March 29, 2006

Population Transfers Growing....

WaPo:

Sectarian violence has displaced more than 25,000 Iraqis since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine, a U.N.-affiliated agency said Tuesday, and shelters and tent cities are springing up across central and southern Iraq to house homeless Sunni and Shiite families.

The flight is continuing, according to the International Organization for Migration, which works closely with the United Nations and other groups. The result has been a population exchange as Sunni and Shiite families flee mixed communities for the safety of areas where their own sects predominate.

"I definitely wouldn't say the displacement has peaked," said Dana Graber, an official of the migration agency in Amman, Jordan. "It's continuous."

The agency's figures were compiled from information provided by partner organizations working with displaced Iraqis. The government Ministry of Displacement and Migration puts the count higher, at more than 32,000.

"I was shocked to be threatened by people from the same place I had lived in for so many years," said Hussein Alwan, 53, a cafe owner, who said he was driven out of Latifiyah, a mixed Shiite-Sunni city in the area south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death.

Alwan, a Shiite, traveled with his wife, four daughters and three sons this month to the almost entirely Shiite city of Najaf, where local authorities have converted a vacant hotel into a shelter for the newcomers and say they are gathering tents for an outlying camp. Iraqi newspapers on Tuesday reported tents pitched in a field outside another southern city, Nasiriyah, for Shiite families arriving there in flight from sectarian violence.

Alwan told a story that already has grown familiar since the near-destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, 65 miles north of Baghdad, touched off five weeks of Shiite-Sunni bloodletting. "They told me that I should leave within 24 hours or we will all get killed," Alwan said in an interview in Najaf. "So we left everything there and took only the bare things we need to live."

Guess Ralph Peters missed this part of the story during his Baghdad rounds....

By the way, does anyone think I'm happy to post these pessimistic accounts here? Of course not. It's tragic, and it's depressing. But until we understand the real narrative underway in Iraq, we won't fall into the right policy, if that's even still possible. Many readers castigate me for always bitching and rarely having solutions. I'll grant you there is a lot of complaining that goes on here, but there's also a lot of truly good faith attempts to suggest strategic adjustments (any fair reader would agree, and if they don't, I'd invite them to E-mail me and I will send them posts where I put a lot of effort into trying to make constructive criticisms on our counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq, rather than just wailing on and on about Rumsfeld).

But my point is this. It's adult time. It's time to stop complaining about the evil MSM, as if they are the reason ethnic cleansing is underway in Iraq. It's time to stop pretending your favorite right wing blogger, who thinks all is pretty hunky-dory in Iraq, has got a monopoly on truth (for instance, if someone has declared the war won, like some bloggers have, how can they be taken seriously anymore? They would be laughed out of any serious policy debate in Washington, but still the readers come and chime on in comments about how the left wing and MSM are losing this war for us). No, it's high time to wake up and smell the coffee. It's time to truly, seriously, sincerely ponder whether Donald Rumsfeld, after the colossal missteps he's made, deserves to keep his job. It's time to stop letting people get away with idiotic inferences that the Sunni insurgency has been defeated, and that's the main reason a new disingenuous 'theme' that civil war is nigh has arisen among swaths of the dastardly MSM (the insurgency remains rather robust, despite some improvements in parts of the Sunni Triangle). It's time to stop inflating the numbers of Iraqi Army that we say are really ready to wage battle, and stop inflating our claims about the amount of battlespace they truly control. It's time to recognize, instead, that our problems in Iraq are increasing, not decreasing, as U.S. relations with some Shi'a segments detiorate, as sectarian conflict intensifies, as the Sunni insurgents continue to remain a real threat, if somewhat diminished.

Yes, the time for sobriety and seriousness and the end to the spin and bullshit is now, before it's too late. Again, the hackery and triumphalist imbecility must cease, and the sooner the better, so we can move forward clear-eyed about the real situation at hand, rather than laboring under rosy-lensed misconceptions like blind, hyper-Panglossian cretins. Or maybe people aren't blind, but worse, talk radio like partisans who have gotten accustomed to their cheery little echo-chambers, to their jingo-on-the-go adoring commenters, and to the juicy partisan traffic that comes their way as a result. But it's a sad, deluded little party, and they're the real losers, because they are lying to their readers, and they are lying to themselves.

A person whom I respect tremendously once told me, whatever you do on this blog, the most important thing is to always write what you believe, what you really believe. Have I always done this? I think so, I hope so, I believe so. But we are all imperfect, and I've committed as many errors as the next guy. Do I preen excitably at times? Do I get overly pessimistic? Of course. We're all immensely fallible, especially writing as much as we do in this unedited, free-flowing medium. But I do try to call it like I see it, to be true to my convictions and the most reasoned world-view I can muster up on any given day. So I leave it to you to judge if the sites that declared this war won months and even years ago, who call the major sectarian violence but the "Arab" way of politics, who have deified month after month the civilian war leaders at the Pentagon, I leave it to your discretion who best is trying to be as honest as possible about this so difficult Iraq situation, and who isn't.

My conscience is often troubled by many of the things I've written here (was I too optimistic myself about the war? was I too hard on people like Josh Marshall and their view on the Niger/uranium story? or Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies"? And so on). So be it. The bottom line, to be very honest, is that I've lost more and more respect for many bloggers, many of them on the Right, and I guess it's fair to say the proverbial thrill is gone, in large part, re: my little Belgravian adventure in cyber-space. This blog isn't going anywhere, and I'm not hanging up my gloves, but I guess I owe my readers the courtesy of letting them know how I feel. I'm underwhelmed by much of the output in the blogosphere, I'm saddened and distressed by seemingly dozens of things I see on a daily basis, and, frankly, I wonder whether I should spend as much time as I do writing in this space, given some of these reservations and dissapointments. My point? I'm not really sure I have one, save to let you know the frame of mind of the guy who is putting up posts in this space, as and when able. Maybe of interest, maybe boring, but I felt I needed to get it off my chest. So there it is.

Posted by Gregory at March 29, 2006 07:25 PM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

"It's time to stop letting people get away with idiotic inferences that the Sunni insurgency has been defeated, and that's the only reason a new cheap 'theme' that civil war is nigh has arisen in the media (the insurgency remains rather robust, despite some tactical improvements in parts of the Sunni Triangle)."

I wonder whom thats directed at. I presume not Roggio, who doesnt speak in the last few days about the media, but DOES suggest that the rise of violence from the Mehdi army, and the US-Iraqi Commando offensive against Sadr is related to a weakening (not defeat) of the Sunni insurgency.

Posted by: liberalhawk at March 29, 2006 07:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

30,000 displaced persons living in makeshift tent cities is an awful lot of tents and would be pretty easy to photograph given Iraq's geography, so where are the pictures?

I wouldn't be surprised to see some people moving around given the gangland nature of the current wave of violence, but I'd like to see a bit more evidence before accepting the notion that so many are on the run.

Posted by: crazy at March 29, 2006 08:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not all are in tents. Its said that some are in hotels, some with relatives. And it might be hard to identify a new tent from a regular slum (of which there are plenty in Iraq).

The government ministry thinks the number might be higher (although I don't know if its over the same time period). And the number itself seems reasonable to me, perhaps even on the low side.

liberalhawk, perhaps Greg's message was directed at people like Tom Holsinger and Trent Telenko on Winds of Change, who've been making exactly this comment (that the MSM has seized on this new theme).


Posted by: erg at March 29, 2006 08:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is adult time.

I'm a novice in the blogosphere (with the site traffic to prove it!). One thing I have noticed is that Bloggers will read what they want to read -- either on the left or on the right. There's not a true search for honesty on most of these pages.

And Iraq is a bust up. 25K moving in a month? That's not a civil war.

It's over. Bring them home and start repairing the equipment for the next one. We've stirred up a hornet's nest, so we better be able to handle the results in the coming years. Broken armies in a futile endeavor will only encourage problems.

Posted by: Chris at March 29, 2006 09:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

30,000 new people in tents would be, what? 5,000 tents? Not so many at all.

How many wound up in tents from the evacuation of Fallujah? Wasn't it something like 150,000?

30,000 isn't so many, yet. It's kind of quick though, and they say it isn't slowing down at all.

Posted by: J Thomas at March 29, 2006 09:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Though I have always found your past support and optimism a bit naive, I do appreciate your honesty.

Sadly you will soon find yourself in a bloggers no mans land if you haven't already.

The right will castigate you as a defeatist, the left will remember your past cheerleading, and the middle just doesn't care anymore about pundits.

Posted by: Davebo at March 29, 2006 09:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The issue isn't that this creates a refugee problem or that there is a shortage of tents. There is no comparison between people who evacuated Fallujah before an all out military assault and people who have fled their homes out of fear of their neighbors.

Posted by: matt at March 29, 2006 09:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is by far the best written and most thoughtful blog in the blogosphere.
Don't get discouraged.

As a liberal and a left-winger, I need a site that helps me see and
understand the other view (when we disagree) and realize that there
are reasonable arguments on both sides of most issues.

Please don't stop.

Posted by: Larry Thelen at March 29, 2006 10:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No one said trying to be intellectually honest was fun work. But it's needed more and more in the blogosphere, where everyone seems to be so damn sure of themselves. Don't get too discouraged just yet.

Posted by: Jason at March 29, 2006 10:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bin Ladden bitch-slapped our President so bad, Bush went and made Iraq happen.

In essence, Bin-Ladden got us on 9-11 and now in Iraq.

That dude played us for fools.

Posted by: NeoDude at March 29, 2006 10:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Whilst I did think you were optimistic at the beginning, I respected your right to be, my read is you believed that not only would the initial war be executed in a professional manner but smilarly the transition to peace executed professionally, what's more you were correct with the potential for success ( I was less certain of the execution and fearful of the potential downsides having greater risk than the upside of winning, but that was always an arguable position ) and you argued those positions well.

Where we are now though is a bad place, like you a number of people I once respected I have lost faith in the blogsphere, it is almost like things are going wrong, it can't be happening so I won't talk about it.

Sometimes I ponder the equivalent nature of Iraq & WW1, both wars fought to a standstill to the apparant point were no strategic change was going to be significant enough to break the deadlock, in WW1 one side surrendered and the price was to trigger events 20 years later of an even more tragic nature, one ponders our fate now unless drastic change is made.

The only solution I see now, is remove Rusmfeld, replace him with someone with at least the military skill of Colin Powell, commit 5 billion to Iraqi rebuilding, to be spent entirely on Iraqi owned companies.
Break Iraq into 12 strategic regions, progressively offering the safest to European/Asian allies to defend along with Iraqi soldiers, make reconstruction effort's managed by the UN ( implies making it clear that for all it's faults a world without the UN would be poorer ).
Iraq now has past being an American problem, I believe you could achieve success, but it would require huge humble pie from GW, Rumfeld fired, Cheney retired, a commitment from Putin to help, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton as White House Ambassadors/liasons for Iraq.
GW does not have the Diplomatic power any longer to make this work alone , I think it needs the triumvirate of Putin/Blair/Clinton to gain the credibility required, but a message from those four combined would be an incredibly very powerul one to the world that things have changed, Iraq will be a success and let's do it.

Nigel

P.S. Your analysis, integrity and honesty makes you my favourite read bar none.
P.P.S. If you were lucky you might get China to be part of this.
P.P.P.S. I assume Blair would resign to take on the role, a real possibliity.

Posted by: Nigel at March 29, 2006 10:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It's time to stop letting people get away with idiotic inferences that the Sunni insurgency has been defeated, and that's the only reason a new cheap 'theme' that civil war is nigh has arisen in the media (the insurgency remains rather robust, despite some tactical improvements in parts of the Sunni Triangle)."

I wonder whom thats directed at. I presume not Roggio, who doesnt speak in the last few days about the media, but DOES suggest that the rise of violence from the Mehdi army, and the US-Iraqi Commando offensive against Sadr is related to a weakening (not defeat) of the Sunni insurgency.

My guess, LH, is that this is a reference to Wretchard at the Belmont Club. Last year, Wretchard wrote a post about the war being won and the insurgency being defeated, backing up Cheney's "last throes" nonsense. He has repeatedly reaffirmed this position.

More recently, he has been suggesting, again repeatedly, that the talk of civil war is somehow related to the left's/media's need to bash Bush and frustration at the waning potency of the insurgency. For example:

Politically what's interesting is how the narrative has changed. Nobody is talking about the Sunni insurgency succeeding any more. Even the press hardly makes the claim of an insurgency on the brink of success. As late as November 2005, the Daily Kos was boasting: "The occupation is exacerbating terrorism in the country. America is losing, the insurgency is winning. Maybe we should say, 'has won.'" But by the December 2005 elections this view could no longer be held by anyone with the slightest regard for the facts.

snip

Instead of insurgency the talking points have changed to how Sunnis might soon become victims of an ethnically hostile Iraqi army in a Civil War. Going from a boast of conquest to a portrayal of victim is usually an indicator of something. In my view, the shift of meme from the "insurgency" to a "civil war" is a backhanded way of admitting the military defeat of the insurgency without abandoning the characterization of Iraq is an American fiasco. It was Zarqawi and his cohorts themselves who changed the terms of reference from fighting US forces to sparking a 'civil war'. With any luck, they'll lose that campaign too.

http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/03/reason-to-believe.html

Posted by: Eric Martin at March 29, 2006 10:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And this:

"Some time back there was a shift from the "insurgency" theme to the "civil war" theme. All the old names -- remember Fallujah? Tal Afar? Mosul? -- have gone to page 2.

Posted by: Eric Martin at March 29, 2006 10:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One wonders what the Iraq war history would have been if we had had mass rallies supporting the war, demonstrations demanding that every person involved in SH' gov be hanged forthwith and Iraq turned into a salt desert, etc etc etc.

On second thought, it would have had no effect, just as it is claimed that the savage opposition to the war is having no effect.

BTW, I am in the bridge business, got a real cash flow opportunity in Brooklyn.

Posted by: Troke at March 29, 2006 10:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I see you are not yet advocating a pullback or or redeployment of US troops. With more than 100 dying every day as a result of these revenge killings and with the Iraqi army apparently either assisting or standing aside, is there any reason for American troops to be there at all?

I'm not quite at a tipping point yet but I'm very close. Unless we can somehow salvage the political situation, I fear the best thing would be to pull up stakes and move out. By salvaging I don't mean shuffling the deck chairs by changing a few faces in the cabinet. I mean ripping the guts out of what's been done already and virtually starting over. Clean out the Interior Ministry from top to bottom. Kick the corrupt bureaucrats in the Oil Ministry out and put them in jail. Take care of al Sadr once and for all - militarily if necessary.

In short, only bold moves can change the momentum right now. Do we have that kind of leverage? If we don't, there's no sense in staying.

Who knows. Maybe by threatening to leave it will concentrate the minds of the parties and help bring about the changes necessary to alter the situation.

Does Bush have the guts to do this? Not before November.

Posted by: Rick Moran at March 29, 2006 10:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So now Ralph Peters deserves the hottest spot in hell while Josh Marchall or Richard Clarke were misunderstood little lambs. I guess you are tired. If you don't like Peters how about someone like Victor Davis Hanson? Is he also a fraud and a poseur? And Clarke is not? [I still can't get over that comment.]
I've been in agreement with you for as long as I've read this blog that Rummy should be sacked. You fail to mention that Bill Kristol called for the same thing last April, a month before Abu Ghraib. So did George Will and plenty of those loathsome neocons. Would his replacement really cause a parting of the clouds in our present predicament?
I wish we had fought this war differently. Maybe a lot of people would not have died unnecessarily. I still think this war, with all it's mistakes, was better than the alternative. Lincoln caused tens of thousands of casualties with his micromanaging and countermanding orders. Similar problems have come up in every war since. If Iraq does undo the fiction Churchill imposed on them and splits apart, would that be worse than a Saddam out from under sanctions, with $60 a barrel oil to finance his ride into the sunset of history?

Posted by: wks at March 29, 2006 10:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look at all the negative stuff people who once supported the war and then turned against it have to put up with.The guy who writes this blog is great.He's got the capacity to actually logically think about things and say that he may have been wrong.I understand this Francis Fukuyama guy is going through hell and being called a liar because he said he was wrong.Man,everthing abut this war has been big lies.Like Greg says,lets stop the bullshit and get to some truth.Thanks for a very great blog.

Posted by: Forrest at March 29, 2006 11:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Also wanted to let you know that I consider this site the best source for balanced news on Iraq and WOT on the web. I know what a chore it must be especially after a long day to sit down and put your thoughts here - especially since you often get pilloried for them by people who ostensibly should be supporting you.

But the frustration on the right with the media and the left has to do with the utter failure to give their critiques any context such as that found here. It isn't a question of reporting every school opening or water well dug. It is the constant droning of end of the world, Viet Nam is here...or here...or here, Bush lied, Haliburton, and on and on with the same stupid, vacuous one dimensional idiocy.

Marshall et al may eventually be proven to be correct in the long run as far as Iraq being a disaster. But their reasons - that Bush & Co. went to war to enrich their friends and set up a domestic dictatorship will always be seen for the lunacy it is.

Posted by: Rick Moran at March 29, 2006 11:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are filled with passionate intensity.

Don't let this be you, sir. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Anderson at March 29, 2006 11:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marshall et al may eventually be proven to be correct in the long run as far as Iraq being a disaster. But their reasons - that Bush & Co. went to war to enrich their friends and set up a domestic dictatorship will always be seen for the lunacy it is.

Rick, you know phase two of being honest with the situation is coming to grips with the fact that Josh Marshall, and almost all serious commentators on the Left, did not actually support such theories. Some fringe voices and Kossaks get carried away with conspiratorial ramblings, but I wouldn't put Marshall in that camp.

That is a more convenient straw man than anything. Similarly, I could dredge up some LGFers or Freepers to say things about the need to nuke Arab countries and kill all the Muslims before they kill us. In fact, some mainstream voices like Savage, Coulter and Limbaugh have come pretty close to this. But I wouldn't call them serious commentators regardless.

Posted by: Eric Martin at March 30, 2006 12:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I was opposed to the war because I didn't think Iraq was much of a threat (even if the alleged WMD "intelligence" had been true), and I wasn't a fan of American triumphalism as a method of fighting the Islamic terrorists. But I think your blog was and is thoughtful, all the more so now that you've had to honestly wrestle with the consequences of your heady chauvanism and over-optimism. Which is more than I can say for the war blogs, especially the Belmont Club, which sounds like it is written by some overheated Avalon Hill war gamer type.

The problem with the war blogs is that they feel obliged to react to each and every bit of news. They will over analyze and over hype the importance of some little bit of information, when it would be better to wait for the other shoe to drop. I think you've done a better job than most of taking a longer and broader view. From what I've read of Roggio and Belmont club, they blither on about how every coalition operation is a great tactical success, but never deal with the basic fact that we have never had enough troops to provide a secure enough environment for the Iraqi people to create a functioning polity and economy. And as with all personal blogs, they are too concerned with proving how "we" were right, and "they" were wrong.

So I hope you keep on blogging.

Posted by: chew2 at March 30, 2006 12:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric:

I appreciate your position. And lumping Marshall in with the majority of the left who have adopted these theories lock, stock, and both barrells is probably unfair.

But when the largest left-wing website - mainstreamed by the press by constantly quoting Kos and mainstreamed by the Democratic party by looking to the "netroots" for money and shoe leather - posits the conspiracy theory of the day (including the 2004 election was stolen by Diebold Corp) I hardly think I'm exaggerating. These are not commenters like the LGF'ers. These are writers who post on the front page of the blog.

Combine Kos with the Duncan Black, John Avirosis, Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher and the whole pack of baying hounds who are on constantly about Haliburton etc. (not to mention listening to Democratic activists around the country ay even worse) and you have what has to be considered if not the mainstream of the Democratic party at the very least they are representative of liberal thought as it now exists.

You and a few - and I mean a few - saner liberals have often given what I consider to be the true counterpoint to this war. Since it was an elective war, the flip side is that it wasn't necessary. That is an arguable point. Haliburton isn't.

Posted by: Rick Moran at March 30, 2006 12:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Marshall et al may eventually be proven to be correct in the long run as far as Iraq being a disaster. But their reasons - that Bush & Co. went to war to enrich their friends and set up a domestic dictatorship will always be seen for the lunacy it is.

I challenge you to come up with a statement in which Marshall or Drum has ever suggested the "domestic dictatorship" idea or even suggested the "enrich their friends" as a primary cause. At most, I recollect their saying that oil was a factor behind the war, which of course it was, or decrying post-war corruption, which we should all be doing.

Now there are loony leftists who say that, but its not hard to find loony right wingers who make equally idiotic statements.

Posted by: erg at March 30, 2006 12:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post. Remember, admission of error is the mother of credibility.

Posted by: cllam at March 30, 2006 12:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg....

a word of advice....

stop writing about Iraq. Period.

there's a whole big world out there, and I rather read your take on issues concerning the rest of the world than this consistent concentration on the tragedy that is Iraq.

Personally, I think you've been right far more than you've been wrong --- except that you were wrong on the single issue that made all the difference --- supporting Bush.

But enough contrition---please continue to contribute to the larger debate on foreign policy....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at March 30, 2006 12:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post. Remember, admission of error is the mother of credibility.

Posted by: cllam at March 30, 2006 12:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


That is an arguable point. Haliburton isn't.

It is very arguable that there was incompetence, political pull and at least some corruption involved in the selection of Haliburton and in Haliburton's management. At the very least, Haliburton should have realized they were in a goldfish bowl and executed the contract competently and honestly -- instead, they were involved in all sorts of problems (not all attributable to the war) and all sorts of corruption.

It is also very reasonable to bring up Cheney's management of Haliburton and wonder whether the revolving door contributed to both his appointment there, and their selection as a prime contractor. It is equally reasonable to bring up some dubious Haliburton actions (trading with Iran). Finally, its worth asking about Haliburton's accounting irregularities when Cheney was CEO -- Cheney would either have to be incompetent or venal.

But no, its not reasonable to suggest the war was started to benefit Haliburton.

But please spare me stories about how reasonable the right is. During the CLinton era, we had stories about 37 person death lists. We had the Wall Street Journal's Editorial page suggesting he was involved in drug running in Mena, attacking Clinton in so many editorials that they published a few books out of it, driving Vince Foster to suicide by attacking him and then having the temerity to suggest conspiracy theories in his death. This is one of the largest and msot respected papers in the US.

Posted by: erg at March 30, 2006 01:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


If you don't like Peters how about someone like Victor Davis Hanson? Is he also a fraud and a poseur?

Yes. He's been wrong so many times about Iraq that its incredible that anyone listens to him.

I happened to read his book "Carnage and Culture" -- the pre-911 hardcover version. It was an interesting book, if verbose and quite often incorrect. But the key thing is that VDH proposed that the major threats to the US came from other democracies that could challenge it, not from non western powers. Thereby completing missing the real threat.

He changed his tune completely after 911, of course. And on Iraq, he pontificated that democraticizing Iraq would solve all ills in the Middle East (contradicting himself). He actually made the comment that "Muslims in Pakistan are dangerous to us, but those in democratic India are not". Now that Hamas has come to power demcoratically, he's furiously backtracking. Throught, he's shown no real ability to predict the future, which is after all the essence of solid analysis (since anyone can predict the past) or learn from error (although he claims that is one of the major tenets of Western thought).

Posted by: erg at March 30, 2006 01:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

January 26, 2003
Check this site für (mostly) foreign policy analysis with an emphasis on Euro-American relations from the perspective of a transplanted New Yorker now living in London.
Posted by Gregory at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

Three years? How pathetic. Maybe you should have a lunch with Sec Rumsfeld and ask him for some advice on perserverance, sweet-bread.

Back from another deployment,
Thomas Foster

Posted by: Tommy G at March 30, 2006 01:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think pulling out of Iraq is a wonderful idea. It would take a lot of pressure off Iran. And with the pressure removed they would probably give up their nuclear ambitions.

And if I'm wrong we can always go back and fight the war again.

If Iran does get their nukes we can have a nuclear war instead of one of those lame conventional wars.

===============================

Bad decisions are ALWAYS made in wars. The enemy (if he is any good) ALWAYS does that which it is hardest to defend against.

Vast populatioin movements are a standard feature of wars. They imply very little about the prospects of victory or defeat.

Sitzfleisch. Without it America will lose this phase. Given that the jihadis will not quit it means that the next fight will be harder and bloodier.

It would be nice to be able to quit. Unfortunately our enemies will not let us. For that I am grateful. No matter what mistakes are made (staying/leaving Iraq) we will be back until we get it right. So we might as well stay until we get it right.


Posted by: M. Simon at March 30, 2006 01:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I understand that you might be disheartened, but you are one of the few "right wing"/"conservative" I have found it worthwhile to visit from time to time, so please don't become so disillusioned as to leave the right side of the bloggospectrum to the vocal wacks.

Posted by: David at March 30, 2006 03:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, I for one would be saddened were you to throw in the towel. Like it or not, you have assumed a mantel of leadership in the sense of providing a forum where we out here can exchange ideas, can reflect on our own foibles and can provoke other commentary. I believe that for every person who posts here, there are many, many more who read this blog. I can sympathize with the burden on you to keep up the posts and hence the energy of the BD. I know that when work gets particularly burdensome, I manage to read the posts, but I can’t seem to find the contemplative time to participate. But there are many of us out here that feel a loyalty and an interest in what is being said and, I firmly believe that my perspectives are far better for this blog than they might otherwise be. For the most part, the participants here refrain from the adolescent comments, name calling, personal insults, etc that are all too common on other political blogs. The commentary is thoughtful, often very insightful and provocative. Why? Because of the very high standards that you both set and maintain.

It is certainly frustrating to deal continuously with the morass that Iraq has become. Yet it is essential, I think, that there be forums like this where ideas can be thrashed out, where we can bemoan our fate, where we can consider and reconsider our political perspectives, and most importantly, where we can participate in a community of interest where different perspectives are encouraged, let alone tolerated. Yes, I have commented from time to time on the frustrating polarity within the body politic and have even encouraged more light than heat when things got a bit testy here. But in comparison to any other place, this is the most civilized and intellectually challenging blog out there.

In short, and perhaps a bit selfishly, we need you.

Michael

Posted by: Michael Pecherer at March 30, 2006 04:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dead Iraqis? Oh well, they're only dead. What's the big deal? Wars are like that. You support a war and you support killing a lot of innocent people.

The mistake, if you are adult enough to admit it, was making war against a country that we had no just cause to make war against in the first place.

When you admit that, and accept responsibility for all the Iraqis you had killed, then I will respect you.

Posted by: ken at March 30, 2006 04:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Greg's probem is that he is naive and a bit unserious. His head is in the right place so he won't drift into the loony bin that is the Left. But clearly the fanaticism of the jihadists and the deep dysfunction of the Arab world has startled him. So basically he's in a state of shock and his fall back postion is to rage at Rumsfeld and act as if more troops for the sake of having more troops somehow would have substantively changed the course of the war.

Posted by: joe at March 30, 2006 04:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is a great blog, but I'm not interested in giving Rumsfeld a rating. The US military could change policies under Rumsfeld or keep the same policies under his successor. It's clear that things aren't what we'd like to see in Iraq. Let's focus on suggesting how policies should be changed for greater effectiveness. (

BTW I give the President and Secretary of Defence a pass (or part of a pass) for making over-optimisitc public statements. That's part of their job.

Posted by: David at March 30, 2006 04:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, I want you to know that you are still my favorite right-wing blogger. But only I have a monopoly on truth.

Posted by: Zathras at March 30, 2006 04:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yankee, go home.

Posted by: Sam at March 30, 2006 05:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post, Mr. Djerejian. For what it's worth, I opposed the invasion because I figured it would leave us with nothing but bad options -- pretty much where we are now. But I'll grant that there *could* have been a valid and convincing case for the war. Bush just never bothered to make it. I give you a lot of credit for changing your mind. Too bad that, if the comments are any indication, a lot of people never will.

I understand your dismay. These are the darkest days our country has seen in my lifetime. But I hope you continue the blog. I've come to value your comments over the few months that I've been visiting. I think you'll take it as a compliment when I say that I've never pigeonholed you as especially right-wing or left-wing. Instead, you've impressed me as an observer who actually pays attention to external reality -- a rare thing these days, sadly.

Posted by: sglover at March 30, 2006 06:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I feel sorry for you, Greg, because you see the tree but not the forest. Rumsfeld's tenure as Secetary of Defense is a failure symptomatic of President Bush's lack of leadership. The buck stops in the Oval Office rather than in the Pentagon.
You still cling to unrealsitic expectations about the removal of Rumsfeld as the key to a reformation within the Bush administration. But the entire edifice of the debacle in Iraq stems from President Bush's incompetence. We will be paying for the monumental failure in Iraq for decades in international relations.

Posted by: George Hoffman at March 30, 2006 06:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, great post and I hope that you hang in there. Although not as articulate and knowledgable as yourself, I am in the same position as you, a Republican Bush voter who has lost faith in his administration and am similarly appalled about the conduct of the war.

What you are experiencing is called confusion. What almost everyone does who is interested in politics is adopt a position, take sides like a football game. The reason is that there is way too much to know, even Bush doesn't know everything, or the CIA, so obviously how could we?

Because reality is so chaotic, which fills us with anxiety, and because we have to make a choice we decide based on general principles we believe in and take the rest more or less on faith. We pick sides in the game, and it answers our need to undestand and relieves our anxiety over the future and what will happen. The liberals/Democrats are doing the same thing, every day, including today. They refuse for the most part to look at their own mistakes in this much like the Republicans.

The people like yourself who are confused are the furthest ahead. We should all be very confused. The answer to confusion is to hang with it, accept it, and then look deeper. Not everything Bush did was wrong. Clinton didn't take action when he probably should have, and Bush over reacted. That is basically the way humans act, from one extreme to the other. In confusion, we find our balance.

I think that in fact a lot of people are confused about what to do, and actually that is a good thing because it means your mind is freed from preconceived prejudices and biases and you are genuinely looking for answers, and not just confirmation of what you already suspect is true---an understandable position but one that can lead to mistakes.

Hang in there and keep writing, look at all the responses you have gotten to this post. Its a good sign.

Posted by: Napablogger at March 30, 2006 08:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I'm an Aussie reader, and I have to say that your site has really helped shape my view on the Iraq conflict this past year or so. If there is such a thing as "reality based" commentary in these confused and confusing times, you are one of the few people who truly provide it. My sympathies have always been with the right, but too much commentary from our side these days consistently brings on a mental gag reflex. Whether I agree with you or not, I am always aware that the posts that I read at this site are written by someone who takes truth and accountability seriously. As you can see from the above comments, this is something that is valued by serious people of the right and the left, so please don't throw in the towel, you really are needed.

Posted by: Macca at March 30, 2006 08:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post and a realistic assesment.

I take no joy in having been proved right, becasue 2300 troops are dead, 17,000 are wounded, on their way to an underfunded dysfunctional Veterans Administration run by you know who.

The Army I served in 15 years ago is broken, and who knows if it can be repaired after this waste of men and material.

My sympathy meter for you are the rest of the war cheerleaders stands at zero. Not one iota do you get from me.


Posted by: Richard Bottoms at March 30, 2006 08:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Keep at it.

You need to articulate what you think is the right U.S. strategy toward the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world. You've evidently given up on the notion that the U.S. can transform the region wholesale. Good.

Now what?

Posted by: Matt at March 30, 2006 02:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Funny, I never thought of Wretchard at the Belmont Club as a "war blog" but as a way to get some extra information about the complexity of what was going on and why? Never thought of him a cheerleader. Don't see any reason to now. His current entry is illuminating. [Crunch time again 2] Just don't assume those commenting speak for him.

Greg offers different extra information and perspective. I read them both, side by side. The goal is to try to understand enough to figure out what we ought to do and why. I particularly enjoy the comments that add something to the discussion about that and pass over the rest. There is a lot of the rest in both blog comment sections.

Posted by: sbw at March 30, 2006 03:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But no, its not reasonable to suggest the war was started to benefit Haliburton.

Wars don't have single causes.

The side that starts hostilities usually has multiple groups that can push for it or perhaps can veto it.

There's often a religious angle. Check.
There's usually a chance for a geographical advantage. Check.
There's usually a question of control of vital resources. Check.
There's public disapproval of the enemy. Check.
There's the claim that if we don't attack, the enemy will attack us with worse results. Check.

Etc, etc, etc.

The more of the reasons that line up, the more likely the war. Did somebody push for the war or fail to veto it because of Halliburton profits? Very likely. But that was at most a few of the groups that had a say in it.

I can imagine that there might not even have been that much corruption. Look at the sequence of events. The war was scheduled quickly, so there wasn't time for competitive bids. And anyway, they were sure that nobody else but Halliburton could do the job.

And if it was a quick push and get out, the difference between victory and defeat was worth quite a lot. Why stiff the contractors you're depending on for essential supplies?

And then they found out that Halliburton couldn't do the job either. Nobody could do it. And thie high price tag was lasting a lot longer than expected. Halliburton wasn't about to reduce its fees -- they were doing stuff that was expensive and dangerous, and if they figured out how to actually get the job done it would surely be more expensive still.

But it wasn't working. Only natural to blame Halliburton for making big profits while failing to do the job.

We could have gotten pretty nearly this resujlt with no corruption at all. No doubt there was a lot, but it only made the failure cost more money, it didn't make the difference between success and failure.

Posted by: J Thomas at March 30, 2006 03:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Iran trading story's real import is that it demonstrates that Halliburton was going to come out okay whether there was a war or not. Halliburton could have made money in Iraq under smart sanctions, or removed sanctions, or pretty much any continuation that was conceivable. Halliburton would happily have signed contracts with Saddam Hussein's government if they could've. They didn't need a war to have a reasonable expectation of making money back in early 2002 when agitation for conquering Iraq picked up steam.

Posted by: Jim Henley at March 30, 2006 04:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rick Moran, here's my Tipping Point from about a month ago:

The military is hurting in both personnel and equipment. The best case scenario in Iraq has consistently drifted toward the negative. As of now, I think the odds are that this is futile. Wasting men and equipment against long odds is morally bankrupt and militarily stupid.

Posted by: Chris at March 30, 2006 05:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Remember 9-11!!!

Posted by: Uncle Sam at March 30, 2006 05:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Chris:

While you highlight an important aspect of the war, degradation of material and men in war is somewhat expected, isn't it?

That said, I see what you're saying. The inexorable logic of diminishing returns may force a decision to leave before any advantageous outcome is achieved. And that is exactly where I am today. I don't think the situation is beyond salvage. And as I mention above bold actions may yet turn things around.

What concerns me most is that hope is dissipating among the Iraqis themselves. As long as the people seemed to be determined to see things through, I felt there was a good chance that the politicians could resolve problems like militia infiltration of the police, influence weilded by Iran, al-Sadr and his cutthroats, and a host of other problems that seem so intractable. The prospect of losing elections concentrates the political mind no matter whether its here or Iraq.

But as the Iraqis lose hope - and I think the political class that is well represented by people like Omar and Riverbend among others is especially important - the prospects that the politicians will be interested in solving these problems fade.

I'm not there yet. But I can imagine it. I couldn't do that as recently as 4 or 5 months ago.

Posted by: Rick Moran at March 30, 2006 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Belmont Club guy (and Roggio for that matter) has never addressed the issue of not enough US troops to defeat or control the insurgency. He can wax rhapsodic about each and every sucessful "search and clear" operation and how that is disrupting and weakening the "terrorists". Wack a mole. That doesn't change the underlying strategic reality on the ground, we need more troops to clear and hold. Now he is claiming that the new resurrected and "solid" Iraqi army ( with a maximum targeted force level of only 135,000) will be able to do what we weren't able to do. Defeat the Sunni insurgency. Indeed he is pretty much claiming they are already defeated. Dream on. All the standard metrics say you need more troops than that even if they were "solid", which I doubt.

Now it's possible that the Sunni insurgents may decide to just give up and join some as yet unspecified political process. Dream on. The fact is we know practically nothing about the insurgents, so I suppose it's possible. Dream on.

So Belmont's latest little missive is that Act I "the insurgency?" is over, and some unspecified more benign second phase is beginning. Huh? Based on what? That the US press was talking about "civil war", not the insurgency? It's the facts on the ground that matter, and its hard to see how they have gotten better than last year at this time.

Posted by: chew2 at March 30, 2006 10:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The facts on the ground" as you put it only matter to the MSP (Main Stream Planet - what Donald Rumsfeld correctly lambasted as "Old Terra"). On Virtual Earth, only attitude counts. The real plan for victory is to translate Iraq itself out of the MSP wholly into the internet. There are more than enough troops in the Winds of Change comment sections alone to stave off a virtual-Iraqi cyber-civil war and bring functioning liberal democracy purely by wishing for that outcome.

Posted by: Jim Henley at March 30, 2006 10:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, I'm one of the lurkers here, never posted before. Please don't give it up, this is the best blog to get levelheaded info and analysis on Iraq. I have pretty much sworn off most right wing blogs over the years for the reasons you mention above, it just got too far from reality to honor their opinions any longer. Stick with it, maybe you can bring some of them along with you, kicking and screaming.

Posted by: Z-man at March 30, 2006 10:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Until the issue of possible permanent bases is addressed, talk of "withdrawl" is just so much blah.

Posted by: Skip at March 30, 2006 10:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The problem with Donald Rumsfeld is very simple. In Iraq we are fighting an insurgency, promoting democracy, and attempting nation building. Alas, the whole thing is being run by a man who doesn't believe in counter-insurgency warfare, democracy promotion, or nation building. That makes him about the worst sort of person for the job.

Posted by: Les Brunswick at March 31, 2006 01:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I have differences with you, as someone who thinks that war is an increasingly crappy instrument of foriegn policy in this era, and with your opinions day to day. You have your biases, and I have mine. I agree that it's silly to think that firing Rumsfield would solve our problems.

Having said that, I respect you. I respect your relative independence, your honesty, your good source material, and your occasional good ideas. You're a pretty good war blog. At least, your contribution is essentially positive, not negative.

You're right to be dissapointed in the average blog, but you were unrealistic to have ever been in love. Average blogs are run by average people, and the average person is an animal. Or, to be more specific, blogs, in general, the average blog, and the popular ones, are no more enlightened then the average newspaper in the 1700's, or the average cable television channel. People who believe that blogs change the rules of human nature are fools in love.

Having said that, we're all fools in love. This does not mean that love is bad or has no good effects. Even GWB's war, which I was against from the beginning, and to which I advocate immediate pullout right now, will have some good effects. They're not worth the bad ones, but they are there.

So, kudos for honesty and basically being a good guy. You're not going to change the world with this blog or win the girl or be a hero. That's not why you do it, right? You do it to actively participate in being honest. So who cares what the rest of the world is doing?
Fuck 'em. Fight against it when you can, win it over when you can, or when you want to, or when you're up to it. In the interim, live the rest of life. Don't let it get you down. Humanity as a whole has survived the fools and the blowhards so far, and will probably muddle through, even Iraq.

I think the previous guy's idea was good - maybe it's time to look into non-iraq subjects. Another suggestion would be to focus less on washington and more on the realities of life on the ground in various places. Washington in almost inevitably depressing subject, and usually close to pointless. Your point of view should be less myopic on your sphere of vision.

Of course, that's easy to say from the stands.
All in all, you do a good job.

Posted by: glasnost at March 31, 2006 02:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think it's incorrect to conflate the recent violence with the insurgency. By most measures -- control of cities, attacks on security forces, political boycotts etc -- the Sunni insurgency is waning fast.

The latest violence is more correctly attributed to al-Sadr, a radicl Shiite. He's used the attack on the mosque to stoke some fighting and gain a bigger foothold on power. He's done the same thing several times, in Najaf and elsewhere. So, I'm not sure much has changed on that front. He needs to be dealt with, but it's not a sign of anything new. He failed in the past, and he'll probably fail this time too.

IF there's a cause for concern, it's the political paralysis among the leadership. Iraq is only going to emerge from the ashes of dictatorship if a decent polity emerges. And that seems shaky at best.

Which is unfortunate because the opinion polls in Iraq show a strong current of optimism and considerable support for a stable democratic government -- and almost zero support for the insurgents and al-Sadr.

Posted by: chip at March 31, 2006 02:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

War is the last great hope of the incompetent to order the unwilling to attempt the impossible.

William Eastlake 'The Bamboo Bed'

This is the perfect summary of modern war. Show me a leader who wants war and by definition I'll show you an incompetent. Bush wanted the war, the incompetence of it's execution was guaranteed. Sure to follow fast upon, and so it has, as night follows day.

No need to be depressed about it however as long as you or a family member of loved one isn't going to get killed over there. It's just a sideshow, an entertainment. Tragedy or melodrama or low comedy, you decide. Redicate to improving your golf game or restore that muscle car, whatever is your passion. Let the politicians and and the grand stragegic thinkers both big and tiny worry about The Nation. Don't ever again take them serioiusly.

Posted by: rapier at March 31, 2006 03:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One of the troubling things about much of the anti-war commentary is that so little of it has a grasp of historical context. By any historical measure, Afghanistan and Iraq have been very successful operations.

Both countries are bumping along from referendum to election to post-dictatorship adjustment rather quickly.

Was there another invasion of a country of 25 million people, ruled by a 30-year dictatorship in the midst of a medival Middle East that I missed?

Where is this perfect invasion and post-war construction project that we're no longer measuring up to?

Well, it doesn't exist. What we do have is a remote-control culture that expects everything to be quick and easy. The blogger here, Sullivan and others have basically lost patience with the conflict, much as they would lose patience with a long commercial break.

It's simply not serious analysis.

Posted by: chip at March 31, 2006 03:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This "insurgency is waning!" meme interests me, since it seems to have grown from nothing in the space of days like shower mold.

I'm a war critic, but nothing bores me more than obsessively detailing every single violent incident in Iraq as if any given one of them meant anything.

Fortunately, Lunaville is not so fastidious. Looking over the Today's Attacks item from 3/28 (the most recent one posted) I see

* 6 incidents for Baghdad. 1-3 are classic Sunni insurgent attacks from the MO. 4 is probably the work of Shiite militias. 5 and 6 are ambiguous.

* Two incidents for Sadr City (listed separately from Baghdad). The location and nature of the attacks says "insurgents" (not Sadrists - or Badrists) pretty clearly.

* Two incidents for Mosul, the recruit bombing (40 dead) and a grenade attack on a police patrol - again, classic Sunni insurgent MOs in each case.

* 1 incident near Tal Al-Sakhar: ambiguous. I'm happy to call this Shiite death squad activity, since it's a bunch of bodies turning up in a Sunni area.

* 1 incident in Tikrit. Place and manner of attack suggest Sunni insurgents.

* Dujail: one gunshot victim. Ambiguous.

* Army supplier shot dead in Yathrib. Ambiguous, though it smells like Sunni insurgent mischief.

* 1 incident in Baqubah, a bomb in one of Baby Sadr's offices. We could only lay this at Chubby's feet if we wanted to get rococo with our theories.

The bulk of the incidents above stem pretty clearly from the "waning" Sunni insurgency. The recruiting line bombing was actually a pretty spectacular attack, with upwards of three dozen reported dead, plus the wounded.

The NOT A CIVIL WAR OH NO marked by Shiite death squad attacks on Sunnis, some of whom are surely guilty of guerrilla activity and some of whom are surely not, is really Insurgency Plus. You can say it's what the insurgency provoked; you can even say they've (the Sunnis) got it coming. What you can't say is that it makes "Iraq the model" (to coin a phrase) that the rest of the MENA is going to want to emulate. And that was the prerequisite for victory in the war we were sold:

2. Everyone else in the Middle East decides to remake their countries in the image of Iraq.

3. No more terrorism!

I always thought it was a cockamamie plan, I admit. Because I never believed that 3 followed from 2. But on the present trajectory we're not even going to get to 2. Because step 1 (remake Iraq) is AFU.

Posted by: Jim Henley at March 31, 2006 04:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Was there another invasion of a country of 25 million people, ruled by a 30-year dictatorship in the midst of a medival Middle East that I missed? Where is this perfect invasion and post-war construction project that we're no longer measuring up to?

excuse me young man, but I believe you are in the wrong room. Auditions for the role of Dr. Pangloss for the revival of Berstein/Sonheim version of Candide are down the hall.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at March 31, 2006 01:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Was there another invasion of a country of 25 million people, ruled by a 30-year dictatorship in the midst of a medival Middle East that I missed?

No, but I seem to recall an occupation of a country of 16 million people, ruled by 30-plus years of authoritarian rule in the midst of a medieval southeastern Asia that didn't go to well.

(Only 30 years? I don't seem to recall the local kings being all that enlightened. Nor the Ottomans for that matter.)

There was also this occupation of a country of less than 4 million people that decayed into civil war (much like Iraq) in the midst of your medieval Middle East that also didn't go to well for a democratic nation much like ourselves.

Posted by: Doug H. at March 31, 2006 02:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rick, thanks for your response. My turn of heart (as recent as yours) is based on probability of success -- and I admit that I don't have anything but a gut feeling about that probability.

It may be salvaged, and I hope it will be. I'm in the Jack Murtha camp, but we're not in charge.

I do hope it works out to bring at least some good.

"Thus in military campaigns, I have heard of awkwad speed but have never seen any skill in lengthy campaigns. No country has ever profited from protracted warfare. Those who do not thoroughly comprehend the dangers inherent in employing the army are incapable of truly knowing the potential advantages of military actions." - Sun Tzu (Ralph D. Sawyer's translation)

Posted by: Chris at March 31, 2006 04:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Chip, if somebody attempted a crazy medical procedure, under false promises of need and ease, and then had things go wrong due to the crazyness + added incompetance + quite a bit of negligence, would you accept that such a crazy procedure has never gone so well?

Posted by: Barry at March 31, 2006 06:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jim Henley:

"The Iran trading story's real import is that it demonstrates that Halliburton was going to come out okay whether there was a war or not. Halliburton could have made money in Iraq under smart sanctions, or removed sanctions, or pretty much any continuation that was conceivable. Halliburton would happily have signed contracts with Saddam Hussein's government if they could've. They didn't need a war to have a reasonable expectation of making money back in early 2002 when agitation for conquering Iraq picked up steam."

Jim, I have to disagree. Halliburton *could* have done O.K. without a war, and under differing levels/natures of sanctions. Particularly because Halliburton's lobbyists would have had a hand in determining the levels and natures (and enforcement).

However, with a war, 'OK' is history - they'd quite reasonably expect to make out like bandits even if they were honest. Remember that there had been 10 years of 'progress' in outsourcing military support functions to contractors. Contractors which exist in a very limited number, at the size needed for a war.

This meant that a war meant immediate mass mobilization of contractors. And unlike reservists and national guardsmen, these guys don't take a pay cut in mobilization - they get bonuses!

So, in a honestly-run war, there'd be extra piles of fat cash. And in a war where the contractor had collossal influence, they'd reasonably expect 'Vast Stockpiles of Wampum of Mass Density'.


Barry

Posted by: Barry at March 31, 2006 06:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's not simply the right. I've given up on "the mighty middle" though he questions the war he has never ever heard of the opression of women that started after l"liberation" or the pogram against Christians. These people don't know about the crime or the fact that the insurgency effectively controls a major refinery or dozens of other things.

I do blame the media to a degree for not stressig the structural bad news.

Instead they told us about the 3,000 schools and 600 clinics that got painted but not:

* San Francisco-based Bechtel has been given tens of millions to repair Iraqs schools. Yet many haven't been touched, and several schools that Bechtel claims to have repaired are in shambles. One repaired school was overflowing with unflushed sewage; a teacher at the school also reported that the American contractors took away our Japanese fans and replaced them with Syrian fans that don't work billing the U.S. government for the work.

or

laced them with Syrian fans that don't work billing the U.S. government for the work.

* Inflated overhead costs and a byzantine maze of sub-contracts have left little money for the everyday workers carrying out projects. In one contract for police operations, Iraqi guards received only 10% of the money allotted for their salaries; Indian cooks for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root reported making just three dollars a day.

The report also reveals further details of Halliburton 's contracts: for example, that of Halliburton 's $2.2 billion in contracts, only about 10% has gone to meeting community needs the rest being spent on servicing U.S. troops and rebuilding oil pipelines. Halliburton has also spent over $40 million in the unsuccessful search for weapons of mass destruction.

Note that this was in 2004 and the 10% was Iraqi money.

Posted by: anna at March 31, 2006 07:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


----------------------------------------------------
My guess, LH, is that this is a reference to Wretchard at the Belmont Club. Last year, Wretchard wrote a post about the war being won and the insurgency being defeated, backing up Cheney's "last throes" nonsense. He has repeatedly reaffirmed this position.
------------------------------------------------------

Wretchard wrote that the insurgency was completely defeated in July 2003. And he has announced complete defeats many times a year since then.

The whole thing is this weird homoerotic orgy. He and his readers (with names like Pork Rinds for Allah) rub ech other off in joy of dead Arabs and contempt for the traitor doubters now totally discredited. It's this wierd druglike thing, they need the fix regularly.

He is considered the foremost strategist on the right.


Posted by: veteran at March 31, 2006 07:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you don't like Peters how about someone like Victor Davis Hanson? Is he also a fraud and a poseur?

Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup,
Uhhhhhhhh-huh, Uhhhhhhhh-huh

On another note, I originally signed up on Blogspot in order to comment on one of Wretchard's posts (here it is, back in September of 2004 the comments are gone). In the post, he was talking about how U.S. fatalities had gone down so much in the last or six months (the fact that one of the months, April, had an unusually high spike in deaths due to Fallujah was not mentioned).

Of course, he also didn't look at long-term casualty trends.

Figures don't lie, but liars can figure, as the saying goes.

Posted by: Glaivester at April 1, 2006 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Man, I forgot that that big fat Victor Davis Hanson softball was still hanging over the outside corner of this thread's plate.

Posted by: Jim Henley at April 1, 2006 04:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What we do have is a remote-control culture that expects everything to be quick and easy. The blogger here, Sullivan and others have basically lost patience with the conflict, much as they would lose patience with a long commercial break.

It's simply not serious analysis.

It never was serious analysis, Chip. When it started it was "We're so powerful we can do anything we want. We want iraq. It will be cheap and easy."

Anybody who thought that way, who *cared* whether it was cheap and easy, is bound to have second thoughts now.


Posted by: J Thomas at April 1, 2006 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Chip: "Both countries are bumping along from referendum to election to post-dictatorship adjustment rather quickly."

Yes, they have been. In Iraq, nobody outside of Al Qaida predicted just how fast things would change. Of course, that's because people expected better, but oh, well.

Posted by: Barry at April 1, 2006 02:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm a dem who stumbled on this post of yours. Because of the honesty I sense, I will now be reading you daily. Advice? - give us truth, that is all we want.

Posted by: badgervan at April 2, 2006 06:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This can all be rebutted with two words:

White flight.

Posted by: TallDave at April 5, 2006 08:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"White flight."

I must have missed the virtually daily bombings, car bombings, discovery of a dozen bodies every day, mortar attacks, executions, kidnappings, police owing affiliation to political parties, beheadings etc. when white flight happened in the US.

Posted by: erg at April 6, 2006 03:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Erg, there were a few admitted bombings, mostly of churches. No car bombings. A few bodies discovered, but since the police were totally on the side of one ethnic group they tended not to find surplus bodies -- likely sometimes they were the ones hiding them. Executions, kidnappings, yes. Mortar attacks, no. Not particularly beheadings. ThoughI talked to an old woman in Atlanta who'd watched a lynching, and they cut the guy's arm off. I didn't get it straight whether it was cut off before or after he was dead. Still, not a beheading. And they didn't do videos of it. 8mm motion picture cameras weren't that expensive but somehow the culture just didn't record that much. I guess it was a lot more expensive to copy 8mm reels than DVDs.

The impression I get is that it was a lot lower intensity. Maybe part of the reason was that the same ethnic group had been on top for nearly a hundred years, ever since the US occupation troops left. So the other side didn't try to fight back very hard, they knew in any military confrontation they'd get crushed.

I remember after the police siege of A&T university in Greensboro, NC, some cops in the Huddle House pancake place told me they got pinned down by a machine gun nest and lost some guys, and it took them over a day to take that out and kill the gunners. But the official records don't show anything about that.

http://blog.news-record.com/staff/outloud/archives/2005/08/setting_the_rec.html

It seems like only a few dozen violent incidents got publicised, total, not counting a few "riots" in which parts of major cities burned. It was reported as far less violent than more recent problems in other nations.

Posted by: J Thomas at April 6, 2006 05:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


More About the Author
Email the Author

Recent Entries
Search



The News
The Blogs
Foreign Affairs Commentariat
Law & Finance
Think Tanks
Security
Books
The City
Epicurean Corner
Archives
Syndicate this site:
XML RSS

Belgravia Dispatch Maintained by:
www.vikeny.com

Powered by