Archive for the ‘Rumsfeld’ Category


Brainstorming An Iraq “Super-Surge”

March 28, 2008

Last night I took a few hours to watch FRONTLINE “Bush’s War” on the PBS site.  My reaction was mixed.  Part of me felt vindicated for some of the things that I’ve been posting here in the Chamber and elsewhere, another part felt angry at people like Cheney and Rumsfeld, and yet another part felt just…depressed (which is probably the overriding feeling, but I do encourage everyone to watch it in case you’ve missed it).  

I gave myself a few hours to digest what I had just watched, and although there was quite a bit of material that I was already familiar with, this documentary chronicled the entire Iraq adventure in a way that I hadn’t yet seen.  This led to a small epiphany on my part concerning what to do next, and I figured I’d just throw it out here for debate, so bear with me ’cause there may be some flaws in my thinking. 

The proposals coming from the presidential candidates for our course of action going forward in Iraq have pretty much fallen into two main categories.   McCain is politically wedded to the strategy he championed (the “surge”) in a way that would put him in the same position as Bush insofar as he’s going to keep up the “stay the course” mantra, and has even gone as far as to say that he’d support a permanent American presence in Iraq long after the period of shooting stops (and if it takes 100 years, so be it).  On the other side, Clinton and Obama have rejected the notion of an open-ended commitment, and while the rationale behind a responsible withdrawal may bounce between a few concepts,  the end game is the same:  leave Iraq for the Iraqis as soon as reasonably possible.  Critics on both sides have, rightly or wrongly, argued that McCain’s plan is untenable in the long run while the Obama/Clinton plan is a recipe for eventual chaos and genocide.

Other options for Iraq have gained much less steam.  For example, former presidential candidates Sens Brownback and Biden have proposed a sort of soft partition.  This proposal has probably been less popular because, the way I see it, it involves undoing a lot of what has been done already and is essentially going back to the drawing board in many ways.  That, and there is reason to believe that the idea isn’t popular amongst the Iraqis themselves.

So, I enter another proposal, one that I will call the “Super-Surge”, based on a few facts/assumptions gleaned from the documentary and elsewhere:

-Before the invasion, Gen Shinseki stated the opinion before Congress that success in the months after Saddam’s regime fell would require “several hundred thousand” troops, while people like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz urged a much smaller number.  The eventual plan was somewhat of a compromise, but today, it is pretty much considered conventional wisdom that one of the major errors in the mission was that there weren’t sufficient forces to keep the peace during that critical timeframe.

-The “coalition of the willing” was never much of an actual coalition, as 98% of the troop commitments came form the U.S. and Britain.  Brent Scowcroft,  national security adviser for President George H.W. Bush and a leading figure in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, believed from the very beginning that attacking Iraq would dissolve any kind of coalition we had built in the aftermath of 9/11, and more recently suggested that the best hope for pulling the country from chaos would be to turn the U.S. operation over to NATO or the United Nations — which, he said, would not be so hostilely viewed by Iraqis.

-The doctrine of “clear, hold, build” had shown itself to be successful on the micro scale in the city of Tal Afar.  Originally credited to Col. H.R. McMaster, it eventually became the rough blueprint for the “surge” in that it simply took more troops to employ such a strategy.    Or, in the words of McMaster himself, when asked if additional troops would help the mission:

Yeah. I think one of the critical elements of improving security is the number of forces you have to be able to carry out that security mission, along with the other missions that you have. Securing the population is obviously first and foremost. And this is a mission … for American and coalition forces working alongside Iraqi forces.

The other mission is to develop Iraqi security force capability, … and that takes a lot of soldiers and Marines to carry out that effort: to train these forces, to help them organize and then to introduce them initially in the context of multinational operations where we operate alongside them until they develop the ability to operate on their own.

Also, just securing critical infrastructure, lines of communication — I mean, there are a lot of demands on our forces, and our soldiers and Marines are just doing an amazing job with multiple tasks simultaneously. So I think additional forces will certainly help. Is it the answer in the long term? No. The answer in the long term is still very much the same: that the Iraqis have to develop their own ability to provide the kind of security that is necessary such that economic development and political development can proceed. …

-The current troop surge will come to an end for logistical reasons.  In fact, the troop drawdown is right around the corner:

A senior Pentagon official said earlier this week that the US “surge” is likely to end in July with more troops in Iraq than the 132,000 who were there before five extra combat brigades were sent in more than a year ago.

-Staying in Iraq until the shooting stops (and beyond), as McCain has suggested, is likely to be financially untenable.  The estimates for the cumulative cost of the war have been projected to be as high as $3 trillion.  And although many nations have a significant stake in a stable Iraq, the United States has taken on the vast majority of the burden in terms of monetary sacrifice.

So, you toss some of these things into a pot and stir.  I’m left with a few questions.

  1. Is it too late to deploy a peacekeeping force of “several hundred thousand” troops to stabilize Iraq, or has that ship sailed?  If not, then…
  2. Is it too late to bring together a meaningful coalition to share the burden of the effort, or have those bridges burned?  If not, then…
  3. Could a new, charismatic, inspiring and internationally popular U.S. president (*cough*Obama*cough*) bring together the nations of the world to address the issue?  If so, then…
  4. Would it work in a way that would ultimately save Iraq from descending into chaos, prohibit the formation of a terrorist safe haven, and allow the troops to come home a lot faster than the current proposals?   If so, then…

It’s something to think about. Political Blogger Alliance


Who Takes Credit For The “Surge”?

December 30, 2007

This entry was something that I’ve been considering for some time, but today I’ve decided to post something due to the inspiration that hit me when I saw the news that the Sunday Telegraph had picked their person of the year: General Petraeus: man with a message of hope

The decision seemed to be based on the opinion that the “surge” has been relatively successful, and that Petraeus’ leadership and poise in this against-all-odds scenario was instrumental in bringing Iraq back from the brink of disaster:

But the reason for picking Petraeus is simple. Iraq, whatever the current crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remains the West’s biggest foreign policy challenge of this decade, and if he can halt its slide into all-out anarchy, Gen Petraeus may save more than Iraqi lives.

A failed Iraq would not just be a second Vietnam, nor would it just be America’s problem.

It would be a symbolic victory for al-Qaeda, a safe haven for jihadists to plot future September 11s and July 7s, and a battleground for a Shia-Sunni struggle that could draw in the entire Middle East. Our future peace and prosperity depend, in part, on fixing this mess. And, a year ago, few had much hope.

While we could debate how accurate or significant that all is, I think that the most fundamental element missing here lies in the fact that Petraeus, as great as he is, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be doing what he’s doing without the series of events that led to his ascendancy into command over the operation, or even the crafting of the “surge” plan itself.

So who really can take credit?  Bush?  The Republicans?  The Senate?  The AEI?  Or, as I’m about the make the case, the American people?

While it’s easy to take a look to powers that be who ultimately confirmed Petraeus or the think-tankers that came up with the “new way forward”, most people forget what forced the implementation of the whole change in strategy in the first place:  the results of the November 2006 elections.

Indeed, one might cringe at the thought of a situation where Rumsfeld is still Defense Secretary and a continuation of the status quo in Iraq, but that is quite possibly where we’d be if it weren’t for the Democrat’s landslide victory.  Just look at the chronology:

  • Nov. 7, 2006 Democratic Party captures the House of Representatives and Senate. 
  • Nov. 8, 2006 Rumsfeld resigns
  • Nov. 9, 2006 Heritage Foundation conference “The New Way Forward: Refocusing the Conservative Agenda”
  • Dec. 11-14 2006 Bush meets with State Dept. advisers, Iraqi experts, the Joint Chiefs to gather info for the “new way forward”.
  • Dec. 14, 2006 AEI announces the release of a report that will call for a “sustained surge of U.S. forces to secure and protect critical areas of Baghdad”, releasing their final report Jan 5.
  • Jan. 5, 2007 Announcements of more shakeups in Bush administration personnel, including John Negroponte, Zalmay Khalilzad, Harriet Miers, and Gen. George Casey
  • Jan. 23, 2007 State of the Union address, outlining the plan to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

It’s unconscionable that the Bush administration would decide to make a policy change on Iraq based not on the situation in Baghdad, but on the political ramifications that a “thumpin'” (as he put it) in Washington had dealt them, but that appears to be exactly what happened.  Anyone can speculate how many additional lives could have been spared had Bush not been so stubborn.

So, before anyone begins to give praise to anyone with regards to any relative turnaround of the situation in Iraq, just remember that a policy change had been an option since early in the war, and only the collective actions of the American people finally prompted that change.  In my opinion, if there’s anyone to thank, it would be the people who voted Democrat in 2006. Political Blogger Alliance


The Dangling Carrot Of “Possible Reduction In Troop Levels”

September 3, 2007

During my daily scan of memeorandum, I stumbled upon a headline that looked pretty familiar: Bush, in Iraq, Sees Possible Reduction in Troop Levels

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Sept. 3 — Making a surprise visit to Iraq for meetings with his commanders and top Iraqi officials, President Bush raised the possibility on Monday that some American troops could be withdrawn from Iraq if security there continues to improve.

As it turns out, I was right: Rumsfeld gives plan for troop reduction

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – The United States may be able to reduce its troop level in Iraq after the January election if security is strengthened and Iraqi government forces continue to expand and improve, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday during an unannounced whirlwind tour of Iraq.

That was October 11, 2004.

Another one: Rumsfeld Announces Force Reduction Plans While Visiting GIs In Iraq

That was December 23, 2005.

And, gee whiz: Rice, Rumsfeld Visit Baghdad Amid Hints of Troop Cut

Earlier in the day, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq said his intention to recommend a significant reduction in U.S. troop levels in the country later this year is basically on track, in part thanks to the selection of the country’s future seven top leaders on Saturday. But General George Casey said he wants to see a few more steps toward stability before he makes his recommendation.

That was April 26, 2006.

And, of course, the reality: US troop levels in Iraq reach all-time high

Whitman put the current number of US troops in Iraq at nearly 162,000.

As reported August 7, 2007.



Why We Haven’t Found Bin Laden

August 26, 2007

I read an unusually long piece on the Newsweek site today that gave a very comprehensive background on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and although many of the details it featured have been known for some time, many have not, and it was nice to see it all laid out in one story.  I’d suggest that everyone read it.  The Ongoing Hunt for Osama bin Laden

My takeaway from this was that it further revealed that the Iraq invasion was an unnecessary and counterproductive blunder.  Instead of narrowly focusing on the source of the 9/11 attacks and the ideology that fueled it, we’ve gone ahead and created new problems.  Big problems that we’ll undoubtedly be dealing with for generations.  Here’s the graph that best sums it up in my mind:

The American effort to chase bin Laden into this forbidding realm was hobbled and clumsy from the start. While the terrain required deep local knowledge and small units, career officers in the U.S. military have long been wary of the Special Operations Forces best suited to the task. In the view of the regular military, such “snake eaters” have tended to be troublesome, resistant to spit-and-polish discipline and rulebooks. Rather than send the snake eaters to poke around mountain caves and mud-walled compounds, the U.S. military wanted to fight on a grander stage, where it could show off its mobility and firepower. To the civilian bosses at the Pentagon and the eager-to-please top brass, Iraq was a much better target. By invading Iraq, the United States would give the Islamists—and the wider world—an unforgettable lesson in American power. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board and, at the time, a close confidant of the SecDef. In November 2001, Gingrich told a NEWSWEEK reporter, “There’s a feeling we’ve got to do something that counts—and bombing caves is not something that counts.”

Oh, it’s counting all right.  Half a trillion dollars and counting.  Four years and counting.  3728 and counting. 


My Use Of The N-Word

July 5, 2007

About a month ago, I received this response to one of my comments on LGF:

#30 DesertSage  6/03/2007 11:03:23 pm PDT 

…but because they figure he isn’t one of the neocons.

“neocon” is Lefty code-speak for “Jews”.

ChenZhen uses the term “neocon” as a pejorative.
ChenZhen is an anti-semite, I new there was a reason I disliked him.
Babbazee is right!

If there’s one thing I really can’t stand is an anti-semitic Leftist.
The thing I like even less is an anti-semitic Leftist that denies that he’s an anti-semite…so don’t even try it ChenZhen!

Then, last night, I spotted this comment on another WP blog:

25. Mark – July 4, 2007
…Gabe, Neo-Con is a racist slur. No shock that you use it…


Am I missing something here? Isn’t ‘neocon’ just short for ‘neoconservative‘? It’s just political ideology, right?

Intrigued, I did some searching, and I stumbled upon some old opinion pieces:

Blame It on Neo -Don’t call me a “neocon” unless you are a friend.

One big culprit has been Air America. Tune in to the proudly liberal radio network, and you’ll hear actress-turned-activist Janeane Garofalo and other hosts frequently blast the “influence” of the “neocons” on the Bush Administration, then go on to name names such as Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams and Libby. Not a single gentile name makes the list, so it’s the Jewish influence to which the network takes particular exception.

‘Neocon’: Slang for ‘Jew’?

After laying the groundwork of neocons as superhawks, the Business Week piece informs readers that the key members of the movement who advise President Bush are “Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith and Defense Policy Board member Richard N. Perle.” Fair enough. All three have, at various times, been labeled neocons. But then, Mr. Dunham draws an interesting distinction. He describes Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney as “key allies,” but not as “neocons.” In the remainder of the article, former Reagan administration official Ken Adelman and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol are identified as other “neocons.”

I have to apologise.  I had no idea that when I called Francis Fukuyama a ‘neocon’ in this post a year ago I was actually using code to label him a Jew.


I’m hoping some of my fellow bloggers could help me out here. What would be more politically correct? Should I just spell out ‘neoconservative’? Or should I adopt some sort of family-friendly way to post the word, like n**cons?

Edit- That was sarcasm, BTW.

One final note.  I see all this as grievance theater.  Accusations of anti-Semitism seem to get fired at people on a hair trigger all the time, and I think this is a perfect example. 



June 18, 2007

Since this seems to be related to my previous post, I thought I’d mention that I’ll be watching this program tomorrow night at 9pm (tptHD).  Here’s the summary:


coming Jun. 19, 2007 at 9pm (check local listings)

(60 minutes) As the United States begins one final effort to secure victory through a “surge” of troops, FRONTLINE investigates how strategic and tactical mistakes brought Iraq to civil war. The film recounts how the early mandate to create the conditions for a quick exit of the American military led to chaos, failure, and sectarian strife. In Endgame, producer Michael Kirk (Rumsfeld’s War, The Torture Question, The Dark Side, and The Lost Year in Iraq) traces why the president decided to risk what military planners once warned could be the worst way to fight in Iraq — door-to-door — and assesses the likelihood of its success. Top administration figures, military commanders, and journalists offer inside details about the new strategy. (read the press release)

..and a short teaser vid posted on YouTube:

(Hat Tip: Hot Air)

I’ll post more here after I watch the program. Should be interesting. 

Update:  “The plan was, there was no plan” …wow

Update:  OK, I just finished watching it.  I gotta tell ya, it was sobering.  In a nutshell, we’ve been making our ‘plan’ up as went along. 

I think I’ve learned more about the Iraq conflict in this 60 minutes than I have in 4 years of watching media outlets like CNN and reading stories on the internet.  It was an excellent account of the behind-the-scenes events that have led us to our current situation.

My opinion?  I’m pretty sure that Shinseki would be vindicated.  In order for this to have worked, we would have needed several hundred thousand troops employing Col. McMaster’s ‘clear, hold, build’ blueprint from the very beginning.  If that had happened, we probably could have seen serious success within a year or two.  As it sits right now, however, it’s hard to be optimistic.  

If you want to view the full program online, or view extended interviews with key military players, strategists and journalists, go here

Update:  One more thing I figured out.  Bush hasn’t been straight with the American people about this war since the very beginning.  Not until his Jan. 11 address from this year did he decide that it was finally time to level with us (a little).  This is, of course, deplorable.


Just Another Exchange On A Blog

June 11, 2007

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the ability to engage in debate with other netizens on all kinds of sites (including my own).  There are advantages to having my own blog, and one of them is the fact that I can to use it as a resource. In other words, as I collect more links and information to make my own arguments here, that means that I have them readily available for use on this or other sites.  It certainly beats searching all over the net for some link that you may have used, say, six months ago.  Sometimes I can even copy/paste arguments I’ve already posted if the context is appropriate (although I tend to view that as a bit lazy, it can save some time).  A perfect example of this concept in action was in a response I posted on America’s North Shore Journal: The Truth About American Deaths in Iraq

(text I entered over there is in blue)

ChenZhenon 11 Jun 2007 at #

Many good points have been brought up already, such as the distinction between a ‘terrorist’ (or as I would prefer, someone who would otherwise be a threat to the US here at home) and ‘insurgents’ (who aren’t), and the fact that body count numbers really mean nothing. I will add one more thing, however…I think too many people see what we’re doing in Iraq is fighting a ‘war’. I disagree. We won the war, but are losing the battle against the insurgency. The reason why the ROE’s are so restrictive in this conflict is exactly because of this distinction. Fighting an insurgency isn’t about body counts or simply “killing the bad guys”. It is a complex and organic problem that constantly forces you to adjust and react. In fact, most of the effective counter-insurgency tactics don’t involve killing anybody. It’s more about winning ‘hearts and minds’, political maneuvering, and building alliances with the locals. THAT’s why the ROE’s are what they are.Anyway, if you really wanted to prove that we’re having success in Iraq, than you post evidence that we’re having having an effect towards quelling the insurgency as a whole. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it yet. In my opinion (and based on all that pre-war intel that’s finally seeing the light of day), the whole mission was an extreme longshot from the get-go. Add to that the incompetence and arrogance of people like Rumsfeld, and you have the impossibly FUBAR situation we find ourselves in today.

Just my opinion…



You said, “if you really wanted to prove that we’re having success in Iraq, than you post evidence that we’re having having an effect towards quelling the insurgency as a whole. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it yet.”

Response – that’s BS. You are obviously getting your info from NBC and CNN and the like. I suggest you visit Michael Yon’s site or the Centcom site to get more balance.

Fine, fair enough. However, I think the fact that the “surge” was deemed necessary is evidence enough that our battle against the insurgency isn’t going so well. And there are multiple polls that say that the insurgent attacks get the stamp of approval from the general population. That ain’t a good sign when it comes to fighting an insurgency.

You also said, “In my opinion (and based on all that pre-war intel that’s finally seeing the light of day), the whole mission was an extreme longshot from the get-go. Add to that the incompetence and arrogance of people like Rumsfeld, and you have the impossibly FUBAR situation we find ourselves in today.”

Response – That’s more BS – maybe you get your info from the DNC, not the MSM. It is difficult work to be sure, but it’s not a long-shot and we are winning. The major problem – as has been mentioned elsewhere – is that 90% of the media are democrats and they are treating the War – a War, for pete’s sake – with the same flippant attitude that they treat Paris Hilton.

LOL. Yea , good ol’ Rummy. I don’t need to go to the DNC to know that Rummy was a joke. Forget the generals and troops that spoke out against him, or the fact that he resigned, Rummy hung himself with his own words. Flippant about the war you say? Like “I doubt six months“? What a howler. Or how about this gem: “Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is“. Good grief. The fact is that report after report after report told these guys that this was going to be pretty much exactly as it has turned out. That’s what I mean by longshot from the get-go. Yet they act like they had no idea. And that’s why I say incompetence and arrogance. But , by all means, keep blaming the MSM if you want to (the MSM who, incidentally, played a role in selling the war to begin with).

Look, I don’t like to sound like a defeatist. But I thought this invasion was reckless and foolish from day 1, even when I thought there were WMD’s. Now that we’re 4+ years into it, and seeing all this stuff, it’s downright infuriating. Realistically, I think we probably had a window there where we could have pulled this off if it had been done correctly. But I think that window passed a while ago. We’ve overstayed our welcome. I wish I could say that I see positive things in staying there and putting in the effort. I wish I could.

Every one of those links (and some of the text) I used were used on previous posts I’ve made here on my blog. Paradoxically, this post will also act as a resource, as I have gathered quite a few of them right here. I know this is nothing new to regular bloggers, but I just thought I’d point it out.  I’m kinda posting it here for my own documentation purposes, but if you want to comment, feel free.


“This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in”

June 7, 2007

Those words were spoken by Bush back in January during his State of the Union address.  I remember thinking at the time that the notion seemed pretty absurd, given the fact that I had stumbled upon a story that detailed how a 1999 war game had predicted many of the problems we are seeing right now in Iraq.  Since then, there have been many more revelations that have been exposed about the nature of the intelligence that was available to the White House before the war, which appears to make it quite clear that this is exactly the fight we entered.  This wasn’t a case of “no one anticipated“, this was a clear case of an administration simply a) ignoring the advise of experts b) entering a war unprepared for a extremely difficult reconstruction and occupation and c) not leveling with the American people or even their military about it.

The evidence to support this just keeps growing.  In recent weeks there has been quite a bit of pre-war assessments and intelligence reports that have come to light publicly on this.  Then, today, I spotted yet another one, in an excellent post by Bob Geiger: Latest Intelligence Report Yet Another Smoking Gun On Bush

Which makes the report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee before the Memorial Day holiday even more interesting because Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq (PDF) shows not only that Shinseki was right about troop levels, but also — as if more evidence is needed — that the Bush administration ignored critical pre-war intelligence in their rush to invade Iraq.

The report, which the previous Republican Congress successfully kept from being produced for two years, shows that months before the Iraq invasion, the White House knew from U.S. intelligence agencies that a civil war would likely erupt after Saddam’s ouster, that al-Qaeda would quickly move to exploit the American occupation and that Osama bin Laden’s organization would actually gain strength globally due to Bush’s action.

It would appear that this most memorable buzz-generating line from the SOTU speech was also the biggest falsehood.  But, hey, it sounded good. 

h1 Political Blogger Alliance

May 25, 2007

I had an idea (strange, huh?). Originally I thought it would be neat to add political blogs in a special section of my blogroll, and create my own little community of amateur pundits that use the service. In a way, ALL bloggers are part of a community already, but I thought I’d start a club just for those who like to talk politics.

Most political bloggers will have blogs from other services in their blogroll.  Not everyone uses WP, after all.  There are advantages to staying within the community, however. One advantage would be ease of commenting. Once you’re logged in, you can hop from blog to blog without having to enter in tedious email info and quickly drop a comment (nice to have avatars too), and all discussions can easily be kept track of through the “my comments” section of our dashboards.  Another advantage: you don’t have to do a lot of work to ping these blogs.  All you have to do is link to a post, and it pings them immediately (leaving a pingback in the comments section).  With other blogs (or blog services), you may have to copy/paste trackback urls, and that can be a bit of a crap shoot.  It can work real slick for some blogs and not work at all for others (or at least I’ve discovered). Yet another advantage is how easy it is to search for tags within the community, but that is less special because services like technorati seem to be dialed into it as well. Anyway, you get the idea….

So, every so often, I’ll click on the WP ‘politics’ tag and check out what people are posting.  If I stumble upon a blog that I haven’t seen before, I’d just add it to the blogroll.  I’ve been adding a couple a week since I started it.  I’m sure there are more, so as time goes on this list will grow in my sidebar (under “wordpress political blogs”)

Then I started thinking. What if we formed some semi-formal alliance? A ‘club’ made up exclusively of political bloggers (right, left, and center) who could regularly exchange ideas and comment on others’ posts. So far I haven’t seen anything like that. Maybe it’s worth a shot?

I whipped up a ‘club’ button that we can put in the sidebar. You’ll have to forgive my photoshopping skills, but here goes:


If you want to add the button to your blog (it links back to this post), here is the code (with border):

<a href=""><img src="; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

…and without a border:

<a href=""><img border="0" src="; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

Update 11/2:  The alliance has become interactive!  The lowdown:

What I’m attemping to create here is a tool that we can use to make our blogs more lively and entertaining.  I’m not really forcing any obligations on anyone, so I don’t want you to get the impression that going along with this means that there’s going to be a whole list of expectations (beyond etiquette).  You don’t have to respond to every ping.   Just so you know.  

If you want to participate, there are just a few details…

  1. In order for this to work smoothly, everyone needs to create a page that can be pinged.  It took me about 2 min. to make mine: .  And I need to know the link so that I can consolidate them, so just post it in that thread or respond in email once you’ve whipped it up.  That’s really the only requirement.  A handful of you already have done this, and the pings work beautifully.  The idea here is to compose a code that is easy to paste in your post that allows you to ping everyone in the alliance at the same time.*
  2. I don’t really like the idea of any one blogger “abusing” the tool by using it to try to dominate the discussion.  In other words, if you’re calling out and pinging the alliance 3 times a day it might get a little annoying.  Sure, it’s easy enough to just ignore such a thing, but nevertheless I think it would be akin to blog whoring just for the sake of blog whoring.  It’s kind of a fine line, and we’ll probably tweak the guidelines as we go forward, but for now I’ll stick with a rule of 1 per day max.  No minimums, since some of you might prefer to comment only.  And, it probably goes without saying, but we don’t want to double up on a topic either, so try to make sure that a story or headline hasn’t already had pings sent by someone else first.  If it has, and you’ve got your own unique analysis that you just spent like 2 hrs on, just link to that thread in your post instead.  We’ll see it.  Make sense?
  3. Be somewhat civilized.  This might be the hard part, ’cause a) there’s a very diverse crowd being pinged and b) it’s the internet.  In debate, you win by attacking the argument or idea, and you lose once you resort to attacking the person (there is a difference).  Keep that mindset, and we’ll be fine.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good blog war.  This will be a bit of a free-for-all, so I hope people are relatively thick-skinned when it comes to having  logic, facts, position, etc. challenged.  We’ll just have to see how this goes, cause I’m not sure if anyone has really tried anyting like this before. 
  4. This is about “politics”, so use the “politics” tag/category when you post, and only send the pings when you post about “politics”.  You might have a cool car, for example, but please don’t ping the whole group to show off the latest pics you just posted.  Also, consistent use of the “politics” tag in general means more views from the wider audience.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy as individuals to block urls and IP’s if #2 or 3 becomes a problem for someone.

* The up-to-date code can always be found in my sidebar (——>): 

Founder of the

WordPress Political Blog Alliance Political Blogger Alliance

Simply copy the “ Political Blogger Alliance” and paste it at the bottom of your post. Once your post is published, it will send a ping back to everyone in the alliance.  Easy!

Update 11/4: A tag (category) specifically for the alliance:

WordPress Political Blogs

Create the “WordPress Political Blogs” category and add it to your alliance-oriented posts.  In2thefray and I have already added the RSS feed for this tag in our sidebars, so we can see the latest offerings right on our blogs:

RSS political blog alliance

Even better, if everyone uses the tag consistently, the above link will provide a great chronological record of the posts within the alliance. In addition, you will have a record of your own contributions to the alliance in your sidebar (assuming you have added the “categories” widget).  Remember to use “WordPress Political Blogs” exactly (alternate spellings and abbreviations will be a different tag, technically)


We Won The War, But Are Losing The Battle Against The Insurgency

May 25, 2007

It seems like a relatively novel concept, but I just thought I’d throw it out there.  Why?  Well, all too often I hear journalists*, bloggers, and pundits refer to our (the U.S.’s) military involvement in Iraq as “the War”.  I think there needs to be a distinction made here.  The thought came to me when I saw this story:  US urges Sadr to play ‘positive’ Iraq role (Hat Tip: LGF.)

The United States on Friday urged radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to play “a useful and positive role” in Iraq after his dramatic return to frontline Iraqi politics.

“Now that he’s back from four months in Iran, we hope he’ll play a useful and positive role in the development of Iraq,” said White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Sadr called for national unity and the withdrawal of US troops in his first speech in seven months and the first since US commanders and Iraqi officials said in January that he had fled to Iran.

I know many bloggers and pundits have questioned the US’s tolerance of al-Sadr, and have wondered why we haven’t just taken him out, especially when his Mahdi army has been responsible for attacks on our forces.  This is where the aforementioned distinction becomes relevant…. 

In a war, the goal is to beat the enemy into submission, capitulation, or surrender.  This was easily done back in 2003, highlighted by Bush’s famous declaration of the end of major combat operations.  From that day forward, our military has been engaged in the reconstruction/nation-building efforts of Iraq, which has been severely complicated by a very persistent insurgency.  The reason why we haven’t ‘bombed al-Sadr’ is because fighting an insurgency is very different from fighting a war

If you read anything about counter-insurgency, you’ll see that effective tactics aren’t as black-and-white as just “killing the bad guys”. It is a complex and organic problem that constantly forces you to adjust and react. In fact, most of the effective counter-insurgency tactics don’t involve killing anybody. It’s more about winning ‘hearts and minds’, political maneuvering, and building alliances with the locals.  Killing someone with al-Sadr’s popularity would be extremely counterproductive to these efforts.

I suggest all visitors read David Kilcullen’s Twenty-eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency (pdf).

Kilcullen, incidentally, is one of the of the guys that was brought in late with General Petraeus (some people say too late), to fix the problems our old pal Rumsfeld has created.  Namely, the fact that our troops are trying to win ‘hearts and minds’ in an environment where -4 years in- 51% of the Iraqi population approve of the attacks on Coalition forces (or more).  Some might call that an impossible mission, or, that we have already lost this battle.  Nevertheless, that is the mission they have right now, and is the correct way to frame what it is we’re doing over there.

Unlike other bloggers, I don’t see this in terms of ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’.  From a certain point of view, we already ‘won’ (Saddam is dead, WMD’s are gone/never found, and sovereignty established), and ‘lost’ (our window of opportunity for a successful reconstruction outcome has passed).  The debate should be whether this really is an impossible mission at this point, and whether it’s in our best interests to continue to pursue it.  I think the current domestic political scene is missing this by a longshot.

*A few news outlets will frame news on the conflict under the heading “Battle for Iraq” or something similar (which I consider accurate).


What Rummy And Friends Didn’t Bother To Read

April 29, 2007

I stumbled upon this today:  Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario (pdf- 84 pages)

In October 2002, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, in coordination with the Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff/G-3, initiated a study to analyze how American and coalition forces can best address the requirements that will necessarily follow operational victory in a war with Iraq. reconstructing-iraq.jpg
The objectives of the project were to determine and analyze probable missions for military forces in a post-Saddam Iraq; examine associated challenges; and formulate strategic recommendations for transferring responsibilities to coalition partners or civilian organizations, mitigating local animosity, and facilitating overall mission accomplishment in the war against terrorism. The study has much to offer planners and executors of operations to occupy and reconstruct Iraq, but also has many insights that will apply to achieving strategic objectives in any conflict after hostilities are concluded. The current war against terrorism has highlighted the danger posed by failed and struggling states. If this nation and its coalition partners decide to undertake the mission to remove Saddam Hussein, they will also have to be prepared to dedicate considerable time, manpower, and money to the effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fighting is over. Otherwise, the success of military operations will be ephemeral, and the problems they were designed to eliminate could return or be replaced by new and more virulent difficulties.

Reading it is like discovering the long lost works of Nostradamus or something.   Virtually every pitfall and challenge we’ve had since we invaded Iraq is addressed in those 60+ pages of text. In fact, it really makes you wonder how anyone thought this was going to be worth the risk.  It is an absolutely glaring contradiction to the rosy predictions made by guys like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and makes the ‘Mission Accomplished’ incident seem even more absurd than it already appeared to be.  It also reminds me of this: Iraq post-war plan muzzled

“The secretary of defense continued to push on us … that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we’re going to take out the regime, and then we’re going to leave,” Scheid said. “We won’t stay.”

Scheid said the planners continued to try “to write what was called Phase 4,” or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn’t stay, “at least we have to plan for it,” Scheid said.

“I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that,” Scheid said. “We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.

“He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war.”

Ya don’t say?

Update:  In today’s WaPo: Assessments Made in 2003 Foretold Situation in Iraq

The two assessments, titled “Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq” and “Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq,” were produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and will be a major part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s long-awaited Phase II report on prewar intelligence assessments about Iraq. The assessments were delivered to the White House and to congressional intelligence committees before the war started.