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Monday, November 13, 2006


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at this point, the "plan" has to be how to limit further damage to the US and Iraq.

But regardless of the "plan" and how good it might be, there remains the problem of its execution. We still have that cretin in the White House running things -- and all indications (renominating Bolton, trying to rush through the warrantless wiretaps and horrible "energy" bill in the lame duck congress) are that the elections haven't provided with with the necessary "come to Jesus" moment that he needs to change.

So, regardless of the plan, it going to be screwed up by Bush, and things will only get worse.


"Bring in the mavericks and heretics from Spookworld, the State Department, the armed forces and both parties."


Gen. Tony Zinni
The Lost Year in Iraq
Peter W. Galbraith
Peter W. Galbraith
Zaid Al-Ali


Speak of the devil:

The Skinny

While talk of withdrawal from Iraq is all the rage, some very well-respected military analysts – including former CENTCOM commander Gen. Anthony Zinni, and retired Army Major Gen. John Batiste, are calling an immediate withdrawal not such a swell idea, The New York Times reports on its front page.
More mavericks:

Deadline for Troop Withdrawal Ruled Out (Jan. 30, 2005)

Pentagon officials have disclosed few details about the new training plan, which is being developed by the two top commanders in the region, Gens. John P. Abizaid and George W. Casey Jr. It was reviewed this month by retired Gen. Gary E. Luck at the request of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Several officials familiar with it said the plan will involve not only training more Iraqi forces but also assigning U.S. officers to work directly with Iraqi soldiers and police officers in the field to develop stronger leadership. The plan also will seek to fill senior positions at the Iraqi ministries of defense and interior and strengthen connections between the ministries and Iraqi forces in the field, officials said.

By the spring, U.S. commanders hope to have Iraqi forces begin to take the lead in combat operations in some areas. Such a shift will need to be coordinated closely with Iraqi authorities to avoid the kind of premature handovers that U.S. officials say in retrospect occurred in cities such as Fallujah and Samarra, which in recent months have required U.S. combat offensives to reimpose control. The idea appears in keeping with the concept voiced publicly last week by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in an interview with the Financial Times.
First, if the on-the-ground U.S. military leadership is allowed to begin a comprehensive training of Iraqi security and military forces, American troops can begin coming home faster. Now the Pentagon should shift from fighting the insurgencies to a comprehensive training of Iraqi forces as recommended by retired General Gary Luck, who recently returned from a Pentagon ordered open-ended review of our operations in Iraq.
Committee on Armed Services: Committee met in closed session to receive a briefing regarding assessment of Iraqi Security Forces from General Gary E. Luck, USA (Ret.), Peter W. Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno, USA, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Lieutenant General Walter L. Sharp, USA, Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, The Joint Staff.


Not all mavericks and heretics will agree -- but consensus isn't the point. Informed decision-making is.

Of course, speaking to Paul's point, a broken decision-making process, no matter how deliberative, is not likely to improve (See Cass Sunstein's excellent new book Infotopia). But improving outcomes without considering better information sources is practically impossible, so we need to start by hearing those who've been silenced. One hopes this is the true focus of the bipartisan Iraq study group.

It's also worth considering the possibility that certain "failed" policies were not themselves hopeless -- but that they failed because they were aligned with dishonest or incompetent intentions. For example: How might our attempts at empowering the Iraqi security forces be viewed if the United States were privately demonstrating its willingness to dismantle some of the dozen or more "enduring bases" it has constructed in the country? How would such a maneuver change the relationships between the parties in Iraq?

My point is not that it would -- rather, it's that I'm in no position to judge, and if it fell to average bloggers to solve this problem, we could be assured of a messy-at-best outcome. I want the smart people working on this, and I want leadership that gives them meaningful problems to solve.


I was under the impression that the coalition had already turned over dozens of bases to the Iraqi military and police. That construction at those bases improved security and infrastructure for the Iraqi units.

Am I wrong?

My understanding was coalition forces were being consolidated at four "enduring bases" in Iraq: Balad, al-Asad, Tallil and al-Qayyarah.

Am I wrong?

This was being done in combination with embedding US advisors/small units with Iraqi units.

Am I wrong?

How is this an example of "'failed' policies" aligned with dishonest or incompetent intentions?

I can certainly understand that we're not in a position to judge if we're not in a position to know the underlying facts - "ground truth" - in Iraq.

Would you consider any of the people named in my comment above "the smart people?"


BTW: just call me Walter ...



I think I'm just about always ready to concede that I'm more likely to be wrong on this subject than you are, Tim. To carry on our Big Lebowski theme here, when it comes to Iraq, I'm pretty much the Dude wandering around in L.A. I don't have an answer, I don't even know the best information sources, and I'm not likely to invest the time right now that it would take for me to be confident in my opinions.

Which is, of course, our social contract. People who don't have specific knowledge hire and fire (allegedly) the government based on performance. But if the public tries to micromanage Iraq policy, it will not end well. Which is why, right now, I'd settle for signals that we're listening to the right people.

Ironically, you're one of the people that I'll be listening to for those signals in the coming months. And so is Paul.


Check out what Robert Baer has to say. I'm not sure there is a plan to fix Iraq at this point.

The "What do kidnappings have to say about Iraq" video.




re: social contract

I think that's what I found so educational these past two years learning about journalism and rhetoric.

Especially about Lippman and Dewey.

My wife asks our girls if they "have their ears on" when she wants them to pay attention.

I think we also want to know that our elected reps have their "ears on," especially when it comes to Iraq.


The Long War (mp3)

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