Thursday, February 08, 2007

Iraq: Expect the Worst

Hope for the best, expect the worst
You could be Tolstoy, or Fanny Hurst
Prepare to get your bubble burst
Hope for the best--expect the worst!

--Theme song from the 1970 Mel Brooks movie The Twelve Chairs

Pentagon planners are so confident in the Iraq "surge" strategy that they're planning on what to do when it fails.

From Sidney Blumenthal of Salon:
Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, policy planners are conducting secret meetings to discuss what to do in the worst-case scenario in Iraq about a year from today if and when President Bush's escalation of more than 20,000 troops fails, a participant in those discussions told me. None of those who are taking part in these exercises, shielded from the public view and the immediate scrutiny of the White House, believes that the so-called surge will succeed. On the contrary, everyone thinks it will not only fail to achieve its aims but also accelerate instability by providing a glaring example of U.S. incapacity and incompetence.

I don't know who Blumenthal's sources inside the bowels of the Pentagon are, but my gut instincts tell me they're right. My instincts also tell me they're right to keep their planning initiatives under wraps, because as Blumenthal also says:
The profoundly pessimistic thinking that permeates the senior military and the intelligence community, however, is forbidden in the sanitized atmosphere of mind-cure boosterism that surrounds Bush. "He's tried this two times -- it's failed twice," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Jan. 24 about the "surge" tactic. "I asked him at the White House, 'Mr. President, why do you think this time it's going to work?' And he said, 'Because I told them it had to.'" She repeated his words: "'I told them that they had to.' That was the end of it. That's the way it is."

Holy Hannah. I'm a subscriber of Mark Twain's assertion that history doesn't repeat itself but it sometimes rhymes. Young Mr. Bush is starting to "sound like" another lunatic who sat in a bunker and only listened to generals who told him what he wanted to hear.

Dog Pile on Pelosi

I can't claim to be a big fan of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Heck, I can't even claim to be a Democrat. I've never been a registered member of any political party, and the first Democrat I ever voted for was John Kerry. The latest one I voted for was Jim Webb, who isn't exactly a life-long card carrier either.)

But this latest business of how big of a military transport plane she gets to have to fly back and forth from Washington to San Francisco is standard Rovewellian distraction designed to take attention away from the Iraq debate. I wish Pelosi hadn't gone into that blab about how Donald Rumsfeld's old buddies were trying to get back at her for being a war critic and how she deserved the same kind of considerations the former male Speaker of the House deserved, and yada-yada, glub-glub-glub. If she's going to survive as a big fish in the big pond, she needs to learn not to rise to the bait. If she snaps at every fly they cast on the surface, she'll be too busy trying to wriggle off the hooks to get anything serious done in Congress.

And make no mistake: the Bush/Cheney liegemen in both houses of Congress will use every worm, slug and lure they can get their hands on to prevent the legislature from conducting an open debate on Mr. Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq.

The mainstream media's present fascination with astronauts gone wacky and wacky actresses gone to the next plane of reality programming certainly aids the efforts of the Bush administration's spin masters. But it doesn't aid the likelihood of the Iraq escalation strategy producing anything that even Dick Cheney can describe as "success."

Not a day goes by that I don't thank my maker I got off the crazy train when I did, and don't have to be a senior member in charge of the cascading pile-up this administration and its G.I. Joe bobble heads have created with its militaristic misadventures.

But if I were still on active duty, I'd want to be in the basement of the five-sided echo chamber with the guys who are--in secret--trying to figure out how to unscrew the screw ups of the screw ups who've screwed up things so far and are about to screw them up even worse.


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


  1. Karl Zipser6:32 AM

    But if I were still on active duty, I'd want to be in the basement of the five-sided echo chamber with the guys who are--in secret--trying to figure out how to unscrew the screw ups of the screw ups who've screwed up things so far and are about to screw them up even worse.

    No one likes to deliver bad news. I remember reading a Foreign Affairs article about how those who delivered bad news to Saddam were later discovered in small pieces. There is a reason those guys are doing their work in secret in the basement. I'm sure it is frustrating and not much fun. One thing though, I'd love to know what the guys who really know what is going on really think -- no offense to you or any of the other people on the outside. Of course, it might be possible that they guys on the inside don't really know that much more than the rest of us. In any case, their performance suggests that they don't, or at least can't, put their knowledge to any good use.

  2. "Stuck inside a moment you can't get out of..."? U2 song, right?

    My current work situation is enduring one scandal after another (2 year college system in Alabama). Google "Roy Johnson" and "Phillip Grace" for more. There's so much more I could uncover from my position, but I can't risk it. Not just now. But I'm making plans for the right moment...

    I can only imagine what the Pentagon planners must be going through -- they're talking about life or death of our troops. But yeah, I can relate.

  3. Thanks for the reads and comments, gang.

    I can only imagine what things are like at the Pentagon now. Six years of everybody getting beaten up by Rummy, then the new guy comes along and whose ideas does the Chief adopt?

    Fred Kagan's.

    And if you're on one of the staffs and you've spent a career trying to do the right thing and the smart thing and take care of the troops, it must be tough to sit there and watch it all happen.


  4. fnord3:32 PM

    Contigencyplanning on the Titanic. Cant be much fun.