Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Whatchamacallit War in Iraq

From the Brave New World Dictionary:

civil war: n. whatever the Bush administration says a civil war is. Or isn't.


When is a bribe not a bribe?

When you call it something else.

On Wolf Blitzer's Late Edition Sunday morning, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, discussed the proposed of "paying" cooperative Iraqi politicians. But we're not talking about offering "bribes" Khalilzad says. We're offering to, uh, you know, "level the playing field."


When is a lie not a lie?

When you call it something else.

We now know that young Bush was preparing to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense even as he told America and the rest of the world that Rummy would be around for the rest of the administration's term.

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, making the Sunday political gab show rounds, stuck to the company line that Bush wasn't lying; he just didn't want considerations over the war to affect the elections.

So what was all of Bush's campaign trail "Defeat-ocrats" talk about?


When is a civil war not a civil war?

When you call it something else.

Within hours of NBC's announcement that the network now considers the situation in Iraq to be a civil war, Bush and his echo chamberlains hit the airways to blame all the violence in that country on al-Qaeda. Even though our own military admits that al-Qaeda in Iraq is responsible for only a small fraction of the attacks. Even though the Pentagon has all but abandoned efforts to retake the province of al-Anbar, al-Qaeda's only strong hold. Even though Joint Chiefs chairman General Peter Pace wants to take U.S. troops out of al-Anbar where they're actually fighting terrorists and put them in Baghdad, where they'll be smack dab in the middle of the whatchamacallit.

The Whatchamacallit War

"All battles are won or lost before they are fought."

-- Sun Tzu

Mission accomplished. Dead enders. Henny Penny. Turning corners. Last throes. Purple fingers. Cut and run. We'll win unless we quit…

If you could win wars by spinning them, we would have won the war in Iraq before we even started it. Lamentably, the pre-war spin all but guaranteed defeat. The Iraq invasion was sold to the American public on fuzzy pretexts, designed on flawed assumptions about the post-combat political environment, and sustained on glittering Rovewellian generalities.

More than ever, the administration's eleventh hour war talk is sounding like after-midnight bar talk. Senator Jon Kyle (R-Arizona) told Blitzer on Sunday that we have to come up with a way to "win" in Iraq. There is no way to win in Iraq. There may be a way to make the best of a bad situation, but we won't find a way to do that as long as likes of Kyle keep pushing bunker mentality bunk-ola on the American public.

According to Michael R. Gordon and David S. Cloud of the Washington Post, Donald Rumsfeld submitted a memo to Bush two days before he resigned that said "In my view it is time for a major adjustment” and that “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”

Well no kidding. It sure was nice of Rummy to make a deathbed confession. He must be starting to sweat about what's waiting for him in the next life.

But to his credit, Rumsfeld's memo contained a number of pragmatic options, the best of which is to redeploy U.S. forces from "vulnerable positions" in Baghdad and elsewhere to Kuwait and safer areas of Iraq. Which is what Congressman John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) called for more than a year ago.

What both Rumsfeld and Murtha have proposed is what we will inevitably do. How much more time will pass before whatchamacallhim decides to do it?


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


  1. Martin K2:56 PM

    The "megabase" strategy sounds alluring: Large US chunks of land in the wilderness, from wich you can descend like the hammer of God in support of your local warlords. However, there are quite a few problems with it.

    First and foremost, you have enemy adaptability. The megabase demands an outer perimeter large enough to "avoid" mortar-attacks. Guess what the new growth-industry in Anbar province will be? Rockets, at first crude Quassams and then increasingly Hezbollah-style more sophisticated systems.

    And, if you leave Anbar to itself, you have practically conceded Al Quaida its second country (the North Western territories are already effectively so).This gives them a staging area with the possibility of a lot of movement, in praxis a smuggler-country. The historical paralells to the Assasini (Ishmaili islam) are almost frightening, they were based in twin areas of Northern Iran and Syria, fighting both the kalifate and the crusaders.

    The same goes for the south, wich will propably become a Iran-supported militiastate based on clan-lines, and they *sure* as shit dont owe the US anything, after you abandoned them in the first Gulf War. These will be much quicker to gain advanced missile-launching capacity, just like Hezbollah.

    Third, the question of US contractor security comes into play. At the moment there are approx 40000 civil employees just in the security-sector in Iraq. These have up til now depended on the US backbone as ass-savers if things went bad. If the US forces withdraw & minimize, these will have to rely on Iraqi security-forces instead, and I dont think that will be exactly frictionless.

    I could go on about Clausewitz dictum of the passive position and how it is doomed to failure if it doesnt have any forward momentuum, I could go on about how the US might be a bit uncomfortable watching a genocide and ethnic cleansing that will propably make Jugoslavia look like a kindergarden fight. But I dont see any point in it, just as I dont see any real good way out of the mess your leaders have put us all in. Depressive but true.

  2. That's all quite right, Martin, and very interesting as all your comments are. It seems to me however that the greatest problem with the concept of permanent bases is that they will be small islands surrounded by sharks. And, since they will not be large enough to be self-sustaining, they must rely on replenishment of materiel and personnel. We haven't the lift capacity to sustain bases like this by air resupply, so road replenishement, and therefore road security is essential. We don't have that now, with our forces spread far more broadly than would be the case with the enduring base concept.

    This is what happens when a nation permits amateurs and ideologues to create military and geopolitical strategies.

  3. Anonymous7:41 AM

    The British tried to "rule Iraq from the air" between the wars. On a tactical level, it worked quite well, on the strategic level, the results were mixed, particularly because they used gas as a "force multiplier" to keep the Iraqi tribesmen in line.

    Tactically, the Iraqis did not become unruly, but some of the long-term effects were somewhat baneful:

    - When Mussolini's fascists invaded Abyssinia, a charter member of the League of Nations, and used gas as needed, the British were not pleased, but could hardly complain too much, because of their track record in Iraq. (The Italians had tried to invade Ethiopia in the 1890s, and lost pretty badly; hence their desire to win at any cost.) This destroyed the legitimacy of the League of Nations, and the new idea that diplomacy and negotiations must be used to solve conflicts, and, at the same time, drove two of Europe's vilest dictators into each other's arms.

    - When it came time for the Saudis to choose a partner to develop their oil wealth, they chose the United States, and not the United Kingdom. Whether or not the British policies in Iraq are partly responsible for this, I don't know, but I rather doubt that this counted in the Brit's favor.

    - When the British got into a crunch in Europe, the Iraqis promptly mutinied, and, came extremely close to adopting a pro-German government, exactly at a time when Europe had no need whatsoever that the Germans make any new friends.

    - Eventually the Iraqis had yet another change of leadership, which moved much closer to the French and Russian orbits.

    To paraphrase Churchill, sometimes jaw-jaw is preferable to war-war.

  4. Anonymous,

    Great info, thanks for posting it.



  5. Martin K3:38 PM

    Lurch: I quite agree, & thanx for the compliment. I would dearly love to see some logistical statistics on how the current megabases are run on a tonnage pr. day basis, with equipment breakdown/resupply and maintenance included. From what I have heard, it is much more costly than your logistics-corps thought it would be.

    I would guess that the idea of bases is centered on making a chain of interdependent islands, wich assumes continous helicopter-contact. I know the british are almost depleted when it comes to copters, would like to hear US numbers of operative capacity. Its really weird that there are too many pilots and not enough material, I dont understand the numbers. (And, ground-to-air is cheap if you have supply. Wich they now have.)

    In Afghanistan, where I have some friends who served recently, we hear that the british are really f&%ed. (Is swearing allowed on this blog?) They have the choice between airstrikes and ground artillery a lot of the time, no warthogs or Apaches available. And the british are real soldiers, if you´ll excuse my Eurocentric opinion. They should have all the tools available to them from the US, no questions asked, because they have a chance of winning when they fight, as opposed to the US with their kill-everything doctrine.

    Ive "killed" americans in exercise, its not really hard with a good team of AG-3s in defensive positions & firepockets. If you have rocket-positions prepared, it is propably easier. In-country fighting is very much sniping, retreating and hiding when you do it properly. Hezbollah was bolstered by at least 500 european lebanese veterans during the last war, they became trapped with their family and fought back. Itll be interesting to see how the knowledge of that war will affect the capacity of other conflicts.

  6. Neo Cons do believe in evolution: torture = abuses = Vigorous interrogation methods = whachamacallit.