Sunday, November 26, 2006

Iraq: Winners Know When to Quit, Losers Don't

Contrary to what you've probably heard your whole life, winners do quit, and they know when to do it. Losers don't know when to quit digging. The "experts" agree that the only solution to the Iraq situation is a political one, and the prospects for a political solution are vanishing like a blind dowager's silverware.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Shia cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has pushed the plunger on his threat to abandon support of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Followers of the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television Saturday to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis "terrorists" and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms…

…Al-Maliki's administration acknowledged it was powerless to interrupt the pro-Sadr program on the official Iraqiya channel, during which Sadr City residents shouted, "There is no government! There is no state!"

… Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia now controls wide swaths of the capital, his politicians are the backbone of the Cabinet, and his followers deeply entrenched in the Iraqi security forces. Sectarian violence has spun so rapidly out of control since the Sadr City blasts, however, that it's not clear whether even al-Sadr has the authority - or the will - to stop the cycle of bloodshed.

If al-Maliki makes it to Jordan this week for his meeting with young Mister Bush, I'll be surprised if he ever goes back to Iraq.

Go Big, Go Long, Go Forever

The talk on alternative Iraq strategies is turning nuttier than a pecan factory. As the political situation unravels like a cheap acrylic sweater, politicians and pundits continue to discuss the pros and cons of proposed military courses of action.

Some still argue for a reduced troop presence in Iraq, but what could fewer troops accomplish that the number of troops we have there now can't?

Then we have the "Go Bigots," whose ranks have been joined by former Army major general and vocal Rumsfeld critic John Batiste. In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinal op-ed piece, Batiste says, "Iraq is a failed state created by the United States. Our senior leadership did this to Iraq, ourselves and our allies."

But, Batiste maintains…
Failure [in Iraq] would injure the U.S. in ways that we cannot fathom, and, in the end, it would cost far more than it would to save Iraq…

…it is not too late, however. Victory is non-negotiable, and we must finish what we started in Iraq with new leadership and a new strategy. We no longer can fight this war on the cheap.

We're spending $2 billion a week on this war (that our government admits to), and Batiste calls that fighting "on the cheap?" What "new leadership" is Batiste referring to? Al-Sadr? What did we start in Iraq that Batiste thinks we can finish? The answer to that, it seems, is the end of the world as we know it, because the key component of the strategy he proposes is the stuff of a neoconservative masturbatory fantasy.
Put our government on a wartime footing. Consider alternative ways to finance the war with rationing programs and fuel surcharges. Our leaders need to step up and explain the "what, why, how long and what it will cost" to each and every one of us.

Properly resource our great military in force structure and dollars. Our high-performing Army and Marine Corps are far too small for our national strategy. They are at a breaking point, and they no longer are in a position to respond to other worldwide contingencies. Indeed, a draft may be required to win a protracted war on terror.

In other words, Batiste believes that the solution to a problem for which there is no military solution is to mobilize the country to support expanded military action. Batiste is as Mad Hatter crazy as Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, and the rest of the neoconservative cabal that got us into this goat rope.

I can't say for certain what Batiste's motivation is for proposing such a "war without end" scheme, but it's interesting to note that he's now president of Klein Steel Service of Rochester, New York, a company that, among other things, does contract work for the Department of Defense.

Go Stupid

On CNN's Sunday political show Late Edition, Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said that sure, America could mobilize and "win" in Iraq, but that "common sense indicates it's not worth it."

Zbig is right; it's not worth it. Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply in contemporary America. It's entirely too possible that the neocon bull feather merchants who want to expand the war will get their way by appealing to the politically autistic segment of the U.S. population's childish sense of virility. They'll exhort the Big Brother Broadcast audience to show the "resolve" to do for the Iraqis what the Iraqis don't have the resolve to do for themselves. Which is, of course, the kind of resolve it takes to stick your private parts into a wood chipper to show your "friends" how tough you are.

The sooner we adopt some variation of Jack Murtha's redeployment to the periphery plan, the better off we'll be.

Getting back to the "winners and losers" theme: winners know how to cut their losses; losers know how to cut off their genitals.

Or as Kenny Rogers put it, "You've got to know when to fold."


Within an hour of posting this article on Pen and Sword, I got several visits from

When I tried to backtrack to these links, I ran into a password firewall.

The front page of says, "Please bear with us as we transition to our new website. Our Product Database will be available soon."

I can't shake the image of Rowan and Martin's Laugh In comedian Arte Johnson, in his Nazi soldier's uniform, rising up from behind a potted palm, sucking on a cigarette, and saying, "Verrry interesting!"


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


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    "Victory is non-negotiable" What ridiculous hubris. Isn't it usually the other way around, lost is non-negotiable. On the other hand, propaganda can cover a lot of ass. Didn't Bonaparte declare victory when he lost his fleet in the Middle East?

  2. Unlike Batiste, Bonaparte didn't have a defense contractor to go to work for after he got thumped.

    Just when I think I can't get more disgusted...

  3. Anonymous7:39 PM

    if Baptiste was concerned about trolling for defense contracts why did he take on Rumsfeld so publicly before Rummy went? Not that I necessarily agree with Baptiste but no reason to impugn his integrity

  4. Maybe because he knew Rummy was on his way out?

  5. FWIW, in the past two hours, I've gotten several visits from

  6. Batiste has lost me for good. See the "afterbrow."

  7. Anonymous12:36 AM

    I believe the Iraqis would be most grateful if the US Army would leave, a military can't help rebuild a country IMHO.

  8. Anonymous9:02 AM

    The contracts you link to are for between $4,000 and $7,200 per year during the Rummy years. Money does talk, but I am not convinced that less than $10,000 a year will get you a general or a steel company.

    We know that others have insisted on much more: Armstrong Williams wanted $241,000 for good press for the present administration, Maggie Gallagher sold for $41,500; Michael McManus and groups close to him raked in north of $50,000.

    Whether or not he's right, I believe that if Batiste's ideas had been adopted right off the bat, the present mess wouldn't be nearly as bad. Just my $.02.

  9. Anonymous,

    No, I'm not trying to infer that he was "bought" to write that article. I'm perfectly willing to accept that he's saying what he really thinks/believes. But he's part of the military industrial complex. I'm not sure what those dollar figures actually indicate. Are they dollars, hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars? (most of the time it's thousands).

    But the amount isn't all that important. The point is that we have a former general who's in the war business supporting a war.



  10. Anonymous11:33 AM

    WAR is a racket. It always has been.

    It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    - General Smedley Butler, USMC


    What he wrote about WWI & II is as true today as it was back then, except now we're even better and more efficient at raking in the bucks at someone elses bodily expense.

    Another great post Jeff. Anyone seen Abizaid's interview this Sunday with 60 minutes? What a joke. The whole segment could have been summarized by showing a blowjob clip.