Monday, September 27, 2004

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Remind me please why Donald Rumsfeld still has a job?

A few days ago, James Dobbins laid out the basic timetable for resource allocation when it comes to statebuilding in the New York Times (link via David Adesnik):

The object of nation-building is to return power to a competent, responsible and representative local government as soon as possible.

In a country like Iraq where the governmental structure has collapsed, the first priority is to establish public security. Second is to begin rebuilding the local structures for governance. Third is to create an environment in which basic commerce can occur - where people can buy and sell goods and services and get paid in a stable currency. Fourth is to promote political reforms, stimulate the growth of civil society, build political parties and a free press, prepare for elections and organize representative government. Fifth, and last, is improving roads, bridges, electricity, water, telephones and the rest....

The Defense Department brought a perspective to the tasks of nation-building that reflected its own experiences in building military bases and procuring weapons systems, which led it to largely ignore recent and historical experiences with nation-building. Instead, the Pentagon focused more on hardware than software, on improving infrastructure rather than social structures. It also relied more on large American military contractors than on Iraqi contractors and smaller nonprofit groups specializing in political transformation.

To be fair, Dobbins' lead paragraph pointed out that the Bush administration was reallocating resources towards security provision. And in Sunday's Washington Post, General David Petraeus lays out a forceful program of reconstituting Iraq's security forces (link via Glenn Reynolds):

Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.

The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq....

Iraq's borders are long, stretching more than 2,200 miles. Reducing the flow of extremists and their resources across the borders is critical to success in the counterinsurgency. As a result, with support from the Department of Homeland Security, specialized training for Iraq's border enforcement elements began earlier this month in Jordan. (emphasis added)

Read all of Petraeus' essay. I hope his prediction is correct. However, that bolded section stood out because of what Steve Negus wrote in today's Financial Times:

Only a two-foot embankment or a $2 bribe stand in the way of a Syrian Islamist wishing to wage jihad in Iraq.

The US military and the Iraqi interior ministry have pushed in recent months to seal Iraq's long western border against the infiltration of "foreign fighters" as part of an overall plan to beef up security before January elections.

But for now, US and Iraqi officials say, the border is virtually no obstacle at all.

Until earlier this month, travellers at this remote desert border crossing could enter Iraq without a visa. Now a visa is required - but Iraqi officials freely admit the requirement can easily be circumvented with a bribe.

Travellers mingle in an immigration hall before being called one by one to have their papers stamped. It is a chaotic environment in which money can easily change hands without anyone noticing.

Asked if his men are genuinely interested in stopping infiltration, one Iraqi customs official shrugs and says: "To be honest, no."

An infiltrator who wants to avoid even the minor inconvenience and expense of the official posts would have little trouble doing so, US officers say.

Rumsfeld's Defense Department was in charge of ensuring post-invasion security. It's been eighteen months since the invasion, and while Rumsfeld is clearly aware of the problem, there is little indication that he has made any strategic adjustment to the situation at hand.

Why does he still have a job?

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan links to this Rajiv Chandrasekaran report in the Washington Post:

Less than four months before planned national elections in Iraq, attacks against U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and private contractors number in the dozens each day and have spread to parts of the country that had been relatively peaceful, according to statistics compiled by a private security firm working for the U.S. government.

Attacks over the past two weeks have killed more than 250 Iraqis and 29 U.S. military personnel, according to figures released by Iraq's Health Ministry and the Pentagon. A sampling of daily reports produced during that period by Kroll Security International for the U.S. Agency for International Development shows that such attacks typically number about 70 each day. In contrast, 40 to 50 hostile incidents occurred daily during the weeks preceding the handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, according to military officials.

Reports covering seven days in a recent 10-day period depict a nation racked by all manner of insurgent violence, from complex ambushes involving 30 guerrillas north of Baghdad on Monday to children tossing molotov cocktails at a U.S. Army patrol in the capital's Sadr City slum on Wednesday. On maps included in the reports, red circles denoting attacks surround nearly every major city in central, western and northern Iraq, except for Kurdish-controlled areas in the far north. Cities in the Shiite Muslim-dominated south, including several that had undergone a period of relative calm in recent months, also have been hit with near-daily attacks.

In number and scope, the attacks compiled in the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence that contrasts sharply with assessments by Bush administration officials and Iraq's interim prime minister that the instability is contained to small pockets of the country.

posted by Dan on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM




Comments:

I agree with the title of this post. Additionally, I find it outrageous that Condi still has a job.
As for the situation in Iraq, it's reminiscent of Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion. To use a sports metaphor, the jihadists streaming into Iraq right now are getting a hell of a lot of quality practice time where they can get the kinks out of their gameplan, hoping to one day use what they've learned in a place other than Iraq--i.e., the US.
The people who planned 9/11 learned how to play the game in Afghanistan, and the Incurious One has given the new generation of jihadists a fantastic training ground.
Feel safer now?

posted by: oneangryslav on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



It may be premature to castigate Rumsfeld for this. It has been the strategy for the U.S. to allow insurgents to enter Iraq from the beginning.
The theory is this: The preferable way to engage those who would fight us is - far from American soil and in a region in which our military has a strong presence. I've heard one General describe this concept simply as, "Florida or Falluja."
I can personally attest to the fact that the waves of Jihadists spilling over the border are dying in extremely large numbers once they get here.
This supposed lack of border enforcement is not a bad policy decision. Rather, it's a mechanism that allows our enemies to martyr themselves in a manner that is the least effective-(for them.) i.e. it's a very potent trap.

In response to oneangryslav: I have to take you to task for you comment that "the jihadists streaming into Iraq right now are getting a hell of a lot of quality practice time." I respectfully disagree; I don't think practice means anything when you're dead.

posted by: 1stMarineDivision on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Most importantly, they still have it wrong. The first step is local governance, the second step is local security.

Get a local government that's locally recognised as legitimte, and let it appoint police and militia that report to it. Then the USA can visit and provide training and equipment. Then the US forces leave that locality and don't come back unless the local government asks them to, to help handle an external threat.

Trying to do security first was what got us here. Garner was busy doing local elections when they made him quit and let Bremer cancel them.

And it's simply not been feasible to seal the borders until now, and it still isn't. Iran can't seal their borders against MEK and israelis, we can't seal the iranian border. Or the turkish border, or the syrian border, or the jordanian border, or the saudi border, or the kuwaiti border. For that matter, Saddam didn't and couldn't.

The idea that we have been intentionally encouraging arab teenagers to enter iraq so we could kill them is idiotic. If there has been such a policy, whoever approved it should be courtmartialed or perhaps given medical leave.

It makes sense more as a face-saving claim, though. If we *can't* stop them from coming, at least we can put a silver lining on it and talk about how we're killing off the potential insurgents from all the countries we haven't even invaded yet, so the job will be easier later. And of course these guys who can hitch-hike to iraq would otherwise be flying to the USA to attack us here. It's just common sense, right? ::eyeroll::

Does anybody have links to estimates of what rate jihadists are crossing the borders? Does anyone have links to estimates of what rate they're dying? A month or two ago I was seeing claims that foreigners are a minor part of the insurgency now, but those claims didn't give firm numbers and it might have changed since then.

posted by: J Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Reducing the flow of extremists and their resources across the borders is critical to success in the counterinsurgency. As a result, with support from the Department of Homeland Security, specialized training for Iraq's border enforcement elements began earlier this month in Jordan.

[spew! squeegee... squeegee...]

I'd like to know why anyone in the DHS still has a job as well. They're unwilling and/or unable to control our own borders, and I don't think we want them working their magic in Iraq. Perhaps we could seek help from countries that understand border control and do something about it.

(See Illegal aliens from terrorist states released into U.S., "D.C. hamstrings border officers: Despite new anti-terrorism demands, DHS freezes payrolls, frees illegals", "Tancredo presses White House on control of [U.S.] border", or "Bush official slammed for stopping illegals sweeps")

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



J Thomas,
The tactic of allowing Jihadists to enter Iraq is certainly not a "face saving claim." It stems from the very real problem you so correctly pointed out; you cannot completely control the borders!
Also, your implication that we are purposely encouraging Arab teens to cross the border so we can kill them is an insult! We are not encouraging anything, we simply acknowledge that porous borders are inevitable and seek to turn a regional liability into an global asset.
In addition, your comment that "...these guys [are] hitch-hike[ing] to iraq..." is without merit. There is a rather sophisticated logistical network that is involved in the smuggling of personnel, materiel and money into Iraq, one that spreads well beyond Damascus and Tehran. This network is a sub-set of the very global network that made 9/11 possible.

I don't have exact numbers of how many are crossing the borders each day, but you statement suggests an obvious question: is it greater or less than the number being killed or captured? I don't know for sure, but I do feel that the number of insurgents is growing!
As for the number being killed or captured, I would guess 300-400 per week. In one fight last month 350+ insurgents were killed, many of them foreigners, and we did not lose a single Marine; this was a rifle fight with minimal air support, (poor weather.)

Those being smuggled in country are not, as you suggest, just Arabs. There are many foreigners including Persians, Asians, Africans and even Europeans - two Albanians and a Macedonian captured last week.
I do however agree with you belief that the establishment of local government should trump security as a priority right now. However, you must be mindful; the methods that 'legitimate' local governments use to establish security are not pretty.
As an important aside, I would caution against relying too much on the information available in making decisions about what is, or what is not, going on in Iraq.
Most reporters are inside the green zone and far removed from what is going on. They rely on second or third hand sources of information. Also, the insurgency is very adept at having someone at the scene of an attack or ambush to dispense his or her version of the story. -(This is a problem that we have been unable to prevent.) In addition, political considerations, frail egos and fear of being wrong has rendered much of the information that gets to the media via the U.S. military useless. It's too watered-down and cautious to be relevant. The best information about what is happening here will not emerge for a few years, probably in book form. The facts about the Iraq war have yet to be written, but when they are, there will be little support for today’s wide-spread belief that the insurgency is made up of regional amateurs frustrated at the American occupation.
Those whom we are fighting on a daily basis are sophisticated, well funded, globally supported fundamentalists who would engage us elsewhere if we were to shut down their local network.

posted by: 1stMarineDivision on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Does anybody have links to estimates of what rate jihadists are crossing the borders?

According to Reuters back in July, "fewer than 2 percent of the captives held in Iraq as security threats are suspected foreign fighters."

As for Patreaus, this is from the NY Times:


Three months into its new mission, the military command in charge of training and equipping Iraqi security forces has fewer than half of its permanent headquarters personnel in place, despite having one of the highest-priority roles in Iraq. Only about 230 of the nearly 600 military personnel required by the headquarters, from lawyers to procurement experts, have been assigned jobs with the group, the Multinational Security Transition Command, military officials in Washington and Iraq said.

posted by: Carl on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



I agree with the title of this post. Additionally, I find it outrageous that Condi still has a job.

I agree, and Wolfowitz and Feith should leave with Rumsfeld. And no one's going to defend Ashcroft or Ridge. And Cheney is responsible for bringing a lot of these fools on board.

I think I have a solution here.

posted by: EH on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



1st Marine Division -- if things are going as great as you claim why do we keep losing control of more and more of the country and the level of deaths keeps steadily climbing. Your statements do not add up.

posted by: spencer on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



To answer the question posed at the top of this blog: Because he's the best at what he does, doesn't need to tell the media what he's doing, has kept the terrorist attacks off our soil and can zap the media without even trying or their knowing they've been zapped.

The proof is in the pudding, not in the endless navel gazing that political analyses have become. The terrorists are being contained in one small area. Let him get to the endgame before you judge the game.

We are doubly blessed with Bush and Rumsfeld at the helm. Let's not break up a winning team. The alternative is Kerry and you pick: Clinton, Holbrooke, Albright, Cohen, the list in endless.

posted by: erp on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Spencer,
I never said that things are going well here, there are many issues here that I consider to be of great concern - not enough troops, etc. I just wanted to suggest that the lack of border security may be intentional and not a planning error.
Three times within the past 18 months I have considered Rumsfeld to be incompetent and lacking in perspective and all three times I have been proven wrong. I suspect that this is because Rumsfeld is taking a macro-view of the war on terror and is making decisions based on information much more perfect than I have access to.
It may be foolish to think that something as obvious as border security has been overlooked.

posted by: 1stMarineDivision on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



1st Marine Division's flypaper suggestion is as silly as suggesting we let one hospital become super-dirty on the theory that all the germs will go over there, and the other hospitals will be cleaner.

The theory rests on the totally false assumption that the number of terrorists is limited and will not grow as terrorism succeeds in Iraq. On this blog, the error is usual seen is discussions of outsourcing, where each job sent abroad is (incorrectly) tallied as one more permanently unemployed worker in the USA.

ERP, unless he's being ironic, seems to have forgotten that 9/11 happened under the Bush Administration. If you want to vote for the party that has kept terrorists off our soil, it wouldn't be the Republicans. Something tells me, though, that even if there were another terrorists attack inside the USA before November 2, it wouldn't change his vote.

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



I'm not entirely sure who is responsible for the various screwups in Iraq, but Bush is ultimately responsible. That is probably the ultimate failing in Iraqi reconstruction, no-one was put completely in charge and hence completely held responsible (and no, Paul Bremer never excercised such power, if he even possessed it). To paraphrase Napoleon's number 1 maxim, one bad leader is better than two good ones.

Overall things arent as bad in Iraq as some would have us believe. Our expectations are simply to high, and the zero defect rule is still in effect with the media. The Shiia areas are calm and awaiting elections (a Sadr goon in Basrah taking a potshot at a passing convoy or the like isnt a sign of imminent armageddon). The situation in the Sunni triangle is more hopeful than it seems. What is happening is we are reducing foriegn jihadis using local intelligence and air power. Foriegners de facto control parts of Fallujah and that apparently doesnt sit well with the locals (neither do they want American tanks in the streets however). Several thousand new Iraqi soldiers complete their training at the end of October, at which time they (with American support) will link up with the other Iraqi units and similtaneously sweep through the Sunni cities, taking out the foriegners and reestablishing order ala Najaf. This will be accomplished in such a way the elections can be held in the Sunni cities on at least a partial level. The end game is Iraqi native forces chasing out foriegn jihadis to allow Sunnis to vote. Its a good plan. Of course the enemy will have their say as well, so we'll see, but it could work which would change the entire dynamic in Iraq come January.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"1st Marine Division's flypaper suggestion is as silly as suggesting we let one hospital become super-dirty on the theory that all the germs will go over there, and the other hospitals will be cleaner."

Except that we know for a fact there are foriegn fighters in Iraq in considerable numbers. We know AQ is there via Zaqawi. For those that claim that either Iraq had _zero_ to do with AQ, or that the fly-paper theory is bunk, riddle me this:

What would Al-Zaqawi be doing right now if we hadnt invaded Iraq?

I know I dont have a clue, and I doubt any serious person would claim to. But I feel confident whatever he would be doing wouldnt be good for us, and probably far more damaging and horrifying for American interests than anything he can accomplish in Iraq.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Andrew J. Lazarus,

The hospital analogy is foolishly applied.
Why is it so hard for you to believe that an oportunity to wage holy-war against the U.S. would attract those who seek to wage holy-war against the U.S.
This is so self-evident that I cannot believe you need an explaination.
This is not a suggestion it's a personal observation and a point to consider.

posted by: 1stMarineDivision on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



I don't think people realize how much our failures to find WMDs or al-Qaeda links has radicalized youth in the Arab world. These failures, broadcast repeatedly on the Arab satellites, have served to convince the people in the surrounding countries that this is really a war against Arabs and Islam.

I moved to Beirut in Sept. 2003 and am now in Cairo. Over the past year, as the news in Iraq has gotten worse and worse, I've watched kids who didn't care about politics become zealots. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the former secularists ended up going to Iraq.

posted by: Jeff on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



1st Marine:

What's the goal in Iraq now, as its been communicated to you? Kill lots of terrorists, so America doesn't have to deal with them? Or rebuild Iraq -- provide it with the security so that elections can be held in January? Both? Neither?

The reason for my question -- it seems like these two goals woud be at odds with each other, but they are both mentioned as what our troops are trying to do now.

(Feel free to ignore this question, if that's more prudent for you and your fellow troops.)

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



I find something a little odd about Dobbins's listing of nation-building priorities. Maybe it's because i'm a spoiled college kid who just can't imagine living without electricity and water, but it seems to me that having a lack of those services could really screw up the other priorities listed by Dobbins.
As for my take on the flypaper debate, I disagree with that rationale. I think the subset of terrorists who chose to come to Iraq rather than to our home is much smaller than those who found Iraq to be much more accessible than our home (based on what I've read, border security is non-existent in Iraq) and those who became terrorists because of the Iraq war. (In fact, I think that the Iraq war may have increased the number of terrorists we may encounter at home by being so unpopular.) Also, I think it's reasonable to assume that terrorists have some rationality, meaning that those who came to Iraq came believing that they have a greater opportunity to kill Americans there than here.

posted by: Eric Slusser on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



I have heard the "he's kept terrorists from attacking us again" line a lot lately. Don't people watch the Simpsons? Bear Patrol, anyone?

posted by: Paul Orwin on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Another problem - we can't necessarily depend on the loyalty of Iraqi security forces.

posted by: clark on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"Another problem - we can't necessarily depend on the loyalty of Iraqi security forces."

Very true. But we dont need them to be loyal to us, thats the trick. They need to be loyal to a democratically elected government with the knowledge that its the insurgents that are killing thousands of innocent Iraqis.
I hated the idea of the Fallujah Brigade because they were loyal to Fallujah first and foremost. Think of The Untouchables, for the government forces to be independant their families and loyalties need to lie outside of the conflict zone. Otherwise they will be blackmailed as we have seen. Shiites and Kurds in an Iraqi army arent going to throw in with Sunni insurgents, and Sunni's from Baghdad are less likely to be bullied or coerced by Sunni insurgents in Fallujah. We should have taken advantage of that dynamic long ago (I suggested camping a Kurdish army outside of Fallujah months ago, as a threat).

posted by: Mark Buehner on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



> I would caution against relying too much on the
> information available in making decisions about
> what is, or what is not, going on in Iraq.
> Most reporters are inside the green zone and far
> removed from what is going on. They rely on second
> or third hand sources of information.


Isn't the big problem here that *NOBODY* really knows who the insurgents are, how many they are and why they fight? I get the impression it is a very diverse group of people -- ordinary criminals, former Baath or military officials, religious fundamentalists (native Iraqis as well as from other Islamic countries although the former seem to be much more numerous). Furthermore, it seems the U.S. government really does not know the situation very well either.


> Why is it so hard for you to believe that an
> oportunity to wage holy-war against the U.S.
> would attract those who seek to wage holy-war
> against the U.S.
> This is so self-evident that I cannot believe
> you need an explaination.


But it is nonetheless one of the dumber pro-war arguments! The implicit assumption is the number of "bad guys" is essentially constant and finite, and that this number will be reduced as a result of combat attrition (i.e. "the flypaper theory") + deterrence (i.e. "the bastards will never attack us again once they realize the futility of fighting the unprecedented military might of the U.S.").

I would argue that the overwhelming majority of people killed in Iraq (as well as those responsible for killing U.S. soldiers there) would never show up in Montana or Florida -- at least unless Saddam was planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and not even Cheney seems to be saying that. This was always an optional war, and people are dying on both sides because Bush decided to invade the country. Bragging about the thousands of insurgents killed in Iraq also seems fairly useless, since there are millions and millions of angry young Arab men left -- and (as Jeff correctly points out) they are now even more anti-American. The so-called "dead enders" have been fighting for one and a half years now and there is no sign the fire is being contained, or that the Muslim anger that's fueling the fire is being extinguished by American actions since 2002. I would not be surprised if the number of people willing to fly aircraft into American skyscrapers were higher than it was four years ago.

Attack me for advocating "appeasement" and "defeatism" if you like, then. But it seems to me as if the issue is a wee bit more complicated than Bush & co. think.


MARCU$

posted by: Marcus Lindroos on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Because he's by far the best Secretary of Defense that America has ever had. You know that's painful for me to say, since I was one as well.

posted by: Dick Cheney on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



The flypaper theory has been advanced before, and here is why I believe its appallingly misguided in too many ways to count (strategically, morally, politically)

1) We already had one flypaper in Afghanistan. Why do we need more ? Could Afghanistan not have been turned into this giant flypaper, "sucking out the terrorists" from everywhere else ?

2) Humanitarian reasons were a major rationale for going into Iraq. So was turning Iraq into a laboratory for democracy. What is the moral justification for turning a country into a flypaper and battleground for terrorists (even if you overthrew an odious dicatator to do so) ? It would validate the worst fears that Iraqis have about the US. Surely this would be incredibly callous if done by design.

3) It doesn't take that many people to launch a terrorist operation. As seen on Sep. 11th, only a few dozen people with a few million dollars in financing could launch a devastating attack. Hell, the Anthrax killer, probably just one man, was able to paralyze our entire legislature. Think about that, the next time you hear how we're turning Iraq into a flypaper. It only requires a few well-disciplined terrorists to wreak havoc, and we've seen terror in Spain and elsewhere parallel with Iraq. Even if we were able to kill 90% of terrorists, the most skilled and ruthless would still survive, and could launch devastating attacks.

4) The idea of exhausting all terrorists or even most is stupid on the face of it when such a huge reservoir of angry, disaffected Islamist youths (many intensely angered by Iraq) exists. Britain in Ireland, Russia in Chechnya, India in Kashmir all have tried for years to crush local terrorist movements. But new terrorists keep coming up to fight in the Chechen or Kashmiri cause. Britain alone has had some success in curbing the IRA, but it took nearly 80 years (!!), numerous political settlements. It doesn't help to kill 1000 terrorists, if you've just created 10,000 more and thats what happens in many, many insurgency movements.

5) Most indications are that the large bulk of the attacks are being carried out by locals in Iraq. Maybe not the car bombs, but the bulk of the attacks. We seem thus to have created more terrorists than we've killed. As the Soviet Union learned in Afghanistan, you can win all battles, but still lose the war.

6) We were told all sorts of rationale for the war. Now that they've all been shown to be false, we've been advanced a new rationale AFTER the war. Before we were told about how democracy and freedom would flow out from Iraq, how the road to Mid-East Peace lay through Baghdad. Now we're being told of the flypaper theory (never ever mentioned before the war, when we're told we would reduce terrorist activities). Sorry, but I don't buy it. Its too much like claiming that we can at lesat make lemonade when we've been sold a big lemon by the neocons.
I

posted by: Jon Juzlak on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"I would argue that the overwhelming majority of people killed in Iraq (as well as those responsible for killing U.S. soldiers there) would never show up in Montana or Florida "

Probably true, but what about Kuwait or Saudi Arabia? What about simply overthrowing King Hussein in Jordan Iran style? What about financing or aiding Hamas and Hesbollah? What about Afghanistan?

We've been hearing about the cycle of violence for decades. Doesnt it top out somewhere? Isnt there a finite level of anger one can have at the United States? Look, we're killing the brave ones. This war is fundamentally no different from any other at that level. There are x amount of motivated, trained, experienced, fit combatants possible. The more of them you kill, the more of the weaker minded you frighten off. Otoh, the more you coddle them, the more of the weaker types you encourgage. That is the basis of the fact that war is a struggle of wills, and you rarely know how close your enemy is to breaking. We do know that when we kill hardcore jihadis willing to travel to Iraq, they stay dead. Did bombing Drezden produce more Nazis? We need to concentrate less on how our enemy is sapping our will and more on how we can sap theirs.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



") We already had one flypaper in Afghanistan. Why do we need more ? Could Afghanistan not have been turned into this giant flypaper, "sucking out the terrorists" from everywhere else ?"

Afghanistan is far better suited to support an insurgency geographically. Also it would be impossible for us to support hundreds of thousands of troops there because of its location, not to mention those troops becoming instant targets and provocation for the locals. Likely Afghanistan would be a much bloodier, messier place right now if not for Iraq.

"2) Humanitarian reasons were a major rationale for going into Iraq. So was turning Iraq into a laboratory for democracy"

That remains the case. We didnt force the jihadis to choose to try wrecking Iraq, we simply take advantage of it by killing them when we can. Whether Iraqis would be better off under Hussein and his sons and starving to death under the UNs corrupt UNSCAM program for the rest of eternity is open to question. Giving Iraqis at least a hope for freedom is nontrivial.

"3) It doesn't take that many people to launch a terrorist operation."

True, but it takes some training and experience to do it without killing yourself to no effect. The more of those types we kill the better. We can deal with teenagers throwing Molotav cocktails better than experienced terrorists setting off coordinated attacks.

"4) The idea of exhausting all terrorists or even most is stupid on the face of it when such a huge reservoir of angry, disaffected Islamist youths"

Then the logical course is surrender if we have no hope of victory. Apparently everything the US does or does not do is a provocation worthy of suicide bombing. Then again were Iraq converted to a democratic, successful state quite a few of those disaffected youth might decide that just maybe they are on to something.

"5) Most indications are that the large bulk of the attacks are being carried out by locals in Iraq"

That is true, but on the other hand every indication is that there are still thousands of foriegners in country. Ideally we can coopt the locals by bringing them into the Iraqi government. This would leave the jihadis blowing in the wind. This seems to be happening to some degree in Fallujah, we are getting our intelligence for bombing strikes somehow.

"6) We were told all sorts of rationale for the war. Now that they've all been shown to be false, we've been advanced a new rationale AFTER the war."

The flypaper theory was debated extensively before the war. I know because I was one of the debaters. Go look it up.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



'We've been hearing about the cycle of violence for decades. Doesnt it top out somewhere? Isnt there a finite level of anger one can have at the United States? Look, we're killing the brave ones. This war is fundamentally no different from any other at that level. There are x amount of motivated, trained, experienced, fit combatants possible. The more of them you kill, the more of the weaker minded you frighten off. Otoh, the more you coddle them, the more of the weaker types you encourgage.'

A nice theory, but historically, this has failed miserablly in practically every single armed insurgency or terrorist activity in recent times that has some base of popular support. Yes, groups like the Baader Meinhoff or the Japanese Red groups could be defeated since they had no popular support to speak off.

But --- Ireland, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Kashmir, Spain, Afghanistan (under the Soviets). In NO case has the kill off all terrorists approach succeded, because killing of terrorists has just created more.

Russia levelled Grozny, intent as you are on showing that they don't belive in coddling terrorist. That didn't work.

There are hundreds of millions of angry Islamist youth in the MIddle East and neighboring areas. Thats a huge base for terrorists. And even if you kill 90% of people who coem to Iraq, that leaves the most deadly and murderous 10%.

'Did bombing Drezden produce more Nazis? '

Bombing Dresden was a) morally and ethically highly dubious b) had dubious political and strategic value c) Took place at a time when it was unnecesary (Feb 1945), since the war was largely won.

It says little for the flypaper theory if you have to choose Dresden as an example to justify it.

posted by: Jon Juzlak on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Thank you, Mark Buehner, for helping me to understand how our foreign policy ended up so unbelievably fucked up.

posted by: goethean on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Maybe Buehner sees anything other than the genocide of all Muslims as 'coddling'.

posted by: goethean on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



The answer is that reality doesn't match what you are saying. You are welcome to think and believe what you want. Just because you do doesn't mean that it matches something other than your preconceived world view.

We are at the critical point when those who would follow John Kerry would "lose their nerve" and give up on a worthy effort. Have "our guys" made mistakes? Of course they have. Part of the reason is the political climate here and in Iraq. Someone "lost their nerve" when we were going to inevitably win in Fallusha, earlier this year. We lost six months and many casualties because of that.

Where we are allowed to fight, we smoke the enemy. Our people are so much better than the enemy, that our casualty rates are 10:1 or better.

We don't need the people that trashed South Viet Nam to win and trash Iraq and Afghanistan.

posted by: Jim Bender on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



'Afghanistan is far better suited to support an insurgency geographically. '

Well, we've seen that urban warfare in Iraq is bloody and messy anyway -- no inurgency is clean.

'Also it would be impossible for us to support hundreds of thousands of troops there because of its location, '

Not correct. We're supporting troops there now. It would he hard to transport material in, but there are several other ways of getting supplies in (via air). It would be more expensive, but probably less expensive than maintaining both Iraq and Afghanistan.

'not to mention those troops becoming instant targets and provocation for the locals. '

As opposed to Iraq, where they are regarded as beacons of peace ?

'Likely Afghanistan would be a much bloodier, messier place right now if not for Iraq.'

That is nonsense. Afghanistan has had its problems, but the insurgency there was probably less or the same before the IRaqi invasion than it has been since. There is no indication that the inusrgency was increasing in scopr or scale before then and was suddenly contained by inusrgents going to Iraq.

'"2) Humanitarian reasons were a major rationale for going into Iraq. So was turning Iraq into a laboratory for democracy"

That remains the case. We didnt force the jihadis to choose to try wrecking Iraq, we simply take advantage of it by killing them when we can. '


The claim made is that the flypaper strategy was a major goal. 1stInfantry Division seems to cbe claiming that Rumsfeld has deliberately left the borders unguarded so that terrorists can slip in. Don't you see how morally dubious it is to turn a country into a battleground between yourself and third parties ?


'"3) It doesn't take that many people to launch a terrorist operation."

True, but it takes some training and experience to do it without killing yourself to no effect. The more of those types we kill the better. We can deal with teenagers throwing Molotav cocktails better than experienced terrorists setting off coordinated attacks.'

Except that some of the teenagers throwing Molotov Cocktails who survive turn out co-ordinated attacks. And their brothers and cousins start throwing Cocktails of their own. Osama and Zarqawi themselves were inexperienced mujahdeen in Afghanistan at one point.

'"4) The idea of exhausting all terrorists or even most is stupid on the face of it when such a huge reservoir of angry, disaffected Islamist youths"

Then the logical course is surrender if we have no hope of victory. Apparently everything the US does or does not do is a provocation worthy of suicide bombing.'

Its not evrything we do --- its unnecessary, bloody, expensive wars like Iraq. Of course, there are things we have to do which will anger Islamists, its things we don't have to do like Iraq that are crucial.


' Then again were Iraq converted to a democratic, successful state '

Very unlikely to happen if you're also turning the country into a battleground between yourself and terrorists.

'The flypaper theory was debated extensively before the war. I know because I was one of the debaters. Go look it up.'

I'm talking about important people :-). People in politics, government and military. No one that I recall advanced this theory. Prominent journalists who supported the war (including right-wingers like Will, Krauthammer) did not advance this theory in their columns. If this was a major reason, shouldn't the President or Rumsfeld have come out openly and said it before the war ? And shouldn't one say it now ? Answer: They can't say it now openly because it is so appalling callous, it'll cost Allawi whatever support he has now.

posted by: Jon Juzlak on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



1stMarineDivision responds to me:
"I have to take you to task for you comment that 'the jihadists streaming into Iraq right now are getting a hell of a lot of quality practice time.' I respectfully disagree; I don't think practice means anything when you're dead."

In order for your comment to make me feel safer, I would have to be convinced that the intersection of those gaining practice with those being killed is 100%. How many extremely skillful terrorists would it take to set off a suitcase nuke in New York? One? two? Three at most? I hope you guys are getting those people as well.

From what I've read, even if you are killing a few hundred jihadists and/or anti-occupation forces a week, this is analogous to bailing water out of a sinking oceanliner with a yogurt cup.

By the way, does anyone know how many jihadists the Soviets were killing weekly in Afghanistan in the 1980s? What about Soviet causalties?

posted by: oneangryslav on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Remind me please why Donald Rumsfeld still has a job?

Additionally, I find it outrageous that Condi still has a job.

Is Krugman writing a guest column here? Aren't you afraid of being labeled "shrill"?

posted by: S. Anderson on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



The big problem with the flypaper rationale is that if our real goal is just to attract and keep killing islamic terrorists, doing this conflicts with our oft-stated goal of making Iraq a secure functional democracy. Some might be blithe about our country having a hidden rationale of just using Iraq as a primary target that thus keeps us safe(Fallujah or Florida). But this seems to be a pretty shortsighted strategy. For one, if that's our real policy, then much of what the terrorists say about us becomes true, that we don't care about Iraqis or democracy, just about keeping Islam down.

If we can't provide increasing security, stability, and functionality to Iraq as a nation, our situation there is going to become entirely untenable. Succeeding in Iraq may be crucial as many state. Failing may not be an option. But we may be approaching a state where failure may be possible reagardless of whether it's an option. I hope not, and I don't know enough to evaluate conclusively one way or the other, but I'm pretty sure that if the vast majority of Iraqis turn strongly against us, we probably won't turn them back towards us by staying and continuing to fight. So if we wnat to keep the vast majority from turning strongly against us we need to show positive trends on security, commerce, and whole laundry list.

posted by: bk on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Tim Russert asked Gen. Abizaid why the Iraqi borders are so porous, and his response was to compare it to the US/Mexican border. Is that an answer, or an excuse disguised as a reason?

*Humanitarian reasons were a major rationale for going into Iraq.*

The "flypaper" theory - maybe (nod to MB), but humanitarianism was never a reason given during the war's initial justification. This only came along when the original rationales were proven false. As Appalled indicated, creating a blood-zone in Iraq to draw terrorists in and away from the States is hardly a humanitarian gesture towards Iraq.

However, Rummy's mastery of the press will be key in helping Bush redefine our current concept of successful "nation-building".

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



I see all kinds of claims and counter claims about foreign fighers in Iraq and have no reason to think one is better than the other.

However, I look at the data on the fighters we have captured and see that well under 10% of the prisoners are foreigners. I have no reason to think we capure either a larger or smaller share of foreign fighers than Iraqi fighers. So unless someone can give me a good reason to use some other line of analysis that data very strongly implies that foreign fighers are a very, very small part of the problem in Iraq.

posted by: spencer on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Mark Buehner: Did bombing Drezden produce more Nazis?

Gotta love those bad WWII comparisons.

Mark, do you have any idea what you are talking about? The firebombing of Dresden is indeed to this day, i.e. almost 50 years later, still a topic for conversation in Germany, and it is in fact used up to this day by Germany's neo nazis to stir up support. It is also used by the German far left to stoke anti-Americanism. In fact, I'd be surprised, if Dresden didn't play at least an implicit role in the German government's staunch refusal to have anything to do with the Iraq war - "not another Dresden, not even to get rid of an evil dictator" was quite probably on many people's minds.

So in fact Dresden is, if anything, the perfect example of lasting damage done to the relationships between two countries. And in this case we are talking about the poster child success story of Germany!

Mark, if you have any more such splendid comparisons, you might just convince everybody else that invading Iraq and screwing up the occupation so fabulously was just about the best way to guarantee decades, if not centuries, of deep-seated hatred against America in Iraq and possibly throughout the Muslim world.

(That would only apply to people with any understanding of history, of course, which probably isn't very many. So you are probably fine for purposes of winning elections and the like. Which seems to be the only thing you really care about at the moment.)

posted by: gw on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Oh, and about Zarqawi. How many people paid attention to this piece of interesting news back in March?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4431601/

Sounds a little like Clinton (not) going after bin Laden in the 90s. (But that was before 9/11, and 9/11 changed everything, so it must be ok, huh?)

Also, Mark Buehner basically equated Zarqawi with Al Qaeda. I don't think that's even clear. Sure, if you just lump all Islamic terrorist groups together and call that lump "Al Qaeda"... - but as far as I understand, serious analysts believe that Zarqawi is operating independently of bin Laden's network and could even be seen as a competitor.

posted by: gw on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



gw,

So the Germans won't help out their benefactor and ally because of Dresden? Well, I'm not laughing at the thought because the past few years HAS indeed seen a sickening rise in the "we suffered too" quotient of German revisionist history. Perhaps we should apologize for conducting (late in the war) a particularly horrifying variant of total war (years after the unprovoked attacks on London left tens of thousand Britons dead, but nevermind). I suspect we will--about the same time Poles pay reparations for booting out Germans at the end of the war (i.e. in your friggin dreams). Or, perhaps, President Kerry can do the right thing in a lovely little Rose Garden Ceremony with the soon to appear new improved fuhrer of Germany. I'll send him an umbrella!

That still leaves the question of why the Japanese should see fit to move on from the still more gruesome dropping of two atomic bombs on THEM, while the Germans lick wounds that should have healed decades ago (did in fact, but are now being torn at again for reasons knowable only to Germans).

posted by: Kelli on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



In response to the your highlighted section of Petraeus's OpEd:

Given that one of Bush's reasons for being in Iraq is that we're fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here, Petraeus should be pleased to admit as many prospective-insurgents as wish to fight.

After all, don't we just have to kill enough of them, and then declare victory? So what happened to the 'honey-pot' strategy?


posted by: Mark Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Kelli,

Talk to Mark about the Dresden analogy, he's the one trying to sell it.

posted by: Fence on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Regarding the flypaper theory:

Well Israel has been fighting arab 'terrorists' for more than forty years now and still hasn't run out of them.

I douby very much that even if conservatives continue to kill arab 'terrorists' in Iraq for the next hundred years or so we will be any safer than we were before the invasion of Iraq took place.

posted by: ken on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Fence,

Dresden may not have been militarily necessary. It may not be the best analogy to be drawn on today. But I refuse to stand by gracefully as Germans across the political spectrum revisit it as the site of a massive human tragedy. All of Europe burned, tens of millions perished and generations suffered the direct impact of the Nazi death machine. And now I am to shed a tear for the dead of Dresden from more than a half century ago? Sorry, no.

posted by: Kelli on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Mark B argues that the Iraqi security forces will be loyal to a democratically elected govt, and will know that it's the insurgents who are killing thousands of Iraqis. This claim rests on a factual error: that the Iraqis will blame insurgents (not US forces) for deaths of Iraqis.

The following quote is from Knight Ridder, Sept 25:

"Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry"


meno

posted by: meno on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Kelli: And now I am to shed a tear for the dead of Dresden from more than a half century ago? Sorry, no.

Kelli, you completely missed the point - as Fence already tried to point out to you, but apparently to no avail.

The point is not that (or whether) resentment in Germany today over what happened in Dresden in 1945 is justified. The point is that what happened in Dresden in 1945 still has negative repercussions for US foreign policies 50 years later. You may not like it, you may argue it's unreasonable etc., but that doesn't make it go away.

posted by: gw on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



We live in hope that they won't after November 2, 2004.

posted by: BoURGeOiSie on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



The George "dubyah" Bush Administration is characterized by dim-witted generalizations, perverted "narrow casting", confidence without merit, self serving optimism, mental inflexibility, lemming-like course committment and Howdy Doody leadership. The American people deserve higher standards from the President of the United States.

The American People deserve a wartime leader that without evasion served patriotically on active military duty and has leadership that has been forged and tested in the crucible of combat. John Kerry, a patriotic leader that will serve in the best interest of all American people, lead our nation out of the Bush quagmire and into a more secure and prosperous future for all Americans.

posted by: BoURGeOiSie on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Rumsfeld still has his job because he is still loyal. For Bush, loyalty wins out over competence every time.

posted by: Alan S. on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Er, am I the only one who noticed the underlined sentence in Dan's post?

You know, the one in which Petraeus says: "Reducing the flow of extremists and their resources across the borders is critical to success in the counterinsurgency"?

Now, either Petraeus is lying and the U.S. strategy really is to let everybody in so we don't have to fight them in the streets of Boston or whatever, or the flypaper strategy is not actually a real strategy and instead the U.S. is trying as hard as it can to close the borders, using diplomacy with Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran and working with tribes along the border as well as beefing up Iraqi border guards ...

posted by: praktike on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Sorry Dan, I am wondering why you still have a job. It was pretty obvious to this non Ph.D, non historian, student of the first two years of the Chimp administration that Chimpman and his rollicking gang would screw things up. Why wasn't it obvious to you?

So before you publically wonder about Rummy, have you looked in the mirror and questioned what mistakes you made and why?

posted by: jerry on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"The tactic of allowing Jihadists to enter Iraq is certainly not a "face saving claim." It stems from the very real problem you so correctly pointed out; you cannot completely control the borders!
Also, your implication that we are purposely encouraging Arab teens to cross the border so we can kill them is an insult! We are not encouraging anything, we simply acknowledge that porous borders are inevitable and seek to turn a regional liability into an global asset."

You are agreeing with me. We couldn't keep them out anyway, so we make a virtue of necessity and talk about how it's all for the best. It isn't that we want to get foreign terrorists to come in and attack us, it's that since they're doing it anyway we might as well claim the credit for killing them.

"There is a rather sophisticated logistical network that is involved in the smuggling of personnel, materiel and money into Iraq, one that spreads well beyond Damascus and Tehran. This network is a sub-set of the very global network that made 9/11 possible."

You mean the global transportation network? The network that lets pretty-much-anybody buy a bus ticket to get from any place in the middle east except israel and iraq to any other place? That network?

Or are you claiming that al Qaeda has a secret transportation network that they're using to send foreigners into iraq. Do you have any links to anything reported about that? It sounds extremely implausible at this point.

"I don't have exact numbers of how many are crossing the borders each day, but you statement suggests an obvious question: is it greater or less than the number being killed or captured? I don't know for sure, but I do feel that the number of insurgents is growing!
As for the number being killed or captured, I would guess 300-400 per week."

Another question is how many of them leave each day. If on average 4 jihadis come into iraq and get some combat experience and 3 of them get out again, then we aren't doing any good at all that way.

It isn't in our favor that we're killing 1200-1700 insurgents a month, plus civilians. This is the approach that failed in vietnam.

"I do however agree with you belief that the establishment of local government should trump security as a priority right now. However, you must be mindful; the methods that 'legitimate' local governments use to establish security are not pretty."

If it's an elected local government doing it, there's strong reason to figure they won't alienate the majority of their voters. Wherever they get people agreed that security is worth having, things will calm down -- unless we drive through without permission. Where a large minority wants to fight the elected government they can call for help. I'm assuming bona fide representation -- Fallujah might get an elected salafi government and Tikrit might get a ba'athist one. If they can provide security and vote for representatives to the national government and they don't attack anybody but us, that's as good as we can hope for.

"As an important aside, I would caution against relying too much on the information available in making decisions about what is, or what is not, going on in Iraq.
Most reporters are inside the green zone and far removed from what is going on. They rely on second or third hand sources of information."

This is our measure of how badly the war has deteriorated. Six months ago we had reporters on the ground who reported. They reported various problems that the US military denied. Now we don't, all we have is the US military telling us that it isn't as bad as it looks. That's what they were telling us 6 months ago when we had independent media telling us what they saw. We've lost that. We have no way to verify what the military tells us. The situation is too bad for us to get reliable news.

We used to have media guys who'd occasionally catch Kimmitt lying. They'd tell him what they'd seen and he'd promise to stage an investigation. Now we don't. We have considerably less reason to believe our military spokesmen now when they say things aren't as bad as they look. There's no confirmation, there's no test. Obviously it has gotten a whole lot worse.

posted by: J Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"What would Al-Zaqawi be doing right now if we hadnt invaded Iraq?

"I know I dont have a clue, and I doubt any serious person would claim to."

The default assumption for what they'd be doing 2 years after the invasion, if the invasion hadn't happened, is that they'd be doing what they did for 2 years before the invasion. This of course isn't a perfect assessment but it's usually the most probable result. I read that during WWII Fermi and some other physicists made bets about the schedule of the war. And Fermi won because for every single day he predicted that nothing really significant would happen. He missed the days that something important happened but the other guys didn't get those right either, and he was right more often than they were.

So, if we hadn't invaded, the best guess is he'd still be sitting in his camps in kurdistan, getting ready to do something. Looking for money, looking for men, looking for the chance to do something to make a name for himself so he could get significant support.

This assumes we didn't bomb him, as we would have no reason not to.

posted by: J Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



It is hard not to notice the tension between what Gen. Petraeus says must be done, what is plainly not being done, and what he has said in the past about how this all ends. The borders need to be sealed with Iraqi forces because there are not enough American forces. There never have been; whereas a modest demonstration (and perhaps a threat directed at Syria) might have sufficed 15 months ago to choke off the flow of non-Iraqi Arabs intent on mayhem, only a massive deployment will do the job (maybe) now. The rock has rolled all the way down the hill, and Petraeus gets to roll it back up by training Iraqi forces to do what the Pentagon chose not to do before.

So fire the guy at the head of the Pentagon, right? Not in this administration, as Dan well knows; no Secretary of Defense, not even McNamara, has been delegated as much authority in war or peace as Bush has given to Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld's departure would leave a gigantic vacuum in the center of the administration's war effort.

Look at this question another way. Can anyone imagine George W. Bush as Secretary of Defense in a Rumsfeld administration? I doubt it. Most of the actions in foreign and defense policy that have given Bush his much-valued image as a strong leader were in fact Rumsfeld's. This is for good and bad; Rumsfeld has gotten things done no one else would have, and has made mistakes no one else would have. Bush has mostly just been along for the ride.

I have wondered sometimes if we would have been better off after 9/11 if Rumsfeld actually were President. Many of our problems in Iraq, certainly, have come from his insistence on winning bureaucratic battles, keeping other departments from encroaching on the Pentagon's turf while appropriating theirs. Conceivably as President he would not have felt the need to do that. He might even have insisted on having, say, the State Department take the lead in Iraqi reconstruction planning, the better to keep his own Secretary of Defense in line.

Then again, a genuinely strong President who knew his own mind and spent as much time on his administration as he did on his campaign would never have suffered his Secretary of Defense to acquire the dominant position Rumsfeld has. There is no questioning Rumsfeld's energy and abilities; under a strong President able to curb his tendency to overreach he might have made historic contributions to American national security. It has been his fate to serve under weak Presidents, first the politically crippled Ford in the 1970s and now Bush, overall with unhappy results each time.

posted by: Zathras on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"Perhaps we should apologize for conducting (late in the war) a particularly horrifying variant of total war (years after the unprovoked attacks on London left tens of thousand Britons dead, but nevermind)."

Kelli, this is an irrelevant side issue, but I want to say that the german attacks on London were not unprovoked.

During the air war over britain, the germans were making some effective attacks that might soon leave them with full air superiority. Churchill managed an attack on Berlin, and the germans were provoked and responded in kind.

And that saved britain! The germans went from attacks that were effective, to attacks on London that killed a bunch of proles and had no tactical significance. So the british air defenses hung in there until the nazis gave up.

If Churchill hadn't provoked the germans into stupidly attacking London, there might have been a channel crossing and who knows where it would go from there. Maybe the germans would have been bogged down in taking britain and wouldn't have attacked the USSR any time soon. No britain to stage D-Day from. It could have been very bad.

posted by: J Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



"We've been hearing about the cycle of violence for decades. Doesnt it top out somewhere? Isnt there a finite level of anger one can have at the United States?"

Mmmmmh. Mark, you figure that we've already got them as mad as they can possibly get, so it doesn't matter how much more we do to get them mad?

Do you have some thought for an end to this war someday?

posted by: J Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Jim Bender wrote: "Someone "lost their nerve" when we were going to inevitably win in Fallusha, earlier this year. We lost six months and many casualties because of that."

I hear rumors that was Bush who lost his nerve. Maybe it was Cheney, or Rumsfeld? Somebody at Rumsfeld's level or higher.

I'm not sure they were wrong to do it, but let's be as clear as we can who gets the credit.

"Where we are allowed to fight, we smoke the enemy. Our people are so much better than the enemy, that our casualty rates are 10:1 or better."

Mmmm. 25 million iraqis. At 10:1 that would be 2.5 million americans. Too many. Tell you what, we can't very well nuke the place until after we pull out. Let's pull out and then play it by ear?

"We don't need the people that trashed South Viet Nam to win and trash Iraq and Afghanistan."

Iraq is pretty well trashed by now. We didn't even have to win to do it. I'm not clear whether we could rebuild better if we pull out first or not. Probably if we pull out we won't have the political will to rebuild. It's a mess any way you look at it.

posted by: J Thomas on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



You ask why Donald Rumsfeld still has a job?

What part of George W. Bush is still president don't you understand?

posted by: Eli Rabett on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Appalled Moderate,

I don't think the goals you mentioned -kill terrorists, establish security, hold elections or rebuild Iraq - are mutually exclusive. Holding elections are important to the long-term success of the Iraqi people, security is important for the elections to be effective and killing "terrorists" is important for the establishment of security.
As far as larger goals are concerned, I don't think any one takes priority over the other, - at least at the field level.
If your MOS (military occupational skill, aka:job) is that of an engineer or civil affairs then your job is to build Iraq through job-training, project management and the hiring of sub-contractors. If you are infantry, security and putting down insurgencies would be your objective.
I think it's safe to say that on a command level we are working on all three. But at the field level you are using your individual skills to acheive a much more narrow objective.

Marcus Lindroos:

My statement was never a pro-war argument. It was a refutation of a previous posters belief that the idea of supply and demand meeting was a fantasy.
Also, we certainly understand the fact that the number of bad guys is not finite, but nor is it infinite, it can be better understood as being 'elastic;' it can expand, but not infinitly.

I always get a chuckle out of this type of thinking: That the border of Iraq being porous = Rumsfeld is an idiot, terrorists are not finite = you are a dumb and pro-war or that the arab world is getting more angry at us = a lack of understanding of the dynamics of the middle east.
It is the acme of arrogance to image that the 10's of thousands of foreign policy analysts and advisors, think-tank employees, operational experts, intelligence operatives all armed with billions of dollars of operational budgets, billions more in high-speed equipment designed to cull high quality information, sophisticated modeling capabilities, and information far more perfect than ours will collectively slap there foreheads and proclaim: "D'oh,, I can't believe we didn't figure that U.S. troops in Iraq would make the arab world angry." or "border security!, we should have seen that one coming."
The decision that led us this far in Iraq may be wrong and we certainly shouldn't avoid being critical of them. However, the decision-making process that got us here are based on a rather sophisticated understanding of events; more sophisticated than most give credit for. It is imparative, for credabilities sake, that criticisms be just as sophisticated. We should avoid reactionary proclamations, knee-jerk rationalisms and condemnations of events that are one-dimensional and too easily derived at.
A Rueter's wire-release is not enough to base an opinion on. A percieved problem may be an asset. All information is imperfect, dynamic, and in a constant state of flux. If these are understood as axiomatic, then a legitimate opinion can be formed, but only after much work.

posted by: 1stMarineDivision on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]




1st Marine

....number of bad guys is not finite, but nor is it infinite, .....

huh?

Jeez no wonder you guys are screwing up so badly there...all US guys use this sort of logic in Iraq ?

posted by: nodoginthisfight on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



nodoginthisfight : In France invasion Germany had a couple of panzer divisions, later in war had dozens, 1944 was the year that germany produced more tanks, and airplanes and had more troops in the war, but they were already loosing.
Many diverse factors will make that they┬┤ll have or not a bigger pot to get men from. The most important is who they are perceiving that is the wining side.

An war is almost always won by attrition, the fact that there is a war made that Al-queda/RIslam got more combatents that otherwise were learning whahbi islam view or other things like electronics, chemical/radiologic, how to "play" with Sarin like that japanese cult etc etc...
They are wasting money buying Iraquis to fight the war, to colecting information or just to have a place to sleep.


Since it is strategicaly important for them they can block Iraqui elections expect them to make even a Tet offensive. Will USA fall for the same trick?

Wonder how politics had survived in IIworldWar, until Al-alamein british didnt have a big victory and that was in end of 1942.

P.S: i am puzzled by people that talk about heart and minds approach and at same time says that terrorists are being successful. What are their hearts and minds approach? i didnt noticed ...


posted by: lucklucky on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



> Probably true, but what about Kuwait or Saudi
> Arabia? What about simply overthrowing King Hussein
> in Jordan Iran style? What about financing or
> aiding Hamas and Hesbollah? What about Afghanistan?


OK, this is at least a marginally better pro-war argument. Unfortunately, it seems most insurgents are native Iraqis responding to the U.S. invasion of their homeland! Are they (in many cases) "evil people" who used to be Baath party officials, criminals or religious extremists? Probably. But I fail to see the "grave and gathering" threat these people would have represented to Western civilians such as you and me, if the U.S. had *not* invaded their country.

The "financing or aiding" terrorists argument is fairly weak since Saddam was a much smaller player in this game than Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and probably some other countries. If we look at the Saudis, it seems there are enough "bad guys" left who are killing other Saudis as well as Westerners. To my knowledge, there have been more terrorist attacks in "the land of the holy places" than there were before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Of course, the pro-war crowd had less honest reasons too. One argument never openly stated (AFAIK) by Bush Administration officials was to "set an example" by invading an "axis of evil" country that was relatively weak. Unlike Iraq, North Korea had WMDs while Iran has a bigger population as well as some difficult terrain. The other assumption (very naive, IMHO) is the overwhelming majority of Iraqis would embrace the Western concept of "freedom" and "liberty" as well as their American "liberators" if democracy were imposed on them at gunpoint. Without regard to Islamic traditions or nationalism too. Right now, it seems war proponents are hoping Iraq may, at best, a few years from now become another Pakistan.


> we're killing the brave ones. This war is
> fundamentally no different from any other at that
> level. There are x amount of motivated, trained,
> experienced, fit combatants possible. The more of
> them you kill, the more of the weaker minded you
> frighten off.


"Frighten off?" How do you "frighten off" somebody like Mohammed Atta, as long as he thinks he will go to heaven if he dies as a martyr? How are you going to kill them all, Mark? By nuking Fallujah or Baghdad perhaps?

> Did bombing Drezden produce more Nazis? We need
> to concentrate less on how our enemy is sapping
> our will and more on how we can sap theirs.


As others have pointed out, this analogy is flawed on many levels. Nazi Germany was a nation state -- not a loose collection of international organisations that exist more or less independently of state sponsors but feed off Muslim anger and resentment. Would you solve the Ulster problem by bombing Dublin too? Would the ETA capitulate tomorrow if we nuke San Sebastian or Bilbao, showing how "tough and determined" we are? Would the problem in Iraq be solved if the U.S. carpet-bombed all cities resisting the occupation, regardless of civilian casualties, damage to mosques etc..?

Hint: Vlad "the impaler" Putin is sort of pursuing this strategy in Chechnya right now. Sure seems to be working very well for him...


> Otoh, the more you coddle them, the more of the
> weaker types you encourgage.


Simplistic Shrub-speak again (=full-scale war or full-scale appeasement are the only alternatives). *Yes*, the "bad guys" must be killed/jailed but preferably in a low key manner that does not needlessly inflate anti-Western passions in the Arab world.

MARCU$

posted by: Marcus Lindroos on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Jim Bender:

> We are at the critical point when those who would
> follow John Kerry would "lose their nerve" and give
> up on a worthy effort.


How the hell do you know Kerry would "give up" on Iraq? AFAIK, he has suggested a four-year deadline for bringing the troops back but he has been adamant about staying the course.

Besides, if you believe Bob Novak, the current Administration is no better in this regard. Novak says all the senior advisers reportedly advocate a gradual withdrawal starting after the Iraqi elections. I.e. they will declare victory and go home.


> Have "our guys" made mistakes? Of course they
> have.


UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY.

Can you think of *any* groups of officials that have screwed things up as frequently as these guys have? George "Slam Dunk WMDs" Tenet; Paul "we'll be greeted as liberators" Wolfowitz; Don "we don't need half a million troops to pacify Iraq" Rumsfeld; Dick "Osama and Saddam were in cahoots" Cheney... And of course there is The Chimp himself: man of "certainty" and principle. The guy who changes his perception of the truth even it doesn't fit his preconceived Evangelical/Dixieconservative worldview.

Seriously folks, isn't it about time to hold these people ACCOUNTABLE for a change? So far, these idiots have managed to further divide America & NATO while uniting America's enemies. The former bit is especially hard to take since smart war leaders such as Churchill & Sharon at least try to make concessions on the domestic front, in order to reach a consensus regarding the war. Not exactly the Republican strategy in the 2002 elections is it?


MARCU$

posted by: Marcus Lindroos on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Marcus,

Republicans only beleive in acccountability for the poor. The rich and super-priveleged are obviously above the law and any silly notion of being held responsible. This is the republican party after all.

Every reasonable person agrees Iraq is a freaking mess. Unless Tony Blair, Hagel, Roberts, and everyone else really all hate America too. Seriously, the cognitive-disonance for the wingnuts must be approaching critical mass. I'm waiting for their heads to implode -- any day now, any day now...

posted by: Jor on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



The violence in Iraq is helping support Bush's argument that there's no violence in Iraq. How? Because the more threatened the reporters feel, the less they want to get out there and report on the violence. So they just sit in their fortified hotels and phone in their stories.

This is a wonderful strategy for winning an election, but something tells me somebody's gonna have to pay for it down the road.

posted by: apostrophilosopher on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



People,

We invaded Iraq to give the US a permanent basing location in the ME. Saudi wanted us out to appease the terrorists there. AQ wanted us out of Saudi as well. With Iraq, and Afganistan, and the Caspian Alliance, we now completely surround the real threat IRAN. This was all about stragetic manuvers in the War on Terror.

posted by: Willy on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



'We invaded Iraq to give the US a permanent basing location in the ME. Saudi wanted us out to appease the terrorists there. AQ wanted us out of Saudi as well.'

So what was wrong with the Emirates, Dubai, Oman etc. ? We have basing locations in the ME. It strikes me that there are easier ways (far easier and cheaper) to get bases.


' With Iraq, and Afganistan, and the Caspian Alliance, we now completely surround the real threat IRAN. This was all about stragetic manuvers in the War on Terror.'

A strategic manuever that has cost us probably 250 billion dollars, 1000+ American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, reduced out prestige in the world. What army are we going to invade Iran with, when 140K troops are tied down in Iraq ?


posted by: Jon on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



If they are native Iraquis why they kill(on propose) many more Iraquis than americans? Seems to me the insurgents dont care at all about Irak.

posted by: lucklucky on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



gw,
With respect (and belatedly, again), you seem to be missing MY point. Had Dresden never been firebombed, had exactly the appropriate (whatever that means) amount of violence been applied to the Germans at all times in the Second World War, do you somehow imagine there would be no hard feelings today?

For two generations the majority of Germans coped by hating themselves (or at least their parents/grandparents). But that got old, apparently, so now they hate us. We beat them (sorry, "liberated" them) and then had the gall to rebuild their country.

I know a guy who works for a German company. Just got back from a business trip there. In one meeting with his boss (in childhood, a member of the Hitler Youth) the possibility of moving a plant to Poland came up. The boss said no, Poles are not very good workers, unreliable, etc. And besides, he says, the country is now run by Jews. Excuse me? says my friend. Yes, his boss continues, some of the Jews who escaped before the war (the "rich Jews") have returned and are now "in charge" there.

I repeat, Dresden is an excuse.

posted by: Kelli on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



1st Marine, most of the US Government not actively engaged in Bush's re-election campaign is downbeat on the situation in Iraq. Maybe that's because the only example of the flypaper strategy I can think of is Dien Bien Phu, and it didn't work out very well. Yuo continue to think we win by killing terrorists in Iraq. Not really. If that makes more terrorists in Morocco, or a Paris banlieu, we lose. And the choice isn't Fallujah or Florida. We're not talking about pinning down a large conventional force on a front; as terrorist recruitment booms (and our intel thinks it is), they can plan asymmetrical attacks in both Fallujah and Florida.

In any event, Gen. Abizaid doesn't seem to think that the foreign fighters are significant. "Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, estimated that the number of foreign fighters in Iraq was below 1,000." That would mean that there's more than one American dead for each foreign fighter alive.

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



So many great and bizarre posts.

"Don't you see how morally dubious it is to turn a country into a battleground between yourself and third parties?" This is the essence of the problem in Iraq. It demostrates to Iraqis, even the ones who are especially grateful to be free of Saddam, that the US does not have the well-being of the Iraqis as their first priority. Due to our "liberating" presence there, all the indigenous groups with pent up frustrations came roaring out into the streets, and mixed with various jihadists from other countries. The result is that we have turned Iraq into a mass killing zone.

"Look, we're killing the brave ones." No. I think we're killing the dumb ones. Or the bored ones. As someone stated earlier, you cannot put the people following Zarqawi (Unity and something?Monotheism and ???) in the same league as bin Laden and al Queda. Zarqawi is a semi-literate Jordanian of poor Bedouin parentage, whom acquantainces from a Jordanian jail describe as a thug with some personal magnetism. Bin Laden is the wealthy son of one of the richest families in the world. Zarqawi attracts jihadists armed with a rifle and a Koran. Bin Laden attracts jihadists with computer skills, engineering degrees, legal passports and friends in western countries.

Mr. Bender thinks that someone "lost their nerve" regarding the insurgency in Falluja. Yeah. His name is George Bush. First, I think you have to understand a bit about the history of Fallujah going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Think Hatfields and McCoys. Think Mafia dominated Sicily. Even Saddam didn't screw with Fallujah. My understanding is that when the marines were relieving the army there, they were more aware of the history and knew that a strong arm approach wasn't the way to go. I don't believe that there were that many foreign jihadists there at this point as the Fallujans resented any outside influence. Then we had the 4 mercenaries who rode right into Main Street. They didn't let the military know they were going there. They weren't following precedent by travelling within a larger convoy. And they surely weren't on any approved travelling route. They just screwed up and paid a horrible price for it (killed and hung from the bridge.) It was when Bush saw the pictures of the men hanging from the bridge that he decided we had to go in and kick butt as revenge. And then Marines had to go in, which was stupid. Then someone finally filled the president in on how such an impulsive decision wasn't in keeping with the overall strategy. And then the marines had to pull out and large numbers of foreign jihadists started pouring in.

"Many of our problems in Iraq, certainly, have come from his insistence on winning bureaucratic battles, keeping other departments from encroaching on the Pentagon's turf while appropriating theirs." "He might even have insisted on having, say, the State Department take the lead in Iraqi reconstruction planning....". Yes. There are a number of problems resulting from using soldiers to administer humanitarian assistance and to assist in democracy creation. One is that it undermines the safety of NGOs and other relief groups because the boundaries are blurred. Doctor's Without Borders has just pulled out of Afghanistan after operating there for over 30 years because of the way the US has blurred these traditional distinctions. Another problem is that there are fewer troops to perform duties that only the military can do. A military blogger writes about the schools, bridges, etc., that his unit helps to build, yet the security is the Green Zone is rapidly deteriorating to the point where a military commander stated that he doesn't have the personnel to guarantee safety anymore. And it must be kind of strange to listen to the benefits of voting and democracy being described to you by a person armed to the teeth. A person who may have to go out on patrol after the meeting and shoot up your neighbors.

I think maybe the worst offense of the Bush admin was the deliberate attempt to connect 9/11 and Iraq in people's minds. The mindset of soldier, and how they view the Iraqis, and treat the Iraqis, is going to vary quite a bit depending on whether they believe they are liberating an innocent people from a mad dictator, or taking revenge for 9/11.

posted by: altec on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



Well you have to deny to terrorists the ability to choose the time and place to attack isnt it? If they are able to choose the casualities are by a magnitude worst.
So you have to ask them for combat. How you make that challenge to them?
The reason that there is much less complex attacks over the world than the one at 911 level, (i was expecting at least 1-2 every year and 5-10 of Madrid type) is that they are wasting their resources in Irak.

Using the gauge many are using here in 2nd world war there wasnt any governement that would have lasted more than a month.

My gauges:

1-Big attack in USA other than with a car/truk(which is too easy, iam surprised it didnt happened yet btw)

2-Some Arab country falling to fundamentalists (Saudis), depends also what kind of answer US would have to that.

As a sad comparison about levels of insurgency 40 police members die monthly in Brazil, US in Iraq is 50.

posted by: lucklucky on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



'The reason that there is much less complex attacks over the world than the one at 911 level, (i was expecting at least 1-2 every year and 5-10 of Madrid type) is that they are wasting their resources in Irak'

Nonsense. In fact, the number of terrorist attacks all over the world has gone UP since 9/11. The reason there are fewer attacks such as 9/11 is that goverments are more alert. Iraq has nothing to do with it.

posted by: ring on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



You are misunderstanding me. I didnt say there were less attacks. I said the capabilities aquired that permited to make 911 werent put to use again. In almost all conflits the side that attacks first usually have an advantage for a period where it can use it's full capabilities.

There was a "crescendo" from WTC attack of 93 , to African embassies, USS Cole, that stopped after 911, why? For a couple of reasons:

1-No more so safe bases for training, planning.

2-Some operational commanders were killed

3-Insecurity prevents living commanders to reunite

4-Islamic terrorists are reacting than attacking due to Irak.

And now that you talk about it, how many terrorists attacks against USA interests happened after 911? I only remember Saudi Arabia nothing more... so not more attacks.

posted by: lucklucky on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]



'There was a "crescendo" from WTC attack of 93 , to African embassies, USS Cole, that stopped after 911, why? For a couple of reasons:

WTC was 93, the African embassies was 98, 9/11 was 2001. Not exactly a crescendo.

'-Islamic terrorists are reacting than attacking due to Irak. '

??? Have there been less or more attacks after the invasion of Iraq ? More.

'And now that you talk about it, how many terrorists attacks against USA interests happened after 911? I only remember Saudi Arabia nothing more... so not more attacks.'

Lots of terrorist attacks in Iraq (which had not had terorrist attacks before the invasion). In Turkey, in Indonesia, in Kenya, in Spain.

posted by: ring on 09.27.04 at 01:23 AM [permalink]






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