June 14, 2005

B.D. Gets Results!

Well, this is better than "last throes", isn't it?

Vice President Richard B. Cheney urged patience as Iraq continues on the road toward self-sufficiency in a June 10 interview here. Speaking with Air Force Master Sgt. Sean Lehman of the Pentagon Channel, Cheney stressed the need for patience with the remaining U.S. and coalition mission in Iraq and as the fledgling democracy takes shape, citing "two really important developments" in progress.

"One is the Iraqis (are) in the midst of the process of writing a constitution, which will be ratified in a national referendum this fall, and then they'll have elections in December for the first freely elected government under the new constitution," the vice president said.

"The other important development that's going forward is training Iraqi forces to be able to take care of their own security requirements," he continued. "We've now got over 160,000 who have been through some training and are equipped. Obviously, there are various stages of readiness and capability, but more and more we're seeing Iraqis actually in the fight, taking on more of the responsibilities for the task of dealing with the security threat.

"And those two things," he said, "really are crucial to our completing the mission there."

Cheney noted that Iraq has made its progress so far toward becoming a full-fledged democracy in a relatively short time. "It took us from 1775 until 1789, about 14 years, from the time we started our revolution, ... until we had a constitution ratified, in place, ready to elect a government," he said. "It's only been a little over two years now in Iraq since we went in and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, so I think we need to be a little bit patient here in terms of our expectations about how fast they go. [my emphasis]

A good statement. Stressing the need for "patience" while acknowledging that the much vaunted 160,000 are "obviously" at "various stages of readiness and capability" (this last still an understatement, of course, but an improvement on Rumsfeld's empty numbers cheerleading). The reference to the U.S. constitutional ratification process lasting some 14 years is a nice touch too. Yes, a successful outcome in Iraq will take a long time indeed. Kudos on the Veep for moving in the right direction with this public statement by pointing that out quite effectively.

(And with apologies to the good Doctor for the shameless usage of his tag line).

[ed. note: Er, you do realize that Cheney said this on June 10th, right? Two days before you were shouting off the blogospheric roof-tops that "last throes" was likely bogus? Yeah, I do, but can I still pretend to take just a little credit?]

Posted by Gregory at June 14, 2005 12:02 PM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Please, ol' Dick sounding a bit more realistic means nothing for 2 reasons: 1 no one ever in Bush Ad, except maybe Powell, has ever come close to realism viz Iraq so why attempt the sanguine POV now? and 2 the insurgency although very bad is not the biggest problem - dubious prospects viz democracy [will it flower before civil war breaks out; if it does will it be interrupted by civil war; if it isn't will it function in any way resembling a democracy; if it does what are the chances of it lasting?] is the big problem and no one knows the what or where or how about that.

Posted by: Kinch at June 15, 2005 12:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The reference to the U.S. constitutional ratification process lasting some 14 years is a nice touch too.

well, it would be, were it not for the fact that the first seven or so years were spent in a violent struggle against a foreign power whose army occupied out territory.....

additionally, Cheney's comments with regard to the constitutional process reflect a level of optimism that is the equivalent of Rummy's "last throes" comments. Remember those fabulous elections that were held in January? One of the main purposes of the elected government was to put together a Constitutional Commission to write the new constitution -- and guess what, its been nearly five months, and Iraqi politicians are still arguing over who gets on the Commission... and a vote can't happen unless this Commission comes up with a Constitution by August.

If hell freezes over, and that does happen, then a referendum will be held on October 15....but if any three of Iraq's provinces vote "NO", the constitution is rejected, and the process starts all over again...

And given the situation in Iraq at the moment, no serious person sees a Constitution being written that will satisfy the majoritan demands of the Shiites, the minority rights concerns of the Sunnis, and the demands for autonomy of the Kurds....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 15, 2005 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The reference to the US' founding seems really rather ill-fitting.

The founding of the United States, and the drawing up of its Constitution, seems like a (dare I say it?) cakewalk, compared to the difficulty of setting up Iraq.

Ignoring the anachronisms (suicide bombing, high explosives, etc) the founders had a huge advantage in America's isolation from meddling powers.

Iraq, unfortunately, is easily accessible to outsiders who wish to disrupt the process of setting up a government and constitution.

If it took America's founders 14 years, in perhaps near-optimal conditions, one has to wonder what kind of NIH-concocted superdrug the Bush administration was smoking when they thought they could do it in Iraq.

Posted by: Jon H at June 15, 2005 07:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"and guess what, its been nearly five months, and Iraqi politicians are still arguing over who gets on the Commission.."

yup, and it took them two months of haggling to form a govt. These guys haggle alot, and they miss deadlines. We may be trying to democratize them, but we're NOT gonna change essential elements of their culture. This is not a place where you pay retail. EVERYTHING is gonna be haggled.

They always seem to make some kinda deal when they have to, though.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 15, 2005 03:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

You hope you do realize that the Iraqi Armed Force is less than a year old. There are 150,000 Iraqi soldiers who went through training. But to make 150,000 separate individuals a cohesive fighting force will take time.

My personal experience working with them in Iraq last year is mixed. There are units that are competent. The Wolf Brigade is not the only one. The Iraqi Intervention Force compose of two brigades are pretty good. Even among the Iraqi National Guard (ING), there are good units. The only units that did not run in Al-Fallujah were two ING battalions. The 206th ING Bn which I worked with daily was a very good unit. Of course I also have seen units that are incapable of tying their own shoes. But the same is true of some American units.

Posted by: Minh-Duc at June 15, 2005 05:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

They always seem to make some kinda deal when they have to, though.

the problem here is that they don't have to make a deal.....no constitution means they remain in power under the "interim constitution"....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 15, 2005 05:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"the problem here is that they don't have to make a deal.....no constitution means they remain in power under the "interim constitution"...."

Ah, these bastards really want to institute a dictatorship, and are just playing along a democracy charade. Now where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, when Allawi became PM. Heard all about how we was gonna be a dictator, how hw was gonna be like Saddam, how he had personally killed prisoners, how there would never be an election, how he would abuse the power to declare a state of emergency.

Well it all proved wrong.

So now we make the same accusation of the new govt, with no basis whatsoever. A govt that is a coalition, and whose individual components are themselves coalitions. I think it very unlikely they could hold together on an unlawful basis. Any delay in the new Constitution I would expect to be temporary.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 15, 2005 06:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I would rather the reference to the period between 1775 and 1789 had not been made. It's a mere debating point, brandishing the very superficial similarities between two very dissimilar situations. One might as well claim Iraq is going well in comparison to Mexico, which took almost 500 years to get from Spanish settlement to actual democracy.

Vice President Cheney is unfortunately too used to speaking before undemanding audiences, Republican loyalists who will accept almost anything they are told by a Republican Vice-President. Any reassuring analogy no matter how facile will get him applause in this setting, but a call for patience in Iraq would be better supported if it were unaccompanied with analogies that could be so easily picked apart.

Posted by: JEB at June 15, 2005 06:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

When the opponents of the war stop making the "quagmire" and Vietnam analogies, and start reporting the multitude of positives from Iraq, instead of just the negatives, then I will start complaining about Cheney's analogies.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at June 15, 2005 08:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In case you missed this, Austin Bay is in Iraq being briefed by the militaryt brass. He reports: "I’ll comment on the difference in operational emphasis at a later date– but it’s clear the Iraqis are taking on a larger share of the operational burden. After the ops briefing we talked with the current corps commander, Lieutenant-General Vines, for about an hour. When asked about Iraqi participation in security missions, Vines gave us a rough percentage figure. In at least nine out of ten security operations, the new Iraqi military is providing half of the forces. The Iraqi units demonstrate tactical combat proficiency but –this is the short version– lack logistical support organizations and heavy weapons (eg, sufficient artillery)." This strikes me as good news, and shows real progress on the gropund!

Posted by: RAZ at June 15, 2005 09:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"the problem here is that they don't have to make a deal.....no constitution means they remain in power under the "interim constitution"...."

News flash:

AP reports a deal has been announced.

Posted by: liberalhawk at June 16, 2005 02:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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