Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gates, McCain and Lieberman: Praying the Course in Iraq

For all the talk I've been hearing the past week or so about changing course in Iraq, I've heard nothing that gives me hope anything will actually improve. Switching tactics is all well and good, but without a sound strategy, shifting tactics just changes the direction in which you chase your tail. In the case of Iraq, switching tactics will be like treating a massive internal hemorrhage with a fresh box of band-aids.

Jewels of Denial

According to Jack Dorsey of The Virginian Pilot, the Department of Defense has spent $6 billion on a program to defeat roadside bombs, often referred to as improvised explosive devises (IEDs). That amount equates to the advertised cost of a Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carrier. You'd think that for the cost of a carrier, they could have come up with one heck of a rootin' tootin' anti-IED system, but no. A recent report by Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan research and analysis group, says that the five-year IED countermeasure effort has proven "only marginally effective."

What's the official response to this allegation? Christine Devries, spokesperson for the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization says, “We would absolutely disagree with the assertion that progress is not being made.”

Folks, this is a perfect microcosmic example of every failure of this war. Five years and $6 billion into a "marginally effective" program to counter a $20 weapon, the Pentagon insists that "progress" is being made. The Pentagon is in total denial about its inability to cope with the most basic of tactical problems, and the administration continues to insist that there's no need to change the overall strategy and policy.

Fresh Eyes, Same Old Guys

The Sunday talk shows were abuzz with yakety-yak about the "fresh eyes" that former CIA Director Bob Gates will bring to the Defense Secretary job. If Gates has a nodding acquaintance with reality, those fresh eyes will turn into bug eyes before he's even sworn in. Iraq is a strategic inferno, and no infusion of Big Daddy Bush firemen like Gates and Jim Baker are likely come up with a way to put it out.

Big Brother Bush (Dubya) doesn't have a clue what to do about Iraq or he would have dropped Donald Rumsfeld through the trap door years ago. Gates may be open to suggestions from his uniformed subordinates, but what good will that do? All of his top generals and admirals got where they are by locking their lips around Rumsfeld's theories and policies, and they wouldn't know a center of gravity from their elbows. And who will step up to replace the generals and admirals? The "Rumsfeld purge" of straight talkers like Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki wiped out at least one generation of enlightened, morally courageous military officers--possibly two or three generations of them.

The same holds true for the scholarly/intellectual military community. Vocal military pundits like Ralph Peters, Mackubin Thomas Owens, Robert Kaplan, Fred and Bob Kagan and others all fell in line with the neoconservative network of think tanks and publications controlled directly or indirectly by Weekly Standard publisher and Project for the New American Century founder Bill Kristol. Many of these policy and strategy "geniuses" have recanted their earlier stances on the Iraq war, but not soon enough to reverse their clear illustrations that they don't have clue loving one what they're talking about, no matter how much money they get paid to talk and write about it.

If Gates really wants to recruit fresh eyes to look at the Iraq problem, he'll have to launch a manhunt to track down folks who left government service in disgust years ago. And those folks, when asked the question "how can we win in Iraq," would most likely still have the integrity to answer, "You can't. Go tell the old man there's no way to scrape sonny's carcass out of the frying pan."

Speaking of Idiots…

If Gates decides to seek counsel from members of Congress, there are two prominent members of that body he should totally ignore, both of whom appeared on Meet the Press last Sunday: John McCain and Joe Lieberman.

Defending his support of the war in Iraq, McCain said, "I believe that a lot of Americans trust my judgment on issues such as this because of the experience and background that I have."

Americans who trust McCain's judgment on issues of war, peace and foreign policy could be convinced that the moon is made of green cheese. I certainly respect and admire McCain's service during the Vietnam war, but the depth and breadth of the "experience and background" he got at conducting wars as a POW isn't substantial enough to blow your nose into.

But McCain is a regular Clausewitz compared to Joe Lieberman. On MTP, Tim Russert asked him, "…can you keep a country at war that doesn’t want to be there?"

Lieberman's reply:
You can’t, and that’s why we need to form a bipartisan consensus for victory in Iraq, for success in Iraq, which is still attainable. And, and this is the, this is the great problem, the terrorists cannot defeat us on the battlefield in Iraq, but we can lose the war here at home if we don’t begin to be bipartisan about it and, and regain the confidence and some hope for the American people. I do think that the president bringing in a new secretary of defense is a significant move which will now reopen the discussion with the American people, with our allies, with the American military, and I, and I hope it will lead to some progress in Iraq.

What Lieberman knows about war you could hide inside of an ant's rear end.

Being "bipartisan" won't "win" the war in Iraq. Being smart might, but not if it's the bipartisan kind of smart that comes from the likes of McCain and Lieberman. We're not losing the war at home, Joe. We're losing it in Iraq, and we're not losing it because of lack of "discussion with the American people." We're losing it because of the arrogant incompetence of the commander in chief, his secretary of defense, their yes men generals, and bent-over-the-table politicians like you and McCain who continue to support the cockamamie waste of American blood and treasure on a failed project foisted on the world by a sinister cabal of neoconservative megalomaniacs.

I expect the next few months of Iraq war fire hose rhetoric to amount the same Polly-cracker poppycock we've listened to for the last three years. We'll be told to celebrate the turning of another "corner," then we'll be exhorted not to get all "Henny Penny sky is falling" about it when we discover that we're staring down another blind alley.


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


  1. Anonymous5:55 AM

    Not one wasted word. Excellent, sir!

    Your McCain takedown needs to be spread far and wide.

  2. Anonymous6:35 AM

    Excellent post, Jeff. I watched Meet the Press last night and I thought, damn these guys will never get it. Not in a million years. How could you be so smart and yet so clueless? I know squat about the military but I do know when someone has a freakin' clue as to what they're talking about.

    And about those lost generations in the military. Same thing goes for politics. When I was remarking to the husband about the ages of Conyers, Waxman, Rangel, and that I didn't realize how old they were, he said, "Of course. There's a lost generation -- our generation." Growing up with Watergate and coming of age during Reagan, who among us wanted to go into politics? Only the liars and wannabe crooks.


  3. Thanks, gang. We'll see in a few moths if anything actually changes or if this was just another coat of paint on the outhouse.

  4. Yep -- fresh paint on the house behind the house, exactly. "Wow, that's purty -- stinks just the same though...!"

  5. Perfect in-a-nutshell analysis; well put:

    "We're losing it because of the arrogant incompetence of the commander in chief, his secretary of defense, their yes men generals, and bent-over-the-table politicians like you and McCain who continue to support the cockamamie waste of American blood and treasure on a failed project foisted on the world by a sinister cabal of neoconservative megalomaniacs."

    Very nice...

  6. Anonymous11:03 PM

    Hi Jeff -
    Wondering if you might have seen this:

  7. Thanks, Eccoline.


    I took a look. Gets me plenty angry.