December 23, 2004


Scrambling to catch a flight this A.M. to Colorado for a little Christmas/ski break. Blogging should continue, if more intermittently, over the next couple of days.

Oh, thanks for the bit about B.D. being an "honest critic" Glenn. I know a lot of people vehemently disagree with me--on both the left and the right. But most are at least generous enough to concede I'm trying to call them as I see them over here (and, believe me, I'm not trying to preen about in this space as some wise and noble 'centrist'). I'm wrong, often perhaps, but I'm willing to concede error. In this vein, I promise a more in depth analysis about one of my big bugaboos (more troops!) soon. There are many compelling arguments on all sides of this issue and, really, no easy answers. Just like I've said the impending elections won't be a panacea, well, nor would more troops necessarily.

P.S. When Glenn recommends that people in the Administration read me I guess that really means something. Lynne Cheney was on the Chris Matthew's show a few nights back listing Instapundit (along with Powerline and another blog I forget) as her main blogospheric reads.

Back soon Lynne!

UPDATE: The other blog Cheney mentioned was Hugh Hewitt's. How could I forget! And she pondered whether Real Clear Politics is a blog. I don't think it is--but it's pretty indispensable regardless, imho. Ergo, I should blogroll it soon...(what is it about never updating blogrolls once they've been more or less set up)?

MORE: Merry Christmas to all. I'm working on a pretty comprehensive 'State of Iraq' kinda piece that should be up by tomorrow evening (the 26th). See you then.

Posted by Gregory at December 23, 2004 12:35 PM

I'm 99% certain that "more troops" is not now the answer, and perhaps never was.

This is because the USA can NOT win the war against Iraqi Sunni/ Baathists.

Only Iraqis can win.
See my Harry Potter, (no) help for Iraqi People.
written after first ending of Falluja.

What was a big mistake was in not deputizing, early, home owner associations of Iraqis, including former Army folk, and give them responsibility for defending their property, and insuring that there are no insurgents. With pay and positive reinforcements when successful; and loss of jobs/ money/ position after multiple failures.

Bremer kept too much control for too long -- it may have been necessary for a good macro constitution, but local Iraqi enforcement of civil behavior was even more important.

The one area where there were certainly not enough troops was in SpeakingArabic. After Desert Storm, it's a scandal of both Bushes and Clinton that the DoD doesn't have much, much better computer aided Arabic training.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 23, 2004 04:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with Tom Grey that we have messed up by not allowing the Iraqis to fight the big battles themselves. Had we trained a force of Iraqis prior to the war we might have seen a very different result.

The US should have defeated the larger concentrations of Iraqis Republican Guard troops and then allowed the Iraqis we had trained to win the smaller battles.

Had the Iraqis seen other Iraqis under an Iraqi flag liberating them things might have been significantly better. Rumsfeld was rumored to have favored this approach but was forced into the large Army approach by those in State and CIA who refused to admit their failures vis a vis 1993.


We betrayed them in 1993 and so perhaps it was thought that they might not trust us again. But I believe that we might have found a way around that problem.

Posted by: Pierre Legrand at December 23, 2004 10:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I had just this morning decided not to read any more Belgravia Dispatch in view of your on-going group piling-on of Donald Rumsfeld, hysterical criticism of everything being done in Iraq, and what Steven den Beste refers to as "ankle-biting" in that EVERYthing you post now eventually loops back around and into a criticism of The Donald. However, before I do the "farewell cruel world" thing, I just tripped across this post by Victor Davis Hanson, who has been known to blow an ankle-biter or two out of the water on previous occasions.

So I'll leave you, Mr. Gregory D. with these thoughts by the lovely and vivacious Mr. Hanson, and the hope they put a prick in your balloon of smug self-complacency:

Leave Rumsfeld Be

Victor Davis Hanson speaks out strongly in favor of Donald Rumsfeld: Leave Rumsfeld Be.

Have we forgotten what Mr. Rumsfeld did right? Not just plenty, but plenty of things that almost anyone else would not have done. Does anyone think the now-defunct Crusader artillery platform would have saved lives in Iraq or helped to lower our profile in the streets of Baghdad? How did it happen that our forces in Iraq are the first army in our history to wear practicable body armor? And why are over 95 percent of our wounded suddenly surviving — at miraculous rates that far exceeded even those in the first Gulf War? If the secretary of Defense is to be blamed for renegade roguery at Abu Ghraib or delays in up-arming Humvees, is he to be praised for the system of getting a mangled Marine to Walter Reed in 36 hours?

And who pushed to re-deploy thousands of troops out of Europe, and to re-station others in Korea? Or were we to keep ossified bases in perpetuity in the logic of the Cold War while triangulating allies grew ever-more appeasing to our enemies and more gnarly to us, their complacent protectors?

The blame with this war falls not with Donald Rumsfeld. We are more often the problem — our mercurial mood swings and demands for instant perfection devoid of historical perspective about the tragic nature of god-awful war. Our military has waged two brilliant campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. There has been an even more inspired postwar success in Afghanistan where elections were held in a country deemed a hopeless Dark-Age relic. A thousand brave Americans gave their lives in combat to ensure that the most wicked nation in the Middle East might soon be the best, and the odds are that those remarkable dead, not the columnists in New York, will be proven right — no thanks to post-facto harping from thousands of American academics and insiders in chorus with that continent of appeasement Europe.

Out of the ashes of September 11, a workable war exegesis emerged because of students of war like Don Rumsfeld: Terrorists do not operate alone, but only through the aid of rogue states; Islamicists hate us for who we are, not the alleged grievances outlined in successive and always-metamorphosing loony fatwas; the temper of bin Laden’s infomercials hinges only on how bad he is doing; and multilateralism is not necessarily moral, but often an amoral excuse either to do nothing or to do bad — ask the U.N. that watched Rwanda and the Balkans die or the dozens of profiteering nations who in concert robbed Iraq and enriched Saddam.

Donald Rumsfeld is no Les Aspin or William Cohen, but a rare sort of secretary of the caliber of George Marshall. I wish he were more media-savvy and could ape Bill Clinton’s lip-biting and furrowed brow. He should, but, alas, cannot. Nevertheless, we will regret it immediately if we drive this proud and honest-speaking visionary out of office, even as his hard work and insight are bringing us ever closer to victory.

Posted by: NahnCee at December 24, 2004 12:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Home owner associations?

Lordy. Talk about the epitome of the wrong approach. They have lots of "home owner associations" in Somalia. It works great, except for the fact there is effectively no rule of law or state to speak of.

Our number one obligation as an occupying force is to provide security for the Iraqi people. True, we don't want to create dependency, but that's the least of our worries at the moment. The insugents can scare the pants off of the population because they knows that we can't protect them. You know that silent majority everyone keeps whining about? They're scared shitless because if they get caught helping the Americans, the bad guys are going to come after them.

Posted by: praktike at December 24, 2004 05:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Be sure to catch Brad DeLongs latest post (Dec. 23) "Greg Djerejian Twists Slowly in the Wind". Excellent post with excellent comments following.

Merry Christmas and be heartened during this season by your fellow conservatives support of torture.

khaghaghut'iun. Hanqisd

Sher pahri.

Posted by: avedis at December 24, 2004 06:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So if you are biting Greg's ankles, what does that make you?

Posted by: Sammler at December 24, 2004 09:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I found some interesting about subj, look at it.

Posted by: eddireva at December 24, 2004 10:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh honestly...

I may not agree with absolutely everything Greg says (which is why I read BD) but he analyzes the issues cogently and, I think, with good will. I am a conservative and look for intelligent opposing viewpoints - otherwise it all just gets a tad incestuous with us all sitting around singing Kumbaya and agreeing with each other :)

Merry Christmas Greg and thanks for challenging me to think about the other side. I may argue (and even become aggravated at times because I care so much), but I'm happy to have found BD.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 24, 2004 11:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Some time ago, I worked out an analysis of what it would take to properly man up our forces in Iraq for local security in all of the major cities, plus significant reserves in key positions, border patrols, and strong supply line guards. In round numbers it was 350,000 to 400,000 men. That is a number that many of the military men who have complained about insufficient forces on the ground might well accept. With another 300,000 or more Iraqis trained, equipped and led by us, we could stifle major insurgencies.
However, I cannot believe that even this number of effectives on the ground would stop the IEDs, car bombs, and suicide bombers that have caused the majority of US casualties. Nor will this number give Iraqis a feeling of security; rather, continuing casualties will fan the fears of an early US pullout as well, a fear that the US media and others are happily helping along. Shades of Vietnam again.

Posted by: JM Farrar at December 25, 2004 02:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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