About that immediate withdrawal from Iraq
No immediate closure of Gitmo and now this? The leftoids must be about to explode: Since the November election, however, the U.S. and Iraq have signed a new security agreement that provides for all the more than 140,000 U.S. troops to leave by 2012, despite concerns among senior U.S. commanders that Iraqi forces might not be ready by then to ensure stability.
 
The Left Just Can’t Accept Success In Iraq
I’ve thought about the "shoe thrower" for a couple of days and come to the conclusion that he’s pretty representative of a type of person we see more of today through out society at large. The emotionally and politically immature.They’re characterized by no self-discipline, no respect for anything other than their own feelings and acting them out. What our shoe thrower did was throw a well publicized tantrum, not much different than a 2
 
The Anti-Iraq War Crowd and Obama
The Washington Times echoes what we’ve been saying here for a number of weeks - it appears Barack Obama will simply let the Iraq engagement end itself naturally and claim credit for its final success:"I believe that 16 months is the right time frame," Mr. Obama said after announcing his national security team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clin
 
Iraq: An Obama "victory"?
That’s pretty much what Thomas Friedman claims will be the case if Iraq turns out like it looks it is going to turn out.Essentially, given the new SOFA agreement and the withdrawal timetable agreed upon by the Iraqi government and the US, all Obama has to do is sit back and watch it happen. Other than oppose the war every step of the way, he won’t have to say or do anything as it pertains to Iraq (just let the plan agreed upon be
 
US-Iraqi Pact passes in Iraqi Parliament
The beginning of the end of our involvement, militarily, in Iraq:In a vote heralded by supporters as a momentous step toward restoring Iraqi sovereignty, lawmakers here passed a crucial bill Thursday, setting out a three-year timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraqi soil.The bill passed after months of backroom negotiations with the Americans, political arm-twisting by Shiite Muslim Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, and warnings from
 
Meanwhile in Iraq ...
Now known as the "forgotten war", at least in this election:The U.S. monthly troop death toll in Iraq is down by almost 50 percent so far in October, a sign of growing security gains across the nation.That death toll was 13, 6 of which were non-combat related.Iraqi civilian deaths were down considerably as well.Another province wa
 
Iraq: more reconciliation news
This has been an issue that has kept sectarian tensions high in Iraq. It too now seems to have resolved itself in the way the Sunnis hoped it would:Iraq’s government took command Wednesday of thousands of U.S.-backed, mostly Sunni fighters who turned against al-Qaeda. The Shiite-dominated government pledged to integrate the fighters into public life for t
 
Iraq: Slowly but surely
Iraq continues to show signs of improvement in terms of decreased deaths due to violence and the reconciliation process:The number of civilians killed in Iraq last month more than halved to 359 compared to a year ago, Iraqi government figures showed, and the number of U.S. troops killed in action also fell dramatically.U.S. combat deaths fell to eight in Septem
 
History started with Iraq
How desperate are the critics of Iraq? Well a trip to the Wonk Room at Think Progress will suffice to demonstrate that they’ve been reduced to some pretty funny stuff:The Washington Post confirms that yesterday’s terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa was the work of an Al Qaeda affiliate, using tactics developed in Iraq: The use of two vehicle bombs — one to br
 
Redeployment from Iraq
It looks like it is about to begin:Under the Pentagon recommendations, one combat brigade - numbering between 3,500 to 4,000 troops - will leave Iraq after the first of the year and will not be replaced. In addition, at least one Marine battalion will leave and not be replaced, as well as a few thousand support forces, defense officials said. The total
 
In case you missed it ...
And it certainly wouldn’t be hard with Gustav and the Palin nomination stealing all the news channel coverage. However:The U.S. military has handed over security control of the western province of Anbar to Iraqi forces.Yes, that’s right ... al Anbar province, probably the most deadly area for US soldiers, once declared "lost" to al Qaeda, has been offic
 
Coming Home
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the US and iraq have reached an agreement on bringing US troops home from Iraq.U.S. and Iraqi negotiators reached agreement on a security deal that calls for American military forces to leave Iraq’s cities by next summer as a prelude to a full withdrawal of combat troops from the country, according to senior America
 
US troops out of Iraq in 3 years?
That’s the claim in the TimesOnline. Deborah Haynes, reporting for the Times, says the draft agreement between the US and Iraq sets the time of 3 years for full withdrawal with a caveat - "provided the violence remains low".Most people would consider that to be "conditions based". Lets see how it gets reported (timeline anyone?).FYI, the "agr
 
The WSJ says Sadr’s about spent
Yesterday, the WSJ reported that:Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ... intends to disarm his once-dominant Mahdi Army militia and remake it as a social-services organization.The transformation would represent a significant turnabout for a group that, as recently as earlier this year, was seen as one of the most destabilizing anti-American forces in Iraq.
 
AQ, Obama and Kissinger
On the day combat tours in Iraq were cut from 15 to 12 months we hear this:The leader of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq and several of his top lieutenants have recently left Iraq for Afghanistan, according to group leaders and Iraqi intelligence officials, a possible further sign of what Iraqi and U.S. officials call growing disarray
 
The rush for the exit
It seems as though the "quagmire" of Iraq has turned into a "cakewalk" thanks to the surge and almost everyone just can’t wait to call it a victory and go home. All except the guy who made the current situation the reality there. [GEN]Petraeus said any timetable must have "a heck of a lot more granularity than the kind of very short-hand statements that have been put out."<
 
A Trip Down Memory Lane
That’s usually sometihng politicians try to avoid. They usually prefer things like I’m going to list to go down the memory hole instead. This particular trip is provided by John Hawkin’s Townhall column and it deals with Democrats and the surge.Let’s begin with the Democra
 
Anbar, the surge, Clark and McCain
McCain wants to start the surge too early, Wesley Clark gets his facts wrong and also claims the Saudis had a hand in calming the violence - the surge has become a bit of a political football in this not yet official presidential contest.So let’s discuss this as rati
 
Cry me a river ...
Joe Klein is scandalized:John McCain said this today in Rochester, New Hampshire: This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.This
 
Kudos to Katie
Here is Obama squirming and shuffling about the surge:Katie Couric (CBS): Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month, the country was rife with sectarian violence, and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratchin
 
The Surge is why Maliki agrees with Obama
Dan Balz points out:When Sen. Barack Obama left Washington last week, he was under pressure to defend what Republican critics called an arbitrary deadline for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq. By Monday, the White House and rival Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign were at pains to explain why the Iraqi prime minister had seem
 
Hey, we helped, sort of ...
Bernard Jenkin, an MP for North Essex and a member of the House of Commons Defence Committee writes in the UK Independent:Good news from Iraq has been in short supply, but the House of Commons Defence Committee recently returned from Basra considerably cheered. The logic now is that the UK should mainta
 
Obama’s new plan for Iraq? Same as the old plan ...
Barack Obama recently said he would go to Iraq to see for himself what was going on and, if elected president, he’d meet with his generals concerning Iraq before taking any action.Today, in the NY Times, without traveling to Iraq or meeting with any generals, Obama has published " 
Beware the meme
Steven Lee Myers of the NY Times would have us believe that the administration is suddenly considering increasing the pace of withdrawal in Iraq (the obviously implication being for political reasons):The Bush administration is considering the withdrawal of additional combat forces from Iraq
 
More Good News From Iraq
Prime Minister al Maliki:"Today, we are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty," Maliki told Arab ambassadors in blunt remarks during an official visit to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates."One of the two basic topics is either to ha
 
AQI’s last stand
Seems as though AQI may be breathing its last as a viable fighting force in Iraq:American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda’s dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant “last stand” in the northern city of Mosul.A
 
Iraq: Even the German press has noticed
From Spiegel online:There is an unexpected air of normalcy prevailing in Baghdad these days, with consumption flourishing and confidence in the government growing. The progress is astonishing, but can it last?Of course the obligatory last line is to be expected. They can’t quite see themselves going "all in" just yet. But they can no longer ignore the progress.
 
Iraq - progress toward reconciliation
From page 8 of the Washington Post:Iraq’s main Sunni Muslim political bloc is on the verge of rejoining the Shiite-led government after a nearly year-long boycott, a step widely seen as vital to reconciliation after years of sectarian conflict.Why?Sunni leaders now say the government has done enough to add
 
Al Sadr’s final gambit?
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air alerts us to a Middle East Times report claiming the Mahdi Army of al-Sadr is dissolving into a small insurgent operation:The Mehdi Army of Moqtada Sadr is evolving into a clandestine movement following Iraqi military operations targetin
 
IED attacks down significantly in Iraq
While they are still the most common form of attack, their use has declined drastically:Roadside bomb attacks and fatalities in Iraq are down by almost 90% over the last year, according to Pentagon records and interviews with military leaders.In May, 11 U.S. troops were killed by blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) compared with 92 in May 2007,
 
Al-Sadr declares war on US forces
And, I would think, US forces are sending him a thank-you note.For all intents and purposes, such a declaration should, once and for all, remove whatever gloves the US has been wearing when dealing with the man.Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is establishing a new fighting force to battle U.S.-led troops in Iraq, he said in a letter read in Iraqi mosques Friday.
 
This can’t be right ...
Al Maliki has emerged as a strong leader due to his actions in Basra? When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was nearly killed in a mortar attack this spring during an offensive against Shiite militias in Basra, his advisers urged him to halt the operation and go back to Baghdad.Instead, al-Maliki doubled down, called in thousands of reinforcements a
 
Thoughts on the pending Iraqi SOFA agreement
SOFA stands for "Status of Forces Agreement" and we have 80 existing SOFA agreements currently with other nations where US troops are stationed.Iraq, of course, is under the microscope and naturally anything coming out of there that might reflect negatively gets a little air time.That’s not to say that
 
"Martyrdom" seems to be losing its appeal
That is if the sharply declining number of suicide bombers in Iraq are any indication:The United States is seeing a sharp drop in the number of foreigners entering Iraq to become al Qaeda suicide bombers, according to intelligence and Bush administration sources.An administration official and a military adviser to Iraqi commanders attribut
 
Iraq: ISF operation to cut off arms flow from Iran
With the dearth of coverage concerning Iraq, a good place to go to find out what’s up is "The Long War Journal". Today Bill Roggio brings us up to speed on what the ISF is doing to interdict Iranian arms flowing into Iraq (you know, the ISF of the Iraqi government, who, according to some, are in cahoots with Iran and merely puppets of the master regime):
 
Will Obama change his Iraq strategy based on the progress now evident?
The LA Times tells us:The U.S. military on Saturday announced the death of a Marine in Anbar province, as May ended with what could be the lowest monthly toll since American-led forces invaded five years ago.If no additional deaths are reported, the U.S. military toll for the month will be 19, according to the independent website icas
 
What went wrong in Iraq - An al Qaeda perspective
How about waaaay too many "involuntary martyrs"? According to the Strategy Page, there’s a discussion taking place on AQ websites about why they’ve lost Iraq:This defeat was not as sudden as it appeared to be, and some Islamic terrorist web sites have been discussing the problem for several years. The primary cause has been Moslems killed as a sid
 
Meanwhile in Iraq (part XXVII)
The fact that violence is at a 4 year low slips quietly by:The U.S. military said Sunday that the number of attacks by militants in the last week dropped to a level not seen in Iraq since March 2004.About 300 violent incidents were recorded in the seven-day period that ended Friday, down from a weekly high of nearly 1,600 in mid-
 
Progress in Iraq
From today’s NYT:Iraqi forces rolled unopposed through the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Tuesday, a dramatic turnaround from the bitter fighting that has plagued the Baghdad neighborhood for two months, and a qualified success for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.As it did in the southern ci
 
Pelosi makes suprise visit to Iraq
And the result?Pelosi, a top Democratic critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, expressed confidence that expected provincial elections will promote national reconciliation.She welcomed Iraq’s progress in passing a budget as well as oil legislation, and a bill paving the way for the provincial elections in the fall that are ex
 
If Maliki lost, what did al-Sadr win?
The WSJ deals with the truce which has been agreed upon between the government of Iraq and the Mahdi Army.Initial press reports have suggested the battle has mostly come out a draw. But a 14-point "truce" between the government and the Mahdists (brokered last week by Iran) suggests otherwise. Among other details reported in the press, th
 
More "rare success" in Iraq (Update)
Nothing particularly new here, except perhaps Stephan Farrell’s somewhat obvious bias:Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old.In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have la
 
Meanwhile in Iraq (update)
What some would call "a surprising turn of events":Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad’s Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.In return, Sadr&rsqu
 
Iraq - picking sides?
Michael Yon explains what is happening in Iraq concerning the Mahdi army and our involvement in the fight with them. He explains why it is important, why it is different than fighting AQI and why our determination to help disarm them will most likely pay off in a more peaceful Iraq (although we may see a spike in US casualties).That p
 
About losing Basra
If anything has come to typify the left’s rush to declare any setback in Iraq, no matter how tiny or temporary, as proof the whole enterprise has collapsed, perhaps the "battle of Basra" best illustrates it. Quickly declared a loss for Maliki and the Iraqi government and a victory for al-Sadr, the left screamed about the inept Iraqis, the failure the ISF action and t
 
Lying about Iraq
I think this passage from Phil Carter, quoting an interview with President Bush, is important to see... RADDATZ: All during that period — April, May, June, July [of 2006] — when things were really going downhill, people were talking about there being civil war. [...] You were saying, ’We’re winning. We have a plan for victory. We are winning,&
 
State Dept. employees - the civilian job market awaits!
I’ve been talking the last few weeks about the need for a political/diplomatic surge in Iraq to help that side of the house more speedily do what is necessary to accomplish reconciliation and ensure a stable and functioning Iraqi government. Seems the people charged with that don’t really want to do their jobs:The State Department is warning U.S. diplomats
 
Basra citizens feel safer with ISF in control
Gasp! This can’t be true. Why, why we’ve been told that the Iraqi military lost, Sadr was in control and the Iraqis there were on the militia’s side.Three weeks after Iraqi troops swarmed into the southern city of Basra to take on armed militiamen who had overrun the streets, many residents say they feel safer and that their lives have im
 
Anbar, an amazing transformation
I was part of an interesting conversation with Marine COL Pat Malay, commander of Regimental Combat Team 5 in western Anbar province. His area of operations encompasses the Western Euphrates River Valley (Hit, Haditha, Rawah, al-Qaim, etc.) and runs along the Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi borders.This is COL Malay’s 3rd deployment, all in Anbar, and the differences are staggering from his first to his third. His first, was the initial assault. He r
 
You can’t serve two masters
The one thing you have to say for al-Sadr is he has chutzpah. Apparently, while hiding out in Iran, he’s made a demand that the ISF forces which deserted in Basra, and the Iraqi government subsequently fired, be given their jobs back:The anti-U.S. cleric says those who gave up their arms "were only obeying their grand religious leaders" and "were driven by the
 
Grand Ayatollah Sistani backs Iraqi government - ISF takes lead in Sadr City
Bill Roggio reports (HT: Flopping Aces):With the Iraqi government applying pressure to the Sadrist movement and Muqtada al Sadr to disband the Mahdi Army, Iraq’s senior Shia cleric has weighed in on the issue. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most
 
Michael Yon talks about the changes in Iraq
Well, he’s not Juan Cole, but he’ll have to do. Unlike Cole, he can at least say this:I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous
 
The Battle of Basra - Take Two
Amir Taheri has an entirely different understanding of how the battle of Basra actually unfolded. He reports it was an Iranian bid, planned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force to take Basra. Their plan was based on three rather arrogant assumptions:* Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wouldn’t have the coura
 
John Burns and Dexter Filkins of the NYT discuss Petraeus & Crocker’s testimony on Iraq (Charlie Rose)
Watch the whole thing here. Some highlights-Iraq:BURNS: “I have to say, listening to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, they were describing the Iraq that I know. I have no trouble with that. I found it very candid, very straightforward. The champagne bottle has been put back to the fridge.”
 
AP claims Maliki disagrees with the Petraeus pause (update)
Maybe I’m missing something, but if what Maliki is saying is reported correctly I don’t see how it qualifies as ’disagreement’:Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Petraeus recommended a pause in drawing down U.S. troops in Iraq while the security situation remains unstable and President Bush is expected to follow his recommendation.
 
Post-Petraeus thoughts on Iraq
First, a good and necessary move:President Bush plans to announce today that he will cut Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months, returning rotations to where they were before last year’s troop buildup in an effort to alleviate the tremendous stress on the military, administration officials said.3 months may not
 
Iraq: The 45 day pause
For whatever reason, the Senate committees which heard from Gen. Petraeus, didn’t seem to understand the necessity of a 45 day pause, before doing any further troop withdrawals from Iraq:Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, recommended on Tuesday halting any addit
 
Al Sadr offers to lay down his arms (update)
Interesting development:Iraq’s largest and most dangerous militia, the Mahdi Army, will disband voluntarily if leading Shia scholars advise its leader to do so, officials said today, in a dramatic move that could quell much of the fighting in the country.Aides to Hojetoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, who is under mounting political and military pressur
 
Ambassador Crocker’s statement
Here’s the transcript of the Crocker statement.Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to IraqTestimony to Senate Armed Services Committee April 8, 2008AMB. CROCKER: Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, members of the committee, it is an honor to appear before you today to provide my assessment on political, economic and diplomatic developments in Iraq. When General Petraeus a
 
Transcript of Gen Petraeus statement
OK, we have an official transcript now. You can find the charts he talks about here [pdf]Report to Congress on the Situation in IraqGeneral David H. Petraeus Commander, Multi-National Force–Iraq 8-9 April 2008Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportun
 
Pelosi: We don’t want to hear any good news
This just chaps my, well, it irritates the hell out of me:House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events” in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.“I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra,” said Pelosi, referring to a recent militar
 
Iraq, Obama and McCain: Who doesn’t understand what?
Oh, man ... this is poor, but from Joe Klein, hardly unexpected.The problem with John McCain’s 100 years in Iraq formulation isn’t that he’s calling for 95 more years of combat—he isn’t—but that he thinks you can have a long-term basing arrangement in Iraq similar to those we have in Germany or Korea. That betrays a fairly acute lac
 
Iraqi government says operations in Basra will continue
Bill Roggio:One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt, and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr’s terms for the cease-fire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said th
 
There may be another explanation for what is going on in Iraq
James Joyner is of the opinion that Maliki, like Israel vs. Hezbollah, lost the confrontation in Basrah. The parallels between this action and the Israelis’ 2006 invasion of Lebanon to take on Hezbollah are striking. In both cases, the party that initiated the escalation into high level conflict inflicted substantial damage on their adversary
 
More thoughts on Basra and Iraq
Let me recommend some reading for those of you interested in some good sources of opinion that provide a context and insight about what is going on in Basra.But before I do, let me make a few comments.What is happening in Basra is what all of us, from the anti-war side to the side of the war supporters, have said we want to see happen - Iraq standing up and taking charge of it’s own security and defense. So, I’m a bit amused a the
 
What’s going on in Iraq?
A short note as today in my other life is the last day of my company’s fiscal year, so as you can imagine, I’m up to my ears in end-of-year fun.I simply haven’t been able to give the situation in Iraq as much attention as I’d like. Some quick observations about what I have been able to gleen.Observation one: This was inevitable. Whether or not this was the time for Maliki to actually do what had to be
 
The Sausage Factory gets one right
In terms of national reconciliation, this is important:Under strong U.S. pressure, Iraq’s presidential council signed off Wednesday on a measure paving the way for provincial elections by the fall, a major step toward easing sectarian rifts as the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the war.The decision by the council, made up of the country’s pres
 
Welcome Home, Rick...
One of our faithful readers and sometime commenters is Spc. Rick Branch of the 3rd Infantry Division. Rick works as a military journalist within the division and has just completed either his second or third tour in Iraq (my apologies, but I don’t remember which). He’s written about his latest tour in a note to the readers of QandO:Hello QandO! I’ve not posted in months but I still frequently read about what’
 
Schumer and AP: Selective Amnesia
An interesting recent claim about al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) says it is a totally homegrown and separate entity from the al Qaeda (AQ) that Osama bin Laden heads.Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Tuesday’s “Larry King Live” said, "The al Qaeda the president is talking about is different than the al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, which is the al Qaeda that’s in Iraq. The al Qaeda that bin Laden is in charge of is a totally separate organization."And AP’s Jennife
 
Clinton praises Petraeus
I guess I’ll have to claim a willing suspension of disbelief on this one:As critical as she is about the Bush administration’s conduct of the Iraq war, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a relatively rare shout-out to the military’s top man in Baghdad, General David Petraeus, calling him “an extraordinary leader and a wonderful advocate for our milita
 
Petraeus grows impatient with Iraqi government
While there has some progress toward national reconciliation, Gen. David Petraeus says the Iraqi government has failed to take advantage of the reduction in violence to make "adequate progress toward resolving their political differences."The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has won passage of some legislation that aids th
 
Surprising gold in an anti-war screed
A lot of people are calling Kenneth Thiesen all sorts of names for an op/ed piece he had in the Berkeley Daily Planet a couple of days ago entitled "Why I Don’t Support the Troops". Ed Morrissey calls him "low hanging [anti-war] frui
 
Most now think effort in Iraq will succeed
In fact, it isn’t even close. 53% to 39%, a Pew Research Center survey shows. And that’s up quite a bit from last February where only 48% thought it would succeed (vs. 47% who thought it would fail). Is it any wonder the Democrats are mostly avoiding this issue on the campaign trail (and are now beginning to hedge their "immediate withdrawal" talk as well)?
 
Iraqi Politics - an examination
Bill Ardolino does a great job of assessing and analyzing the legislation recently passed in the Iraqi Parliament and both its short-term and long-term impact there. This is the fourth installment of a five part series and recommended reading.
 
Al Sadr likely to extend cease-fire in Iraq
I noted a while back that Feb 23 was an important day because that was the day that the Mahdi Army cease fire ended and it was unclear whether Moqtada al-Sadr would extend it. He was under a lot of pressure from his commanders to let it lapse because they thought they were being taken advantage of by the Iraqi police as well as criminal elements of the Mahdi Army (which had ignored the cease fire).According to reports, it appears al-Sadr  
AQI threatens Israel
They’re getting their rear-ends kicked in Iraq and now they want to expand operations and take on Israel? Maybe that has to do with their new deployment plan - abandon Iraqi cities and flee to the desert:The purported leader of al-Qaida’s
 
Iraq passes two critical laws and a budget
Last Sunday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Nancy Peolosi about the success of the “surge” in Iraq. “Are you not worried, though, that all the gains that have been achieved over the past year might be lost?” Blitzer asked.“There haven’t been gains, Wolf,” Pelosi replied. “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure.”Yet today, out of Iraq, comes news that three
 
Iraq: Understanding SOFA
You may remember all the recent shouting and hand-waving on the left about the Bush administration trying to negotiate permanent bases in Iraq?In fact, what they have been and are trying to negotiate is something we have with every country in which we have troops deployed. A "Status of Forces Agreement" or SOFA. In every foreign country in which I served, I had a SOFA card in my possession. As  
Feb 23 may be a key day in Iraq
That’s the day on which the cease fire ordered by Moqtada al Sadr is due to expire. Per the Arab Times, al Sadr has been getting pressure from some quarters of his organization not to renew the cease fire:Influential members within the movement loyal to Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have told him they do not want his Mehdi Army militia to extend a cea
 
The Iraq paradox (update)
Excellent article by Michael Gordon in the Washington Post. Gordon has been covering Iraq, on the ground, with the troops, for a few years. He contrasts that with what he’s hearing on the campaign trail. And he’s not impressed by either party’s candidates when it comes to Iraq.
 
Anti-war: A malevolent righteousness which repels most Americans
I have to admit that if a liberal were to write an article which called for other liberals to acknowledge the surge was working, I wouldn’t have expected it to be Tom Teepen. Teepen used to write for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and I became very familiar with his, shall we say, slant? So seeing his name attached to this came as a bit of a
 
So what’s up in Iraq?
It’s that time again - let’s take a look at progress in Iraq.Today, USA Today is reporting that 75% of Baghdad is "under control" per MNFI. Other than the obvious, what does that mean in terms of progress?The military classifies 356 of Baghdad’s 474 neighborhoods in the "control" or "retain" category of its four-tier security
 
Iraq: Reality and the anti-war movement
Reality can be brutal:After a series of legislative defeats in 2007 that saw the year end with more U.S. troops in Iraq than when it began, a coalition of anti-war groups is backing away from its multimillion-dollar drive to cut funding for the war and force Congress to pass timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.And you’ll note, too, that as the presidentia
 
Hillary’s Iraq vote - V 7.5
Shortened Meet the Press:Tim Russert:Let me bring you back to October 10 of 2002, when the Senate had to vote on the authorization to go to war. This was Senator Clinton on the floor of the Senate.He then shows a video clip of Senator Hillary Clinton from October of 2002 on the floor of the Senate:So it is with conviction that I support this resolu
 
MG Rick Lynch: Commander MND-C
I’ve had the enjoyable opportunity a couple of the times in the past to be a part of a conference call with MG Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd ID and MND-C. He and his troops have been there 10 months now (they deployed as a part of the surge) and his mission has been to take on the al Qaeda sanctuaries in Karbala, Babl and the southern belts of Baghdad and push AQ out of there. Lynch said that when they began operations in the area, they averaged 25 attacks
 
Gasp! Down to 60,000 in Iraq by 2009?
Wow, that would ruin a few political days, wouldn’t it? But apparently it is at least possible now (see my bold prediction for this year):Gen. Petraeus told reporters that he and Pentagon planners were also working on a new "intellectual construct" for a U.S. troop presence in Iraq beyond the planned withdrawal of five
 
Iraq: Parliament passes reconciliation measure
Step by step:Iraq’s parliament adopted legislation Saturday on the reinstatement of thousands of former supporters of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party to government jobs, a key benchmark sought by the United States as a step toward easing sectarian tensions.The bill was approved by a unanimous show of hands on each of the law’s 30 clauses. Titled t
 
Still trying to make the surge a failure
Of course much of the media and most of the left are doing their level best to make the point that on it’s one year anniversary, the surge hasn’t worked.WaPo’s Pentagon reporter Thomas Ricks responding to a question about whether the Iraqis think it has worked (asked by Keith Olberman) on MSNBC:I think Iraqis recognize that large parts of Baghdad are
 
Anbar province to be turned over to Iraqis
Last night, Alan Colmes insisted to Fred Thompson that the surge hadn’t really worked because it had only accomplished 9 of the 18 benchmarks outlined by the administration, and so progress in Iraq was not really been made. Thompson replied, "that’s like saying all progress in the US takes place in Washington DC", and, of course we all know that’s not true. And to deny what has been happening in the country since the surge is simply dishonest.
 
Meanwhile in Iraq
Keith at A Second Hand Conjecture has a new chart up displaying the decline in deaths in all areas there. As he points out, "things are not rosy in Iraq", but then no one has claimed they are. But what can be claimed is this:Deaths over the entire year are up by 10% for soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year. But, the last 3 months have also been the least deadliest months of
 
Obama spins the surge
The most ludicrous moment of last night’s Democratic debate (and there were many of them) took place when all 4 of the candidates went out of their way to deny the surge had done any good, or if it did, it was because of the Democrats. Barack Obama, who explained his version of why the "awakening", aka bottom-up reconciliation, took place, was perhaps
 
Joe Biden reads this blog
OK, probably not, but he has been known to "borrow" from others.Yesterday I said:Apparently, while blithely ignoring the progress in Iraq, policy prescriptions have now boiled down to an internal competition between the three Democratic presidential wannabees as to who can throw Iraq to the wolves the fastest, and it seems Edwards wants to win that race rather badl
 
2007 event of the year - The Surge
Today the NY Times, via AP reports:The second half of 2007 saw violence drop dramatically in Iraq, but the progress came at a high price: The year was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.Actually, that’s misleading. The death toll was the highest prior to the major operation which has
 
Military Morale: Words do matter
Sometime last year, those who spoke out about how we were losing the war, aided and abetted by some in the military of flag rank, convinced themselves that what they had to say, no matter how negative, had no effect on military morale. It was something I never agreed with. I kept wondering what had changed between Vietnam and now, because I know first-hand that such talk had a definite effect on morale then.  
Iraq - National Reconciliation: Slowly, but surely
Ed Morrissey was on a teleconference with Rep. Michele Bachmann who relayed the following news:[T]he National Assembly passed a pension bill, a critical step in reconciliation. That did not get much mention in the American media, but the Sunnis now have government pensions denied them after the fall of Saddam, which should alleviate much of the hostility.Ano
 
Harry Reid - progress in Iraq harder to deny, even for him
Reid a couple of days ago."The surge hasn’t accomplished its goals," Reid said. "... We’re involved, still, in an intractable civil war."Reid yesterday on NPR:"We sent other troops over there, and there are a lot of re
 
Iraq: Cautious optimisim from another Democrat
It is just impossible to deny any longer:U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly returned from a second trip to Iraq in five months encouraged that the mission there is going better and that by 2009 the U.S. military’s role could be primarily as trainers and advisers. "I feel we’ve made progress, and the other part is I feel we can see an
 
Iraq’s current status in graph form
For those of you who’re interested but have been unable to get a current update through the MSM:
 
Meanwhile, in Iraq (you remember that place, don’t you?)
Another sign of progress:Iraqi oil production is above the levels seen before the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).The IEA said Iraqi crude production is now running at 2.3 million barrels per day, compared with 1.9 million barrels at the start of this year.It puts the rise down to the improving secur
 
Changing his mind
General John Batiste has been an outspoken opponent of our Iraq strategy for the last few years. It’s made him a darling of the left. Now, it appears that he’s changed his mind. CQ has the detals.
 
AQI: Your Mission - blow up three bombs by January
Reuters is announcing that per a jihadi website the AQI leader has called for renewed bombing in Iraq:The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, an al Qaeda-linked group forced on the defensive by its former tribal allies, ordered a renewed bombing campaign against Iraqi security forces in a Web message on Tuesday."This campaign should be based on explosives and it
 
Murtha: The surge is working
I have to wonder what our resident Murtha defender will have to say about this turn of events:U.S. Rep. John Murtha today said he saw signs of military progress during a brief trip to Iraq last week, but he warned that Iraqis need to play a larger role in providing their own security and the Bush administration still must develop an exit strategy.
 
A little Iraq News
Only because it isn’t quite the subject it once was in the MSM. Let us begin with Joltin’ Joe Biden’s assessment of the surge:Amid reports that the U.S. military surge has helped to stabilize insurgent attacks in Baghdad and a recent Pew Research Center poll that found 48 percent of Americans now believe the U.S. mil
 
Iraq: "Oasis" or denial?
Ignoring the substance of my post on Baghdad this moring, Cernig, at NewsHoggers chooses to characterize it like this:Righty bloggers like McQ are all agog today over an AFP story about bright lights and juice bars in "Baghdad’s relatively safe Karrada suburb."He th
 
Baghdad: Center of Gravity
Billy’s post about the "cone of silence" seems to be on point. More and more press reports are focusing on the dramatic changes in Iraq, and especially Baghdad:The gaudy orange, green and purple electronic palm trees flashing in the dark alert you that you’re getting close to one of Baghdad’s bustling nightspots.The palms,
 
"I can’t remember my last shootout: it’s been months."
Michael Yon continues to put supposedly-professional journalists to shame. This event, at a newly-reopened Christian church in Baghdad, could have been attended and reported upon by anyone. There was no violence to worry about. And the melding of Christians and Muslims in this Baghdad neighborhood has heart-warming drama that can bring tears to your eyes. Make sure you read the picture captions, to the very end.
 
Iraq: Concerned Local Citizens repulse AQI attack
Very interesting conversation on Blogger’s Round Table with COL Terry R. Ferrell, Cdr of the 2nd BCT, 3rd ID about a battle that took place Monday, November 12th.The place was Adwaniyah, which is a village south of Baghdad and formerly (pre-surge) an AQI stronghold. With the surge, AQI was pushed out and, obviously, found that not to their liking. So they planned and mounted an attack. But there had been a change in Adwaniya. The wee
 
Iraq: working the other side
Interesting story out of Iraq:Top U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus has met with representatives of Muqtada al-Sadr, once one of the top enemies fueling the insurgency against the elected Iraqi government, FOX News has confirmed.The general has not met personally with al-Sadr, the military said, but the meetings come as the Pentagon is softening its approach
 
Iraq: An update (updated)
It appears, at least by these reports, that AQI has been successfully ousted from Baghdad. MG Fils, one of the CF commanders responsible for that lays out the challenges they now face:With less than two months to go before his division heads home, Gene
 
Diplo-wimps
I read this story the other day and to say it frosted me would be an understatement:"Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone," said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer who once worked as a political adviser with NATO forces.He and others confronted Foreign Service Director General Harry Thomas, who approved the
 
IED, EFPs and clearing caches
The biggest killer of US troops in Iraq is and has been the IED/EFP.IED stands for Improvised Explosive Device and is primarily a bomb which is usually fashioned from explosives or artillery munitions and includes a detonation device. It is normally the size of the explosion as well as timing which makes them so lethal. An EFP on the other hand, is a Explosively Formed Penetrator. Another description is a shape-charge. A copper disc or discs are used
 
2007 "Deadliest Year" for US troops in Iraq (update)
Despite a mostly positive story, this is how AP began it:With just under two months left in the year, 2007 is on course to be the deadliest year on record for American forces in Iraq, despite a recent sharp drop in U.S. deaths.At least 847 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the second-highest annual toll si
 
This is pretty noteworthy
Tell me again there isn’t being progress made in Iraq. Bill Roggio reports:Just 24 hours after the capture of 11 Sunni and Shia tribal leaders in northern Baghdad, the Iraqi Army has freed eight of the sheikhs. Meanwhile, Multinational forces Iraq has identified the Mahdi Army commander responsible for the kidnappings, and has begun to name o
 
Iraq: How bad is it?
Well for some Marines, it’s reduced to garbage collection duties:"This is the fight — sewage, water and trash," Lt. James Colvin said as he showed the landfill to a visitor. "I was a poor math major in college. I come here and they tell me: ’OK, fix the sewage system!’ " said Colvin, remembering how sh
 
Iraqi Reconciliation
I mentioned in the post below that while the focus of the political fight here is on national reconciliation in Iraq, it should be noted that despite the fact that it still hasn’t happened on a national level, reconciliation is happening in Iraq.A prefect example of that is in Diayla province where the provincial capital of Baquba was the declared "capital" of al Qaeda in Iraq a few short months ago. COL David Sutherland, who commands the 3rd BCT o
 
Iraq, Casualties, the Surge, Basra and the PKK
Interesting phone conversation with BG Terry Wolff, the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan at the National Security Council.He talked about a number of things but a couple of points concerning a post Jon put up yesterday entitled "Casualty Statistics are not the Metrics for Progress in Iraq".He’s right, and his is a valid
 
Casuality Statistics are not the Metrics for Progress in Iraq
Outside the Beltway’s Alex Knapp makes a point about Dean Barnett’s why are they ignoring the progress in Iraq commentary that I’ve made before. Writes Knapp...This type o
 
Another example of "narrative dissonance"
Remember what we touched on yesterday? Another perfect example today from a The New York Times editorial today:The news out of Iraq just keeps getting worse. Now Turkey is threatening to send troops across the border to wipe out Kurdish rebel bases, after guerrillas killed at least a dozen Turkish soldiers. This lat
 
How you know its getting better in Iraq
Billy points out the disconnect between what is going on in Iraq and what some people want to believe is going on in Iraq. And obviously, never the twain shall meet.Here’s another example of something those clinging to the belief that Iraq is an unrecoverable disaster are not going to want t
 
Iraq as an election issue in 2008 - thoughts based on Michael Yon’s reporting
I was reading this Michael Yon post when an idea occurred to me. Yon said:"No thinking person would look at last year’s weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery, that all Iraqis are engaged in sectarian
 
The shadow border war
Apparently the Brits are taking it directly to Iran in a covert war which pits the SAS (as well as other special operators) against Al-Quds:British special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces, defence sources have disclosed.
 
Haditha: Another example (Duke Rape case) where the narrative was right, but the facts didn’t support it
The Wall Street Journal does a fine job of wrapping up the Haditha incident. It’s worth the read. But despite its recounting of the incident and the details surrounding it as well as the outcome of the investigations and the fact that murder charges were dropped against all of the Marines, the most important part of the article was to be found in the last few
 
Stop the draft, er, the war, er recruiting ... why are we here?
Ah Berkley protests, they’re just not what they used to be. All my young former hippy, flowerchild, earth-womyn are now ’Grandmothers Against the War’ (or Code Pink, or well, you get the drift). Apparently they and counter protesters have been shouting at each other across the street at a local recruiting station. The purpose of Code Pink and GATW bei
 
Iraq: The bad news never stops
As this headline indicates, there’s not shortage of bad news coming out of Iraq:As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinchThis is, apparently, a problem.At what’s believed to be the world’s largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and millions already have been, bu
 
AQI is hurting in Iraq
From the Washington Post referring to AQI:Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of the Joint Special Operations Command’s operations in Iraq, is the chief promoter of a victory declaration and believes that AQI has been all but eliminated, the military intelligence official said. But Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of U.S. Central C
 
This must have stung ...
An editorial from the Washington Post:This doesn’t necessarily mean the war is being won. U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions — and there has been little progress on that front. Nevertheless, it’s looking more and more as t
 
Certainly anecdotal but also indicative
Indicative of an apparent trend:The civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level in recent memory Saturday, with only four people killed or found dead nationwide, according to reports from police, morgue officials and credible witnesses.Saturday marked the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr feast for Shiites, the three-day capstone closing out the Ram
 
Haditha reversal busts the narrative
Apparently Haditha supported the larger anti-war narrative even if the evidence didn’t (much like the Duke case).The "larger narrative?"Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produc
 
20% say world "better off" if U.S .loses in Iraq (update)
OK, I’ll bite:Nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq, according to the FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll released Thursday.The percentage of Democrats (19 percent) who believe that is nearly four times the number of Republicans (5 percent) who gave the same answer. Seven percent of indep
 
Still deciding about the Blackwater deal
Armed, non-military security in war zones isn’t something new like a lot of folks are trying to pretend. This sort of activity has been going on for a while.That said, I’ve heard a couple of folks who would know and for whom I have some respect say they have problems with the Blackwater crew. So I’m still looking at this situation a bit more before rendering a final opinion.However I have to tell you, given what I have read
 
Synchronicity
This week I did the Someone You Should Know segment for Pundit Review Radio on three Marines who fought in the battle of Al Tarmiya in April of 2003. One of the Marines, by the name of Marco Martinez, was awarded the Navy Cross. You can hear his story (and that of CPL Timothy Tardif and SSG Adam Sikes who both were awarded Silver Stars) here.Martinez went from
 
Where is the political progress in Iraq
While I’m glad about the (for the moment, anyway) lower death toll, I think commentary like this is deeply misguided.Shockah! Major Progress in Iraq, Media Still Stuck on StupidIf you look at the numbers in Iraq for the almost concluded month of September, you’ll find an encouraging story. This month saw 61 American casualties. That’s down from 84 a mont
 
Checking out those "cooked books"
Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture has a good update on those supposedly "cooked books" Petraeus was alleged to be using.
 
A Soldier’s plea
We’ve recently had a spate of soldier written editorials such as the one written by 7 members of the 82nd Airborne Division which essentially supported redeployment.Here’s another sincere article from a National Guard officer who is working with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the north of Iraq. As you will see, his experience has been tough but encour
 
COIN: Hey, this stuff really works
Michael J Totten has another excellent piece out about the success in Anbar province and the accomplishments to date in that area. To me the most interesting couple of paragraphs come from a battalion commander with the 3rd ID, LTC Mike Silverman. Silverman is interviewed by Totten and asked a question he has to ponder for a moment:“What’s the most important thing you have lear
 
1LT Travis Manion
Bill Ardolino, who blogs at INDC Journal and is presently embedded in Iraq, doesn’t ask for much in the way of links. But he has asked that his story about Marine 1LT Travis Manion be linked if possible. Of course it’s possible. And it is a story well worth reading. Manion was with an MiTT team (a team which embeds with the Iraqis they’re training) and was killed
 
More bi-partisanship....in the Senate no less (update)
Can’t wait to see what the Netroots have to say about this:The Senate voted Thursday to condemn an advertisement by the liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org that accused the top military commander in Iraq of betrayal.The 72-25 vote condemned the full-page ad that appeared in The New York Times last week as Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commande
 
What an IED looks like (in slow motion)
Why do I say "slow motion"? Because the IED you’re about to see was too small for the depth at which it was buried and thus when it exploded, you’ll see it develop in rather slow speed in comparison with a properly configured and emplaced IED would do. But it is instructive just the same (for whatever reason it reminded me of one of those giant sand worms blasting out of the sand in "Dune"):
 
"I don’t support the troops"
A Kos diarist, lurxst, blurts it out:This has been digging at me for, oh, about 4 years now. I have been hesitant to express this thought, in comments sections and in discussion with other people about the Iraq quagmire for fear of, I don’t know, being called mean. Or, un-American. Or something.Supporting the troops essentially means supporting the ille
 
Michael Totten’s latest report is a must-read
If you seriously expect to know what’s going on in Iraq, folks such as Michael Totten are essential reading. Totten’s latest is here, and it’s long, and you really, really ought to read it all. A couple of short extracts:Ramadi has changed so drastically from the terrorist-infested pit that it was as recently as April 2007 that I could hardly believe what I saw was real. Th
 
You know there’s progress if Reuters is reporting it
Hard to imagine (I checked to see if it was a parody site), but Reuters reports:A row of beds lies empty in the emergency ward of Baghdad’s Yarmouk Hospital. The morgue, which once overflowed with corpses, is barely a quarter full.Doctors at the hospital, a barometer of bloodshed in the Iraqi capital, say there has be
 
Murtha: Bloodbath? Who cares?
For whatever reason, I see Pilate symbolically washing his hands of the crucifixion of Jesus:If pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq results in "a bloodbath," the guilt will rest with the Iraqi people and not with the U.S. Congress, according to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a leading proponent of withdrawing troops."Many have threatened that
 
Parody, thy name is Hamsher
Seriously, this lead line by Jane Hamsher had me howling in laughter:Glenn Greenwald’s piece on the Kagan family is such a concise, elegant, tight portrait of everything that is wrong with the warmongers who lead this country and dominate our political discourse that it almost makes your teeth hurt.Heh ... c
 
Pelosi and Reid: calling them and the Democrats on their perfidy
Where I come from this is called "talking out of both sides of your mouth":Nancy Peolosi:"Tonight, President Bush outlined a status quo strategy that leaves at least 130,000 American soldiers in harm’s way as part of a 10-year occupation of Iraq. The American people reject the president’s call for an ’end
 
The Iraq political landscape
This week has, so far, been interesting as concerns Iraq (a classic understatement).As expected the two sides have staked out their sides and either found reason to continue to further support the surge and other work in Iraq (that would be me) or to call it an utter failure and call for immediate withdrawal. The Washington Post  
I love this Michael Yon Quote
From an email announcing his latest dispatch:I was the first to say Iraq was in civil war, and many readers were angry to hear me say it. Well, I’ll be the first to say that I predict some sort of milestone for the war in Iraq will occur early in the next year. It’s dangerous to predict like this, but something fundamental has changed in Iraq.There is one important qualifier: this will only happen if General David
 
Petreaus says "yes" the war in Iraq is making America safer
The Nation asks:Did General David Petraeus today suggest that the war in Iraq may not make the United States safer?Then:During the Q&A round at the armed services committee, Senator John Warner, the Virginia Republican who used to chair the committee and who has called for beginning a disengagement in Iraq, took a few sharp (albeit res
 
Some thoughts on continuing in Iraq
George Will says that even by his own standards, "Bush’s Surge" has failed. Says Will:Those who today stridently insist that the surge has succeeded also say they are especially supportive of the president, Petraeus and the military generally. But at the beginning of the surge, both Petraeus and the president defined success in a way tha
 
Transmission from an alternate universe: Episode 3
I just never know when the quantum uncertainty radio will run across something while scanning through the quantum continuum. But it came on today, and this transmission is apparently from the same universe as the last episode. Monday, September 10, 2007, late in the day.A press conference called by Nancy Pelosi.Transcript follows:Pelosi: Good evening. I’d like to
 
Good show, General Petraeus, not that anyone will pay attention to what you said ...
Yes friends, I’ve now made it through almost 5 hours of House testimony from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker before the combined members of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees.I have been struck by two things. Both Petraeus and Crocker seemed exceedingly well prepared to face these committee members. Either that or the committee members were woefully unprepared to question them. What most members were prepared to
 
Unedited Petraeus testimony
First, the full transcript of Gen. Petraeus’ testimony can be found below the fold.I want to cover one aspect of the testimony which is likely to defang much of the opposition to continuing the mission:In fact, later this month, the Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed as part of the surge will depart Iraq.Beyond that, if my recommendations are approved, that unit’s departure will be followed by t
 
A slice of Baghdad
I mentioned this site on the podcast last night and thought it worth highlighting today. Given that the NY Times featured the thoughts of 7 soldiers and NCOs from the 82nd who felt the Surge wasn’t working, I thought I’d point you to the blog entry of another 82nd soldier who is seeing quite a difference in his "slice" of Baghdad:Now
 
Think Progress still doesn’t get it (update)
In a post entitled "New Twist In Saga Over ‘Petraeus Report’: There Will Be No Report", Think Progress says (while faithfully plugging the Durbin characterization):In the latest twist to the ongoing saga over the Petraeus White House report, a senior military official tells the Washington Times today that there will actually be no report at all:
 
Attacking Petraeus (update -letter to troops from Petraeus)
Some things are so obvious even I can smell them out.Back on July 19th I entitled a post, "Petraeus: See you in September, you hack" and followed with a lead sentence which said, "And by that time the usual suspects will have done their level best to try and destroy General Petraeus’ credibility." This was all in reaction to a Petraeus appearance on the Hugh Hewitt
 
Karbala raid yeilds high-level IRGC-QF leader
Coalition forces are turning their sites more and more on Shia militias in provinces in which they’re active. As Bill Roggio reports (Roggio is again in Iraq), a recent raid in Karbala snagged a big fish from Iran:As Coalition and Iraqi forces maintain the pressure on al Qaeda’s network throughout Iraq, the Shia terror organizations are also be
 
Couric: Progress in Iraq
Uh oh ... she’ll most likely be savaged by the left for this assessment at a critical time:One week before Gen. David Petraeus is expected to give his report on U.S. progress in Iraq, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric says she has already seen dramatic improvements in the country."We hear so much about things going bad, but real progress has been m
 
The Iraq PR war kicks into high gear
The LA Times Tina Sussman tells us:The U.S. military buildup that was supposed to calm Baghdad and other trouble spots has failed to usher in national reconciliation, as the capital’s neighborhoods rupture even further along sectarian lines, violence shiftselsewhere and Iraq’s government remains mired in political infi
 
Troop combat deaths down significantly
The title to the piece is "Combat deaths in Iraq decline; reasons aren’t clear":American combat deaths in Iraq have dropped by half in the three months since the buildup of 28,000 additional U.S. troops reached full strength, surprising analysts and dividing them as to why.U.S. officials had predicted that the increase would lead to higher American casualties
 
Presidential visit to Iraq first shot in September political war
Guess who has found his way to Iraq? Like him or not, this is just smart politics:President Bush arrived at an air base west of Baghdad Monday on an unannounced visit, the White House said. He plans to meet face-to-face with top military commanders, the U.S. ambassador, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and provincial tribal leaders. It is the president’s thi
 
Blogger Roundtable: LTG Dubik and Gen. Abadi
Today’s New York Times reports:An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq’s security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thur
 
All "OK" in Basra? A follow-up
Last week I took a shot at the Brits based on a report in the International Herald Tribune which said:Shiite militiamen from the Mahdi Army took over the police joint command center in Basra on Sunday after British soldiers withdrew from the facility and handed control to the Iraqi police, witnesses said.Police left the building when the
 
Opinions set in stone?
Keith from Indy said yesterday in a comment about the GAO report:Each side will highlite the select portions of the various reports that support their arguments. (And I’ll include myself in that statement.) And we’ll have yet another toss-up of conflicting visions and talking past each other. I think, most people who’ve made up their mind, aren’t going to change their mind anytime soon.For the most part, I think he’s right. But if you
 
The GAO Iraq report (Update)
The first of the Congressionally mandated reports is going through what appears to be its final staffing prior to being released. It is due in the first part of September. Based on the Washington Post story, which is all I have to go on, it is "strikingly negative" with the GAO, at least in the draft, saying that only 3 of the 18 benchmarks have
 
Worse and Worse in Iraq
If you listen to Harry Reid. Otherwise:Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his dreaded Shiite militia on Wednesday to stop attacks on US-led forces as part of a six-month suspension of the militant group’s activities.The order came after fierce firefights left at least in 52 people dead in the S
 
Trying too hard
John Cole thinks he’s caught me in a contradiction:McQ, attacking Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who is getting impatient with the surge: He’s been talking 9 to 10 years for quite some time. So have many people. This isn’t a crisis that is going to solve itself by September or election day. This is a long term project, just like Germany and Japan were. And I find
 
The coming battle of Basra (update)
In case you missed it, the Brits - who were fond of telling us early on in the war in Iraq how badly we were handling it all - have essentially handed Basra over to the Shia militias:Shiite militiamen from the Mahdi Army took over the police joint command center in Basra on Sunday after British soldiers withdrew from the facility and handed control to the Ira
 
Some political progress in Iraq
Maybe the message is getting across in Iraq that patience is wearing thin here and they better begin to take advantage of the improving security situation to make progress politically: Iraq’s top Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.
 
You really have to wonder where this woman has been
I’m talking about Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and her recent trip to Iraq. But the real test came over a lunch with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who used charts and a laser pointer to show how security conditions were gradually improving — evidence, he argued, that the troop increase is doing some good.Still, the U.S. commande
 
Pace advises troop cuts
I’m not sure this is really much of a story:The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.Administration and military officials
 
The NIE - unfiltered
Tired of trying to figure out what the NIE says through media filters? No problem. Here are the four pages of "Key Judgements" unfiltered (all emphasis in the original:Key JudgmentsThere have been measurable bu
 
Maliki shoots back
Says the Iraqi PM:Iraq’s prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country "can find friends elsewhere."He’s right. We certainly have no right to impose timetables on his elected government. However we do have the right to say tha
 
Iraq: COL Richard Simcock, Cdr Marine Regimental Combat Team 6
RCT 6 is in eastern Al-Anbar province, an area which has seen a change from the most deadly area in Iraq to one of the most peaceful. COL Simcock commands the Marine RCT in charge of that AO. When asked about the level of combat there, he says that there is nothing in his battle space that a "Marine Rifle Squad" can’t handle. That, obviously, means there are no large scale enemy activities going on in that region.Responding to a question about th
 
Is al Maliki long for the job? (update)
Well this is certainly no "Good job, Brownie" is it?President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and saying that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace their government.
 
War as they see it ...
An interesting article in the NY Times today which many on the anti-war left have pounced upon like a dog on an unguarded pork chop. It’s written by a group of soldiers and junior NCOs from the 82nd Airborne Division who make it clear the article is their opinion and not an official one or that of their chain of command. Fair enough.  
Blogger Call: MG Rick Lynch, Cdr 3rd ID
I can comfortably characterize General Lynch as a blunt, no-nonsense guy. A classic infantryman, but in reality an armor officer. Close enough.Lynch is the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division as well as Commander of MNFD-Center. His battle space includes the southern belts around Baghdad and the 4 southern Iraqi provinces.MG Lynch gave a short opening statement concerning where his forces were, what they were doing and what results they&r
 
Poll: Petraeus more reliable than any politician
It appears the attempts by certain members of Congress and the leftosphere to cast aspersions on Gen. Petraeus’ character and portray him as a hack and untruthful about Iraq is finding few takers among the American public:This is the first time that G
 
"Oh, that quagmire"
Dick Cheney in 1994 about the decision not to go on into Iraq and overthrow Saddam during "Desert Storm":
 
Fingers firmly in the wind, Dems begin subtle change on Iraq
Tony Blankley notes that it is sometimes better to determine where we are politically by reading the press from other countries. He quotes the following from Der Speigel this week about the politics of the Iraq war in the US:"The wind has shifted in Washington. America, not just its president, is at war. The Democrats are still critical of the fa
 
Iran’s role in Iraq "getting worse" (update)
That was the opinion of a senior administration official today on a blogger conference call. NZ from Victory Caucus asked the question:I had the opportunity to do a quick interview on-background with a senior administration official this morning, during which I asked one particular question about the situation on the ground in Iraq: ove
 
For the record, Dems say Iraq may take years
Apparently the "elect me and I’ll get us out of Iraq as my first act as President" might not be quite as solid as some on the left would like it among Presidential candidates. The NY Times is reporting:Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could
 
Quislings? "Screw ’em"
What is it that drives virulent anti-war (or at least anti-Iraq war) opponents to such excess? I recall with disgust the Kos "screw them" remark when 4 civilian contractors were killed, burnt, dismembered and had their body parts hung from a bridge. Apparently it would be fine with Neil Clark, writing in the Guardian, if the same happened to some Iraqi interpreters who’re feeling a bit threatened now that the British have decided to abandon Iraq and
 
Cordesman: The case for strategic patience in Iraq
Another critic of the war in Iraq has seen enough progress there, at least militarily, to argue that the effort deserves more time:Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert and consistent critic of the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq, released a report yesterday calling for "strategic patience" in the nation’s approach to the wa
 
The Democrat Soap Opera continues: As the Stomach Turns
Brian Faughnan sends me a link to a story he’s put together which is both sad and hilarious. It is hilarious because the two Senators involved, Durbin and Casey, both Democrats, are put in a position, by traveling to Iraq, where they can’t deny the progress the Surge has made. First Durbin answering a question from CNN’s Jo
 
A foreshadowing of early withdrawal?
One of the arguments we "dead-enders", Bushbots and warmongers make about early withdrawal is that if the security situation isn’t settled enough to allow the political process to do what is necessary, at all levels, to connect and function, chaos will ensue as various factions vying for power attempt to fill the vacuum. Basra, it seems, will soon demons
 
Iraq: MG Douglas Stone
Probably one of the more fascinating interviews yet on the Blogger’s Roundtable, we had MG Douglas Stone this morning who is the Deputy Commanding General, Detainee Operations at MNF-I.He’s the guy involved with all of those who are arrested or captured for insurgent and terrorist activities. Stone’s organization is engaged in doing a number of things with the detainees, to include processing them for release if they meet certain criter
 
Iraq today in a capsule
Newsday has a short editorial that pretty much summarizes where we are today:A consensus is forming among impartial observers that the strategy of the troop surge orchestrated by the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, is starting to pay off, with growing evidence of successes on the ground.Tactical advances against al-Qa
 
Michael Yon discusses Al Qaeda in Iraq
Key passages:When it comes to Iraq, being there matters because of the massive disconnect between what most Americans think they know about Iraq, and what is actually going on there.The current controversy about the extent to which Al Qaeda is a threat to peace in Iraq is a case in point. Questions about which group calling itself
 
Iraq: COL John Charlton Commander 1st BCT, 3rd ID
Another interesting blogger roundtable discussion with a commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Divison (TF Raider) in Ramadi Iraq. Their commander, COL John Charlton (on his 3rd deployment to Iraq) talked about the changes and developments he’s seen in Ramadi and al Anbar province since he arrived in January. Ramadi is the provincial capital and a city of about 400,000. When COL Charlton’s brigade combat team arrived in Janua
 
Haditha Marines
I had the opportunity to talk with Darryl Sharratt, father of LCpl Jason Sharratt, one of the Haditha Marines, last week on Pundit Review Radio. As you recall, Rep. John Murtha peremptorily declared these Marines to be cold-blooded murderers who snapped under the pressure of multiple deployments and killed a number of civilians. This was politically expedient since at the time, he was arguing that the military was "broken", and he had no qualms at all a
 
A note of caution about the present situation and our future in Iraq
I’ve had a bit of fun the last couple of days yanking the chain of various anti-war leftists about a few reports that have said things look somewhat better in Iraq.I want to make it clear that I’m not claiming it’s over, nor am I claiming we’ve turned the corner, or that they’re in their "last throes. Nor am I saying success is guaranteed. That’s because none of those claims would be true. As Dale implies b
 
Scary Stories
 
More bad news from Iraq (Update)
Well, depending on your politics, of course:[Rep. Keith] Ellison [D-Minn]said that local leaders in Ramadi told him of how they partnered with U.S. and Iraqi military officials to virtually rid al-Qaeda from the city. Although the lawmakers had to travel in flak vests and helmets, "we did see people walking around the streets of Ramadi, going back and forth to
 
Question for the Left
You recall the recent reaction by the left to a GEN Petraeus interview on Hugh Hewitt? No? Well these should remind you:To reach the rank of general you have to be part politician, it has always been that way. A good general is always a general first and a politician second. Those who have been generals first have over th
 
Spin, spin, spin
It has been an amusing day.First an opinion piece appears in the NY Times in which two self-identified critics of the "administration’s miserable handling of Iraq" seem to have a change of heart after an 8 day tour of Iraq and opine hey, you know what, this is "A War We Might Win". The right, for the most part, cheers. The left for the mos
 
Iraq: COL Mark R. French - National Police
Very interesting briefing/discussion with COL Mark R. French, Deputy Commander for Professional Development and Training, Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT), Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq (MNSTC-I) about the new Italian Carabinieri Police Team sent at the request of the Iraqi Government to help train the MoI Police on special military police tactics that will go into effect in September when the new school is built.I say
 
What Iraq are Democrats talking about? (Updated)
For four years, Democrats essentially asked that question of the administration when statements such as "the insurgency is in it’s last throes" and the like were made. Now it is fair to ask the Dems which Iraq they’re talking about as they continue to maintain the war is lost in the face of mounting evidence that things have changed for the better in that country.Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, two critics of the administration’s
 
Another reason to like Petraeus
From the Telegraph:Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that M
 
Look for "Tet" in late August or early September
When last I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Yon on Pundit Review Radio, he mentioned that General Petraeus was worried about what he called a "mini-Tet" happening in late August or early September. For those of you who aren’t up to speed on what the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam was or why it is of concern to Gen. Petraeus, you might want to do a little reading  
COL Stephan Twitty: 4th BCT Ninewah Province
The 4th BCT is a part of the famed 1st Cavalry Division and is now located in Ninewah Province - the most northern province which borders on Syria to the west, Turkey to the north and Iran on the east. It is comprised of mostly Sunni and Kurds with a smattering of Shia and others. Up until recently, the ISF forces in the area have been almost completely comprised of Kurds as the Sunnis have mostly boycotted or refused to cooperate and participate with the central g
 
What part of September doesn’t Murtha understand?
I see pseudo-hawk Jack "redeploy to Okinawa" Murtha has a new plan in which he is sure, sure I tell you, that Republicans will embrace:House Democrats have drafted new Iraq legislation they hope will appeal to Republicans fed up with the war: Start withdrawing troops in two months but leave it up to President Bush to decide when to complete the pullout.
 
Great post on "Propaganda And Insurgency"
MichaelW at A Second Hand Conjecture has a great post on competition between insurgents and counter-insurgents, from a game theoretic and propaganda point of view. Rather than try to summarize it, I’d rather encourage you to just go read the whole thing.
 
Michael Totten: Bored in Baghdad
I imagine you never thought you’d see that as a headline. Terrific Totten piece here about patrolling a neighborhood in the Red Zone of Baghdad.
 
"...progress is visible to all but the most irreconcilable skeptics."
Via Instapundit (who got it via Strata-sphere), Iraq’s National Security Advisor, Mowaffak Rubaie, sums up the situation in Iraq as he sees it in an opinion piece in the LA Times. Definitely worth reading. He emphasizes the positive, but admits some negatives. I picked one of his quotes for the title, because it resonates with m
 
War support inches up per NYT/CBS poll
Interesting results:In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted over the weekend, 42 percent of Americans said taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, while 51 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq.Support had been at all time low in May, when only 35 percent of Americans said the United St
 
James Soriano - Anbar Provincial Reconstruction Team
I had the opportunity presented to me this week to talk one-on-one with some members of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) and Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams (EPRT) who were going to be in Baghdad for a conference today. Scanning the list, and having spoken with a EPRT team leader the previous week, I put as my first choice James Soriano* who headed a PRT in Anbar.<
 
Michael Yon: "7 Rules, 1 Oath" (update)
An absolutely fascinating dispatch from Michael Yon which discusses an extremely interesting meeting between the US, Iraqi and former insurgents in Baquba.UPDATE: An equally fascinating article from Michael Totten about his journey into Iraq and Baghdad.
 
Kerry: Still in denial after all these years (Update)
John Kerry is simply unbelievable. Watch him deny, in living color, that there was no "bloodbath" after the Communist takeover of Vietnam. As mentioned under the clip: "An award-winning investigation by the Orange County Register concludes that at least 165,000 people perished in the camps." And that’s a conservative estimate which doesn’t include outright executions (those that never made it t
 
LTG Odierno briefing from Iraq
You can read the briefing here.A couple of noteworthy points:Iraqi Self-sufficiency: Also, seven of the 18 provinces, highlighted in yellow, are under provincial Iraqi control, meaning that Iraqis are responsible for their own security with coalition force overwatch in these areas. Today as we conduct our assessments, the potential
 
War stories: You need to be able to recognize BS (addendum & update)
One of the things that, for whatever reason, seem to come out of any conflict are BS stories that those with little or no experience in or with the military are prone to believe, a) because they don’t know any better and b) because, in some cases, they want too. Brian Faughnan, of the Weekly Standard, sent an email around highlighting a story
 
John Burns of the NYT on troop withdrawal
Of course no one here will listen to him, but just for grins, his assessment of the consequences of withdrawing American troops from Iraq. From the Charlie Rose Show on PBS:BURNS: “[T]he one thing I think that virtually all of us who work here or have worked here for any length of time agree is that the levels of violence would eclipse by quite a long way the bloodshed we`ve seen to date [if U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq in the near future].”
 
The fantasy of International help in Iraq (update)
Right now, the Senate sleep-in is essentially about this provision of an amendment on Iraq. Again we see this unfounded obsession with the "international community" and the UN as solutions to the problems in Iraq.(b) Implementation of Reduction as Part of Comprehensive Strategy.—The reduction of forces required by this section shall be implemented as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement w
 
Executive order aimed at stopping organizations supporting terrorists in Iraq
I just got off the phone with a Senior Administration official who answered some questions about the purpose of the Executive Order I posted below. It is actually an attempt to fill a gap in existing Executive Orders (EO). There is an existing EO aimed at senior foreign regime personnel. And one aimed at the terrorists themselves. This particular EO is designed to bridge the gap b
 
Turning up the heat on supporters of Violence in Iraq
President Bush has just signed an executive order which blocks the "property and interests in property" of those from Iran who’ve supported "acts of violencethreatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people".My guess is we’ll see Iranian and Syrian assets frozen fairly quickly. That will certainly turn u
 
Embeded Provincial Reconstruction Teams (update)
I learned something new today in a conference call from Baghdad with Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (EPRT) Leader for North Babil, Thomas Timberman. I learned that at EPRT is not the same as a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team).An EPRT is embedded, as the name implies, with a combat brigade and works hand-in-glove with the brigade and it civil affairs units at a local level. The PRT works at a provincial level. The obvious intent is t
 
Mookie in Iran and the Coalition continues to roll up his militia
For those who continue the claim that we’re not fighting the "real problem" in Iraq, i.e. JAM - al Sadr’s militia, a little update from Bill Roggio:The raids against the Mahdi Army cells connected to Iran continue as Muqtada al Sadr has yet to surface since it was reported he fled again to Iran. On July 15, the Iraqi Army forces co
 
Michael Yon’s latest
Read about "Superman". Remarkable story about the grit and guts our soldiers display everyday. And Yon, as usual, is great. Is it any wonder why these sorts of comparisons are now being made (even though Yon rejects them)?(HT:  
Iraq: Democrats really don’t care (UPDATE)
These questions posed to John Edwards typify why I have concluded that for the most part Democrats have no better answer to what to do in Iraq than does George Bush. In fact, despite their claims that Bush has lost touch with the reality of Iraq, they have less of a grasp on the situation, much less, than does he. From ABC, Dianne Sawyer and John E
 
Fascinating find in Samarra
From a briefing with Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, spokesman and Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects, MNF-I, word of overrunning an al Qaeda media center located in Samarra, Iraq: Last month, we uncovered an al Qaeda media center near Samarra. The facility, which was not much to look at on the outside, was in fact a major media product
 
The new political reconciliation strategy in Iraq
We just had a commenter wander in here and make a false statement about the recently issued Initial Benchmark Assessment Report:The surge was supposed to give the Iraqi government "breathing room" to make the political compromises necessary to satisfy all Iraqis that they and their kind have a future and should quit killing each other and our troops. As we’ve seen in
 
The Al Qaeda in Iraq argument
Michael Gordon and Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times write an article in which they claim Bush has distorted the al Qaeda links in Iraq.James Joyner at Outside the Beltway does an excellent job of
 
Iraqi Security status update in visual form
Sometimes a picture is actually worth a thousand words:
 
A "Surge of Facts"
One of the more persistent critiques of the administration has been how poorly it has gotten its story out there as it relates to the war in Iraq. A perfect example is to be found just below this post, where most Americans think the Surge is over and it failed, when in fact, it has barely begun.I made that very point to Tony Snow at my first opportunity on a blogger conference call today. In fact most of the bloggers on the call made that point. And he
 
The Surge: I guess ignorance is bliss
The opening line of the latest from Rasmussen:Just 19% of American voters believe that the U.S. troop surge in Iraq was a success.Well that’s nice, because the Surge isn’t a ’was’ yet. In fact, it has just begun. We’re at D+22 for heaven sake.And this is supposed to
 
Michael Yon and a leader of the 1920s Brigades
Fascinating follow up. Yon speaks with Abu Ali, a current leader in Burhiz and member of the 1920s Revolution Brigades:Ali said people had been afraid in their own homes because of al Qaeda. I asked if he had fought Americans and Ali laughed and said through Wallach, “What kind of question is that?” I chuckled. Unfortunately, we had to go
 
The Iraq conundrum
Kimberly Kagan outlines the ground truth about military operations in Iraq:A new campaign has just begun, it is already yielding important results, and its effects are increasing daily. Demands for withdrawal are no longer demands to pull out of a deteriorating situation with little hope; they are now demands to end a new approach to this conflict that shows every
 
Michael Yon: Second Chances
Michael Yon talks about the battle in Baquba at D+20. Some highlights include a discussion of MSM coverage, whether or not the story about al Qaeda "baking a child" is true and the fact that given their previous barbarity, it is certainly possible and some past history on Gen Petreus, one of the battalion commanders and second chances.Again, if you’re so inclined, hit the
 
The Road to a Larger War
In one of the most heartless, contemptible and short-sighted editorials written about any subject, a New York Times editorial yesterday, entitled "The Road Home", called for an immediate pull out of all American troops in Iraq.Yes, agreed, I’m using harsh language in my description, but I think in this particular case, it is well wa
 
Baquba: Things are "changing in a palpable way".
Michael Yon has his latest dispatch up. There’s a part you should read about al Qaeda which, if true, will show them for the totally soulless barbarians they are.The most interesting part of his dispatch concerns the change in the Iraqi people in Baquba:The big news on the streets today is that the people of Baqubah are generally ecstatic, althoug
 
Iraqi Civilian deaths down for June
No, this isn’t a "the Surge is working" post, so we can skip hearing from those who don’t understand the Surge to begin with. It is to note that violence, at least for the month of June, was down in Baghdad:Iraqi civilian deaths dropped to 1,241 last month, according to figures issued on Sunday, the lowest since a US-led crackdown was launch
 
Justice, al Qaeda style
Micheal Yon’s latest dispatch from near Baqubah, where, in a deserted village, they find and excavate the hasty graves of its men, women and children, murdered by al Qaeda:Soldiers from 5th IA said al Qaeda had cut the heads off the children. Had al Qaeda murdered the children in front of their parents? Maybe it had been the other way around: maybe they
 
The "Surge"
Apparently there are some out there who are still clueless as to what the "Surge" is all about, believing that since it was announced as starting in January, it must be a failure since we’re in June and things are still blowing up. That would include such luminaries as Professor Juan Cole, Senator Richard Lugar, the entire Democratic leadership and our  
The state department and Iraq
Tying it all together, just spent a half hour on the a phone call with Amb. Lawrence E. Butler, who, since January has held the job of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Near Eastern Affairs.My interest in the call had mostly to do with the State/military tie-in. As almost everyone agrees, success in Iraq is going to occur in the political side of things and th
 
Operation Phantom Thunder: The Spin Begins, Part II
This time it is Juan Cole doing the spinning. Leveraging off of Sen. Richard Lugar’s premature dismissal of the surge, Cole says:His alarm has been illustrated by the difficulties the U.S. and Iraqi militaries faced in the recent offensive operation dubbed "Operation Arrowhead Ripper," aimed at subduing Baquba (pop. 300,000), the restive capital of Diyala provinc
 
Operation Phantom Thunder: The spin begins (update)
Remember what I told you to keep foremost in your mind when reading news reports about Operation Phantom Thunder?If not, let me reiterate it for you:"The center of gravity for this operation is Baghdad" Or said another way, this is all about Baghdad.Today in the NYT, Michael Gordon, who
 
In an information war, you can help buy the ammunition
Via The Corner, I noticed the latest dispatch from Michael Yon, featuring such interesting notes as:Media reports indicating that many top leaders escaped before Arrowhead Ripper began appear to be mostly true. But other information suggests some AQI leaders are trapped just down the road from where I write. In addition to the seven men
 
Michael Yon’s latest dispatch from Baqubah
Again, I remind you that he is reporting about one operation in the larger operation known as Phantom Thunder. Operation Arrowhead Ripper is the retaking of Baqubah, a town in Diyala province which al-Qaeda had declared its capitol in Iraq. We’re talking about, at most, 3 of the 25 brigade size units presently engaged in Operation Phantom Thunder.Yon clarifies h
 
Answering Carl Levin’s points
An Iraqi war veteran takes on three of Sen. Carl Levin’s points in a June 21 op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "Lincoln’s example for Iraq". Pete Hegseth’s (of Vets for Freedom) answer is carried on page A19.Said Levin:A deadline for withdrawal is a
 
Operation Phantom Thunder: the good, the bad, and the ugly
I’ve been trying to gather info from a variety of sources concerning the overall operation (Operation Phantom Thunder) and some of the subordinate ops as well. I’m doing that in hopes of being able to participate in an interview with Michael Yon this weekend. That’s iffy a) because of the op tempo which may see him unable to make the time and b) because even if he can make the time, he may have trouble getting through as he’s been having communication problems which he
 
Explaining Operation Phantom Thunder
Ralph Peters talks about Operation Phantom Thunder of which Operation Arrowhead Ripper is a single part:HALLELUJAH! For the first time since Baghdad fell, our military in Iraq has a comprehensive, integrated plan to defeat our enemies.Until now, our efforts have always been piecemeal, stop-start a
 
Michael Yon: Operation Arrowhead Ripper, day one
Michael Yon has his first dispatch up on Operation Arrowhead Ripper (don’t ask, sometimes the names of operations are taken from random lists and mean nothing). Lead paragraphs:The first day of operation Arrowhead Ripper was intense. The Army is giving full access to the battlefield, and while on base full access to the TOC (HQ) which means I see t
 
Massive US operation begins in Iraq
Michael Yon, who I have come to admire for his "good, bad and ugly" analysis of the situation in Iraq, is now in the thick of the fighting in the new operation just kicked off there. He says it is the biggest operation since the invasion and its going to be tough and bloody. Yon does a review, a sort of how we got where we are today in the piece which is brutally honest. I
 
Meanwhile in Iraq
A couple of things to note:The U.N. Security Council agreed Wednesday to an Iraqi request to extend the mandate of the U.S.-led multinational force after the country’s foreign minister said the troops were "vitally necessary."[...]Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the council members that despite th
 
Death or Glory: Part III
Michael Yon’s next installment. Some interesting pictures.
 
Michael Yon: Death or Glory, Part 2
Go. Read it. Still with the Brits: British soldiers often make fun of each other’s accents, saying people from such-and-such area are inbred, or that others are wimps or dolts. These observations, offered as scientific fact, are then followed up with strings of jokes that leave everyone rolling. But the jokes are often just foreplay for the hardcore wrestling
 
More interesting reporting from Michael Yon
His report about working with British troops (the Queen’s Royal Lancers) in the south of Iraq. This is part 1 of a 4 part series.
 
Bad guys vs. worse guys
Monty Python fans will recall the scene in Life of Brian where rival "liberation" groups fight and kill each other while bemused Romans look on. It sounds like we have some of that currently going on in Baghdad:It is the first time open warfare has erupted in the streets of Baghdad as a result of growing tensions between al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups in western
 
Three Kurdish provinces transfered to Iraqi government control
If I’m not mistaken that makes a total of 7 now:Day-to-day security concerns in the three provinces making up Iraq’s Kurdistan region are now the direct responsibility of Iraqi representatives, a Multinational Force Iraq official said yesterday.The provinces of Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dahuk transferred as a bloc to regional Iraqi control during a M
 
Another great "on the scene" report from Iraq
This time from JD Johannes of "Outside the Wire".
 
Another Iraqi Province "awakens"
This is the fourth of the provinces located around Baghdad, in this case Babil province. Reported by Bill Roggio. Read it.
 
LTC Doug Crissman’s day in Hit, Iraq
Read this story from Michael Yon. You won’t be able to stop.
 
5 Brits grabbed in Iraq (update)
Somehow I’m getting the feeling this is becoming a tactic:A British hostage-crisis team of up to 20 specialists, including SAS and police experts, is on standby in London ready to leave for Baghdad and help find the five Britons kidnapped by insurgents in a brazen daylight abduction yesterday, The Times has learnt.The Britons in question weren
 
More on the "Awakening" (update)
Another first hand account of the what is happening in Iraq (from an embed). The good, the bad and the ugly.UPDATE: Stars and Stripes covers it. And NEWSWEEK  
Who to believe? An interview with Michael Yon (update)
For those who wonder, yes, I’ve read the NY Times story about the sergeant who wonders why we’re still in Iraq and that of the young private who watched a friend die and wonders the same. I’ve also read the Warrant Officer’s email which says mostly the opposite.But then, I also had the opportunity to partic
 
Right on cue ...
Last week President Bush used the occasion of a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy to explain al Qaeda’s plan to export their war against the rest of the world (and specifically the US) from Iraq.Essentially that elicited an interesting barrage of comments which mostly ignored the substance and instead focused on the announcement as propaganda and anyone who bought
 
Just a Reminder
After the flood, here in the comment section, of those who like to live in the past and just don’t want to let go of how or why we went to war but enjoy attempting to rewrite the actual history, a cavalcade of those who supported action against Iraq: 
Joining the Conversation
It’s been an interesting conversation with Oliver Willis. His most recent response is here. After three rounds apiece, I think we’ve gone far enough in talking this out for now, and it’s been helpful in clarifying a few things.The full round-up, in case you’re interested:Me 1
 
What are the "positives" of an immediate Iraq withdrawal?
Given the final outcome of the Iraq supplemental bill, the left is engaged in some introspection. Kevin Drum:Like a lot of people, I’ve been mulling over the Iraq showdown between Congress and the president and wondering why Democrats backed down so quickly. The simple answer, of course, is that they didn’t have enough votes to pass the bill the
 
More Dialog
Well, Oliver Willis was quick with a response. It’s nice to see that we can have a civil discussion on things about which we don’t agree.A couple of larger points in your response leap out at me. You repeatedly make statements like "Our forces in Iraq are being killed to the tune of about 100 a month
 
Questions Answered
Oliver Willis answered my questions of yesterday at his site. So, let’s see if we can keep the dialogue going.We aren’t getting off to an auspicious start, though.I’m going to answer these questions posted by conservative Dale Franks...Huh. Yeah. I’m not a conservative. Although
 
Questions for Our Liberal Friends
Bruce is a big boy, and certainly doesn’t need me to help him out, but let’s talk about Iraq for a moment. Because I have questions for people like Oliver Willis to which I’m curious to hear the answers. And I’m not asking in a snarky way. I’m honestly interested.And let’s dispense with silly arguments about whether we should’ve gone into Iraq in the first place. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. We are there
 
Why is Iraq important?
OK, today is "why is Iraq important" day.Well, most importantly, because al Qaeda thinks it is. Now whether you like that or not, or want to blame that on someone or not, it really doesn’t matter at this point. That’s what al Qaeda thinks and that is why al Qaeda is pursuing a victory in Iraq.According to CNN:President Bush on Tu
 
Iraq: New strategy, new direction, last, best chance
Gen Petraeus, as much as anyone, knows the key to success in Iraq is to be found, not in the military sphere, but in the political sphere. A great US News and World Report story by Linda Robinson lays it out for all to read. For instance:Since the last of five additional U.S. brigades will not be on the ground until June, Petraeus argue
 
The other Kerrey tries to acquaint the left with reality in Iraq
And, I’m sure, for trying to do so, he’ll be virtually frog-marched to the Lieberman political gulag by the good old Netroots crowd.I was particularly enamored of his title and subtitle: "The Left’s Iraq Muddle: Yes, it is central to the fight against Islamic radicalism."He revisits why Iraq was indeed a viable target at the time, the
 
So, traffic got you stressed Bunky ... get a Hummer
Seriously ... how to drive in Iraq. Yeow:I love the last line ... yeah, he’s pickin’ and grinnin’ ... he doesn&rsqu
 
Update on three missing soldiers
From an AHN Media Group report:Backed by sniffer dogs and helicopters, U.S. forces in Iraq searching for three soldiers captured by an Al-Qaeda gang on Saturday have said the group is cornered in an area of farmland near Baghdad.Will update if more info becomes available.
 
Saying it again: the impact of mixed signals
I’ve cited Bernard Lewis previously. I’ve also cited Osama bin Laden’s references to the US being a " 
Our troops: Another reason why they are the best
Readers of RedState know who Jeff Emanuel is. But for those who don’t, he’s a former SO soldier who, through RedState, put enough money together to embed with US troops in Iraq. One of the more interesting things he’s noticed during his time there, is the reaction of other embeds, especially those from Europe:While I was at the Combined P
 
Iraq would be "terrorist Disneyland" if US pulls out
You don’t say? Actually they do:A U.S. troop pullout from Iraq would leave the country as a potent launchpad for international terrorism and Washington would be forced to go back in within a couple of years, a leading al Qaeda expert said on Tuesday.Rohan Gunaratna told a security conference at Lloyd’s of London insurance market that Iraq, like
 
3 Soldiers missing in Iraq (updated)
This is not good. From MNF-I reports:The specifics are as follows: — Coalition forces heard an explosion at 4:44 a.m. this morning about 12 miles west of Mahmudiyah; — After an unmanned aerial vehicle observed two burning vehicles, a quick reaction force was dispatched, arriving on scene at 5:40 a.m.; — The quick reaction force reported finding five members of the team killed in action and three other
 
Iranian weapons killing Americans
There’s a great, exclusive video on PajamasMedia with a Major of EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) which explains some important questions:Twice before the military has tried to present to the press overwhelming evidence of Iran’s involvement in the Iraq war, only to be met by hostile skepticism. The skepticism basically takes the form of three questions:1) Couldn’t these weapons have been made anywhere?2) Isn’t it fishy that
 
The "Iraqi Awakening"
Paul Mirengoff of Power Line gives the following assessment of Iraq based on a Washington Post story of yesterday:The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon will begin deploying 35,000 new troops to Iraq in August as replacement forces in order to susta
 
Who is the political hack here?
First go watch this.Then read this:Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) this week criticized Gen. David Petraeus for not meeting with members of Congress during a recent visit to Washington, D.C., to report on the status of operatio
 
Al Qaeda bigwig killed in Iraq
I’ve purposely held off on this since there’s been some dispute about whether or not the person killed was indeed a senior AQ operative.The U.S. military said on Thursday it had killed a top al Qaeda operative in Iraq whom it accused of involvement in the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll, peace activist Tom Fox and othe
 
That didn’t take long (Update)
And I actually mean that in a good way:President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.Democrats backed off after the House
 
Iraqi Oil Revenue Sharing Law goes to Parliament
This is big news as well as good news from Iraq:The Iraqi government has sent a draft oil law to parliament, a major step towards meeting one of the political benchmarks Washington has set for Baghdad.The announcement by Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani on Wednesday came on the eve of a major confer
 
VFW and American Legion weigh in on the veto
I highlight these because I think, for the most part, they probably reflect, as well as any, the thinking of the majority of the veteran community:The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) said President Bush’s veto yesterday of a $124 billion war funding bill should have come as no surprise to any American. "Everybody knew goi
 
Another voice sounds off about the "debate" and the surge
As if by magic, we again see the argument made that what is being said here makes us look like the ’weak horse’. And, as Owen West (a Marine Corps Major in the reserves) points out, the irony is we are actually doing better in Iraq:What was most remarkable, however, was the military’s inability to g
 
Counterinsurgency doctrine shows progress in Anbar
Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture has a series going on progress is al Anbar province in Iraq. Start here, then here and finally here. I’d also point to the post we had here which in
 
An Iraqi’s plea
From Pajamas Media Baghdad editor Omar Fadhil (also from Iraq The Model):I am an Iraqi. To me the possible consequences of this vote are terrifying. Just as we began to see signs of progress in my country the Democrats come and say, ‘Well, it’s not worth it.Time to leave’.To the Democrats my life and the lives of twenty-five other million Iraqis are e
 
What are they saying in Iran?
Mostly that they agree with the Democrats:The only solution to end the dilemma in Iraq was to withdraw the United States forces from Iraq and leave all state affairs to the Iraqi government, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday.Ahmadinejad told visiting Iraqi Foreign Min
 
What are they saying in Iraq? (update)
Well here it is, first person:I’m not a spokesman for the Army.I don’t know what goes on in every place of Iraq. I do know is my father served during OIF 1 and 2, I served for OIF 3.My brother came for OIF 4 and I am back here again for OIF 5It’s been a rollercoaster ride for my family but we’ve seen good things that have occurred from our presence
 
Harry Reid and cognitive dissonance
Wolf Blitzer and CNN correspondent Dana Bash on CNN’s "The Situation Room":I’m Wolf Blitzer. You’re in THE SITUATION ROOM.The battle over a time line for withdrawal from Iraq now approaching the final showdown.The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, saying Congress will pass legislation within days requiring U.S. tro
 
Where has this woman been?
Nancy A. Youssef, writing for the McClatchy Washington Bureau appears not to have a clue:Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.Training Iraqi troops, which had been
 
Reid - the war in Iraq "is lost"
Pretty predictable:The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday."I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid said, on the same day US President
 
Hey, how’s the handover going in Iraq?
Oh, thanks for asking. Check it out at this link.Now if they just had the money necessary to continue the job...
 
Talking about Iraq - Questions for the PM’s spokesman (update)
Today I had the rare pleasure to participate in a conference call in which the spokesman for Iraqi PM al Maliki and the Iraqi government, Dr. Ali Aldabbagh, answered questions of concern for those who were on the call.To begin with I was extremely pleased with the fact that Dr. Aldabbagh answered the questions posed without any attempts at evasion or side-steping any of the issues raised. Some pretty tough questions were thrown at him and he handled them
 
Finally - Al Sadr orders Mahdi Army to attack US troops, most likely from the safety of Iran
Muqtada al Sadr may be a firebrand, but I doubt very much he has much in the way of physical courage. Assumed to be safe in Iran, al Sadr has ordered what is left of his Mahdi Army to attack US forces:The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi forces to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate their attacks on
 
Al Qaeda in Iraq: Self-sufficient or splintering?
According to MG Gaskin, al Qaeda in Iraq has become "self-sufficient" which, he feels, explains why border infiltration from Syria, Nancy Pelosi’s new best friend, is down:Visiting this remote outpost, Marine Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin said the change has made persistent infiltration of men, weapons and money less of a concern to U.S. forces. But
 
Iraq: So which is it?
Martin Schram of Scripps News is sure the surge is about to fail:The Mahdi Army, the militia once solely controlled by the devoutly anti-America Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, has reportedly oozed back into the Sadr City section of Baghdad that is a prime target of the new U.S. strategy the Bush administration calls a surge.What that means is that _ despite the way-too-e
 
Stating the obvious while AP flogs a strawman
Oh my, Henry Kissinger has says a military victory in Iraq is not possible for the US, says the AP headline.Well not exactly:"A ’military victory’ in the sense of total control over the whole territory, imposed on the entire population, is not possible," Kissinger told The Associated Press in Tokyo, where he received an honorar
 
Iraq: Slowly but surely
The recent success the US and ISF forces have had in capturing key figures in the car bombings which have plagued Iraq has been impressive. Over the last few weeks, at least two car bomb factories have been shut down. Now, it appears, we’ve grabbed the leaders of one of the biggest car-bomb rings in Iraq:The US military has
 
Anti-Iraq war street theater a retread
There is very little original under the sun and this certainly isn’t:There’s a lot of weirdness every day in the capital city, but this one pushed the envelope: 13 Iraq war veterans in full desert camo going on "patrol" from Union Station to Arlington National Cemetery. They carried imaginary assault rifles, barked commands, roughly
 
Al Qaeda are barbarians (with update)
Insurgents in Iraq detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle with two children in the back seat after US soldiers let it through a Baghdad checkpoint over the weekend, a senior US military official said Tuesday.For the anti-war contingent, it’s worth pondering that an immediate US pullout would probably eventually lead to barbarians such as these in control of Iraq.
 
MNF-I YouTube Channel
If you didn’t know, Multi-National Forces - Iraq has established a YouTube channel with some pretty interesting video up.
 
Poll: Iraqis say life better now than under Saddam ... or not (update)
Seems an appropriate item with which to lead on the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq:Most Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to a British opinion poll published today.The survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis found the majority optimistic despite their suffering in sectarian violence since the American
 
Baghdad: A comparison
Sometimes it is just best to let the numbers speak for themselves:Since the launch of the 14 February operation, the number of civilians killed in Baghdad has dropped to 265, compared with 1,440 killings from mid-January to mid-February; a drop of 82 percent. By contrast, terrorist deaths are up in Baghdad: 94 dispatched from mid-February to mid-March, up
 
Queen of the Waffle House? Or nuanced?
Speaking today:Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.<
 
Even the Washington Post is unimpressed with Dem effort to end the war
Says an editorial in the Washington Post today:Congress should rigorously monitor the Iraqi government’s progress on those benchmarks. By Mr. Bush’s own account the purpose of the troop surge in Iraq is to enable political progress. If progress does not occur, the military strategy should be reconsidered. But aggress
 
For most, further involvement in Iraq boils down to this
And, surprisingly, the LA Times says it very well:This is not to say that Congress has no constitutional leverage — only that it should exercise it responsibly. In a sense, both Bush and the more ardent opponents of the war are right. If a majority in Congress truly believes that the war is not in the national interest, then lawmakers should ha
 
What about the Media’s backup plan?
Robert Kagen asks a very interesting question in the Washington Post about the media and Iraq:A front-page story in The Post last week suggested that the Bush administration has no backup plan in case the surge in Iraq doesn’t work. I wonder if The Post and other newspapers have a backup plan in case it does.OK, I hav
 
Remember this quote?
A blast from the very recent past:“The demon has begun to collapse and to search for an escape. … Today, we are dictating our orders upon you. So, you should accept those gladly and submissively before you regret it. We order you to withdraw your forces immediately, provided that the withdrawal is conducted via personnel carriers and passenger airplanes that would transport your soldiers with their own personal weapons only. You should not withdraw any of
 
Shhhh .... things are getting better in Iraq
From ABC News:Kudos to ABC for reporting on more than just the latest bomb going off.Even NBC is getting into the act. Launch the
 
Indicators seem to point to an increasingly serious Iraqi government
The new oil revenue deal is in draft form and soon to be passed into law, Operation "Impose the Law" is in full swing in Baghdad, Maliki is talking about a cabinet shake-up to remove militia members and sympathizers and probably one of the worst ministries in the Iraqi government is undergoing a massive change:Iraq’s Interior Ministry has fired or r
 
What if they gave a news conference an no one came?
Well it might be because no one takes their position seriously:About a dozen members of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus gathered on a sunny day last summer on the terrace outside the Capitol for a news conference. The only problem: no reporters showed up.The members of the group, made up entirely of House Democrats, cracked jokes among themselves before he
 
Bing West reports on Iraq
Good, honest, tough, no holds barred in-depth look at Iraq by a guy who I think does a terrific job. It’s a good news/bad news report, but then that’s the nature of any conflict. Bing West gives you an overview and then his specific thoughts on specific problems and areas/issues.A few things in the report caught my eye. One is Al Anbar where we’re esse
 
Cautious optimism about the Surge (update)
All right, it’s week three and perhaps you’re wondering how everything is going with the "surge".Apparently fairly well. Ralph Peters has a piece in the NY Post yesterday which I want to reference for a specific reason. It brings to light some terrific points. My best source in Baghdad of
 
Talks scheduled with Iran and Syria
Another critical step toward success in Iraq (on the diplomatic front) and straight out of the ISG report. And yes, this is a reversal by the Administration:The United States agreed yesterday to join high-level talks with Iran and Syria on the future of Iraq, an abrupt shift in policy that opens the door to diplomatic dealings the White House h
 
A Critical task closer to completion in Iraq
That would be the oil revenue sharing agreement:The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft of a law today that would set guidelines for countrywide distribution of oil revenues and foreign investment in the immense oil industry. The endorsement marked a major agreement among the country’s ethnic
 
On Iraq, Carl Levin Can’t Win, nor can the Democrats (Update)
Matt Stoller of MyDD demonstrates the box that Democrats have put themselves in. Talking about Sen. Carl Levin’s appearance that I discussed below, Stoller is quite upset with what Levin had to say. You remember that Levin said:Things have changed in Iraq. We don’t believe that it&r
 
Greenwald gets it wrong again (UPDATE)
Glenn Greenwald attempts to take Joe Lieberman to task for dishonesty about Iraq. His example, however, is an example in and of itself. It is an example of shoddy research and misunderstanding the mission of the military in Iraq, which leads to a factually unsupportable allegation, not that it comes as a particular surprise:Just compare these two statement
 
Lieberman on point
Joe Lieberman’s editorial in the WSJ today is exactly on point about the situation both in Iraq and in Washington:I understand the frustration, anger and exhaustion so many Americans feel about Iraq, the desire to throw up our hands and simply say, "Enough." And I am painfully aware of the enormous toll of this war in human life, and of the infuriat
 
Greenwald deconstructed again (so I don’t have to do it)
Joe Tobacco, over at Cadillac Tight hacks his way through another Greenwald ’expose’ in which Greenwald again plays the "chicken-hawk" card and then denies playing it. It is an attempt at a phenomenal bit of rhetorical sleight of hand which, in the end, falls completely flat. But it does have some entertainment value.
 
"Project Pursestrings" and the new McGovernites
Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture has a very interesting article up in which he discusses James Webb’s recounting of the abandonment of the people of Vietnam and Cambodia and the seeming indifference those who did so displayed. An excerpt from Webb:This so-called Watergate Congress rode into town with an overriding mission that had become the rallying point of the
 
"The British are leaving, the British are leaving ..."
Ah what to make of it, no?On one side they’re arguing that it is a sure sign that the coalition is dissolving and the Brits are admitting defeat in Iraq. The other side is arguing that it actually means success and a gradual drawdown of British troops as they turn over control of the south of Iraq to Iraqis.What’s the truth? I think  
Pelosi complains to Bush about Cheney Remarks
Nancy Pelosi is none too happy with Dick Cheney at the moment.Cheney, while in Tokyo, took an opportunity during an interview to say:"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the Al Qaeda strategy," the vice president told ABC News. "The Al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people
 
Evolving attitudes about the Iraq War
James Joyner shares a poll with what will be surprising results for some: * 57% believe “The Iraq War is a key part of the global war on terrorism.” * 57% “support finishing the job in Iraq, that is, keeping the troops there until the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people. * 50% want our troops should st
 
The New Senate Strategy
Fresh from their defeat in the Senate of the Iraq Surge resolution, two of the Democrats’ most blinding intellectual lights, Joe Biden and Carl Levin are proposing a cunning plan.Senate Democrats said yesterday they may consider a new resolution that would redefine the mission of US troops in Iraq. This came a day after Republicans blocked a debate on
 
Murtha in Command
Bob Novak writes that Jack Murtha is taking over control of the US Policy on Iraq. At issue is something McQ has talked about.Murtha wishes to require all units meet certain mandated readiness standards before deploying to Iraq. This is, as Murtha himself admits, is nothing more than an attempt to make it so difficult to meet the standards that no unit
 
Democrats and lessons from history (UPDATE)
I’m a little late to the discussion of this particular editorial and poll, but the editorial is from Investors Business Daily and the poll is an IBD/TIPP poll. What’s interesting about the poll are both the questions and numbers. They argue against the claim by Democrats that the majority of Americans want us out of I
 
The WaPo smacks the Murtha plan
I have to say I was a bit surprised when I read this:REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives’ marathon debate on Iraq: You’ve been distracted by a sideshow. "We have to be careful that people don’t think this is the vote," the 74-year-old congressman said of th
 
From Baghdad — early hope
"The Surge is showing signs of success. The progress made so far invites hope and optimism, but it’s still too early to celebrate.” - Mohammed FadhilIndeed. In fact, let me pull another quick paragraph from Mr. Fadhil’s report:I agree with what some experts say about this lull in violence being the result of militants keeping their heads down for a while.
 
Still supporting the troops
You have to read it all, but an excerpt from a piece from Dr. June Scorza Terpstra at Loyola University:During a heated debate in a class I teach on social justice, several US Marines who had done tours in Iraq told me that they had "sacrificed" by “serving” in Iraq so that I could enjoy the freedom to teach in the USA. Parroting their master’s slogan about “fighting over there so we don
 
Congressional Resolutions: With all due respect ...
To Sec Def Gates and Gen. Pace, these troops obviously are not supportive of the pending resolutions that condemn their mission and if you listen carefully it becomes clear it does effect their morale: 
Killing the war by slow strangulation means getting troops in the field killed (UPDATE)
A few days ago I talked about how the surge (or additional troops or the escalation, pick your term) can be stopped by Congressional Democrats. Noting that the developing strategy was to tie additional funds for Iraq to the readiness of units in the US I said:Given the fact that I feel that we are on dangerous ground in terms of readiness, I also feel that the surge is a mission whic
 
Sadr on the Run
From Fox News, we get this:Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled Iraq for Iran ahead of a security crackdown in Baghdad and the arrival of 21,500 U.S. troops sent by President Bush to quell sectarian violence, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.Al-Sadr left his Baghdad stronghold some weeks ago, the official said, and is believed to be in Tehran, where he has family.That leads
 
The Currency of War
Over at Blackfive, Uncle Jimbo is requesting enemy body counts.I am requesting information about all actions in Baghdad and Al Anbar, specifically how many enemy dead or captured. If all the public hears is 4 more Marines died, they will have no feel for what their lives bought. That is the currency of war, I hate it but it’s reality. Without an enemy body count, we have no way to gauge succes
 
How to delay the surge in one easy lesson
And apparently John Murtha is going to try:House appropriators critical of the war in Iraq plan to use the testimony of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker on Friday to bolster their case for tying funds needed for the administration’s surge of troops to Iraq to the readiness of forces stationed at home.Their aim is to hold up money t
 
Petraus deputies: The surge just got teeth
From Joe Klein at Swampland:I just heard that General Petraeus has asked the very well respected Colonel H.R. McMaster to be part of his Iraq team. McMaster wrote a terrific book about Vietnam and successfully attempted to use counterinsurgency tactics in Tal Afar last year (although as with Petraeus in Mosul, the success diminished after McMaster&rsqu
 
News from Iraq
Omar from the Iraqi blog "Iraq the Model" has some interesting news gleaned from Iraqi news sources:Eyewitnesses in some volatile areas said that large numbers of militants have fled to Syria to avoid being trapped in the incoming security operations.According to those witnesses, residents and shopkeepers are no longer concerne
 
"Tens of Thousands" protest war in Iraq
Not exactly on par with the May Day Riots of 1971 (which I had the occasion to attend as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division) and certainly below the pre-protest estimates from organizers that 300,000 to 500,000 would attend. United for Peace and Justice, a coalition group sponsoring the prote
 
The Karbala Raid (UPDATED)
If you’ve been keeping up with this story through the MSM, you know that "insurgents" dressed and equipped like Americans (and apparently speaking English) entered an Iraqi military compound in Karbala province where, apparently, a meeting was taking place between Americans and Iraqis and succeeded in attacking and killing one US soldier on site and kidnapping and eventually murdering 4 more.If you haven’t, here’s the LA Times <
 
Senate Resolutions and the War in Iraq (UPDATED)
I just finished reading through the 72 page transcript of the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus given before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week during his confirmation hearing. It is fascinating for many reasons. For instance, of the 17 Senators who were there to question the nominee, one had no questions but used the full 8 minutes allotted to make a political statement. That would be Hillary Clinton.Anyway, I plan to blog much more
 
Speaking in pre-surge Iraq
Members of the Iraqi government are beginning to speak out about the plan which is being supported by the US surge:A new security plan for Baghdad aimed at clearing the streets of all militias and insurgents will be "100 per cent Iraqi," with the US military in a supportive role, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki insisted
 
Are we "surging" already?
While I’d guess it’s not "officially" underway, it appears the rules have at least changed:About 600 fighters and 16 leaders of the radical Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, have been captured by security forces in Iraq, the US military says.The statement said 52 operations had been conducted in 45 days targeting the militia, which is loyal to Najaf-based cle
 
22% of Fox Poll hope surge fails (UPDATED)
I found the answer to this question in a newly released Fox poll (pdf) to be astonishing:Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?16-17 Jan 07———————————-Yes—No-(Don’t know)Average———————&mdash
 
Does the new plan for Iraq have a chance?
At the risk of sounding like a "war promoter", I found this article by Donald Stoker at the "Foreign Policy" website to be very interesting. It’s premise is quite simple. Vietnam taught many Americans the wrong lesson: that determined guerrilla fighters are invincible. But history shows that insurgents rarely win, and Iraq should be no different. Now that i
 
Step one in counterinsurgency
I’m not sure Joe Klein knows what he’s talking about but his is fairly typical of some of the analysis I’m seeing out there.Quoting Condi Rice:"I think in the next few months you are going to know whether or not this is working," she said. "They bring forces in starting February 1st. They bring in another set of forces Februar
 
Spooling it up in Baghdad
President Bush began it with his speech and his announced intention to surge troops into Baghdad and confront those responsible for the sectarian violence in the city.In answer, one of those responsible for the violence appears to be planning a surge of his own: US military intelligence sources tell ABC News that large shipments of weapons have been smu
 
More Surge Math
Some funny numbers are flying around out there. Dean Barnett takes Andrew Sullivan to task about his "analysis". From Barnett’s "FAQ - The Surge":Take Andrew Sullivan. Please. In his “analysis” of the speech last night, Andrew tossed around troop figures without having t
 
Movement in Iraq
Seriously. Now we have to see how serious this really is. The words are there ... now we need some action and soon:Iraq’s prime minister has told Mahdi Army militiamen they must surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, revealing a pledge Washington wanted to hear as American and Iraqi troops prepared
 
Iraq speech reaction
For the most part it has been pretty predictable. On the political front, most Democrats have condemned the plan, a majority of Republicans support it and the usual minority of Republicans aren’t sure or don’t support it. My initial reaction is here.Sheryl Gay Stolberg says,  
The Way Forward In Iraq
The White House has posted a bullet-point breakdown of the new tactical and strategic initiative for Iraq.The President’s New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements: 1. Let the Iraqis lead; 2. Help Iraqis protect the population; 3. Isolate extremists; 4. Create space for political progress; 5. Diversify political and economic e
 
Crackdown?
Iraq the Model is reporting from Baghdad that the crackdown already seems to be beginning.
 
The new policy in Iraq
I was unable to watch the president’s address this evening. But Jay Reding liveblogged it. Captain Ed also did it live.
 
Joe Klein takes on the leftsophere
TIME’s new blog, "Swamplands", opened its virtual doors yesterday and generated a bit of controversy. Its 4 contributors are pretty well known: Ann Marie Cox, Joe Klein, Karen Tumulty, Jay Carney. The controversy was generated by Joe Klein when he took Paul Krugman to task:I’m afraid I’m going to get cranky about this: The Democrats
 
You tell me - what are your expectations for a "Surge"
Given what you’ve heard and read, and assuming that there will be some type of surge in Iraq, what are your expectations for that surge, if any?
 
Saddam Executed
CNN:Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed, according to two Arabic language media outlets. Earlier, an Iraqi judge told CNN Hussein would be hanged before dawn on Saturday in Iraq, (10 p.m. Friday ET). The former president was convicted of crimes against humanity in connection with the killings of 148 people in Dujail.UPDATED:Al-Arabiya te
 
Iraq Plan: The bare minimums
Sen. Joe Lieberman has traveled to Iraq and is of the opinion that more troops are an absolute necessity to ensure success in Iraq. I’ve stated my ambivalence to this point since I’m not sure of the clarity of their purpose or mission among those who would send them. Lieberman talks about his visit and the fact that any number of m
 
"First a Fair Trial, Then a Hangin’"
Apparently, Iraq doesn’t have an equivalent of the Ninth Circuit when it comes to carrying out death sentences. No 15-year appeal drag-out for them. According to MSNBC, they’re ready to hang Saddam before the Eid observance begins on Sunday.Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sun
 
The Democratic Political Strategy for Iraq
I think a close reading of what Sen. Joe Biden has had to say recently gives observers a good idea of the developing Democratic political plan for addressing the problem of Iraq:"I think we’ll only have to accept responsibility for the war if we remain silent," he said.Or said another way, we can avoid responsibility only if we critici
 
Saddam’s Swan Song
Saddam Hussein is a step closer to a big milestone: his execution.An Iraqi appeals court has upheld the death sentence imposed on Saddam Hussein at his first trial, Iraq’s national security adviser said Tuesday, and a tribunal official said the verdict will be carried out even if the presidency doesn’t ratify it."The appeals court approved the verdict to
 
A Soft Landing for Iraq
At Ezra Klein’s blog, Neil the Ethical Werewolf makes an important point.Clearly, people in Iraq occasionally cast votes, and the ballots determine things like who sits in the Prime Minister’s office in Baghdad. But it seems to me that democracy requires something more than this. If the security forces that run the country have gre
 
Why Colin Powell is concerned
Colin Powell is not at all convinced that sending more troops into Iraq is a good idea. In fact, he doesn’t like the idea at all ... at least not at this time. And it’s not because he doesn’t think we don’t have a great military. He was one of the main reasons it is as good as it is today. So if anyone kn
 
Leadership is different that just criticising, isn’t it Mr. Reid?
Sen. Harry Reid, incoming Senate Majority leader, thinks that sending in more troops to Iraq, at least short term, may be an acceptable idea:The Senate’s top Democrat offered qualified support Sunday for a plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq, saying it would be acceptable as part of a broader strategy to bring combat forces home by 2008.Now, of course, n
 
Demanding answers about the future of Iraq
On Iraq:President Bush on Tuesday put off until early next month announcing a new approach to the Iraq war, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush should take whatever time necessary to decide his next steps.The White House initially indicated that Bush might deliver the speech before Christmas.While administration officials said Bush had largely decided on where he want
 
Yes, let’s bring in the neighbors
Many, myself included, find the ISG’s recommendation to bring the regional neighbors to the table with the aim of enlisting them in the effort to stabilize Iraq (and thus the region) to be a bit of a pipe dream. It’s not so much that it isn’t a worthy goal, it just doesn’t make sense that countries who do border Iraq and have no love for the US would have an incentive to see a seemingly weakened US strengthened by such cooperation.
 
A few thoughts on the ISG recommendations
I’m on the road through today and still haven’t had a chance to read the ISG report. However, USA Today provides a useful synopsis of the major points on which I can make some comment:•Change the mission of U.S. troops. The number of U.S. troops embedded with Iraqi units to train them should be multiplied, the report
 
Iraqi Study Group report released
From the report’s introductory "Letter from the Co-Chairs"In this consensus report, the ten members of the Iraq Study Group present a new approach because we believe there is a better way forward. All options have not been exhausted.We believe it is still possible to pursue different policies that can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world, and protect America’s credibility, i
 
This ought to go over well in the Dem cloakroom
Sylvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat tapped by Nancy Pelosi to head the House Select Committee on Intelligence had this to say about Iraq:In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the m
 
ISG vs. reality
The leaks coming out of the Iraq Study Group point to an unsurprising recommendation and one, I’d feel safe in saying, which almost everyone expected:The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, settin
 
Time to pick Our Bastard in Iraq
A lot of pundits are pointing to the steady deluge of violence in Iraq, and making the case that (a) we caused it and (b) the best thing we can do now is to get out. [for the record, I’ve been arguing for a  
Taking the temperature in Iraq
A very recent poll says both the Shia and the Sunnis are ready for US troops to leave Iraq within a year:Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Bagh
 
Pentagon: Three options for Iraq. OK, four.
As I said in yesterday’s podcast, our policy in Iraq is presently adrift as various parties try to understand the political lay of the land while the administration and Pentagon attempt to come up with a new strategy for that war.Well apparently the Pentagon is present
 
Hold on there ...
DarkSyde on the Daily Kos entitles his post, "Bush has lost the war on terror" based on Henry Kissinger saying "it’s not possible to win in Iraq."Wait a minute ... aren’t these the same guys who’ve been telling us since 2003 that Iraq was
 
Dems pursue ending the war now at their own peril
In a Huffington Post entry yesterday, Nancy Pelosi had this to say about Iraq:This morning, I visited our brave men and women at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. It is a place of prayers, of honor, of respect, and reflection. And I left there more committed than ever to bringing the war to an end.I told my colleagues yesterday that the biggest
 
Iraq: How do we define success and then how do we accomplish it?
Yesterday I asked what readers of this blog conditions they considered necessary to declare "victory" in Iraq. I asked because as I reviewed the various statements by politicians and generals, I was struck by the fact that while they seemed pretty clear that "victory" could or couldn’t be achieved in Iraq, none of them ever defined what they were talking about as far as the meaning of "vic
 
What is "victory" in Iraq?
One of the questions bothering me lately has to do with what would constitute "victory" in Iraq. How do you plan if you don’t know what end-state constitutes "victory"?Now it goes without saying that if "victory" were the defeat of the Iraqi military and regime change (which was the policy of this and the previous administration) then we certainly achieved a level of victory in 2003.Obviously however, since we’re still there and I
 
Anti-War Generals?
The calls from many Democrats for a "phased withdrawal" from Iraq don’t seem to be impressing the "anti-war" generals that have been critics of the Bush Administration, like Marine General Anthony Zinni.Anthony C. Zinni, the former head of the United States Central Command and one of the ret
 
Iraq Options
Everyone is trying to second guess the ISG and how their recommendations will effect or alter the course in Iraq. So I figured, why shouldn’t I?Frankly, the options are narrowing as the situation deteriorates. Some things, however, do seem as necessary under any scenario.One of them is nailing down the oil revenue sharing. I think this is a critical component to the overall solution even though it won’t have much immediate effec
 
"Let the bloody wogs sort themselves out"
That might’ve been an unexceptional sentiment in the corridors of Whitehall a century ago, but it’s hardly the sentiment that has traditionally been that of the Democratic party. The times, I guess, are a’changin’.The current Democratic party line is that they will push for troop reductions in Iraq "as a way of prodding along
 
The Iraq Study Group: options
Via Instapundit, I see that various Republicans are preemptively deploring the Iraq Study Group
 
Oh this ought to be good - McGovern to give Dem Iraq War advice
This just gets better and better: George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June.If Democrats don’t take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won’t be in power very long, McGove
 
Dems have to actually do something now
In a comment thread with one of our regular commenters, I noted that now the hard part comes, Dems have to actually do something instead of criticize. He replied by saying that should be no problem since the bar of expectation was set very low.I beg to differ. Whether Dems like it or not, they have taken ownership of Iraq. Now that’s problematic for several reasons, many of t
 
Saddam To Be Sentenced on Sunday
Tommorow’s the day Saddam Hussein receives his sentence from an Iraqi court in his first trial.Any guesses as to a) what his verdict will be and b) what will happen when it is announced in Iraq?Much speculation that regardless of what is announced, violence will be the result. Sunnis want him acquitted (or at least not sentenced to death) and Shia want his head.
 
Resurecting the "paper tiger"?
I’ve spoken many times here about the potential future results of pulling out of Iraq before the job is done. I’ve pointed to quotes from Osama bin Laden and others which have characterized the US as a ’paper tiger’, and all anyone has to do is commit to a "long war" and we’ll eventually quit. I’ve attempted to argue that is dangerous perception to leave out there because it gives our enemies hope as well as an expectation of vict
 
Almost nuclear Iraq
Interesting little tidbit from an article by the New York Times blasting the Bush administration for putting up some of the documents recovered in Iraq on a website. Apparently the Times objected to what one "expert" described as a "cookbook" for making an atomic bomb (as if s
 
Peters is throwing in the towel
Ralph Peters is all but writing off Iraq as a failure:Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country’s prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he’s betting that we won’t l
 
Definitely Not Our Man in Iraq
What game is Nuri al-Maliki playing? Last week, he was upset because Iraqi forces, backed by US troops, staged a rad in Sadr City. Now, Mr. Maliki has ordered US-manned roadblocks around Sadr City to be shut down, and the US forces have complied.Sadr City, of course, is the power center for Islamic cleric and whack-job Muqtada al-Sadr, who, by the w
 
Total Incompetence
For the life of me I don’t understand this:The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.
 
Common Sense Iraq
Yeah, I’m on an Iraq jag.The writer of this identifies himself as a "Sergeant" with the 4th ID working on a "human intelligence collection team". You need to read it if you haven’t seen it already. In an email discussion recently, concerning Iraq, I agreed that probably the most frustrating thing about this war is seeing things you think should be obvious an
 
CT: "Crucible for war debate?"
David Broder thinks it is:Lieberman insists he is not wholly in the Bush camp but still argues that a victory in Iraq is possible and essential for American security — whatever that may mean. "I’m not ready to give up on the Muslim world," he said, adding that a democratic Iraq could serve as a model for the Middle East. His winning
 
Iraq: a clarification
I guess my post yesterday depressed a number of readers as I’ve heard from several of them. I want to take this opportunity to clarify some things or, perhaps said another way, ensure readers understand where I stand on Iraq. So here’s the body of an email [edited in some places] sent to another blogger who I admire greatly, discussing the post:The problem, as I see it is partially self-inflicted and partially a function of culture. I think
 
Searching for an answer in Iraq
Richard Holbrooke writes an open letter to President Bush about his options in Iraq.Holbrooke suggests that in reality there are only 3 options now left to the Bush administration there. "Stay the course", escalate or disengage.No real reason to discuss "stay the course" because it, apparently is out (and is now reported to have bee
 
Implications of the Lancet death estimate for Iraq
Iraq Body Count has issued a press release summarizing their reaction to the Lancet estimate of 650,000 Iraqi violent deaths since the US invasion in 2003. IBC says that if taken at face value, the study implies the following: 1. On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms; 2. Some 800,00
 
Iraq, militias al Sadr and Malilki
So I go to a USA Today article and I read this:Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in an interview with USA TODAY that his government will not force militias to disarm until later this year or early next year, despite escalating violence in Baghdad fueled by death squads and religious warfare.The gnashing of my teeth was probably heard
 
Iraq: Defining success down
It appears a commission, supposedly backed by President Bush, will present options which will, in essence, redefine the mission and ’success’ in Iraq.According to the article in the LA Times, one of the options is not to "stay the course". In fact, the commission, headed by James Baker, seems to be focusing on two options.<
 
Coup rumors in Iraq
David Ignatius lets us in on a badly kept secret. Rumors have been circulating in Iraq about a possible coup:As the security situation in Baghdad has deteriorated over the past month, there has been growing talk among Iraqi politicians about a "government of national salvation’’ — a coup, in effect — that would im
 
Hillary Clinton on Iraq
These excerpts in the NY Daily News are purported to be taken from a meeting Hillary Clinton had with the editorial board there. So we’ll assume, for the sake of discussion, that is true and these are indeed her exact words.Before she got into the 3 things she feels need to be done in Iraq, she said this:Having been now on the Ar
 
It is time to confront the Iraqi militias
From Sen. John Warner today:The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee warned Thursday that the situation in Iraq was “drifting sideways” and said that the United States should consider a “change of course” if violence did not diminish soon.The chairman, Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, expressed particular conce
 
(UPDATED) Shooting yourself in the foot over and over and over again
One of the portions of the poll about Iraq I didn’t really touch on was the perception of Iraqis toward non-military forms of involvement in Iraq. On the whole a majority of Iraqis are for it. But:Majorities still approve of the US training Iraqi security forces and helping with community development, though most of these feel the US is doing a poor job.Not exactly a ringing endorsement is it? Well  
Al-Qaeda Iraq: 4,000 martyrs and counting
Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, head of al Qaeda in Iraq, has put out a call for explosives experts and nuclear scientists to answer the call for jihad and join AQ.Additionally he gave us an AQ casualty count:"The blood has been spilled in Iraq of more than 4,000 foreigners who came to fight," said the man, who identified himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — als
 
Polling Iraq
Extremely interesting and revealing poll out of Iraq.The highlights (it is a 22 page pdf document that you should read to get the full story): A solid majority of Iraqis want US troops out of Iraq within a year. Overall 71% favor withdrawal of US troops within that time frame. Sunnis, of course, overwhelmingly favor it while Kurds overwhelming
 
Iraq: The moral argument for "finishing the job"
Lawrence Kaplan, senior editor of The New Republic, freakin’ nails it. I’ve attempted a number of posts to explain why it is so important to finish the job in Iraq. I should have just waited on Kaplan because Kaplan gets it. Not only does he lay out the argument eloquently, he skillfully guts the arguments of the Murtha and Kerry wings of the left. So prepare for some extens
 
The only relevant question about Iraq
As most know, I’m for finishing the job in Iraq and then leaving. That doesn’t automatically mean I approve of the way the job, to this point, has been handled, nor do I believe the administration should escape criticism for that. But I do believe is it is important that we do what we’ve promised to do and not abandon Iraq prior to that fulfilling that promise. If we don’t, I further believe it will have implications which
 
America Weakly
This is funny:Senators Biden, Lieberman and Clinton may talk tough now and then, but at the end of the day a Democratic Senate will follow the lead of Kennedy, Feingold and Kerry who want us to Get Out. Now. They will say things like " 
(UPDATED) Baghdad: Fighting the 3 block war
Bill Roggio gives a good overall view of the strategy being executed in Baghdad in "Operation Forward Together":To combat the insurgency, and sectarian and criminal violence in Baghdad, the Iraqi government and Coalition announced Operation Together Forward. USA Today provides a simplified breakdown of the operation. "The offensive is planned in
 
Finish the job in Iraq
There are a lot of arguments about our effort in Iraq. They center around if it was a good idea (too late to worry about that), if we should stay, if we should go, if we’ve done enough, if we’ve still got to finish the job.Mark Steyn addresses the latter point, and does so by talking about the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and how an angry America was perceived
 
I Guess it’s official now
Apparently John McCain has given his verdict on Iraq:Asked whether the United States was winning the war, McCain said, "I don’t think so, but I’m not sure that it’s turned into a civil war ... I think it’s been well documented now that we didn’t have enough (troops) there from the beginning, that we allowed the looting, that we d
 
Propaganda and patience - how the enemy plans to defeat us
Interesting report out of Iraq. In light of the recent posts I’ve made about propaganda and why it is important, and especially so in asymmetrical warfare, this brings home a  
Questions for Opponents of Iraqi Nation-Building
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Peter Wehner addresses democratizing the Mideast.Elections are not the problem; rather, they reveal what problems exist and remind us what tyranny in the Middle East has wrought. Liberty is the antidote to the virus, not the virus itself. But freedom requires more time to work in the Middle East than the blink of an historical eye.Per
 
Military Options In Iraq
Max Boot, in his LA Times column, discusses the range of options available in Iraq.To restore order in the capital, I suggested adding at least 35,000 U.S. troops — in line with Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez’s comment in 2004 that he needed two divisions to control Baghdad. But that’s not what Bush is sending. To bolst
 
False Choices in Iraq II
Jon, in yet another example for those who think that we here at QandO march in intellectual lockstep, attempts to rebut my argument in the previous post...before I even made it. He looks at the future of Iraq, and writes:And if things break down? That’s their problem. "Well," we’ll say, "we gave it our best shot, but the poor buggers mucked it up. Tally ho, and all that.
 
The "Prescience" of the Anti-War Crowd
Now that McQ and Jon have addressed this, I guess it’s my turn. Let’s go back to the original article at Inactivist, and take a look at it.So, to sum up, the nefarious "left," not "centrists" like Hillary, was right – and I boldly assume by non-centrist Democrats, MichaelW means war opponents like Howard Dean,
 
False Choices in Iraq
Monday, President Bush said...“You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.” I fear this represents the thinking of a great many supporters of the Iraq war; this sense that voting equals democracy and that as long as Iraq has an elected government, then things must
 
Iraq: It’s the right’s fault
Interesting couple of paragraphs over at Inactivst.I submit that too many libertarians today, namely, those who supported the invasion of Iraq but who refuse to face the reality that it is a hugely expensive debacle, are not operating as Hayekian libertarians generally do. Rather, they are frequently evading the ugly truth
 
Talibani: Iraq will take over security by end of year
Well, talk is cheap, but this is one promise I think all of us would be glad to see come true:President Jalal Talabani predicted Wednesday that Iraqi troops will assume security duties for the whole country by the end of the year, even as more U.S. soldiers headed to the capital to bolster local forces st
 
Iraq: At a tipping point?
I’ve mentioned my respect for Ralph Peters and his insights into Iraq. I don’t always agree, but in most cases the disagreements are minor. But because of his military background and the access that brings coupled with his numerous visits to Iraq, I’m more inclined to give his opinion much more weight than most commenters. T
 
Welcome Home, Dan
Got a welcome email today from a friend I’d been keeping up with in Iraq. I’ll only use his first name for privacy reasons. He got home this week and in his short, no nonsense style espoused precisely the sentiment I expected. He said:Your sentiments of last December are still valid, we’re in it and we need to finish it. Just thought I’d drop you a note and let you know that I made it back in one piece, though there are now others
 
al Sadr forming militia group to aid Hezbollah
No, really: A senior member of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Iraqi Shi’ite militia, the Mahdi Army, says the group is forming a squadron of up to 1,500 elite fighters to go to Lebanon. The plan reflects the potential of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah to strengthen radical elements in Iraq and neighboring countries and
 
Iraq: 1 down, 17 to go
In a press release just issued, CENTCOM has announced the transition of Muthanna Province from coalition control to Iraqi control:Iraq witnessed a historic event today with the transfer of security responsibility in Muthanna Province from the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) to the Provincial Governor and civilian-controlled Iraqi Security Forces. The handover represents a
 
Unclassified documents produce new revelations about Iraq
I’m on record downplaying the newly disclosed ’WMDs’ and unclassified documents that, essentially, tell us what we already knew from the Iraq Intelligence Report. They mean a lot less than the Iraq war proponents would really like them to mean, and I think those supporters tout them at the expense of their
 
Iraq: "Dunkirk was not a redeployment"
Investors Business Daily offers us a little retrospective our entry into the War on Terror. It also contends it most likely could have been avoided had the party seeking power now done more when it had power:The Democrats and anti-war left want us to entrust them with the war on terror in 2006 and 2008 — a war that could have been prev
 
Progress in Iraq
Last month, I pointed out that a "Sunni buy-in to the political process" seemed to be underway with the Sunnis apparently seeking political detente by working against the insurgency. The big question going forward would be whether the Shiites would reciprocate by dealing with the Shiite militias. Without that reciprocity, there could be no political accomodation; without political accomodation, a pluralistic democracy wou
 
Iraq: Using fire to fight fire
Of course the downside of doing so is you may end up getting burned:Iraq’s government is studying a request from some local insurgent leaders to supply them with weapons so they can turn on the heavily armed foreign fighters who were once their allies, according to two Iraqi lawmakers.Leaders claiming to represent about 11 insurgent gro
 
Iraq: 11 insurgent groups interested in laying down arms
We’re now up from 7 to 11 insurgent groups interested in the amnesty offer from the Iraqi government.Eleven Sunni insurgent groups have offered an immediate halt to all attacks — including those on American troops — if the United States agrees to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years, insurgent and government officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.Withdrawal is the centerpiece of a set of demands from the groups, which operate north of Baghdad in
 
How Wars End
I don’t know what I can add to what Jon and McQ have already written about the Maliki plan for Iraq, and the amnesty that is part of it. I mean, I’m gonna do it anyway, but I’m just saying.Look, at the end of WWII, we didn’t penalize German Soldiers who fought against us. When they surrendered, we popped them into POW camps for a few months—or several months, depending on their situation—then we repatriated them as so
 
What do you want? Blood?
The folks at the Sadly, No! blog are apparently getting wet just thinking about the wisdom of "Billmon", who, at the Whiskey Bar blog writes, in response to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s call for an amnesty, as part of a national reconciliation leading to a US withdrawal:The next step, of course, will be for the same
 
Iraq: Insurgents respond to government "Peace Plan"
In a hopeful sign:Several Sunni-led insurgent groups have approached the Iraqi government to try to start negotiations after the Iraqi prime minister’s presentation on Sunday of a limited plan for reconciliation, a senior legislator from the prime minister’s party said Monday.
 
Why the Democrats can’t be trusted with national security: Part 46,352
Sen. Russ Feingold on Meet the Press this week:SEN. FEINGOLD: Well, first, on the time line, it appears to me that the American people understand it’s time for a time line to withdraw the troops from Iraq. The Iraqi people and the Iraqi government understand it. It seems like it’s only here in Washington that people don’t understand it’s time to end this mistake, to end our military
 
Iraqi Connections to Al Qaeda
Ray Robison is reporting at FoxNews that declassified Iraqi documents indicate Iraq reached out to international terrorist groups to create alliances...Newly declassified documents captured by U.S. forces indicate that Saddam Hussein’s inner circle not only actively reached out to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan and terror-based
 
The Coalition’s 3 phase troop withdrawal plan for Iraq
Gen. George W. Casey Jr, the US commander in Iraq, has put forward a conditional 3 phase plan for withdrawing the bulk of coalition troops over the next 3 years. In brief, the phases of the plan are as follows:In the general’s briefing, the future American role in Iraq is divided into three phases. The next 12 months was described as a pe
 
More on the Iraqi "Peace Plan"
Newsweek has confirmed yesterday’s story by the Times of London which discussed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s "Peace Plan" which he plans to introduce tomorrow.As discussed, the plan included an amnesty proposal. As we’ve further discussed, that proposal is integral to a successful reconcil
 
Iraqi government to announce "Peace Plan" on sunday
The Times is reporting that they have seen the plan and it is comprised of 28 points designed to end the Sunni insurgency:The 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer Iraqi resistance groups inclusion in the political process and an amnesty for their prisoners if they renounce violence and lay down their arms, The Times can reveal.
 
Iraq WMD Eruption
The latest WMD eruption is making waves, but it’s a lot less consequential than it might at first appear. The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday. Bear in mind, these are not shells we’ve just discovered; these are shells disovered
 
A word about WMDs
And a short one at that.Finding 500 1991 vintage artillery shells with mustard or sarin gas proves two things. A) the inspectors didn’t find all of the WMDs in Iraq despite the claims of some team members and Saddam hadn’t gotten rid of them all despite his claims to the contrary. Neither come as any surprise.B) WMDs did exist in Iraq when the invasion took place.So to all
 
Iraq: al-Rubaie lays out road map for US troop withdrawals
I love the fact that on page A17 of yesterday’s Washington Post, this little gem lay buried:Iraq has a total of 18 governorates, which are at differing stages in terms of security. Each will eventually take control of its own security situation, barring a major crisis. But before this happens, each governorate will have to meet st
 
Occupation and Dependence
Carl Levin has a keen understanding of incentives in the conduct of US foreign policy..."The administration’s policy to date — that we’ll be there for as long as Iraq needs us — will result in Iraq’s depending upon us longer," said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Se
 
Iraq: 3 soldiers charged with murder
Three US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division have been charged with murder in an incident involving 3 Iraqi detainees."A noncommissioned officer and two soldiers each have been charged with
 
Iraq: Bodies of captured soldiers found near Baghdad
Breaking story:A high-ranking official with the Iraqi defense ministry told CNN on Tuesday that the bodies of two missing U.S. soldiers have been found south of Baghdad.No more details were immediately available. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report.A senior U.S. official told CNN that two bodies had been found in Iraq
 
Iraq’s security picture: Is it really improving?
The Department of Defense has issued it’s latest report to Congress on progress in Iraq. The report (here in pdf) covers three integrated areas which are critical to our success in Iraq. They are:• Political: helping the Iraqi people forge a broadly supported compact for democratic government.• Economic: assis
 
Pullout, Amnesty, What’s the Difference?
Jonah Goldberg compares and contrasts the Democrats response to recent goings on in Iraq.For a couple of years now Democrats have increasingly demanded that America get out of Iraq now, soon or by a date certain. The Murtha bug-out chorus says “it’s not our fight,” “let the Iraqis handle it,” “let’s stay out of a civil war,” and, “we can’t win.”
 
Iraq: Al Qaeda papers show gloomy group
This is fascinating stuff. It also appears to be Iraq day on the blog. Such is life.A little insight into the state of mind of the al Queda operation in Iraq. While I mentioned it in passing below, some more specifics have been released from the papers found the the house Zarqawi was
 
Iraq: PM floats limited amnesty proposal for insurgents
I’ve got to tell you when I first read this, my knee started jerking something awful.Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday proposed a limited amnesty to help end the Sunni Arab insurgency as part of a national reconciliation plan that Maliki said would be released within days. The plan is likely to include pardons for those w
 
Another noticable difference coming out of Iraq
Consider the CNN report about the operation currently underway in Baghdad:Iraqi troops Wednesday uncovered a kidnapping ring, seized weapons — including three rockets — and defused two roadside bombs after beginning a security clampdown on the often lawless streets of Baghdad.In the first day of the new government’s push to restore order in the ca
 
Zarqawi Aftermath
It appears that coalition forces were able to capitalize on their intelligence coup which led to the death of Al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s head in Iraq, last week.Mr Rubaie said a pocket hard drive, a laptop and documents were found in the debris after the strike.The documents and records revealed the names and whereabouts of other al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders, he
 
Redeployment in Iraq: the uncertain narrative
Last month, McQ linked to Max Boot’s column on the merits of redeployment — not to bring troops home or to take them out of population centeres, but to bring them to Baghdad to secure the capital. McQ offered that such a redeployment should invol
 
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: dead
Iraqi Democracy: Alive
Stipulated: insofar as murderous monsters deserve to die, the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a  
Victory in Iraq depends on the Institutions, not our "political will"
There’s a common pro-war pundit argument that the ultimate success or failure of Iraq will depend on our will to win — on a sort of political intestinal fortitude to see it through. Naturally, there’s some merit to this view. If our strategy is pushing Iraq in the right direction, then quitting prematurely could be fatal. On the other hand, it’s also possible to stick to a losing strategy, or to confuse perserverance for strategy. But the time for polit
 
Iraq: Maybe an internal redeployment is called for
Max boot makes an interesting point in an LA Times op/ed today:Supporters of the war note that much of the violence in Iraq is confined to four of 18 provinces. True. But you can’t ignore the continuing instability in the capital. Baghdad is much more important to Iraq than Washington is to the United States. Wit
 
Iraq: Why I still believe in the war
This is by Lyn Chu who holds a J.D from the University of Chicago Law School, is admitted to the New York Bar, and is a very successful literary agent. Not exactly where you’d expect something like this to originate. Found on Bruce Kessler’s "Democracy Project".It’s quite long so I’m going to put hide it in an excerpt, but it is quite an interesting list:
 
Iraq: an "F" for domestic political support
Ralph Peters runs a column which reviews the progress in Iraq. He claims that although you wouldn’t know by the headlines, we’re actually winning.A couple of quotes that caught my eye: Our enemies are far from giving up, of course. But they realize now that Americans won’t quit after suffering the first dozen casualties. That came as a
 
Three Cheers for Iraq’s new government
Yes folks, it is finally here, not that many have paid too much attention to it:Iraq’s parliament approved a national unity government Saturday, achieving a goal Washington hopes will reduce violence so U.S. forces can eventually go home.Not the two key points in that sentence. Reduce [sectarian] violence and take over the security task so "U.S. forces c
 
Al Qaeda: Every year is worse than the last in Baghdad
CENTCOM has released the translations of some captured al Qaeda documents. They are an interesting look inside the AQ view of their progress or lack there of, in this particular case, Baghdad. Some highlights:There is a clear absence of organization among the groups of the brothers in Baghdad, whether at the leadership
 
Now this is a General’s critique I find useful
Gen Barry McCaffery has written an AAR (after action report) on a trip he made to Iraq. Given the recent criticisms of a 6 pack of retired generals, I read McCaffery’s report with a jaundiced eye. As it turns out, I was pleased to read an excellent assessment filled not only with praise where it was deserved, but, for a change, cons
 
Meanwhile in Iraq, progress
Some interesting things have been happening in Iraq. For instance:U.S. and Iraqi troops killed more than 100 insurgents last week in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a U.S. Army officer said Monday.Two Iraqis also died in the fighting, said Col. John Gronski, commander of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division. No Americans were killed
 
The Shiites blinked and that’s good for Iraq
There’s a lot of analysis on the net about Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s decision to step aside in his quest to become Iraq’s Prime Minister.Many people have wondered what the fuss was all about. Why in the world couldn’t the Iraqi Parliament come to an agreement about a PM in 4 months time? Are they that inept?In reality whether they are inept or not is yet to be determined. But what was going on was a good old fa
 
Hearts and Minds: Iraq v Malaysia
When Andrew Krepinevich laid out his "oil spot" strategy for Iraq, he held up as a model the British effort in Malaysia. Said Krepinevich:The oil-spot strategy, in contrast, focuses on establishing security for the population precisely for the sake of winning hearts and minds. In the 1950s, the British used it successfully in Malay
 
Finally!!
Good news out of Iraq:Bowing to intense pressure, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari agreed Thursday to allow Shiite lawmakers to find someone else to head the new government, abandoning his claim on another term in the face of Sunni and Kurdish opposition.Al-Jaafari’s abrupt reversal was an apparent breakthrough in the monthslong struggle to form a nation
 
Military Incompetence
McQ’s post on the New York Times story on pre-war planning by Michael DeLong, combined with the discussion we had during this week’s QandO podcast has solidified my thinking a bit on the whole issue of post-war planning. During the Podcast, we disc
 
Iraq Metrics: success outside the front page
About two years ago, in response to an open question from Orin Kerr at Volokh, I laid out my metrics for success in Iraq. Results since then have been mixed, with the ongoing security problems, unreconstructed militias and sectarian strife being the major problems.Still, at the time I wrote that the "propogation of free medi
 
Newt Gingrich on Iraq
Much of the leftysphere is pointing at this and saying things like "Even Gingrich wants to cut and run", but I think that’s not quite right...Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota Monday that the United State
 
Iraq Uranium Intel: "Fake But True"
While we can parse the most accurate way to say "the Bush administration issued grossly and willfully misleading statements on the state of Iraq intelligence", it’s becoming clear to me that the statement is quite accurate...[Colin Powell] told three other reporters for The Times that intelligence agencies had essentially rejected that contention [that Baghdad had been vigorously seeking
 
Iraq: Interesting numbers
From Sean at Myelectionanalysis.com (a great blog if you haven’t seen it yet):81, 76, 50, 49, 43, 25What are these numbers? This week’s Powerball winners? A safe deposit combo? New numbers to torment those poor b*stards stranded on the island in Lost?No, they’re the number of troops that have died in hostile actions in Iraq for each of the past six months. Th
 
Kerry on Iraq: time to get tough
It will be dismissed casually as "cut and run" defeatism by many, but John Kerry’s column calling for an exit from Iraq contains an item worth serious consideration. Leave aside the parts with which you disagree, and consider this point...As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. [...] So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadl
 
Zarqawi: Relieved from duty
An interesting bit of news:Iraq’s resistance has replaced Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as political head of the rebels, confining him to a military role, the son of Osama bin Laden’s mentor told AFP Sunday in Jordan."The Iraqi resistance’s high command asked Zarqawi to give up his political role and replaced him with an Iraq
 
It was better under Saddam
Ronald Steele writes for the The Guardian that, essentially, Iraqis were better off under Saddam Hussein than they are today. Since Saddam’s passage from power, life, for Iraqis, has become nasty, brutish, and short. It’s just a terribly violent place, you see.For Iraqis in Baghdad, duck and cover is already a metaphor for daily life. On each of th
 
Iraq and Vietnam: history rhymes
Military historian Martin Van Creveld — whose credibility Justin Logan establishes quite convincingly — wrote an interesting article in late ’04 on why Vietnam and Iraq — dissimilar as they are in many ways — have similarities that will be important...First...the most important operati
 
Times: Iraq war "was inevitable"
I’m not sure that this story...behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the
 
Partitioning Iraq
Cragg Hines writes in the Houston Chronicle that a partition of Iraq might be a good solution to the sectarian violence there.Or not.the Wall Street Journal published on its front page an article headlined: "Goal of Iraqi Unity Fades as Fissures Harden Into Place." Illustrating the piece was a map of what current Iraq looked like in 1914, with
 
Addressing Iraqi Myths
Seems I spend a lot of time quoting Ralph Peters lately, but I take his reports about Iraq with more than a grain of salt. Peters is retired army officer and, most important, he’s there, on the ground in Iraq.Today he addresses some of the myths which are used to underpin the negative view of our involvement in Iraq. He makes it clear who he holds respo
 
It’s Official: Bush lays out withdrawal plans
As most anticipated, it looks like the major US troop withdrawls will begin at the end of this year:President Bush vowed for the first time yesterday to turn over most of Iraq to newly trained Iraqi troops by the end of this year, setting a specific benchmark as he kicked off a fresh drive to reassure Americans alarmed by the recent burst of sec
 
The pre-war consensus on WMD
Andrew Sullivan writes...I’m aware of one person who clearly stated before the war that he believed that Saddam had no WMDs. That was Scott Ritter. [...] ...I don’t recall anyone saying flat out that there were no WMDs in Iraq. But I may have missed someone. I’ll happily post such pre-war statements if you send them to me. This seems like a good time to remind reade
 
Civil War: Let Iraq Handle it
To those out there who expressed concern about the US being seen to take sides should civil war break out, relax:U.S. military commanders don’t intend to allow a civil war in Iraq to occur, but if it happens, they’ll let Iraqi security forces handle it, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday."The plan is to prevent a c
 
Ignoring Success in Iraq
Ralph Peters touches on a very underreported story which occurred during the unrest in Iraq following the bombing of the Golden Mosque, an event most pundits were sure would lead to civil war. That story? The Iraqi Army: * The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Ira
 
Al Qaeda’s powerful new enemy in Iraq
Sometimes you just have to make a choice, and it appears some of the tribes in Iraq have done just that. Faced with a choice between al Qaeda’s Zarquawi faction and American troops, they’ve apparently chosen, at least for now, that American troops are the lesser of two evils:Tribal chiefs in Iraq’s western Anbar province and i
 
Bush Administration issues subtle Diplomatic Warning
This comment means more than it may first appear...A civil war in Iraq could lead to a broader conflict in the Middle East, pitting the region’s rival Islamic sects against each other, National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said in an unusually frank assessment Tuesday."If chaos were to
 
Oops ...
Talking about Iraq, Reason Express tells us:There is simply no good way for the U.S. forces on the ground to interject themselves into such a conflict. Either side could take that as evidence that the Americans are actively taking sides, inflaming passions yet more. Sitting still, however, just says to the broad middle of the Iraqi population that America cannot, in fact, improve se
 
Howard Dean, on the Iraq War
Glenn Greenwald uses the All Is Lost Buckley column to review "the pre-war arguments made by Howard Dean". Citing a February 17, 2003 speech wherein Dean argued that "The Administration has not explai
 
The reports of Iraq’s demise much exaggerated?
More fallout from William Buckley’s article about losing Iraq. This time from Jack Kelly:"Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans," Mr. Buckley wrote in National Review. "The great human reserves that call for civil life haven’t proved strong enough."Mr. Buckley is
 
The "American Objective" in Iraq
William F. Buckley’s "the American objective in Iraq has failed" column has generated substantial conversation this weekend, on the left, the right and here at QandO. I’ve long been agnostic on the subject of whether the Iraq war will ultimately be a net positive for the United States, and I’m perfectly willing to ac
 
Is Iraq on the brink of Civil War?
Many, including the LA Times, think so:As British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw remarked, the bombing bore the hallmark of an Al Qaeda attack: nihilism. It’s hard to imagine what purpose the bombing of one of the holiest Shiite shrines could serve other than to incite a civil war. Alas, the bombers appear to be su
 
Saddam and WMDs: straight to video
Finally, the truth has been revealed! Saddam sometimes talked about WMDs! (partial transcripts here and here)Among th
 
Progress in Iraq?
The turnover of security in Iraq is progressing somewhat more rapidly...The U.S. military says 40% of Iraq’s combat battalions are effective enough to have taken the lead role in fighting the insurgency, a key measure for determining when U.S. forces can withdraw. The U.S. military expects to complete the handover of responsibility to nearly all of Ir
 
The Zawahiri Tape
Why is it that Ayman al-Zawahiri can produce videotapes, but Osama, The Big Guy, only does radio now? I’m just asking.UPDATE [McQ]: And how about this quote:"You, American mother, if the Pentagon calls to tell you that your son is coming home in a coffin, then rememb
 
Al-Qaida: weaker or stronger?
At the NY Times, it depends on to whom you talk. On the side arguing al-Qaida is stronger we find Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon who say: Had Americans instead listened with the ears of those for whom the message was intended - Muslims around the world - they would have heard something very different. Instead of a weak Osama bin Laden, they would have heard
 
Iraq: The tipping point?
Sen. Barrak Obama, just recently returned from Iraq, had this to say on "Meet The Press":But you have a political situation that I think is still undetermined, how it’s going to play itself out. We just got the results from the recent election. It’s promising because we have more Sunnis participating in the legislature than we had last time. We don’t yet know, though, whether or not the Shia
 
Why Bother?
Aaron Belkin has it all figured out:The provisional results of the December elections in Iraq are already in dispute, but that doesn’t stop Washington from pointing to the vote as a success in its quest to create a peaceful, stable and free Middle East.But the mere fact of an election cannot change a
 
The politics and propaganda value of withdrawal talk
It’s fairly obvious, one would think:Al-Qaida’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, said in a videotape aired Friday that the United States’ decision to withdraw some troops from Iraq represented "the victory of Islam" and called on Muslims to attack oil sites.Al-Zawahri, wearing a white turban and gray robe and seated next to an automatic rifle,
 
Iraq: an Overview
I’m a bit late to this, but a clearer understanding of the situation in Iraq is always worthwhile. Juan Cole names the "Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005". I’ll excerpt and paraphrase...
 
Megalomania and the power of self-delusion
I think one of the more fascinating and ironic finds in one of Saddam’s palaces was a mural depicting a victory for Iraq in the first Gulf War. Of course, it was pure self-delusion, and I’m sure a psychologist could explain how Saddam rationalized victory out of a thumping (or to quote him "the mother of all") defeat.Apparently that sel
 
Bring on the third string
Why am I getting the impression that the insurgent action in Iraq is now being run by the 2nd string at best?Insurgents exploded 13 car bombs across Iraq on Sunday, including eight in Baghdad within a three-hour span, but the New Year’s Day onslaught killed no one and injured only 20 people, police said.13 car bombs. 0 KIA, 20 WIA.Not a parti