Monday, April 26, 2004

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A sobering account of Iraq -- from a CPA advisor

Larry Diamond -- one of the biggest supporters of the notion that democracy can travel across cultures -- was an advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq starting in January. No longer. The San Francisco Chronicle has a long story about Diamond's experiences in the field. He's still optimistic about democracy promotion -- but not about Iraq:

The story of Iraq, this onetime optimist believes, is a tale of missed opportunities.

"We just bungled this so badly," said Diamond, a 52-year-old senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "We just weren't honest with ourselves or with the American people about what was going to be needed to secure the country."

Diamond was a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority and spent several initially hopeful months in Iraq -- lecturing on democracy, even in mosques, encouraging people to participate and helping shape laws that embodied his vision. He returned to Palo Alto in early April for a short break, then ran into an emotional brick wall, he said, when he contemplated the mess he had left behind.

Last Thursday, when it came time for Diamond to return, he did not get on the plane.

Instead, he was in his office at the Hoover Tower, disillusioned over the desperate turn of events he had witnessed and what he feels was a country allowed to spin out of control, in large part, he says, because of the Bush administration's unwillingness to commit a big enough force to protect Iraqis from militias and insurgents.

"You can't develop democracy without security," he said. "In Iraq, it's really a security nightmare that did not have to be. If you don't get that right, nothing else is possible. Everything else is connected to that."....

His recommendations for rescuing the situation run counter to some of the policies that the Bush administration insists it will not alter. Diamond said that, in his view, the United States must more than double its current military force of about 135,000 and confront the violent Iraqi militias consistently, while offering political benefits to those who lay down their arms and accept democratic institutions.

The best he can say about the prospects in Iraq now is that, as he puts it, "civil war is not inevitable."

Read the whole thing.

posted by Dan on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM


A good article. In conclusion, let's just say that I hope he's paid all his parking tickets, doesn't have anything incriminating in his junior high 'permanent record', and never voted for a Democrat, or we might as well throw his well-thought-out conclusions away.

posted by: norbizness on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Nobody, but nobody, is arguing that "democracy cannot travel across borders". This kind of comment makes me wonder just what picture the Diamonds of the world have of their opposition.

The issue isn't whether democracy can travel across borders. It can. It does. THe issue is whether war is the best--or a moral--vector for that transmission.

Eastern Europe did not fall to NATO troops streaming through the Fulda Gap, after all...

posted by: p mac on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Ethicist Daryl Koehn:

What it takes to establish democracy is a very deep and interesting issue. I would say that you have to have a willingness to abide by process, and I don't know that there has ever been that kind of willingness inculcated in sitting institutions in Iraq. You have to have a willingness to live with not getting everything you want. I don't think we see that in Iraq. You have to have moderate expectations.
Economist John Kenneth Galbraith:
India had an enormous reserve of eager, affordable talent and a fairly stable government. Neither of those conditions exists in Iraq. Also, the Indians can put aside religious beliefs [and differences] when they need to [for the good of the economy]. In Iraq, they may not be able to do that.
The Economist on armed conflicts:
In purely economic terms, then, military intervention by a foreign power is the most cost-effective of the policies reviewed, and by a wide margin. Many, of course, will regard that as barely relevant: such intervention raises a host of non-economic issues, not least the charge that the intervening powers are behaving like imperialists. On the other hand, people living in desperately poor countries torn apart by strife might sometimes long for the protection of an imperial power.

posted by: thewayofthedodo on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

P. Mac: No, but arms did keep western Europe from falling to Warsaw Pact troops streaming through the gap in the opposite direction. Military power has its uses in the service of democracy, yes it does. (Apparently not, however, when controlled by the self-indulgent nitwits currently occupying the White House.)

posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Hypothetical question:

What if there were still problems with insurgents with 270,000 US troops on the ground in Iraq? What then?

It seems to me that the debate over the number of troops obfuscates the real issue, which is what tactics do the troops need to employ to destroy and/or dismantle the armed resistance in Iraq. If the current troops of 135,000 used the full military force at their disposal, I'm sure they insurgency could be dealt with. To do so, however, would be a political disaster.

The number of troops is a red herring. An easy, quantifiable, method of criticizing the administration.

posted by: Alasdair Robinson on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

My goodness, I hope thewayofthedodo isn't arguing that Iraqi's are incapable of implementing and accepting freedom and democracy! ;)

There are many benefits of having a civilian as commander-in-chief of the military. One of the problems, however, comes when military objectives are influenced and subsumed by political needs.

The Administration is making a mistake by allowing political concerns (fear of being seen as occupiers and imperialists) to influence and/or dictate our military actions and tactics.

Why, for example, did we spend all of last week in this phony cease fire in Fallujah, with threats of severe consequences should we not receive cooperation, only to extend the deadline? Because the Bush Administration was afraid of a show of force.

The objective should be: Secure the country. The military should be free to use the means at its disposal to meet that objective without interference.

posted by: steve on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Of all the people to give up fast, I never thought it would be an academic. With the years it often takes to write a paper or two, it strikes me as odd that this guy just tossed up his hands in less than a year said "gee, I just can't do it anymore".

I agree a lot of the security issues have been, from what i can tell from my limited vantage point, mismanaged. But come on -- did he really think these people would welcome him and his ideas with open, loving arms, shower him with praise, and he'd build a new Iraq directly from the pages of his work simply because he's given some speeches and worked with a couple of people? The article doesn't so much show a situation in complete disarray as it highlights a man with ridiculous expectations facing his own limitations.

I'm amazed at the rather odd logic of it all. The war was wrong, and occupation is bad, but a people who have lived in militarized oppression for years should shed the memory of it in a couple of days, join hands, and gather 'round for rousing discussions of plebecites, representative democracy and bicameral legislatures? What's with this shocking realization about the danger women face by seeking to be part of the political process? Did he really go there ignorant of the backsliding of women's rights in the region?

His realization that women might be hurt because of "him" is a neat way to change the demonstration of a deep desire for change (since it could mean violent defiance directed against them) into a self-aggrandizing proclomation about how right Diamond is and how horribly everyone else is messing up. Congrats on that, pal.

This looks like the academic version of "I'll just take my ball and go home."

posted by: Ian on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Target-up, Ian!

ALLCON need to think about the constant barrage of meaningless drivel that the academics interviewed on 'Morning Edition' are constantly "expose, explain and exploring" because the 'problem' is never 'solved' - and then suddenly...this?

B to ever-loving S

Good catch, Ian.

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

To build on Mr.Robinson's point:

If I remember, there were a good many more troops in Vietnam? Did that truly improve security?

I feel like solving security problems with "more troops" is like the old Great Society approach of solving problems with "more money". The problem is not how many folks you have in the country, but what you do with what you have. That said, maybe you do need more troops to secure the borders (and give Syria something to think about). I don't know...what do this blog's visiting military experts think?

Does anyone think the extra 40,000 that John Kerry wants to send in would significantly help matters?

It does strike me that in Iraq, there was (and maybe never has been) much in the way of rule of law. Maybe we should concentrate less on self-actualization, and concentrate on the idea of "if you violate this law, you will be in jail, or discussing your crimes with an irritated Marine." Because, until Iraqi young men believe in the marrow of their beings that certain forms of extra-legal behavior will get them nowhere but dead or behind bars, they will be inclined to use force to obtain their ends, and there will be no security.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

What good does it do to go around despairing that all is lost unless some impossible action is taken? "Ohh, we can't win and secure democracy in Iraq unless we have 10 million troops on the ground... why doesn't George Bush put 9.9 million more troops in?"
I don't think we have 100k more troops to put there so what good does it do to complain about it.

posted by: Reg on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I'm going to back up Ian and several others here who question the credibility of Mr. Diamond's assessment and wonder (implicitly) why the hell anyone brought him on board in Iraq to begin with. Check out his resume: Ph.D. in Sociology, a few years teaching, then straight to the Hoover Institution to think deep thoughts about democratization worldwide.

This is akin to giving an important flight assignment to someone who has read extensively about how to fly a plane, but has never before held the wheel.

Wonder why this didn't work out?

posted by: Kelli on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Yeah, and all that brush cutting makes Bush infinitely qualified to clean up Iraq.

As far as more troops, my friend, a Marine, said many of the problems the Army was having last summer was due to lack of proper security. That is many non-combat troops (e.g. truck drivers and engineers) were left to fend for themselves when they traditionally would have had security details with them.

posted by: Quinn on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Hmmmm. Google can correct a lot of false impressions. In this case, that would be that this fellow has drastically changed his mind, when confronted with -- horrors -- war. His comments are consistent with his pre-CPA article: Can Iraq Become A Democracy.


Some quotes:

"Iraqis will also be intensely divided among themselves, not only along the obvious cleavage lines of (Sunni) Kurds versus (Arab) Sunnis versus Shiites (versus a smattering of other small minorities) but along a bewildering and shifting welter of political, historical, clan, and family antagonisms. On top of all of this will come diffuse security threats of sabotage from diehard elements and terrorist infiltrators and demands for revenge against the former oppressors. No problem is more immediate, pervasive, or enduring than the problem of establishing and maintaining order."

"In particular contrast to post–World War II Europe, Iraq sits in a region that is hostile to democracy and in a cultural zone—the Arab world—that does not have a single democracy (and, apart from Lebanon, has never had one)."

"All of this augurs for a long, difficult, and costly reconstruction in both economic and political terms, with a population that is restive, embittered, fragmented, and hurting."

"One reason the challenge in post-war Iraq is so formidable is that our legitimacy is so fragile."

"We have very little margin for error. If we do not act quickly to relieve the suffering of the Iraq people, to establish order on the ground, and to generate a legitimate transitional government that clearly conveys Iraqis’ ownership over their own future, we will face mounting protest and resistance that could undermine the entire post-war project and nullify a huge investment of blood and treasure."

"It will take years to build a viable democracy in Iraq."

I would not denigrate this guy as a pie in the sky academic -- his article seems prescient, if you ask me. But I would consider his comments as coming from someone who thinks thought this Iraqi democracy project was pretty close to impossible and has now moved on to impossible.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I figured it would not take long before the "Diamond doesn't really know anything about democracy" critique popped up. After all, a Ph.D. in sociology - must be a Marxist, right? The reason why Dan is so worried by Diamaond's view is that Diamond has done more on the comparative study of democracy than just about anyone else in the US, or the English-speaking world. And he knows a gathering failure (if I can coin a new term) when he sees it: his early writing was on Nigeria (Indeed, there might be a powerful comparison to Iraq there...). Face it war supporters: Bush is blowing it - big time.

As to the worries about the military being hampered by politicians in Washington (you know: a Texan in the White House making tactical military decisions...), again, let's face the facts. Repeat after me: "War is politics by other means" (copyright props to Mr. Clausewitz). War can only make sense, it can only be understood to have succeeded or failed, in relation to some specific political goal. War and politics can never be separated. That is the reality of Falluja. If we pursue the "military solution" we will almost certainly lose the political war. And that is why we should never have gotten ourselves into the position of an occupying power to begin with. We cannot win politically.

Flame on....

posted by: Sam on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

...Yeah? And I figured that it wouldn't be long before someone trotted out the tired, old, horse called "nevermind about his credibility, you right-wing morons".

Since when is credibility not issue one? Our very successful, and globally-emulated civilian economic sector is based on SME's, so what the hell are you on about, Sam?

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

For those who have questions about Mr. Diamond's credentials, let me ask a question. If he had been giving a rosy optimistic view, would the commentators have been questioning his authority to give his views on the Iraq occupation?

Certainly he has one qualification which I doubt anyone else here has - he has been in Iraq and seen the problems up close.

When Fred Barnes went to Iraq he was an optimist. He came back and wrote an article for the Weekly Standard, and his summary to the Fox News channel summarized everything up in one word: sobering. Will we question his credentials now as well?

I suggest people still optimistic about Iraq stop sipping whatever they're on and sober up about the problem. It is a problem and it is very very serious.

There is a way to turn this around, but it'll be brutally difficult. We have to raise our troop levels to at least double what they are now, and then focus them on training Iraqis for long periods of time and jointly partnering with them in patrols. Also we need to build family barracks in concentrated locations away from the cities for the Iraqi Civil Defense Forces.

If the main goal of the US military is to intensively vet, train, and partner with Iraqi forces we can reassert order and succeed in maybe about six months after initialing starting.

But to do that we are all going to have to get serious, and stop attacking anybody who suggests there might be a problem. Denial ain't a river in Egypt. There is a problem and accepting that is the first step in solving it.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

The Oldman, Wrong on Defense.

Fred Barnes has credibility, and I continue to agree and support his work in the WS.

Wrong on War Policy: We (Hols, Bits, Zath, DT, Kelli,Art, AM, Tombo, MarkB, and even YOU) have NEVER claimed that this project was anthing but difficult - it was the War that we said would be easy. And we were right.

Wrong on Deployment metrics: Doubling the Troops won't matter because there are
TWENTY SIX MILLION CITIZENS in Iraq, you half-wit.
That's 26 sets of 1,000,000.

Wrong on Employment: The main goal of the Army, my Army, OUR Army is to close with, and destroy the enemy. PERIOD.

Wrong on aphorisms: The time for folksy anecdotes is over. Your solutions are flawed. And thankfully the most dangerous policy you're in charge of is what you're half-heartedly rumminating on in your Blog this week.

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Tommy G.
"Wrong on Deployment metrics: Doubling the Troops won't matter because there are
TWENTY SIX MILLION CITIZENS in Iraq, you half-wit."

I think thats why he recommended using the extra troops to train the local Iraqi security forces, both in the police and the army. Dan's post just above this one shows that there are a lot of problems with these groups, despite whats been achieved.

posted by: sam on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

It's probably worth contacting Dr. Diamond directly, if you can. The Chronicle is less than legendary for its rigorous fact-checking and unbiased reporting.

posted by: Jim on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Look, I hate to say this as much as anyone, but its obvious at this point: the reconstruction was not thought out. Now there are mitigating factors. _Noone_, the military included, dared to dream the invasion would go so smoothly and quickly. Sure, it was planned that way, but plans never go off perfectly. Oil wells werent burning by the hundreds, thousands of refugees werent streaming around, poison gas wasnt floating through the air. Those things we were prepared for to some degree. Instant success demonstrably took us by surprise.
We wasted an opportunity. Immediately after the invasion, we could have done basically anything we wanted unopposed. The Iraqis were indeed in shock and awe at these strange Americans that rumor had it were impossible to kill. That myth was a powerful ally that sadly was disproven over the last year. Iraqis had zero expectations last May. We could have swooped in with a ready to go interrim constitution and a military governor ala Japan and we wouldnt be where we are today. In a sense, we are victims of our own insecurities about being called imperialists. Looking back, could any of the condemnation that such a proactive occupation would have drawn from Europe and the left been as bad as the current predictable chaos we are seeing? Its the old death of a thousand cuts routine. One swift rip of the bandaid is always ultimately better than a drawn out mess for all involved. But we were insecure. To our credit we wanted the most legitimate 'Iraqi' flavored government, but we should have known that _no matter what we did_, whatever government took over would be regarded as a puppet regime by some. Decisiveness is our friend, waffling our deadliest enemy. We would have been better off imposing an immediate government and hammering out a new constitution and then overlaying democracy on top of that. Realistically that is the way democracies are born (see the revolutionary war, articles of federation, and constitutional convention). When you try to please everybody, you please nobody.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Whatever it is you're talking about, Mark, it bears pretty little resemblance to the facts.

posted by: Bp on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Thank you for that detailed critique. I'll file it away for future use. I'll put it under 'pointless driveby snarking'.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I may disagree with Mark about some particulars, as in as whether in setting up the IGC the Admin was truly seeking the best or most representative government, but he's absolute right about the decisiveness factor.

Essentially if we'd had any plan, any plan at all including crowning Tarek Aziz and showering him on international television with rose petals by naked virgins, but we'd implemented it decisively and quickly we'd be better off than we are today.

As a matter of fact, if the United States had been just willing to be an out and out brutal colonist to begin with we'd have been better off now.

So Mark was absolutely right. Speed was of the essence. And we waffled it.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Mr. Diamond's credentials seem in order to me, and while I have some disagreements with his arguments I certainly don't dismiss any of them out of hand.

However, I'm not impressed at all with his personal conduct. Just deciding to abandon his post because he felt things weren't going well is not something any of our military personnel in Iraq get to do. One of the underreported stories from Iraq has been the deficiencies in the support the military has gotten from civilians in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the government, and while Mr. Diamond may not be the worst offender he's not an argument on the other side either. I don't care how guilty he feels.

posted by: Zathras on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


When you call me wrong you're calling the Weekly Standard wrong. It was in fact the Weekly Standard that (a) advocated using Iraqi forces (b) increasing US troop deployments and (c) clearly stated over and over again that the Admin wasn't facing up to the true difficulties in Iraq.

I'm sure that you are feeling a little unhinged from the way you've reverted to RNC style responses, so I'll forgive ya the rudeness.

The way I figure it we got one and only one real chance left. We send over about 100,000 more guys and the only thing they do is train Iraqi. I figure if they do three month training programmes and a ratio of 4 Iraqis to each American we can produce a trained Iraqi force of 800,000 in six months. These guys then have bases built for them with family housing.

Why family housing? Because they're a sight damn less likely to turn on us if we know where all their families live. At a higher standard than Iraqi norm to sweeten the pill of course.

Then we send these Iraqi forces out to routinely patrol with the other 100,000 guys we got out there. That makes 500,000 total, the magic peacekeeping number in the Rand Corp estimate from studies of previous peace-keeping situations.

100,000 more troops in Iraq, six months, and we can hit the "magic number" required to keep security and stabilize the situation. I figure it's just about our only chance at this point.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


Do we have the 100,000?

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Gee, Ivory Tower academic deigns to come out into the real world for a few months, finds out that the real world turns out to be messy, and retreats back to the Ivory Tower.


posted by: Al on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I've got two things to say to Oldman and his fellow travellers. First, have you ever allotted a certain amount of time to a given task, only to discover that you had grossly underestimated the time and effort entailed? Perhaps not, perhaps you're all 100% productive paragons. Most of us mortals end up spending all weekend doing something (say, cleaning out the garage) to which we had estimated 2-3 hours.

Second, some of the "waffling" which is rightly lamented here can be chalked up to something called pleasing our coalition allies. Okay, really, I mean Tony Blair. And who wouldn't want to cut the guy some slack? He all but wrecked his career on the shoals of this policy. Nevertheless, I think a lot of the mistakes we have made (most recently, not creaming the rebels in Najaf and Fallujah) need to be seen in light of Blair's plight, and the desperate need to hold onto the (hate to say it) relatively useless foreign troops from Latin America and Eastern Europe.

As for Mr. Diamond's credentials, I'm gonna stand by my assessment. If you have never been in charge of anything, you have no business advising a rebuilding effort of this magnitude. If the major accomplishment of your career has been organizing conferences internationally (oooh), you have no business in a war zone. I have been in academia and on its fringes (planning international conferences, for instance) most of my adult life. This is not whistling out my ass. Which is more than I can say for Diamond.

And since I don't have time to join in two separate but related threads today, I'll just give a nod here to Al, fighting the good fight above (remember the Alamo, Al). Does it occur to anyone that if you get a relatively honest court system up and running, it can go a long way toward cleaning up the crappy police force?

Hell, no one here is about to give the administration a pass on the mistakes it has made to date in Iraq. Not even the "wingers" whoever they are. But I'm getting a bit put off by the carping and gloom here, and am surprised to feel so much of it emanating from Dan. I'm looking forward to living in your utopia, once the plans are perfected, and you get everyone to come on board consensually. Till then, the rest of us will be digging in the muck, hoping to salvage a livable world. Is that "pie in the sky"? Well, just call me f*ing POLYANNA.

posted by: Kelli on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Appalled Moderate,
"Do we have the 100,000?"

How many troops does the US have deployed in places like Europe, I believe that there are around 30,000 troops on bases in Germany alone. I really have no idea why they are still there, Germany is not going to collapse into a civil war if those troops are pulled out. Those troops could be better deployed in Iraq, where there is definitely a risk of civil war.

I'm not up on US military deployments around the world right now, so I can't say for certain that there are 100,000 troops to spare. But there are definitely significant numbers of troops in places where they aren't doing anybody any good.

posted by: sam on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Given the acidity of some of the comments regarding Mr. Diamond from some of the hawks and the anxiety of some of the more dovish to adopt this guy, you might be interested in some of the advice he gave earlier this month:

''If we don't get a grip on this situation, entire communities will be prevented from registering to vote, opposition candidates will be assassinated, and electoral officials will be intimidated'', he said.

''There's no hope for a peaceful and democratic Iraq without taking apart these militias'', an action Diamond said will naturally create ''more protest and violence. But what I'm saying is that's better now than later.''

''We will fight a limited war now to disarm and demobilise these militias, or there will be a larger civil war later'', he stressed.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


It's about time you got your lazy ass of the couch and weighed in - Pulaski thinks we've all been frightened away.

Hey, Rich? they're called jobs...

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Wow. These things get heated, fast!

I'll admit that I skipped a good portion of the arguing above about military effectiveness/troop size etc. So if I repeat anyone, apologies.

My problem with the article isn't about Diamond's credentials, or even that he's an academic. Personally, I'm looking forward to being one someday soon. My issue isn't whether or not he has a proper role in the rebuilding world, but that the article is far from a "sobering" critique, especially given the guy's predilections against the situation to being with.

The article is mistaking a very noisy signal for a true conveyance of information. (A problem with a good deal of the press corps, I'll grant.) That this man has decided to give up isn't a sign of how bad it's going, it's a sign of the value the guy places in his work versus the return he sees. Obviously, the return is very very small. I imagine it's small for anyone working there right now. But in comparison to how long it takes to conduct research, analyze data, and issue reports on any variety of subjects, I find it surprising that a year of speeches and addresses is enough to exhaust Diamond. Clearly -- and this is where I get my preference for highly discounting the value of this story -- the man was hoping for a much faster and larger return on his own efforts. Even when presented with one of the clearest signs of commitment to the process (women possibly facing possible physical punishment), he only saw a lack of reward for his work.

What I think Diamond misses is that the returns to his efforts are going to be far more diluted and long term than the folks who are out in the cities using food ration stamps to create voter registry rolls. They don't have or need too much high level theory -- they're getting people signed up for one of the most basic rights of democracy. It's immediate and visceral. Lecturing about the ability to build whole democracies doesn't have that tangibility, and expecting wholesale change to occur at the mere sound of one's voice displays what I take to be a severe misunderstanding of one's own role.

Diamond may know a lot about democracy, or about whatever. That doesn't make his quitting a good signal about the condition of the situation in Iraq. At best, it indicates that slow change is frustrating to those who wish to do some good, which could well be an issue in and of itself. But the story doesn't address that, instead using the (in my view) befuddled impatience of one guy as a sign that things just might be "spinning out of control."

posted by: Ian on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Perhaps the UN will be sending in one hundred thousand of other people's Police Officers after 30 June, eh, Oldman? I thought you wanted to internationalize this endeavor?

Wonder how many takers we get?

posted by: Art Wellesley on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Dear Appalled Moderate,

Do we have the 100,000?


One of the myths is that we don't have enough troops. We do. The problem is that most of them are already tasked to other locations or are in refit/retrain mode or are support staff for "front-line" personnel.

We can get the troops we need by simply mobilizing what's left of the Reserves and National Guard. There are plans for this sitting in the Pentagon.

The problem is that we'd have no second act after that. The only way to replenish those troops would be to (a) vastly increase the volunteer size of the army or (b) institute a draft.

I'm voting for (a) but the fact is that (b) would be cheaper.

So in the end it comes down to a political decision. The generals and Joint Chiefs already know all about this. They just can't openly advocate it in public since they know it's a decision fraught with political rammifications.

We do have the troops. Whether or not we have the political will, that's another question. For my money, I'd advise Bush to pull the trigger and send Petraus in at the head of the most massive Iraqi training program ever.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Dear Mr. Wellesley,

Actually my comments will stand up as saying that even as much as I favored bringing in more troops from other countries (as does the Bush Administration) that I've said for a while that there is no place where we could get enough troops to replace a primary American presence.

NATO has turned us down, the UN has never been an effectual military organizer, and the coalition of the willing doesn't have enough political support back home to maintain its present troop commitment much less expand it.

I'm afraid Kerry's plan for replacing US soldiers with other ones was always a pipe dream. In my view, he has no real plan for Iraq, and Krauthammer's words to wise on this topic are dead on.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Dear Kelli,

I've got two things to say to Oldman and his fellow travellers...

To your first point, sure I've taken way longer on some chores than I should have. I also call for help if a sewer line busts or if the shed keeps on catching on fire.

To your second, the point isn't the American military response. It's been the failure to create an Iraqi one. Rumsfeld got up on a national podium and promised tens of thousands of Iraqi troops by now. He failed. That's why we're in this pickle.

But I'm getting a bit put off by the carping and gloom here, and am surprised to feel so much of it emanating from Dan...

Dan is simply being realistic. As a matter of fact, he's held out longer than even prominent Republicans. Gringrich last fall already said that American policy had gone "off a cliff" in Iraq.

These problems aren't anything new. What's new is the new levels of rationalization to maintain that things aren't so bad over there.

This can be turned around, but not by continuing to rationalize that things aren't that bad. They're that bad and getting worse. At this point major companies like GE are pulling out of Iraqi construction. They're voting with their feet.

No reconstruction, no future in Iraq. No future in Iraq, and we lose by attrition. To get reconstruction back, we need more boots on the ground.

I'm sorry if hearing this bad news disturbs you Kelli. Nor would I wish you to think that I've written off Iraq as a failure. But we've got to change the way we've been doing things or ...

You ever have a project you always mean to get around to, but it never get's done no matter how much your spouse pesters you and how much of an eyesore it is ... yeah well Iraq could turn out like that.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

No. Oldman is wrong.

Supporting Facts:

Mainly because of thirds.

1/3 on
1/3 in support
1/3 training (entering, instructing or leaving)

But also because there is no such thing as "100,000 troops"

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I've seen the following point a couple times in this thread, but it doesn't seem to be the majority view.

Isn't the larger and more immediate goal of adding troops for security really an effort to facilitate the transfer of control, almost more than to quell the insurgency at this point?

Whether deserved or not, an Iraqi gov't with U.S. military backing should have more locally-perceived legitimacy than the CPA currently does. Maybe?

On a long list of nothing but bad choices, the June 30 handover paired with a troop increase does seem like a viable loss-cutter. Bad, but still better than today.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


Guess the real question is whether anyone is going to be taking the 6/30 date seriously?

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


You're getting near hysterical with your statements that I "must be wrong". There are reputable reports that the Pentagon has plans on its desks to do just as I suggested. Will it require a little shuffling? yes. But there are another 100,000 troops.

I think it's a little ridiculous to imply that a Superpower with a population of 280 mil and a military of over 1 million can't field another 100,000 soldiers if it wants to. The question is the political will, not the military apparatus itself.

Neither are these plans "liberal think tank" fantasies. As you can see, there is more than adequate conservative sentiment supporting these

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"Guess the real question is whether anyone is going to be taking the 6/30 date seriously?"

We darn well better, or we're going to find out what real uprising looks like.
The number one, ultimate, definitive, must make objective is to keep our promises to the Iraqis. The vast majority are on the fence with us. We are basically on probation. We promised soveriegnty on 6/30. If we dont deliver, we will have broken faith and that trust will never be regained. Most Iraqis are deeply skeptical of our motivations to begin with. That would push them over. One of the few successful anti-insurgencies in the latter half of the 20th century was the British defeat of the communist insurrection in Malaya. They succeeded because they promised they would decolonialize the minute the Communists were defeated. The Brits set dates and kept them, which was critical to their success.
Its unhelpful when Bremer feels the need to telegraph everything in the media too. We all know that 'soveriegnty' isnt going to be complete, but you dont have to go shouting it from the rooftops.
Thats been another of our big problems. It seems like everything being done somebody has to run in front of a tv camera first. This isnt the Beltway, trial balloons are liable to get shot up in Iraq. If something greasy needs to be done, for gods sake do it under the radar screen, and if it comes up deal with it then. To many politicos and diplomats involved in this thing.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


For there to be a transfer, there has to be somebody to transfer to. We have the legitimacy free CPA, which is slated to be replaced by the UN proposed structure with players to be named later in charge.

There are two months left, and no idea who the baton is going to (except,thank goodness, probably NOT Chalabi). I think it's time to get a little nervous.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Oldman is correct about troop availabiliy. Its a political football at this point. We've got 2 NG divisions in the Balkans and essentially 2 active duty divisions in South Korea. We should insist on a Nato/South Korean troop in Iraq to account for every one of those troops. Or we should pull them out.
There is also a light infantry division in Hawaii serving as a Korean quick reaction force that is available.
The dirty secret of our reserve and NG units is that most of them have already been robbed of their organic MP and specialist components. That is why all the retraining is going on to make up for them (its been military policy since Vietnam to intentionally require NG and reserve specialists to fill in active divisions deployed for long periods. This supposedly prevents going to war without a large public backing). Less than 15% of our reserves have been deployed, but calling up NG and reserves is a politically difficult move, especially in an election year. All this adds up to a bit of a mess. We still have the troops, but they are hemmed up do to politics.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"There are two months left, and no idea who the baton is going to (except,thank goodness, probably NOT Chalabi). I think it's time to get a little nervous."

I think we can all agree that Chalabi is a horrible choice. Here's what the interim constitution states:
"The first phase shall begin with the formation of a fully sovereign Iraqi Interim Government that takes power on 30 June 2004. This government shall be constituted in accordance with a process of extensive deliberations and consultations with cross-sections of the Iraqi people conducted by the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority and possibly in consultation with the United Nations"

I agree, those deliberations better get done fast.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I am dissappointed to see the trash put out by Diamond and those like him who have been to Iraq and come back. We all know if he was a real patriots he would have finished the job. This is just the defeatist attitude that needs to be stopped, by force if neccesary, if we want to defeat the Terrorists (and the abortionists, environmentalists, liberals, and the rest).

I know that it is getting harder and harder to find facts that support the belief that we were right to invade Iraq in order to make America safer. But it is when facts are hard to find that rhetoric matters more and more. I recommend denying reality and sticking hard to the Party Line. To remind everyone what that is: "We are not safe. Terrorists attacked us once and will again. Thus we had to take the fight to them. That they are fighting back and that American soldiers are dying is irrefutable evidence that we are winning. The Iraqi people are showing their gratitude to us for removing Sadaam in a strange way, but rest assured they are grateful"

posted by: Rich on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I agree with Mark. Appalled Moderate is right. We don't have a good candidate government to pass it off on. Mark is right though in that we better get together all the power brokers in Iraq, the ones with real grassroots support, and cut a backroom deal and do it quick. It's basically the only way forward at this point.

We can't renege on the date, and to do that we are going to have to do some dirty dealing to get something that will hold together until elections. Just the way it is. Call up all the important guys on the Sat phone list and cut a deal.

Thanks to Mark also for supporting me on the logistical facts about our military deployment. We could do it. The problem is not just in calling up present soldiers though. If we don't want to have to juggle commitments or drop them, we'll have to recruit 3 soldiers to replace every additional one we put in the field.

We have to recruit 1 guy just to replace the guy we took out of the force rotation cycle, and add 2 more to round out a new rotation cycle.

So that means if we want to put 100,000 guys on the ground in Iraq, not only do we have to take the hit on those 100,000 guys but we have to recruit up to 300,000 more within a year to rebalance the force structure.

That can only happen with a massive increase in the volunteer force, or a draft. And that would be the real political hit since it would essentially have to start the same time we sent the new guys out.

And that is the real issue ... we'd need bipartisan support to give cover to the President for the budget hit and the recruitment/draft hit. It's worth it though.

If Bush did this, I'd back him to the hilt. We're all in this hole together. We need to all come together to get out. If the President did this, he would have my wholehearted approach.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I bet Mark Buehner and I have opposing party registrations and haven't voted for the same presidential candidate ever. Nonetheless, he's making a lot of sense to me in this thread. To pick one item:

We could have swooped in with a ready to go interrim constitution and a military governor ala Japan and we wouldnt be where we are today. In a sense, we are victims of our own insecurities about being called imperialists. Looking back, could any of the condemnation that such a proactive occupation would have drawn from Europe and the left been as bad as the current predictable chaos we are seeing?

(To answer the rhetorical question: No, and it's a damn shame that the administration didn't do that considering that they clearly don't care about what Europe and the left think anyway.)

posted by: alkali on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Here's what is going to happen on 6/30: Those Iraqis who have been trying to work with Bush and Co. to create a "hand over" of power are quickly going to realize that sovereignty does not mean sovereignty, as has become abundantly clear in the last week (and you thought it was problematic whent Clinton said "it depends what the meaning of 'is' is"). Then, those moderate Iraqis are going to go into full-throated anti-Americanism. And in Washington? Rumsfeld will be fighting with Powell over who Negroponte should be reporting to, while Wolfowitz contends that he was right all along... No, this crowd had their chance and they have blown it. Perhaps Kerry is a cold fish, but how could he possibly do worse than what we have now, and will soon have under "partial" sovereignty (I bet under other circumstances Wolfowitz would have agree with Hans Morgenthau, old U. of Chicago IR guy, that soveriegnty is indivisible...).

posted by: Sam on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Allright then, let's talk Troops

First, the 2 National Guard Divisions in the Balkans.

Mark, you're a great guy, but the reference you attribute is misleading.

In the Army, we consider 3 Brigades of Combat Soldiers (about 2500 Troops) to be the working end of a Division. Add in the Combat Support and Combat Service Support and you're at 12-15,000 Soldiers.

Now then, While the Soldiers currently deployed to the Balkans retain their Division Identity (in this case, the 34th Infantry Division), they have, in fact, only deployed with 1 Brigade (about 2000 Soldiers) REFRADinf the 34th and the 38th to their Fulltime jobs in Minnesota and Indiana frees up 4900 Soldiers. Well, in nine (6+3) more months from now , anyways.

Gosh, Oldman - that only leaves you 95,100 short (Well, in, as I say, 9 months from now), but , hey, it's a start.

Now, then as to...oh, yeah...damn. There's only a compnay of MP in each Combat Division. Hmmmm. Well, 150X2, back off the nine months, ascensions, promotions,, well...I guess we're back to 99,800.

Now then, where were we? Do you want to talk UIC's of MOS's? We've got a lot of seaching to do.

Or do you just want to 'fess up that you haven't got a clue about what you're writing?

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Sorry, Bloggies, it should read "UIC's OR MOS's?"

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Box of Clues, 1 Each:

SQUAD – Nine to 10 soldiers. Typically commanded by a sergeant or staff sergeant, a squad or section is the smallest element in Army structure, and its size is dependent on its function.

PLATOON – 16 to 44 soldiers. A platoon is led by a lieutenant with an NCO as second in command, and consists of two to four squads or sections.

COMPANY – 62 to 190 soldiers. Three to five platoons form a company, which is commanded by a captain with a first sergeant as the commander’s principal NCO assistant. An artillery unit of equivalent size is called a battery, and a comparable armored or air cavalry unit is called a troop.

BATTALION – 300 to 1,000 soldiers. Four to six companies make up a battalion, which is normally commanded by a lieutenant colonel with a command sergeant major as principal NCO assistant. A battalion is capable of independent operations of limited duration and scope. An armored or air cavalry unit of equivalent size is called a squadron.

BRIGADE – 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. A brigade headquarters commands the tactical operations of two to five organic or attached combat battalions. Normally commanded by a colonel with a command sergeant major as senior NCO, brigades are employed on independent or semi-independent operations. Armored, cavalry, ranger and Special Forces units this size are categorized as regiments or groups.

DIVISION – 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Usually consisting of three brigade-sized elements and commanded by a major general, divisions are numbered and assigned missions based on their structures. The division performs major tactical operations for the corps and can conduct sustained battles and engagements.

CORPS – 20,000 to 45,000 soldiers. Two to five divisions constitute a corps, which is typically commanded by a lieutenant general. As the deployable level of command required to synchronize and sustain combat operations, the corps provides the framework for multi-national operations.

Maybe now you plebes can construct an argument.

posted by: Doug Reynolds on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Check, Please...

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Well, as long as we're going that way:


1-1. The mission of the Army is to fight and win the nation's wars, defend the United States and its territories, and support national policies and objectives articulated in the National Security Strategy and National Military Strategy.

1-2. The Army accomplishes this mission through a force structure comprised of combat, combat support, and combat service support forces.

Combat forces provide destructive capabilities to defeat the enemy. These forces include, armor, aviation, infantry, and Special Forces units.

Combat support forces provide fire support and operational assistance to combat forces. These support forces include the ADA, field artillery, engineers, chemical, military intelligence, military police, and signal units.

Combat service support forces provide essential support required to sustain operations throughout a campaign. These forces include the medical, transportation, quartermaster, ordnance, and several other units.

1-3. The above forces are normally employed within a joint theater of operations, and their activities integrated, coordinated, and synchronized with those of joint and multinational forces in support of the joint or multinational force commander.

posted by: Art Wellesley on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

So now we anti-war liberals also have to accept blame for Bozo Bush's failure to impose order after the fall of Baghdad (except of course the Oil Ministry, that we protected)? I seem to recall we flew in Ahmad Chalabi to set up a government based on his (imaginary) internal resistance movement, to which end he confected the (imaginary) WMD. We didn't have anything to do with this blunder. Maybe you should think again about whether George Bush and his team can win this war. Myself, I don't think they could fix a leaky toilet.

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Ummmm, Andy? Who are you talking to?
The chat-room is down the web, left past the Boohbah site...

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Ummm ... TommyG it's your zero sum assumption and strict ordering that's dead wrong about the troops, and the necessity about keeping them in the one third rotation cycle.

Yank one set out of rotation cycle, then add three more. One to replace the set you yanked out, and two more to build a new rotation cycle for the guy yanked out. the guys available now roll, and we do a rolling recruitment/draft and training to fill in the blanks.

You get the troops from either expanding the total size of the army through recruitment, or draft - your pick.

What you got TommyG is a bad case of number-itis. You look at a number and think it's written in stone. These numbers are political conveniences, nothing more. If we had to, in six months we could raise a million man army. We'd do it too, if say China decided to invade us.

Your bizarre idea that these numbers can't be changed, given political will, is pathetic. Just two decades ago, our military was twice as big for the cold war. It can get that size again, if Americans decide they want that. That would be btw another million guys in uniform. We had that before not even fifteen years or so years ago. We can have that again if we want it.

The question is do we want that?

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

He's certainly no Gertrude Bell--either in the credentials department or testicular fortitude.

posted by: polyphemus on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

No. You. Can't.

Oldman, please cease and desist. DO you really not have the capacity to ackwolege when you are wrong.

Suddenly you don't want to talk numbers? Or only when you know you're being refuted? Do you really want me to drag up some of your old posts?

Do you know why we dropped those millions of soldiers? because thaey'd be riding around in Patton tanks and Huey's without any technological overmatch.

You're even wrong on the CHina Scenario. We wouldn't raise a million recruits, we'd litter the Pacific with their f'n troop-transports, genuis.

God, you're exceptionally bad at this - Good night.

I'll be back tomorrow with the spreadsheets on the costs of a 28 Division American Army tomorrow.

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"Gee, Ivory Tower academic deigns to come out into the real world for a few months, finds out that the real world turns out to be messy, and retreats back to the Ivory Tower."

Just thought it worth pointing out, for those, like Al, critical of Diamond as am Ivory Tower acedemic, that the atmosphere of his particular turret is pretty rarified, indeed: The Hoover Institution is one of the best known and best-funded conservative research institutes in the country, particuarly famed for its strident anti-communism and advocacy of the flat tax. Hoover Institution acedemics have been consultants to several Republican presidential campaigns, including G. W. Bush's, and include Victor Davis Hason, Newt Gingrich, and Condoleeza Rice. Ronald Regan is an honorary fellow.

posted by: obliw on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


What I hear from you kiddo is a lot of big problems and big costs. My point is that you got a can't do attitude. This nation can do it.

I didn't suggest sending the cold war army to Iraq, just that we could raise one just as big if we needed to. I didn't suggest we find China man to man, just that we could if we needed to.

You can put out all the spreadsheets you want. I got something more powerful. I got faith in America and the USA. If we want to do this, we can.

If you're arguing we shouldn't do it, that's one thing TommyG. If you're arguing that we can't, then you're dead wrong.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I am confused. Do we have pro-war right wingers arguing that we don't have any more troops even though they are needed. Isn't this acknowledging that Bush and Co. committed us to a war we are not equipped to win? Is this really the argument.

And then do we have the anti-war people arguing that if we just put some more troops (even if they are insufficiently trained or led) we will be able to get out of this ugly situation.

It seems that both sides need to take a long look around and see what a mess we are in and get real creative about finding new solutions.

posted by: Rich on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Mr. Diamond assumes that our goals in Iraq require the presence of a sizable happy Sunni Arab minority.

Things look much, much rosier absent this assumption.

Assumptions should be questioned every so often.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Once again I have to point out what everyone keeps ignoring. I am going to caps this because I have brought it up before and no one has adressed it because I think they are afraid to.
Iraqis know they will still have no say in their country's future after 6/30, they know they will have 14 US military bases in their land, they will have hundreds if not 1000s of foreign countries running and owning their businesses. In their minds the only way at this point to get their country back is to fight the occupiers, US!!

C'mon people, wake up and try to smell the other side of the story. My solution, they have had elections in some part of the country where Shiites I believe have won. They being the majority. Pick some of those regional leaders, train what security troops we can, make sure we get oil and leave. Why you ask?? YOu cannot make people want to be democratic, just like you cannot force a teenager to be responsible, they will be when they want to be. Give IRaq back to the IRaqis, deal as little with the Mideast as we can and let them figure out their problems. We should stop backing Israel or Palestine and leave it alone. This will accomplish everything Bin Laden complains about.

We can use the money we save from the war to up mpg in vehicles, invest in alternative fules to reduce our dependency an oil and work with Russia to access their huge oils fields more economically so they can replace Iraq as oil supplier.

We're in this mess because George and the neocons want to control the Mideast in large part for oil.If we have a base of operations in the MIdeast we can make sure Saudi and other countries stay agreeable with prices and such. Wouldn't it be easier to work with Russia? Or drill offshore for more oil. How about converting parts of Death Valley, Nevada and Arizona into large solar fields, push electric vehicles (the EV sports car the Tzero beats Porsches and Ferraris for speed), put solar panels on the chargers, install them in houses and parking lots and that would reduce a lot of our oil consumption right there. There are tons of creative ways to reduce our need for oil.

Our current, past and future governments support plenty of evil dictators, the leader in Uzbekistan for example, I believe, who apparently boils people alive. To keep our country safe for the future we have to start dealing with resource problems creatively and we are not. The western states are dealing with an ever growing water shortage etc. we need to invest in those problems, not try to dictate to other countries how they should act.


More troops to "kill them all' will do nothing to help the process.

posted by: Kat on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Hey, Kat? Did you ever buy that Prius we were all arguing about 6 months ago?

posted by: Doug Reynolds on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Comments on comments:

Stop thinking of Iraq as the only event in the war on terror. Start thinking in terms of multiple campaigns, each concerning a different country and each with two quite different campaigns, one of conquest and one of occupation.

Conquest requires the ability to "surge" forces. Occupation requires the ability to sustain the occupation forces for a long period of time. Both of these entail "cycles" of duty for active-duty units in these roles:

(a) in-country or trained & ready for deployment but in strategic reserve,
(b) training up to be in-country, and
(c) in rapid turnovers as trained personnel go off to schools or are in training, or acting as trainers, of new personnel fresh from branch training.

We also need the equivalent of paramilitary forces at home (aka National Guard troops), in reserve aka not on active duty, in case of WMD attacks, etc.

IMO we don't have enough ground troops period. We certainly have enough for the occupation of Iraq and the conquest of Iran, but not for both the occupation of Iraq and Iran simultaneously. Conquering Iran won't be that much more difficult than conquering Iraq, but occupying Iran will be much, much, more difficult (all Fallujah all the time for about 10-20% of Iran). OTOH, we won't have to occupy Iran for long - less than two years IMO. They have a civil society and we won't have to disband the Iranian army.

But we'll have to keep 50,000 - 100,000 troops in Iraq for many years - IMO at least ten. And we'll need 100,000 - 130,000 there from now through the whole period while we are conquering and occupying Iran.

IMO the conquest of Iran will require at least 200,000 - 250,000 troops for conquest (some of the ones in Iraq can double as support forces for the conquest of Iran) and at least 200,000 occupation troops for a year or two.

Surging enough troops for six months (including the buildup period) to conquer Iran is doable). Keeping that many troops on occupation duty there for a year or two afterwards will be a major problem.

I don't see how we can do that with our current force levels and structure, especially as we must keep ready to deploy active duty forces for other emergencies, plus National Guard troops on inactive duty at home in case of WMD attacks.

So we need significantly larger ground forces, both regulars and reserves, for the occupation of Iran.

The Bush administration, Congress, and the Pentagon (military brass & civilian leadership) don't want to expand our ground forces that much for budgetary reasons. Their argument is allegedly that we won't need those forces for very long.

But they're wrong. Iraq is not our last campaign in the war on terror. Iran won't be either. IMO there is a real good chance we'll end up conquering Syria (though we won't have to stay long) and an absolute certainty that we'll have to occupy the oil-producing areas of what is presently Saudi Arabia for many, many years.

I don't see the Saudi regime lasting, not when less than 4% of its population is gainfully employed (official Saudi Labor Ministry statistics). They're dead men walking. We can't win the war on terror while the Saudis fund terrorism and foster their psychotic version of Islam in other countries. We'll end up taking them out if they don't collapse in domestic strife sooner, and IMO it will be the latter.

IMO the real nightmares will be the conquest of Pakistan when it either goes nuts or collapses, and the occupation of much of what is now Saudi Arabia. Pakistan is iffy - lots of things could happen, and few of them will be good, but there is more and less bad. We live in interesting times.

But we'll need lots more ground forces for a very long time - easily enough to justify a major expansion.

IMO we need about 50% more Army and Marine regulars than we presently have (about 670,000 total right now - get it up to about a million), and ditto for the National Guard and Army/Marine Reserve.

Doing that won't be easy. But IMO we'll do it eventually.

IMO the war on terror will require the long-term commitment of at least 250,000 American troops in the Middle East, and $40 billion yearly development aid costs (above and beyond that of our military forces) for at least 10-15 years.

That's if we win by democratizing the place.

We'll need a lot more, especially for nuclear weapons, if we don't democratize the place. And there will be a lot less Arabs.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

The Bush Administration created a fine new national grand strategy, but never considered what military forces would be necessary to implement it. Instead they just assumed that whatever was inherited from the Clinton administration would do the job, with minor adjustments.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Ok, lets back up our assumptions for a minute. At the moment, there are about 150,000 allied troops in Iraq. Perhaps 3000 are in Fallujah and 2500 in Najaf. That leaves a healthy 144,500 troops elsewhere in country. Lets consider why this is the case.

Could we storm Fallujah with the troops on hand? Of course. 3000 marines could roll over the city by the weekend. Obviously that has been thought better of. The same could be said for Najaf, or anywhere else in Iraq. So the question is... why? Why are two and three brigades being used to cordon off cities at this point? Is there a military answer to this puzzle?

Anyone who wants an answer to this puzzle should pick up a book called The Transformation of War by Martin Van Creveld. It is brilliant, it is prescient, it predicted in 1991 basically everything that has happed since. His bottom line is that one of the reasons occupations fail is that insurgents play on human nature. A soldier is a warrior in the best sense of the word. He seeks battle with his equals, not with the weak or the defenseless. Guerillas blur this line, causing the soldiers' moral and will to plummet. 50,000 soldiers swarming Fallujah would kill hundreds if not thousands of innocents by its very nature, not to mention American casualties. Van Creveld suggests that the solution is for the stronger power to _intentionally_ weaken himself to give the insurgent the illusion of a fair fight. This does two things, it lures the enemy out to fight where he can be killed with less collateral damage, but just as importantly it reminds the soldier that he is in a fair and just fight.
Now Profesor van Creveld is probably the most negative military expert in the world when it comes to the future of the West and its military vs insurgency and terrorism in particular. But this is his best theory as to how such a catastrophy can be avoided, so I think he's worth considering. The Pentagon listens to him, he has taught at basically every war college in the West. And I am suggesting that what is happening in Iraq may have this theory's finger prints on it. Consider the possibility that we are operating as we are at the moment for a reason.
Clausewitz went out the window long ago. Afghanistan wouldnt make a lick of sense to the old man, but it was wildly successful. We are in a new era of warfare here, raw numbers no longer reign supreme, and in fact they can be a detriment.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

No have not yet bought the Prius, we are waiting to go back to the mainland since the truck I have is paid off. We are stationed in Hawaii and want to save up money not get more bills. I do intend to get a hybrid though.

Can someone explain why no one seems to want to address the questions I bring up? All I see is troops, killing and nothing about the people who are in that country.

posted by: Kat on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

For those who would like to see military accounts from a decorated retired military man and troops on the ground; look up Hackworth.
Here is an article about those Iraqi troops you probably did not hear in the news:

"Hack's Target

Flunking the Combat Task

By David H. Hackworth

Two weeks ago, with good-to-go freshly stamped on the soldiers’ foreheads, the 2nd Battalion from the recently rebuilt Iraqi army (IAF) was tasked with assisting our hard-pressed Marines in Fallujah. As the convoy, accompanied by a U.S. Marine advisory team, was rolling toward the sound of gunfire, it was ambushed in the outskirts of Baghdad – where it flunked its baptismal test of fire.

It was then that the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion put to lie all the “they're combat-ready” affirmations from Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, their U.S. Army trainer, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the U.S. ground commander in Iraq.

Upon the battalion's graduation from training, Sanchez had proclaimed: “We are now into the accelerated period of providing Iraqi security forces, and these soldiers look very proud, very dedicated. I have high expectations that in fact they would help us bring security and stability back to the country.”

An eyewitness to the action, who asked to remain anonymous, says: “Gen. Sanchez’s expectations tanked, because as soon as the convoy was hit, some IAF soldiers simply took off. The convoy got stalled when one of the IAF soldiers driving one of the trucks simply jumped out and ran, leaving the truck running. This truck struck a civilian vehicle, creating a jam that prevented part of the convoy from moving.”

“About 30 IAF soldiers were lost in this ambush,” reports my source. “Some simply ran away, some sold their AK-47s and donned civilian clothes, and some had civilian clothes under their uniforms, so they simply took off their uniforms and ran.”

The Iraqi officers commanding this unit were as useless as a bayonet on a cannon. The battalion commanding officer and all of the company COs involved have since been relieved, and more than 100 soldiers were initially tossed into the slammer. And the Marine team that saved the unit from certain destruction? It’s doubtful that these brave warriors will receive any recognition whatsoever, since Gen. Eaton and his politically-driven masters are quickly and quietly moving the earth to disappear this embarrassment.

Once the battalion came under the virtual command of the Marines, the remaining Iraqi soldiers got their act together enough to extricate themselves from contact with the guerrillas and returned to their training base at Tadji with their tails between their legs – only to be told they were being immediately airlifted to Fallujah. When they refused to go, the quitters were subsequently disarmed and jailed in a makeshift prison on the former Republican Guard base.

By the end of the day, this 695-man battalion had eight wounded, 24 combat desertions, 104 mutineers, 78 AWOLs and 170 on leave.

And our warriors have added some new slang phrases to the unofficial Book of Military Phrases and Terms. When you ask a Marine who was there what happened to the 2nd Battalion, he’ll tell you that the unit “went ARVN on us” – referring to the many South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) units that were world-class bug-out artists. There's also another new one for the military lexicon: Deserters are now called “Uas” – Unauthorized Absence From Combat. Or, as we called it way back when, “Cowardice in the face of the enemy.”

Hopefully, instead of coming up with still more spin, Gen. Eaton will learn from this debacle, look truth dead in the face and recognize that no amount of magic-wand-waving will change an Iraqi mob into an instant effective army.

Sure, the key to pulling our military out of Iraq is to transfer all security operations to the Iraqi forces. But since it usually takes at least 10 years to build an army, that exercise is easier said than done. The answer, of course, is leadership – not Madison Avenue-type hype – coupled with “more sweat” training similar to the tough curriculum that converted the South Korean army from rabble into an elite force.

Both Gens. Sanchez and Eaton need to eyeball The Art of War and infuse the new Iraqi army’s leaders with the five constant factors of war: Moral Law; Heaven; Earth; The Commanders; Methods and Discipline.

It’s never too late to learn from Sun Tzu’s 2,500-year-old time-tested rules that have been used down through the ages to forge countless scores of great fighting outfits. "

posted by: Kat on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


When is the mea culpa coming? I think this CPA advisor should finally put the last nails in the "we are going to build a democracy in Iraq" coffin. No WMD, No Al Queda, No Democracy. For one year, you have continually and pretty pathetically tried to justify this administrations misadventure. Occasionally, you note that they are completly incompetent at making policy, and yet we still see you appologize for them over and over again. When will you fess up? When are we going to see Drezner officially unendorse Bush?

Some of the wingnuts on this board are truly amazing. This would be the thrid (fourth?) high level CPA official to come out saying Iraq is fubar'd. The pictures say its fubar'd. Do you not believe your ears and eyes? I don't think you guys understand the people coming out against the utter incompetence of this administration. One year late, we finally have many neocons finally saying this administration f'd ROYALLY. And yet, there are people here, who still don't get this? Are you guys like neo-nuts? Is it possible to be more detached from reality than a typical neocon?

posted by: Jor on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Last finaly point. For all the bullshit conservative talk about personal "accountability". When the hell does this administration start becoming responsbiel for the mess it madE? All of this was stated loud and clear before the war. And the Admin idiots just ignored it. WHERE IS THE CONSERVATIVE ACCOUNTABILITY? Please, If you are going to say they are not responsible -- you must list the criteria under which Bush is responsbiel for failure in Iraq. If you can not do this, you are not rational (google Karl Popper or take a science class)

posted by: Jor on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]


"It is brilliant, it is prescient,..." ... and it is sitting right here on my desk with Keegan's MoC and Kagan's 'On the Origin's of War'.

And, well, If I'm being honest, I've got the text of 'Starship Troopers' loaded on my desk-top - but *that* you probably could have guessed (g)

The good news for all concerned? I see Creveld's book on people's desks up here at HQ, all the time.

As usual, Buehner, you're tracking. Maybe you and I need to pitch in to Pike's site and get him to post a copy on-line so that some of the 'consumers' here can see what the citizens are talking about.

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"Maybe you and I need to pitch in to Pike's site and get him to post a copy on-line so that some of the 'consumers' here can see what the citizens are talking about."

What does this bit about 'consumers' and citizens mean? Did I miss the thread where this was discussed or something?

posted by: sam on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Just thought it worth pointing out, for those, like Al, critical of Diamond as am Ivory Tower acedemic, that the atmosphere of his particular turret is pretty rarified, indeed

Oh, I forgot that I had written that "Ivory Tower" only applied to liberal institutions. Oooops, I didn't.

Moreover, the fact that Hoover is one of the premier academic institutions in the country only strengthens my point: the higher up in the Ivory Tower you are, the more likely it is that you are not going to like or understand realities on the ground. With all due apologies to Dan and his colleagues, about the least surprising thing is when someone comes out of one of the highest Ivory Towers and discovers that, golly gee whiz, when you are dealing with real people in real situations on the ground - rather than theoretical constructs - things will usually not going according to plan.

Frankly, I'd much rather have the CPA filled with lots of self-made people who never went to college than with Larry Diamond and the rest of the Hoover faculty. We need people who know how to get things done, not people who know the theoretical and sociological underpinnings of the global expansion of democracy but who have never created anything bigger than their latest textbook.

posted by: Al on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

And that is the real issue ... we'd need bipartisan support to give cover to the President for the budget hit and the recruitment/draft hit. It's worth it though.

If Bush did this, I'd back him to the hilt. We're all in this hole together. We need to all come together to get out. If the President did this, he would have my wholehearted approach.

Wouldn't it be a good start if the Republicans just kicked out "Shrub", Right Wing Dick, Rummy, Wolfie and the other Dividers and partisans while replacing them with politicians who actually can work with Democrats and other nations for a change? The aforementioned guys don't try to persuade dissenters and they never listen to other views. They just stubbornly plod on no matter what happens, without changing their minds about anything.

Had South Carolina'2000 gone differently, I believe President John McCain's approval ratings among Democrats would be higher than "Shrub's" current ratings. Sigh.


posted by: Marcus Lindroos on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"You're getting near hysterical with your statements that I "must be wrong". There are reputable reports that the Pentagon has plans on its desks to do just as I suggested."

"Troop Level Reports: Nothing but Speculation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2004 – Any report on specific changes to U.S. troop levels based in various parts of the world is speculation, because the department still is working with friends and allies around the world on those levels, senior Defense Department officials said at a Pentagon news conference today.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed news reports that final decisions had been made in how to adjust the U.S. military's global "footprint" to better address challenges of the 21st century."

Looks like Tommy was right after all.

posted by: Doug Reynolds on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"Oh, I forgot that I had written that "Ivory Tower" only applied to liberal institutions. Oooops, I didn't."

I didn't say that you did. However, American universities are, and are often critiqued for being, more liberal than the rest of the country. I would suggest that if I said, "the war is being criticized by a bunch of Ivory Tower acedemics," most people would assume that the profs in question were liberals, and perhaps thus be more inclined to dismiss their arguments, becuase liberals are precived as biased against the war from the get-go. Conservatives, on the other hand, are percived as being generally pro-war.

"We need people who know how to get things done, not people who know the theoretical and sociological underpinnings of the global expansion of democracy but who have never created anything bigger than their latest textbook."

Okay. But I'm confused --- what people do you mean? If were talking about the world of business, I could see arguing that a self-made entrprenuer is the guy to hire over a guy with a PhD with a degree in business administration. But who do you think is out there with practical experience in creating democracies that ought to supercede and be superior to people who have studied thier creation? NGO employees? United Nations staffers? Who? The U.S. military hasn't made such an attempt soley on their own steam for 60 years. Which means the people with practical experience in the matter are dead, and any knowledge to be gleaned from their attempt must be sought in dusty books.

posted by: obliw on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"As usual, Buehner, you're tracking. Maybe you and I need to pitch in to Pike's site and get him to post a copy on-line so that some of the 'consumers' here can see what the citizens are talking about."

Tommy, thanks for the compliment. Im on board. Maybe we should whip up a 'required reading list'.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

First of all, I'm amazed at the individuals arguing that a superpower with a pop of 280 mil can't afford to project another 100,000 soldiers in theater by simply shuffling commitments and increasing recruiting.

Of course we can. The only question is do we wish to expend the necessary political, social, and economic capital to do so.

Second of all, my age is no bar to my understanding of modern war. To be honest, when the "betting pool" for Afghanistan came around my prediction was short - I thought it would take less than a month. Given that the whole setup was mostly an entrenched position vs the Northern Alliance, the only thing we needed to do was pinpoint target their chokepoint positions and their entire line would fold. Which when the military worked out the bugs and did that, then it happened exactly that way.

Whether or not troop increase in Iraq is necessary depends upon the ends it is used for. US lines of communication are pretty exposed, they could use a boost for that alone. An extra increase of troops beyond that could be used in training more Iraqi personnel, the most productive usage.

We have time if not much to get it right. I would admonish that those who assume that the troop levels are "just fine" are using the wrong model and assumptions. We don't need the extra troops to take on or defeat the Iraqi resistance. We need the extra troops to get a local legitimate Iraqi security force on its feet. That will take manpower.

It may only take a few of us to blow up many of them, but it will take many of us to help them rebuild and restore peace to an entire country.

Everyone here seems focused on whether or not we have enough troops to blow up dissident Iraqis. My suggestion would be to train Iraqis to do a good job, and then turn it over to them.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"My suggestion would be to train Iraqis to do a good job, and then turn it over to them."

Well, see! You *do* agree with the president.

posted by: Doug Reynolds on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

And my suggestion is that we call the color of the grass "green".

Big Deal, Oldman...

posted by: fitz on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

"Admonish those"? Great, I'll chalk you up as "opposed to Creveld".

Did you even bother to read Buehner's post?

posted by: Tommy G on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Sad really, I put a bunch of fodder in my post and not one everyone scared or blind to the possibility that military power cannot conquer all??

posted by: KAt on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

Well I am a conservative afterall, but there is a major policy difference between me and President Bush. I wouldn't be waiting to enact changes and upgrades to the plan. I'd be moving now instead of trying to muddle through things with the present level of committment.

posted by: Oldman on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

I found this article and I am going to post it because it is important to see this information. PNAC - Project for the New American Century, something that should be on every headline in the country.

How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer

By: Bernard Weiner

05/27/03: Recently, I was the guest on a radio talk-show hosted by a thoroughly decent far-right Republican. I got verbally battered, but returned fire and, I think, held my own. Toward the end of the hour, I mentioned that the National Security Strategy -- promulgated by the Bush Administration in September 2002 -- now included attacking possible future competitors first, assuming regional hegemony by force of arms, controlling energy resources around the globe, maintaining a permanent-war strategy, etc.

"I'm not making up this stuff," I said. "It's all talked about openly by the neo-conservatives of the Project for the New American Century -- who now are in charge of America's military and foreign policy -- and published as official U.S. doctrine in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America."

The talk-show host seemed to gulp, and then replied: "If you really can demonstrate all that, you probably can deny George Bush a second term in 2004."

Two things became apparent in that exchange:

1) Even a well-educated, intelligent radio commentator was unaware of some of this information; and,

2) Once presented with it, this conservative icon understood immediately the implications of what would happen if the American voting public found out about these policies.

So, a large part of our job in the run-up to 2004 is to get this information out to those able to hear it and understand the implications of an imperial foreign/military policy on our economy, on our young people in uniform, on our moral sense of ourselves as a nation, on our constitutional freedoms, on our constitutional freedoms, and on our treaty obligations -- which is to say, our respect for the rule of law.

Nearly 40% of Bush's support is fairly solid, but there is a block of about 20% in-between that 40% and the 40% who can be counted upon to vote for a reasonable Democratic candidate -- and that 20% is where the election will be decided. We need to reach a goodly number of those moderate (and even some traditionally conservative) Republicans and independents with the facts inherent in the dangerous, reckless, and expensive policies carried out by the Bush Administration.

When these voters become aware of how various, decades-old, popular programs are being rolled back or eliminated (because there's no money available for them, because that money is being used to fight more and more wars, and because income to the federal coffers is being siphoned-off in costly tax-cuts to the wealthiest sectors of society), that 20% may be a bit more open to hearing what we have to say.

When it's your kids' schools being short-changed, and your state's and city's services to citizens being chopped, your bridges and parks and roadways and libraries and public hospitals being neglected, your IRAs and pensions losing their value, and your job not being as secure as in years past -- in short, when you can see the connection between Bush&Co.'s expensive military policies and your thinner wallet and reduced social amenities, true voter-education becomes possible. It's still the economy, stupid.

Origins Of The Crisis

Most of us Americans saw the end of the Cold War as a harbinger of a more peaceful globe, and we relaxed knowing that the communist world was no longer a threat to the U.S. The Soviet Union, our partner in MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and Cold War rivalry around the globe, was no more. This meant a partial vacuum in international affairs. Nature abhors a vacuum.

The only major vacuum-filler still standing after the Cold War was the United States. One could continue traditional diplomacy on behalf of American ends -- the kind of polite, well-disguised defense of U.S. interests (largely corporate) and imperial ambition carried out under Bush#1, Reagan, Clinton, et al. -- knowing that we'd mostly get our way eventually given our status as the globe's only Superpower. Or one could try to speed up the process and accomplish those same ends overtly -- with an attitude of arrogance and in-your-face bullying -- within maybe one or two Republican administrations.

Some of the ideological roots of today's Bush Administration power-wielders could be traced back to political philosophers Leo Strauss and Albert Wohlstetter or to GOP rightist Barry Goldwater and his rabid anti-communist followers in the early-1960s. But, for simplicity's sake let's stick closer to our own time.

In the early-1990s, there was a group of ideologues and power-politicians on the fringe of the Republican Party's far-right. The members of this group in 1997 would found The Project for the New American Century. (PNAC) Their aim was to prepare for the day when the Republicans regained control of the White House -- and, it was hoped, the other two branches of government as well -- so that their vision of how the U.S. should move in the world would be in place and ready to go, straight off-the-shelf into official policy.

This PNAC group was led by such heavy hitters as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, James Woolsey, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, James Bolton, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, William Bennett, Dan Quayle, Jeb Bush, most of whom were movers-and-shakers in previous Administrations, then in power-exile, as it were, while Clinton was in the White House. But even given their reputations and clout, the views of this group were regarded as too extreme to be taken seriously by the mainstream conservatives that controlled the Republican Party.

Setting Up PNAC

To prepare the ground for the PNAC-like ideas that were circulating in the HardRight, various wealthy individuals and corporations helped set up far-right think-tanks, and bought up various media outlets -- newspapers, magazines, TV networks, radio talk shows, cable channels, etc. -- in support of that day when all the political tumblers would click into place and the PNAC cabal and their supporters could assume control.

This happened with the Supreme Court's selection of George W. Bush in 2000.

The "outsiders" from PNAC were now powerful "insiders," placed in important positions from which they could exert maximum pressure on U.S. policy: Cheney is Vice President, Rumsfeld is Defense Secretary, Wolfowitz is Deputy Defense Secretary, I. Lewis Libby is Cheney's Chief of Staff, Elliot Abrams is in charge of Middle East policy at the National Security Council, Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense Department, John Bolton is Undersecretary of State, Richard Perle is chair of the Defense Policy advisory board at the Pentagon, former CIA director James Woolsey is on that panel as well, etc. etc. (PNAC's chairman, Bill Kristol, is the editor of Rupert Murdoch's The Weekly Standard.) In short, PNAC had a lock on military policy-creation in the Bush Administration.

But, in order to unleash their foreign/military campaigns without taking all sorts of flak from the traditional wing of the conservative GOP -- which was more isolationist, more opposed to expanding the role of the federal government, more opposed to military adventurism abroad -- they needed a context that would permit them free rein. The events of 9/11 rode to their rescue. (In one of their major reports, written in 2000, they noted that "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor.")

After those terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration used the fear generated in the general populace as their cover for enacting all sorts of draconian measures domestically (the Patriot Act, drafted earlier, was rushed through Congress in the days following 9/11; few members even read it), and as their rationalization for launching military campaigns abroad. (Don't get me wrong. The Islamic fanatics that use terror as their political weapon are real and deadly and need to be stopped. The question is: How to do that in ways that enhance rather than detract from America's long-term national interests?)

The Domestic Ramifications

Even today, the Bush manipulators, led by Karl Rove, continue to utilize fear and hyped-up patriotism and a permanent war on terrorism as the basis for their policy agenda, the top item of which, at this juncture, consists of getting Bush elected in 2004. This, in order to continue to fulfill their primary objectives, not the least of which domestically is to roll back and, where possible, decimate and eliminate social programs that the far-right has hated since the New Deal/Great Society days.

By and large, these programs are popular with Americans, so Bush&Co. can't attack them frontally -- but if all the monies are tied up in wars, defense, tax cuts, etc., they can go to the American public and, in effect, say: "We'd love to continue to fund Head Start and education and environmental protection and drugs for the elderly through Medicare, but you see there's simply no extra money left over after we go after the bad guys. It's not our fault."

So far, that stealth strategy has worked. The Bush&Co. hope is that the public won't catch on to their real agenda -- to seek wealth and power at the expense of average citizens -- until after a 2004 victory, and maybe not even then. Just keep blaming the terrorists, the French, the Dixie Chicks, peaceniks, fried potatoes, whatever.

One doesn't have to speculate what the PNAC guys might think, since they're quite open and proud of their theories and strategies. Indeed, they've left a long, public record that lays out quite openly what they're up to. As I say, it was all laid out years ago, but nobody took such extreme talk seriously; now that they're in power, actually making the policy they only dreamed about a decade or so ago -- with all sorts of scarifying consequences for America and the rest of the world -- we need to educate ourselves quickly as to how the PNACers work and what their future plans might be.

The PNAC Paper Trail

Here is a shorthand summary of PNAC strategies that have become U.S. policy. Some of these you may have heard about before, but I've expanded and updated as much as possible.

1. In 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney had a strategy report drafted for the Department of Defense, written by Paul Wolfowitz, then Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy. In it, the U.S. government was urged, as the world's sole remaining Superpower, to move aggressively and militarily around the globe. The report called for pre-emptive attacks and ad hoc coalitions, but said that the U.S. should be ready to act alone when "collective action cannot be orchestrated." The central strategy was to "establish and protect a new order" that accounts "sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership," while at the same time maintaining a military dominance capable of "deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." Wolfowitz outlined plans for military intervention in Iraq as an action necessary to assure "access to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil" and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threats from terrorism.

Somehow, this report leaked to the press; the negative response was immediate. Senator Robert Byrd led the Democratic charge, calling the recommended Pentagon strategy "myopic, shallow and disappointing....The basic thrust of the document seems to be this: We love being the sole remaining superpower in the world and we want so much to remain that way that we are willing to put at risk the basic health of our economy and well-being of our people to do so." Clearly, the objective political forces hadn't yet coalesced in the U.S. that could support this policy free of major resistance, and so President Bush the Elder publicly repudiated the paper and sent it back to the drawing boards. (For the essence of the draft text, see Barton Gellman's "Keeping the U.S. First; Pentagon Would Preclude a Rival Superpower" in the Washington Post

2. Various HardRight intellectuals outside the government were spelling out the new PNAC policy in books and influential journals. Zalmay M. Khalilzad (formerly associated with big oil companies, currently U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Iraq ) wrote an important volume in 1995, "From Containment to Global Leadership: America & the World After the Cold War," the import of which was identifying a way for the U.S. to move aggressively in the world and thus to exercise effective control over the planet's natural resources. A year later, in 1996, neo-conservative leaders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, in their Foreign Affairs article "Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy," came right out and said the goal for the U.S. had to be nothing less than "benevolent global hegemony," a euphemism for total U.S. domination, but "benevolently" exercised, of course.

3. In 1998, PNAC unsuccessfully lobbied President Clinton to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. The January letter from PNAC urged America to initiate that war even if the U.S. could not muster full support from the Security Council at the United Nations. Sound familiar? (President Clinton replied that he was focusing on dealing with al-Qaida terrorist cells.)

4. In September of 2000, PNAC, sensing a GOP victory in the upcoming presidential election, issued its white paper on "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy,Forces and Resources for the New Century ." The PNAC report was quite frank about why the U.S. would want to move toward imperialist militarism, a Pax Americana, because with the Soviet Union out of the picture, now is the time most "conducive to American interests and ideals...The challenge of this coming century is to preserve and enhance this 'American peace'." And how to preserve and enhance the Pax Americana? The answer is to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major-theater wars."

In serving as world "constable," the PNAC report went on, no other countervailing forces will be permitted to get in the way. Such actions "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations," for example. No country will be permitted to get close to parity with the U.S. when it comes to weaponry or influence; therefore, more U.S. military bases will be established in the various regions of the globe. (A post-Saddam Iraq may well serve as one of those advance military bases.) Currently, it is estimated that the U.S. now has nearly 150 military bases and deployments in different countries around the world, with the most recent major increase being in the Caspian Sea/Afghanistan/Middle East areas.

5. George W. Bush moved into the White House in January of 2001. Shortly thereafter, a report by the Administration-friendly Council on Foreign Relations was prepared, "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century," that advocated a more aggressive U.S. posture in the world and called for a "reassessment of the role of energy in American foreign policy," with access to oil repeatedly cited as a "security imperative." (It's possible that inside Cheney's energy-policy papers -- which he refuses to release to Congress or the American people -- are references to foreign-policy plans for how to gain military control of oilfields abroad.)

6. Mere hours after the 9/11 terrorist mass-murders, PNACer Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld ordered his aides to begin planning for an attack on Iraq, even though his intelligence officials told him it was an al-Qaida operation and there was no connection between Iraq and the attacks. "Go massive," the aides' notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." Rumsfeld leaned heavily on the FBI and CIA to find any shred of evidence linking the Iraq government to 9/11, but they weren't able to. So he set up his own fact-finding group in the Pentagon that would provide him with whatever shaky connections it could find or surmise.

7. Feeling confident that all plans were on track for moving aggressively in the world, the Bush Administration in September of 2002 published its "National Security Strategy of the United States of America." The official policy of the U.S. government, as proudly proclaimed in this major document, is virtually identical to the policy proposals in the various white papers of the Project for the New American Century and others like it over the past decade.

Chief among them are: 1) the policy of "pre-emptive" war -- i.e., whenever the U.S. thinks a country may be amassing too much power and/or could provide some sort of competition in the "benevolent hegemony" region, it can be attacked, without provocation. (A later corollary would rethink the country's atomic policy: nuclear weapons would no longer be considered defensive, but could be used offensively in support of political/economic ends; so-called "mini-nukes" could be employed in these regional wars.) 2) international treaties and opinion will be ignored whenever they are not seen to serve U.S. imperial goals. 3) The new policies "will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia." In short, the Bush Administration seems to see the U.S., admiringly, as a New Rome, an empire with its foreign legions (and threat of "shock&awe" attacks, including with nuclear weapons) keeping the outlying colonies, and potential competitors, in line. Those who aren't fully in accord with these goals better get out of the way; "you're either with us or against us."

Summary & The PNAC Future

Everyone loves a winner, and American citizens are no different. It makes a lot of people feel good that we "won" the battle for Iraq, but in doing so we paid too high a price at that, and may well have risked losing the larger war in the Arab/Muslim region: the U.S. now lacks moral stature and standing in much of the world, it is revealed as a liar for all to see (no WMDs in Iraq, no connection to 9/11, no quick handing-over the interim reins of government to the Iraqis as initially promised), it destroyed a good share of the United Nation's effectiveness and prestige that may come in handy later, it needlessly alienated our traditional allies, it infuriated key elements of the Muslim world, it provided political and emotional ammunition for anti-U.S. terrorists, etc.

Already, we're talking about $80 to $100 billion from the U.S. treasury for post-war reconstruction in Iraq. And the PNACers are gearing up for their next war: let's see, should we move first on Iran or on Syria, or maybe do Syria-lite first in Lebanon?

One can believe that maybe PNAC sincerely believes its rhetoric -- that instituting U.S.-style free-markets and democratically-elected governments in Iraq and the other authoritarian-run countries of the Islamic Middle East will be good both for the citizens of that region and for American interests as well -- but even if that is true, it's clear that these incompetents are not operating in the world of Middle Eastern realities.

These are armchair theoreticians -- most of whom made sure not to serve in the military in Vietnam -- who truly believed, for example, that the Iraqis would welcome the invading U.S. forces with bouquets of flowers and kisses when they "liberated" their country from the horribleness of Saddam Hussein's reign. The Iraqis, by and large, were happy to be freed of Saddam's terror, but, as it stands now, the U.S. military forces are more likely to be engulfed in a political/religious quagmire for years there, as so many of the majority Shia population just want the occupying soldiers to leave.

And yet PNAC theorists continue to believe that remaking the political structure of the Middle East -- by force if necessary, although they hope the example of what the U.S. did to Iraq will make war unnecessary -- will be fairly easy.

These are men of big ideas, but who don't really think. They certainly don't think through what takes place in the real world, when the genies of war and religious righteousness are let out of the bottle. For example, as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman recently put it, the U.S. had no Plan B for Iraq. They did great with Plan A, the war, but when the Saddam government collapsed, and with it law and order, and much of the population remained sullen and resentful towards the U.S., they had no prepared way of dealing with it. An embarrassing three weeks went by, with no progress, finally leading the Bush Administration to force out its initial administrators and to put in another team to have a go at it.

No, friends, the PNAC boys are dangerous ideologues playing with matches, and the U.S. is going to get burned even more in years to come, unless their hold on power is broken. The only way to accomplish this, given the present circumstances, is to defeat their boss at the polls in 2004, thus breaking the HardRight momentum that has done, and is doing, such great damage to our reputation abroad and to our country internally, especially to our Constitution and economy.

We don't need an emperor, we don't need huge tax cuts for the wealthy when the economy is tanking, we don't need more "pre-emptive" wars, we don't need more shredding of constitutional due process. Instead, we need leaders with big ideas who are capable of creative thinking. We need peace and justice in the Middle East (to help alter the chemistry of the soil in which terrorism grows), we need jobs and economic growth at home, and we need authentic and effective "homeland security" consistent with our civil liberties.

In short, we need a new Administration, which means that we need to get to serious work to make all this change happen. Organize!, organize!, organize!

posted by: Kat on 04.26.04 at 11:15 PM [permalink]

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