ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Now the Bad News - Iraq - The Dog that Caught the Car

Last night I was dealing with one of my periodic insomnia attacks. What does one do in such circumstances? Turn on C-Span of course. I knew I would soon be asleep when I saw the face of Congressman Tom Lantos (D-Ca) chairing a committee meeting. Surely I would be asleep in mere minutes.

Two hours later my head was buzzing. It was an incredibly informative viewing. I was surprised to say the least.

There were three witnesses. One was General Batiste, former commander the the 1st ID in Iraq, and the other two were an academic, Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a fellow from AEI, Frederick Kagan. This was the most informed and balanced discussion of our Iraq experience I have heard.

Cordesman caught my attention when he described Rumsfeld as one of the two worst Secretaries of Defense in U.S. history, the other being McNamara of Vietnam fame. The other two witnesses pretty well agreed with that opinion. I was awake for the duration.

Given what has happened in the four plus years since the invasion, that evaluation is pretty hard to argue with.

This is not the conventional looney crap you hear from the left. These men are all supporters of having done something in the Mideast to change things radically, including serious military action. Their problem was with the planning and subsequent execution of the war.

In a word, the administration was naive in the runup to the war. They had no idea of how the Iraqis would react, or worse, did not care. They were unwilling to deal with the ethnic realities. They made common cause with vengeful Shiites who have become a major proble, They are shocked when those same Shiites evidence no interest in binding up wounds with the Sunis and stall the necessary reforms that would facilitate that end. They had no idea of what they were going to do once Sadam was gone. The thinking stopped abruptly with the pulling down of Sadam's statue.

In short, what was the dog going to do when he caught the car?

All conceded that that has been changing slowly, but the obvious question remains, is it too late?

Our looney friends on the Left thought it was too late and that we had lost before the idea even occurred to Dick Cheney et al to invade Iraq. That's their nature. I can ignore them with ease.

But that does not mean I have to ignore the errors that have been made. It is not treasonous to look at what went wrong so that we can either fix the problem or not repeat the mistakes in the future.

Is it too late to fix the problems in Iraq?

My gut says yes. America's political endurance for this war has been exhausted. In September or shortly thereafter I think congress is going to pull the plug. I think that is a terrible idea, but I also think that is what is going to happen.

What will be left behind in Iraq?

I do not know, but I can not believe it is going to be anything good.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Comments (8)
St Wendeler said...

John - I do think it's important to not forget the crappy job that the State Dept did on Iraq (see L. Paul Bremer) and the CIA back-stabbing which has, since Jan 20, 2001, to undermine the Bush presidency.

The bureaucracy runs the government and when people who want to impose change on the bureaucracy come into power, they are often resisted successfully. Rumsfeld correctly moved our military away from cold war systems like the Crusader (which is an idiotic military program) and towards a more mobile force. He was the SecDef who won two wars in the middle east which have historically been quagmires. As StupidCountry even pointed out, the military operations (aka WAR) is over - it's the occupation which the government botched. (Incidentally, this bit of reality is why Bush said was "Mission Accomplished.") The occupation was a mess and we're about 3 years behind where we should be.

And the other critical mistake in the occupation is that Bush was and is utterly incapable of preparing the American people for the length of the occupation. He referred to a long war, a long struggle, etc, etc. And his words are often masked by MSM coverage...

but, in the end it was his responsibility to prepare the American people for the reality that what is required in Iraq is what was required in Germany after WWII. A Marshall Plan with a significant military presence for decades. And, as I've pointed out, we still have a significant military presence in that country today.

He alluded to these things... sometimes in lofty rhetoric. But he's best when he's pointed and direct.

Monterey John said...

That is a lot of subject matter there, Saint :)

It is cleato me that the people who thought this up did not think it through. Apparently they did get good advice from State and CIA which they chose to ignore. Given the WMD fiasco, one can not totally blame the adminstration for that. However, the local Iraqi political situation was ignored at the expense of much grief.

Would we have gone into the war had that intelligence been seriously considered? Hell, I don't know. For sure the war plan would have been immensely different had they done so.

Military presence in Germany???That was not there to deal with the Germans. It was there to keep the Soviets in check. Today it is simply a staging point.

The president could not have explained what the occupation was going to look like or how long it was going to last. It is pretty clear now that he did not know. I am not sure he does now.

If the war is "over," the close Guantanamo folks have a valid argument. If there is no war, there can be no war prisoners. I'm not sure I buy that, but it is worth examining.

Anonymous said...

It is not treasonous to look at what went wrong so that we can either fix the problem or not repeat the mistakes in the future.

You have rational doubts. What about that even hints at "treason"? Why offer excuses for it? Where in you does that instinct come from?

Monterey John said...

SC, believe it or not, there are some people on my side of the aisle that are as irrational as some folks on your side. Any objective examination of the facts is regarded as "going wobly" or worse. So, to answer your question, it does not come from inside me, it comes from "out there," sometime WAY out there.

If you did not know already, I thought this whole war was a mistake from day 1. I was afraid we would be getting into exactly what it turns out we did get involved in.

Well, mistakes are made in war, this one being no exception. Having said that, the mistakes in this war were writ large. I fear for the consequences.

St Wendeler said...

Military presence in Germany???That was not there to deal with the Germans. It was there to keep the Soviets in check. Today it is simply a staging point

1 - A military presence in Iraq is similar to the post-war presence in Germany. But, instead of the Reds, it's the Iranians and other rogue states.

2 - Yes, Germany is a staging point. But, at some point we have got to end our presence there as Germany is no longer the center of a geopolitical struggle. Wouldn't it be better to have a staging point in the Middle East than in central Europe?

If the war is "over," the close Guantanamo folks have a valid argument. If there is no war, there can be no war prisoners. I'm not sure I buy that, but it is worth examining.

Just because military operations are over in Germany does not mean that you release Japanese prisoners.

While Saddam's regime certainly capitulated, that doesn't mean that the we've got a signed, unconditional surrender document from AlQaeda or other Islamofascists.

I too fear about the fate of our efforts in Iraq. Leaving Iraq will be a Lose-Lose-Lose prospect. The only people who might "win" would be the Dems and the isolationist Leftist. But their triumph would be short-lived, as we would likely have to return to the region or wait for the attack here at home.

I don't dispute that the post-combat operations were idiotic. But, to leave now while we are in the middle of implementing a new strategy and having some successes would be disastrous.

Sam Freedom said...

I happened to see that, too. I've learned lately that CSPAN has some pretty interesting stuff on it but this was a rather amazing session with 3 very knowledgeable non-partisan (seemingly) people.

I think there IS a chance for things to work out but it's going to take a lot longer than the loony left has been calling for. The left just keeps crying "get the troops home" because they have no gameplan period. But a REAL gameplan would take a long time but it would work.

The question is, during that time, how prepared would we be for the rise of China and any other challenges? But the most pressing problem now is how will we ever be trusted again or ever be able to deter Iran from it's path towards war with Israel as proclaimed in its call for her annihilation?

We need to get this right and get it done. I think the surge should be given a chance.

Sam Freedom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monterey John said...

Sam I could not agree more.