January 10, 2006

Wanted: More Troops

The Jerry Bremer files:

The Pentagon acknowledged Jan. 9 that Paul Bremer, the former top civilian administrator in Iraq, warned in May 2004 that more U.S. troops were needed to secure the country, but it said the U.S. military felt otherwise.

Bremer, in a television interview and in a new book -- “My Year in Iraq, The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope” -- once again has raised questions about the Pentagon’s insistence on a small force even as a fierce insurgency took hold in Iraq...The former diplomat said that almost from the start of his year-long tenure as head of Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, he repeatedly raised concerns about the number of U.S. troops on the ground.

Lawrence DiRita, a Pentagon spokesman, called Bremer’s account “an interesting historical asterisk or data point as to what happened in May of 2004, but it’s a little bit after the fact.”

He confirmed that Bremer sent the Pentagon a memo in May 2004, about a month before he stepped down, arguing that a significantly larger U.S. force was needed in Iraq. But DiRita said that was the only time Bremer raised those concerns.

”People are free to offer their views and certainly (Bremer) was free to offer his,” said DiRita. “But it was not something he did, in terms of force levels, any other time besides this one time he acknowledged.”

”That assessment was reviewed by the chairman (of the joint chiefs of staff) and other military commanders who came back and advised the secretary that where they were -- which at the time, as I said, was 18 brigades -- was appropriate,” he said. “And that was the end of the matter.”

Bremer’s stance on troop levels in Iraq was not publicly known at the time, but he caused a stir in October when he told a conference of insurance professionals: “We never had enough troops on the ground.”

In an interview broadcast Sunday night by NBC television, Bremer said he raised concerns about U.S. force levels right from the start of his tenure.

He said that in May 2003 he sent U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a study by the Rand Corp. which said 500,000 troops would be needed to secure Iraq. He said he never received a response.

Bremer said he then raised his concerns with President George W. Bush, who said he would try to raise more troops from other countries.

In his book, Bremer writes that in June 2003, he warned in a teleconference with Bush and other officials, that the Pentagon was risking instability by drawing down troops too quickly in Iraq.

He wrote that he said in a follow-up call with then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice: “The coalition’s got about half the number of soldiers we need here, and we run a real risk of having this thing go south on us.”

In November 2003, Bremer said he went to Vice President Dick Cheney with his worries about the Pentagon’s push to reduce U.S. force levels in the spring of 2004.

Bremer said he felt the military was exaggerating the strength of the Iraqi security forces being trained to replace them.

”I said to the vice president, ‘You know, I’m not sure that we really have a strategy for winning this war.’ The vice president said to me, ‘Well, I have similar concerns,’“ Bremer said in the NBC interview.

”He thought there was something to be said for the argument that we didn’t have a strategy for victory at that time,” he said.

Bremer writes that in his May 2004 memo he asked Rumsfeld for more troops, specifically one or two extra divisions for up to a year.

”I verified that the secretary received my message. I did not hear back from him,” Bremer said.

DiRita said that because the memo came just a few weeks before Bremer was scheduled to step down, no reply was expected.

More from the FT:

In a memoir published yesterday that broke a more than year-long silence, Mr Bremer portrays himself in a constant struggle with Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, and military leaders who were determined to reduce the US troop presence as quickly as possible in 2004 despite the escalating insurgency.

He also writes how Mr Rumsfeld was "clearly unhappy" that Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, had taken control of Iraq policy from the Pentagon in late 2003.

A Pentagon spokesman yesterday confirmed that Mr Bremer had sent Mr Rumsfeld a memo based on a report by the Rand Corporation consultancy that recommended 500,000 US troops would be needed to pacify Iraq - far more than were sent. But Mr Bremer's advice was rejected by military leaders and Mr Rumsfeld.

Mr Bremer's account of his 13 months as Iraq's governor is at times vituperative - scathing of the Iraqi exiles who formed the initial Iraqi Governing Council, resentful of Democrats in Congress who sniped at his efforts, the press for focusing on the negative and feeding on leaks, and bureaucrats in Washington who obfuscated when he was trying to rebuild an entire country.

"They couldn't organise a parade, let alone run a country," Mr Bremer writes of the Iraqi politicians...He says that military leaders, including the commanding US general John Abizaid, exaggerated the readiness of Iraqi police and military forces in an effort to justify reducing the US troop presence. At the same time, Pentagon civilians, led Mr Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, were urging him to transfer Iraqi sovereignty quickly.

In one particularly bleak moment in October 2003, Mr Bremer pleaded with the president to back him in this internal struggle. "I'm concerned that a lot of the Pentagon's frenetic push on the political stuff is meant to set me up as a fall guy," he told Mr Bush at the White House. When the president looked puzzled, he added: "In effect the DoD position would be that they'd recommended a quick end to 'occupation', but I had resisted so any problems from here on out were my fault."

Exaggerating the readiness of Iraqi police and military forces? Ignoring advice from Bremer on the desirability of increasing forces on the ground? Maybe, for good measure, setting up the U.S. proconsul as a "fall guy" to butt-cover at the Pentagon? Hey, it's all just "interesting historical asterisk or data point" kinda stuff. Or, if Larry wasn't paid to spin for a failed Defense Secretary, you might call such things instead blunders of historic proportions. But why go over such old and stale 'data points'? We're all so sick of it, aren't we? Let's stop crying over spilt milk and focus on the way forward, I guess. Frankly, the massive missteps of '03 and '04 are almost too painful to revisit. Seriously.

Oh, and let's not convey angel status on Mr. Bremer either, OK? Handing over a Rand study to Rummy calling for 500,000 troops, about 45 days before he'd be stepping down--well, you'll forgive Don Rumsfeld if he didn't say: 'well, goodness gracious, let's just triple the head count right quick then...' More on Bremer, then and now, here.

P.S. I'll be examining the merits of all these recriminations in more detail when I read his book in the next weeks, so stay tuned.

Posted by Gregory at January 10, 2006 03:32 AM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Mr. Bremer should know that when dealing with people with a seriously diminished sense of honor, it's very important to put stuff in writing. Lots of calls, but only one written piece, and so that's the narrative from the Bunker: 'he only asked once, and it was way late.'

Mr. D, this isn't just Rumsfeld. Do you expect Sec. Rice, much less either the VP or the President, to step up and offer truthful accounts on their conversations with Bremer?

If not, can you explain why you have any respect for any of them?

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 10, 2006 04:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Problem with 'moving on' from the flawed or inept execution of war is that polls seem to indicate and my own personal conversations with Americans seem to confirm that the average voter has at best only a small glimmer of understanding regarding the astounding screw up aka Iraqi Frickin' Freedom.

Simply as a matter morally tinged intellectual reflex if not revulsion
one desires to hold culpable people to some reasonable measure of responsibility [especially if they - Rice - may one day be President] and not let them squirm off the hook through false piety, empty rhetoric, shallow political imaging and out right lying.

But aside from that one has to seriouly consider how letting a fallacy rot away in the belly of a somnolent electorate may impact future executive decisions if that future executive chooses to exploit the blessings of cognate fallacies for mere political gain as Bush and company have done.


Posted by: saintsimon at January 10, 2006 11:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bremer said he then raised his concerns with President George W. Bush, who said he would try to raise more troops from other countries.

classic.

Posted by: lukasiak at January 10, 2006 02:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As the years go on and the memoirs come out, we're going to be confronted with this thorny problem again and again: Which bought-off, incompetent, pathological liar to believe?

I dunno.... During the run-up to the war, I was astonished by the slapdash approach with which the administration argued the "necessity" for the misbegotten thing. In fact, this was finally what convinced me that it would be a Really Bad Idea, because the guys in charge either didn't give a damn, or didn't have the intellect and imagination necessary to deal with the most basic "What if...?" contingencies. It's a little hard for me to get too worked up about Bremer's tale, when the broad outlines of an impending clusterfuck could be easily discerned before it started.

Anyway, wasn't it Bremer who said -- with a straight face! -- that imposing a supply-side-friendly tax code on Iraq was one of his proudest accomplishments?

Posted by: sglover at January 10, 2006 02:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As the years go on and the memoirs come out, we're going to be confronted with this thorny problem again and again: Which bought-off, incompetent, pathological liar to believe?

I dunno.... During the run-up to the war, I was astonished by the slapdash approach with which the administration argued the "necessity" for the misbegotten thing. In fact, this was finally what convinced me that it would be a Really Bad Idea, because the guys in charge either didn't give a damn, or didn't have the intellect and imagination necessary to deal with the most basic "What if...?" contingencies. It's a little hard for me to get too worked up about Bremer's tale, when the broad outlines of an impending clusterfuck could be easily discerned before it started.

Anyway, wasn't it Bremer who said -- with a straight face! -- that imposing a supply-side-friendly tax code on Iraq was one of his proudest accomplishments?

Posted by: sglover at January 10, 2006 03:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bush and the American people (the “Right” American people), will deliver the world from evil and spread democracy and freedom for all to enjoy.

Those with lack of faith will be crushed by the jackboot of liberty, amen.

Posted by: NeoDude at January 10, 2006 03:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bremer said he then raised his concerns with President George W. Bush, who said he would try to raise more troops from other countries.

classic!

Posted by: lukasiak at January 10, 2006 05:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I believe that the value of this latest rehashing of old events is that now we can see that not only battalion commanders but also the U.S. proconsul asked for more troops. However, more troops would admit problems in Iraq and risk 2004's election.

Posted by: Chris at January 10, 2006 05:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is going to be interesting to hear what Bremer has to say in New York when he gives his scheduled chat at the Georgetown Alliance function next week.

Posted by: Dussaq at January 10, 2006 05:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A "day" late and 2 trillion dollars short!

Posted by: judyo at January 10, 2006 05:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Chris:

500,000 was not a remote possibility at the time Bremer suggested it. Part of his job, like it or not, was to operate under the constraints imposed on him. 500,000 was an important number to know and discuss in early 2003, when deciding whether to do this war. Moaning about not having 500,000 troops in mid 2004 is, simply, moaning. If he thought the job was impossible, he could have quit. he could have announced his problem about the whole thing before November 2004, when the American voter could have used the information to determine whether they wanted to give Bush for more years.

Sorry. I'm not impressed.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at January 10, 2006 06:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

He would have needed 500,000 troops in June 2004, since if wed postponed the sovereignty handover, and elections, wed have had all the Shiites in rebellion, instead of just the sadrists.

I still think we had too few troops, but this confirms for me that one of the admins biggest mistakes was appointing Bremer.

Whose idea was that, exactly?

Posted by: liberalhawk at January 10, 2006 07:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Definitely a beaten topic but I think people claiming more troops have to realize is that taking over a foreign country by military force is not easy and will create violence and instability no matter which strategy you employ. This is why many people were opposed to the war in the first place. (note: I did and still do support the war) Had we resized to 500,000 troops after the initial invasion we risked destabilizng the entire region (whatever little stability is left). The 500,000 US troops would have had to use hard ball tactics to create a peaceful atmosphere and they would be played out on tv everyday in every country. Surely the insurrgency would not have just quit. It bears repeating, as a rule taking over countries by force is going to be hard and messy. This is not to say plans are unimportant, or that mistakes have not been made, just that whether we used 500,000 or 130,000 there are going to be casualties and mistakes.

Posted by: Roy at January 10, 2006 07:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ray, it sounds like you're saying that taking over countries by force is difficult Whether we have a lot of men to put into it or not, we'll make mistakes and take casualties. The occupation itself will create violence and instability no matter what you do.

When I look at your expectations, I get real curious -- knowing what you know, why do you support the war?

Posted by: J Thomas at January 10, 2006 08:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
I still think we had too few troops, but this confirms for me that one of the admins biggest mistakes was appointing Bremer.

Whose idea was that, exactly?

Keep in mind that Bremer replaced Jay Garner because Garner was a military mind and Bremer was more a political/diplomatic mind.

At the time it seemed to make sense to me. But I find Bremer's complaints a bit odd.

It was he who approved the creation of an Iraq Interim Governing Council that he now says "couldn't organise a parade, let alone run a country".

I'm not sure that appointing Bremer was a huge mistake. Nor am I sure any one person could have managed such a massive undertaking. But I do believe that certain "shortcuts" were taken and that Bremer should not have been reporting directly to DOD. That oversight, especially early on, was non-existant and that when Bremer did order up financial oversight in the form of independant auditors he should have used his veto power (and all other powers) over the CPA to ensure the auditors were allowed to work in a manner at least close to the manner in which they were trained to work.


Posted by: Davebo at January 10, 2006 08:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The occupation itself will create violence and instability no matter what you do.

When I look at your expectations, I get real curious -- knowing what you know, why do you support the war?"


Because doing nothing would not mean that there would be less violence and instability in the region and the world in the years to come.

Short term violence and instability in Iraq may well be the price to be paid for long term peace and stability in the ME and the world


One cannot help but feel frustration by reading critics of the war who simply ignore the consequences of doing nothing - which would have been far far worse in my opinion


Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 10, 2006 10:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
One cannot help but feel frustration by reading critics of the war who simply ignore the consequences of doing nothing - which would have been far far worse in my opinion

The consequences of doing nothing are still hard to divine but much easier now than before the war.

But then it's not an issue of Invade and Occupy or Do Nothing either so I'm not sure how relevent the comment is.

I will say this. In my opinion, doing nothing would have been highly preferable. Doing something, short of invasion and occupation may well have been even better.

But doing what we did, and in retrospect, desperately seeking a reason for having done it in the first place, has been perhaps the biggest foreign policy blunder of the past 50 years.

And please don't ever forget. There's a very good reason why this war wasn't sold as "A great humanitarian effort that may well also help to protect America".


Posted by: davebo at January 10, 2006 10:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The important thing to remember about Bremer is that he was actually competent --- he did what the administration wanted him to do.

Its like blaming a cook for a bad meal after you've insisted that the cook follow a specific recipe that people who knew food were saying was going to taste like crap.

Posted by: lukasiak at January 10, 2006 10:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas

Please refer to Poque Mahone above. That sums up my feelings. I believe that the war could have long term positive effects but certainly doing nothing and letting the region continue it spiral into complete chaos would be tragic. Certainly the world has some obligation to help the Middle East after all the state borders were created by the international community.

Posted by: roy at January 10, 2006 11:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"you might call such things instead blunders of historic proportions. But why go over such old and stale 'data points'? We're all so sick of it, aren't we? Let's stop crying over spilt milk and focus on the way forward, I guess. Frankly, the massive missteps of '03 and '04 are almost too painful to revisit"

My, it is awfully easy to be a critic in hindsight! Would it have been better to have a platoon on each street corner and a line of men the length of the entire borders with Syria and Iran? More troops would have meant more targets; would it have spurred more Iraqis against the occupiers? The fact is, we can't know. (as with most things, there are tradeoffs obviously) If the administration had done and planned everything the armchair quarterbacks are whining about things still would have been a mess (what's the saying about the first thing about a war plan??). This is a real war, not a hollywood script. Only in a historic perspective (not the ADD, "what have you done for me lately" short term political driven perspective) will we know if there were "blunders of historic proportions". That we won't know until well past the GWB presidency. Would it have taken having everything wrapped up in less than 2 years to satisfy? My goodness, it has been less than 3 years since we invaded.

Greg, I have appreciated and enjoyed your commentary and analysis for some time, it makes me curious why you have gotten so negative at times to the point of sounding a bit whiny. (I believe you have commented on this in the past)

Also, some of the comments here are veering into KosKids territory, I generally expect reasonable, thoughtful discourse here.
My $0.02.

Posted by: mark at January 10, 2006 11:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Roy and Poque, I can understand how you might have supported the war at the beginning. There was the hope we might accomplish various wonderful things. And there was the danger that if we put it off for 6 months Saddam's nukes might get used on israel or europe or the saudi oilfields or who-knows-what.

But now the guys who did it are so clear it's a fustercluck they're publicly trying to argue about who was responsible for it. It's a little late to support it now. We have 3 years momentum against us, we'd have a hard time recovering to the point we were at just after the war.

And we're seeing some of the lies. Rumsfeld said the officers in iraq got all the troops they asked for. We're seeing that contradicted all over the place. Back in those days there were bloggers saying it wouldn't do any good to build the army up because it would take two years training before the new guys were any use. Well, guess what?

We know that we're getting lied to about the war. And there isn't much independent checking; it's mostly too dangerous for reporters to get stories. If you were deciding whether to sell stock in a company, and you caught the management in various lies, and they said you couldn't look at a balance sheet or anything like that because it was important that the competitors not get that information -- wouldn't those signs be a good indication to sell?

But apart from all that, what do you think about getting this crew to attack iran? We've had a look at how they operate in iraq. Are these the guys you want to start a third war in the next few months?

Posted by: J Thomas at January 11, 2006 12:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't want to say anything about Bremer's memoir because I haven't read it or heard him discuss it. There will be time for that later.

But honestly...."The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope"? What kind of godawful title is that?

Posted by: Zathras at January 11, 2006 02:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"If you were deciding whether to sell stock in a company, and you caught the management in various lies, and they said you couldn't look at a balance sheet or anything like that because it was important that the competitors not get that information -- wouldn't those signs be a good indication to sell?" J Thomas

Can the Armchair General be any more evident?

Comparing an enterprise on the level of the WoT - even just the removal of the Saddam regime front of the WoT - to a business you can decide to buy and sell?

The Lukaniac's of the world will NEVER approve of any US FP in this war - so I just ignore them to be honest - as does the America voter - repeatedly.

But I do hold out hope for a large number of rational people who are too focussed on the errors of Iraq and don't pay any heed to the potential dangers of inaction

And probably most frustrating is the microscopic disection of every decision made and assumption that different choices could have/should have been made in every case where anything didn't go 100% right

Of course there have been errors - but there has been great success as well. Will our world look radically different in 2011 than in did in 2001 because of these actions? I would say yes - and for the better.

Would our world look worse at the same time under a leadership that combined the worst elements of our society - anti-american vitriol like Lukas - who noted how we was not against the war but rather against OUR side - and knee jerk isolationists who don't care one fig for concerns outside of our domestic borders. As if this were the 19th C and we could seal ourselves off from the world.


How was the war "sold"? It was sold as every war was ever "sold" - as a call to defend the nation against a threat.

The complexities of this threat are vast - and seemingly beyond the capacity of many to understand.

Put simply - hunting down the 10 or 20 or 1000 AQ and making them pay for 9/11 was not the answer

The swamp was breeding them faster than we could ever swat them - we let the threat grow during the "peace" of the Clinton Admin and paid the price

If you are advocating we continue that policy then you simply don't get it and never will


Should there have been 500,000 troops in Iraq from the start - I don't know. Would that have tripled the number of targets and casualites? Would that have created MORE enemies - as John Kerry notes US soldiers in Iraq are again behaving in the manner of Jengis Khan - so do more troops HURT the effort?

YOU don't know

I do know there are errors in every war

why did those DD tanks sink of Omaha beach? How come we didn't know about the Hedgerows and had clippers ready to be attached to some tanks - not wait from some Sergeant to come up with the idea on D+20? - who was calling for Marshalls head then?


You can't have the benefit of perfect 20/20 hindsight and expect to be taken seriously


Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 11, 2006 03:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My, it is awfully easy to be a critic in hindsight! Would it have been better to have a platoon on each street corner and a line of men the length of the entire borders with Syria and Iran? More troops would have meant more targets; would it have spurred more Iraqis against the occupiers? The fact is, we can't know. (as with most things, there are tradeoffs obviously) If the administration had done and planned everything the armchair quarterbacks are whining about things still would have been a mess (what's the saying about the first thing about a war plan??).

A platoon on every street corner might have secured the arsenals that armed the guerillas who now plink away at our troops, and incinerate Iraqis by the dozen. Might've also made it more difficult to organize such destructive schemes.

On the other hand, a platoon on every street corner adds up pretty quickly, making it difficult to persuade people that there really is such a thing as a quick'n'easy, cost-free war.

It's a dilemma, ain't it? Gosh, what to do? Well, first, lie. Next, smear everyone who's impertinent enough to question your blithe assurances.....

Posted by: sglover at January 11, 2006 04:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As more and more actors in this tragedy, the war in Iraq, come forward with historical accounts of their participation in the worst foreign-policy blunder since the Vietnam War, one has ask the question: How could this happen, that so many officials in the Bush administration could have been so myopic and incompetent in their planning,rationale and prosecution for this war? One word, at least for me, seems to characterize this administration, hubris, excessive pride and arrogance. There are many officials to blame, and the finger-pointing among themselves has begun in public with Paul Bremmer's memoir. As President Kennedy once observed, Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. And he should know how deeply failure stings the soul and deflates one's self-esteem after the debacle of The Bay of Pigs.
As has been pointed out by Greg in his blog, much of the blame will surely will be assigned to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who surrounded himself with neo-con snycophants such as Paul Wolfovitz and jettisoned the reasoned counsel of professional military advisers, who knew the face of war from experience, such as Joint Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki in his blunt testimony before a Congressional committee. Even Paul Wolfovitz, who now heads the World Bank ironically as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara did after he resigned during the LBJ administration, has admitted to reporters that the insurgency of the jihadists in Iraq took him completely by surprise. And now Bremmer is trying to make himself look like a sincere and meaningful actor in this drama of neo-con idealogues, who were more preoccupied with their intellectual pet theories rather than the nuts-and-bolts pragmitism necessary for success in the theater of battle.
And in the prosecution of this war, the Bush administration officials have inflicted grevious and long-lasting wounds in the volunteer armed forces, which had spent the several decades after the political debacle in Vietnam, reconsituting itself into an effective and professional military organization with high espirit de corps among its members. In the foriegn policy sphere, the war in Iraq has also injured the credibility of our policy to bring democracy to the Mideast and our role as an honest broker in the road map for peace in Israel. Instead of falling dominoes in the Mideast shrugging off kingdoms and military dictatorships, except for Lebanon, positions have hardened especially in Iran, which has re-opened its facility for the enriching of nuclear material to make an atomic bomb.
And it seems rather chilling to me that the Bush administration has used the analogy of falling dominoes as the fallacious intellectual rationale for the war in Iraq; it is the reverse mirror image of the justification in the LBJ administration for the war in Vietnam, that we had to make a stand or the dominoes, the nations in Southeast, would fall to the Communists.
And while all the energies and resources are devoted to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration neglects countries, such as the Ukraine, trying to build a Westernized democracy, while it being squeezed by President Putin, who is using Russia's gas pipeline as a blunt instrument of war against this fledgling and struggling democracy.
And now as the political pressure in the country mounting against the American casaulties in the Iraq war, there are reports that field commanders are relying more and more upon our air supremacy. It is using this tactic to bomb insurgents, but it also creates more and more innocent civilian causlties, the very hearts and minds that the administration pledges to win to our side. Yet we are actually creating more and more potential recruits for the jihadists.

Posted by: George Hoffman at January 11, 2006 04:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find this discussion overbroad to the point of silliness. If we had another 150,000-250,000 troops trained in urban combat, civil engineering and political affairs and fluent in Arab language and cultural nuances and we did not deploy them, that would have been criminally stupid. But the "failure" to stretch our other commitments, the National Guard and reserves even further in order to deploy people largely unready for the tasks at hand would have been a waste of time and resources. Troops are not malleable commodities.

The fact that generals are quoted as saying they wished they had more troops is less than newsworthy. Every general since Hannibal is on record as saying he could have done more if only he had more troops.

I understand Bremer's frustrations in a thankless job and unrealistic expectations from an impatient public and a disingenuous news media but I am not convinced that more troops would have done much. Had we been able to invade from the north with the 4th Infantry Div. (thanks a pantload, Turkey), a lot of problems in Mosul and Ramadi may have been lessened.

But the truth is, nothing was an ultimate solution other than Iraqi self-policing and self-government. What we needed to do was make it clear we would not bugger off too soon, that we would kill bad guys who tried to get organized and too visible, that we would give the Iraqis whatever they needed to get control and that we would not inspire an insurgency by being too heavy-handed or omnipresent.

Rumsfeld may be a little to cute with his over-reliance on special forces/small footprint/high tech warfare but I also take the gripes from the paleo-Infantry types with a grain of salt. Listening to military-despising liberals piously lecture about the need for more boots on the ground has been entertaining but it is now getting a little old.

Posted by: george at January 11, 2006 06:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"How could this happen, that so many officials in the Bush administration could have been so myopic and incompetent in their planning,rationale and prosecution for this war?"

No mystery. They could even be competent and get this result.

When the CEO says jump, you don't ask, "Are yuu sure you want me to? Have you seen this data that implies it might be a bad idea?"

You ask, "How high?"

Once the decision was made, everybody had to just do the best they could whether it was likely to work or not.

And if you got the job because you'd demonstrated you were the most competent competitor for it, then going to the boss and saying you couldn't do it would just mean you'd get replaced by somebody less competent.

Our hierarchies aren't set up to encourage second-guessing. Once the decision is made, everybody concentrates on making it so the best they know how. And it isn't acceptable to release information to people outside the organisation who might get in the way. You're supposed to do the best you can for the team, and getting the team stopped is not interpreted as loyalty even if they're heading for a big defeat.

So it appears the current plan depends on iranian insurgents to take over the government in the confusion after our airstrikes. it isn't that they're stupid. It's that this is the best attack plan they can come up with, so they have to go with it.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 11, 2006 06:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

find this discussion overbroad to the point of silliness. If we had another 150,000-250,000 troops trained in urban combat, civil engineering and political affairs and fluent in Arab language and cultural nuances and we did not deploy them, that would have been criminally stupid. But the "failure" to stretch our other commitments, the National Guard and reserves even further in order to deploy people largely unready for the tasks at hand would have been a waste of time and resources. Troops are not malleable commodities.

actually, they are.

Troops can be reshaped, and educated to new tasks. It happens all the time.

If Bush had wanted to do this thing "right", he could have waited another year. Before the invasion, it was obvious that Iraq represented no imminent -- or even "grave and gathering"-- threat. We didn't need to invade to ensure the short term security of the US and our allies.

So we had time to retrain our military -- time to teach our troops Arabic, and teach them about Arab and Muslim cultural traditions. Time to ensure that those who would be guarding prisoners were fully and appropriately trained. And time, of course, to ensure that every soldier, and every vehicle, was properly armored. Time, in other words, to do what needed to be done to ensure success of this mission.

Of course, "waiting" had a very serious downside --- Blix was saying that it was just a matter of weeks before he could say that there were no WMDs in Iraq....and if we had "waited", we wouldn't have had any excuse to invade at all....

..... which is probably why we went in so poorly prepared. We couldn't afford to be properly prepared, because if we'd waited, there would have been no rationale for the war at all....

Posted by: lukasiak at January 11, 2006 06:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

George:

You are distorting reality. It was not simply "liberals" who argued for more trrops. The plan that Zinni put into place called for enough force to control the territory, the borders, the ammo dumps etc. So did other plans from the "generals."

The chairman of the joint chief of staff was humiliated for believing that generals might know better than Rumsfeld just as Lindsay was fired for saying the bill might run several hundred billion dollars.

The administration wanted to believe this was easy, they also did not believe in the American people whose role was to buy things to defy 9/11.

After the invasion when problems developed it was not just "liberals" like Sen Clinton, but conservatives like the Weekly Standard who called for more troops.

This need was denied. Ammo dumps and bordrs were not secured, the steets were wild. The sout was handed over to Shiite militias.

Now there are problems from this and those who claimed the war was going splendidily now decide that their heroes should suffer no examination or criticism. Yes it was a difficult process, it was risky, anyone could have failed. Which is why troop levels should have approached those adviocated by the experienced and preparatiions for the occupation should have been serious. We should not have handed administration of the place over to twenty something conservatives.

It wasn't easy. And if we'd behaved as tough it was difficult our odds of success would be higher. And believe it or not the party that claims to represent "responsibility and values" fails to do when it claims as you do there should be no accountability.

Posted by: alan at January 11, 2006 06:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Listening to military-despising liberals piously lecture about the need for more boots on the ground has been entertaining but it is now getting a little old."

Too true George

I partcularly like J Thomas contined business analogies - now we have a CEO saying "jump!"

You don't need to analogy J - in a military organization the President - Dec Def - Chairman - General - they all say "jump"


Frankly if we had every single member of the US military down to the Coast Guard reserve fully deployed in Iraq the same critics would FAULT the Admin for too many troops

Shame they can't even see this reality

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 11, 2006 07:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The conversation on this seems to evade certain matters that had a substantial bearing on what was done and why.

Lukasiak suggests the war started when it did because Blix was about to find there were no WMD and so the Bush Administration had to rush in before it could be pre-empted. His "analysis" however, ignores some inconvenient information.

First, we should remember that Blix was allowed to take his inspectors in not because Iraq was eager to demonstrate its compliance with the UN Security Council Resolutions, but because the US placed enough forces in theater to pressure Saddam to allow the inspections to occur. Those forces had to remain in order to preserve the limited access Blix and his crew had to the relevant facilities.

Second, there is an old saying that "amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics". For the benefit of the amateurs:

- Troops deployed to an austere environment do not maintain combat readiness for long--they need training facilities, which are well-developed in "home base" areas but very limited in Kuwait and the rest of the peninsula.

- The lack of facilities also prevents mass re-training of forces in a timely manner. What you put in place is what you have available; only the follow-on forces could reasonably be retrained (and then only to a limited extent).

- Supplying deployed troops is difficult and expensive. Even with the US military's assets it cannot be carried on indefinitely.

- Even if the troops could be kept at an adequate state of combat readiness (they can't as indicated above, but we'll cut the amateurs some slack), the summer heat in the region makes offensive military operations virtually impossible. Every country with one professional intelligence officer or two brain cells to rub together told their governments to anticipate Iraq having at least chemical weapons available, and going to war in MOPP gear when it's 110 degrees in the shade would have produced more heat casualties than the Coalition has suffered in the entire period since the war began.

So the instant we put troops in theater to create an environment permitting inspections, the countdown began, and there was a limit to the duration of the affair.

So, yes, we could have "waited 'til next year". But only at the cost of forsaking the momentum created by getting the inspectors into Iraq--we'd have had to start from square one the following year.

Except, of course, no situation remains stagnant. Saddam's business partners at the UN, France, Russia, et al. were making lots of money from the Oil-for-Palaces program, but the real money was to be made once the sanctions were dismantled and the oil industry modernization/expansion was allowed to begin. It was well known that the sanctions regime wasn't doing anything useful--thousands of ordinary Iraqis were dying while Saddam invested billions to feed his narcissism and that of his progeny.

So, maybe the next year there would still have been sanctions, and maybe not. Maybe the French and Russians would have grown weary of waiting for the "big payoff" and been willing to put the screws to Saddam to comply, but it doesn't appear the smart money would have been on that option. There certainly would have been fewer Shia to save from the predations of the Baghdad regime. And the passive (and, probably, active) support of Saddam of al-Zarqawi and his band of cutthroats would probably have continued. The details of our concerns over Ansar al-Islam are probably still classified, but I can say with certainty that they were real.

Sometimes, we let our politics overwhelm what should be our instincts that, in a system that ALWAYS incorporates bipartisan discussion of such matters (it just doesn't always happen in public), the folks making the decisions on such matters are doing what they think is best. But then, we have that right because better men than us are suffering to give it to us.

Posted by: Jem at January 11, 2006 09:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

lukasiak: "Troops can be reshaped, and educated to new tasks. It happens all the time.

If Bush had wanted to do this thing "right", he could have waited another year. Before the invasion, it was obvious that Iraq represented no imminent -- or even "grave and gathering"-- threat. We didn't need to invade to ensure the short term security of the US and our allies.

So we had time to retrain our military -- time to teach our troops Arabic, and teach them about Arab and Muslim cultural traditions. Time to ensure that those who would be guarding prisoners were fully and appropriately trained. And time, of course, to ensure that every soldier, and every vehicle, was properly armored. Time, in other words, to do what needed to be done to ensure success of this mission."

Actually, Bush had the time before the war. It's clear by now that the 'go decision' was made by early 2002, at the latest, and probably by Sep 12, 2001.

If he had wanted to, he could have spent over a year retraining and ramping up equipment production. But that might have cast doubt on the ease of the war.


This applies to Jem's arguments, as well. If Bush had wanted to, he could have had an army which was capable of doing the job right, in Feb 2003, deployed in Kuwait.

But he didn't.

Posted by: Barry at January 11, 2006 09:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even if the troops could be kept at an adequate state of combat readiness (they can't as indicated above, but we'll cut the amateurs some slack), the summer heat in the region makes offensive military operations virtually impossible. Every country with one professional intelligence officer or two brain cells to rub together told their governments to anticipate Iraq having at least chemical weapons available, and going to war in MOPP gear when it's 110 degrees in the shade would have produced more heat casualties than the Coalition has suffered in the entire period since the war began.

Ah yeah, the old "we gotta have the war before the dreaded Iraqi summer!" argument. And here we are, two summers later....

The rest of your comment is pure, post hoc bullshit. All the talk about "readiness" conveniently skips past the reality -- evident at the time, to anyone who was aware of the capabilities and performance of the two militaries, and the moribund state of post-war, post-sanction Iraq -- that any conventional conflict would be a swift walk-over, as it had been in '91. There was no compelling strategic reason to launch the war when Bush did -- other than his own political calculations. If he'd really had a case to make, another year's effort gathering allies and intelligence would have been completely feasible. Oh yeah, I know, the nefarious French would've spoiled everything....

I love how your crowd talks about how liberals are too busy despising the military to gain an appreciation for how it works. Lots of us are vets -- can you say as much? And hey, if I were a war apologist, by now I think I'd consider how accurate my predictions have been, compare them to those of the war sceptics -- and shut the fuck up and listen.

Posted by: sglover at January 11, 2006 10:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually, Bush had the time before the war. It's clear by now that the 'go decision' was made by early 2002, at the latest, and probably by Sep 12, 2001.

I think it's pretty clear that Bush was hot to invade Iraq before the 2000 election -- to give something, anything to define himself with. Lucky for him, bin Laden gave him the perfect pretext to do something really fucking stupid.

A century from now, historians are gonna marvel at how, like the Russia of Nicolai II, the psychic needs of a coddled mediocrity led this country into epic strategic disaster.

Posted by: sglover at January 11, 2006 10:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
So, maybe the next year there would still have been sanctions, and maybe not.

I realize Bush has never vetoed a bill in presidency. But do you seriously think the US wouldn't have vetoed a Security Council vote to end sanctions?

Posted by: Davebo at January 11, 2006 10:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
The Lukaniac's of the world will NEVER approve of any US FP in this war - so I just ignore them to be honest - as does the America voter - repeatedly.

Pew, Rassmussen, Gallup, hell, even Fox Freakin News.

It's called scoreboard dude. Believe me, Dubya doesn't ignore it. Don't be dummer than he is.

Posted by: Davebo at January 11, 2006 10:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thus whole Iraq debacle is looking like “Bay of Pigs” on steroids.

Posted by: NeoDude at January 11, 2006 11:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Davebo - the poll I count is the one held on alternating Novembers - we had a particularly important one only a few months ago

Its called an election...dude

You'll note that the voters rejected even a soft version of Luka's absurd idea that has Bush invading Iraq just in time to prevent Blix from completing his work and declaring Iraq 100% clear of any WMD - or any other zany conspiracy

Or better yet is now the "Bush wanted to topple Saddam to define his Presidency - before 2000"
Nice paranoia there sglover - hows that tinfoil hat fitting : )


But keep it up - I am encouraged by the constant self inflicted wounds the Democratic/liberal side keeps suffering

Howard Dean as party chairman - wonderful

Ted Kennedy. just wrote a book about his dog named splash ( Mary Jo Kopechnie would have loved the irony ) bloviating at the Alito hearings - classic and will be replayed a lot

Its clear no one from your side is interested in any actual analysis of the conflict in Iraq or the wider WoT

Just scoring points, making those poll numbers rise dude, and pretending that a return to power is just around the corner

Hardly

Clinton was right wing compared to Dean or Kerry -

Nope - you might have a chance of unseating the Republicans in the future - but since the Dean wing of the party is rising you can content yourself with polls

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 12, 2006 12:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So the instant we put troops in theater to create an environment permitting inspections, the countdown began, and there was a limit to the duration of the affair.

Jem, the troops were deployed under the assumption that Iraq would not fully co-operate with the inspections -- and that lack of co-operation would justify an invasion. When Iraq co-operated as fully as it could, the rationale for the invasion evaporated --- as did international support for the US led invasion.

In fact, it would not have been necessary to "retrain" US troops before an invasion if our assumptions had been borne out. We would have had ample international support and help with the invasion, and its aftermath, had there actually been a reason to invade Iraq in March 2003.

"We" didn't need 500,000 US troops, because "we" were going to have the support of the international community. When "we" lost the support of the international community because the rest of the world realized that Bush was a lying sack of shit, the "countdown" should have been stopped.

When you plan a course based on certain assumptions, and those assumptions prove to be false, you don't go full steam ahead ... and that is what Bushco did.


Posted by: lukasiak at January 12, 2006 01:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If the *desired* number of troops is greater than the *available* number of troops, then it doesn't really matter what the desired number is.

Over the past few years, I've seen many articles asserting that maintaining 150K troops is unsustainable and is wrecking the military. Presumably, maintaining 500K would be harder still, yes?

Given that, can someone provide an explanation of where the 500K troops were supposed to come from? Couple of conditions:
- If you say "draft", then please include an explanation of why that wouldn't make the Iraq invasion politically impossible.
- If you say "foreign countries", then please provide specific names and numbers


James


PS Apologies if this was answered in the thread above. I was skimming, and may have missed it...

Posted by: James at January 12, 2006 05:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lukasiak, let's not get carried away. If Saddam had done what we wanted and provoiked a war, we still wouldn't have had half a million troops available. There weren't half a million troops in the world that we trusted.

Nato was mostly used up just occupying afghanistan.

Russian or china might have invaded iraq with us, but we absolutely didn't want them.If we let them invade iraq it wouldn't belong to us.

We could have gotten plenty of arabic-speaking troops from egypt, but could we trust them? We didn't want them.

The only way we could make sure that iraq belonged to us and only us was to do it ourselves.

Bush did have from January 2001 to recruit more troops and get them ready for the war, but he'd have had to get Congress to go along, and that would have been hard work.

It was much easier to believe that the iraqis would love us for getting rid of Saddam, and that we wouldn't need anything special. An easy war, an easy occupation, an easy reconstruction paid for by iraqi oil, an easy win in the 2004 election. Kind of like panama. If the plans had worked out we'd be knocking over iran and syria before November 2004. If you remember Cheney was publicly threatening iran and syria with exactly that, right after the victory in iraq.

It all looked easy, so why get ready for something hard? Not like they'd think about worst cases. But now we have no chance at occupying iran, so the wurlitzer is left arguing the best case after a bombing run versus the worst case if we hold off.

The best that can happen after we bomb iran is they won't have nukes and a group that favors the USA will stage a revolution and take over the country and they'll be our friends forever. The worst case if we don't is they'll start a nuclear war and then we'll nuke the whole country. When you think about it that way it looks obvious what we need to do, right?

Posted by: J Thomas at January 12, 2006 12:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lukasiak, let's not get carried away. If Saddam had done what we wanted and provoiked a war, we still wouldn't have had half a million troops available. There weren't half a million troops in the world that we trusted.

Nato was mostly used up just occupying afghanistan.

Russian or china might have invaded iraq with us, but we absolutely didn't want them.If we let them invade iraq it wouldn't belong to us.

We could have gotten plenty of arabic-speaking troops from egypt, but could we trust them? We didn't want them.

The only way we could make sure that iraq belonged to us and only us was to do it ourselves.

Bush did have from January 2001 to recruit more troops and get them ready for the war, but he'd have had to get Congress to go along, and that would have been hard work.

It was much easier to believe that the iraqis would love us for getting rid of Saddam, and that we wouldn't need anything special. An easy war, an easy occupation, an easy reconstruction paid for by iraqi oil, an easy win in the 2004 election. Kind of like panama. If the plans had worked out we'd be knocking over iran and syria before November 2004. If you remember Cheney was publicly threatening iran and syria with exactly that, right after the victory in iraq.

It all looked easy, so why get ready for something hard? Not like they'd think about worst cases. But now we have no chance at occupying iran, so the wurlitzer is left arguing the best case after a bombing run versus the worst case if we hold off.

The best that can happen after we bomb iran is they won't have nukes and a group that favors the USA will stage a revolution and take over the country and they'll be our friends forever. The worst case if we don't is they'll start a nuclear war and then we'll nuke the whole country. When you think about it that way it looks obvious what we need to do, right?

Posted by: J Thomas at January 12, 2006 12:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

James, the question isn't what the "desired" number of troops was. The question is what the "necessary" number of troops was.

Like, the case for war against iran was always better than that against iraq, and is still today. The iranians don't deny they're building nukes, and there's some evidence that they are. They're farther toward making them than iraq was. They're potentially a bigger threat to saudi arabia and kuwait, not to mention a threat to iraq.

It would be *desirable* to have two million troops to occupy iran. But this is no argument for occupying iran with the troops we have.

If you don't have the force it takes, then the right answer is live with not doing it, don't do it and fail.

Rumsfeld's plan would probably have worked, unless he miscalculated the supplies or something. We might have invaded with 50,000 or so ground troops and won. And then we could have announced to the iraqis, "Saddam's army is broken, you're free now!" and gone home. There were risks to it, but it probably would have worked. The trouble is, that wasn't the goal. They *assumed* everything would work out to give them the goals they really had, and things didn't work out.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 12, 2006 12:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


American right-wingers sound like the tobacco industry.

Cigarettes are good for you, we have scientific proof! (Digestive system and energy)

Cigarettes cause cancer? How can you believe these scientists, they said they were good for you! No one likes a Tuesday morning quarter-back, anyway!

Those memos that say we knew years ago, that cigarettes cause cancer are figments of socialist scientist imagination!

Most scientists hate capitalism anyway!

Science is done by bureaucrats, who hate the invisible hand of the market and love the nanny-state!

Hey we put warnings!


I guess, when you are a whore for war, all truth is relative to getting-off on destroying lives.

Posted by: NeoDude at January 12, 2006 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sglover,

You seemed concerned that I might offend a few of the veterans in the audience by my lack of military experience. I believe I can set your mind at ease--I am a serving military officer with some training in campaign planning at the operational and strategic level, and was assigned to the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I served there during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Regarding the relative merits of the Coalition and Iraqi militaries: my recollection is that no one at the Pentagon doubted the US military would defeat the Iraqi army in the absence of WMD. However, it was not at all clear that the conflict would progress in the absence of WMD. It was necessary to plan for the more dangerous option of Iraq employing at least Chemical Weapons (which Iraq had used before) in combat, and this had significant impacts on the logistics of deploying and maintaining troops in theater. No doubt you can agree that a failure to do such planning would have proven catastrophic if Iraq had employed even modest amounts of WMD (in the end, there were plenty of supplies to make Chemical Weapons in Iraq, and the technical capabilities to do so--there just wasn't much weaponized material discovered after the invasion). No one "knew" what would happen after the invasion--there were a variety of guesses, but I'm not aware that anyone got it completely right. So the plans attempted to address the "most likely" and "most dangerous" options. And, like every other plan in the history of mankind, there were assumptions made (some of which were not quite right, but that also is a normal state of affairs).

There was no special effort upon G.W. Bush's inauguration to develop plans to invade Iraq--there had been ongoing planning since the time of the first Gulf War (remember, there was a cease-fire, but no formal peace treaty in place--we went in, in part, because Iraq had still not complied with the terms of the 1991 ceasefire). The existing plans became the starting point for the planning effort that began after Operation Enduring Freedom wound down in 2002.

One note on retraining of troops. No amount of Arabic instruction (even if enough instructors were available--they weren't) would have made US troops fully acceptable to the Iraqi people. Some training was given, but the first priority of a combat force must be to perform combat operations.

Posted by: jem at January 12, 2006 06:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sglover,

You seemed concerned that I might offend a few of the veterans in the audience by my lack of military experience. I believe I can set your mind at ease--I am a serving military officer with some training in campaign planning at the operational and strategic level, and was assigned to the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I served there during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Regarding the relative merits of the Coalition and Iraqi militaries: my recollection is that no one at the Pentagon doubted the US military would defeat the Iraqi army in the absence of WMD. However, it was not at all clear that the conflict would progress in the absence of WMD. It was necessary to plan for the more dangerous option of Iraq employing at least Chemical Weapons (which Iraq had used before) in combat, and this had significant impacts on the logistics of deploying and maintaining troops in theater. No doubt you can agree that a failure to do such planning would have proven catastrophic if Iraq had employed even modest amounts of WMD (in the end, there were plenty of supplies to make Chemical Weapons in Iraq, and the technical capabilities to do so--there just wasn't much weaponized material discovered after the invasion). No one "knew" what would happen after the invasion--there were a variety of guesses, but I'm not aware that anyone got it completely right. So the plans attempted to address the "most likely" and "most dangerous" options. And, like every other plan in the history of mankind, there were assumptions made (some of which were not quite right, but that also is a normal state of affairs).

There was no special effort upon G.W. Bush's inauguration to develop plans to invade Iraq--there had been ongoing planning since the time of the first Gulf War (remember, there was a cease-fire, but no formal peace treaty in place--we went in, in part, because Iraq had still not complied with the terms of the 1991 ceasefire). The existing plans became the starting point for the planning effort that began after Operation Enduring Freedom wound down in 2002.

One note on retraining of troops. No amount of Arabic instruction (even if enough instructors were available--they weren't) would have made US troops fully acceptable to the Iraqi people. Some training was given, but the first priority of a combat force must be to perform combat operations.

Posted by: jem at January 12, 2006 06:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004958.html#comments

Greg wrote: "Handing over a Rand study to Rummy calling for 500,000 troops, about 45 days before he'd be stepping down..."

Greg is mixing two separate communications here.

Bremer says that he sent the Rand study to Rumsfeld in May 2003. DiRita denies that Bremer ever sent it.

Bremer says that sent another memo a year later, in May 2004, and that he verified that this memo was received by Rumsfeld. DiRita concedes that it was.

Posted by: Kenneth Almquist at January 13, 2006 12:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've got a few questions to put to the various commentators here. I was opposed to the invasion based on several reasons - most of which were listed here. Most importantly aside from the flimsy rationale, was that I do agree with Pogue on one thing, that doing nothing was probably not a satisfactory course of action. That said, I think there were other activities across the diplomacy/military spectrum in the region that were more important to the WoT than invading Iraq.

At the same time done is done, and I would far rather see a successful execution of this project that the screw up things have become. My brother serves in the Airforce here, and I've spent some time talking to him and his mates about the issue.

Anyway my points/questions are this.

Questions of troop availability aside, it seems to me that the increasing Iraqi resentment of the occupation seems to largely stem from the fact that things for the average Iraqi are still worse than under Saddam (in terms of disruption of normal activities, lack of rebuilding of infrastructure, limited commerce and trade), and further fueled by the inability to control the insurgency in a meaningful way.

Question 1: If troop numbers were insufficient, then should the invasion have progressed? (and of course this brings to bear the question of whether a multi-lateral action might have avoided this issue)

Now I freely admit to no military experience (aside from talking to a number of currently serving and former military people from coal-face to mid level commissioned officers), but I guess it seems to me that one of the critical things that needs to happen post a successful invasion, is deployment of sufficient troops to enable the occupier to quickly restore order and resumption of basic services. For 2 main reasons - firstly it reduces disruption to the populace, which in turn lessens the potential for hostility. Secondly, resumption of basic services then enables the occupier to then concentrate on putting in place administrative and governance functions to control/enable self governance of the occupied populace (dependent on the purpose of the occupation)

Question 2: In the second world war it seems that the German Army were able to occupy Europe with a seemingly lower level of insurgency seen in Iraq (especially considering the occupied nations had considerably more reason to formulate insugencies than Iraqi civilians). Is this merely the result of cultural issues (brutal reprisal tactics aside!)? Does anyone know the relative ratio of German Occupation troops to the civilian populace? How does this compare to the Coalition troops in Iraq?

Again I'm as guilty as most of being an armchair General, but it does seem to me that Post invasion not only was the planing substandard, but also that would have been the ideal time to approach other nations who declined to take part in the invasion, to assist in the occupation, and restoring order and basic services, and freeing Coalition troops to concentrate on putting down the insurgency, whilst quickly restoring normal life to the bulk of the populace.

I know its very easy to sit here in hindsight and pick holes in the errors made, as has been widely acknowledged, but at the same time there is still a lot more to be done, and it seems to me that lessons from the initial post-invasion have not been learned. Feel free to comment!

Posted by: Aran Brown at January 13, 2006 12:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Question 1: If troop numbers were insufficient, then should the invasion have progressed? (and of course this brings to bear the question of whether a multi-lateral action might have avoided this issue)"

I can comment on the part about the multi-lateral occupation. The people who might plausibly be described as our lackeys simply didn't have the troops. They couldn't have helped much.

If we had moved in with our troops and an equal number of russian or chinese troops, we wouldn't have been in control. Would it have been best to let them occupy half the contry and administer it independently, like east germany and west germany? Or would it be better to have them interlaced among our troops with a mixed high command that had to coordinate on everything? We didn't want them.

We could have taken a whole lot of egyptian troops, if we'd wanted to. They might have made much better police in iraq than our forces did, and they could have provided enough that spoke english to give us a whole lot of interpreters. I don't know the rationale for rejecting that, but if it had been me making the choice I'd have been concerned about their discipline. They have a third-world sexually-repressed culture. When everything's functioning smoothly they behave with great decorum, there's hardly any rape etc. But get a bunch of young guys with weapons among a defeated population, and they might feel tempted. We put out a lot of propaganda about how the iraqi troops acted in kuwait; I have the impression it wasn't completely unfounded. Our troops are 15% female, many of them were mature reservists, and until we had to relax the standards they tended to be dedicated professionals. I'd have been concerned that adding egyptian troops would give us problems with iraqi civilians that we wouldn't have without them. I'd want to see how much the egyptian government would charge us for one translator per squad, or two per platoon, or whatever they could supply us.

In hindsight, we didn't have enough troops. And the planning for the occupation was utterly inadequate. But we had plenty to knock over Saddam's army. Rumsfeld's plan might have worked for beating the iraqi army, we might have done it just fine with 50,000 troops total or even fewer, provided we didn't mess it up. The logistics problems we actually had would have been less with fewer troops. It turned out later that beating Saddam's army wasn't the issue.

We could have left the iraqi police on duty. Promised we'd keep paying them, etc. That worked for the germans when they invaded france. But we didn't like the iraqi police brutality. If we'd left them on the job it would have looked like Saddam's stuff was continuing. We'd have had a whole different set of problems if we'd left them doing security. Maybe it would have been better. We have hindsight on what we did but not on that.

We could have kept the iraqi army intact. Maybe. One concern is that would have shown how many casualties they took. By dismissing them we made it less likely fo those numbers to get counted up. The iraqi army kept in its units would get interviewed by the media. We'd get stories about units that tried to surrender but weren't allowed to, that got bombed trying to surrender. Units that wanted to switch sides and help us but were bombed instead. Cluster bombs, FAEs, lethal phosphorus attacks, if they were organised they could make us look very bad. But a few disgruntled ex-iraqi-army officers can say whatever they want and the media ignores it.

And the iraqi army had traditions we didn't want to continue. It made some sense to try to break those traditions. If we'd spent a few years planning it out we could have arranged that. Like, we explain that everybody in the iraqi army now has rank of private, and promotions will be based on merit. We give them all aptitude tests and promote a bunch of popular shias, and some sunnis who seem competent and well-liked, and throw out some unpopular officers with the claim that they aren't competent to be privates. We might have turned them into a very effective army in a fairly short time, if we thought it out ahead of time, and then devoted sufficient resources to the job. But was that a result we really wanted?

If the issue had been WMDs, we could have taken out Saddam, and found the nuclear material and removed it, and then just pulled out. We didn't really have to capture Saddam, once he didn't have a government to pay the secret police, he couldn't run the country. Somebody else would take over. We had plenty of troops to do what we said we were going to do. It just turned out that wasn't the real objective.

What was the real objective for the war? I don't know. Possibly at some time classified documents that bear on that might be subpoenaed and released, and we might get an idea what they were telling each other the objective was.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 13, 2006 07:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"What was the real objective for the war? I don't know"

The real objective was along these lines

The answer to 9/11 could not be to get the 10 or 100 or 1000 AQ and bring them to "justice" and call it a day

That was the path followed after the 1993 WTC attack - and the one followed, with little real effort, during the 1990's while the Cold and African Embassies were bombed.


The answer needed to be along the lines of draining the swamp that was breeding the islamic facists

The swamp was the ME and its dictatorial governments that we worked with in the past ( and continue to today in many cases ) and to give the ME a boost up into the 20th C - even the 19th would be a vast improvement

The idea is that if arabs can improve their lot and hold their own officials accountable they there will be a smaller audience for the whole "its the fault of the jews, americans and the west" vitriol


For many reasons much of this will never be made public

But thats the idea

Will it work? Many doubt it - but it seems a good option compared to nothing and any alternative I have heard

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 13, 2006 07:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Testing

Posted by: watcher at January 13, 2006 10:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, thank you for your opinion.

I think that's one of the best possible goals, it expresses a kind of desire for improvement in the USA and in arab countries. If we could somehow allow democracy in the nations that we had previously supported dictators, it would be good for everybody.

But I seriously doubt that this was the actual reasoning behind the war. This sounds to me like another cover story -- one that a certain sort of idealist can believe in, but not one of the real reasons.

If the intention was to strengthen democracy, we would have looked at arab governments that had elements of democracy -- lebanon, morocco, etc -- and looked for ways to strengthen those elements. We would have pointed out the advantages of democracy to our client states like egypt and jordan. Jordan's king is calling for a constitutinal monarchy, and things are going moderately well there. He has some problem that his Parliament is not practicing democracy to his satisfaction, but you have to expect some wobbles. We could find ways to help.

We could get our allies like saudi arabia to explain how their systems are really democratic underneath the undemocratic trappings. Like, the saudis have a system where thousands of hereditary princes look for commoners to represent, and they are responsible for finding out the intrests of their supporters and doing something abot that. If they were to announce to their people that this is the purpose of the system, that would be a big first step toward reform.

But we did none of that. Instead we invaded a nation that had essentially nothing to do with the terrorists we want to stop, and our invasion gave those terrorists a big base they didn't have before. They may be wearing out their welcome now, but that's their doing and not ours.

If spreading democracy was our intention, why didn't the administration say so? Why lie about it? Well, maybe they lied because they didn't think they could get the US public to back them and they wanted to do it anyway. Democracy, anybody? But given the other cover stories, it seems at least as likely that this one is another cover story too and not much of an underlying reason.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 14, 2006 03:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas,
I agree, at least in part, about the legitimate concerns that would have arisen had we left Saddam's army and police in place. We made a pretty aggressive effort before the invasion began (and early in the conflict) to convince the Iraqi army to remain in its barracks, using leaflets, broadcasts, and phone calls to Iraqi commanders. Our options to retain the Iraqi army as it was were substantially constrained by the desertion of many troops before we could reach their garrisons and conduct the sort of vetting you recommended.

You had some very interesting comments regarding a multinational invasion force. Here are a few additional considerations:

- The Russian and Chinese militaries are set up very differently from ours, with much less emphasis on technology and more on "brute force" approaches. Further, the command, control and communications systems they use won't operate well with ours, so coordinating joint activities is very difficult. Too, their language and culture challenges vis-a-vis the Arabic, Farsi, and Kurdish speakers in the region are as great as ours, and their generally more brutal approach would make even fewer friends than we're making.

- Egypt and Saudi Arabia would not have provided the US with assistance to change the regime--a fully free and democratic Iraq wasn't and isn't really in the interest of their regimes. I'm not suggesting they would have laid any substantial prestige on the line attempting to undermine the US effort in Iraq, but they certainly weren't going to exert a lot of effort to help establish a pluralistic society in Iraq, either (so, therefore, no large-scale assignment of personnel to help us with translation, even if they had large numbers of qualified personnel in their armed services).

Also, I am less optimistic about the value of the example provided by other states prior to 2003:

- I can't tell whether your apparent faith in the representative elements of the House of Saud is meant to be ironic. Certainly, it doesn't represent the relationship between the ruling family and the rest of the Saudi populace. US policy for decades has encouraged the Saudis to consider the benefits of democracy, but only the recent (very limited) elections to low-level councils could be considered to be effects of that encouragement. Similarly, the US has been encouraging greater freedom in Egypt since the days of Sadat, but its "democracy" suffers under a heavy hand from Mubarak and his cronies.

- I'd also note that the situation in Lebanon prior to the assassination of Harriri was democratic in name only, as all its institutions were heavily dominated by Syria (through its proxies and security services). By working with France to encourage departure of Syrian troops, the US helped Lebanon take a huge step back toward genuine democratic norms. So in that case, the US effort in Iraq probably did encourage the growth of democracy in the region.

By the way, the slur about the declining quality of US forces is unwaranted and at odds with reality. I assume you were referring to the tiny numbers of out-of-shape folks brought out of the Individual Ready Reserve, but the days when reservists and guardsmen were mere "weekend warriors" with no useful training and skill are well in the past. Most of the time, you can't tell the difference between active duty and Reserve/Guard personnel; and the quality of US forces (in all branches and categories of service) has never been higher.

Posted by: Jem at January 15, 2006 11:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas,
I agree, at least in part, about the legitimate concerns that would have arisen had we left Saddam's army and police in place. We made a pretty aggressive effort before the invasion began (and early in the conflict) to convince the Iraqi army to remain in its barracks, using leaflets, broadcasts, and phone calls to Iraqi commanders. Our options to retain the Iraqi army as it was were substantially constrained by the desertion of many troops before we could reach their garrisons and conduct the sort of vetting you recommended.

You had some very interesting comments regarding a multinational invasion force. Here are a few additional considerations:

- The Russian and Chinese militaries are set up very differently from ours, with much less emphasis on technology and more on "brute force" approaches. Further, the command, control and communications systems they use won't operate well with ours, so coordinating joint activities is very difficult. Too, their language and culture challenges vis-a-vis the Arabic, Farsi, and Kurdish speakers in the region are as great as ours, and their generally more brutal approach would make even fewer friends than we're making.

- Egypt and Saudi Arabia would not have provided the US with assistance to change the regime--a fully free and democratic Iraq wasn't and isn't really in the interest of their regimes. I'm not suggesting they would have laid any substantial prestige on the line attempting to undermine the US effort in Iraq, but they certainly weren't going to exert a lot of effort to help establish a pluralistic society in Iraq, either (so, therefore, no large-scale assignment of personnel to help us with translation, even if they had large numbers of qualified personnel in their armed services).

Also, I am less optimistic about the value of the example provided by other states prior to 2003:

- I can't tell whether your apparent faith in the representative elements of the House of Saud is meant to be ironic. Certainly, it doesn't represent the relationship between the ruling family and the rest of the Saudi populace. US policy for decades has encouraged the Saudis to consider the benefits of democracy, but only the recent (very limited) elections to low-level councils could be considered to be effects of that encouragement. Similarly, the US has been encouraging greater freedom in Egypt since the days of Sadat, but its "democracy" suffers under a heavy hand from Mubarak and his cronies.

- I'd also note that the situation in Lebanon prior to the assassination of Harriri was democratic in name only, as all its institutions were heavily dominated by Syria (through its proxies and security services). By working with France to encourage departure of Syrian troops, the US helped Lebanon take a huge step back toward genuine democratic norms. So in that case, the US effort in Iraq probably did encourage the growth of democracy in the region.

By the way, the slur about the declining quality of US forces is unwaranted and at odds with reality. I assume you were referring to the tiny numbers of out-of-shape folks brought out of the Individual Ready Reserve, but the days when reservists and guardsmen were mere "weekend warriors" with no useful training and skill are well in the past. Most of the time, you can't tell the difference between active duty and Reserve/Guard personnel; and the quality of US forces (in all branches and categories of service) has never been higher.

Posted by: Jem at January 15, 2006 11:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jem, we wouldn't seriously consider russian or chinese troops -- just, they were the ones with the big armies. And india, of course. Paradoxically, it might have been good for us to have a brutal army in there that made us look like the good guys. I'm sure that helped us in west germany.

I believe that egypt would have provided lots of translators if we asked, if we paid for them. They're living hand-to-mouth to the point that they wouldn't consider the ideology of "We should oppose democracy everywhere because if they get it in iraq then our own people will overthrow us". More like, "You'll pay them $25,000 a year? And you'll pay *us* another $5,000? And you'll feed them? How many can you take?"

But that doesn't give us a multinational force. If we get 1 translator for ever 10 troops that only gives us translators and warm bodies. Now, if we'd used egyptians for police etc, as a major part of the occupation force, it might have been a big improvement but it might not. When you're providing security yourself, you desperately need police who understand the language. It's like, New York City has something like 45,000 policemen now. How many chinese soldiers would it take to police NYC? If we had a whole lot of egyptians who knew the language providing security in the early days, we wouldn't have had the problems we did. Instead we'd have had different problems. I tend to think those problems would be a lot better than the problems we do have, but there's no way to test it.

The saudis themselves say they have a representative government. They are hereditary representatives. ;) They have an incentive to make it work, since each family before them that tried it has been pretty much wiped out. If they continue to keep the consent of the governed they survive. Pretty brutal. I don't know how well they're doing at that. Since they don't have anything like a free press it's hard to tell. But we can't be sure they don't have consent. They might, we won't really know until they're overthrown.

I'm a little surprised you'd say lebanon was democratic in name only, since syria had far less overt influence there than we do in iraq. Perhaps iraq can have real deomcracy after we pull out?

And no, I wasn't talking about the Reserves being worse than army. (They're usually older, which has pluses and minuses.) I was talking about declining standards. As it gets harder to find soldiers we accept people that we would have rejected 4 years ago. I wasn't aware there was anything controversial about this. If you want I suppose I could dig out some links.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 15, 2006 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I'm a little surprised you'd say lebanon was democratic in name only, since syria had far less overt influence there than we do in iraq. Perhaps iraq can have real deomcracy after we pull out?"

The moral relativism condensed into this one statement is staggering J Thomas

So now US "influence" in Iraq is to be compared to Syrian control of Lebanon for 20+ years

As if the US and Syria were the same

I am just constantly amazed by idiotic statements like this - people who hate the United States so much and seek to level the field between the oldest democracy in the world and every third world dictatorship - sickening

As if the THREE free elections in Iraq in the last 14 months mean nothing - when Lebanon has had none in the last 20 years

But why let facts get in the way of another snide dig about the neo-con imperialist americans - and who are we to say we are any better than the Assad gang who run Syria

You wonder why you are not taken seriously on a national level look no further

You actually say this shit and seem to really think this is the way most americans think of themselves in the world - as no different from a dictatorship like Syria

Sorry - thats the way YOU see the USA

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 16, 2006 03:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, buddy, try to be rational. I know it's fun to let those emotions spray over everything but stop and think.

Jem here said that lebanon had democracy in name only because the syrians were controlling all its institutions (through proxies and security services).

Now, look at iraq. Are there any iraqi institutions we don't control? In theory the iraqi army answers to the prime minister, but in practice he's out of the loop -- the orders come from americans. Every other government agency has american "advisors". And just before Bremer left he appointed a set of investigators who could look over the work of anybody in any of the ministries and fire them for incompetence or corruption, who didn't answer to any iraqi, who couldn't be replaced for 5 years. Does that sound like perhaps we control the institutions?

Get a grip, man. If I'm wrong, show me how I'm wrong. Don't just say that americans don't want to believe it so I marginalise myself by telling the truth. That's so 1984.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 16, 2006 10:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Get a grip, man. If I'm wrong, show me how I'm wrong"

Your wrong in making condescending remarks about the government of Iraq - an ELECTED assembly - and blithly comparing them to the puppet regime run by the Syrian dictatorship

Your wrong to dismiss the courage of the iraqi people who went to the polls in higher percentages than we do in US elections - in the face of mortal threats.

Your wrong to make comparisons that state that what the Syrians did in Lebanon is the SAME as what the US has done FOR Iraq

Get a grip?

Get a new script J - the old "we are just propping up OUR dictators" is the old US FP

The one that was attacked as wrong for many years by the same people who now attack the Admin for doing a 180 and now supporting democracy abroad in the most concrete way

But you still don't get it - and content yourself with making salacious comparisons and denigrating the people of Iraq and the majority of Americans who do not share your idea's about our similarity to the Assad dictatorship clan

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 17, 2006 03:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

ogue, thank you for responding.

So, I see you presented a fact, that iraq has had elections.

But lebanon had elections while under syrian occupation too.
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/le.html

So this point is not decisive.

Next, you say that I am claiming that the US occupation of syria is the SAME as the syrian occupation of lebanon. I have not made that claim. I've challenged you or Jem or)whoever wants to, to provide some sort of evidence that it's different.

I can provide one difference right now -- we have waged far more airstrikes on occupied iraq than syria did on occupied lebanon, and in a much shorter time.

Here is another difference -- we have killed far more iraqi civilians than syria has killed lebanese civilians, and in a much shorter time.

But I welcome whatever evidence you can find to support your emotion.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 18, 2006 06:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"So, I see you presented a fact, that iraq has had elections.

But lebanon had elections while under syrian occupation too.
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/le.html

So this point is not decisive."

And Iraq had elections under Saddam - I believe 99% of the population voted too


"Next, you say that I am claiming that the US occupation of syria is the SAME as the syrian occupation of lebanon. I have not made that claim. I've challenged you or Jem or)whoever wants to, to provide some sort of evidence that it's different. "

Oh I would say your position is that the US "occupation" of Iraq is either the same or WORSE that the Syrian efforts in Lebabon - as revolting a display of moral relatavism as can be found

"I can provide one difference right now -- we have waged far more airstrikes on occupied iraq than syria did on occupied lebanon, and in a much shorter time.

Here is another difference -- we have killed far more iraqi civilians than syria has killed lebanese civilians, and in a much shorter time."

And to demonstrate my point you come up with the above - nice bit of moral relatavism. One assumes that you found the US occupation of France in Autumn 1944 to be worse than the German occupation of same in Spring 1944

After all - plenty of US airstrikes in France from June 1944 onward - we pretty much leveled Caen from what I have read - killed thousands of civillians during our occupation

Maybe you can provide some snarky comments that compare the minimal civillian death toll in Caen from 1940-1944 under German rule to make a similar case that our "occupation" was worse

Of course, it wasn't so nice for the jews and other undesirables under the Germans - much as it wasn't so nice for the Kurds and Marsh Arabs and any other opponents under Saddam - but your not counting those dead ( 300K is the accepted number ) because they don't fit your preconcieved idea that the US is the real criminal and really no better than the Syrian father/son dictatorship that ran Lebanon for 20+ years

What can one say - your ideology is clear - you aren't exposing any great truths here - trust me. You are just another usefull idiot moral relatavist - intent on bashing the US and using any revolting comparison ( Lebanon had elections for example ) to do so.

And you wonder why you are increasingly marginalized and out of power?

Hows the tinfoil hat fitting - you didn't say : )

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 18, 2006 08:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, I asked you to give us some sort of evidence, and you gave none at all. Instead you tried to argue that we have to be better because we are moral and the nazis weren't.

Come on, find out some things about the US occupation of iraq and find out about the syrian occupation of lebanon. If you really want to push morality you could compare the syrian occupation of lebanon with the israeli occupation of lebanon. :/

Your comment was content-free. You tried to conflate the syrians in lebanon with Saddam in his own country and the nazis in france.

In 5 years that kind of bullshit starts to intensify its flavor. I'm surprised you can't taste it in your own mouth.

So spend just a few hours on Google, and find out about the two occupations in question. It won't hurt you. You'll feel better about yourself when you can present real differences that show how much better we are than the syrians.

Don't just say that americans don't want to believe it so I marginalise myself by telling the truth. That's so 1984.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 19, 2006 05:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I would as soon engage in a moral relatavist trying to get me to "prove" that the Allies were different than the Nazi's

After all - we bombed cities, we killed civillians ( more French civillians DID die due to Allied military action than to German in 1944 after all ) - so I could indeed be asked to "prove" we were better than them

Much as I could be asked to "prove" the Holocaust happened or we really landed on the moon

And the world is full of people who like to argue the opposite and say "prove it to me"

Sorry charlie - not worth the effort

If you feel the Syrian dictatorships puppet regime in Lebanon was BETTER that the new ELECTED Iraqi govt bought with US, and allied, blood - then I won't waste any time with you

Such a severe case of moral relatavism has no cure - you'll no doubt be explaining next how the mass murdering terrorists in Iraq are just doing what anyone would do - figting the occupation of THIER country ( by blowing up mosques and schools )

It never occurs to you that there is right and wrong in the world - which is not to say the US is 100% right all the time

But it certainly is true that vile comparisons and snarky observations ( they had elections in Lebanon - hilarious - how funny to support a dictatorship killing faceless people you will never care to learn about ) are signs of moral decrepitude

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 19, 2006 02:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jem:

"I agree, at least in part, about the legitimate concerns that would have arisen had we left Saddam's army and police in place. We made a pretty aggressive effort before the invasion began (and early in the conflict) to convince the Iraqi army to remain in its barracks, using leaflets, broadcasts, and phone calls to Iraqi commanders. Our options to retain the Iraqi army as it was were substantially constrained by the desertion of many troops before we could reach their garrisons and conduct the sort of vetting you recommended."

Because it'd have been impossible to ask the troops to come back, after the large-scale battles were over. Probably with an offer to pay them their back pay.

Posted by: Barry at January 19, 2006 06:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We needed more troops. Bull. If you have 500,000 troops, how many at any one time are holding a weapon, ready to go. Like less than the New York Police Department. Try about 5,000. That's it.

You people are thinking 500,000 combat troops. Then we would need something like 5 million, in Iraq.

Most all Generals want more, every Private wants one more piece of equipment, just a little bit better. But, no one gets it. You go with what you got, as you are.

Lefties, who hide out in academia, journalism, the chat and scratch professions where everything is discussable perfect, and reality is just another ever malleable media for the self referring best and brightest, unlike those under mensch like doctoral degreed military officers, NCO's with masters who get home once in every three years and legions of young men and women who have something better to do than hang out a the student union drooling over a white ipod.

Posted by: Paul from Florida at January 19, 2006 11:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We needed more troops. Bull. If you have 500,000 troops, how many at any one time are holding a weapon, ready to go. Like less than the New York Police Department. Try about 5,000. That's it.

You people are thinking 500,000 combat troops. Then we would need something like 5 million, in Iraq.

Most all Generals want more, every Private wants one more piece of equipment, just a little bit better. But, no one gets it. You go with what you got, as you are.

Lefties, who hide out in academia, journalism, the chat and scratch professions where everything is discussable perfect, and reality is just another ever malleable media for the self referring best and brightest, unlike those under mensch like doctoral degreed military officers, NCO's with masters who get home once in every three years and legions of young men and women who have something better to do than hang out a the student union drooling over a white ipod.

Posted by: Paul from Florida at January 19, 2006 11:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Paul, how do you know what other people are thinking?

I'm no leftie, but when Shinseki estimated we needed 300,000 troops in iraq it didn't sound like he was saying 300,000 combat troops.

This is an argument where professionals disagree. Shinseki and a variety of our military officers disagreed with Rumsfeld. And here we are.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 20, 2006 06:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I'm no leftie" J Thomas

Suuure...

"So, I see you presented a fact, that iraq has had elections.

But lebanon had elections while under syrian occupation too.
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/le.html

So this point is not decisive." J Thomas

So bringing up some phony elections in a country occupied by a neighboring dictatorship in an effort to disparage the progress in Iraq - to marginalize the great acheivement of the Iraqi people with the help of the Bush Admin and the CoW - this isn't a typical leftie position....oh suuure

"this point is not decisive" - how pithy Tell it to those people with the stained fingers - a finger in the eye of the dictator as one said
Is that how the Lebanese felt about their "elections"?

"Next, you say that I am claiming that the US occupation of syria is the SAME as the syrian occupation of lebanon. I have not made that claim. I've challenged you or Jem or)whoever wants to, to provide some sort of evidence that it's different. " J Thomas

So others have to PROVE to you that the Syrian occupation of Lebanon was a wholly different matter than the US led liberation of Iraq - nope - no typical leftie position on display here...suuure

"I can provide one difference right now -- we have waged far more airstrikes on occupied iraq than syria did on occupied lebanon, and in a much shorter time.

Here is another difference -- we have killed far more iraqi civilians than syria has killed lebanese civilians, and in a much shorter time." J Thomas

Ah - and the best of all you save for last - slinging mud at the US and the CoW for the dead civillians and making more snide comparisons to the wonderful Syrian occupation of Lebanon
Did you write this or lift it from Michael Moore's website - or Moveon.org perhaps?
No - no leftist mantra to be found here - indeed

Mind you I don't mind that you are leftie - just don't, how do they say it again, piss down my back and tell me its rainin

Posted by: Pogue Mahone at January 20, 2006 04:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pogue, once again you have failed to do any research whatsoever.

So naturally enough you haven't learned anything.

You assume you know already, so you don't find out.

You have been disinformed, and you aren't willing to look for yourself.

People like you are the real threat to our democracy. You are going only on uninformed opinion and the emotions you stir up from that. Sad.

I'll pray for you.

Posted by: J Thomas at January 21, 2006 04:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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