Tag Archive 'Iraq'

Implications of the Pletka Purge

Roland picks up an interesting piece by Jacob Heilbrunn for the National Interest, describing an ongoing purge of neoconservative intellectuals from the American Enterprise Institute, allegedly instigated by Vice President Danielle Pletka. So far Michael Ledeen and Reuel Marc Gerecht are gone, with Joshua Muravchik soon leaving. Others are said to be soon in following.

This could signal the reemergence of an old conflict over machtpolitik and just war doctrine, which used to exist in Republican security policy circles (ie, coercion-for-values vs. coercion-for-interests). If Pletka is indeed purging with intent, we may even expect AEI to shift its attitude toward the Middle East, Asia and Africa, given how much more amenable authoritarian regimes tend to be to interest pressure.

And the idealism of the AEI departed is considerable. Gerecht for instance wrote a fascinating but bizarre book I read in the late 1990s under the pen name Edward Shirley, in which he smuggled himself into Iran in the trunk of a car, essentially for the romance of it.


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Stock and Awe in Baghdad

The Markets have spoken, the best place to invest in the world is…Iraq!

Now it’s stock and awe in Baghdad!

As the Dow plummeted nearly 700 points yesterday to fall well below the 9,000 mark, the Iraqi stock exchange - where this broker was merrily keeping up with her booming business - was flourishing, buoyed by four-year lows in violence and hopes of a reconstruction windfall.

Last month, Iraq’s general index went up nearly 40 percent, about the same percentage the Dow dropped over the past year. The jovial trading-floor mood is reminiscent of Wall Street’s bygone ‘greed is good’ era of the 1980s.

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Obama and the Fate of Criticism

Tattered Hope, Barack Obama posters
“Tattered Hope” by Nathan Rupert

Jason at postpolitical and I often get into testy email arguments about Barack Obama’s alleged “arrogance.” He is quite Greek in the sense that he thinks hubris is the fatal flaw at the heart of all political downfalls. I don’t entirely agree with that, nor with his contention that Obama represents an emblematic example of arrogant leadership. At least no more so than any other politician.

On this matter Jason is of course much more in line with majority opinion on the right than myself. Many conservative bloggers have argued for Obama’s arrogance for so long, it once was merely a kind of premonition.


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Deaths in Chicago

About the same number of gun deaths in Chicago, over the summer, as US deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder why the media focuses on US deaths abroad but ignores the violence to US citizens here at home.

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Declinism as Exceptionalism

Francis Fukuyama argues in the Financial Times that the United States should have traded European missile defense and/or Kosovar independence in order to pacify a resurgent Russia. This strange proposal of strategic charity work for the Kremlin, is animated by his belief in an inevitable diminution of American moral authority by course of the Iraq War, and alleged American provocations of Russia which have in his view, inaugurated a decline of American global power.

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The Captives of Years

On Monday the United States officially returned all security duties for Anbar province to Iraqi police and military. The collapse of the Sunni insurgency there now appears to be almost total, with attacks having declined 90% from only two years ago.

The progress is perhaps best illustrated by this dramatic chart from the New York Times:

(NYT via BlogsforVictory)

Is 2006, 1968? The year the antiwar movement stopped paying attention to developments on the ground in the war, as Creighton Abrams’ Vietnamization strategy or Petraeus’ “Iraqification” approach later worked so spectacularly well? With their continued opposition to ongoing stabilization efforts, it certainly seems like a great many in the antiwar left are still captives of that dramatic and pivotal year.

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Blog Graphics Retrospective

I was searching for an image on my backup drive today and came across a cache of header graphics I’d thrown together for posts over the years. The diversity of subjects was kind of interesting as a gallery. Here’s a few rather random selections:

The HIV Epidemic:
The HIV Epidemic


Slobodan Milosevic:
slobodan milosevic

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US Out by 2011?

To celebrate the news that the u.S. has possibly negotiated a full withdrawal from Iraq by 2011, here is Kids in the Hall’s Buddy Cole on his romance in Baghdad.

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Iraqi Army Upgrades

Iraq is buying 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks, along with wide range of other conventional hardware, as it prepares to shift its focus from internal security to defending the borders in a very hostile neighborhood. Iran, in case you’re wondering, can field approximately 1600 tanks, but mostly of the Soviet iron heap variety that the M1 annihilated in the Gulf War.

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Choosing Sides on South Ossetia

After an ambiguous initial reaction, the State Department appears to have realized that despite whatever Russia contends, it is physically impossible for Georgia to invade its own country:

“We call on Russia to cease attacks on Georgia by aircraft and missiles, respect Georgia’s territorial integrity, and withdraw its ground combat forces from Georgian soil,” she said.

But whose side are we really on?

“We have been appreciative of the American efforts to pacify the hawks in Tbilisi,” [Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov] said. “Apparently these efforts have not succeeded. Quite a number of officials in Washington were really shocked when all this happened.”

Perhaps someone should remind the Bush administration of the moral dimension of Georgia’s best troops being in Iraq, assisting her ally the United States without complaint. One would think that should count for something when Georgia could use some assistance herself.

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The Shift to the Center

It seems a sociopolitical threshold of some kind has been passed in Iraq, as the full range of separatist groups are now seeking power and legitimacy through representation in the central government, rather than in armed conflict.

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Swordsmen into Social Workers

It seems Muqtada al-Sadr is getting out of the mayhem & militia business in favor of social services. Not strictly as a Hamas style prop for publicity and popularity either. Iraq may well become that strangest of political landscapes where bad ideas went in, only to come out transformed into benefits. Perhaps that’s the transformative power of participatory democracy actually.

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Shorter Deployment Duration Announced

Among other great news from Iraq. Victory is a good exit strategy.

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Chuck Hagel wants to change the subject-Updated

From The Huffington Post, where this kind of BS is applauded:

“Quit talking about, ‘Did the surge work or not work,’ or, ‘Did you vote for this or support this,’” Hagel said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.

“Get out of that. We’re done with that. How are we going to project forward?” the Nebraska senator said. “What are we going to do for the next four years to protect the interest of America and our allies and restructure a new order in the world. … That’s what America needs to hear from these two candidates. And that’s where I am.”

How cute. Take a nice piece of advice, concentrate on what comes next, and rob that discussion of all context. How are we supposed to judge who is best fit to move on to the next steps without some understanding of how people have judged things in the past? Especially something so recent and directly on point.

It isn’t that Hagel and Obama don’t have a legitimate, if wrongheaded in my view, defense. Stupid policy choices work out all the time. That doesn’t make them wise. If you jump off a bridge and a truck full of hay just happens to come by and break the fall, it hardly confirms ones good judgment. (more…)

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From Galula, to Anbar and the Surge

In the ongoing discussion of who has done a better job of describing the time line around the surge, I certainly recommend McQ’s discussion.

The Minuteman however has a couple of key points to make on this issue as well:

But if McCain has the timing wrong, what about Obama? How could the US have failed to anticipate a Sunni uprising that was already occuring?

In fact, President Bush cited the Anbar uprising in his Jan 2007 speech announcing the surge:

As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists’ plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq’s democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.

Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America’s men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan — and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

Of course that is correct, and as I have been arguing long before this dustup (in fact I had many posts pointing this out over a year ago) the only reason many people didn’t “anticipate” the awakening is because they were busy denying it was even happening in Anbar up until the Fall of 2007.

Some of us were discussing it in late 2006, and linking it to the surge before the surge officially began (As a side note, I am fond of that post, because it treated me to the odd sensation of having a post used as the basis for a segment on David Galula by Rush Limbaugh. Strange bedfellows.)

This revisionism is tiresome. The campaign in Anbar was a precursor to what was done on a larger scale once the surge was put in place. As the post of mine points out, what happened in Anbar was exactly the kind of thing that COIN is designed to achieve. It is true (and because David Kilcullen and others admitted it, it is used in a misleading manner) they didn’t foresee the awakening in its specifics.

That is the point though, to create an environment in which things such as the Awakening can occur. Galula’s laws, and modern COIN theory, make that clear. The particulars are always unpredictable, the outcome however has been proven to be more so. My post wasn’t prescient (in fact I end it discouraged in the belief that the effort would be ended before it could prove its effectiveness) just seeing clearly what was being attempted. If you didn’t see it then, no wonder the connection eludes you now.

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Politics and Maliki’s Timetable

Not the same thing as a Harry Reid Timetable (HT: McQ):

Nouri al-Maliki

A deadline should be set for the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from Iraq, and the pullout could be done by 2011, an Iraqi government spokesman said Tuesday.

Ali al-Dabbagh said any timetable would depend on “conditions and the circumstances that the country would be undergoing.” But he said a pullout within “three, four or five” years was possible.

“It can be 2011 or 2012,” al-Dabbagh said. “We don’t have a specific date in mind, but we need to agree on the principle of setting a deadline.”

I think there are several things to take from this. First and foremost this is a sign that “winning” in Iraq is at hand. The primary goal was an independent Iraq, capable of defending itself and being an ally in the War on Terror. That the Iraq government is declaring it’s ready to take over the reins of defending and policing its own country is a fantastic sign of confidence in its ability to do so. Considering the fact that the Iraqi Army has increasingly taken the lead throughout the country, including most recently the formerly “lost” province of Anbar, a phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces seems like the natural next step. While there are still problems to be dealt with, such as the ever-present threat of more ethnic and sectarian violence, Iraq in general appears to be in a much better position to deal with them on their own than just a year ago. They also seem to more willing to do so, judging by the Basra and related campaigns. Under these sorts of conditions, the job of our forces would seem to be coming to an end, and talk of bringing them home is welcome news indeed.

Of course, the conditions meriting talk of a withdrawal timetable are being ignored by some in favor of scoring political points:

“President Bush refuses to listen to Congress or the American people, but he cannot support Iraqi political reconciliation and security and ignore Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s call for a timetable for the withdrawal,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

“I agree with Maliki,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid added. “Let’s take off the training wheels and let Iraq handle their own affairs. We have spent enough of our blood and treasure in Iraq.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rham Emanuel wondered at the administration’s response to the Iraqi position.

“When Democrats called for a timeline for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, they were attacked by President Bush,” the Chicago Democrat said. “When Prime Minister Maliki suggested a timeline for withdrawal, the White House said he was ‘reflecting a shared goal.’ Apparently, in the Bush White House, the messenger matters more than message.”

The other day McQ explained why previous calls for withdrawal were treated differently:

2 years ago, timetables for withdrawal were a bad idea because there were viable enemies still operating in Iraq.

Today? Not so much. Today we’re talking about withdrawal timetables in the wake of victory. Then we were talking about timetables in the face of possible defeat. If you can’t get you head around the difference, then I’d suggest you haven’t much worthwhile to add to any discussion of the matter.

Ironically, the one’s who should be using the latest news to score political points are the current Presidential candidates, who have been somewhat muted thus far. Obama referred to Maliki’s announcement as “encouraging” and McCain rather clumsily noted that Maliki’s comments were being misunderstood as a rigid time table for withdrawal of U.S. Troops instead of a “conditions based” plan:

McCain said he was confident the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would ask American troops to leave only if the military situation there warranted such a move.

“I know for a fact that it will be dictated by the situation on the ground, as it always has been,” McCain said.

“Since we are succeeding” in Iraq, he said, “then I am convinced, as I have said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable. And I’m confident that is what Prime Minister Maliki is talking about, since he has told me that for the many meetings we have had.”

He’s not wrong, but McCain’s not exactly grabbing the bull by the horns here either. Especially when he seemingly demeans Maliki’s call as a mere political move:

Of Maliki, McCain said, “Look, he’s a politician. He is a leader of a country that’s finally coming together.

“The fact is that we and the Iraqis will deal in what is in the national security interests of both countries. And there is no reason to assume that the Iraqis aren’t going to act in what they perceive as their national interest. I believe we’ll act in ours, and I believe we’ll come home, we’ll withdraw.

Again, it’s not that McCain is wrong so much as he hasn’t seized a real opportunity to the gain the upper hand. Obama has so far missed the opportunity as well, but his minimalist reaction is probably the better of the two at this point. What one them needs to do is to tout Mailiki’s call for a withdrawal timetable as a sign of victory in Iraq, and to applaud the fledgling nation for taking one of its most important steps towards full sovereignty. While I’m sure that both candidates will declare that we will happily withdraw our forces at the request of the Iraqi government, what neither of them have done so far is to highlight the request as a clear sign that our job in Iraq may be almost done. Pointing to the light at the end of the tunnel where our troops will emerge on the way home is exactly the sort of hope and change that Americans desire and can feel good about. I predict that the first candidate to figure that out will be our next President.

*Editing Note: I revised “timeline” to read “timetable” throughout because it makes more sense.

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Boumediene — The Great Sandbagging

UPDATE: Welcome QandO readers. Please look around after you’ve finished with this post, but McQ says you have to go back over to QandO when you’re done … but I won’t tell if you won’t.

The recent Supreme Court case involving Guantanomo Bay (GITMO) detainees and writs of habeas corpus promises to be one of the most significant opinions for decades to come. Not because it grants foreign citizens the right to challenge their detention in U.S. civil courts (although that’s huge), nor because the decision will lead to possible terrorists being set free in the U.S. (which is almost inevitable), but because it sets a new standard for the power of the Supreme Court. However, no matter the angle from which one approaches the case, constitutional scholars will likely not tire of discussing its implications and applications for quite some time. This post will concentrate on just one of those angles (with others hopefully to follow). (more…)

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From the Horse’s Mouth, So To Speak

Today, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight heard testimony from Sheikh Khalaf al-Ulayyan of the Sunni Accordance Front and Nadim al-Jaberi of the Shiite (and anti-Moqtada, anti-Maliki) Fadhila Party. Both oppose a long-term presence in their country, but what was even more interesting, as Spencer Ackerman notes, is what they said about the occupation, the invasion, and the Surge.

For starters, Jaberi accused the U.S. of putting the Iraqi government “in a difficult situation” by insisting on the long-term presence of U.S. troops. al-Ulayyan, through a translator, cautioned that a reckless withdrawal would be catastrophic, but that a long-term presence would be counterproductive.

When Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, tried to pry out some good quotes supporting the Surge, al-Ulayyan demurred:

“Increasing the number of forces didn’t affect the level of violence in Iraq. Because the war there is a war against gangs and they are like ghosts. They hit and run. What led to the reduction of terrorist acts and violence are the forces of the Awakening. They are from the tribes of the area where terrorists are more [in number]. And those forces managed to eliminate the other party, the terrorists, because they know them and know the tactics. We suggested that a long time ago for our government and the American government but nobody listened.

“I believe the reduction in the level of violence is due mainly to the efforts of the volunteers. The thing that will reduce the violence more is not military force but having realistic solutions to convince others to join the political process. I believe the best method to achieve that is a real national reconciliation. We need real reconciliation, not only slogans as is being done now. And reconcilition should involve all the Iraqis, whether they are involved right now in the political process or not.”

“As soon as the troops have withdrawn, it doesn’t make sense for these groups to exist,” Jabari added. “It is my belief that when troops withdraw these groups will not bear arms any longer. For as long as we have foreign troops on our land, these gangs will increase in number, they will hold onto their goals even longer… So I say the presence of foreign troops are actually serving these groups.”

Of course, such thinking would lead one to think that maybe Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a phantom threat and the real problem comes from deeper (or perhaps shallower) societal issues, rather than the dark puppetmaster of an enemy we can barely define, much less count. Remember that time the Congressional Research Service indicated that AQI was less than 2% (pdf) of the attacks in Iraq? That is because most of the insurgents—the vast majority—are not AQI, but rather nationalists fighting a foreign occupier. The Iraqis know this. But we have a hard time thinking that our mere presence somewhere can spark hatred.

After all, many Iraqis feel our invasion led to the destruction of Iraq, and kind of resent that. While these two Parliamentarians may not speak for the entirety of Iraq (the Kurds surely have a different opinion of us), their opinions are not wildly out of the ordinary, and represent a large and persistent strain within the mainstream of Iraqi society. Our deep unpopularity is our worst enemy.

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Because Aren’t All Insurgencies the Same?

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal is a frustrating columnist. In April he made the head scratching argument that Khost province in Afghanistan, which has, along with the rest of RC-East, experienced a 36% jump in insurgent attacks over last year, was really on the verge of victory and only John Kerry says otherwise.

Today he writes that FARC, the LTTE, and the Sadr militia are really the same because they were defeated militarily. He of course ignores the very salient fact that neither are alike at all and each required completely different tactics to weaken. The Sadrists have been quelled through concerted American-backed military action in a warzone; the Tamil Tigers were undermined by decades of systematic police and intelligence work before the latest of many military forays to the north of Sri Lanka, most of which had failed (according to some excellent research by RAND scholar C. Christine Fair). And FARC? FARC has been around for 30 years, wholly impervious to our best efforts to undermine it militarily. FARC is weakened now because of political and economic changes. Not the military.

But Stephens feels comfortable spending a week strutting around a few disparate FOBs in Afghanistan, then declaring victory. So I don’t really take what he has to say at face value… or any value at all. But his column is a textbook example of what happens when you really love your hammer—everything looks like a nail.

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Fallon and Petraeus sitting in a tree…

I was catching up a bit on my reading, and thanks to McQ found this interview with Admiral Fallon. As McQ points out, the conversation did not go the way Kyra Phillips was trying to steer it.

Given our own commentary on Fallon here, here, and here, I think several key points that fly in the face of claims about the President and Fallon’s views should be noted:

I don’t believe for a second president bush wants a war with Iran.

Somebody tell the Sock Puppet and Mona. For two straight Autumns I have been told the tanks would roll by November.

I believe the best course is to retain the high confidence we have in General Petraeus and his team out there. Dave has done a magnificent job in leading our people in that country.

Huh? I kept hearing he was disdainful of Petraeus.

The idea we would walk away from Iraq strikes me as not appropriate. We all want to bring our troops home. We want to have the majority of our people back and we want the war ended. Given where we are today, the progress that they’ve made particularly in the last couple months, I think it’s very, very heartening to see what’s really happened here. The right course of action is to continue to work with the Iraqis and let them take over the majority of the tasks for ensuring security for the country and have our people come out on a timetable that’s appropriate with conditions on the ground.

My emphasis. Has anyone here made that same argument? Why, I think it was me, along with Michael, Keith, McQ and a host of others, and Fallon was claimed to be arguing against us in the past. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t, but it sure is nice to hear that he agrees now. Note also his endorsement of the idea that there has been real progress, and it isn’t all just a misreading of what is “really going on.”

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Punish Me Again Mistress

Taylor Marsh thinks that Obama would have supported war in Iraq on Hillary’s grounds in 2002, even though he’s on record at the time opposing it. A matter well dealt with by Oliver Willis…even if thereby he had to confess his masochism for reading Marsh. Funny.

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A Retreating Periphery

Indian Frontiers
(photo: Mani Babbar)

After 9/11 widened Al Qaeda’s ambitious war against most of the world, Osama bin Laden described his own axis-o-evil as being composed of “Crusaders, Zionists and Hindus.” But at some point, without anyone much noticing, that seems to have changed for Hindus.


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The Initial Command

McCain in Iraq
(photo: Department of Defense)

The Obama campaign has categorically rejected John McCain’s proposal for a joint trip to Iraq, calling it a “publicity stunt.” Publicity stunt it most certainly is, but why is it automatically assumed that the publicity would only benefit McCain? Because he proposed it? Or because the facts on the ground are thought to validate his views? Nettlesome matters that McCain would be wise to emphasize in the wake of the rejection.

While Obama’s supporters are snarling at what they consider to be a pattern politics of either immaturity or sage condescension (they’re apparently a bit vexed by the event), the campaign may have missed a tremendous opportunity here.


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The Danger of Funding Thugs

Sure it’s nice when you pay them to pretty please stop attacking us, but what of the consequences? This is the dark side of the CLC/Sons of Iraq/Awakening bandwagon we jumped on, and it’s one I’ve been mocked repeatedly for not letting go of.

But doing business with the gunmen, whom the U.S. military has dubbed Sons of Iraq, is like striking a deal with Tony Soprano, according to the soldiers who walk the battle-blighted streets, where sewage collects in malodorous pools.

“Most of them kind of operate like dons in their areas,” said 2nd Lt. Forrest Pierce, a platoon leader with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment. They shake down local businessmen for protection money, seize rivals for links to the insurgency and are always angling for more men, more territory and more power.

For U.S. soldiers on the beat, it means navigating a complex world of shifting allegiances, half-truths and betrayals.

Or we can call them what we do in Afghanistan: warlords.

Here is something darker to think about. In 1838, during the first of what would be three disastrous invasions over the next century, the British Empire thought it a great idea to pay off the various tribal chiefs of Afghanistan to keep them from attacking British supply and communications lines. By 1842 the gold had run out, and by 1843, the British suffered one of their most humiliating defeats as the tribes united in fury and killed them all save one (William Brydon, look him up).

The exact dynamic is at play in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, we hire Taliban sympathizers—more accurately called “those who are so poor they can be hired as fighters by Taliban and related militant groups”—to build roads at a rate just above the going day rate for a warrior. We offer them this carte blanche, just as we do in Iraq, and so long as they promise to work for us, we promise to give them an income.

This is the worst sort of dependency. It does nothing to address the long term stability issues in Iraq (or Afghanistan), just as it does nothing to ensure we can ever scale down our largess without fear of catastrophe. Welcome to our new strategic masterminds.

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Two Iraqi Jokes

Both via Major John at Miserable Donuts, a milblog. First, a joke as told by an Iraqi Army captain:

President Jalal Talibani summoned the leaders of the Iraqi parliament to his office for a meeting. In the middle of the meeting his wife calls him and says, “Jalal, there is a thief in our house!” President Talibani replies, “impossible, they are all here with me.”


Second, a visual joke accompanied by an explanation from Major John:

Tuskan Raider?

The jundi in the picture was putting on everything he could while his buddies laughed and egged him on. I simply couldn’t not take a picture.

There’s a bigger image at the link for full visual effect.

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Failed Wars = Great Strategies!

One thing I’ll never understand about the military is how it looks to failed wars to prove the truthiness of its current strategy. What baffles me more is how earnest scholars, like Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations, manage to revel in such silliness. Surely he knows what a failure is? To whit:

The whole process ought to be familiar to students of counterinsurgency. It is, in essence, an update of the old plan known as “concentration” zones or camps. The latter name causes understandable confusion, since we’re not talking about extermination camps of the kind that Hitler built, but rather of settlements where locals can be moved to live under guard, thereby preventing insurgent infiltration. The British used this strategy in the Boer war, the Americans during the Philippine war, and many other powers took similar steps in many other conflicts. In Vietnam they were known as “strategic hamlets.”

This was Boot in April of last year advocating the building of walls around ethnic zones to prevent bombings. Ignoring his advocacy of turning Iraq into an enormous concentration camp, he looks to the Boer Wars, the Philippines, and Vietnam to prove his point. Last I checked, they weren’t raging cases of victory (the Philippine-American War was a qualified victory, since an insurgency continued for well over a decade after the “mission accomplished”… how history repeats). He continues with such advocacy today:

It’s true that there are walls around Dora and other Baghdad neighborhoods. … But then there are walls around many gated communities in the U.S. too. The walls per se are not evidence of reconciliation, I’ll grant you that. But nor are they evidence that reconciliation is impossible. They are one of the important security measures implemented in the past year that is reducing violence and making possible political progress—which is real, whether you admit it or not.

The trick to this, of course, is that Americans choose to live in gated communities, and pay money for the privilege. We do not grant the citizens of Sadr City the same courtesy—we shut them in and declare victory. Boot is discussing coercion, not choice—the deliberate punishing of a community for the actions of a few.

Now in fairness, actual opinion amongst Iraqis, at least those willing to talk to soldiers, is mixed. None liked the walls when they were first installed, but some later came to appreciate the protection they afforded. All, however, according to my contacts, dislike the feeling of disconnectedness the walled communities generate. I’ve been under the impression that fostering disconnectedness is a bad COIN practice, no matter the security gains. And Boot isn’t selling this as a best-fit stop gap measure in the face of no other better ideas. He’s selling it as an unqualified good.

Nouri al-Maliki used to say that he didn’t want to wall off entire sub-cities for their own good; now that his election is in doubt, those beliefs have evaporated. How convenient for him. What is Boot’s excuse?

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From the Horses’ Mouths (so to speak)

Whatever could this guy be going on about?

“Saddam had his big castles; they symbolized his power and were places to be feared, and now we have the castle of the power that toppled him,” says Abdul Jabbar Ahmed, a vice dean for political sciences at Baghdad University. “If I am the ambassador of the USA here I would say, ‘Build something smaller that doesn’t stand out so much, it’s too important that we avoid these negative impressions.’ “

Why, he’s one of many Iraqis in Baghdad who are furious at the monstrous U.S. Embassy that will open for occupancy next month. It will cost approximately $1 billion per year to operate, in part because it will be self-sufficient, completely disconnected with the rest of Baghdad and Iraq. And it was built by slave labor.

On the brighter side, however, it was only $250 million over budget, which makes it among the most economic decisions made during this war. For context, the new American Embassy in Beijing, which is needless extravagance of the first kind, costs less—an entire embassy complex—than this one embassy’s budget overflow. And the operating costs aren’t even in the same league.

It’s like a huge unfunny joke, only it’s not.

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Oxblog in Baghdad

This is cool, David Adesnik of Oxblog has been in Iraq working for the coalition on the sly. I find that encouraging and I can’t wait to hear what his impressions are.

I am also encouraged that he is now working for McCain. I won’t say it will sway me to vote for him, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

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Welcoming Signs of Progress

Security improvements bringing people back to their homes in South Baghdad…

With security improving, local economies flourishing and community reconstruction underway, Iraqis who once fled their South Baghdad homes in fear are now returning to the villages they deserted.

This is a good sign, said Maj. Mark Bailey, the officer in charge of the Multi-National Division – Center governance cell.

“Once people are convinced that security is good in their area, they come back,” said Bailey, who is with 401st Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to 3rd Infantry Division. “If they own a business, they re-open their business, which helps the economy.”

Out of the approximate 18,700 Iraqis who left their homes, it is estimated that 10,450 have returned, according to MND-C records.

via Hot Air we find that the Iraqis are making further progress in reconciliation.

Most of those released were Sunnis who had been low-level army officials or former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. They were among thousands of Iraqis who were arrested without charges by coalition and Iraqi forces. The discharges signal “a return to some sense of normalcy,” said U.S. Army Col. David Paschal, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, who attended the ceremony. “At some point, the fighting must stop.”…

The prisoners are being freed under an amnesty law passed by Iraq’s parliament in February. More than 52,400 detainees in government custody have applied for their freedom. Of those, nearly 78%, or more than 40,000, were granted amnesty. More than one in five, though, were denied because they are being held for crimes not covered by the law. These include killing, kidnapping, rape, embezzling government funds, selling drugs and smuggling antiquities.

Ed Morrissey says of this:

This marks yet another benchmark in the Maliki government’s progress in meeting the political benchmarks set by Congress. It also defuses a longstanding point of friction with the Sunni tribes who have complained loudly about the imbalance in treatment for their communities by Baghdad. Their efforts to work within the political system have paid off, and their win in gaining amnesty for so many detainees will encourage them to work within the democratic system rather than conduct insurgencies against it.

Day by day, week by week, Iraq is making the progress we all want to see on all fronts. Security, Economic, and Socio-Political.

That this isn’t bigger news isn’t a surprise. After all, we need to know when Hillary knocks back a cold one, or someone finds yet another radical in Obama’s past.

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More Like This Please

I was pleasantly surprised, and mildly irritated, to see that Condi Rice basically called Muqtada al-Sadr a coward while she was in Baghdad recently (via: Instapundit):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.

Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying. Al-Sadr heads an unruly militia that was the main target of an Iraqi government assault in the oil-rich city of Basra last month, and his future role as a spoiler is an open question.

“I know he’s sitting in Iran,” Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr’s latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. “I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him,” Rice said. “I guess that’s the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he’s in Iran.”

Both my surprise and irritation are because our government has been notably reticent to openly ridicule people like Sadr and bin Laden, or to state the obvious with respect to the civilian-targeting terrorists who blow themselves (they hope) to high heaven. None of them are brave enough to face off against their enemies. Instead they snipe from the sidelines, issue crude and fantastic proclamations about their superiority, and in the end they prey upon the weakest and least protected members of the enemy herd. There is a word for these types of people: cowards.

When one considers the fact that we are knee-deep in an information war (as opposed to a conventional, battlefield, territory-taking war), it’s difficult to understand why we haven’t resorted to deriding the enemy much earlier. The war-supporting blogosphere does so on occasion, but our leaders certainly don’t.

By “deriding the enemy” I don’t mean producing propaganda. Instead, call them out regularly and forcefully as the cowards and charlatans that they are. Employ the poison pen and wipe that arrogant smile off of their collective faces. In other words, take them on in the battle space they’ve chosen. We can defeat them there just as easily as we’ve done in actual combat.

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This Generation’s Ernie Pyle

The NEW YORK POST reviews Michael Yon’s new book.

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What Is ASHC?

tensionThere seems to be some confusion on the part of some as to exactly what sort of place ASHC is:

I was rather surprised to read this dubious and scornful appraisal of Michael Yon’s Wallstreet Journal editorial at A Second Hand Conjecture, a heretofore conservative site.

The post Mick Stockinger is referring to was created by Joshua Foust, our resident curmudgeon. Josh took aim at Michael Yon’s apparent advocation for more troops in theater:

This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting.

The title of Yon’s WSJ piece was “Let’s ‘Surge’ Some More.” So the obvious inference was that Yon thinks we should be committing more troops to Iraq as we did with Petraeus’ “surge” last year. Josh took exception with that (in his typical, short-post, snarky way), and he made a valid point: our military is admittedly stretched and strained, to the point that further commitments are not exactly feasible.

I’m not concerned here with the merits of Josh’s post, but instead with the characterization of ASHC as “a heretofore conservative site.” I understand why Mick (and others) think that, but we should set the record straight. This is not a “conservative” site by any stretch of the imagination. The great majority of us support the war in Iraq, but not based on any sort of conservative principles. Essentially we all believe that winning is possible, and that winning is in the best interests of America. The only difference between Josh and the rest of us on this score is that Josh thinks (and can cogently explain when he wants to) that the war was a mistake and that the costs of continuing it are greater than any perceived benefits. Josh and I fundamentally disagree on this point, but that does not make him “liberal” nor me “conservative.”

Which leads me to the ultimate point: ASHC is not a conservative site. We are an amalgamation of views loosely coalesced around the idea that more freedom is better than less. We each hold different views on what that means, and the sole issue on which we are diametrically opposed is with respect to the war in Iraq. Josh stands alone here on ASHC, but I defy anyone to produce a more intelligent and reasoned voice when it comes to articulating why taking on Iraq was a bad idea. Even as I routinely and vociferously disagree with Josh’s assessments, I appreciate the value that Josh adds to the discussion. In other words, Josh may be wrong, but he makes wrong look as right as anyone possibly could.

In sum, if ASHC is deemed insufficiently “conservative” because of Josh’s posts then so be it. We never claimed that moniker, nor is it one that we’ve ever expressed any interest in holding. Personally, I’m proud to have Josh as a co-blogger precisely because our views conflict. You will often find arguments here opining as to how we are winning in Iraq and the GWOT, and you’ll also see arguments suggesting that Iraq was a huge mistake. That does not make ASHC deficient in any category. It makes us more useful and interesting.

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Iraq’s Progress

In line with my last post, McQ salutes the professionalism of our troops in the context of Michael Yon’s latest. Read ‘em both. Of particular note is Yon’s response to us having to pay those who work with us after the awakening.

While at QandO, follow his links to the latest on Iraq’s attempt to tame the Mahdi army.

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Those Magnificent Men

I was sent this via e-mail from my Uncle Pat, also known as Colonel Alfred H. Paddock. Uncle Pat is a story in and of himself, but I’ll tell you a little more about him after the e-mail. Let it suffice to say for now that Pat is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable soldiers on the subject of unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency and psyops to have served in our armed forces. Thus he has a deep appreciation for the struggles our men and women are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the magnificent way they have conducted themselves relative to history or any other armed force in existence today. (more…)

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Political Progress in Iraq

This will be good news if it happens…


Iraq’s major Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties have closed ranks to force anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to disband his Mahdi Army militia or leave politics, lawmakers and officials involved in the effort said Sunday.

Such a bold move risks a violent backlash by al-Sadr’s Shiite militia. But if it succeeds it could cause a major realignment of Iraq’s political landscape.

The first step will be adding language to a draft election bill banning parties that operate militias from fielding candidates in provincial balloting this fall, the officials and lawmakers said. The government intends to send the draft to parliament within days and hopes to win approval within weeks.

“We, the Sadrists, are in a predicament,” lawmaker Hassan al-Rubaie said Sunday. “Even the blocs that had in the past supported us are now against us and we cannot stop them from taking action against us in parliament.”

And it looks like Sadr is reading the writing on the wall…

Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will consult senior religious leaders and disband his Mehdi Army militia if they instruct him to, a senior aide said on Monday.

The surprise announcement was the first time Sadr has proposed dissolving the Mehdi Army, one of the principle actors in Iraq’s five-year-old conflict and the main opponent of U.S. and Iraqi forces during a recent upsurge in fighting.

It came on the day Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in a television interview, ordered the Mehdi Army to disband or Sadr’s followers would be excluded from Iraqi political life.

Senior aide Hassan Zargani said Sadr would seek rulings from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric, as well as senior Shi’ite clergy based in Iran, on whether to dissolve the Mehdi Army, and would obey their orders.

That effectively puts the militia’s fate in the hands of the ageing and reclusive Sistani, a cleric revered by all of Iraq’s Shi’ite factions and whose edicts carry the force of Islamic law, but who almost never intervenes in politics.

“Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his offices in Najaf and Qom to form a delegation to visit Sistani in Najaf and (other leaders) in Qom to discuss the disbanding of the Mehdi Army,” Zargani told Reuters.

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Uncertain Future of Iraq

Fred and Kimberly Kagan have a decent analysis of what we do and don’t know about the situation in Iraq.

Just the highlights (as I see them)

Do Know

* The legitimate Government of Iraq and its legally-constituted security forces launched a security operation against illegal, foreign-backed, insurgent and criminal militias serving leaders who openly call for the defeat and humiliation of the United States and its allies in Iraq and throughout the region. We can be ambivalent about the political motivations of Maliki and his allies, but we cannot be ambivalent about the outcome of this combat between our open allies and our open enemies.

* The Sadrists and Special Groups failed to set Iraq alight despite their efforts–Iraqi forces kept the Five Cities area (Najaf, Karbala, Hillah, Diwaniyah, and Kut) under control with very little Coalition assistance; Iraqi and Coalition forces kept Baghdad under control.

* Sadr never moved to return to Iraq, ordered his forces to stop fighting without achieving anything, and further demonstrated his
dependence on (and control by) Iran.

Don’t Know

* What was his (Maliki) precise aim? He continually spoke about fighting “criminal elements,” but then issued an ultimatum for the disarmament of all JAM (a task clearly beyond the means of the forces he sent to Basra).

* Did Maliki accept a deal with Sadr in return for his stand-down order and, if so, what was involved? We know what Sadr’s demands were (at least publicly), but he ordered his forces to stop fighting before Maliki publicly accepted his terms.

Read the rest…

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Operation Lost Cause

Let’s see, the Mahdi Army is in retreat, and the ISF is continuing operations, and sending reinforcements.

Isn’t it OBVIOUS that Maliki is loosing.

Update -

This puts things into perspective…

Mission accomplished has been duly declared, although the JAM in Basra remains apparently intact and raids are still ongoing to seize some of the weapons whose surrender was the accomplishment the mission was aimed at. I’ve given up trying to figure out who won, a conclusion I reached when I found myself nodding along with this theory that Sadr’s actually in cahoots with Maliki to target the “rogue” JAM units who are operating essentially as renegades but under the Mahdi Army banner.

Read the whole thing…

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What’s wrong with Iraq War Movies?

I’m often guilty of seeing connections between things that others seem to think make no sense at all. So bear with me and then tell me what you think.

The New York Times review of “Stop-Loss” explains the failure of Iraq themed movies in this way, “The commercial failure of last autumn’s crop of high-profile Iraq-themed movies — Paul Haggis’s “In the Valley of Elah” and Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” among them — has hardened into conventional wisdom about the moviegoing public’s reluctance to engage the war on screen.”

We’re tired of the war. We don’t want to hear about it. But does that even make sense?


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AQI’s Last Stand?

Al Qaeda’s efforts in Iraq have been less than successful over the past year, due in large part to the Anbar Awakening and the related Councils of Concerned Citizens/Sons of Iraq movements, and the support offered those movements by Petraeus’ COIN methods manifested by the “surge.” Essentially, as Tigerhawk predicted a while back (and I discussed here), once the locals got sick of the barbaric tactics employed by al Qaeda and its fellow travelers, anti-American feelings simply were not enough to continue even passively supporting the terrorists and insurgents. It was pretty clear who offered the better deal, and the Iraqis rose up in great numbers to protect their families and their homes.

Now, in Nineveh, Michael Yon reports that AQI may be on it’s last legs and that this time they have not found hospitable grounds from which to base their terror tactics (via: Hot Air): (more…)

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CENTCOM Commander Admiral Fallon Resigns (UPDATED)

Apparently rumors have been swirling around for awhile that Fallon was on his way out. Well, today he resigned and the speculation is that it was over a recent interview he did in Esquire, written by Thomas P.M. Barnett (regarding which Josh noted Fallon’s strange reaction last week). However, you can rest assured that a different meme will be floated as to why Fallon is gone:

Adm. William J. Fallon, the top American commander in the Middle East whose views on Iran and other issues have seemed to put him at odds with the Bush administration, is retiring early, the Pentagon said Tuesday afternoon.

The retirement of Admiral Fallon, 63, who only a year ago became the first Navy man to be named the commander of the United States Central Command, was announced by his civilian boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who said that he accepted the admiral’s request to retire “with reluctance and regret.”

Despite the warm words, there was no question that the admiral’s premature departure stemmed from policy differences with the administration, and with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq.

The bone of contention between Fallon and the Bush Administration, according to this meme (and sometimes, Adm. Fallon himself), is that Fallon refuses to go to war with Iran. From the Barnett profile in Esquire (HT: Allahpundit):

Just as Fallon took over Centcom last spring, the White House was putting itself on a war footing with Iran. Almost instantly, Fallon began to calmly push back against what he saw as an ill-advised action. Over the course of 2007, Fallon’s statements in the press grew increasingly dismissive of the possibility of war, creating serious friction with the White House.

Last December, when the National Intelligence Estimate downgraded the immediate nuclear threat from Iran, it seemed as if Fallon’s caution was justified. But still, well-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up next spring, maybe as early as this summer, in favor of a commander the White House considers to be more pliable. If that were to happen, it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don’t want a commander standing in their way.

And so Fallon, the good cop, may soon be unemployed because he’s doing what a generation of young officers in the U. S. military are now openly complaining that their leaders didn’t do on their behalf in the run-up to the war in Iraq: He’s standing up to the commander in chief, whom he thinks is contemplating a strategically unsound war.

The only problem with the meme is that Administration officials who want to go to war with Iran are somewhat hard to come by:

The current issue of Esquire Magazine portrays Fallon as the one person in the military or Pentagon standing between the White House and war with Iran. The article credits Fallon with “brazenly challenging his commander in chief” over a possible war with Iran, which Fallon called an “ill-advised action,” and implies Fallon would resign rather than go to war against Iran.


Still, the gruff, outspoken CENTCOM commander has his detractors. “How many times can [Fallon] get away with these kinds of remarks,” before he’s forced out the door, asked one senior Pentagon official. The reason may be that on Iran, Gates and many senior military officials happen to agree with Fallon.

Most military leaders against military strike on Iran
Gates has said publicly and privately that under current conditions he’s opposed to war with Iran. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen is also against it. In fact, almost every senior military officer we’ve talked to is against launching military strikes against Iran, because as one senior official told us, “then what do you do?”


In addition, military officials dispute the premise of the story that the White House is pressuring the military to go to war with Iran. “Not true,” said a senior military official, despite the anti-Iran drumbeat from Vice President Dick Cheney.

In fact, during a conference in Bahrain last December, Gates had to convince Gulf state Arab allies that the United States was not going soft on Iran, because from their vantage point it appeared the Bush administration was backing away from its tough stand against Iran.

In other words, Fallon seems to have erected a strawman against which to battle, and the Administration was not pleased with the argument being made, nor the way in which Fallon was portraying the CiC.

Admiral Fallon had rankled senior officials of the Bush administration with outspoken comments on such issues as dealing with Iran and on setting the pace of troop reductions from Iraq — even though his comments were well within the range of views expressed by Mr. Gates.

Officials said the last straw, however, came in an article in Esquire magazine by Thomas P. M. Barnett, a respected military analyst, that profiled Admiral Fallon under the headline, “The Man Between War and Peace.” The article highlighted comments Admiral Fallon made to the Arab television station Al Jazeera last fall, in which he said that a “constant drumbeat of conflict” from Washington that was directed at Iran and Iraq was “not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions.”

It seems that Fallon saw the writing on the wall, however, leading to his strange “poison pen” comments:

Sources in the Pentagon said Fallon was worried the White House would perceive the magazine piece as a challenge to the president’s authority, and insisted that couldn’t be further from the truth. At the same time the sources said Fallon “doesn’t sound like someone considering resignation.”

In his own defense, Fallon told the Washington Post that the Esquire article was “poison pen stuff…disrespectful and ugly.”

While any policy differences, real or perceived, between top U.S. military commanders and the civilian leadership are not necessarily unusual, it’s rare when those commanders take the debate so public.

Finally, also via AP, Blackfive claims that Fallon’s resignation has been in the works for awhile, and suggests that Petraeus may be headed for the CENTCOM position:

…Wolf’s sources, for months now, have said that this was coming, not for disagreements with the administration about a looming war with Iran, but for some other internal “issues” that have nothing to do with policy or the administration. His replacement has been considered for some time now.

The media is speculating that this is another case of Shinseki-izing - the Bush administration getting rid of another dissenter. They are wrong.

Well, they were wrong about Shinseki too, so that shouldn’t be any surprise.

UPDATE: According to Think Progress (@ UpdateIV), Harry Reid is ready to get the meme rolling:

I am concerned that the resignation of Admiral William J. Fallon, commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and a military leader with more than three decades of command experience, is yet another example that independence and the frank, open airing of experts’ views are not welcomed in this Administration.

And Spencer Ackerman jumps on board:

Admiral William Fallon, the bulwark between Bush and a war with Iran, is resigning as head of U.S. Central Command. According to the tidbit I just saw on CNN, apparently Secretary Bob Gates said that Fallon quit for the most postmodern of reasons: Fallon thought a recent, highly-controversial Esquire article portrayed him as in opposition to Bush’s bellicosity over Iran … Gates said in a press conference just now that no one should think the move reflects any substantive change in policy. That sure won’t be how Teheran sees it. The Iranians will consider Fallon’s resignation to indicate that the bombing begins in the next five minutes.

Although, to be fair, Ackerman does offer another explanation:

This sounds like a resignation on principle. Either that or Fallon got caught with “Kristen.”


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Poll Shows Swing in Mood

Majority now believe U.S. effort in Iraq will succeed, 53-39 H/T Hot Air

Of course, I don’t believe one should govern based on polling data. If something is the right thing to do, you should do it. What this does deflate is one of the many arguments from the “get-out-now” crowd.

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JD Johannes Speaks With Fausta

Today at 11AM Eastern on Blogtalk Radio.

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The Evolution Of Odierno

Initially the idea of Ray Odierno being involved in counterinsurgency met with raised eyebrows. However, over time, he has developed a well earned reputation for innovation in the campaign. The Washington Post looks at this change in his methods and perception.

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Two For You

My thanks to Gay Patriot for today’s two excellent links.

Presidential support for liberating Iraq.

Yes we can! The original.

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Progress in Iraq

Even more evidence that there is sustainable progress in Iraq. And this is from the same person the left held up as proof last year, that no progress was evident.


If the US provides sustained support to the Iraqi government — in security, governance, and development — there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state…

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Political Progress in Iraq

Say it aint so!!! Da New Yawk Times Says So!!!

I wonder where they are on those benchmarks our Congress settled on? I also wonder how this places them in effectiveness vs our Democratically controlled Congress.

Using old-fashioned politicking behind the scenes, Iraq’s parliamentary leaders on Wednesday pushed through three divisive laws that had been held up for months by bitter maneuvering between factions and, recently, threats to dissolve the legislative body.

The three laws are the 2008 budget, a law outlining the scope of provincial powers — a crucial aspect of Iraq’s self-definition as a federal state — and an amnesty that will cover thousands of the detainees held in Iraqi jails. They were put to a vote as a single package.

“The Iraqi Parliament has approved the three laws, and this is the greatest achievement possible for the Iraqi people,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, the Sunni lawmaker who leads the Iraqi Consensus Front.

Of course, the usual disclaimers apply. But, step by step, they are slowly coming together.

(H/T HotAir)

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Breaking Terrorism Markets

Soldier in night vision

Douglas Farah notes that with the Al Qaeda leadership now dead or in flight from Iraq, we might be on the verge of a replication the experience of the Andean drug wars of the 1980s. In that situation, the death and flight of the cartel leadership (and subsequent cocaine supply network decentralization), only made them harder to directly combat. It’s a sound historical cautionary note. But the difference of course is that in the drug war the market for cocaine remained largely unchanged and highly lucrative during cartel suppression. Whereas in Iraq, it may be that the Awakening has permanently damaged the (niche) market for foreign terrorism.

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McCain Speaks to Europe

John McCain
photo: Chris Dunn

Spiegel has a typically aggressive (and aggressively European) interview with John McCain today. In many ways it’s an interesting yet disappointing exercise, due to its focus on the perceived past sins of the Bush administration. While much ground is covered, a little too often Spiegel essentially asks “Bush did XYZ, which is bad. How will you differ?” That comes at the expense of examining many questions about the future Atlantic partnership.

However, the responses are interesting…particularly in tone. McCain gives Europe answers that in many ways will not conform to their desires in practical terms. But in a way, may be answers which seem more palatable to them. After all, the European adoration of international negotiation, consultative diplomacy and multilateral consent for its own sake, is on a certain popular level a superficial partiality for words and handshakes. One that by nature is always highly susceptible to the rephrasing of any given position to achieve acquiescence.

A few key responses from McCain:


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Asking for it

Camel tease

Never tease a camel: Video.

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McCain as Sarkozy?

John McCain and Nicholas Sarkozy

Grover Norquist suggests that public disatisfaction with the Republican party is driven solely by hostility to President Bush. McCain’s differences with the Bush administration and its supporters thus strengthen his appeal with the county. As Grover puts it: “This is Sarkozy saying, ‘I’m not Chirac. I’m the change, and she’s [opponent Segolene Royal] the socialist.’” Too bad McCain doesn’t have Sarko’s innovative ideas, vigor, youth, rhetorical skills and party popularity too though no? Sarkozy the American notes that excluding Iraq, McCain is far more Chirac than Sarkozy.
(H/T: Freedom’s Lighthouse)

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