Success in Iraq
A year ago I wrote a post on measuring success in Iraq. Some called for quantitative measures, so I did. Some you also made predictions. I have checked out mine and I invite others to do the same. Most of my data comes from the Iraq Index published by the generally liberal Brookings Institute. The record of success in Iraq is mixed. We are doing well on the economic and progress measures and less well on security.
Some of my predictions and results:
There will be 272,000 Iraqi Security Forces, who will do most of the day-to-day security in place of U.S. and coalition troops.My estimate was too LOW.
We have done better in recruiting forces. There is room for disagreement re their effectiveness. Iraqi forces are taking a greater part in day-to-day security, but by no means are they taking the place of coalition forces.
Oil production peaked at 2.5 million barrels a day under Saddam. We will exceed that next year.
In September Iraq produced 2.36 million barrels a day. It is below my guess.
Iraqi GDP during the last years of Saddam was $18.2 billion. By next year, it will be MORE THAN DOUBLE that - $37 billion.
GDP in 2006 is projected to be $47 billion, much more than under Saddam. Estimating GDP for a country like Iraq is hard, but it is clearly significantly higher than it was.
Average electricity production during Saddam’s last year was 3958 megawatts a month. We will reach 6000 by November 1 next year.
I was off on this. Electricity production in September was 4100. It is still higher than Saddam produced, but much lower than my guess.
Under Saddam 833,000 people had telephone service. We will easily reach 5,000,000 by next year.
Reality blew past my optimistic estimate. In August, Iraq had 8,100,000 telephone subscribers, nearly ten times as many as under the highest times of Saddam.
Under Saddam there were 4,500 Internet subscribers. By next November there will be 50 TIMES that much 225,000
At 197,310, my estimate was a little low. It isonly about 40 times as good.
Independent Newspapers and Magazines
Under Saddam there were none. There are now 170. That number will remain the same.
Most recent estimate is 268. My estimate was pessimistic.
Fewer than an average of one a day from hostile action.
Wrong – In September 59 Americans died in hostile action, just under two a day.
Some of you have pointed out that Iraq is already one of the most democratic countries in the Middle East. The fact that it has gone from one of the most oppressive to one of the most democratic since 2003 show the success we have already had. This progress will continue.
Iraq is not a democracy as we know it; it is still one of the most democratic countries in that undemocratic region.
I also predict that the current critics of the Iraq war will just say that all this is nothing much.
I expect responses from many people will prove this point.
All this goes to show that making "predictions" about the past is easy: making predictions iabout the future is hard. s hard. That is why so many people are only rich, healthy and well adjusted in theory.
Posted by Jack at October 15, 2006 2:15 PM
Security, we are not standing down as they are standing up. That concept has been a complete failure to date, and likely will continue to be due to sectarian violence growing faster than trained recruitments, and due to only 10% of the army showing up when directed to do so for hazardous duty. The Police are part of the sectarian violence in a number of areas.
Oil. Jack what you quote above about oil is just another way of saying we still have not facilitated pumping oil at levels prior to the invasion. Reason, OIL remains a target of attack in Iraq. Not enough troops to protect the infrastructure, by far.
GDP. I have to ask how much of that GDP is our tax dollars, and how much is inherent Iraqi internal economic activity? War is no way to measure GDP, since presumeably, at some point, war ends, and the GDP shrinks significantly with the end of the war. But, at least if the numbers are sound, it is a positive sign.
Electricity, yet there are many areas without electricity in whole, or in part, each and every data. In fact, the absence of clean water, electricity, proper sewage, and safe roads for markets, are all fueling the Iraqi hatred of Americans. More than 60% of Iraqi’s now hate Americans, more than 50% agree it is OK to kill Americans in Iraq.
Your infrastructure stats don’t tell that side of the story.
Yes, free press is a success story in Iraq. Too bad so much of its content is Anti-American.
Elections do not make a democracy. There is a complete absence of rule of law in Iraq. And without that, there is no democracy. Iraq has a government - but it doesn’t have a people to govern. They talk all day long, but, it does not change how the Iraqi people act, think, feel, or behave.
And no, Jack, certain things are obvious and this administration failed to recognize the obvious.
Invade a country - expect an insurgency. OBVIOUS yet ignored.
Invade a country - invade to win with an overwhelming security force capable to subduing the entire nation and controlling movement of persons and arms. OBVIOUS and ignored.
To win hearts and minds, an invading force must very quickly provide essential living services at least better than under the previous regime. NOT IGNORED but FAILED, miserably for reason above.
To date, their is only one success the U.S. can claim in Iraq, that is having overwhelmed Hussein’s military forces and routed them quickly. Every single other effort has been a failure. You will no doubt want to call a paper government a success. But, until it governs the lives of its people, it cannot be called a success.
Good article. Personally, I like to look back at predictions.
Generally, I was too optimistic about the success of a Shia-dominated Iraqi democracy. While Shias without question dominate, the Kurds are unwilling to fully participate, and the Sunnis are pretty much done with it. There is talk of partition, the overthrow of the Iraqi government by a junta, and other expressions suggesting the current experiment is nearly finished.
I thought the violence would continue to be bad, but it is even worse than I thought. The recent report of more than 600,000 dead is probably accurate. A lot of horrendous violence goes completely unreported… It is too dangerous for weserners to observe.
In my prediction, US troops were going to be drawn down. Unfortunately, US troop strength is at @ 147,000, higher than anyone could have predicted. But it is still very possible the drawdown will begin after the elections.
Republicans are painted into a corner by their own rhetoric. They call those who oppose continued occupation of Iraq “cut and runners.” The majority of Americans oppose the war and favor withdrawal. This, combined with corruption issues, will probably result in a midterm debacle for Republicans.
phx8, that 600,000 figure has a 95% confidence interval of between 400,000 and 600,000. So, it is safe to say “about 1/2 million dead” and be as accurate as is possible.
Where are you getitng your figures. I’ve seen stats that show they could be off bay a factor of 7 or 8.
They used 550 death certificates and extrapolated for that. Where are the bodies where are the death certificates?
This is just to go back and compare projections I (and others made) with reality. An interesting thing about going back over the old stuff is how the arguments have not changed much.
The reason I wanted to get the predictions last year was to establish some criteria for judgment. Our results in Iraq are mixed.
BTW - Sicilian Eagle did a good job. I particularly like his # 6.The left will try unsuccessfully to make the Rove-Libby thing into another Watergate. That was a big bust, wasn’t it? The left had such high hopes for it back then. Their Fitzmas predictions are actually the most comical things from last year.
If you want a good comparison, you need Iraq’s inflation adjusted GDP and other measures during better times. By comparing things under the sanctions to what they are now, you undershoot Iraq’s true capability, leaving an seriously flawed argument.
In terms of soldiers, quality trumps quantity. If we leave Iraq to the keystone kops, the place is going fold like a late nineties dot-com. We’re building the engine of this country’s security, and using second rate parts is only going to encourage a future breakdown.
On oil, we need the numbers when Saddam was free to trade oil on the market without sanctions in place.
On electricity, again, quality is a necessary adjunct to quantity. Is this generation constant? Is it widespread? Are we preventing sabotage, or being bedeviled by it?
As far as Democracy goes, quality is again and important factor. If you accepted Saddam’s definition, he had a democracy. This one contained some peculiar features, like getting beat or shot if you voted for somebody else, but that would just be a technicality in some people’s view.
The Real question will be whether this government can susbtantially bring people together in the country, and lead them as one nation. Partitioning, which some suggest, is not a good alternate option, given all the intermingling of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups over the 70 years since Iraq was created from the Ottoman Turk provinces. You can’t separate the eggs, the oil and the flour from each other, now that you’ve baked the cake.
I think the big lesson of this whole ordeal is that nations cannot be forced into existence by willpower. If you’re doing nation building, you prepare yourself, and you deal with the materials at hand. Reconstruction is not a viral infection, its a gestation, and like all gestations, it goes best when the unborn nation has some degree of stability. New nations don’t merely come from wars and revolution, but the peace that follows as well.
In referance to what you posted about electricity and oil product this article seems to say differantly
the bottom few paragraphs
It was a struggle against sabotage, equipment breakdowns and oil smugglers, but oil production, which scraped bottom at 1.4 million barrels a day in January, is again approaching prewar levels.
The greatest problems plague the giant U.S. effort to restore Iraqi electricity.
By adding 2,710 megawatts — more than the output of America’s Hoover Dam — U.S. engineers have boosted Iraq’s potential generating capacity above 7,000. But power hasn’t flowed at anywhere near that capacity, and seldom topped even the paltry level of prewar Iraq, about 4,500 megawatts. Baghdad gets no more than four to six hours of electricity a day.
So let us do a cost benefit analysis.
The current rate of U.S. expenditure in Iraq is approximately $6.4 billion a month.
A total of 2,741 American soldiers have died and 20,687 combat wounded.
Upwards 655,000 Iraqi civilians have died.
3 years of time and effort.
Is this really worth it, Jack?
So, now the mission is accomplished? Anyone who believes this is either a Republican hack or a fool, and I’m not too sure there’s a difference.
The Iraqi death squads, er, security forces, are more a part of the problem than the solution. Your GDP number is amazing, but not so great when you look a little lower on the (totally unbiased) State Department’s page and see the inflation rate at 76%.
Listen to former Sec. of State Baker, Sens Hagel and Warner and all of the other experts who agree that this entire campaign is a debacle. Standing by Iraq as a success is pathetic.
The estimate of Iraqi dead contained a margin of error, of course, and the range runs from 420,000 to 790,000. There is no chance of the number being off by an order of magnitude. Even the lower number, 420,000 Iraqi dead, does not exactly fill everybody with warm, fuzzy feelings of smug self-satisfaction over a job well done. 420,000. It is a huge number, difficult to imagine. And remember, we are talking about lives, individual human beings. Several dozen die everyday after being tortured with power tools. Power tools! Where does that fit into an equation?
Numerous Iraqi dead flow down the Tigris everyday. In one article, Iraqi fisherman said they used to pull few bodies out of the water everyday, but now they just let the bodies float by. There are too many bodies, and the fisherman would not get any fishing done. So I guess they keep fishing. Can you imagine? Can you imagine reeling in a fish while a body floats past?
At one point, Bagdhad suffered a temporary disruption of its water supply. Two human bodies clogged an intake.
No doubt many Iraqis are executed and buried in unmarked mass graves. How many?
If anyone has an interest in looking further into the Lancet study, take a look at www.juancole.com & scroll down to his entry for October 11th.
Oh give it up. We batted that hornets nest by going in there and we will leave soon with a total accomplishment of zero or worse. Nobody can say with a straight face that the place will be more stable than it was under Hussein. We’re collectively responsible for the deaths of over half a million people there.
They had no WMD. They were not a threat. We are to blame for the place now being a haven for terrorist recruitment and training. We’ll all be paying for this for decades to come. And your fearless leader still doesn’t see it.
It’s over. We lost in every way.
I know everyone is focusing on that very high number of Iraqi civilians deaths. It will become the number. Like the million man march (that featured a couple thousand people).
My feeling is that it will be worth it to Iraq in the medium and long run, but maybe not to us.
I am waiting for Baker and the bipartisan study group to come up with conclusions.
There is always a problem with confronting dictators. Imagine is the Allies had confronted Hitler when he moved into Austria. Lives would have been lost. The world’s intelligentsia would have called it a power grab.
It is easy to know what to do after the fact - maybe not but it makes you feel smarter.
I know some people long for the good old days of Saddam. I don’t.
“Several dozen die everyday after being tortured with power tools. Power tools! Where does that fit into an equation?”
Jack did say the power was back on.
Thanks for your non-upbeat response. It is typical of Dems and libs. Dems and libs want the US to fail, so they declare defeat. You are incredibly short-sighted. Thank you.
We are not defeated. We will win in some ways and lose in others. Overall, I believe Iraq will not be the disaster the left claims it is; nor will it be the success the right claims it will be.
With eventual American pull-out there will be a substantial stabilization. They will experience more freedom and no increased terror than they were experiencing under Saddam. We will have an ally in the mid-east.
Was it worth it? Probably not. But we are there now. To abandon the project at this point would be defeat and utter foolishness. To keep looking back is a great way to not take responsibility for how you will plan for the future.
Jack is looking back momentarily to his own predictions; admitting mistakes and cheering successes. Can you do that?
oof. I hate to admit it, and I know I should not laugh, but that is really funny!
“I know some people long for the good old days of Saddam.”
Before the invasion, over 90% of Americans polled thought that Saddam Hussein was a bad character. The policy of the previous administration, “regime change,” has never been gainsayed, never questioned.
The problem is, the majority of Americans did not feel Saddam Hussein justified invading Iraq. Because of this, the Bush administration presented a series of rationales: connecting Saddam Hussein to Al Qaida, WMDs, and supporting terrorists.
Perhaps the most effective linkage was the most subtle. Almost every mention of Iraq by Bush and others was closely followed by a mention of 9/11. As a result, many Americans made the emotional transference. To this date, a significant percentage of Americans link Saddam Hussein to 9/11, despite explicit denials by Bush, amde when directly questioned.
Most people found the WMD rationale compelling. This is what they remember. They believe “we invaded Iraq to get rid of the WMDs.” Many still believe the US found WMDs in Iraq. They cite discoveries of degraded explosives from before the Iran/Iraq war as proof. It is so pathetic.
When you say “it was worth” it for the Iraqis, which ones do you mean? The Kurds were already essentially independent. The Sunnis would certainly not agree with your assessment, short medium or long term, take you pick. The Shias might agree. They are in power.
By the way, I predicted SCIRI would overcome the Mahdi Army & Al-Sadr by now. Interestingly enough, both forces are still in contention with one another. Al-Sadr seems to be in the most powerful position, in terms of his charismatic leadership, but SCIRI seems to be in control of the Death Squads. I still think assassination will settle the matter. Hard to tell who will kill who first, though.
“To abandon the project at this point would be defeat and utter foolishness. To keep looking back is a great way to not take responsibility for how you will plan for the future.”
The utter foolishness was going there to begin with, coupled with not having the “hearts and minds” when we started. I’m all for Democracy in Iraq, but the Iraqis need to want it bad enough to fight for it as well.
This is a no-win situation for the U.S., you know, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
As far as the civilian casualties, I’d say it’s way past time to take the gloves off.
I admire your ability to look back and take some lumps.
Let’s all hope that Mr. Bush can do the same, and come up with a plan better than “stay the course”, so we can get the job done and get out.
That’s right, Jack, ignore the other numbers like they are unimportant…
Be selfish for a minute, do you not think the cost to us in the long run will not be balanced out? I hardly see ourselves picking up any worldwide support or making significant headway in the war on terror.
But maybe that is just me.
It’s good to see the independent take.
The spin of the two main parties is getting so old.
Jack has taken a good look at some numbers to see whether predictions in the past had some sense of credibility.
But you ask: was it worth it? And IT osn’t over yet. To determine worth in this context depends on what it is you value to preserve, otherwise you wouldn’t spend a nickle.
During World War II, I lived in Nazi occupied territory for 5 years and I tell you the prospect of the Allies tallying up dollar signs to see if they should stop in 1943 or 1944 would have turned the whole world into one huge Nazi empire. We did not really calculate the cost. We knew we had to win to have a tomorrow to find out what it might have cost, but it would be our tomorrow, not the enemy’s.
We are again, in my view in an unattractive but critically important war where either the west wins or we are all going to be very unhappy losers. The guys we are fighting go way beyond Iraq but if we win there they will have a real problem mustering another serious attack on the West. We must deny them the safe haven Iraq would be if we quit or penny pinch and they would come back at us stronger then ever. Where would you draw the line then and what would that be worth to you.?? It’s only your whole life and the way we live and lots of people would like to join if you give them a chance. I don’t know about anybody emigrating to the Middle East.
It seems your predictor was working pretty good last year. Despite the significant gains in the DGP I would venture a guess that most Iraqui’s are not seeing the rewards of their increased production, nor has their standard of living increased to reflect such a change.
The last prediction I made was shortly after Bush was elected. He authorized the pre-emptive strike policy, and I told my better half we would be invading Iraq. Unfortunately I was correct.
So do you see us pulling out of Iraq within the next year now that things seem to be improving to such a degree?
Where do you think the death toll will be for our troops by next year? How about the Iraqui’s?
“During World War II, I lived in Nazi occupied territory for 5 years and I tell you the prospect of the Allies tallying up dollar signs to see if they should stop in 1943 or 1944 would have turned the whole world into one huge Nazi empire.”
FDR didn’t declare combat operations in Europe “over” in ‘41 or ‘42, and we’re really no closer to securing Iraq than we were when Bush made his declaration three years ago.
I mean no offence to the troops, but it almost seems that this administration has been “phoning” this war in, and that is what has put American troops in the untenable situation they must face on a daily basis.
“Jack has taken a good look at some numbers to see whether predictions in the past had some sense of credibility.”
The point of which is to determine the benefit of the war. Am I wrong?
“We did not really calculate the cost. We knew we had to win to have a tomorrow to find out what it might have cost, but it would be our tomorrow, not the enemy’s.”
Ah, simpler days. When you could point at a person, a nation, a spot on the map and say, “there resides my enemy.” Not so anymore. Now, we will not even be sure if we have won, if we ever do “win.”
Just what do you even mean by that?
Do you imagine we can feasibly exterminate everyone that actively tries to harm the U.S. and its citizens? Unless we have some secret thought police that I was unaware of, I do not think this is possible.
Terrorists can come from anywhere and be any person. No one is born a terrorist. Terrorists are made.
And guess who is making them?
From time to time I notice people equating the war in Iraq to World War II. I just dont see it. It certainly wasnt explained to us, when authorization to fight the “war” in Iraq was being given to this Administration, that we would be involved in WWIII. We were going after WMD’s, causing Democracy to happen in Iraq, fighting terrorist, so on and so forth.
If we truely are fighting for such high stakes in Iraq why are we not gearing up and manning the “war” much as we did during WWII?
FDR didn’t declare combat operations in Europe “over” in ‘41 or ‘42, and we’re really no closer to securing Iraq than we were when Bush made his declaration three years ago.
in ‘41 or ‘42 hitler was still in power also,,was hussein still in power 3 yrs ago? we were still at war with the nazi government then too. we are not at war with the past iraqi government now.
and how long after hitler’s government fell did it take to rebuild the government that replaced it?
you need to compare iraq to germany not germany to iraq to compare fairly. you also need to compare the common denominators too for proper comparisons.
Get a grip.
There is no comparison.
We have been in a “war” in Iraq, since March, 2003, and Bush declared major combat operations over in May of that year.
Yet more of our soldiers and more of the Iraqi populace has died since that time than during the actual operations.
Also, this continuing comparison between WW2 Germany, and Iraq is apples and oranges, peaches and watermelons.
Give it a rest.
The list of technological warfare advances since WW2, would stretch from here to Berlin, and yet we didn’t have the hearts and minds we were promised.
Where were the flowers we were promised would greet us?
The Iraqis don’t seem to have the fervor to embrace Democracy enough to die for it.
Voting was the easy part.
If they truly want Democracy, it’s their country, it’s time they stood up, and pulled their own weight.
I think you missed my point. I asked the rhetorical question, since there seems to be such concern about the cost of the war, what would that have meant to us in Nazi occupied territory. Nobody knew, not even FDR when and if the war could be won and as a matter of fact, he did not live long enough to find out. Much depends on one’s view of what this war is al about and we must not forget, contrary to what a lot of people seem to believe, that we did not cause nor start this conflict. It was started more than 20 years ago as a result of Jihadi belief and dogma that the whole Western world, including Israel, but also including non-believing Muslims needs to be subdued or killed. The whole sad series of terrorist attacks since Munich was just leading up to the 9/11 attack in New York and there may well be others. Like McArthur’s island hopping in the Pacific we may well be fighting in some other country in a few years. FDR didn’t know how long the war would last,anymore than Washington or Lincoln did. In my opinion and whether we like it or not, we must all come to the realization that we are in a rather dangerous situation as a nation. We are fighting an enemy who is mostly invisible and who has learned to play a brilliant game of psycho-warfare, which is at the bottom of our national confusion and dissent. If we value our culture, the good and the bad, we had better unify our thinking and allow our elected government to do what they can to get a grip on this situation. I think a lot of people would see this issue differently and allow the Administration more leeway, if they took the trouble to find out what these Jihadis are really up to and what is driving them. It seems irrational to us but they consider us fair game in a duel of their choosing and with weapons of their choice. These are very dangerous and determined people. Earlier Jihadi type generations got as far as Vienna as you undoubtedly know and in a manner of speech, it could happen again. It’s up to us to realize this is for real and we better allow the government room and resources to do what has to be done.
“If we value our culture, the good and the bad, we had better unify our thinking and allow our elected government to do what they can to get a grip on this situation.”
I would be more willing to be unified if, just for an instant, I thought this administration was doing everything in it’s power to get a grip on the situation.
Sadly, the examples I have seen so far seem just the opposite.
“Earlier Jihadi type generations got as far as Vienna as you undoubtedly know and in a manner of speech, it could happen again.”
The Ottomans were about conquest and power, Al Qaeda and there ilk eschew both.
Even when you skew that stats Jack, I’d stay away from Vegas if I were you.
The biggest prediction that matters, and the one you completely blew the most, number of US troops killed, “1 per day” was your prediction. Real number was 2.12 lost PER DAY in the last year. Consider for a moment, this is 775 of our brave sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends lost. And for what? To tout some internet connection numbers?!
While you cherry pick the September 2006 number, which were still over 100% off from your guess (the real number of US troops killed was 70, not the 59 you claim), the October 2006 killed to date is 3.67 killed per day, the worst since January 2005. It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
It’s time to get a plan, and get out.
I know some people long for the good old days of Saddam. I don’t.
Jack, Nice straw man and typical form… The fact that I was against this misadventure from the outset doesn’t mean I like Saddam Hussein. The fact that Saddam Hussein was a dictator does not justify our actions in the least.
It is typical of Dems and libs. Dems and libs want the US to fail, so they declare defeat. You are incredibly short-sighted. Thank you.
Don, I don’t want us to fail at anything. That’s part of why I was against this nonsense.
To abandon the project at this point would be defeat and utter foolishness.
Nice bluster. Got any logic behind that thought? Nah. The truth is that it was “utter foolishness” to go to Iraq in the first place. Oh, and asking me what to do about it is like (to paraphrase a current candidate for office) asking me what my plan is to reassemble the raw, broken egg YOU just dropped.
Jack is looking back momentarily to his own predictions; admitting mistakes and cheering successes. Can you do that?
Yeah, but in this case, I don’t have to. I was right.
Thousands of our own have died in Iraq (along with a half million or more Iraqis). For what exactly? This administration and its supporters are the ones who are to blame. I, on the other hand, have only to apologize for not screaming louder as they carried off this idiocy.
I just finished a response to your very good question and hit a wrong button on my keyboard which wiped the “comments” section clean. I do not have the energy to try it again tonight. May be tomorrow.
In case you missed them, here are two cut & pastes from my predictions last year. Notice, there are no ellipses, this is exactly what I wrote one year ago, word for word:
“… Eventually the Shias will use the police, Iraqi Army, and Badr Brigades to settle scores with the Sunnis. It will be a thoroughly nasty piece of work. There won’t be pitched battles between set armies; the civil war will take the form of midnight arrests, assassinations, mass executions, etc.”
“There will be no major terror attacks in the continental US in the next year. An increasing realization among Americans will develop: The War on Terror ended on a military scale at Tora Bora; as an intelligence/Special Forces operation, it ended with the capture of Sheik Mohammed Khalid in Pakistan.
OBL & Zawahiri, however, will remain at large. While unable to participate in planning or operations, their words will continue to incite wannabe nutjobs around the world.
In a moment resembling a scene from the movie “The Godfather,” in which Vito Corleone slaps Johnny Fontaine and admonishes him to ‘be a man,’ the conservatives will overcome their War on Terror fears, and rediscover their manhood. The metaphorical slap will come with the midterm elections-
possibly administered by… who else?
The metaphorical slap is being delivered this midterm election, Fred. Dean is winding up even as we speak. Do not be a Johnny Fontaine. Get over your fear. Take a deep breath. There! Shoulders back, chin up. Now, let us throw the incompetent corrupt buffoons out on their ears, and restore the ideals which used to make this country great.
First, when talking about this war, we ought not to get into the cult of second-guessing history. If we had jumped Hitler at Austria, it might have stopped him, or it might have ignited a war that would have been unpopular among the allies, and would have entrenched the axis powers, rather than end their reign. The Folks in the GOP love to play the alternate history game, but that’s because on many of the wars of the 20th Centuries, you’d have to play “what if” to have had a Republican leading when it started.
I think this spawned an unhealthy tendency towards military flights of fantasy, rather than bricks and mortar real-world war-fighting. If all your wars are inside your head, then all the defining elements of victory are going to come from ivory-tower doctrines, psychological attitudes, and ideological purity. God help us when a party like that has the power to actually start and fight a war.
Such a party wants to prove itself, and sees any admission of being off course as a danger to that control, that chance to do things their way. To admit that they can screw up a war as badly as their rivals and counterparts is to admit that they have far less business second-guessing their opponent’s strategy than they first believed.
Unfortunately for the GOP, so much of its positions are built on second guessing Democrat iniatives. Welfare must be reformed, Social Security must be privatized, Iraq must be invaded rather than isolated, counterterrorism must take a back seat to rogue nations once again, the gay agenda must be stopped, gun control must be curtailed, etc, etc, etc.
The Republican party, as it is now, is reactionary, and unwilling to give up the positions that allows it to be so, because being reactionary is the electoral gift that keeps on giving: point to the other side, and say the alternative is worse.
At least that is the theory. Unfortunately, the Republicans managed to screw up things badly enough that people are now as scared of them as they are of the Democrats, if not more so. Their reactionary behavior has sparked a counter-reaction. That’s where we are today.
Why things are just rosy in Iraq. I think I’ll have my 5 year old set up a lemonade stand on the streets of Bagdhad to enjoy the sweeping wealth and serenity of the cradle of civilization. La la la la. It’s a wonderful day.
Well, ok, one ellipsis, skipping a “here are my predicitons” line.
SE did pretty good with the Plamegate scandal. Unfortunately, he missed the resignation of the Secretary of Interior, Gale Norton. Tsk, tsk, a “personal” charity with $50,000 in it, courtesy of Jack Abramoff. Bye, Gale! He also missed the resignation of Bob Ney. Darn that Abramoff fellow! And is that a bead of sweat on the brow of RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman? Abramoff redux. Numerous other resignations also occurred, but as Hiram Roth would say, those guys were “small potatoes.” Porter Goss, head of the CIA, and Dusty Foggo, #2 at the CIA, along with the #3 guy, all resigned over Hookergate. (Paging Mr Foley, line 1! Paging Mr Foley!). Heh heh. And of course, there was the star of Hookergate, the Dukester himself, Duke Cunningham. I understand Rove needs a new Assistant. It seems a certain Ms Ralston resigned because of… yeah, you guessed it… Abramoff.
Predictions on how many other Republicans will go down?
Typical of Dems and Libs? You would not say that if you actually had a clear idea of what we say. Actual surveys indicate that our overall preference is for success. But we want an end to it, and not Bush procrastinating until we see the Iraq equivalent of a helicopter taking off from an embassy with people hanging on the skids. We keep on telling Bush and the Republicans to deal with these problems that have plagued this war, and their frustrating response is yours: berating us for being defeatist.
No, it’s not good enough for us to seek victory, and believe it can be done, we have to agree with the current plan. We have to cheer on those who failed to take our advice, and have so far ended up in precisely the kind of mess we told them they would be in.
Maybe Iraq doesn’t completely collapse, but the fact we have to remain in our current numbers to keep the place even moderately stable should be illuminating the rather disturbing problems this war’s been having. This was supposed to over and done with more than three years ago. That magnificent charge to Baghdad was supposed to be the war, not this multi-year struggle with a variety of guerilla warriors and terrorists.
If you’re unable to admit how badly things have gone, then how the hell does anybody convince you to improve things? People who believe they’re doing well will simply continue with the status quo.
Ultimately, there’s no hiding from it. The Right learned the wrong lesson from Vietnam. They have tried to fight a war based on wishful thinking and forced optimism. I say, if you want to win a war, you’ve got to take care of the nuts and bolts first.
“Actual surveys indicate that our overall preference is for success.”
Unfortunately the actual surveys aren’t doing the talking on the blogs. The actual talking shows my comment to be correct. The nuts do the talking the bolts answer the surveys.
I would have done this.. I think he should have done that?!? You’re previous administration did NOTHING! Actually worse than nothing. Come on give me a break.
Even though Bush is going to sign that on-line gambling bill next week, I still respect him and am always behind America. I feel this is a very important, and different, battle that at this time needs less hindsight “opinions”. If a Democrat is elected to the white house, my god, I hope I would want my country to prevail in this fight.
They did take care of the nuts. The neocons are quite wealthy, thank you. Ask Paul Wolfowitz why Iraq is no longer his “problem”.
The problem for the Democrats is they have to clean up this mess and in the process, whatever they do will be framed by these same positve fellows, as them screwing it up. I think the Republicans knew the jig was up last year with the Abramhoff scandal. The press finally figured out and could demonstrate the Republican agenda. Rob the treasury and use it to gain more power.
There has been no strategy for healthcare, social security, terror, immigration, or Fema. The only strategy has been political. CEO Bush was a failure in business bailed out by Saudi friends and then given money by baseball while he honed his Texas smile. He was propped up in the Texas governorship (a largely ceremonial position with little real power) by the businessmen who bought Delay. He is “Brownie”. He had no real back ground in politics or business or the military except that he was a good Marlboro man model and had no problem selling his soul to the elite profiteers. Bush’s presidency can be summarized by several nouns. Iraq, Katrina, Abramhoff, N. Korea, Social Security, Big Pharma, Gale Norton. Your doing a heck of a job, Bushie.
I have no problem with conservatism, democracy, or even capitalism and free trade. Bush and this Republican party has never represented these “isms” or ideas. The sad part is the loyal Republicans who have swallowed this con job and cheered them on. It’s sad to watch them continue to give their weak thumbs up and confused smirks as the ship burns and sinks into the sunset. It kind of reminds me of the sad widow left with an empty bank account still longing for her sweet lover to return, while he’s partying in Bermuda.
It’s time we look at term limits for congress, and removing the lock that the Democrats and Republicans have on the political process. We don’t need a repeat of this from the left side of the aisle. I’m voting for Kinky Freidman for Texas Governor.
“It’s time we look at term limits for congress…”
Absolutely! 40 years is much too long! Byrd, Kennedy, (and that guy from HI) should go!
seven more U.S. soldiers die in Iraq over the weekend. Eighty-six Iraq dead in two days. If this is success, what do you consider failure?
seven more U.S. soldiers die in Iraq over the weekend. Eighty-six Iraq dead in two days. If this is success, what do you consider failure?
In the Bush-speak world the “conservatives” live in now, accountability for the administration = failure.
Interesting article. There are those that will never believe anything good about the Iraqi War. As someone who fought in the war and served my country for over 30 years in the military I can say to all the nay sayers. Fist this is not a convential war, this is an insurgency. An insurgency cannot be won like a conventional war. It takes the people to turn in the insurgents to the authorities. Until more and more citicens of Iraq believe in their democratic process, this insurgency will continue. As for forces, triple the US forces and you would still not be able to resolve the insurgency without the people. Secondly, you go to war with what you have. The last Democratic government cut our military force approximatly 60%. When you go from over 750,000 Army personnel to a little over 340,000, you ask the military to do more with less. Yes, the guys and gals in our military are doing a great job and doing it with what they have! Those who critizie this action would be the first to cower in there homes when the terrorist come to our shores! Trust me, they will come if we do not defeat them over there! 30 years plus tells me this! Yes we are losing men and women daily, this is sad that brave men and women make the great sacrafice, yet the pundits against this ware track it with numbers… what about all those US citizens that are Murdered in the US daily, What are those numbers or the ones that die on our roads? In World War II, this nation had over 25 Million people in uniform for that conflict… still 60 plus years later, we have US forces stationed in Germany! If people want to see this war end quickly, then get behind the men and women of our Armed Forces and Support them intead of supporting the terrorist with all of their negative comments against the war. There negative comments fuel the insurgents and lead the to think that if the American people lose support for the war, then soon the forces will be pulled out and THEY WIN! So people of America if you truly want to end this war, get behind the Armed forces and support them rather than all this negative support for the terrorist. Here is a pridiction for you… less than 24 months from the day US forces are pulled from Irag before completing the mission, there well be Terrorist Attack on the US Homeland. So I say it is our given right to disagree and I support that but to blindly disagree with out facing the facts is unforgivable. The cost of freedom is not free, nither in lives lost or dollars cost. America, land of the free and home of the brave! So my chanllenge to you is are you brave enough to see this challenge throug…are you brave enough to serve…are you brave enough to support those who are currently supporting your rights to protest? If so, drop the rethortic about failled policy, because it is our military that is trying their damdest to stop this war so that they can come home. It is our military that suffers each and every time some negative comment comes from those who oppose this war and it is those very people who opose that feed the insurgency to a greater hight.
Lacy, you are about to become very disheartened in November. The Baker Commission is going to release a report on options in Iraq. One option they ruled out is any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.
The report will offer at least two options, victory is not one of them. Now, before you get into a partisan attack diatribe, this commission is headed by Bush 41’s former Secretary of State.
The report will intimate of not outright state that, it is an immoral and wrong decision to continue placement of our troops in the middle of Iraq’s civil war.
Being brave is the nature of our troops, whether their civilian leaders direct them to waste their lives and limbs on a lost cause or a cause capable of being won.
There is debate over the competence of the military leadership in Iraq as to whether it was just following the Bush administration’s orders or whether that leadership fed bad strategy and tactics to the White House upon which it made its decisions regarding troop strength, supply, mission, etc. I personally believe the Bush administration elevated to leadership and got rid of military leadership which did not favor the White House’s fantasy of what must take place.
Be that as it may, a change in course is coming, because the past course has wasted our nation’s most valuable resources up to this point. Our soldiers are the best, but, victory cannot be achieved by the best of soldiers who are misdirected and follow failed strategy and tactics from above.
So, if the military is going to suffer because of negative reporting, prepare yourself. Because the Baker Commission report is going to be negative and it is going to come from our own Republican government sponsorship. So prepare to lay claim that this Republican government and White House who will “feed the insurgency to a greater hight”, as you so errantly put it.
Reality must dictate strategy and tactics if anykind of victory is to be achieved. And if the reality is negative, to ignore it, speak not of it, and wish it away, is the greatest of all crimes a leadership of our military can commit against its soldier followers.
Jack, good post.
But don’t forgot in your Saddam’s time numbers vs today comparaisons that Iraq was under strong sanctions.
You can’t expect a nation GDP’s not suffering under international economics sanctions! These sanctions had most probably badly impacted energy and telecoms sectors as well.
Anyway, sure, I agree, today’s Iraq is in better economic shape than it was under sanctions. Not a big surprise, isn’t it?
Now the real question is: at which price it come!?
Does 2 american soldiers killed by day (not counting the way larger collateral damage), a wider world unsecurity (check news about the two *others* “Axe of Evil” players) and setup a terrorists playground a fair price for iraqis to enjoy more openly capitalism and consumerism?
On a more sarcastic plan, one could wonder what’s the point of having an ISP and a computer when you don’t have stable enough AC power…
Actual surveys indicate that our overall preference is for success.
Playing for the “Mr. Obvious” title, Stephen?
Of course, everyone would prefer success. The question is how to achieve it. I’d suggest that harping on every misstep and putting up a fight against every single policy is NOT the way to achieve success.
Its easy for the left to revise their positions now. There’s no issue now with Clinton eviscerating the military during his tenure—-its fact, but to bring it up results in the left claiming that all is blamed on Clinton. It’s easy for those on the left who didn’t approve of going to Afghanistan to now say that had we focused only on Aghanistan that we’d be better off. Its easy for those on the left who wanted Saddam gone to claim there were other ways to get rid of him, as long as they don’t have to give precise strategies.
Stephen, this is not to say that everything has gone right—-not by a long ways. WMDs not found—big issue. Strategies in Iraq—-problems. Expectations of being welcomed vs insurgency—major miscalculation. Add a number of other things as well, at your desire.
But many on the left have acted as stumbling blocks. Many predicted the overthrow of the city of Bagdhad would be a major loss for the US—it wasn’t. Many predicted a US loss the moment the speedy convoys slowed to regroup and re supply—wrong again.
Its not acceptable for many on the left to NOW act as if they have been team players all along. They have not been. They’ve been the kind of team player Terrell Owens was for the Eagles—-full of talent but cancerous in attitude.
David, if you read my posting correctly, I did not state anything about change, what I state is based on 30 years of experience and study about insurgencies and a war veteran. Not sure what your qulifications are. Politics are politics, war is war and everyday if you had ever served, you would no that war stratigies change daily. Because you and other are not briefed on them, you seem to believe that we have no stratigy. Never did I state that this war would go away or I would be disillusioned if someone recommended a better way. No this war will not be won or lost by November. And just like anything else that is to be released in coming weeks, it is already leaked and pundits suck as yourself are alread predicting what it will state. As for those who question our military leadership, I say to you rather than quoat what 3 or 4 generals have to say, ask the several thousand that serve and have served what they think. Some of these outspoken individual have an axe to grind. By the way, 41 is not 43 one who states that this gives more or less ligimitacy to an issue is still speeking to party politices. Try serving your country with other than words. Give our military a chance to wrap their hands around this problem and defeat these terrorist. If it were not for partisiant politics, this nation would not be so screwed up today. Remeber this control of the congress does not mean anything more than to set the agenda. That does not mean just because you control the congress you get to pass all the bills or laws you want, From the past, we know that it takes 60 votes to achieve anything in the congress! So to your statement of being disillousioned, I think not, seen to much done more than most and served with the best that America has to offer.
Its easy for the left to revise their positions now. There’s no issue now with Clinton eviscerating the military during his tenure—-its fact, but to bring it up results in the left claiming that all is blamed on Clinton.
Clinton eviscerated the military during his tenure? Bulls#$t. Where’s your evidence.
Speaking of revising positions, I didn’t recall a lot of people complaining about the lousy state of the military during the war in Afghanistan and the early part of the Iraq War. The consensus was that it was performing brilliantly. But now that you guys are waking up to the problems in Iraq, the Bill left the military in shambles. It just took six years for this fact to become apparent. He is a devious guy, that Clinton, craftily designing a military that took six years to self-destruct. Damn you, Clinton!
As for the war in Afghanistan, the Democrats in Congress overwhelming supported it, including the liberals. The votes are on record.
But many on the left have acted as stumbling blocks.
Again, this is BS. The GOP has been in charge the entire time. Bush got everything he wanted from Congress. You can’t win control of the country, and then pass the buck. I mean, you can try, but eventually people realize you are full of it.
Lacy, very good essay. There are still plenty of us who support our efforts in the Middle East. And of course, our soldiers are beyond compare, they just shine.
What’s unfortunate, is that in these chat groups many people have a gut antipathy to the current administration and substitute allegedly factual soundbites for reasonably well thought through opinions.
A discussion forum often starts with an interesting topic but every once in a while develops into a frequently meaningless fair-thee-well slugfest between some dogmatists with rather predictable views. Serious interactions among other participants are made more difficult, as a result. May be it just takes the place of yelling at a political demonstration somewhere, but it does not do much for enlightening anybody.
Since nothing is perfect we just have to keep trying. PLease stay with it.
Woody, You missed the point! When I stated that Clinton cut the military, I stated fact. I served in that time period and saw the cuts I also saw a military that always is asked to more with less. Yes our military did a brilliant job during Afganistan and the take down of Bagdad. My point was simply had our Army not been cut so drasticly, we may have been able to send a larger force and some of these issues of the nay sayers of not enough troops and our troops are stretched to thin would have been put to rest. As for control of the country, control without the ability of the second party to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem still runs rampant in our democracy. I simply ask If this party is so bad, how will the party not in control change things? I have read and listen to every news agency out there but not one recognizable party plan other than CHANGE! Give us some meat! What would you change? How would you do it different? What is your platform? Will you fix the border problem, will you protect the country that has not been attacked since 9/11 better? Will you continue the steady growth of the country that was in the early stage of a recession when your party left control of the country or will you raise taxes and smother the countries growth. Will you make the tax cuts on “death” permanent so families can keep their family farms and businesses? What will you do, please tell us, becasuse if you give us a better way then we may listen, but to just state a change is needed, I think not. I need something that I can hold my elected official accoutable for. Just to say we need change is not accountablity it is just more partisian politics…The Party not in charge, has sour graps because they lost and now they want to be back in charge, but are not willing to tell the American people what changes are necessary to make America more secure, more productive, and better healthcare for all Americans. What is your plan for the border as I previously asked? I am the type of person that likes to see a plan, simply saying there needs to be a change is not a plan.
Lacy, your argument is so full of holes it would take chapters to expose them all. But, let’s take apart just a couple shall we.
First, I served 3.5 years in the Army 72-75. Correct, I do not know what the mindset is of our military leadership in Iraq, only what I hear them say - which is all any civilian has to go on. And lest you forgot, our military is controlled by civilians, not the other way around. So, it is extremely important that the civilian population of America acquire as much information as possible and cast their judgements and votes on issues which involve our military. You must not be much of a fan of Pres. and General Dwight David Eisenhauer, who warned again and again against those who would exalt the military leadership over the civilian judgement.
My assessment of the Baker/Hamilton Commission’s report is not guesswork or punditry. It is based on quotes and reports by a number of resources as evidenced in my article in the center column, Iraq, Victory Not an Option. You may wish to educate yourself on the sources and information provided therein.
Outspoken military leaders are a rare breed, and as a veteran, you know damn good and well the risks of criticizing the chain of command or the commander in chief as an active duty member. Doing so has consequences. As one general, Batiste if I recall correctly, turned down a third star rather than bite his tongue and not speak truth to authority in ORDER to protect the lives and limbs of our military soldiers on the ground.
So, before you go bashing our military for speaking out, consider what it says about your support for your comrades in arms. To me it says, you don’t give a damn about our soldiers unless they think and feel as you do. So typical of the Republican mindset, “you are with us or against us”. As if any of our veteran’s or active military personnel would challenge the lost lives and limbs in Iraq out of motives of treason, or lack of love for our nation.
You know, I love my daughter more than anyone else in this world. And I prove it by both correcting her actions and errors in judgement and disciplining her behavior which threaten’s her own or other’s well being. It’s called love, Lacy, when, folks seek to improve those they love or protect them from consequences of bad decisions or actions.
Those military who feel compelled to critique our failures in Iraq do so, not to belittle, but, strengthen and better our nation’s policies, options, and successes from this point forward. Except for dismantling Saddam’s military, there has not been a single success by our White House’s administration in Iraq. Our nation needs success in its endeavors if it is to remain a leader in the world and achieve the confidence of its own people, which polls show is at historical lows.
So, how about it, Lacy? How about joining your fellow Americans in asking, no, demanding, that our nation’s leadership both civilian and military, start producing success stories which we can be proud of and support. Or, is that too much to ask of a fellow veteran?
To be honest, I didn’t even read your comment. I was responding to JBOD.
It is true that there were heavy cuts in the military in the early 90’s. As I recall, there was widespread, bipartisan agreement that the military could be cut after the end of the Cold War. The only controversy was about how to spend the “peace dividend”.
Even after these cuts, I don’t recall a lot of Republicans complaining that the military was in shambles during Bush’s first term.
P.S. - Lacy. When you say give our military a chance, they have had over 3 years. It is not our soldiers who are failing, it is the mission to which they were assigned and the directives on how it was to be carried out that has failed. Not our soldiers.
Our soldiers lacked and still lack sufficent numbers to secure the peace in Iraq. That was a Rumsfeld and Bush decision, not the decisions of our brothers, and fathers, sisters and mothers in Iraq. Our soldiers were given a mission that was doomed from the beginning - not for lack of their ability, but, for lack of history education by their leaders. The Korean War, the Viet Nam war, taught most of us in this country with a college education that civil wars are not a mission for our military to be engaged in.
For the Bush adminstration to have failed to read its own year 2000 CIA factbook which had all the information necessary to expect a rising sectarian war if authoritarian and repressive regime of Hussein were removed, is inexcuseable in the extreme. Our White House failed our military. Our military has not failed the mission, for the mission they were handed with the resources they were given, was not a mission that could be accomplished.
David, once again, you are esposing the Democratic view. As a non-aligned voter and not a parrot for one party or the other, all that I have stated here is fact… I can tell you have no military expierence and that you have never read or studied anyting on defeating insurgancies. You and people like you want everything in a neet little box… Panama, Granada, DS, short conflicts with little to no casualties. Study more,a degree does not make you an expert! Should open your eyes and brain to looking at something objectively and researching for probable solutions… I say probable. The war in Iraq was over in a very short time period with little loss of life. The insurgancy is different and takes a long time to overcome especially when you have countries fuling that insurgancy such as Iran, Syria, and radical Islamis from all over the Islamic world. I stated earlier, that I did not believe you ever searved in the military and now I know for sure with your comments. Those of us who have lived trough war understands that you cannot place a time limit on a conflict. Time limits sets our military up for failure. I hope that you believe in prayer because the Radical Muslims belive, wrongly I might add because I have read the Quarn, it is there destiny to kill you and all of us. I say believe in prayer because if you and people like you have your way, there will be thousands of innocent American men, women,and children that will perish because we did not finish what we started. To leave without finishing the mission will only emolden the terrorist. Use your education, study rather than pontificate ideas that are not base on something other than just plain loyolty to ones party
Jack - You are approaching this like an MBA. You are looking for quantitative measures and if the numbers look good. We have a success. But numbers do not tell the whole story. The numbers could look good and we can still lose this war.
Rumsfeld once said “we kill alot and take alot of prisoners, but are we winning”? The army has learned from Vietnam that countig the number of dead enenmy (or kill ratio to Americans) is not a measure of winning.
So the question is how do you (or we the US) deifne winning or success? I do not think this has been clearly defined becasue reality on the ground is forcing us to change our goals. We no longer hear talk of democracy and transforming the region. We had idealistic and unrealistic goals to begin with. Without clear and realistic goals, we have nothing nothing to measure success.
But most importantly, all these measures you are using are meaningless unless you have security and stability. Until then you have nothing. There can be no success no matter how good the numbers look.
Jack with you it is the same old story. A couple of cherry picked facts to show the economy is great, or that we’re winning the war, or that Bush is wonderful for the economy. Always, the facts are weak and presented outside the larger context.
Iraq is a mess. There’s no electricity and water, but you point to more people having access to the internet. 600,000 Iraqis are dead, but you just want to talk about US soldier casualties, a number you got wrong by the way. You want to celebrate independent papers, but don’t say anything about the bad news they are all reporting.
Anyway, I disagree with your larger points in your post that it would be absolutely clear to everyone we are winning the war in Iraq.
Next year at this time it will be very clear that things are going our way. When that happens, the critics will say that they knew it all along. This is what I think and you can quote it next year. Please go ahead and tell me why I am wrong, so that I can quote THAT next year. It is the curse of people that they forget, sometimes willfully.
So let’s go on the record. Some of you can call it a quagmire; others can say it is Vietnam. And let’s not forget Halliburton. I want to have it all next year so that when someone asked me to prove that not everyone knew we would get a good outcome, I can cut and paste.
Woody, You missed the point! When I stated that Clinton cut the military, I stated fact.
The fact is “Clinton cutted the military”.
And another fact related to the above one is “since Clinton is not more in power, the new government could have uncut the military. Since 6 years. But he didn’t. So far.”
Your Commander In Chief is not Clinton, soldier. Check again. I’m sad seeing you trying to pass the buck up hoping it will land on Clinton office when in reality if it even happens, it will land on Rumshelf or Bush one.
My shame of this thread is you’re arguing over “winning” a pre-emptive war that has killed an ADDITIONAL 500,000 people than would have died under Hussein in the same period. You’re trying to make a ‘told-you-so’ case.
Does being even partly right about selfcentered predictions, does telephone service, does oil, do any of your numbers justify even one death? This war is WRONG and no amount of excuses will change that.
Very interesting statistics, Jack. I’d like to take a quick look at just three of them:
Electricity - 3,858 (S) vs 4,100 (US)
Telephone - 833,000 (S) vs 8,100,000 (US)
Internet - 4,500 (S) vs 197,310 (US)
So you’re telling me with barely any increase in electricity production (A total of 242 megawatts more each month) we are able to power 7,267,000 new telephones and 192,810 new internet connections?
Lacy, said: “I can tell you have no military expierence and that you have never read or studied anyting on defeating insurgancies.”
So, my college degree, my independent voter stance and founder status of Vote Out Incumbents Democracy PAC, years of writing about politics and honorable discharge from the U.S. Army mean nothing to you. You ASSUME an awful lot, I see. My apology. I thought I was conversing with someone capable of discussion without prejudice. My mistake.
Clinton reduced the size of the military, but nothing about that was unusual in the wake of what essentially the end of a war. Even if we are to second-guess that decision in the wake of 9/11 and in the midst of the Iraq war, we must ask one very pertinent question:
Why has this president not dealt with this so far, especially given his intentions to fight his way through the Middle East? Clinton’s no longer President, no longer capable of doing good or ill as our Commander in Chief. The size and the shape of this army is President George W. Bush’s responsibility now, and despite all the rhetoric about what Clinton did to the army, Bush has not done much if anything to solve that manpower problem. In fact, he’s made it worse by sustaining a long, difficult war on less than the minimum of soldiers necessary to successfuly fight it. This did does three things:
1)It has made it nearly impossible to replace Saddam’s security apparatus, allowing this insurgency to begin in the first place. It now prevents us from remedying that situation.
2)It is reducing our military power abroad, by making it clear to our enemies and rivals that we no longer have a force ready to fight.
3)The failures of the war, the stresses of fighting the battle without long term results is eating away at the morale of the troops. Sure, they’re coming back, but they’re doing so out of a sense of duty to those left behind. Many are simply opting out, and making themselves unavailable
It’s funny that you call us stumbling blocks, but this military was doing fine when Bush knew how to use it, when it was the familiar ground of the kinds of campaigns you guys were familiar with fighting. The problem came when things started going sideways, and your people didn’t have backup plans to organize a response, and were not availing yourselves of those who knew the way events like these unfolded.
Everybody talks about hindsight with us, but I remember, time after time, all the predictions that experts on the issues made about what would happen. I remember experts saying that all the unrest in the summer of that year would mean trouble. It did. I remember people saying before the war that we needed more soldiers. We did. I remember people saying that we needed to take care of Fallujah and Najaf immediately. It waited until the end of that year, with bloody results for our soldiers.
Do you know what cancer is? Cancer is cells getting their information wrong, and creating a system of their own that works off of that bad information to the detriment of the body as a whole. It doesn’t do this out of spite, or a sense of evil. It just works more towards its own growth and self preservation that with function within the body.
The whole problem with the Bush administration is that being a team player, and making everybody else one has taken precedence over acknowledging and submitting to the public’s wishes. America has had far too much of this “be a team player” attitude. FBI and CIA agents who didn’t share their information were being team players with their organizations. So were the folks in the intelligence community who gave teh administration their case, though they knew and suspected things differently. Congress has been relentlessly on Bush’s team, and even many Democrats in both chambers were team players.
Look where its gotten us! It got an intelligence failure because people weren’t willing to tell the president information that would frustrate his ambitions. It got us a military failure because no one would sit Rumsfeld and Bush down and tell them their plan lacked necessary elements for success. It’s landed us in a continuous quagmire because not enough people close to this president will quit being team players and start being public servants. Practically the whole political effort has been around getting people like you to continuously support the president despite their being one critical failure after another.
Do you know what thing it is that reinforces itself, even at the expense of the greater health of the body? A cancer. If anything is a cancer, it is the Bush administration, and the Republican party as it exists now. It is any government that prioritizes its political survival over the good of the public. No party is invulnerable to this malignancy. Eventually every party becomes cancerous. The only solution is something akin to a bone marrow transplant: remove the old cancerous cells, and replace them with healthy ones.
The Republican Party must realize that it has brought this on itself by becoming too self indulgent of misbehavior, corruption, incompetence, and ongoing error, too protective of its majorities and positions of power, too jealously possessive of the public’s consensus. The real world intrudes on such self-absorption brutally, as people’s real desires come into conflict with the party’s. Given the fact that this is a Democracy, the people are ultimately more likely to win such a conflict. This is Democracy’s purpose: to keep in check factions in the country when their power and influence become cancerous. Once we crossed that line, and paid for it. Now its the Republican turn. Let us hope we have both learned our lesson, and that our presence in the government of this country, regardless of who is in charge, is a benign presence.
As usual, a great post. I would summarize it as follows (for those with the soundbite mentality):
Mantra of the GOP/Bush:
Politics before Policy.
Power before Country.
Yea everything is just swell…Lets do Iran next!
Lacy & Fred,
If we predict there will be one terrorist attack in the US in the next two years, is this worth making it the focus of foreign policy? How much should we spend?
If an attack were to occur, most likely it would come from Al Qaida or a related organization. Most likely it would have nothing to do with Iraq. Most likely such an attack would not involve anything more unconventional than fertilizer bombs or explosive laden aircraft. Finally, such an attack would probably cause hundreds of casualties, rather than thousands.
I am sorry if the preceding paragraph sounds uncaring or cavalier. But looking at this on a national basis, and given the fact that nothing significant has been attempted in the US in five years, can we really afford to make the prevention of a domestic terrorist attack anything more than a matter of law enforcement?
Lacy, if I understand what you said earlier correctly, you and I are among the very few who believe less troops in Iraq would be more effective. But to tell the truth, given that we are fighting a Fourth Generation style insurgency, it is too late to salvage the situation. As General Abazaid said, given limitless time and limitless resources, we will win. That is not a commitment we can make.
The Bush administration thought the war ended with “Mission Accomplished.” But it never did end. We are still fighting the same war today. What most people fail to recognize is that the Iraqis are not fighting by our rules.
At this point it is a civil war, and the situation has spun out of control.
The window of opportunity closed when we held an election to create a democracy for all Iraqis, rather than holding a plebiscite, & asking them if the Sunnis Shias & Kurds wanted to live together, or partition. We conducted policy with US domestic considerations and prejudices in mind, rather than taking a cold hard look at what the Iraqis wanted.
It is too late now. The damage is done. Draw down. Withdraw.
The problem that makes this whole debate so fiendishly difficult is that despite all the discord and dysfunction, most people on the right are doing what they are doing out of motives that are righteous and moral in their eyes. The difficulty that we have faced in persuading people to stop support for Bush’s policy has been getting over the false perception that we mean our own country harm, that we’re so cosmopolitan, internationalist, and compromised by moral relativism that we won’t look after our own countries interests or take its side against its enemies.
That is part of what we have to fight back against, because ultimately America has to know that it’s not fighting those who would do it harm with its left hand tied behind its back.
I’m glad your on our side (by that I mean American of course) because you seem to be very proud and committed. However, I’m becoming more and more sick to my stomach reading your assessments of domestic politics and especially your un-inspired and un-forgiving lecture on the mess in Iraq. To say that David Remer is a parrot of the Democratic Party for putting forth any criticism whatsoever of our failing efforts abroad is absurd and very ironic. I read his justifications, which were clearly non-partisan and clearly based upon genuine concern. Then I read your constant appeals to your own authority followed by a republican talking point, and you passing it off as some kind of logic. This is quite common in forum such as this, but you did it with an arrogance and willingness to alienate the moderates that is rarely seen by even the most repulsive or abrasive posters.
In other words, you completely defeat your own cause with every attack. Stop calling yourself an expert unless you demonstrate some expertise. People like blogs because the playing fields are level…so don’t act as if spouting off a resume is going to impress anyone in and of itself. A 13 year old kid can do that. You need to show people that you have some first hand accounts or some original take on things. Then I believe people read with interest. They are repulsed by being lectured…and with talking points? Forget it. Not even the ones fresh off the Snow press.
Seriously, I do not think that many of the die-hard republicans are realizing that there is a wave of change coming that is NOT simply partisan. It is much more a repudiation of the policies and priorities of this white house. Change is good for democracy. This is not Castro’s Cuba where any leaking of sensitive information about the nation’s leader is seen as showing weakness. This is America, where our strength lies in our ability to only do that which most of us feel is right.
You take a hard-line stance against something you have yet to figure out how to define (terror), and willingness to commit much needed money and lives to fight it in such an un-winnable way (fighting an insurgency in the middle of a Civil War where the population distrusts us and wants us gone). Why?
Let me let you in on a big non-secret here in the states. Most American civilians, your boss - Mr. John Q. Taxpayer, are tired of being placated. We want answers, accountability, transparency and information. Many of us repeatedly write posts about it. We have to constantly defend against those who say we are feeding the enemy and that we are not true Americans because we CARE. I’m sick of reading the condescending crap from the right on this Iraq issue. It’s ignorant, insulting, divisive, and based on the way people are starting to talk in Washington, a fool’s errand.
Lacy, you don’t educate anyone by yelling at them and questioning their right to question you. Here’s the main thing: in order to have the right to appeal to your own authority and pass it off as workable logic, you first have to be coming from a position of nearly universal agreement. Your take on this failing Iraq policy is now, thankfully, in the minority. The political pendulum has swung…and just like what always happens when most people feel its gone too far, they swing it back. You’re on the wrong side of this debate to think that non-truths and half-truths, even based on the most prolific resume, are going to buy you any credibility until you first show that you can relate to people and have an original viewpoint that isn’t already being shoved down our throats by those going down in flames.
I believe what I hear and what I see, good or bad. I would love for things to improve. It breaks my heart to see our efforts come to such failure. Do I believe that failure is predestined? No.
You can talk all you want to about what Clinton did, but you should recognize two facts:
1)Dick Cheney and the elder Bush oversaw the first downsizing, which was initiated as a result of the end of the Cold War. It is not altogether unusual for Armies to be demobilized after a war. Keeping a large standing army is unusual in peacetime. That we’ve kept what we did is extraordinary enough.
For Clinton to raise the numbers of soldiers used in combat, he would have to ask for more money from the public without a big war to justify it. He would have had to have forsaken the politically popular efforts to reduce the deficits.
America was a country in a time of peace, perhaps illusory in its reality, but nonetheless perceived. America had not yet had its first four figure terrorist attack, and the last high-casualty attack was from a domestic source.
Which brings me to:
2)When this ended, just how much trouble do you think Bush would have increasing the size of the Army? I can tell you why this was not done: Donald Rumsfeld, High Priest of Transformation, which essentially is the military doctrine of using fewer troops and more technology, and the fact that Bush doesn’t think for himself. He’s a delegator.
Clinton asked the Army to do less with less, the Cold War over. Just about all the peacekeeping missions are handed over. Most importantly, where the number troops needed to be a certain level, Clinton provided them. Bush did not. Bush and Rumsfeld ignored the inconvenient advice they got and hamstrung those who argued differently. They decided to go after Iraq with so few people. And why? To prove that it could be done. They still want to prove that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and the unfortunate fact is that they’re going to keep soldiers there until its no longer their problem, trying to prove it.
And when its all over, and its gone to shit, they’ll turn around and blame us, we who told them this would go wrong if they did it like they wanted to.
The reason to reinforce our Army in Iraq is not to do the people’s work for them, but to be able to permanently stabilize the place, instead of playing insurgent whack-a-mole. We need the capability to sit on a location and allow it to come back to functioning as a peaceful society. This is important, because if the society can’t normalize itself, it won’t abandon causes like the insurgency.
If we want any hope of leaving behind and even moderately peaceful Iraq, we will have to have the numbers to both pursue the insurgents and deny them territory.
As for the casualties, I think the death of every soldier should weigh on Bush’s mind. He should be at their funerals. He should see the results of his policy first hand, and stop hiding from the fact that his mistakes will kill thousands of people.
The problem has never been support of our armed forces. Americans of all political stripes have supported our soldiers. It’s the policy that’s been making this war unpopular, that has been the target of the most criticism. Americans understand who to blame, where the buck stops.
The insurgency feeds off of our failure, not off of our honest, robust, democratic debate over this war. If you want America together on this war, write a policy that most Americans can get behind: an exit strategy. Seeing that our goal has always been to leave behind a Democracy, a self-ruled Republic, we must be able to leave at some point, or else, our mission is a failure by definition.
Do you wish this mission to be failure? The longer we remain in Iraq without acheiving, the further we stray from succeeding, and the more counterproductive the consequences of this war become for us.
You can’t put a time limit on a war, but like Sun Tzu said, nobody ever protracted a war brilliantly. Time is not on our side, but on our enemies. The longer we remain in Iraq, the harder and more expensive the mission becomes. We are up to our eyeballs in debt over this war, and it’s not getting better.
We got to get our act together, figure out what it will take to make Iraq peaceful, make that our mission, and do what it takes in men, material, and strategy to win that. The alternative is waiting for a victory that will likely never come. It’s time to stop playing the waiting game, and start playing hardball.
Lacy, you boast of your military experience and resume. However, in a forum like this, that doesn’t cut the mustard. I think we’re all pretty well anonymous in this blog and that probably suits us all well enough. Your problem is this; if you want to trade off a claimed resume, you will need to put it up for inspection. I know that if someone came to me looking for employment and made powerful claims about their ability to do the job required, I would expect that their claims of competency were capable of verification before relying on them.
Now I don’t expect you to abandon your anonymity and publish your career higglights on the web. But the corollary to that is that your claimed knowledge, experience and expertise are therefore not to be taken into account. You talk of defeating insurgencies. Well then, give us some specifics of where they have been defeated and how, and of how those tactics could be or indeed are being deployed in Iraq. What I find remarkable about your comments is that despite all of the evidence of lack of progress at very best in Iraq, all you seem to be suggesting is to “stay the course”. I am reminded of an old saying I guess we are all familiar with; “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”. Well the US is in a hole in Iraq. It’s time to stop digging and start climbing out of the hole. That means redefining what the requirements are for success in Iraq and then gearing up ot meet those requirements. That is if there is still any possiblity of achieving what could reasonably be sold as success in Iraq. Your words to David Remer do not suggest to me someone whose passion is to achieve something worthwhile from the wreckage of Iraq as much as someone who is too invested in the failed policies to date to admit to himself that his investment has gone south. While I’m using that metaphor of investment, it’s obvious to all that someone who hangs onto a losing investment too long in the hope that it will come right, usually loses their shirt. The same applies to political and military policies.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Four days of sectarian slaughter killed at least 91 people by Monday in Balad, a town near a major U.S. air base an hour’s drive north of the capital. Elsewhere, 60 Iraqis died in attacks and 16 tortured bodies were found.
The U.S. command said seven American troops died in fighting a day earlier. That raised the U.S. toll to 58 killed in the first two weeks of October, a pace that if continued would make the month the worst for coalition forces since 107 U.S. and 10 British soldiers died in January 2005.
Iraqi deaths also are running at a high rate. According to an Associated Press count, 708 Iraqis have been reported killed in war-related violence this month, or just over 44 a day, compared to a daily average of more than 27 since the AP began tracking deaths in April 2005.
Above quote from AP article:
91 die in sectarian violence in Iraq
PS. Good replies to Lacy. Clearly Lacy doesn’t realize just how many of us respect and enjoy David Remer’s contributions to this blog, and how many hackles (left, right and center) are bound to be raised by giving a guy like him such disparaging comments.
Jack, I think we need some more in-depth reporting, sort of a “man on the street” viewpoint.
I nominate you to go.
Just stroll around the streets of Baghdad doing random interviews. Maybe introduce yourself as “bushes boy”; tell ‘em up front who’s your daddy!
See how many minutes you would live.
Stephen, good, sensible post. The only thing I struggle with is how to get adequate control of any urban area and keep the lid on. This hide-and-seek war, particularly because our guys are at a communication’s disadvantage (few Arabic speakers) seems tantamount to insoluable by foreign troops. You and I could put a car bomb together if you have a sacrificial driver. How do you get to the level of close to the ground intelligence that would tip us off reliably to what’s going to happen when and where?? Any thoughts on that?
Unless we plan on eradicating Islam from Iraq I do not hold out hope that the long term outlook will be positive. Even if Iraq gets back on its feet as a democracy I believe they will eventually turn on the US and all our spending and loss lives will have done nothing but delay the inevitable.
Having said that I don’t know what alternatives would have worked. Had Gore been elected I’m guessing he would be building nuclear plants for Saddam and Iran as a gesture of good faith.
That’s a really educated guess there Carnak.
Anyway, so I guess “success” in Iraq is now being measured in relation to how it was under a regime that we helped consoladate power? In that case, wow, look at them go!
If you remember that they were, as recently as the 50’s and 60’s, one of the most advanced muslim societies with renown architecture and art. They were a beaken of success in the region. Now they are a joke. They have piles of trash on every corner and collectors fear for their lives. It’s bad in almost every concievable way.
But a bunch of rich folks have internet. Woohoo. I’m sure they are at no risk of the government toppling so long as they keep the soccer games going. I’ll grant you, it’s something, but they don’t see it as a step forward…they see it as silghtly less buried in a hole the US helped dig at every chance.
As soon as we start having success with our democracy here at home (if 50% of people voted and 50% approved of the job being done that would be amazing), THEN we can talk about plans for outsourcing the system elsewhere.
Nice cherrypicking! Did you actually study at the feet of Karl Rove, or are you just worshipping from afar. Sorry to be so caustic, but I am troubled by the fact that in supporting your “facts” you had to scroll down through all those statistics on death and destruction to get to your “good news”. I invite all readers (even the wacko right-wingers) to read this link (the one Jack says he used to get his data) to see how bad it has become in Iraq. You’ll see just how much bad news Jack had to ignore to come up with the smiley face he plastered on Iraq. Please, if you are a thinking person do look at the original document instead of accepting a right-wing spinner’s take on it. Light is the only antiseptic for dark lies.
“Jack, I think we need some more in-depth reporting, sort of a “man on the street” viewpoint.
I nominate you to go.
Just stroll around the streets of Baghdad doing random interviews. Maybe introduce yourself as “bushes boy”; tell ‘em up front who’s your daddy!
Jack’s going to need a camera-person…we can count on you to be his second, right?:-)
Regarding: “Posted by: David R. Remer at October 16, 2006 11:11 AM”
Your analysis reflects the reality on the ground in Iraq. I spent 6 wks there in early summer and what I saw is surprising in only that it was not surprising. Everything I saw was predicted in February 2003. You are correct: the failures in Iraq belong not to the military but to the Administration. The Administration ignored and denied every fact that did not comport with its ideologically inspired/driven plan. While I cannot detail what I saw or discuss my analysis or recommendations here, suffice it to say your analysis is consistent with mine and that of my colleagues.
The path to hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions. So, I will hestitantly grant the Adminsitration’s good intentions. However, good intentions is not enough. You must know what you are doing and deal with cold, hard facts rather than fact-free ideology. I could have supported a properly planned and executed military action in Iraq with clearly stated, narrowly drawn strategic goals founded on an objective, honest casus belli. Unfortunately, it was not to be the case. A classical military analysis of the planning and execution of our military action in Iraq would raise this question: Was failure the actual goal? The question is based on the fundamental truth that war is politics by other means.
We have two relative recent models of good planning for and execution of military campaigns: Iraq I and Bosnia. Most importantly, these campaigns were the result of (and contributed to) a strong, pragmatic foreign policy.
Lastly, Lacy seems to think fighting insurgencies are all alike. History demonstrates there are a very few general principals in fighting insurgencies. Far more important are the variables of fighting a specific insurgency. It is more about understanding the culture you are dealing with than a pie-in-the-sky military recipe. Hence, the only thing which our engagements in Iraq and Vietnam hold in common is our repetition of the same mistakes.
Jack: Your measures of success are really quite lovely. Unfortunately, they have very little to do with the question of strategic success. One does not rationally go to war to increase another country’s security forces, oil production, GDP, telephone access, internet access, electrical production, newspaper production, or elections. If you are a social worker, those things are nice. They are great window dressing, great spin, playing to the big American heart. They can make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. They are functionally equivalent to the morphine given to a dying cancer patient: it doesn’t change a thing as the morphine suppresses respiration and hence, hastens death, all the while, painlessly so.
Tim, I would be delighted to be Jack’s camera man!!!
What a thoughtful suggestion.
My only condition is that I would like to remain in the green zone with the other frat-boy sunbathers and work with a very long telephoto lense, say a 600mm. The last shot (in both senses of the word) would be a very interesting one!
Did you watch the frontline interviews on Tuesday night??
“My only condition [to being Jack’s cameraman] is that I would like to remain in the green zone with the other frat-boy sunbathers and work with a very long telephoto lense, say a 600mm.”
Good decision. Obviously, this limits Jack’s ‘range’ of interviews, but as we can see from his politics, he’s already pretty limited as is.:-)
Speaking of limitations, I don’t watch TV, so no, I did not see those interviews.
Jack, one question. Were you ever an accountant at Enron?