Friday, March 16, 2007

Still Making the Mesopotamia Mistake

Thursday morning, I listened to Fred Kagan on an NPR program telling the world how well the "surge" is going, how Iran is a trouble maker, and the rest of the standard neoconservative line of bunk.

Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and was a chief architect of the so-called surge plan. Along with his father Donald and brother Robert, Fred Kagan was a key member of Bill Kristol's Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the "think tank" that brought us our Mesopotamia mistake.

It's little wonder that Fred's painting a rosy picture.

More Maliki Malarky

NPR reported on Wednesday that the Pentagon itself has finally caved and started using the "c" word.
For the first time, the Pentagon's update to Congress on the state of the Iraq war acknowledges that elements of the Iraq conflict "are properly descriptive of a 'civil war.'"

Properly descriptive of a civil war. Brother. The Iraq war is properly descriptive of a Hobbesian nightmare.

Thursday morning, MSNBC showed live footage of Mr. Bush speaking with Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Washington. Bush congratulated Abdul-Mahdi on his government's progress at working toward unification (He knows it's "hard work.")

Also on Thursday morning, Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger of the New York Times gave a different view of the Iraqi government's "progress."
The Bush administration, which six months ago issued a series of political goals for the Iraqi government to meet by this month, is now tacitly acknowledging that the goals will take significantly longer to achieve.

A “notional political timeline” that the administration provided to Congress in January in an attachment to a letter from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had called for most of the objectives to be met by this month.

According to the Times, most of those objectives have not been met by Malaki's government. "Officials" say they expect "most political progress to be months away."

How many months? 10? 100? 1,000?
The officials also say the slowness of the political progress could extend the amount of time the surge troops will need to stay in Iraq and its suburbs. There's a surprise.

Philip D. Zelikow, until recently the counselor at the State Department, says that part of the slow progress is because of “a recognition that things were worse than people realized.”

What a classic piece of Bush administration indigestion this is. The problem is that we now recognize a problem that we didn't recognize before? No, Mr. Zelikow, the problem is that you didn't recognize problems. And there's little indication that the Bush cabal will learn to recognize them in the future.

Mr. Zelikow's successor at the State Department is Eliot Cohen, who along with Donald Kagan, Dick Cheney and others was a charter member of the PNAC.

Zeilikow said that “significant parts of the new strategy need to be developed from scratch.”

The entire new strategy needs to be thrown out with the junk mail.

The Senate bill that called for troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days and set a goal for complete withdrawal by March 31 2008 got blown out of the water late Thursday. A House bill calling for all combat troops to be out of Iraq by September 1, 2008 passed through committee, but House Republicans are resisting the measure.

Representative C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) said, "Nobody wants our troops out of Iraq more than I do, but we can't afford to turn over Iraq to al-Qaida."

This is sheer lunacy. Is Young really dumb enough to think a Sunni group like al-Qaeda could take over a Shiite dominated country, or was it just his turn to introduce the nonsensical talking point of the week?

The Bush administration has made mistake after mistake in Iraq, and seems bound and determined to keep making them. Fanatics like Young are enablers.

I'd like to see the House bill passed on the floor, but am not optimistic. I fear we'll continue to flop and twitch in Iraq until the Army and Marine Corps grind themselves into hourglass fill. Then we'll redeploy to the periphery, like Representative Jack Murtha (D-PA) proposed back in November of 2005.


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


  1. Unfortunately Rep. Young is apparently very representative of most American voters, at least the ones in his district. Catchphrases and buzz-words -- why bother with the facts?

    Reality, what a concept...

  2. Anonymous7:46 PM

    Don't forget wife Dr. Kimberly Kagan who just published an 8-10 page PDF article through The Weekly Standard a couple of weeks ago. The paper discussed how well the surge/escalation was going, though the 'surge' was only four weeks old and still needed fourteen weeks or so before all the troops were on the ground.

  3. "Is Young really dumb enough to think a Sunni group like al-Qaeda could take over a Shiite dominated country..."

    There've been several reports now showing that many U.S. policymakers have no idea what Sunnis and Shiites are, and don't know which groups align with which: Hezbollah, uh...Sunni? So, yeah, my money is on the proposition that he really is that dumb.

    Then there's that maybe-true, maybe-not story floating around about Bush's response to his first briefing about Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites, which was supposedly, "I thought people in Iraq were Muslim."

    Good times.

  4. Anonymous12:34 AM

    How bad would things have to get before we would know the army was reduced to hour-glass dust? How do we know when they have reached this point? How would the Decider-in-Chief ever know?

  5. Anonymous8:29 AM

    anon, that is a very valid point. Ive been searching the net trying to find some facts and figure about the extent of the US over-reach, any pointers would be welcome.

  6. Anon,

    Things will have to get pretty bad, but at some point, the forces just won't be able to answer the bell.