Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bush's Iraq: Son of Stay the Course

Also at Kos.

Young Mister Bush has rejected the description of the situation in Iraq as a "civil war." Can you believe it?

In a NATO summit speech in Latvia on Tuesday, he rejected the "pessimistic" assessments of his Middle East policy and vowed not to pull U.S. troops from Iraq until they accomplish the mission there.

How does he plan to accomplish the mission? By golly, he's going to break down and ask for advice from a trusted expert--Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. From the Washington Post:
Previewing the message he will carry with him Wednesday to Amman, Jordan, where he is scheduled to meet Maliki, Bush said he would ask the Iraqi leader, "What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?"

It's no surprise to me that Bush would turn for advice to the one head of state who's a bigger screw up than he is. Maliki's 24 point reconciliation plan, which he introduced back in June, has gone over like a lead zeppelin. Shia cleric and Mahdi Army leader Muqtada al-Sadr, once Malaki's main political ally, has publicly denounced the government and labeled Iraq's Sunnis as "terrorists." Asking Maliki for sound strategic advice is like trying to get milk from a bullfrog.

The next thing you know, Bush will seek marriage counseling from Pamela Anderson.

Tom Ricks, military correspondent with the Washington Post and author of Fiasco, revealed Tuesday on MSNBC that there's talk in the Pentagon of dropping the support of the reconciliation policy and throwing in with the Shiites. As crazy as that sounds, it makes a lot more sense than what we're doing now. Positioning troops in the middle of a multi-sided civil war and expecting their mere "presence" to accomplish anything defies wisdom learned from millennia of military history.

But which Shias do we side with? Al-Sadr has declared that "I am an enemy of America and America is my enemy until the last day of judgment." That doesn’t sound like the kind of talk old Dead or Alive Dubya is likely to cotton up to.

So if we throw our weight behind Maliki, we'll have to fight al-Sadr's followers as well as the Sunnis. And since Maliki is making coo noise with Iran and Syria, crawling in the sack with him will mean that we're rubbing bellies with the "axis of evil" as well.

Measures of Effectiveness

"Measures of effectiveness" (MOEs) are traditional metrics by which military planners and staffers determine the progress of a war. The best Iraq MOEs the Pentagon can come up with are things like "numbers of schools painted" and "total pieces of candy handed out to Iraqi kids."

Iraq has eclipsed Vietnam as the most incompetently run war in U.S. history. It's not a foreign policy pursuit of America's interests. It's a manhood measuring contest between Bush and the rest of the world, and he refuses to accept that he's coming up short.

Son of Stay the Course

Bush wants to win, but he doesn’t want to win in the Anbar province, which of course, means General Peter Pace (Joint Chiefs chairman), General John Abizaid (head of Central Command) and General George Casey (Iraq theater commander) don't either.

Sunni dominated al-Anbar is the main base of operations for al-Qaeda in Iraq. A recent Marine Corp intelligence assessment concluded that without a massive input of more troops, the situation there is "unwinnable."

Pace wants to move the U.S. troops in Anbar to Baghdad and turn Anbar over to Iraqi troops. Abizaid and Casey don't want to put any more U.S. troops in Iraq.

So in the "central front" of our war on terror, the Pentagon wants to abandon an entire province to the only actual terrorists in the country and place more U.S. troops into the central front of the Iraqi civil war.

The casual observer might think it would make more sense to take the troops in Baghdad out of the middle of the civil war and use them to reinforce the troops in Anbar to fight the terrorists, especially when Mister Bush claims that the violence in Iraq is "fomented in my opinion because of these attacks by al-Qaida causing people to seek reprisal."

We're not fighting them over there so we, uh…er…uhm…

With each passing day, it appears more and more that this war is being run by Porky Pig and the rest of the Loony Tunes.


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


  1. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Great post Jeff. This is an excellent example of highly paid/very powerful people being fundamentally incompetent (and getting rewarded for it), while people who actually know something (i.e. most of the rest of us) are a buncha greasy shlubs. Happens in every single large organization I suspect.

    Anyhoo, the only real "solution" to this catastrophe (IMHO) is to engage Iran and Syria. Basically we'd need to sit down with them, treat them as equals (which they are in the region), and make a multi-lateral deal involving trade, security, etc.

    The US cannot "win" by itself, no matter how hard Bush or his allies will it.

    I think Iran+Syria option has a higher chance of reducing mass slaughter prior to and after our inevitable pullout than just picking up our stuff and going home.

  2. I think so too, Anonymous. Ignoring Syria and Iran is ludicrous.

  3. Mike,

    I'm starting to feel good about Webb too.

    I love the smell of Vietnamization, Part Deux in the morning. It smells like defeat.

  4. Peace with honor, you mean -- smells like peace with honor...

    The Looney Tunes characters, at least, had the good sense to END the silliness after 10-12 minutes per episode.

  5. Anonymous8:22 AM


    As a former norwegian military man, I must say that it is deeply satisfying to see rational US military voices. (Another one is to be found at , btw.) Watching the whole Iraqi debacle is like watching a classical tragedy. The level of incompetence is amazing, and the whole war seems to be built on ad-hoc decisions and improvisation.

    There are two fulcrum-points in this campaign as I see it: The demobilization of the Iraqi army, and the rape of Fallujah. By the demobbing, you created for yourself 250000+ trained armed potential enemies. By destroying Fallujah in response to the killing of four US mercenaries, you made the central clans of the Sunnis your eternal enemies, beyond cost-efficiency rationale. In effect, you first created the enemy, and then made sure he would fight to the death.

    Itll be interesting to see how many missiles the mahdi-army have in store if there comes a showdown in the near future. The resistance of Hezbollah must have set a clear tactical precedent for the shiite forces, so if the shit hits the fan, expect a lot of incoming fire on US bases. Is there any doctrinal response to missile-assaults except Stand and Die?

  6. Shargash,

    Kill the wabbit?

    Martin K,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I think you've identified two of the main fulcrum points. I'm one who thinks the biggest flaw was invading in the first place. The notion that everything would fall in place once Hussein was gone was nuts. That we didn't have an immediate plan for post hostilities was beyond criminal.

    Drop by again.