Saturday, December 16, 2006

Iraq: Winds of More War

Also at Kos.

It seems the administration is getting the public used to the idea of sending more troops to Iraq. From David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times:
Military planners and White House budget analysts have been asked to provide President Bush with options for increasing American forces in Iraq by 20,000 or more. The request indicates that the option of a major “surge” in troop strength is gaining ground as part of a White House strategy review, senior administration officials said Friday.

Who is really behind this? General John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, has said that a surge in troops levels would only have a temporary effect, and might delay the "standing up" of Iraqi forces. General George Casey, commander of forces in Iraq, has not actively supported a troop surge. General Peter Schoomacher, Army Chief of Staff, says, "We would not surge without a purpose, and that purpose should be measurable."

Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno, who is assuming day-to-day command of U.S. forces in Iraq, is in favor of a troop surge. One can't help but suspect that there's a causal relationship between Odierno's position on troop levels and his appointment to his new position.

Frederick Kagan, former professor of military history at West Point and neo-confederate of Project for the New American Century (PNAC) founder Bill Kristol, has been a leading advocate of a force level increase. Kagan was chief author of Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, recently published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and presented to the White House. AEI is a sister neoconservative think tank of the PNAC, and Kagan is involved with both organizations.

Kagan's "Plan for Success" is the template for the proposed Iraq strategy that includes additional forces in Iraq, an increase in overall Army and Marine Corps end strength. It rejects the key recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to withdraw U.S. troops, to engage in talks with Syria and Iran, and to embed more U.S. trainers with Iraqi units. Kagan's approach "requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq," which, not coincidentally, folds in neatly with young Mister Bush's consistent rhetoric on the subject (which was crafted for him by neoconservative think tanks like AEI and PNAC.)

Out With the Old, In With the Neo

Some pundits hailed the Democratic victory in November and the arrival of James Baker's Iraq Study group as the death of neoconservatism at the hands of old school realism, but they were sadly mistaken. As Leon Hadar of Lew says, "Rumors of a neocon death are highly exaggerated."

The neocons have, in fact, been strategizing their survival and resurgence since late 2004, when Bill Kristol called for PNAC charter member Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense. The neoconservative initiative to invade Iraq and unseat Saddam Hussein was correct, according to Kristol and other neocon luminaries. The only problem was that darn old Don Rumsfeld screwed things up by going in with too few troops, too little armor, etc. While Rumsfeld has much to answer for in this life and the next for his mishandling of the Iraq situation, he certainly doesn't deserve to wear the beard for the overall failure of the neoconservative policy of global domination through use of armed force.

War is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means.

-- Karl von Clausewitz

Today, the neocons are riding on Fred Kagan's academic credibility and gravitas. I have mixed thoughts about Fred. Prior to his conspicuous shift into the neoconservative political camp, I considered him the military scholarship peer of my mentor, Milan Vego of the U.S. Naval War College. Like Vego, Kagan was highly skeptical of Rumsfeld-favored transformational concepts like network-centric warfare, effects based operations, and shock and awe.

In January 2003, two months before Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced, Vego wrote in Proceedings that:
Network-centric warfare reduces the art of war to tactics and targets…

…[We] must restore the balance between strategy, operational art, and tactics…

… The Clausewitzian thoughts on the nature of war, the relationships between policy and use of military power, and the effect of fog of war and friction are tossed away as unimportant in the information age.

In September 2003, months after the fall of Baghdad, Kagan wrote in Policy Review that in both Afghanistan and Iraq...
…the U.S. has been far less successful in winning the peace than it was in winning the war…

…Neither [network-centric warfare] nor “shock and awe” provides a reliable recipe for translating the destruction of the enemy’s ability to continue to fight into the accomplishment of the political objectives of the conflict.

It's all well and good that two of America's leading military thinkers recognize that high tech tactical measures alone cannot achieve the political aims of war, but I am profoundly disappointed that Fred Kagan now argues that low tech tactical measures can achieve strategy and policy goals that high tech measures cannot.

Fred Kagan has lost all credibility as an honest broker of military thought and scholarship. He's become a compliant tool of the of the neoconservative cabal headed by his brother Bob Kagan and Bill Kristol, whose objective is to commit American to expanding its conventional military forces to engage in an eternal state of warfare against an marginally definable "enemy" that has no army, air force or navy.

If Fred Kagan and his neo-conspirators get their way on Iraq--and they're likely to--America will permanently become a militaristic oligarchy, supported by theocratic underpinnings, one that justifies its existence by "promoting democracy" throughout the world at the point of a gun.

If young Mister Bush follows Kagan's advice, he'll be heeding solutions from the same jackdaws who created the problem in the first place.

That will make his legacy in a two-word epithet: redefining insanity.

But then again, redefining insanity is what the neoconservative vision was all about.


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


  1. Martin K1:12 PM

    Here in Europe we used to call it fascism: A militant corporate state focused on patriotism, violence and ideological superiority, with no respect for individual rights. Welcome to 1934.

  2. Yeah, Martin. Nationalism, government and big business are the same thing, the head of state has "unitary" powers.

    Go figure why anyone thinks we're still a republic.

  3. Martin K2:10 PM

    Youre an oligarchy, currently under the leadership of a mad puppet king. It would look like a tragic comedy if it wasnt real: Mad King George and the Circle of Evil, with a corrupt mega-rich politocratic class shamelessly cashing in on the blood of the peasants.

    I dont know if the Harry Potter-reference strikes you, but it seems Voldemort is winning. The surge-option in Baghdad is propably for taking on Sadr, and a surge is not sustainable. If you start a fight in the Middle East you have to be ready to fight for ten years.

    Below, Ill repost a comment I wrote on, ( wich I namdrop as often as I can because he is very good ;-). Its concerning the aim of the governments policy in real-politik-terms..

    "..Well, as for the administrations "policy": I still do not understand it. I try not to be a conspiracy-nut, but its really bloody hard work finding a rational explanation for the course of events since the invasion of Afghanistan. You would have thought that invading the nation wich defeated both the russians and the english in modern history would have been seen as a serious project, worthy of shoveling a lot of money into. Instead they went and invaded Iraq, and left Afghanistan to itself, except as a hunting ground. Why? I cant see any rational explanation, quite simply.

    And I cant make myself believe that they expected democracy to bloom from Iraq either, not seriously. If the US high-command saw that as a viable scenario, then they had to be on opium all of the time, all of them, for an amazing long period. "Lets invade them, make them unemployed, bomb them and theyll love us, despite the fact that weve been killing them for ten last years!" Your high command is not that insane, surely?

    So it comes down to a couple of options for me, really:

    1) The Pirate Raid-option. Quite simply, Haliburton/Carlisle/Kellogs etc. staged the whole event in order to steal enormous amounts of hard cash from the US treasury and never mind the nation.

    2) The Religious Nut-option: They literally thought they were doing the will of Jesus and God, and that the rapture would gloriously commence as the forces of Christ entered Babylon and the fields of Harmageddon.

    3) The Psycho-Drama Option: A lot of old men out to prove they were right during the Vietnam/ Iran-Contra era (Cheney, Rumsfeld/ Negroponte, Reich) and a president in rebellion/adoration to his father.

    4) The Lizards From Pluto/Chtulu-option. As David Icke so convincingly states, the US is run by the spirit of the evil lizardkings of Atlantis, who were kept within the magical binding of the Pentagon and burst forth into the world on 11/9 after the breaking of the seal. HP Lovecraft wrote about these elder evil gods.

    Or a combination of all of the above. Shit, it makes as much sense as any other explanations to me... Sigh..."

  4. martin k writes:

    " 'Lets invade them, make them unemployed, bomb them and theyll love us, despite the fact that weve been killing them for ten last years!' Your high command is not that insane, surely?"

    I think it is the case that our high command is utterly stupid, while believing themselves to be both all-knowing and all-powerful, and yes, this is a form of insanity - megalomania mixed with delusional "thinking" - but of course there is more, billions of dollars of 'more,' all wrapped up in the biggest thievery the world has ever seen, along with their breathtakingly psychopathic scheme of mass murder and torture, all undertaken with no regrets.

    The war strategy has been based upon naught but the fantasies of little boys pretending to be men, mental midgets who pretend to be statesmen, psychological cripples who have never once taken responsibility for their actions. He can't be bothered to respond to the ISG report, or discuss his "way forward" until after the holidays, because golly gee, he LOVES the holidays and why would he want to detract from his own (simpleton's) joy and pleasure in such a way? All you need to know about how much Bush "cares" about the death and destruction that continues in his name is to look at the packed calendar of holiday events planned by the Whitehouse, without so much as a nod in the direction of the suffering he has caused.

    If there is a form of Alzheimers that selectively destroys a person's morality and erases their notion of cause-and-effect, each member of this crew could be a poster child for it. They do not make even the smallest pretext of giving the tiniest tinker's damn for the dead and wounded, neither among our troops nor among the civilians, for the simple reason that no one matters but their own pompous and self-absorbed selves. Neither does it matter to them that they have utterly destroyed this country's finances and our moral standing in the world—the profound and lasting damage they have caused is simply of no consequence to them, something that is unfathomable to those of us who actually have a functional moral core.

    There is only one way in which sanity will return to our side, and that will be when this bunch of criminal sociopathic thugs leaves office, via impeachment or with the next election cycle. And even once that happens, the losses on both sides will continue to mount, no matter what we do next. All we can hope for is that those losses can be minimized, but in all honesty, I do wonder if even this is possible. It's simply impossible to reverse the opening of this Pandora's Box, and pretending otherwise is the most monstrous of follies.

  5. Anonymous2:21 PM

    At this point, it's all about the stall. Anything they can do (including the ramp up to, 'testing' out of and muddle / failure) to push it out into the laps of the next Administration? So W doesn't have to bail, and so outcomes can be blamed on somebody else?

    This actually serves to push all the way through 2007, which is into election season.

  6. Drinkof,

    I'm starting to think of this as the "time delayed fall guy strategy.'

  7. "the "standing up" of Iraqi forces" Seems to us such an indigenous surge will include just a few hundred. What next. Neo-con thinking will call for a faux retreat--some to Kuwait, and others swelling the ranks of advisers by huge percentages, so that few if any troops levels will be downsized. This feels like a disaster on the level of the Viet Nam advisory level.

  8. Martin K12:35 PM

    The big difference between the Vietnam and Iraqi situation is that the US allies in Iraq involves a third column, the Shiites under Sadr. Vietnam was a two-way fight, this could easily become a three-way with both local groups hating the embedded US forces.

    Its nice to see a president who puts christmas-partying ahead of warfare, though.