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If the 2006 U.S. elections were a "referendum on Iraq" - who won? "The Democrats" of course - that's an easy answer. But here we've always asked the tough questions, and the full answer to that one isn't so obvious. This is part two in a series - part one is here. More will follow
Last April a group of six retired generals made headlines with a call for the dismissal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Other retired senior officers quickly countered with endorsements of the Secretary - but while their positions were subsequently ignored, in the months that followed few stories about any aspect of Iraq would lack a quote from one of the "gang of six".
But last April, even as the original six generals explained that their efforts were independent and uncoordinated, and expressed their surprise that their fellow retired leaders had chosen the same moment to express their own misgivings, Senator Hillary Clinton called for Senate committee Hearings:
The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on a request by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to take testimony from six retired generals who have called for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's removal, the panel's chairman said.That request was voted down. But working quickly in response, Senate Democrats were able to arrange unnofficial hearings a mere five months later - just a few weeks before the U.S. elections:
Shunned by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Batiste and two other retired officers spoke before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, a rump group with little legislative clout but access to a proper Senate hearing room. And Batiste made up for lost time.Strangely enough, although the anti-Rumsfeld generals had been frequently quoted over the intervening months, and the elections were looming large on the American calendar, the "show trial" received scant notice in the American media.
"Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader," said Batiste, wearing a pinstripe suit, calling himself a "lifelong Republican" and bearing a slight resemblance to Oliver North. "He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq or the human dimension of warfare. . . . Bottom line: His plan allowed the insurgency to take root and metastasize to where it is today."
Further, Batiste charged, Rumsfeld "reduced force levels to unacceptable levels, micromanaged the war" and created an environment where U.S. troops "are doing unconscionable things."
One likely reason? The generals were able to give more specific information regarding what they would do differently than Secretary Rumsfeld - and those actions were not to the liking of their assumed supporters:
...Batiste and his colleagues offered their solution: more troops, more money and more time in Iraq.Go back and read the first links I've provided above and you'll discover - if you didn't know already - that the generals' criticism of Donald Rumsfeld was little more than the sort of inter-service competition for defense funds that has defined the upper levels of the Pentagon for years (and that Rumsfeld tried to eliminate). While this year's rhetoric admittedly rose to new and desperate levels, the underlying argument was perhaps thinner than most previous "peace time" funding debates. The eternal reality is that all services could use more money - the Air Force is currently attempting to slash 40,000 active duty members from it's pay rolls to enable funding of new systems - even as retired Army generals insist that their service is being short changed in favor of another.
"We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge," Batiste warned.
"We better be planning for at least a minimum of a decade or longer," contributed retired Marine Col. Thomas Hammes.
"We are, conservatively, 60,000 soldiers short," added retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of building the Iraqi Security Forces.
Although getting Rumsfeld out of the picture was only step one, media coverage of the demands of those particular retired generals will probably vanish now that half their goals have been achieved - the remaining steps of the plan are an embarrassment to those who previously offered a large platform and amplification system for their call to arms.
But a "new direction" has been promised, and now it must be found. So Democrats are rapidly seeking a voice to fill the silence left now that "their" generals have been sent home with "mission accomplished". Here's one contender:
George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June.McGovern hints that he's talked to some other retired flag officers while researching a new book (on sale now for less than 10 bucks a copy - get yours today):
If Democrats don't take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won't be in power very long, McGovern told reporters before a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
McGovern's plan - as written in his new book, "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now" - also calls for the United States to remove hired mercenaries from the region, push for the removal of British troops and establish a temporary transitional force, similar to police, made up of Muslims from the region.Perhaps not what the "gang of six" had in mind, but their part in the play is over. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
"I've talked with a lot of senior officers - generals and admirals - in preparation for this book, that say this war can't be won, that the problems now are not military problems," McGovern told reporters. "There isn't going to be any decisive victory in Iraq."
Do you think that set of generals were aware that they would be used rhetorically in this manner? Was it political naiveté? I ask because it seems like they could not but know that they would be used for soundbites, and thus harm the war effort, yet given their advice it their actions do not seem to be out of malice except perhaps towards Sec. Rumsfeld.Posted by Jay at November 10, 2006 05:17 PM
I wish everyone would stop talking about winning the war because we won the war in Iraq. We went in, dismantled their military, and then eventually arrested Saddam. WE WON THE WAR IN IRAQ! What we are not winning is the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Right now we are in the middle of an occupation. The country is ripe for civil war and I think we would do well to make all those contractors to actually deliver the services they have been paid millions to perform. There is a huge amount of waste and fraud going on over there. It demands investigation. Our troops are in harms way. They are doing a fantastic job but they really don't need to be there. This administration has had over three years to get Iraq back on it's feet yet it's basically in the same condition it was in June of 2003. Weapons have gone missing. Millions of dollars have gone missing. Instead of hiring Iraqis to do many of the jobs foreigners were brought in instead. Can anyone understand the resentment these people must feel? Let's get Iraq stabilized as best we can. If it means more money and troops in the short term then I'm all for it but if Iraq wants to indulge in a bloody civil war we mustn't lose anymore American lives trying to stop it. It's their country. Let them sort it out.Posted by Theda at November 10, 2006 05:46 PM
I don't believe leaving Iraq vunerable to Islamic Fascist invasion is a worthy answer. They need time to build their own defenses, it won't happen in five minutes like happy endings do in the movies.Posted by syn at November 10, 2006 09:50 PM
What the Gens had to say may be true. It would take another 10-15-20 years to, maybe, get Iraq back up and running. Like it has ever really run?
I don't have a hard and fast on this. I'm for cutting bait, and getting out. Put Saddam back in charge, and let him put things back in order. Trust me, whoever gets the power over there will just be another Saddam. They have been fighing, and killing, and setting up governments, and tearing down governments, in that part of the world for a lot longer than we have been a country. The idea of self rule is not in the minds of most Iraqies.
As for Rummie being replaced, I'm sure he has not lost any sleep over it. Pretty sure that he is really happy to be out of the light over all this mess. Will any of the new players find a way out? I doubt it. Iraq is now like being half way through the swamp. Either way you go, it's still alot of swamp to have to go through to get out.Posted by Richard at November 11, 2006 01:08 AM
Gee, who in the region has a large, relatively effective military force, that could be relied upon to subdue the insurgency in Iraq.
Oh, I know. Iran. Think the Revolutionary Guard could cough up a half dozen divisions and some secret police if we asked nice? What the hell, I bet they've already anticipated our request, and have prepositioned operational elements in Iraq. Y'know, just trying to be helpful...Posted by AL Maviva at November 11, 2006 01:46 AM
Jay writes: "Do you think that set of generals were aware that they would be used rhetorically in this manner? Was it political naiveté?"
Perhaps, given the gang of six's involvement in the upper echelons of the Pentagon, the infighting that has always gone on there and the knowledge of how the SecDef must balance the needs of all branches it wasn't naiveté it was just plain ole stupidity.
Grayhawk, you have it right sir, "Thanks for all the fish."Posted by GM Roper at November 11, 2006 01:50 AM
I have a feeling that more soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have been giving their best in Iraq and Afghanistan will repay these generals' politicking with the homeland's military foes by also saying "So long, and thanks for all the fish", by not re-enlisting.
Expressing disent is one thing, playing along with those who despise the military so that your voice gets magnified is another.
Time to watch re-enlistment rates closely.Posted by Eric Anondson at November 11, 2006 02:08 AM
McGovern. Right. The guy who publicly swore he would "crawl on his knees to Hanoi" if elected President in 1972.
Why the hell are Democrats always looking for someone to surrender to?Posted by M. in Boston at November 11, 2006 02:10 AM
So the "New Direction" is 'back to the future' McGovernment? "You want fries with that pullout?"Posted by BlogDog at November 11, 2006 02:15 AM
Flag officers can't imagine being manipulated and refuse to think that anything has changed since the last time they heard shots fired in anger (probably when they were lieutenants or captains). The one utterly asinine adaptation of the 80's & 90's was the concept of management replacing the quality of leadership. These PPRs (power-point rangers) would probably be halfway decent executives in mega-corps except their "management style" was cultured in an environment where disobedience could be punished by a lot more than "you're fired!" Even with that, there are few competing jobs with the same level of purpose.
I think that they actually thought that the Dhimmicretins were interested in what they had to say, or even more foolishly believed that if they had the right "hook", they would get all of their message out.
Do I think the war has been conducted well? No, but then again, I'm no politician, just an old, beat-up retired SF troop. A commenter above said the war was won, I beg to differ. Victory only occurs when you have destroyed the will to resist so thoroughly that anyone that might bring the attention of the soldiers will be turned in or shot by his/her own compatriots to avoid the known consequences. An old saying when I heard it in RVN in the 60's. "When you've got'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."
We've been trying to win this war like most of my generation has raised children, with less discipline than is needed to housebreak a puppy.
Management is not the way to win this. Leadership in violence is. Let's do away with Carters EO that extended the previously banned "political assassination" to just "assassination" and start playing whack-a-mole with these "militia leaders" and "clerics" until we have a group more wanting to survive than to impose their will on anyone else. Maybe then they will quit piddling on the carpet.
"Why the hell are Democrats always looking for someone to surrender to?"
Because they really don't believe the U.S. and its interests, including national security, are worth defending. After all, they are the natural home of "Why do they hate us?" and "it's America's fault."
Electing Democrats to protect the nation is like hiring a child molester to babysit your kids - gross negligence of the most extreme kind. Sadly, it will take a significant, near-fatal defeat in the war on Islamic Fascism before most Americans realize that our enemy is out to destroy us and that Democrats are utterly incaple of defending us. The Iranian Mullahs sure are pleased with us electing Democrats, so we're probably closer to that apocalyptic event than anyone (besides al Qaida and the Mullahs) would wish.Posted by Tim at November 11, 2006 02:22 AM
The one example in modern times of a successful counterinsurgency is Malaya. John Nagl has been trying to get the Army to learn from that experience and the British tried to teach the US Army in Vietnam. I wonder if they are ready yet.
The Philippines are another example but that was a century ago. We had better learn this or learn Arabic. Rumsfeld understood. McGovern doesn't.Posted by Mike K at November 11, 2006 03:02 AM
The post WWII Huk counterinsurgency in the Philippines was another success. It required some brutal action but was successful.Posted by Jim Rockford at November 11, 2006 03:29 AM
"created an environment where U.S. troops "are doing unconscionable things."
Could you imagine Patton or LeMay talking like this. These guys are a bonch of pussies. They should have defended their troops at Abu Ghraib,
M in Boston: "Why the hell are Democrats always looking for someone to surrender to?"
French DNA?Posted by Clyde at November 11, 2006 05:54 AM
Tim has the quote of the day. I am so depressed that we are on the knife's edge of repeating the dishonor of pulling out of Vietnam. What nation, what people, would ever again put their trust in us to protect them?
I have tried and tried to get it through to my friends, some with strong military ties and friendship with Batiste et al., that the choice was never between waging the war and waging it better, but between waging the war and not waging it at all.
I hope and pray that, with the responsibility of power, the Democrats will blink at the edge of the abyss. But, I'm getting my parachute ready and moving to the countryside so that I won't be here when the emboldened jihadis carry out their next apocalyptic attack. Ironically, those cities that are most vulnerable are the very ones where voters overwhelmingly want to cut and run. So long, and thanks for all the fish. Indeed. We all know what happened after the dolphins left and it wasn't pretty.Posted by Reid at November 11, 2006 12:34 PM
The Iraq war has been rendered mission accomplished.
The Iraq war ended November 8, 2006
The only winners I see are the MSM and the democratic party.
Pull into a Kurdistan and let the Sunni and Shia's murder each other.
Let the Saudi's and the Iranians kill each other over what's left in Iraq.
Islam and democracy are not compatible.
We can fight Islam but our Government won't let us.
Islam can kill us and convert us and Our government will help them.
That's what you get when you let a bunch of clowns handle the guiding of the nation, Maclosers and submission.
Reid, what makes you think us country boys are gonna let you city refugees in?
stay where your at we don't need no more immigrants LOL
Reid, Just kiddin' bubba ya'll come on down and bring some guns we will need all the help we can get ;^DPosted by Barry 0351 at November 11, 2006 03:24 PM
Our enemies won't need any devastating attacks that risk waking us up. They're getting everything they want out of the West through intimidation and exploiting our legal, education and media institutions. We're being slowly, drip-by-drip, 'Finlandized.'
For various reasons, our so-called leadership classes aren't up to the task of meeting this challenge -- if they recognize it at all.
Nations and individuals around the world are recalibrating and recalculating. Why wouldn't Japan, South Korea and Taiwan simply follow their money -- reach accommodation now with China, their largest market and soon-to-be superpower, rather than risk alliance with an unreliable American partner?
And people thought George Bush was damaging this country's image abroad. Being perceived as weak is not a virtue. Those who wanted to 'punish the GOP' or, for reasons of moral vanity, political expediency or naked partisanship think leaving Iraq will carry few repercussions best not have their retirement funds tied up in dollar denominated assets.
Unfortunately, every nation in the West can't be Switzerland. Somebody's got to watch the door. That was the burden given to us in exchange for all the blessings we've received. Now we think those blessings are an entitlement.
Hell's cellar door is ajar. I hear Everbank offers renminbi accounts.Posted by Vinny Vidivici at November 11, 2006 04:42 PM
He wouldn't remember me, but I had an acquaintance with Gen Batiste back when he was a Major (as did a lot of other infantry officers). He was a highly capable and effective officer back then in a demanding job, marked by all as destined for higher rank.
I don't necessarily agree with what he did but that doesn't mean he didn't publicly undertake to disagree with Rumsfeld for the most patriotic and selfless of motives. From what I gather, he was destined for higher (3 star) rank before he choose to voluntarily retire and go public; hardly the actions of a "power-point ranger".Posted by Paul H. at November 11, 2006 05:32 PM
> I don't necessarily agree with what he did but that doesn't mean he didn't publicly undertake to disagree with Rumsfeld for the most patriotic and selfless of motives.
"He meant well" isn't praise, it's an insult. And, selflessness is no guarantee of anything (suicide bombers are selfless).
It doesn't matter what he intended or why he did it, what matters is what he accomplished.Posted by Andy Freeman at November 11, 2006 10:26 PM
Well said. Any general dumb enough to allow himself to be used like this we're well rid of. Why should they even care who the SecDef is once they're collecting their own pensions.
Another group I'd love to bid farewell to are all those Congressional heroes who figured that the war was an opportunity to load up on pork, because the President needed their votes to fund the fight.
As for McGovern, Fox News reported that part of his proposal was to assemble a "Muslim Brotherhood" force with troops from Egypt, Syria, and other Muslim states in the region to enforce peace in Iraq. Does he know the difference between Sunnis and Shias? These countries are probably funding the sectarian violence already.
And invoking the name of the Muslim Brotherhood made me wonder if the good Senator knows anything about the terrorists at all. The Muslim Brotherhood is closely linked to Al Qaeda and other radical fundamentalist groups.
If he hadn't been just as daft when he ran against Nixon, I'd suspect that he'd been bought off.Posted by AST at November 12, 2006 12:50 AM
AST, above, implies that McGovern doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shias. Rumsefeld, Bush, Cheney and the rest of you asslickers staggered drunk and blind into a war in Iraq without Clue fucking One about neither Sunnis, Shias, Kurds or Little Miss Fucking Muffett or Mammy fucking Yokum.
The owner and the commentors are bereft of any insight regarding Iraq that isn't colored by their addiction to right-wing crap radio and TV and wretched blogs like the Mudville Gazette. You simply have a Post-Traumatic Stress Hambone up your butts. ANd you love it.
AST and the rest: stick to "supporting the troops" and stop trying to sound like little masturbating Pentagon shitheels. The fact is, you like to blow shit up, same as al-Q'd'a. I've seen the kind of handiwork you Blackwater asslickers love to tout as patriotism. It's sick shit and you dudes drink it every day and think it's liebfraumilch.Posted by bloodstomper2 at November 12, 2006 04:51 AM
You know the idea of Egypt and Syria keeping the peace in Iraq might not be a bad one. If it can be pulled off. The fire works ought to be lovely from a safe distance.
OTOH making our surrender contingent on finding a sufficient muslim force could be designed as a face saving deal breaker.Posted by M. Simon at November 12, 2006 05:11 AM
You know we are very lucky to have picked our enemies so well.
They will keep kicking until they get a response.
Since we are somewhat more attuned to the kicks than previously the Ds will have to respond if kicked and double what any R could get away with in order to prove their toughness.
History has a way of unfolding.
Israel had a similar problem. After sufficient stupidity they wised up. Most Ds will too. Eventually.Posted by M. Simon at November 12, 2006 05:19 AM
Wow Bloodstomper2. I think if you dropped the f-bomb a few more times we might actually think you have something intelligence to say. Or is that the new democratic talking points?
How about next time showing us your insight instead of a stream of expletives?Posted by SpectreCode at November 12, 2006 06:45 AM
"AST, above, implies that McGovern doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shias. Rumsefeld, Bush, Cheney and the rest of you asslickers staggered drunk and blind into a war in Iraq without Clue fucking One about neither Sunnis, Shias, Kurds or Little Miss Fucking Muffett or Mammy fucking Yokum."
"The owner and the commentors are bereft of any insight regarding Iraq that isn't colored by their addiction to right-wing crap radio and TV and wretched blogs like the Mudville Gazette. You simply have a Post-Traumatic Stress Hambone up your butts. ANd you love it."
"AST and the rest: stick to "supporting the troops" and stop trying to sound like little masturbating Pentagon shitheels. The fact is, you like to blow shit up, same as al-Q'd'a. I've seen the kind of handiwork you Blackwater asslickers love to tout as patriotism. It's sick shit and you dudes drink it every day and think it's liebfraumilch."
Posted by bloodstomper2 at November 12, 2006 04:51 AM
Let's see. Calls us chickenhawks -- check
Uses more four letter words than a sailor on liberty (and I ought to know because I are one) -- check
Implies we are all gay and like anal sex -- check
Says we are all bloodthirsty killers and by implication too stupid to understand Kerry's joke -- check
Says we support commission of atrocities by mercenaries who are only in Iraq to make billions and billion of dollars while killing babies and filming their handiwork for ChimpyMcBusHitlerHalliburton -- check
Opinons stink, like an unwashed ass -- check
It's a Dhimmicrat
I must be extremely simplistic as I only see 5 major faultlines crossing throughout the Middle East, all of which have been held in relative stasis since, really, the end of WWI but definitively since 1948. And religion is ONE of those, and while important, thinking of it in terms of Sunni/Shia disregards the inter-sectarian strife within those major divisions. In Iraq, alone, there are at least 3 major subdivisions within the Shia community, and the most hated of that is the Khomeinist version, which is why the Shia's signed up in droves during the Iran/Iraq war. This does nothing to address the major Sunni divisions, and the minoritarian off-shoots of that in Syria, which is represented by the ruling family who follow the Alawite belief. So that single faultline fractionates all on its lonesome across the Middle East, but the major nexus point of that is: Iraq.
I could go on, but I will spare the good folks here the recounting as it is relatively dull to have to recount ethnicity, tribal and familial divisions, cultural divisions both modern and ancient, and the educational aspect both secular and religious as Iraq is also a central learning focus for the Middle East. All of these divisions focus through Iraq due to geography. Nothing was going to move in the Middle East because all of the faultlines were kept in stasis by the Cold War and then by Saddam after that. The question was not *if* they would move, but *when*, *how fast* and to what direction. By being on the ground the US can help guide those changes... by retreating our enemies who have fine Empires they want to set up will start THAT process.
I, on principle, detest Empires, as they generally lead to subjugation of individuals, loss of liberty and freedom and the diminishment of the individual to the State. And understanding *that* and that the religious zeal of our current enemies is a reflection of similar western zeal in ages past, one can look to how *that* ended to start formulating what Peace in the Middle East would look like *if* you wish to keep this idea of Freedom and Liberty for the Individual alive. Yes, so very simplistic to take the past lessons of history and apply them forward and come up with Goals, but no End State as we are forever tinkering with things as humans. Peace is a relative state of being rarely seen on the planet in an absolute form, but best measured in a relative form.
Taking all of that into account, and that the current set of enemies is not *acting* like rational actors on the global stage, nor are they adhering to the rules and laws of war, and that they wish to actually destroy the concept of Nations, with all that one might then formulate a plan that address what to do next and how to do it, but only if you are willing to play some hardball and bust up a few places with the help of a few other players that need some cajoling into it. With that, and the Goals in mind, and understanding the background of the region, you can actually make a plan to stabilize Iraq.
It obviously starts, of course, in Syria.
But that really is too simple, I guess... to uphold liberty and freedom and try to change things for the better by getting the reluctant players off the side-lines because, left unchecked, they will be consumed by this Empire FIRST.
There is no end in fighting for Liberty and Freedom, because there always seems to be some group or Nation somewhere that is willing to kill to remove it from you.
But then, that is obviously too simple for the 'nuanced' thinkers on this globe.Posted by ajacksonian at November 12, 2006 11:01 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(29) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)