Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

Cause for Alarm?

March 27, 2010

Tony Soprano

Iyad Allawi

Patterns of Deception

April 30, 2009

During the run up to the Iraq invasion, the Bush Administration didn’t like what it was hearing from the professionals in the intelligence community so they found people that would tell them that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda and that Iraq had a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. These guys got their very own “Strategic Support Branch” within the Pentagon.

The State Department was reluctant to sign on to all of the Bush Administration’s wacky ideas about things, so the Bushies created a State Department within the Pentagon that, as the New York times put it:

“… Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, set up their own State Department within the Defense Department, designing a more grandiose and aggressive foreign policy that can be summarized: “We’re No. 1. We like it that way. And we’re going to keep it that way.”

This pattern continued when they didn’t like what they heard about constitutional and international law and torture, so they found people such as John Yoo and Jay Bybee who would crank out legal briefs that said what they wanted to hear.

At any time in any place, there are always enough people to be found to pull off whatever dirty work that needs to be done.

U.S. Hospital Ship Still Can’t Find Iraq War

June 7, 2008

USNS Mercy

The Military Sealift Command USNS Mercy transits the western Pacific Ocean, May 27, 2008, in support of Pacific Partnership 2008, a humanitarian deployment to the Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia.

The last we heard, was that USNS Mercy’s sister ship, USNS Comfort, was roaming around Honduras and Central America instead of the Mideast.

Doesn’t it seem as if there might be folks both military and civilian to look after in the area of… say, Iraq?

Could We Please Keep Our Eye On the Ball?

September 22, 2007

Tom Tomorrow pretty much nails it (Warning: Reading required) all here.

Decorations & Awards, Two Generals, Two Eras

September 16, 2007

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General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower with decorations and awards after leading the allied forces in Europe to victory during World War II

David_h

General David Patraeus with decorations and awards as commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq for about nine months with no victory in sight

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Surge Gives Iraqi Goverment Breathing Room to Take Vacations

July 14, 2007

The White House report released today, on how far Iraq has progressed toward 18 political and military benchmarks, is a sham.

Iraqi_parl

Iraqi Parliament Ministers Demonstrate Progress in

Synchronized Water Skiing

Two months Vacation for the Iraqi Parliament. The President must be right, we’ve given them breathing room and they’re demonstrating amazing progress.

You have to ask yourself – what would Ron Paul do?

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Accepting Realities in Iraq

May 19, 2007

Even President Bush should be able to read this twelve page ‘Briefing Paper’ (pdf) on Iraq by Dr. Gareth Stansfield, Chatham House and University of Exeter.

Some of the highlights are:

  • The social fabric of Iraq has been torn apart.
  • There is not ‘one’ civil war, nor ‘one’ insurgency. but several civil wars and insurgencies between different communities and organizations; there is also a range of actors seeking to undermine, overthrow or take control of the Iraqi government.
  • Iraqi nationalisms exist, but one distinct ‘Iraqi’ nationalism does not.  Iraq has fractured into regions dominated by sectarian, ethnic, or tribal political groupings that have gained further strength from their control of informal local economies.
  • Al-Qaeda has a very real presence in Iraq that has spread to the major cities of the centre and north of the country, including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul.  Although Al-Qaeda’s position is challenged by local actors, it is a mistake to exaggerate the ability of tribal groups and other insurgents to stop the momentum building behind its operations in Iraq.
  • Regional powers have a greater capacity than either the US or the UK to influence events in Iraq. This arises from a historical legacy of social interaction and religious association that exists irrespective of modern international state boundaries.
  • The Iraq government is not able to exert authority evenly or effectively over the country.  Across huge swathes of territory, it is largely irrelevant in terms of ordering social, economic, and political life.  At best, it is merely on of several ‘state-like-actors’ that now exist in Iraq.
  • Security in Iraq cannot be ‘normalized’ in a matter of months but instead should be considered within a time frame of many years.  If the Multinational Force is withdrawn, Iraq’s nascent security services would not be able to cope with the current levels of insecurity.

This analysis of the situation in Iraq demonstrates just how totally wrong the Bush administration has been about how things would go in Iraq after the fall of Saddam’s regime.  It shows how the social control mechanisms in  Iraq have basically been reset back to a default of regional tribalism due to our intervention.

Obviously, the first step in the road to a solution is to identify the players and what each of these players want as an outcome.  If we continue along the path of simple minded platitudes such as, ‘They hate us for our freedoms,’ or ‘If we don’t fight them over there, they’ll follow us home’ we’re not going to even begin to solve the issues, and will most certainly make things worse.

The unruly children of the Bush administration have unleashed a huge can of worms in the region and now we need some adult leaders to clean up the mess.

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A Lt. Colonel Speaks Out

May 13, 2007
    “For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq’s grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war. These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America’s general officer corps. America’s generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America’s generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.” (read more here)

This thoughtful essay by Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling appears in the Armed Forces Journal. Lt. Colonel Yingling is not some sort of armchair warrior, he is deputy commander, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He has served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Operation Desert Storm. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago.

We can only hope that more reality based military officers will speak out about this complete failure. Those who have spoken out so far, seem to have done so primarily out of concern for what is happening to the U.S. Army as an institution. They seem to be less concerned about the issue of the civilian leadership ordering them into combat under false pretenses.

It’s ironic that historically, we have been fearful of a large standing army that could threaten our democratic system, but we never seemed to have thought about how our democratic system could be threatened by a civilian coup essentially taking over our military establishment with compliant, bureaucratic general officers going along to get along.

Unfortunately, in any society at any time, there are always enough people around to do any dirty work that needs to be done.

All other arguments – the comparisons to Vietnam, and other military adventures in the region, the criticisms of the “management,”, planning, rebuilding, training, and all the rest are really not important. The primary issue is that we never should have started down this road in the first place.

The Urge to Surge

February 16, 2007

Urgetosurge

How’s that Surge Going?

The 700 Man Iraqi Army

October 1, 2005

They’ve really outdone themselves this time.

This is going to make the $100 million in wasted ice for hurricane Katrina victims look like chump change.

After several years and some 2 billion dollars, we have exactly 700 trained troops to show for our efforts.

There are about 194,000 US-trained Iraqi forces, including police,
soldiers, and border patrol, according to Pentagon figures.

Here, Iraqi troops are being trained in combat pallet loading.

Palletliers_1

And were disqualified!

If these guys have trouble loading boxes, what does that say about their ability in a combat situation?

But wait, we now find that out of that 194,000, there are really only about 700 who are considered to be combat ready.

That’s right, a battalion is made up of about 700 men.

Some may say 725, some may say 750, but what percent of 194,000 is 750?

And that 194,000? In the past, some units have a 50% AWOL rate.

Then, the State Department has slightly different figures. Note that their figures don’t include AWOL rates. Wonder exactly what those rates might be?

Chart

Could this have something to do with Rummy’s evasive answers?

Bush says he’s pleased with our progress….

At least 1 billion dollars that was supposed to equip and train the new Iraqi army has gone missing. Some of the armored cars purchased have been defective, some of the helicopters purchased from Poland have had so many hours on them that they should have been scrapped decades ago, some of the AK-47’s turned out to be Egyptian copies that are worth only a fraction of what was paid for them, and so it goes.

It’s time for someone to get another medal.