Saturday, January 20, 2007

Even Kissinger and Krauthammer Lukewarm on Iraq "Surge" Strategy

You know there's good reason to be leery of a neoconservative driven foreign policy decision when a) young Mr. Bush makes it and b) Henry Kissinger endorses it with faint praise and c) even neocon stalwart Charles Krauthammer says it's a dumb idea.

Last Thursday, in an International Herald Tribune essay titled "Withdrawal is not an Option," Kissinger wrote:
President George W. Bush's bold decision to order a "surge" of some 20,000 American troops for Iraq has brought the debate over the war to a defining stage. There will not be opportunity for another reassessment.

Kissinger seems to be hedging his position on Bush's escalation strategy. Aside from describing the surge decision as "bold," he doesn’t have much else nice to say about it. Instead, he produces a laundry list of past mistakes in the Iraq fandango, gives the standard platter of platitudes about the dire consequences of "withdrawal" and the need for America to stay engaged in the Gulf region that sound like the same glittering nonsense he muttered into the echo chamber when he worked for Richard Nixon. Then he says something quite interesting:
As the comprehensive strategy evolves, a repositioning of American forces from the cities into enclaves should be undertaken so that they can separate themselves from the civil war and concentrate on the threats described above [militias, death squads and terrorists].

Does that sound familiar? It should. "Reposition" (to put something in a new position) is a whole lot like the word "redeploy" (to move people or equipment from one area or activity to another.)

Where have we heard that term "redeploy" before?

Another Bag of Krauthammers

Last Friday, in his Washington Post op-ed "A Plausible Plan B," neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer was more openly skeptical of the surge option.
If we were allied with an Iraqi government that, however weak, was truly national -- cross-confessional and dedicated to fighting a two-front war against Baathist insurgents and Shiite militias -- a surge of American troops, together with a change of counterinsurgency strategy, would have a good chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, the Iraqi political process has given us Nouri al-Maliki and his Shiite coalition.

Krauthammer is confident that the U.S. troops will acquit themselves admirably (as am I), but that the surge effort "will fail, however, because the Maliki government will undermine it."

Krauthammer proposes an alternative "Plan B" in which we tell Maliki:
Let us down, and we dismantle the Green Zone, leave Baghdad and let you jfend for yourself; we keep the airport and certain strategic bases in the area; we redeploy most of our forces to Kurdistan; we maintain a significant presence in Anbar province, where we are having success in our one-front war against al-Qaeda and the Baathists. Then we watch. You can have your Baghdad civil war without us. [Italics added.]

Krauthammer's Plan B sounds very much like Kissinger's "repositioning" plan, which sounds very much like someone else's Plan A that's been on the table for more than a year.

Political Charades: "Sounds Like…"

Like many neoconservative pundits, Krauthammer has a long-established penchant for treating the truth like a freckled stepchild who just tracked mud into the house. His assertion that we are having success in Anbar against al-Qaeda and the Baathists is probably exaggerated at best. As recently as September, U.S. forces were reported to have "lost control" of the area, and recent reports of "progress" in the region give little tangible evidence that we've actually "turned the corner" there.

More egregious, however, is Krauthammer's statement that "the abandonment of Iraq…appears to be the default Democratic alternative." That's utter bunker mentality bunk.

If there is such a thing as a Democratic "default" position, it's the one proposed by Congressman Jack Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) in November of 2005.

Back then, Murtha got the swiftboat treatment from the autistic right, which labeled him as a traitor, a coward and other epithets.

Now that the neoconservatives have been run over by a streetcar named reality, they're starting to pitch Murtha's proposal as if it were their own idea--a delicious piece of triangulation that in another era they would have described as (heh-heh) "Clintonian."

Maybe irony isn't dead after all.



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


  1. Bacon's Rebellion4:49 PM

    I'm not sure what Kissinger is trying to accomplish with his statement; other than trying to offend the Bush administration as little as possible. When you are in the influence peddling business, as Henry is, you need to keep the doors open to whatever party controls the White House at the moment. Things will become even more problematic for old Henry when and if Bush makes his (read that as Cheney's) move against Iran. Kissinger was (and I presume still is) an agent for various Chinese business interests. The much rumored oil deal between Iran and China will create issues of some magnitude for him if the U.S. takes military actions that might impede Iran's ability to meet her commitments to China. Henry had best hope that the petard nailed to the gates of Iran has a very long slow burning fuse as he doesn't look all that fleet of foot these days.

    As for Krauthammer, his alternate plan sounds more the Likud Party's wet dream fantasy. Baghdad is destroyed, the Iraqis butcher each other, the U.S. military remains a cost free blocking force interposed between Iran and Israel while simultaneously maintaining pressure on the Syrian border via Al Anbar Province. The only thing missing is free oil and more real estate for Israel.

  2. BR,

    Like you, I think Kissinger is hedging his bets. And yeah, Krauthammer is usually pushing Likudnik policy.


  3. eastern front5:19 PM

    Every time I think it can't get worse I find something like this:

    (Returns to slough of despond, adjusting tinfoil hat)

  4. "Krauthammer is confident that the U.S. troops will acquit themselves admirably" Against all odds, lack of material support, and intelligent deployment, most of us can only admire and recognize that "the U.S. troops will acquit themselves admirably" It's the grossly incompetent civilian command of this failed colonial war who,are not only dishonorable, but should be subject to War Crime punishment. Kissinger, whispering into Bush's ear about 'surges' to protect his last two years in office bears uncanny to the same advice he gave Nixon about extending the Viet Nam war via Cambodia. Shameful