Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reality bites Petraeus

It looks like Gen. Petraeus got conked in the head with the reality stick pretty quickly.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Military force alone is "not sufficient" to end the violence in Iraq and political talks must eventually include some militant groups now opposing the U.S.-backed government, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said Thursday.

"This is critical," U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said in his first news conference since taking over command last month. He noted that such political negotiations "will determine in the long run the success of this effort."
Am I the only one feeling a little deja vu here? Seems to me this theory has been recycled every six months along with the predictions of "victory." I also seem to recall that the few militants who were willing to sit down at the table were executed by the more extreme factions that boycotted the event.

Oh, and stop me if you've heard this one. Baghdad is indeed somewhat more quiet since the surge started. That of course is because the militants have regrouped in Diyala. Petraeus admits the theater has shifted but "declined to predict the size of the expected Diyala reinforcements" that will need to deployed to contain the new site of violence. I remind you Petraeus is also reported to have said that the surge only has a 25% chance of success.

Meanwhile, the Baghdad airport was shelled which "shattered some windows at the Iraqi Airways office on the airport compound, but the shells landed hundreds of yards from the passenger terminal and caused no serious flight disruptions." Oh good. Just as Maliki is getting ready to "host an international conference Saturday on ways to help rebuild and stabilize the country." Good luck and I mean that.

And what is our erstwhile Democratic majority Congress doing? Figuring out ways to enable Bush to follow his ill-conceived plan until the end of 2008. That would be great for the Democratic Party. You won't be able to pay people to vote Republican after two more years of this, but it's certainly not in the best interests of the troops nor the American people to wait that long to stop this madness.

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Blogger Bird Dog said...

You're an idiot or an ignoramus. Do us all a favor and read Petraeus' counterinsurgency manual. Should you do so, you will find that a critical component of COIN strategy is dealing with local politics. Military ops are important, but they're not the only thing.

9:40:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Mr Bird, thank you for your comment. I'm always glad to bask in the civility of right wing extremists.

I may not be a genius, but do me a favor and read my post for what it says and not what you want to argue against. I didn't say I wasn't in favor of talking to the militants. I said, it had been tried already and didn't work.

If you would be so kind as to tell me why it would work now, I'm happy to listen.

9:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bird Dog said...

Disagree with Libby, get called a right wing extremist. A typical response when talking with liberals whose minds are made up. Well done.

Your premise that reality bit Petraeus is a false one since dealing with local politics is part of the strategy. In Anbar province, 26 of the 31 sheiks have allied with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces. This occurred because the U.S. has negotiated with those sheiks (who have their own tribal militias), getting them to turn their backs on al Qaeda. The rest of your post is garden-variety cynicism.

But to answer your query, the COIN strategy can work provided the higher-ups can stick to it. It's working in Fallujah (see Roggio) and Al Qaim, and it was working in Haditha before the Marines got twice jacked around. Whether 20,500 additional troops is the right number, who knows. Gordon Smith has his opinions. The bottom line is that it's up to al-Maliki and how well he buys into the plan and how well he can stand up to the Sadrists, and it's up to Sunni leaders and whether they will reject al Qaeda and join the government. The new hydrocarbon law is a fair inducement.

Now a question for you: Have you read--or at least skimmed--the counterinsurgency manual or not? Because if not, you really don't know what you're talking about when it comes to the so-called surge.

On the domestic front, you should ask your Democratic leaders why they didn't take a meeting with Petraeus and instead chose to refine their defeatist strategy with labor union leaders and anti-war activists. It tells me that their minds are made up, too: The U.S. has already lost and the only recourse is a phased withdrawal. Talking to Petraeus would be meaningless. Why aren't Pelosi and Murtha and the rest being honest enough to tell the American people their real opinions?

1:13:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Charles, starting out by calling me an idiot for disagreeing with you and offering little substance gets you called an extremist around here. My mind isn't made up about anything. I'm constantly revising my opinion based on new information and I'm always glad to entertain an opposing view.

I'm going to have more to say about this in a new post once I wake up a little, but in my morning fog I'm willing to cop to being a cynic and no I haven't read the COIN manual. I don't have access to it and I don't pretend to be a military strategist. I'm just remarking on my interpretation of the events as I see them reported.

I think the key to what you're telling me here is this -- "the COIN strategy can work provided the higher-ups can stick to it." I don't see how they can stick to it and I still have to ask, since it's been almost four years now, why it hasn't worked better already. From what I read, AQ is stronger than ever in Anbar and it's my understanding that Fallujah is far from secure. And no offense intended, but depending on Maliki to come through I think is a fool's hope.

Meanwhile, I can't explain the Dems and I'm certainly not a party loyalist. I'm just as disgusted with them as I am with the professional pols on the other side of the fence. But I do think the Dems are on the right track in at least going through the motions to end this occupation. I believe we've accomplished all we can given how it's been mishandled by Bush and Rummy.

The surge might have worked a year ago or two years ago. I think it's just throwing good men into a meat grinder right now and believe it or not, my concern is for the troops. If we're going to put them in danger, I think they should be redeployed out of Baghdad certainly. Securing a city of 7 million people is a lost cause and would only work in the long run if we maintained a permanent presence on every street corner. We should have more men where the AQ are - not babysitting a civil war. Maybe more along the borders with Iran and Syria where the foreign fighters get in. And I think we're making a big mistake in not pulling a significant force out of Iraq and redeploying them to the Afghan-Pakistani border where AQ is clearly regrouping.

Just my opinion Charles. Thank you for your much more civil reply.

10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Bird Dog said...

The COIN strategy didn't work in the past because it was never seriously applied. Now that the main higher-up has literally written the book on the subject, he's going to put it into action and employ it for as long as Congress will give him the money to do so. The Democratics in Congress hypocritically approved his appointment yet are turning their collective backs on what he's trying to do, which is ridiculous, short-sighted and stupid.

Pre-Petraeus, the Marines and a few Army platoons had done it here and there, but Rumsfeld & Co. had other ideas--wrong ideas--such as keeping soldiers lodged in forward operating bases instead of going out and embedding with Iraqi soldiers to provide security and training, and for clearing areas but not sticking around long enough to keep terrorists and paramilitants from returning. Rumsfeld should've been gone shortly after Bush was reelected because of his inability to change strategy and general pigheadedness.

Saying that you don't have to the manual is a cop-out. Google can help you find it, but just to be helpful, try here. I wrote about it here, cutting and pasting the intro. Before going off and calling a plan "ill-conceived", it would behoove you to learn what the plan actually is, but I think the term does well apply to Bush and his substandard performance.

BTW, al Qaeda is losing in Fallujah and Anbar, and they're currently focusing their attacks on Baghdad and its outskirts to stir up the Sadrist militants.

11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thanks for the link Charles. It never even occurred to me that the COIN manual would be available on the net. I assumed it would be classified. As for my response to your comment here, I'm adding that to my response to Tobacco Joe in a new post.

By the way, are you related to the Birds from Connecticut? I had a dear friend back in the early 70s, Kathy Bird, whose family was in the nursery business there, that I would love to find again.

3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Bird Dog said...

No Birds that I know of in CT, Libby. Sorry, but I'm no help to you re Kathy.

BTW, my apologies for calling you an idiot (or ignoramus).

9:47:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

No problem Charles. I've been called worse. It was a pleasure to meet you. Please drop by anytime.

I'm always interested in an opposing view and who knows, we might agree on something someday.

10:32:00 PM  

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