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Or an attempt to begin a "Bush blames the military" narrative? The NY Times:
Over the past 12 months, as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey’s strategy. And now, as the image of Saddam Hussein at the gallows recedes, Mr. Bush seems all but certain not only to reverse the strategy that General Casey championed, but also to accelerate the general’s departure from Iraq, according to senior military officials.(Via The Corner).
The shifting of blame has been predicted, and whether or not it occurs it shouldn't surprise anyone if the media declares it has. A new version of the " Shinseki myth" may be in the making, as Iraq tours don't last forever.
For the record, the strategy is a good one:
The original plan, championed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Baghdad, and backed by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, called for turning over responsibility for security to the Iraqis, shrinking the number of American bases and beginning the gradual withdrawal of American troops.To abandon that is to commit to Iraq forever. That would be a bad plan.
In an op-ed published in Tuesday's New York Times, John M. Shalikashvili, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says Congress should give "serious reconsideration" to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the ban on openly lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. Shalikashvili, who supported the ban on open service in 1993, writes that "I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces," and goes on to say that "Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."
Full story here.
Colombian police say the murder rate in the South American nation has fallen to its lowest level in two decades.
Police chief Gen Jorge Daniel Castro said that a total of 17,206 people suffered violent deaths in 2006, 517 fewer than in 2005. (emphasis mine)
The Colombian Government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its municipalities. However, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.
via the LA TimesLA Times
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — To say 2006 was a good year for the Colombian economy is to describe native pop phenomenon Shakira as a reasonably successful singer. ...economic output here could finish the year having grown 6.3%
How much economic growth must there be in Iraq to say "It was a good year"?
How low must the violent death rate in Iraq go before the "war" adjective adjective is removed?
What level of violence in Iraq is "An internal matter for the Iraqi government"?
As I write this, no government is discussing "surging" 20,000 combat troops to control the violence in Bogata.
Iraq's GDP growth of 13 percent in 2006 – which followed a record year in 2005 of 17 percent.
In all, the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior reported a total of 13,896 Iraqi civilians, police and soldiers died last year
I'm asking a serious question, what is "Good Enough"? It took a generation to reduce the NYC daily murder rate from 8 to 2. No one called in the Army or National Guard. A pretty hefty chunk of the world considers an unemployment rate less than 20% to be good and an economic growth rate over 5% to be great.
Benjamin Cheever set out to do a story on military running for Runner's World magazine. Included in the package: a trip to Baghdad. But even before he got there he'd learned more than he expected.
Among other reasons I hope to make it to DC for the MilBlogs Conference, I really want to do a few miles in that town.
Update: Warning on page one of the manual for my new watch:
It is your responsibility to us this in a safe manner and to maintain full awareness of all conditions and surroundings at all times. Consulting the watch while moving is unsafe and could result in collision or other accident causing damage and personal injury to yourself or others. Thw watch contains memory functions that should be used to record your speed and distance data for later review.Have they put warning labels on chewing gum yet?
IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO USE THIS PRODUCT PRUDENTLY.
The Boston Globe looks at one way to make Big Army bigger:
The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.Note that while meeting recruiting goals every month since mid-2005 was certainly not effortless, "struggling to meet recruiting goals" is an interesting frame for the discussion.
The Globe also indicates the most likely opposition/media response, should this plan become reality:
Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country.As tempting as the image of Leftists being sliced open in the mosque square might be for some, most of us won't let it happen. But obviously if too few Americans deem their country worthy of defense, those of us who do will make every possible effort to find others willing to contribute to the cause. (Before conscripting those who aren't willing - but that's another issue altogether.) This step might only delay (not prevent) the fall of Rome, but so be it.
The "shortages of volunteers" the media talks about, does not exist. In the last fifteen years, the military kept raising its standards (mostly in terms of education, and scores on military aptitude exams) in order to exclude recruits it believed would be less successful as soldiers. Lower the standards back to 1991 levels, and you have all the troops you need.Tangential historical discussion here.
But the military, particularly the army, likes the higher standards. This is something that is little discussed, and largely unknown outside the army itself, but those stratospheric recruiting standards has produced the most professional and capable military in American history.
Many senior officers in the army do pay attention to history, and want to maintain the highest standards. Thus there are now proposals to recruit more foreigners... This brought forth protests from those opposed to, well, whatever. Historically, the American military has usually had more foreigners in the ranks, than it does now. During the American Civil War, about twenty percent of the Union Army was foreign born troops.
Maybe not a good idea, but Ethiopia has little ability to sustain a prolonged military action.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 2 — The prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, said today that his country, one of the poorest in the world, could not afford to keep its troops in neighboring Somalia much longer, and that Somalia’s stability depended on the quick injection of foreign peacekeepers.I recommend Ethiopia talk to Iran. No real reason, but I'm feeling particularly James Baker-ish today.
In a speech to parliament, in which his tone alternated between humble and triumphant, Mr. Meles said that Ethiopia had accomplished its mission to wipe out Somalia’s Islamist forces, which just two weeks ago controlled a large chunk of the country and were regarded as a regional menace.
“We will now leave as soon as possible — it could be weeks, it could be months,” he said. “We don’t have the money to take this burden individually.”
Diplomats in the region are now hurrying to cobble together an African peacekeeping force to take the place of the Ethiopian forces. But despite murmurs of commitment from several countries, including Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria, no force has yet materialized.
UPDATE: Same speech--slightly different take: Ethiopian troops to stay in Somalia weeks
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Ethiopian troops will stay in Somalia for another few weeks to help the victorious government pacify the Horn of Africa nation after a two-week war to oust militant Islamists, Addis Ababa said on Tuesday.I'm telling ya, talk to Iran, it's all about Iran these days. They're the ball bearings of the Middle East.
If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.Perhaps they could take a que from the LA Times. Patterico: "L.A. Times (Almost) Admits Ramadi Airstrike Didn’t Happen".
Added thought: Has anybody heard anything from Jamil Hussein lately? Seems odd that the AP, who quoted this guy in over 60 stories between April and November last year would suddenly stop doing so after stating emphatically that
Hussein is well known to AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.But I don't believe they've quoted him since.
UPDATE: Holy Cow - the AP responds to Jordan:
Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan's latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not. But she stood by the news organization's previous statements backing the existence of an Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein.Because what you don't read can't hurt you, I suppose.
The latest mark in the US death toll from Iraq drew a bit of media attention:
His father, David, learnt that his son’s death was the 3,000th by logging on to the internet after reporters began calling at his home....although the actual combat (or "killed in action") death toll is about 2,400, with the additional 600 from non-hostile causes.
“We had no idea why we were getting, within an hour, almost eight or nine people at the door,” he said. “That was a surprise to us because none of them mentioned why they were there. Perhaps they were embarrassed. One guy was standing there shaking like a leaf.”
But a much more significant "milestone" was reached last month - and virtually ignored.
The number of military service women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached 70, more than the total from the Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm wars.Given their rabid fixation on tracking numbers and comparing this war to previous conflicts it seems odd that the media would chose to ignore such an event.
We should note a second pay raise scheduled for April this year, though only mid-grade enlisted and warrants will see a boost in that one.
If your experiences have been anything like mine during this Bowl season, you've repeatedly discovered Michigan fans crumpled to the ground in a puddle of their own tears whimpering softly and incoherently over the fairness of life and a system that denied them an opportunity to play Ohio State just one more time to prove that they are actually the bestest team in the whole wide world. Being a sensitive, caring type, I've (until now) studiously not kicked or even stepped on them while passing by in their moment of endless bitter anguish.
But now, courtesy of USC and Bugs Bunny, I'll have something different to say tomorrow.
Expanding the Army is a bad idea. That's the central premise of this WaPo opinion piece by Gordon Adams and John Diamond. The authors give three reasons:
(1) It won't make a difference in Iraq. (right)
(2) It'll cost too much. (wrong, or rather, tangential)
(3) Voters in November rejected an expanded mission for the Army. (way too big a leap to make)
The budgetary concerns are misplaced insofar as they are dependent on how important you think the mission (however defined) is. If you think the mission is important, you're willing to shoulder the increased costs. Adams and Price argue that an increased Army will costs too much largely on the basis of increased retirement and health care costs. But that's hardly a justification for foregoing a mission central to national security--if you think the mission is central to national security. If you don't, well, then it's an easy choice to make. Additionally, arguments about increased retirment costs and healthcare fail for the simple fact those costs don't kick in until much later in time (i.e. when the new bigger Army is "older" and hence, closer to retirement and in greater need of medical care).
The authors do a good job in pointing out that Democrats, and their voters, are missing the forest for the trees when they call for an increased Army since they oppose the mission in Iraq anyway.
At a more fundamental level, proponents of enlarging the Army, particularly the Democrats, avoid the basic question of what the mission of this larger Army would be. Are the supporters of Army expansion, many of whom opposed the invasion of Iraq in the first place, now arguing that we need an Army to better carry out more Iraqs somewhere else in the world?
This goes back to the question of how important you think the mission is. I think it's fair to say that those on the left side of the aisle don't think the Iraq mission is all that important. Of course, when presented with the question of what the Army should be doing, there's a deafening silence or some general platitudes about Osama still being "on the loose." But anyway...
While I favor increasing the Army (more people to legally advise!), so many of the proponents of a permanent increase confuse a permanent increase with the "surge" option whereby more troops already part of the force are sent to Iraq. The authors of the WaPo piece do a good job explaining why the two are very different:
First, deciding to add to the Army today would do nothing to deal with the stress of Iraq. The hype about our Army is true: Our troops are the world's best. And it takes time to make them so. The lag time for recruitment, training and deployment means that new forces would be available far too late to ease the stresses now facing the Army in Iraq. Even on a fast track, it might be as long as five years before an additional combat-ready brigade would be ready to deploy there.
The piece goes screwy, however, with their "solution":
A program of troop reductions and phased redeployment from Iraq would in effect increase the size of the Army by relieving the force of a burdensome, costly and unproductive mission.
The authors don't address how effective the Army was in countering terrorism prior to Iraq and hence, how simply leaving and returning to the antebellum status quo will improve things. But then again, from reading the piece, Adams and Diamond don't seem too inclined to even consider defeating terrorism to even be part of our mission.All done!