Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Iraq Study Group Grope

Also at Kos.

The Iraq Study Group (ISG) report is on the street.

There is no magic formula. We need a bipartisan approach. The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. The challenges are complex. Violence is increasing. The elected Iraqi government is not adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing basic security or delivering essential services. Pessimism is pervasive.

Great Prescott Bush's Ghost! This ten member blue ribbon committee worked for 9 months to tell young Mister Bush and the American public things my dogs already know?

At least the ISG said in public things that needed to be said, and there's something to be said for that.

They also made some bold suggestions; among the best of them was to engage Iran and Syria constructively. The ISG is hardly the first group to say this, but it certainly helps that they've thrown their weight behind the proposal.

And they made a long needed condemnation of the Bush administration's diplomacy record:
Iraq’s neighbors and much of the international community have not been persuaded to play an active and constructive role in supporting Iraq. The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out.

"Time is running out" may be an optimistic assessment.

Young Mister Bush: Taking It Like a Boy

Whatever else it may or may not have accomplished, the ISG took an overdue paddle to 60 old Mister Bush's behind. His foreign policy has failed, so badly that there may not be a way to fix the situation in Iraq and the Middle East.

At a Wednesday morning press conference Press Conference, ISG members were remarkably candid during the question and answer session.

Former Congressman and member of the 9/11 Commission Lee Hamilton confessed that it may already be too late for the ISG's recommendations to be effective. "From the very beginning we recognized that events could overtake our work, could overtake policy, American policy in the region. And that may still be the case." What might those events be? "Anarchy, total chaos, the collapse of the government without a new government taking its place and rampant violence throughout the country."

Many would argue that those events are already taking place.

Leon Panetta, President Clinton's former Chief of staff, said, "I think we owe it to [the Iraqis] to try to take one last chance at making Iraq work and, more importantly, to take one last chance at unifying this country on this war. I think the president understands that he simply is not going to be able to proceed with whatever policy changes he wants to implement if we're divided."

That sounded to me like Panetta telling Sonny that he's got one last chance to get his head unscrewed from wherever it's buried or he's tomorrow's breakfast special at Denny's.

Hamilton, Panetta and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor made a point of saying that ISG has no statutory authority, and that having completed its work, no longer exists as an advisory body.

In naval aviator-ese, this translates into: "Told ya. See ya. Sure hate to be ya."

Several ISG members alluded to bipartisanship in Congress and the role of the press in pulling the country together, but it was clear that real focus of their remarks was the Commander in Chief, and the message was "The bus you hear roaring down the street has your name on it."

How will Bush take all this? All the unflattering psychological profiles of him that I've read and heard resonate, but I've given up trying to figure out what, if anything, is going on between the guy's ears, or who--besides Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and his God--he listens to anymore.

When Mister Bush finally decides to publicly address the ISG report, listen closely to what he says, and see if it sounds any different than anything you've heard from him in the past six years. My best guess and worst fear is that his spin masters will search the ISG's report and press conference transcript for the most convenient lever they can find to discredit it, and I'll bet you a Coca Cola that here's what they'll come up with for Mister Bush's speech:

"ISG Chairman Jim Baker himself said that the approach his committee recommended has its shortcomings …"

Anybody care to take me up on that bet?

In Other News…

Forget about the danger of Cheney talking Bush into launching another unprovoked attack on Iran for the sake of keeping a stranglehold on the world's energy market. That's small potatoes compared to the latest news from NASA.
NASA's Mars rovers, which have been exploring the planet's surface since they landed there in 2004, have found strong evidence that suggests that water flowed on the planet long ago.

Holy simoleons! If there was water on Mars, that means there was life there once, which means there's oil under the planet's surface.

Stand by for a national mobilization to combat the Axis of Extraterrestial Evil.

Wanted Dead or Alive: al-Ming the Merciless.

Despite urging by the Interplanetary Study Group, don't expect the Bush administration to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Venus or Jupiter, which Condi Rice's State Department is about to identify as "rogue planets."

#

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.

14 comments:

  1. How tragic that Mars, which once was a thriving, blooming planet with water (probably had life, too) died in less than 6,000 years. I wonder what sort of life it had and how this bit of cosmological trivia will be spun by the righties.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it is imperative that we wage a preemptive "War of the Worlds" on the Martians.

    After all, we're better off fighting them up there so we don't have to fight them over here!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Martin K8:48 AM

    Extraterrestrial problems aside, at least someone has seen the president in the eye and told him what has been clear since the rape of Fallujah: The US is NOT winning the Iraqi conflict, and all earlier worst-case scenarios are now looking bleakly optimistic.

    Unfortunately, there is a real problem in that your commander in chief seems to be clinically insane or at least in complete denial. Is insanity grounds for Impeachment?

    As Sidney Blumenthal points out (http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2006/12/07/iraq/)
    everything he has been doing the last weeks points to a flat out refusal to listen to daddys helpers. It will be interesting to see how Gates can perform in this administration, not least how he will corelate to Cheney who I still believe is the real evil wizard of this twisted fairytale of the doomed king.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "In Other News…"

    Anyone else find it odd that manned space missions have become big news all of a sudden?

    And as the pResident's polls continue to drop and the Iraq bodycount rises...
    LOOK! Spaceships!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sorry I'm so late catching up with the conversation, gang.

    Lurch,

    I'm actually quite excited by the Mars discovery. How the creationist yahooligans try to spin it is anybody's guess, but who really cares what they say?

    Martin,

    Yeah, for whatever other flaws the ISG report may contain, they at least come right out and say that foreign poiicy has been conducted in a juvenile manner for the past six years.

    William,

    Funny how the subject changes at just the right time, huh?

    On the other hand, in a sane world, the Mars water discovery would be the biggest story in the media.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Uh, I saw Martian gullies like that in the nooz a long time ago. They didn't make a "splash" back then...

    http://www.solarviews.com/cap/mgs/PIA01035.htm

    ReplyDelete
  7. With respect to the Iraq Study group...an Iraqi, now a Professor at York University in Toronto, said on TV today that the U.S. pulling out of Iraq would be the most shameful act in U.S. history. That's a bit of hyperbole in my view, but he's not far wrong. How do you go into a country (even worse go in for the wrong reasons), wreck the place, then just wipe your hands and say "well, we're out of here. This is your problem."

    It's immoral.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Martin K2:08 AM

    The real crazy issue is Bush refusal to even talk with Iran until they have "proved" that they are not working on an uranium enrichment-program, here even Britains Tony Blair has somehow found a spine and diverged. Iran has every reason to want a realtively stable Iraq, after all the southern half will propably be theirs in a few years time thanks to the US.

    Bush reminds me of a guy stuck in a carwreck about to go up in flames calling that the people around can be allowed to help him out, but only if their hands are really really clean.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Martin K2:19 AM

    Btw, sorry for flooding your comments-box, but this quote from Guardian was too good not to post...:

    "..Alongside Hirohito's concession after Hiroshima - "the war has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage" - we can now add another majestic euphemism, "disappointed by the pace of success"." lol

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mus,

    Who's talking about "washing hands?" Is that the latest version of "cut and run" to come out of the machine? Have you actually read the report? I'm leery of some of the 79 suggestions, but overall it actually is a comprehensive plan for achieving--or trying to achieve--the stated goals of a stable and independent Iraq.

    If we're going to throw the morality card, let's throw it at the people who have continued to send troops in pursuit of a plainly failed strategy and who have practiced false propaganda to convince the American public that we're "winning" in Iraq.

    Martin,

    I've said this before, but the enrichment condition was and is a measure that ensures diplomacy with Iran will not take place.

    And feel free to flood the comments box all you want.

    Best to all,

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Lost in this conversation re: the ISG is any helpful discussion regarding the Will of the American People. I am not sure our leaders or the pundits fully understand this dynamic. Dominic Johnson and Dominic Tierney wrongly make the point last week in their Op-ed (New York Times November 28, 2006, OP-ED) piece that:

    “… Tet and Somalia were not defeats. They were success perceived as failures. Such stark divergence between perception and reality is common in wartime, when people’s beliefs about which side wins and which loses are often driven by psychological factors that have nothing to do with events on the battlefield.”

    The battlefield in the Vietnam War and in Somalia was not only on the ground where the combat units fought. It was much bigger than that. Johnson and Tierney do not seem to understand that the battlefield included the ability of our political leaders to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will.” In regard to the Vietnam War and in Somalia, we can say that our national leadership was unequal to the task and was defeated. It is not a media generated false perception but rather a grim reality that this nation must be fought (against our enemies) in a seamless universe of war that includes multiple and varied dimensions. One of these dimensions is military action. Another dimension is the commitment of the people. Both are instruments of war, both can contribute to victory and both can be subject to defeat. In combat, our leaders must lead and develop both. I don’t think our congress and executive branch have understood this. I think the Vietcong did:

    ‘‘’You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.’” – Harry G. Summers On Strategy

    I remember in 1976 at USMC The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, VA seeing a military instructional movie regarding communication security in the Vietnam War. According to this movie the Vietcong had developed incredible electronic warfare capability using the most humble of equipment. The movie described the apparently laxity of communication security by the US forces and the great success the communists had in compromising our communications in the most deadly ways for our soldiers and marines. If this was true than it described a dimension of war that was not given due leadership consideration at the time. I believe this same “type” of conceptual error is being made in the US war in Iraq. There are dimension(s) of this war that have not been given due consideration by the national leadership. In the same way that our company commanders must use their unit as an instrument of combat and must “fight their company” against the enemy, our national leaders must “fight the nation” in time of war. I am saying that in the universe of war there is a seamless environment composed of many dimensions. One of the dimensions is the commitment of the people. Our elected government has failed to understand this in Iraq.

    The organized application of violence on the battlefield is clearly the most dramatic and traumatic component of war…, but it is not the only one. If national leadership takes this country into a war and does not have a legitimate plan to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will” to support that war than they have not done their job. It is not a problem of the press, it is a failure in leadership. Can you imagine a unit leader, leading his or her company into an attack without reconnaissance, without considering the situation, mission, execution, admin and logistics, and command and signal? This administration has done the moral and operational equivalent of this kind of unacceptable and poor performance. I am saying that it is not “perception” but reality: one of the components of war is the will of the American People. It is simultaneously a weapon against the enemy and an objective of opposing forces. If we go into war without a plan and contingency plans or if we fail to execute a plan to cultivate and sustain a unified national will we are fighting with our hands tied behind our back.

    Whatever we do in Iraq at this dismal point in time, if we do not have a national leadership that cultivates and sustains with integrity, an unified national will than we can say once again, (to paraphrase Bernard B. Fall) that our elected government is accountably “unequal to the task” that is at least Iraq.

    (Around Midnight at sundayschoolforsinners.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Lost in this conversation re: the ISG is any helpful discussion regarding the Will of the American People. I am not sure our leaders or the pundits fully understand this dynamic. Dominic Johnson and Dominic Tierney wrongly make the point last week in their Op-ed (New York Times November 28, 2006, OP-ED) piece that:

    “… Tet and Somalia were not defeats. They were success perceived as failures. Such stark divergence between perception and reality is common in wartime, when people’s beliefs about which side wins and which loses are often driven by psychological factors that have nothing to do with events on the battlefield.”

    The battlefield in the Vietnam War and in Somalia was not only on the ground where the combat units fought. It was much bigger than that. Johnson and Tierney do not seem to understand that the battlefield included the ability of our political leaders to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will.” In regard to the Vietnam War and in Somalia, we can say that our national leadership was unequal to the task and was defeated. It is not a media generated false perception but rather a grim reality that this nation must be fought (against our enemies) in a seamless universe of war that includes multiple and varied dimensions. One of these dimensions is military action. Another dimension is the commitment of the people. Both are instruments of war, both can contribute to victory and both can be subject to defeat. In combat, our leaders must lead and develop both. I don’t think our congress and executive branch have understood this. I think the Vietcong did:

    ‘‘’You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.’” – Harry G. Summers On Strategy

    I remember in 1976 at USMC The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, VA seeing a military instructional movie regarding communication security in the Vietnam War. According to this movie the Vietcong had developed incredible electronic warfare capability using the most humble of equipment. The movie described the apparently laxity of communication security by the US forces and the great success the communists had in compromising our communications in the most deadly ways for our soldiers and marines. If this was true than it described a dimension of war that was not given due leadership consideration at the time. I believe this same “type” of conceptual error is being made in the US war in Iraq. There are dimension(s) of this war that have not been given due consideration by the national leadership. In the same way that our company commanders must use their unit as an instrument of combat and must “fight their company” against the enemy, our national leaders must “fight the nation” in time of war. I am saying that in the universe of war there is a seamless environment composed of many dimensions. One of the dimensions is the commitment of the people. Our elected government has failed to understand this in Iraq.

    The organized application of violence on the battlefield is clearly the most dramatic and traumatic component of war…, but it is not the only one. If national leadership takes this country into a war and does not have a legitimate plan to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will” to support that war than they have not done their job. It is not a problem of the press, it is a failure in leadership. Can you imagine a unit leader, leading his or her company into an attack without reconnaissance, without considering the situation, mission, execution, admin and logistics, and command and signal? This administration has done the moral and operational equivalent of this kind of unacceptable and poor performance. I am saying that it is not “perception” but reality: one of the components of war is the will of the American People. It is simultaneously a weapon against the enemy and an objective of opposing forces. If we go into war without a plan and contingency plans or if we fail to execute a plan to cultivate and sustain a unified national will we are fighting with our hands tied behind our back.

    Whatever we do in Iraq at this dismal point in time, if we do not have a national leadership that cultivates and sustains with integrity, an unified national will than we can say once again, (to paraphrase Bernard B. Fall) that our elected government is accountably “unequal to the task” that is at least Iraq.

    (Around Midnight at sundayschoolforsinners.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Lost in this conversation re: the ISG is any helpful discussion regarding the Will of the American People. I am not sure our leaders or the pundits fully understand this dynamic. Dominic Johnson and Dominic Tierney wrongly make the point last week in their Op-ed (New York Times November 28, 2006, OP-ED) piece that:

    “… Tet and Somalia were not defeats. They were success perceived as failures. Such stark divergence between perception and reality is common in wartime, when people’s beliefs about which side wins and which loses are often driven by psychological factors that have nothing to do with events on the battlefield.”

    The battlefield in the Vietnam War and in Somalia was not only on the ground where the combat units fought. It was much bigger than that. Johnson and Tierney do not seem to understand that the battlefield included the ability of our political leaders to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will.” In regard to the Vietnam War and in Somalia, we can say that our national leadership was unequal to the task and was defeated. It is not a media generated false perception but rather a grim reality that this nation must be fought (against our enemies) in a seamless universe of war that includes multiple and varied dimensions. One of these dimensions is military action. Another dimension is the commitment of the people. Both are instruments of war, both can contribute to victory and both can be subject to defeat. In combat, our leaders must lead and develop both. I don’t think our congress and executive branch have understood this. I think the Vietcong did:

    ‘‘’You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.’” – Harry G. Summers On Strategy

    I remember in 1976 at USMC The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, VA seeing a military instructional movie regarding communication security in the Vietnam War. According to this movie the Vietcong had developed incredible electronic warfare capability using the most humble of equipment. The movie described the apparently laxity of communication security by the US forces and the great success the communists had in compromising our communications in the most deadly ways for our soldiers and marines. If this was true than it described a dimension of war that was not given due leadership consideration at the time. I believe this same “type” of conceptual error is being made in the US war in Iraq. There are dimension(s) of this war that have not been given due consideration by the national leadership. In the same way that our company commanders must use their unit as an instrument of combat and must “fight their company” against the enemy, our national leaders must “fight the nation” in time of war. I am saying that in the universe of war there is a seamless environment composed of many dimensions. One of the dimensions is the commitment of the people. Our elected government has failed to understand this in Iraq.

    The organized application of violence on the battlefield is clearly the most dramatic and traumatic component of war…, but it is not the only one. If national leadership takes this country into a war and does not have a legitimate plan to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will” to support that war than they have not done their job. It is not a problem of the press, it is a failure in leadership. Can you imagine a unit leader, leading his or her company into an attack without reconnaissance, without considering the situation, mission, execution, admin and logistics, and command and signal? This administration has done the moral and operational equivalent of this kind of unacceptable and poor performance. I am saying that it is not “perception” but reality: one of the components of war is the will of the American People. It is simultaneously a weapon against the enemy and an objective of opposing forces. If we go into war without a plan and contingency plans or if we fail to execute a plan to cultivate and sustain a unified national will we are fighting with our hands tied behind our back.

    Whatever we do in Iraq at this dismal point in time, if we do not have a national leadership that cultivates and sustains with integrity, an unified national will than we can say once again, (to paraphrase Bernard B. Fall) that our elected government is accountably “unequal to the task” that is at least Iraq.

    (Around Midnight at sundayschoolforsinners.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous1:03 PM

    Lost in this conversation re: the ISG is any helpful discussion regarding the Will of the American People. I am not sure our leaders or the pundits fully understand this dynamic. Dominic Johnson and Dominic Tierney wrongly make the point last week in their Op-ed (New York Times November 28, 2006, OP-ED) piece that:

    “… Tet and Somalia were not defeats. They were success perceived as failures. Such stark divergence between perception and reality is common in wartime, when people’s beliefs about which side wins and which loses are often driven by psychological factors that have nothing to do with events on the battlefield.”

    The battlefield in the Vietnam War and in Somalia was not only on the ground where the combat units fought. It was much bigger than that. Johnson and Tierney do not seem to understand that the battlefield included the ability of our political leaders to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will.” In regard to the Vietnam War and in Somalia, we can say that our national leadership was unequal to the task and was defeated. It is not a media generated false perception but rather a grim reality that this nation must be fought (against our enemies) in a seamless universe of war that includes multiple and varied dimensions. One of these dimensions is military action. Another dimension is the commitment of the people. Both are instruments of war, both can contribute to victory and both can be subject to defeat. In combat, our leaders must lead and develop both. I don’t think our congress and executive branch have understood this. I think the Vietcong did:

    ‘‘’You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.’” – Harry G. Summers On Strategy

    I remember in 1976 at USMC The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, VA seeing a military instructional movie regarding communication security in the Vietnam War. According to this movie the Vietcong had developed incredible electronic warfare capability using the most humble of equipment. The movie described the apparently laxity of communication security by the US forces and the great success the communists had in compromising our communications in the most deadly ways for our soldiers and marines. If this was true than it described a dimension of war that was not given due leadership consideration at the time. I believe this same “type” of conceptual error is being made in the US war in Iraq. There are dimension(s) of this war that have not been given due consideration by the national leadership. In the same way that our company commanders must use their unit as an instrument of combat and must “fight their company” against the enemy, our national leaders must “fight the nation” in time of war. I am saying that in the universe of war there is a seamless environment composed of many dimensions. One of the dimensions is the commitment of the people. Our elected government has failed to understand this in Iraq.

    The organized application of violence on the battlefield is clearly the most dramatic and traumatic component of war…, but it is not the only one. If national leadership takes this country into a war and does not have a legitimate plan to cultivate and sustain a “unified national will” to support that war than they have not done their job. It is not a problem of the press, it is a failure in leadership. Can you imagine a unit leader, leading his or her company into an attack without reconnaissance, without considering the situation, mission, execution, admin and logistics, and command and signal? This administration has done the moral and operational equivalent of this kind of unacceptable and poor performance. I am saying that it is not “perception” but reality: one of the components of war is the will of the American People. It is simultaneously a weapon against the enemy and an objective of opposing forces. If we go into war without a plan and contingency plans or if we fail to execute a plan to cultivate and sustain a unified national will we are fighting with our hands tied behind our back.

    Whatever we do in Iraq at this dismal point in time, if we do not have a national leadership that cultivates and sustains with integrity, an unified national will than we can say once again, (to paraphrase Bernard B. Fall) that our elected government is accountably “unequal to the task” that is at least Iraq.

    (Around Midnight at sundayschoolforsinners.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete