Thursday, December 14, 2006

Iraq: Laura Bush and the Good News

Also at Kos.

Whatever new strategy Mister Bush comes up with for Iraq, you can rest assured it will include the same kinds of domestic propaganda we've seen so far.

First Lady Laura Bush appeared in a taped interview on MSNBC Thursday morning. What did she have to say about her husband's low poll ratings regarding his handling of the war? It's the media's fault, of course. They're not reporting enough good news. Schools are being built. Parts of the country are peaceful. Americans who don't have loved ones in Iraq just don't know how good things really are there. You know--the standard jewels of denial. (And oh, how many loved ones does Laura Bush have in Iraq?)

This cockamamie gibberish would be amusing if it weren't that some people still buy it. I know one war hawk who still insists that things in Baghdad aren't any worse than they are in Chicago. You can probably guess what he listens to on the radio and what his favorite cable news channel is.

I'm confident that our troops are doing a heck of a good job (and I don't mean that facetiously) in both their combat and non-combat roles, and I'll take the word of retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs of MSNBC that their morale is high. But--nobody invades another country to build schools and hand out soccer balls, and nobody goes to war or continues in one to keep the troops happy. At least, nobody should--nobody in his right mind, anyway.

Which brings us to the First Lady's husband. We've heard much over the past week or so about whether he's capable of changing course in Iraq, or even making rational decisions about it. I've given up trying to figure out what, if anything, goes on north of the guy's neck. I've come to believe that most of his cognitive processes, such as they are, take place somewhere south of his waist, but there's no real way of knowing. To paraphrase Mark Twain, I can't tell if he's pulling our leg or if he's dumb enough to believe his own monosyllabic nonsense. Whatever the case, his words and actions have been consistently void of rationality, and that's a dangerous thing considering that he holds the fate of the country and the world in his hands.

The Next World Order

Throughout history, empires have fallen because they failed to realize that the military might that created them was, in itself, insufficient to sustain them. America's tendency to rely on armed force as its primary tool of foreign policy probably began with the Spanish American War, the war that established the scope of our territorial possessions. Our wars of global influence--the World Wars and the Cold War--established America as the world's sole superpower. At that point, we should have realized it was time to find a kinder, gentler way to maintain our position as the first among the world's nations.

But no.

The neoconservative cabal within the GOP managed to wrest control of the Republican Party and of the entire government, and convinced America that the key to continued dominance was to keep playing the war card.

We've seen how that worked out.

The U.S. spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and if irony were still alive and with us, it would roll in the aisles over the fact that our civilian and uniformed military leaders are calling for more money to fix what's been damaged in the ongoing wars we're not winning. The U.S. Army says it needs $17-19 billion more annually for several more years to replace or upgrade gear that's been worn down in Iraq in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps and the Navy need $19 billion to "reset" themselves, and that doesn't even begin to address the cost of replacing aging aircraft. The Air Force predicts a budget shortfall of $160 billion over the next six years.

The U.S. spent an estimated $514 billion in 2005 on defense. That doesn't count expenditures for Homeland Security and uncountable other hidden expenditures on "security." A recent congressional analysis reported that America is presently spending $2 billion per week on the Iraq war alone.

All this to fight a war in a third world country that has no military solution.

And the wife of the most powerful man in the world goes to the media to blame her husband's failures on the very media she's blaming his failures on, even though the Iraq Study Group stated that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq."

New Focus

According to Robin Wright and Ann Scotty Tyson of the Washington Post, outgoing Iraq ground force commander Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli recommends a plan that allows "the U.S. military to be able to move swiftly to a new focus on training" of Iraqi forces. "Swiftly" apparently means spring of 2007, by which time roughly half of the 15 U.S. brigades in Iraq could shift from combat to training missions. I guess that's swift by Bush administration standards: Bush himself introduced the " stand up stand down" strategy back in June of 2005. It's good to hear that he's decided to get serious about it. Finally. Maybe.

But we won't know for sure because he won't tell us what he's really going to get serious about until sometime in January of 2007. And even then, we won't know how serious he really is.


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


  1. Anonymous7:23 PM

    I work in the MI-complex, and I can tell you that 80% of the defense budget is simply there to fund the insane waste, red tape, and borderline fraud that I see everyday.

  2. My son ran into a couple of guys just back from Iraq. He asked them what it's really like over there. At first they gave him a bunch of these colors don't run blah-blah. He asked them again, what's it REALLY like. One of them got a bit quieter and said that it was the "worst f*g experience" of his life, and that it's "absolute chaos" and that "no one has any f*g idea what's going on."

    I guess that doesn't count though, as they were just passing acquaintances, and not actually loved ones.

  3. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Friend of mine just back from Afghanistan: "US officers are the most disgusting, born-again psychopaths I´ve ever met, talking like John Wayne and thinking like Rambo. The higher up they are, the more they seem to think they are starring in a movie".

  4. "Starring in a Rambo movie." Yep. I can believe it.

  5. Jeff, I'd guess Bush's delay in announcing his future "strategy" may be to fend off the outrage that will be provoked by the "extend and accelerate" (what pleasant verbs...) plan to build up the number of troops in country. He'd wreck a lot of Christmases if he were to announce that before the new year. Not that he'd be bothered by that per se, but since Rove's lost his touch, he'd have a difficult time dealing with the PR nightmare that would surely follow. Mike

  6. Anonymous4:36 PM

    The forces did a brilliant job. Most, with any sense or information, can't argue that. It's civilian interference from ideologues, specifically Rumsfeldt who are primarily responsible for this mess. As for Laura Bush---"Americans who don't have loved ones in Iraq just don't know how good things really are there" Maybe she's talking the supreme wisdom of mother-in law, Barbara Bush. Perhaps if we just build NOLA super domes to house Iraqi's all will know a better life. My God, the stupidity of these people never ceases to amaze!

  7. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Mandt, with all due respect to your individual serving soldiers: Your forces did a mixed job, brilliant in some places, not so good in other. While I agree with you that the civilians are to blame, I would like to state the theory that the whole US doctrine of field-operation (field of fire/heavy airpower) is not really functional for holding-actions. We saw it in Kosova, where us Norwegians were taught to communicate with locals (on a very limited basis, true) and keep weapons in peacefulpositions, the US forces in general deployed with one higher level of security than us.

    From what I hear from Afghanistan, the same is true: US-forces security is paramount to the US, so much that it alienates the locals. Remember the exploding wedding-parties, when traditional shooting into the air was misinterpreted as hostile fire? What you did in Fallujah was just plain stupid, Fallujah is to the Middle East what Texas is to the US, the most ornery independent guntoting bastards of the whole region. What the shock & awe produced there was an assurance of undying enimnity for the next three generations at least. You yanks have got to understand it: Massive retaliation does not work well in an occupation-scenario. Cruelty to prisoners is bad for morale, and bad for operational standards too. Bangram ring a bell?

    Having said that, I agree with you that Rummy/Cheney/Rice AND POWELL are the ones who actually lost this war for you. Such magnificent incompetence is rare to see. Powells lameduck attempts today to cover the fact that he wimpered and ducked is just sad.