, the progress is slow, but it's progress.

the way most citizens of Iraq believe that the Iraqi government is generally a representative, non-sectarian, government, that is at least vaguely non-corrupt, vaguely effective, and possesses at least a vague monopoly of force, Charles.

Tell us about how the militias have been eliminated, Charles, rather than just those that the U.S. government doesn't like.

As for how the Iraqi people view how things are going, the Brookings Institution has poll data. The majority believes the security situation is better today than last August. Anthony Cordesman at CSIS has lots of recent poll data. Check out pages 19, 21, 22, 57, 59, 62, 63, 73, 77, etc. They're mixed, but the Iraqi people see an improved situation.

Tell us about how SCII and Dawa and Maliki are subject to Iranian influence than Sadr, Charles.

Yes, there's plenty of Iranian influence on SCII, Dawa and Sadrists, Gary. I'm sure you can tell us how better than me.

Use your vast expertise to tell us about all these things.

I for one, could be convinced, if you'd finally get around to telling us about this stuff, as you've been asked to for years, rather than posting about meaningless statistics and press releases.

And you so were so civil up that point. Alas.

Here is The End of the story.

Think we'll see a lot of apologies from those who immediately began ranting about the traitor (former Marine Colonel) John Murtha? Yeah, me neither. (Though maybe a handful will; maybe.)

I still despise Jack Murtha. And no, I am never, ever, going to apologize to that crooked politician who proclaimed that those Marines were cold blooded murderers. Oddly enough I was pretty damned critical of Charles Bird as well, for not following up the Haditha story to the very end.

Haven't yet noticed any of the Bush-supporting blogs having anything to say. But I'm sure the evil MSM must have this story all wrong, and they're doubtless traitors for reporting it before the courts-martial have produced verdicts.

Where was the post that explained the result of the court martial investigations? I must have missed it somewhere, I have never seen it on ObWi or Amyglada.

And whatever bad things that have happened to Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and that Hamdan guy, well I think that those guys have been treated mercifully considering that KSM planned the 9/11 attacks and that Hamdan was OBL's personal assistant. I'm never apologizing for that, either.

So DaveC, do you feel as strongly about all misguided prosecutions as you do about the Haditha case? Or do you think marines are entitled to special rights that mere civilians don't deserve? Because, and I hate to tell you this, I can point you to a bunch of wrongful convictions where the media and politicians went nuts. Unfortunately, most of those cases involve African American civilians.

I do think it is adorable how you seem to think that Gary or the OW crew owe you posts about Haditha. I mean, you've been paying their salary for years, so of course they should be doing what you want them to do, right?

Fine, Dave, don't apologize for these side issues.

Just apologize for lying about Gary, and Hilzoy, and Publius, and the rest of us.

And stop doing it. Stop saying we believe things we don't

Stop being "deliberately offensive."

It's offensive.

It offends me. Deeply.

It is the kind of action - and yes, words are a kind of action - no decent human being should engage in, especially not when he's been repeatedly warned about it. It's not civil. It's not decent.

It gives me no reason whatsoever to explore any of the side issues you seem to think are so important.

It gains nothing for your position, and if it gives you some moment of psychic release, I wish to god you'd find some other way.

Have you considered bird-watching?

So DaveC, do you feel as strongly about all misguided prosecutions as you do about the Haditha case?

Actually somebody in my family went through a very serious, politically motivated criminal case at the same time as Haditha case and the Duke lacrosse team rape case. Famous politician. Thousands of dollars paid to defense attorneys. Eventually complete exoneration. But even after all charges were dropped there was really no follow-up, no public explanation. The facts came out in the depositions and hearings, and there was no trial, but the accusations are the only things that are well known.

So, maybe it was just the timeline. But I did see all the hateful accusations on various advocacy and political web sites. and only one small town newspaper article that explained the whole deal. That article has gone down the bit bucket. The other stuff is still out there, uncorrected. The fact of the matter is that with these partisan groups the facts do not matter.

As I recall. the USMC did release the facts and the timeline, there was an IED attack, and the Marines were fired upon from each of the four houses. The whole deal was messed up and innocent people were killed, but it certainly was not cold blooded murder. Why the accusers will not admit this, why the news media never explained what really happened is something that, while I don't know what the real motivations are, I suspect that leaving the accusations out there without any follow-up is almost as good a conviction.

DaveC,

I want you to go to the nearest supermarket tomorrow, stop ten people, and ask them if they recognize the names of any of the Haditha Marines. They won't. No one has a clue who these guys are. They're free and clear, which is not as good as a conviction. A conviction implies of a life sentence of hard labor; what these guys have is...nothing. No one will ever remember anything about them.

But I'm glad to know that you really really care about the rights of Marines and people related to you and...no one else. I can't imagine how much money you've donated to the innocence project.

Well, if most Democrats want the elimination of Israel by any means (as DaveC claimed unambiguously) why has the US not nuked it under Clinton or sold a few nukes to those that would reliably use them against Israel? Or are the Clintons and their henchbeings some of the few that do not share that unquenchable hatred of Israel?
On the other hand I could name a few influential people on the right that want to use Israel as the match to light the fire to engulf the whole world (aka the apocalypse).

On the subject of misguided persecutions: please, DaveC, go back and reread katherine's writings about Gitmo inmates.

I don't remember thedetails of the Haditha story: if you are right and they got put thru the wringer for nthng , then I am sorry for them. But, as you pointed out, they didn't get sentenced to any time. They are free to go about their lives.. And, truth is, most Americans don't remember a thinga bout it.

So why not put some energy into defending innocent people who are currently doing indefintie time without charge or trial?

Typepad wouldn't let me to respond, so I'm trying it pieces.

"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."

Did this happen, Charles?

Informally yes, Gary. Ambassador Crocker:And, finally, I'd make the point on another piece of glue that holds the country together, and those are revenues -- oil revenues. While it is true that they have not yet wrestled their way through to a comprehensive hydrocarbon and revenue sharing package, revenues are distributed. And all the provinces and all the communities obviously have an interest in having that happen. And it goes through the center.
"To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs."

Did this happen, Charles?

It is happening. Crocker:

Iraq’s 2008 budget has allocated $13 billion for reconstruction, and a $5 billion supplemental budget this summer will invest export revenues in building the infrastructure and providing the services that Iraq so badly needs.

To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year."

Did this happen, Charles?

They haven't happened yet but they're scheduled. Crocker:

The Provincial Powers Law also called for provincial elections by October 1, 2008, and an Electoral Law is now under discussion that will set the parameters for elections. All major parties have announced their support for these elections, which will be a major step forward in Iraq's political development and will set the stage for national elections in late 2009.

"And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws,"

Give us some cites on the success of that, please, Charles.

Okay. More Crocker:

The Accountability and Justice Law (de-Ba'athification reform), passed after lengthy and often contentious debate, reflects a strengthened spirit of reconciliation, as does a far-reaching Amnesty Law.

"and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution."

How has that gone, Charles?

I haven't seen progress on that, Gary.

"We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams."

How about a cite on the success of this, Charles?

Petraeus, from the Q&A last month:

The provincial reconstruction teams and the so-called EPRTs, the embedded provincial reconstruction, which were actually subprovincial in most cases, have been enormously helpful and valuable. They have augmented, at brigade headquarters, division headquarters, the assets of our civilian affairs -- civil affairs personnel, and brought really useful skill sets to bear in a number of different provinces and districts.

[...]

Beyond that, I think we do need to take a look at the PRT composition. And that is ongoing, actually -- just a report out that that is taking place -- to detrmine, for example, do you need more agrioculture experts in Nineveh than you do in Baghdad? Do you need more oil experts in, say, Kirkuk than you need in, right now, at least, in Anbar -- although there's oil out there, too. So that is what is ongoing. And again, bottom line is, there's been a substantial civilian surge in the PRT arena and in some capacity-building areas. But there is still more neded in others.


I don't have hard numbers on the numbers of PRTs and EPRTs, Gary. You could assume that the numbers of PRTs would be proportional to the reconstruction dollars allotted, but that would only be an assumption.

Part II.

...the way the "Awakening" groups have been integrated into the national government...

Petraeus:

Senator, what we are doing, in fact, is helping achieve local bottom-up reconciliation. And, in fact, by the way, they are being integrated into the ISF. And fact is a number of the Sons of Iraq in Anbar province, others in Baghdad have been integrated into the police. Some of those fighting in Basra actually are from the 1st Iraqi Army Division, which has a substantial Sunni complement in it.
I do weigh this issue all the time. What we are seeing at local level, actually, in Anbar...

More Petraeus:
Given the importance of the Sons of Iraq, we're working closely with the Iraqi government to transition them into the Iraqi security forces or other forms of employment. And over 21,000 have already been accepted into the police or army or other government jobs.

This process has been slow but it is taking place, and we will continue to monitor it carefully.


More Sunnis in the Iraqi police force:
Some 800 Sunni Muslims are among 2,000 newly trained recruits in the Iraqi National Police, a force that a Pentagon report a year ago called a brutal organization infiltrated by Shiite militias and even death squads.

Another 2,000 Sunnis are expected to be trained and to join the National Police in coming months, a U.S. general in Iraq said Thursday.

America's top military policeman in Iraq, Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, praised the move by Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki as creating "a whole different National Police from a year ago."


Like Petraeus said, Gary, the progress is slow, but it's progress.

the way most citizens of Iraq believe that the Iraqi government is generally a representative, non-sectarian, government, that is at least vaguely non-corrupt, vaguely effective, and possesses at least a vague monopoly of force, Charles.

Tell us about how the militias have been eliminated, Charles, rather than just those that the U.S. government doesn't like.

As for how the Iraqi people view how things are going, the Brookings Institution has poll data. The majority believes the security situation is better today than last August. Anthony Cordesman at CSIS has lots of recent poll data. Check out pages 19, 21, 22, 57, 59, 62, 63, 73, 77, etc. They're mixed, but the Iraqi people see an improved situation.

Tell us about how SCII and Dawa and Maliki are subject to Iranian influence than Sadr, Charles.

Yes, there's plenty of Iranian influence on SCII, Dawa and Sadrists, Gary. I'm sure you can tell us how better than me.

Use your vast expertise to tell us about all these things.

I for one, could be convinced, if you'd finally get around to telling us about this stuff, as you've been asked to for years, rather than posting about meaningless statistics and press releases.

And you so were so civil up that point. Alas.

DaveC: what dr. ngo said. Especially this:

"Stop being "deliberately offensive."

It's offensive.

It offends me. Deeply.

It is the kind of action - and yes, words are a kind of action - no decent human being should engage in, especially not when he's been repeatedly warned about it. It's not civil. It's not decent."

Gary brought up the question of posting rules. I've never thought about banning you, mostly because you've been around here for long enough that I have, rightly or wrongly, the sense that I know you, sort of.

But he's right that you have said things that would have gotten someone else banned a long time ago. And I don't think that would have been overreaction. Some of the things you say are deeply offensive and hurtful.

I don't know why you say them. Possibly you assume that since we're liberals, we can't possibly care about our country, or the troops, or whatever, and so saying that we want bin Laden to win, or that we are just using the troops as political pawns, or some of the things you have said in the past, can't possibly bother us.

This isn't true. We do. It does.

If you want to be outrageous, criticize someone other than the people here. If you feel outraged by a post, explain why, but without impugning the characters of half the people here. If you want to vent, there are ways of doing it that don't involve saying the sorts of things that would be worth fighting duels over.

Of course you can criticize us, but please, think about what you're saying first.

You are upset because people rushed to judgment about the Marines in Haditha. But rushing to judgment, and assuming the worst of people, is your stock in trade here. (As opposed to at TiO, where you are, oddly, different.)

At some point -- and this is not that point -- I might get tired of being told, on the basis of no evidence, that I believe things that I find deeply offensive. (I have no problem with people telling me that *with* evidence.) Please don't let it get that far. I like you. I don't want to ban you. But if this goes on, I might.

I'm not sure why I did this, but I thought I'd just keep score of the comments for my own education and entertainment. Call it the shorter comment thread, duplicates and my own comments excluded. The first 50:
Eric: Substantive
1. Benjamin: Substantive
2. matttbastard: Insult
3. cleek: Disagreement, followed by inaccurate question.
4. tomeck: Insult
5. Turbulence: Fair questions about my hasty editing.
6. spartikus: Snarky insult
7. rea: Falsely premised disagreement
8. Hilzoy: Substantive
9. Eric: Hilzoy huzzah
10. byrningman: Disagreement
11. matthew: Disagreement, but fair point about "British television"
12. Jon H: Disagreement
13. spartikus: Snarky insult followed by a valid question (you're right, McCain shouldn't have included a picture of Petraeus in the ad or fundraiser letter)
14. getaclue: Grave insult, suggesting that I want to see Obama assassinated.
15. Hartmut: Disagreement
16. Francis: Disagreement on the strategy
17. Nombilisme Vide: Disagreement on Obama's leftishness, etc.
18. Justin: Disagreement, surge not working, even if things are better, the surge gets no credit for it.
19. Brock: Disagreeing with Hil's logic about what McCain knows about Iraq.
20. Charlie Martel: Substantive
21. ThatLeftTurninABQ: Substantive (though I'm not sure about the Nixon-visiting-Vietnam analogy).
22. Ugh: Meta question
23. KCinDC: Disagreement
24. Tim F: Disagreement about the candidates' bases of support.
25. Tony P.: Disagreement
26. Gary: Agreement about active duty military personnel at political events.
27. Shinobi: Substantive
28. charles: Condescending remark about me not figuring out that we've already lost, and strawman about this post being "some sort of vindication" for my war. I put this under the category of insult.
29. OCSteve: Substantive, neutral
30. Eric: Disagreeing with OCS.
31. Gary: Meta comment, and a fair one.
32. NV: Interesting comment re Brock's and Hil's logic.
33. Gary: Disagrees with OCS and tells him to read a book.
34. farmgirl: Agrees with Gary.
35. Teenage Jesus: Says that the Iraqis are making significant progress as a result of the surge. I wouldn't say "significant", but other than OCS, he's the first to say that political progress has happened, though I detect a hint of sarcasm.
36. NV: Acknowledged a typo with humor.
37. Hilzoy: Acknowledged logical unsoundness and proceeded with substantive commentary.
38. farmgirl: Chided Teenage Jesus for his contrarian opinion.
39. NV: More humorousness on his confrontations with Typepad.
40. Grampa Simpson Jesus: Says the exact same thing as Teenage Jesus. Hmmm. The sarcasm antennae is further alerted.
41. farmgirl: Seques into a complaint about the naming of Homeland Security. I agree with the agricultural female.
42. Phil: Disagreement with a dusting of mild insult.
43. OCS: Wonders why the surge gets no credit for anything by the ObWingers.
44. Eric: Helpfully lays out metrics for the upcoming election.
45. Morat20: Alludes that I applied a Friedman unit. Put that one under mild insult because I've already refuted his contentions in prior threads. 46. trilobite: Posits the curious theory that we named Homeland Security we're an imperialistic empire. Put it under the "seque" category.
47. Eric: Compliments trilo on his curious theory.
48. Bruce Baugh: Agrees with Phil.
49. Bruce Baugh: Agrees with trilobite.
50. Ugh: Agrees with trilo that we are an empire.

Please read up on the Vietnam War, and how our government handled propaganda/PR, and how honest or dishonest officials were. Please.

Yes, Gary, we all know you have more knowledge in your left hip socket than every breathing blogger in the universe. Combined. The question is this. Crocker has been living full-time in Iraqi diplomatic circles since Petraeus came on board. Petraeus has been living in Iraqi COIN circles since February 2007. All of their statements are cautioned and qualified and hedged. From what I've seen in the last 15 months, their statements have also been credible, and Petraeus' own COIN principles are to tell it straight.

I don't use statements that come from the White House because I have no confidence in this president, but Petraeus-Crocker aren't the White House.

From the POV of any leftist, of course. Has Obama been calling for control of the means of production, while I wasn't looking?

You know, something actually leftist, rather than what lunatic rightwingers like to call leftist?

Dennis Kucinich is a mild leftist. Obama is just a centrist liberal, at most. Actual leftists usually want actual socialism, if not communism, Charles. You might want to read up on the history of the left if you're unaware of something so basic, and only aware of caricatures.

Check the tape, Gary. I didn't call Obama a leftist. I said he was solid left liberal, using [i]National Journal[/i] and ADA as frames of reference.

One comment re DaveC. He is guilty of the sin of invidious overgeneralization, painting all too many liberals with all too broad a brush. The comment about giving money to Gary was unprofessional and a lapse of exercising fair judgment.

Definite "long-term" for us, please. When do we get there? What year? What six-month period? When is it a reasonable amount of time to take to get there, and when is it insanely unreasonable, and time to admit we're never getting there?

So are we there yet? Historically, successful COINs have taken 5 to 10 years. In McCain's 2013 ad, it said "Middle East: Stabilized". That would be roughly Year Seven.

They're always going to be positive, we see the light at the end-of-the-tunnel.

Here's what Crocker and Petraeus said last month:

"We haven't turned any corners. We haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel."
--Gen. David Petraeus.

"The reality is, it is hard in Iraq. And there are no light switches to throw that are going to go dark to light."
--Ambassador Ryan Crocker.


Yep, just one big cheerleading session.

Can we call the Aussies lose-defeatists now?

Petraeus has been living in Iraqi COIN circles since February 2007. All of their statements are cautioned and qualified and hedged. From what I've seen in the last 15 months, their statements have also been credible.

So, back before Petraeus became MNF-I commander, when he was in charge of training IA and reported that it was going great and that we were making great progress, were his statements back then also credible? Because, and not to put too fine a point on it, he was completely and totally wrong then.

Petraeus' own COIN principles are to tell it straight.

Really? So Petraeus' COIN principles don't include anything at all about information operations? About the need to control media impressions? About the need to create the long periods of time needed for counterinsurgencies to work by carefully controlling and manipulating media and public access to information?

Charles, do you think the military leaders who lied to the public during Vietnam did so because they were immoral people? Or do you think they did so because it helped advance their goals, namely the continuation of the war and the refusal to admit failure?

I don't use statements that come from the White House because I have no confidence in this president, but Petraeus-Crocker aren't the White House.

Charles, do you understand that both Petraeus and Crocker work for the President and take orders from him? Do you believe that Petraeus would refuse a direct order to testify in particular ways?

Check the tape, Gary. I didn't call Obama a leftist. I said he was solid left liberal, using [i]National Journal[/i] and ADA as frames of reference.

Oh, well, I'd thought Gary's response would let me be lazy and silent, but I guess not. The claim in question was not that you said he was a leftist (though you implied it); the claim was that you said his core were of the hard left, and would be wholly intolerant of him changing his "cut-and-run" plan in Iraq, for any reason whatever. I objected to the following passage in particular:

he's too politically invested to change it because such a change would anger and inflame the very base that propelled him to the nomination. There would be hell to pay from the Hard Partisan Left.

...and suggested that his base, or even the core of his base, did not represent hard leftists, or even the hard left of those who vote democratic (I fall in the former category, as well as, by virtue of strong nose-pinching fingers, the latter). The best you could credibly argue would be that his core supporters are the leftmost of Democrat true believers, which with some small contortion, I did manage to parse out of your "Hard Partisan Left" comment. But it's not the readiest parsing, nor can I believe it's meant to be (and even if it were, I don't think it correctly characterizes the reaction of staunch partisan Democrats to spin from their Golden Child du jour to change his stance on an issue due to "reasonable changes on the ground"; they're partisan for a reason). Obama's base is at best left-Democrats. They are NOT even hard-left-Democrats. Step off, that's Kucinich and co.'s turf, and last I checked the likes of Kucinich backers weren't Obama's backbone.

(For an example of a "hard-leftist's" take on Obama, I frankly don't care, issue-wise, if Clinton or Obama wins. They're basically identical. Now, yes, Clinton has shown herself to be somewhat untrustworthy and self-serving (which reinforced latent prejudices arising from her husband's tenure, but I've tried not to tar her with Bill's record), so at this point if we put heavy weight on "character" I prefer Obama. But honestly, I don't support him. I'll vote for him, but nostrils will still be clenched. Kucinich, I can actually get somewhat enthusiastic for, and he's received my primary vote in the past. But Obama, as Clinton, is at best centerist, and from my PoV, better termed center right. He (and she) care not one bit for the opinion of the hard left of their party, let alone the actual left or hard left... and they return the favor, beyond perhaps the reluctant strategic sacrifice of casting a vote for them.)

Oh, and to your later argument that you meant he was a "solid left liberal", um, no, he's a solid centerist liberal. Like the Clintons. His supporters are probably a bit to the left of him, but they're, as stated above, hardly staunch left-wing liberals. They're center-left liberals. Not solid left, not hard left, but center-left.

To continue to over-clarify, go back and look at the link you provided as "proof" of his extreme liberalosity. He's tied with three others (Biden, Nelson, and Clinton) for 4th-least liberal Democrat Senator. He's scoring 75%, which is 12% lower than the average for Democrat Senators. The ADA paper, if anything, undermines your case.

Shorter Charles: Administration officials say that we're making progress, and that's good enough for me.
eg
"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."
Did this happen, Charles?
Informally yes, Gary.

That is to say, no. Crocker does explain (for some reason) that Iraq is in fact selling oil, and the money from that goes to the government, which then spends it on stuff. But the oil deal is not done, has been stalled for a long time, and shows no particular signs of moving forward.
The rest of the points go similarly- Croker saying that he thinks progress is being made is 'proof' that it is, in fact, being made. A 'reconciliation act' which is unsupported by the community being reconciled with is 'progress'. etc.

If McCain should win in November, one small solace Ill take is knowing I get to watch you perform this silly little dance for several more years into the future. Far to high a cost to pay for petty entertainment, really, but one takes pleasure where one can.

It's worth noting that Obama's base is precisely composed of folks who did not initially support Kucinich or even Edwards. Most of us who did are in positions much like Carleton's, with varying mixes of making do and appreciation for policies and styles, but nonetheless dealing with a consolation prize.

"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."

Did this happen, Charles?

Informally yes, Gary.

What's "informal" legislation, Charles?

"Did this happen, Charles?

It is happening."

Charles, the benchmarks had dates. In other words, no, it didn't happen by the necessary date.

To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year."

Did this happen, Charles?

They haven't happened yet.

So far we're four for four on "no, those benchmarks weren't fulfilled."
"And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws,"

Give us some cites on the success of that, please, Charles.

Okay. More Crocker


Charles, why should anyone care what a salesman selling his PR has to say? Give us some quotes from Iraqi authorities, please? How about, specifically, some Sunni Awakenings leaders? Thanks!
"We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams."

How about a cite on the success of this, Charles?

Petraeus, from the Q&A last month:

The provincial reconstruction teams and the so-called EPRTs, the embedded provincial reconstruction, which were actually subprovincial in most cases, have been enormously helpful and valuable.

That's nice PR. The number was to be doubled: was it? Please give us the numbers. Numbers are metrics; press releases and sales pitches are not. Thanks!

"I don't have hard numbers on the numbers of PRTs and EPRTs, Gary. You could assume that the numbers of PRTs would be proportional to the reconstruction dollars allotted, but that would only be an assumption."

Quite. When you have an answer, get back to us. (If you like, i can supply you with some nice links on how the PRTs haven't made those numbers, and why, but you might like to, you know, find out about this stuff for yourself.)

"don't have hard numbers on the numbers of PRTs and EPRTs, Gary. You could assume that the numbers of PRTs would be proportional to the reconstruction dollars allotted, but that would only be an assumption."

Charles, tell me, when President Obama announces a policy for something, is your judge for whether it's been successful or not going to be speeches by Obama appointees?

Give us some quotes from Sunni Awakenings leaders, please.

I repeat for the billionth time in the past several years: quit telling us what Americans have to say about Iraq -- tell us what Iraqis have to say about Iraq. It's kind, you know, more important than what administration flacks say: do you really think that they're going to announce that no, they're failing, and their boss has engaged in a failed policy? What possible point do you think you're making by assuring us that the policies must be a success, because George W. Bush's appointees assure us they are?

"Like Petraeus said, Gary, the progress is slow, but it's progress."

Charles, we're not talking about the ever-receding Next Friedman Unit. We're talking about the benchmarks the President said had to be met. On deadlines.

So far, your account is that no deadline for any benchmark has been met. Either you acknowledge that, or you wish us to accept the word of sales people.

When you can point to cites demonstrating factually that the benchmarks were met, let us know, please.

Meanwhile, you're substituting PR claims for facts, and saying we should accept that. Why do you think we should?

"And you so were so civil up that point. Alas."

We've discussed this in email; please let me know if you think where we left it was unsatisfactory.

"As for how the Iraqi people view how things are going, the Brookings Institution has poll data. The majority believes the security situation is better today than last August. Anthony Cordesman at CSIS has lots of recent poll data."

Thanks for that; I've got to get to sleep, but I'll look that over tomorrow, as time allows.

Thanks muchly otherwise for your reply.

"I've never thought about banning you, mostly because you've been around here for long enough that I have,"

I have to ask why this doesn't effectively mean that ObWi has a policy that if the commenter has been around for a while, they can say anything, and never be banned?

What possible grounds would you have for banning me if I spent the next two years announcing what you, or DaveC, or Charles, or anyone, thought about something, and I insisted dozens and dozens of times, in separate posts, month after month, year after year, that y'all believe a long list of extremely offensive things?

So far as I can tell, you've given all us long-timers blanket immunity. If you haven't, and this is a DaveC-only policy, I'd like to know what makes him special. If it isn't, I'd like to know what objective grounds, other than my own sense of honor, decency, and civility -- which will prevent me from engaging in the above course of action, of course -- this ObWi policy gives me to not engage in such a course of action?

Thanks for any clarification of this point.

"You are upset because people rushed to judgment about the Marines in Haditha."

That might be the case for some, but as I pointed out several times to DaveC, here, before I ceased bothering, I never, ever, ever, wrote a post with a judgment about any of the Marines in Haditha. I posted a whole lot of links to news articles, and that's it. I very carefully at no time stated any opinion as to what had happened, because I never ever had any opinion.

DaveC's claims to the contrary are as hallucinatory and completely false as the rest of his malicious falsehoods.

And, lastly, it seems to have escaped his attention that I've posted very little at all on my blog, relatively speaking, in the past more than a year, due to lots of trouble in my life, and that that's why I've not made blog posts about thousands of topics I have saved links about.

If DaveC would like to get me blogging more, he's free to send me the additional $2500 or so I need to get an apartment of my own again, and that would be a good start, although I also first have to take care of a wide variety of health issues, and other issues I need to deal with subsequent to my move to Raleigh,and yet others pre-dating the move, and then he can really brag about how much I owe up.

Failing that, it would be nice if he noted that I'm not making demands as to what he should be posting about at his blog, nor am I criticizing him for what he hasn't blogged, and neither am I speculating as to why he has or hasn't blogged anything, and then he did me the same courtesy.

Failing that, I'd like to ask him to STFU about me.

"I don't use statements that come from the White House because I have no confidence in this president, but Petraeus-Crocker aren't the White House."

Charles, who works for who?

And could you perhaps try some of the reading on the Vietnam War?

Please? Isn't it stuff that would be valuable for you to know?

Shorter Charles: Administration officials say that we're making progress, and that's good enough for me.

Shorter Wu: "I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief." Worked like a champ for Hillary, didn't it?

NV,
You made fair comments about Obama and who his supporters are. I suppose we come at our observations based on where we are on political spectrum. My basis is moderate conservative, so from that perspective and from the frames of reference I provided, I see Obama as solidly liberal. Judging from the caucus and primary results, his base of support is to the left of Hillary's.

So, back before Petraeus became MNF-I commander, when he was in charge of training IA and reported that it was going great and that we were making great progress, were his statements back then also credible?

Turb, they were until the Golden Mosque bombing triggered a near civil war and fundamentally changed the dynamic. His results were credible when he ran the show in Mosul. Unfortunately, he was reassigned and a Stryker brigade one-fourth the size replaced his battalion, and said brigade did little to nothing in continuing the operation he set up.

So Petraeus' COIN principles don't include anything at all about information operations?

They do, but I don't see where effective information ops means carte blanche to be untruthful. Also, the purpose of a good IO is to counter the propaganda operations utilized by al Qaeda and similar groups. The IO storyline coming from our side needs to be factual and accurate, otherwise that hearts and minds thing won't happen. From the COIN manual:

Effective IO use consistent themes based on policy, facts, and deeds—not claims or future plans, because these can be thwarted. Themes must be reinforced by actions along all LLOs. Making unsubstantiated claims can undermine the long-term credibility and legitimacy of the HN government. Counterinsurgents should never knowingly commit themselves to an action that cannot be completed. However, to reduce the negative effects of a broken promise, counterinsurgents should publicly address the reasons expectations cannot be met before insurgents can take advantage of them.

Gary,
The only date in your 7:54pm comment was that "the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November." You didn't ask me about dates in your specific questions, and we seem to be talking past each other anyway. My original position was that political progress was being made, and I supported that contention in direct answer to your questions. Hil's contention was this: "Second, the stated purpose of the surge was to enable political progress to occur. This is not happening." She offered no timelines, and I still maintain her comments are direct contradiction to what Crocker reported last month.

Your problem is that said progress is not happening according to the pre-set deadlines, i.e., not quickly enough, i.e., we're not there yet. The problem with the timeline is that it was most likely never that realistic to begin with. So the question is, do you refine and improve those goals and benchmarks, given the progress to date, or do you follow the Obama plan and remove all combat brigades in 16 months, regardless of the results of said "plan"? For me, I'll pick the former.

As for for your comments about Crocker, please see my response to Wu.

Charles, comment?

I'm in major gout pain again just now, so I'll get back to you about your last response later.

Shorter Wu: "I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief." Worked like a champ for Hillary, didn't it?

I suppose if that comment made some kind of sense, I could respond to it. It is funny how the 'shorter me' managed to elide the important bits (eg how many Sunnis don't care for the Ba'athification reforms).
Almost like you're using the 'shorter' format to avoid dealing with facts head on...
Of course, if Crocker's reports didn't rely on *belief* (ie trust), but instead used *facts*, then suspension of disbelief wouldn't be a factor.

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