November 01, 2006

Powerpoint Gloom

01military_lg.jpg

More here. Heckuva job, Rummy! Will he stay on until we're more firmly in the "chaos" zone, or do us all a mega-favor and finally step aside after Nov 7 so as to allow new civilian leadership a shot at remedial strategic oversight of this bungled war? We know what Cheney thinks, of course, which is that things are going "remarkably well" in Iraq. So why shake up a good thing with a new Secretary of Defense not wedded to a failed strategy then? Everything is A-OK. We're moving well beyond fiasco here, but to what, I'm not quite sure yet. Surely this is the most incompetent Administration we've seen since, well, since when? Commenters historical perspective welcomed below...

Posted by Gregory at November 1, 2006 01:26 PM
Comments

Forget about the running of the war, what our armed forces clearly, desperately need is remedial instruction in producing PowerPoints.

This slide is cluttered and busy-looking and the graphics are confusing. It should be broken up into at least 2 separate slides, preferably 3. The chart is too small to be read easily, it needs to be on its own page.

Is this what presentations have come to under Rumsfeld?

Posted by: LL at November 1, 2006 04:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well, I think the Carter administration was pretty incompetent.. the difference being that Carter's intentions were benign, while Bushco's intentions are malignant. The difference is that when mistakes are made with benign intent, the attempt to fix things is done with benign intent. But the malignant intent behind the invasion of Iraq meant that failure of the Bush regime to properly plan for the aftermath of the invasion resulted in "malignant" fixes (such as Abu Ghraib)....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at November 1, 2006 04:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find it interesting that the Bush administration wants to focus on the words of a Senator on the campaign trail in California while virtually every intelligent observer believes that the "stay the course" effort in Iraq is putting our troops in harms way.

If the President is actually concerned for our troops, why doesn't he admit his administration's mistakes and focus his energy on crafting a new war strategy rather than a new political strategy...but that would require him to be less concerned with political power and more concerned with protecting our troops...troops he enjoys waving around like a cheap campaign sign when he thinks that will win him votes...the same troops that died in near record numbers in October in a war the President declared we had won more than two years ago.

Read more here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Posted by: Daniel DiRito at November 1, 2006 05:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have considered the Warren G. Harding administration but allowing graft doesn't cut it in the face of the B/C/R administration's destruction of the Spear of the Republic, plus the tacked-on debt. Nope, I'm going straight to the Buchanan administration. And given that the Old Lady was able to defer the outbreak of civil war to a new regime, then its hands-down: BushCo 43 is the worst administration in the country's history.

Posted by: Robert M. at November 1, 2006 05:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This graph reminds me of my Beckett baseball card value magazines when I was young.

Do we need a slide to demonstrate chaos? But, bravo Centcom. Nice leak, too!

Posted by: Chris at November 1, 2006 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeah, I liked the "Chaos" label on the graph, too. Hilarious. Is there anything beyond Chaos? Armageddon, maybe? They probably had that on there, but it wouldn't fit on the slide, so they made Chaos the worst-case scenario on the sliding scale of Civil Conflict.

I'm wondering if they created the Index of Civil Conflict specifically for Iraq, or if they've had it in storage since WWII?

Posted by: LL at November 1, 2006 05:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is it not obvious that this is got to be THE MOST incompetent administration ever, bar none?

The difference isn't just the scale of the incompetence, Greg, nor the promotions given to those who demonstrate it. This administration is knowingly incompetent, because it's policy positions are for sale.

When industry executives are appointed to regulatory bodies overseeing employee safety, as in the case of the mining industry, safety is never the priority, protecting the employers is.

Iraq's post-war economy was a petri dish for the (so-called) free market that right-wing-welfare think tanks could never hope to achieve in the homeland's 50 states. Only the least reality based, pragmatic souls among them could truly believe that the Iraqis weren't being fleeced. No bid Oil contracts? Bremer's tax break? Such a fucking accomplishment in a country where nothing works...what an asshole.

This whole group is putting their loyalty in the Republican party above all else -- Honesty, Accountability, Morality, and last and least, you, The People of the United States of America.

Republican party insiders, and a corporate media that requires the same knowing (wink wink) incompetence for promotion and prominence can be credited with the deplorable state of federal government in the USA.

Innocent people are being tortured on the orders of this group! Indefinite detention without trial! WTF!

How much more can you people take?

Posted by: Redwretch at November 1, 2006 05:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is always a tough argument to make. W is clearly more politically competent than Carter as he still maintains the loyalty of his base. Carter lost the support of the Democratic base and lost re-election. But being a better politician than Carter allows W to do more damage.

10 years from now the evidence may show Bush as the worst post-WW II president but at this point, IMO, he is at worst number 2, tied with LBJ. At this point the damage he has done does not exceed the damage done by Nixon. Nixon handling of the economy was disastrous, Watergate left deep, long term political damage, and the utter failure of Nixon to handle the end game of the Vietnam led to a complete retreat from the region allowing the NV to establish a brutal regime in the south and the killing fields of Cambodia to prosper.

At this point, we dont know how bad W economic legacy will be and we wont know for a while. Call that incomplete.

If we pull back from Iraq now, our army will still be in much better shape than it was post-Vietnam, it will still enjoy the support of the American people, it will still be able to conduct operations in the region. It will not be the broken defeated army that we pulled out of Vietnam. Of course, in 2 more years, that could change. Iraq could still break the army. But then Bush will be just as bad as Nixon, not worse.

Politically, as bad as W is, he is not a divisive as Nixon. The key will be how the Republican party operates post-W. If W has the same legacy with the Republicans as McGovern did with the Democrats, with radical Southern fundamentalist playing the same role in the Republican party as the radical pacifist McGovernites do in the Democratic party then the political legacy for W will be worse than Nixon.

Posted by: LightHouse at November 1, 2006 07:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Two questions: worst president ever, worst (foreign) policy (decision) ever.

The worst president ever may be Buchanan. And his embracing the Lecompton constitution competes for the worst policy decision ever. But at least one historian (Philip Klein) finds Buchanan to have done a creditable job—C+ or B-, maybe. For instance, Klein says, his cabinet picks were not doughface, and his plan for Sumter didn’t differ from what Lincoln did in the event.

On my own, I came up with this one. I now work off “U.S. historians pick to 10 presidential errors,” a February 18 CTV story.

2. Andrew Johnson’s siding with southern whites.

3. Lyndon Johnson’s slide into Vietnam.

4. Wilson’s stubborn refusal to compromise with the Senate on the Versailles Treaty.

5. Madison’s permitting the country to go to war with Britain in 1812—gaining nothing, risking a great deal. But he lucked out—we lost nothing at Ghent, and fought the world’s greatest power to a draw of sorts.

6. Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807.

8. The Bay of Pigs Invasion.

9. The Iran-Contra affair.

If one asks “how consequential an error”—well, the Civil War might well have come regardless of Buchanan’s mistakes. So also the failure of Reconstruction regardless of Johnson’s. The Versailles fiasco didn’t harm the interests of the United States, did it? Nor did the Bay of Pigs or Iran-Contra.

Our withdrawal in disgrace from Vietnam betrayed many of our Vietnamese allies to a gruesome fate. But did it harm any substantial interest of the United States? The Soviet collapse came fifteen years later, and left us the world’s only superpower. Where’s the harm?

Mention should be made of counterfactual errors. (Prioritizing the defeat of Japan over Germany, say.)

We’ve yet to see the harm that will ensue from the disaster in Iraq. But I greatly fear it will be substantial. And Ricks and Woodward and Packer and many others have revealed a quality of decision-making that seems to suggest plain dumbness verging on what resembles dementia.

If you go back to the outbreak of fighting in 1775 or the seating of the first Constitutional government in 1789, it’s 231 or 217 years of mistakes we have to consider. But I think that the Iraq policy of December 2001 through November 2006 and time to come presents itself as a remarkably strong contender for winner of the Consequential Incompetence Sweepstakes.

Posted by: rainsborough at November 1, 2006 08:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Two questions: worst president ever, worst (foreign) policy (decision) ever.

The worst president ever may be Buchanan. And his embracing the Lecompton constitution competes for the worst policy decision ever. But at least one historian (Philip Klein) finds Buchanan to have done a creditable job—C+ or B-, maybe. For instance, Klein says, his cabinet picks were not doughface, and his plan for Sumter didn’t differ from what Lincoln did in the event.

On my own, I came up with this one. I now work off “U.S. historians pick to 10 presidential errors,” a February 18 CTV story.

2. Andrew Johnson’s siding with southern whites.

3. Lyndon Johnson’s slide into Vietnam.

4. Wilson’s stubborn refusal to compromise with the Senate on the Versailles Treaty.

5. Madison’s permitting the country to go to war with Britain in 1812—gaining nothing, risking a great deal. But he lucked out—we lost nothing at Ghent, and fought the world’s greatest power to a draw of sorts.

6. Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807.

8. The Bay of Pigs Invasion.

9. The Iran-Contra affair.

If one asks “how consequential an error”—well, the Civil War might well have come regardless of Buchanan’s mistakes. So also the failure of Reconstruction regardless of Johnson’s. The Versailles fiasco didn’t harm the interests of the United States, did it? Nor did the Bay of Pigs or Iran-Contra.

Our withdrawal in disgrace from Vietnam betrayed many of our Vietnamese allies to a gruesome fate. But did it harm any substantial interest of the United States? The Soviet collapse came fifteen years later, and left us the world’s only superpower. Where’s the harm?

Mention should be made of counterfactual errors. (Prioritizing the defeat of Japan over Germany, say.)

We’ve yet to see the harm that will ensue from the disaster in Iraq. But I greatly fear it will be substantial. And Ricks and Woodward and Packer and many others have revealed a quality of decision-making that seems to suggest plain dumbness verging on what resembles dementia.

If you go back to the outbreak of fighting in 1775 or the seating of the first Constitutional government in 1789, it’s 231 or 217 years of mistakes we have to consider. But I think that the Iraq policy of December 2001 through November 2006 and time to come presents itself as a remarkably strong contender for winner of the Consequential Incompetence Sweepstakes.

Posted by: rainsborough at November 1, 2006 08:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Kevin Drum:

In fact, here's some fun pseudo-math to go along with it. If you mark off the entire scale in units from 0-100, the "Chaos Quotient" has increased from 55 to 81 in the past eight months, an increase of slightly more than 3 points per month. So how long until we hit 100 at the current rate?

Answer: Just under six months. Even the U.S. military now thinks we have less than one Friedman before Iraq is hopelessly lost.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 1, 2006 09:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

" W is clearly more politically competent than Carter as he still maintains the loyalty of his base. "

More politically competent? If running on his own power, without advisors, I'm not so sure.

A lot of his "political competence" comes from being unintelligible. It's hard to take offense when you don't know what's been said. When he says something stupid or offensive, he's given the benefit of the doubt because maybe he didn't mean to say that. I mean, the man can't even finish a sentence without starting a new one in the middle.

Nor does he ever really answer questions. It's a lot easier to project the illusion of being politically competent if you avoid trying to say anything substantial. That's politically advantageous, but it's bad for the Republic.

And I doubt Carter was in the invitation-only, GOP-only bubble, no-press bubble Bush is in. It's a lot easier to look politically competent when you only engage with true believers.

Bush is a decent used car salesman, with good political advisors. That's all.

Posted by: Jon H at November 1, 2006 09:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


'Specifically, it notes that “hostile rhetoric” by political and religious leaders has not increased. It also notes that Iraqi security forces are refusing less often than in the past to take orders from the central government and that there has been a drop-off in mass desertions.'

And they say the MSM doesn't report the good news.

Posted by: David Tomlin at November 1, 2006 09:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Guys, guys, guys. If you read the Corner more often, you'd know that not only is Donald Rumsfeld not incompetent, he is in fact the greatest SecDef ever! More astonishing hackery from the NRO gang.

Posted by: Jeff Hughes at November 1, 2006 09:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> killing fields of Cambodia to prosper.

As far as I recall, it was the US that allowed the killing fields of Cambodia to prosper, resisting (as usual) efforts by humanitarians to describe the gruesome genocide as "genocide", and it was the Communist Vietnamese that stopped it.

If the US had not been driven out, the Communist Vietnamese probably wouldn't have had the strength to stop the Cambodian genocide, so perhaps it was best for Cambodia that the US was driven away?

Posted by: Frank Williams at November 1, 2006 10:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am pretty sure that the two Presidents prior to the Civil War, Pierce & Buchanon will continue to go down as the two worst American Presidents; Bush Jr. though, will definitely be in the bottom 10 worse Presidents. His Presidency has answered the question of what would happen if the US had some incompetent Harding or Coolidge type President when a major crisis occurred and that answer has been a bad one. Whether the Iraq War & Occupation, especially the latter will go down as a worse debacle then Vietnam is not clear, it might, but hopefully we will cut & run in time to prevent the worst.

Posted by: David All at November 1, 2006 10:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Most incompetent, definitely. Though I think the treason of James Buchanan is "worse."

Posted by: Tom at November 1, 2006 11:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you want, as some friends of mine like to say, serious roffles, consider this odd post from Mario Loyola, responding to the post Jeff Hughes noted above. I actually don't believe *he* believes that, even wrote him to say so.

Posted by: Ned R. at November 2, 2006 01:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even if Rumsfeld steps aside, there is no way Cheney will allow the next SOD to take any actions perceived as a slight against his good friend's "strategy." If, by some miracle, Rummy is out on Nov. 8, does anyone think for a second the administration will grant his succesor the freedom to truly change course? Not if it implies that Rumsfeld and Cheney had it wrong.

Posted by: EPMason at November 2, 2006 02:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Poor sod. Who could they get to take the job under those conditions?

Posted by: J Thomas at November 2, 2006 04:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Poor sod. Who could they get to take the job under those conditions?"

More interesting than the person who actually accepts will be the who's who of highly qualified foreign policy/military experts who turn the job down when they learn just how independent they'd actually be. Look forward to a total yes-man hack playing politics with the lives of our troops and another two years of Administration officials whistling past the gave-yard until they can find some way to blame McCain or Clinton for leaving before the job is finished...in 2010.

Posted by: EPMason at November 2, 2006 05:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lieberman - who, let us hope, will be unemployed after Nov 8.

Mind you, things in Iraq are so bloody awful it's possible that even someone as devoted to self-satisfied ego-boo and toadyism as Lieberman would refuse the offer.

Posted by: CaseyL at November 2, 2006 05:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Throw Rummy from the train after the elections? Doesn't look like it:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061101/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush

Bush says Rumsfeld, Cheney should stay

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent Wed Nov 1, 4:46 PM ET

WASHINGTON -
President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President
Dick Cheney to remain with him until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-vilified members of his administration.

"Both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them," Bush said in an interview with The Associated Press and others...

sullivan unloads here: http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/11/unhinged.html

Posted by: sam sherwood at November 2, 2006 06:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You know what's really noteworthy about the Powerpoint slide? Look at the reactions of the rightwing pundits, like Michelle Malkin and the likes.

They are livid that the NYT dared to "blab out national secrets". For them, the real scandal is that a newspaper points out that the American government is flat-out lying into the faces of their citizens, against better knowledge. Not that Bush and folks are doing it, no! That someone dares to point it out!

How can a government survive so long which is so innately built on lies that even its strongest pundits have no problem ACCEPTING the lies in this I-absolutely-dont-care manner and instead only gun at the messenger?

Posted by: Mentar at November 2, 2006 08:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bushes monumental incompetance obscures the fact that colonial occupations, call it what you will, don't against a self aware nationalistic people. Better executed, this war would still have been a blunder, and failed.

Posted by: Tom at November 2, 2006 01:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One good thing about Bush saying he will not untie himself from the anchors Rumsfeld & Cheney is that any bounce the Republicans get from Kerry's blunder will be gone by election day.

Posted by: David All at November 2, 2006 02:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you pay close attention to this slide, it details the CENTCOM metrics for evaluating conditions on the ground. We can see crucial "break points" in those key indicators: hostile public rhetoric, and spontaneous rioting/conflict.

Posted by: Chris at November 2, 2006 02:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think the word beyond fiasco that you are looking for would be disaster. But I'm going to take a contrarian viewpoint here. Working for one of your father's old colleagues, Amb. Melvyn Levitsky, gave me a very different perspective. He seemed to believe our loss in Vietnam was a relatively minor reverse, and certainly not an overwhelming strategic defeat. The long view certainly suggests his opinion to be valid.

Still clinging to their communist regime, Vietnam's economy will likely grow 8% this year and since 2000 the number of Vietnamese living in poverty has fallen from approximately 50% to less than 10% of the population.

Withdrawing from Vietnam was a political necessity, and it leads one to wonder whether that necessity will appear again for U.S. leadership on Iraq. Next week will tell us something, but it's been a long time since anybody in this country caught a whiff of tear as for enagaging in political discourse.

Posted by: Chris Bronk at November 2, 2006 03:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, didn't you know this powerpoint was doctored? And it's a national secret, so the NYT should be tried for treason. And who the fuck is Mario Loyola, anyway?

Posted by: Tim at November 2, 2006 03:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And who the fuck is Mario Loyola, anyway?"

a fascinating query!

Posted by: jjk at November 2, 2006 06:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Hello, my name is Mario Loyola. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Posted by: J Thomas at November 2, 2006 07:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, and that's exactly the thing which is so utterly mind-boggling for non-Americans like me. This slide, for which the veracity of the content has been pretty much established (whether or not the "confidential" markers were shown or not is totally irrelevant), contains information which is diametrally opposed to what President Bush is telling his citizens. In other words, an official source (Central Command) is coming to completely different results than what President Bush is spreading as fact.

Or, to put it even more bluntly: It's one more piece of evidence that President Bush is consciously lying to the American people.

Now, if something like this happened in Europe, there would be an outcry loud enough to make all its way over the pond. Yet, over here, there are seriously people who don't care about the lying bit at all. They seriously argue that the people should be purposely lied to, and that uncovering these lies is a breach of "national secrets", tantamount to treason.

In other words, those people argue that Americans HAVE to be lied to, because it's obviously more damaging to them to tell them the truth. Instead they should be spoonfed happy fiction.

Shouldn't this simply logical conclusion be pointed out? That these hacks obviously demand that the American people have to be shielded from the truth, for their own sake? What has America become, in the eyes of these people?

Posted by: Mentar at November 2, 2006 07:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's see... Bush is the worst president since Grant... A name candidate with alcohol issues who was elected to two terms and whose policy mistakes (seemingly controlled by his own staff and not himself) has had bad reprecussions for generations...

Posted by: sm at November 2, 2006 07:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The one particular thing that really stands out to me is the fact that "pre-Samarra" the indicator shows that things were at a moderate level. Not ideal, of course, and it doesn't excuse the monumental incompetence manifested by this administration. But it is worth remarking that, as part of the public debate, those who have been saying that Iraq has been in this failed situation since 2004 have been incorrect. And I think the chart shows the extent to which the pulic debate has become disconnected from reality on both sides. Something serious has changed in Iraq on the ground since the beginning of this year, and yet, one would hardly even know that from the tenor of the current debate. While some of the causes of those changes have been talked about in passing, the fact that the situation on the ground has changed so radically in the last really has not been the subject of much discourse. Why has the situation deteriorated so sharply in the last nine months? How is that we have gone from an incompetently-managed "not bad" situation to an incompetently-managed brink of civil war? Obviously, incompetence has been a factor, but given that this administration was no more competent nine months ago than it is today, what accounts for the radical worsening?

Moreover, I think it demonstrates the effect that the people who have been proclaiming that Iraq has been a failed state since 2004 have had on the public debate. From the rhetoric of these people, the situation in Iraq is essentially the same as it was last year and the year before: namely, bad. A liberal, intellectual, politically-aware friend of mine says that he no longer pays attention to Iraq news because the situation there is just as bad and is almost exactly the same as it was in 2003. But the situation wasn't bad, but has taken a serious turn for the worse only in the last nine months. Of course, had the Bush administration conducted a competent policy from the outset, the indicator surely would have been a number of points better in January than it was. This turn for the worst, however, was not foreordained in January. Throughout 2005, one might have been able to characterize the situation in Iraq as going perhaps even "tolerably well," depending on one's expectations. Today, I, for one, would consider a return to a "Index of Civil Conflict" level of 55 to be a reasonably serious success.

As a matter of public debate, the question should be: what has happened in the last several months, and how should we be adjusting to what has changed? But (owing largely to people who had prematurely been declaring the Iraq project a failure, I think), all we ever hear is exactly the same rhetoric we have heard for the last two years. Indeed, I think one could plunk the rhetoric of Bush's opponents from 2004 and 2005 right into today's situation and not know the difference, with the exception that the ranks of Bush opponents has swept ever steadily rightward (and rightfully so). It seems to me that we are stuck in something of a timewarp pyschosis, where the situation has changed and keeps changing, but the public debate stays exactly the same. Perhaps the reason is that the situation on the ground today actually matches where Iraq opponents have asserted it has been for years. Nevertheless, I think it is having a profoundly negative effect on public discourse on Iraq, and that scholarly attention to Iraq would be best served by conducting serious analyses to understand this changing situation and the Bush Administration's response, rather than only lumping it into a political narrative of incompetence and disaster (however much the latter is deserved).

Posted by: Dan Larsen at November 3, 2006 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Darn Larsen argues that the Iraq situation is substantially deteriotating, but I'm not sure that is true -- in the Bushie world. For Rumsfeld, Cheney, and their followers (including The Bushie Decider himself), nothing is changing - Iraq is almost a success, just as it was last year, and the year before, and the year before...

Posted by: Harvey Woodson at November 3, 2006 02:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dan what changed since Samarra is the big increase in sectarian violence and, well, chaos.

Before Samarra the police were ineffectual, but we had a training program going that promised they could gain control and establish a degree of security. That promise is gone.

Before Samarra the army was ineffectual but we were recruiting and training and arming them, and they showed promise of being stronger than any set of militias. That promise is gone, now the army is fighting itself over sectarian issues, it does not obey orders and there are mass desertions.

Before Samarra the kurds were talking like they'd stay with an iraqi government provided there was an actual iraqi government for them to stay with. Now they've decided there isn't.

Remember that the US government was at one point promoting this very thing as a winning strategy. The claim was that sunnis were suffering no retribution at all for failing to turn in insurgents, and we should make sure they understood there were consequences for failing to support the iraqi government. Negroponte came in as ambassador and there was a lot of talk about his role in setting up the death squads elsewhere. The chaos that people are complaining about now was policy then. Just, we expected to have a central government in place to control the police and collect the info that fearful sunnis would provide and the central government would have an effective army that could move in on the targeted insurgents and capture or kill them. But it all slipped out of our hands. Note that a lot of iraqis believe the US military did the Samarra attack. They point to the efficiency of it, and the effective attempts to avoid civilian casualties. In a way I'm proud they consider these things as evidence it was us, but....

For myself, I think what's happening is just events unfolding. I prefer to think that we had 3 to 6 months at the beginning to convince iraqis that we were on their side, and once we convinced most of them that we were against them it just took time for it to play out.

Posted by: J Thomas at November 3, 2006 03:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas: "Note that a lot of iraqis believe the US military did the Samarra attack. They point to the efficiency of it and the effective attempts to avoid civilian casualties."
I have wondered about this myself. The Samarra attack was different from previous Sunni insurgent actions in avoiding civilian casualities. Cannot think of any rational reason why would have done it though. Perhaps it was a Shia group that did it . Whoever destroyed the Golden Dome of Samarra started the Iraqi Civil War just as the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter started the US Civil War.
When did Iraq slip out of control? That will long be debated, but there will be little doubt that the Samarra attack, coming after thousands of mostly Shia Iraqis had been killed in Sunni terrorist attacks over the previous two years and which set off a horrible indescriminate killing spree by Shia death squads*, marked the end of any hope for avoiding civil war in Iraq.

*Whether the US were responsible for organzing the Shia Death Squads in order to terrorize the Sunni Insurgents into submission, like was done in El Salvador in the 1980s is another interesting question. That Negropointe, whose previous field assignment was as ProCounsel in Honduras in the 80s, was ProCounsel in Iraq and had with him as a senior aide, a reitred US Army Colonel who commanded the US Military Mission in El Salvador at time of the
death squads suggest that we did. See on the news today that Negropointe, now overall head of US intelligence is now visiting Iraq, interesting.

Posted by: David All at November 3, 2006 10:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whether the US were responsible for organzing the Shia Death Squads in order to terrorize the Sunni Insurgents into submission, like was done in El Salvador in the 1980s is another interesting question.

El Salvador-style 'death squads' to be deployed by US against Iraq militants
Times of London, 1/10/2005.

Posted by: Tim at November 5, 2006 12:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks, Tim, that was the first article I have read that clearly said the US was organizing death squads in Iraq like we did in El Salvador & elsewhere in Central America in the 1980s. The "El Salvador Option" , what a bloodless, Orwellian description of a policy of mass murder.

Posted by: David All at November 6, 2006 04:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I had heard very little on this subject myself, but at the risk of sounding conspiratorial, here are a couple of links related to the Shia death squads:

Here is the Newsweek article by Michael Hirsh and Jon Barry reporting the Pentagon debate on the use of death squads in Iraq on 1/14/05.

This article in March of 2006, one week after the Samarra shrine was destroyed, discusses how death squads had already tortured and massacred thousands in the preceding months. Interestingly, this article reports that the Baghdad morgue director received death threats for reporting the actual body count and had to flee the country. We can assume that the morgue has underreported the monthly death tolls from that point forward.

Obviously, we don't know that the U.S. is responsible for the creation of these groups and we can only speculate. But certainly, that Pentagon officials discussed the implementation of death squads combined with the current reality of their existence merits serious inquiry into this possibility.

Posted by: Tim at November 7, 2006 03:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Has anybody checked if there's a hellmouth under Iraq somewhere? Bushco could use that excuse if all the others prove to be ineffective. And there's a good chance a large portion of their Christian constituency would actually buy it. They seem eager to buy everything else Bushco is selling. Why not a hellmouth?

Posted by: LL at November 8, 2006 02:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Posted by: Spooler_Go_32 at November 10, 2006 02:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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