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Some very predictable (and unfortunate) reactions to military victory in Iraq. Imagine the surprise so many of these people would feel if they discovered the war was won a year ago. I don't think we need to worry about that, however - most of these folks think of war as 'something fought in Washington, D.C.' and strategy as planning for the battles fought every other year in November. Their 'war' can never end, and they'll have a difficult time understanding actual wars that inevitably do. Demonstrably, when one does they merely incorporate an argument on that point into their ongoing "battles".
Here we look at war as armed conflict between opposing forces, and do our best to keep people informed about what's going on in the wars in which the United States is involved. But we keep an eye on Washington, too, as decisions made there can have obvious impact on the actual war. Their words and deeds can simplify and complicate the life or death tasks with which we are confronted. This is the ideal; politicians engaged and aware of the issues they debate, hopefully achieving a consensus that meets the needs of the republic and reflects the will of a majority of informed Americans. But over the past two years the ideal approached the absurd as the reality gap between the war in Washington and the actual war in Iraq widened and Americans were informed by media with standing armies in Washington completely overwhelming a small corps of reporters in Iraq.
In this series we'll examine that "war in Washington" and the widening of that gap, in hopes of explaining to at least a few members of that public exactly why a war was won without their knowledge or consent.
This is how it began.
Lawmakers were introducing Iraq legislation at a mad pace yesterday, at one point in the afternoon scheduling news conferences in half-hour intervals.Weeks later, the Senate would review the nomination of David Petraeus for promotion to General and appointment as commander, Multi-National Force - Iraq.
Early risers saw Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in the Senate television gallery introducing his proposal to limit U.S. troops in Iraq to 130,000 and to hold a vote on whether to reauthorize the war. Those who lingered until lunchtime could catch Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and other House liberals demanding a withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq within six months.
Booking the Senate TV studio at 2:30 p.m. were Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), with their own Iraq resolution. They had to vacate the room at 3 p.m. for the arrival of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.); Clinton floated a variation of the Dodd plan. Minutes after that session, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a statement announcing legislation ordering a "phased redeployment" of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Even Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who gave up his Senate seat, tried to get a piece of the action yesterday. His campaign sent out a fundraising appeal, asking: "Please chip in to help stop this escalation today."
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq “a losing strategy” and proposed placing new limits on the White House’s conduct of the war.
Starting at 7 a.m. with back-to-back appearances on NBC and CBS, Senator Clinton devoted her day to a choreographed effort to press the Bush administration to change its Iraq policy and to outline a set of views that might bring her more in sync with Democratic primary voters.
Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to announce plans to run for president soon, sought to tap into the intense and bitter emotions that many Democrats feel about the war, as she promised to introduce legislation to cap the number of troops in Iraq and to place restraints on the administration’s policy.
Her new political offensive on Iraq came one day after Senator Barack Obama of Illinois announced that he had formed an exploratory committee for a presidential bid and three days after another likely rival, former Senator John Edwards, took an indirect swipe at Mrs. Clinton and other members of Congress for not doing more to oppose the war in Iraq.
When questioned directly, Petraeus said he would not be able to do his job as commander of MNFI without the additional 21,000 troops President Bush has pledged to Iraq. Deploying these additional forces will make it difficult to increase time between deployments for troops who have already been burdened by the war on terror, he said, but plans are under way to sustain increased force levels.He offered an honest assessment of a difficult task, predicted a lengthy struggle (something the next day's "dire" headlines would emphasize) but assured those who were listening that success was achievable. “Hard is not hopeless," Petraeus informed the Senate, "and if confirmed, I pledge to do my utmost to lead our wonderful men and women in uniform and those of our coalition partners in Iraq as we endeavor to help the Iraqis make the most of the opportunity our soldiers, sailor, airmen and Marines have given to them.”
When given questions, the General answered them - perhaps even daring to say things the Senators would rather not hear.
As a supporter of the Bush plan, Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut mentioned several resolutions offered by members "disapproving" the troop increase. Asked by Lieberman if he believed they would "give the enemy some encouragement," Petraeus said, "That's correct, sir."One of those most concerned by the General's willingness to offer a frank assessment to the Senate was Virginia Republican John Warner:
With that in mind, Lieberman said, "I want to urge my colleagues to consider your testimony this morning and to put the brakes on" such resolutions. "You, in my opinion, will receive unanimous or near-unanimous support… [for the nomination] from this committee and from the [full] Senate. But I fear that a resolution of disapproval will send you [Petraeus] over there" to Iraq with mixed signals to the Iraqis.
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), until recently chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a co-sponsor of one of those resolutions, later explained to the general that he needed to be more careful about appearing to wade into a political debate and warned Petraeus to not let himself be trapped into portraying members of Congress as unpatriotic for disagreeing with President Bush:Petraeus was unanimously confirmed:
We're not a division here today of patriots who support the troops and those who are making statements and working on resolutions that could be translated as aiding and abetting the enemy. We're trying to exercise the fundamental responsibilities of our democracy and how this nation has two co-equal branches of the government, each bearing its own responsibilities.
I hope that this colloquy has not entrapped you into some responses that you might later regret. I wonder if you would just give me the assurance that you'll go back and examine the transcript as to what you replied with respect to certain of these questions and review it, because we want you to succeed.
. . . I'm very proud of this committee and I don't want an impression, certainly among the armed forces, that we're not all steadfast behind them.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2007 – The Senate today confirmed Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus for promotion to general and assignment as commander of Multinational Force Iraq....and was sent to Iraq with the certain knowledge that political parties in the United States would not allow his war to intrude on theirs.
Next: Part two - Spring
Is it true that there's a provision allowing iraqi prosecution of U.S. soldiers when off duty or off base? What is this sh*t. Who allowed that to happen, and who's going to make sure it goes away?
I've already heard from two moms and one spouse who are livid about this. Define "off-base". Define "off-duty". What about shootings or attacks that occur on-base, say, from a civilian AQ or someone in in Iraqi security forces working with the U.S. that results in a shooting? There are troubling grey areas that are subject to all kinds of interpretations. Do we now have to clamor to pull everyone out starting in December for fear that our family members might be subject to the Iraqi judicial system? We already know AQ plots attacks to draw U.S. fire onto civilians. How many scenarios are there that this provision could be construed to cover? Unless there's something there that's not being announced, this is a sell-out.Posted by jordan at November 18, 2008 02:33 PM
Instead of running against Bush, which only made the remaining contrasts with Obama seem trivial, McCain should have run against the Democrats with this type of message.Posted by edh at November 18, 2008 03:13 PM
Wonderful post. Unfortunately a history that will be soon forgotten if it hasn't been already.Posted by T. Fry at November 18, 2008 03:15 PM
This is a good idea.
However, don't worry about people not knowing that the war is won. In about 6 months, President O will declare that the war has been won, and the suck-up media will praise him for his extraordinary ability in turning the tide from defeat to victory.
Although the media will not be able to explain exactly what The One did to make victory happen, they will assure us that it was him, and not Bush, who won the war.
Date when the Iraq War is Officially Won:
January 23, 2009Posted by Cynical at November 18, 2008 03:50 PM
Good work, GreyHawk. Keep it up and get it all down in as few pieces as possible. I need the full timeline and history to teach my kids what Liars look like.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at November 18, 2008 03:59 PM
The war was won, May 1st 2003. I think we all saw the damn banner behind the President as he made his victory speech.
I remember, because that's the day we rode over the berm from Kuwait and filed into Iraq behind the 3rd Infantry Division.
When the goal is a tangible one, you can have a tangible victory. Remove Saddam. Saddam removed, job done.
I don't know when it happened, when the mission changed from Saddam and those WMD's to acting as Iraq's unofficial national guard, but the current mission of bringing peace and stability isn't attainable. Maybe for the Iraqis, but not for us. It hurts to see our countries most precious resource squandered the way it has been and the way it continues to be. Until the conflict is over, not 'won'.Posted by Roman at November 18, 2008 05:09 PM
Good work, Greyhawk. I think the last 2 years of the Iraq war ahve made the American public trust the brass a lot more, and the pundits at well-funded thinktanks a lot less. It's remarkable the predictions some of these Washington-insiders made. That Sadr was the dominant political leader in Iraq, that the Sahwa movement would touch off a large-scale civil war, that Al-Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist and was a propaganda tool by the Bush administration, that the U.S. was trying to start a war with Iran, etc. It hasn't done much for their credibility...you people know who you are.
Even though I am an American civilian with no military experience I find Greyhawk's account squares with my own experience of the events described. Congress struck me at the time as foolishly certain that Iraq was unwinnable. Most of them fell all over themselves to condemn the war and then all voted to confirm Petraeus - apparently certain he would fail. It was obvious they hadn't been reading this blog or Roggio or Yon. It had been clear since mid 2006 that something was happening in Anbar in general and Ramadi in particular. I wondered at the time, don't these guys have access to intelligence us civilians lack? With such unanimous confidence in defeat, I thought perhaps the intelligence community was predicting defeat too! If so, how fortunate the President was reading blogs instead of listening to the CIA.Posted by Lorenz Gude at November 19, 2008 12:56 AM
it IS unwinnable. The current objective is an abstract idea: peace and security. Turn on the news at night, how peaceful and secure are we here even in the states? These are ideas or concepts we're chasing. Who's to say when it's secure enough or peaceful enough to say we've "won". Even then, it's not our country, so would the correct statement be "Iraq has won"?
Never mind that the current objective has nothing to do with why we are there in the first place. Freedom is something that must be earned, it can't be given and certainly not at gunpoint.
I haven't spent the war watching the news or listening to pundits, I spent two and a half years there fighting it. So I guess what do I know?Posted by Roman at November 19, 2008 04:40 AM
It's pretty hard for the MSM to make a lot of noise about the US winning when they spent the last 5 yrs cheering for the other side.Posted by Bandit at November 19, 2008 11:45 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(11) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)