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(UPDATED) Baghdad: Fighting the 3 block war
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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 stages and is designed to avoid an all-out attack. In the first phase, launched July 9, Iraqi security forces positioned checkpoints throughout the city. In the second phase, launched last week, Iraqi forces supported by U.S. troops began isolating and clearing parts of the city block by block. Iraqi security forces will remain to provide security once areas are cleared. When areas are stable, the government will bring economic assistance into blighted neighborhoods." This strategy is essentially what the Marines call the "3 Block War."

While many pundits have dismissed the operation as a failure as it did not secure the city within weeks of launch, the Coalition appears to have a longer time line to secure Baghdad measured in months, not weeks. As USA Today reports, the second phase of the operation began in the second week of August.
His point? Ignore the instant win crowd and watch what happens over the next few months. That said Roggio also points out something I mentioned the other day.
Prime Minister Maliki's reconciliation program, which has attracted interest from many Sunni insurgent groups, including two large factions, is also in jeopardy. The longer the sectarian violence goes uncontrolled, the greater the chance for the Sunni insurgent groups to give up on the program.
Or said another way, while there's time to do this, there isn't unlimited time.

The model for this appears to be Tal Afar where we essentially shut the city of 170,000 down, controlled everything going in or out and then, while so doing, rebuilt the place. The same is being done in Ramadi, a Sunni stronghold of 400,000. As you can imagine, that takes even longer and is still underway. Both Tal Afar and Ramadi are, ethnically, pretty homogeneous.

Now apply that to Baghdad, a city of 6 million and multi-ethnic. A far taller order and one which is indeed going to take time. Per Roggio, the plan is to do it within four of the most violent neighborhoods in Baghdad (and there's an inset map at Counterterrorist Blog which locates them):
Operation Together Forward is focusing on four of the most violent neighborhoods of Baghdad: Doura, Mansour, Shula and Azamiyah. These are neighborhoods where the sectarian violence has been at its worst. Coalition forces have begun operations in Doura and Ameriya. In both cases, the neighborhoods were cordoned off, and each building was searched. "Kilometer after kilometer of barriers emplaced, building what some may call the semblance of a gated community, affording them greater security with ingress and egress routes established and manned by Iraqi security forces with coalition forces in support," as the Multinational Forces - Iraq press release describes the operation in Doura.
A great description of how the operation is being run can be found here, and it is actually an article which demostrates some of the potential (and hope) this sort of operation offers. Naturally it was carried on page A17 of Friday's Washington Post.

Both that article and Roggio point to the obvious though:
The strategy isolating neighborhoods from the insurgents and militias and restoring services has worked elsewhere in Iraq, and the question is can it succeed in a large city such as Baghdad. The insurgents, militias and criminals have the advantage of melting away during the major security operations, and infiltrating back in after the clearing operation ends as the entire city cannot be secured at once. This will be a challenge for the security forces left behind to police the neighborhoods, and it is vital the security force is vetted and supervised by Coalition teams and the Iraqi Army.
And that brings us to the elephant in the room and the ultimate confrontation which must take place if this operation is to succeed and the government's ultimate authority established:
Securing Baghdad has its own unique problems other than the size and scale of the operation, as well as the number of forces needed. Baghdad is a multi-ethnic city, with large Shia and Sunni populations. Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, is playing a large role in the sectarian violence, as is its sponsor Iran. Sadr's militia has been repeatedly been the target of Iraqi and Coalition operations. And the Shiite dominated police force is not trusted by the Iraqi public. They have been accused of corruption and complicity in the sectarian violence. In some cases, the police stand by as Sadr's militias rampage, and in other instances have actively participated in the murders. The Iraqi police must be reigned in if Baghdad is to be secured.
I talked about this in an earlier post, and, of course, to most who've followed the progress in Iraq, this is certainly no secret. Sadr and his militia must go.

But something to note in the WaPo article which is critical to making that happen - and it can only be characterized as a real effort on the Iraqi government to win hearts and minds - is the hope expressed by the inhabitants of that neighborhood. They see how it can be. They are getting a snapshot of what peace can look like. They are being treated with respect by the government troops.
"Their image has changed," said Ayad, who holds a business degree but is unemployed. "Now, you feel like they are there to protect you. They are not acting or faking. The Americans have them on a tight leash."
While his latter point may be true, it is a result of the training which is taking place. And success breeds success. If they see these tactics work, they Iraqi army is more likely to use them. So this is as much a demonstration to the members of the army as it is to the inhabitants of these neighborhoods.

And it has demonstrated another very important point to the neighborhoods:
The impact on the violence was immediate. Residents said they didn't hear a single gunshot or mortar explosion, and by Wednesday they were experiencing a rare calm.
It demonstrated who is responsible for the violence with which they've had to live. While the insurgents and death squads may indeed be waiting for the soldiers to leave the neighborhoods to resume their activities, they will no longer be able to claim the violence is a result of the government or army. In this sort of war, that is an important point to make.

Will it work?
Hamid Ayad stepped outside his home and said he liked what he saw — a butcher bringing fuel to his shop, people strolling out of their homes. "Life has started to come back to normal," he said. "All I want now is security."

Will the peace last?

"The police in Britain cannot give you a 100 percent guarantee, or in Egypt or in America," said Kahlaiaf. "But Amiriyah will be secured if people cooperate."
Precisely correct and a critical realization. Now they've seen peace is possible, they've seen who made it possible, and they've seen, even briefly, what normal life can be like. Will they cooperate with the government to obtain the security Ayad says they want?

If so, the 3 block war is all but won.

UPDATE: This tracks with the WaPo article above and puts some numbers to it:
The level of violence in Baghdad has fallen sharply since July thanks to troop reinforcements and the new government's efforts to reconcile warring Shi'ites and Sunnis, Iraq's national security adviser said on Tuesday.

[...]

Rubaie declined to give a date for the pullout of American troops from Iraq, saying it would depend on the security situation, but he said it was reasonable to expect that a majority could be gone by 2008.

[...]

"The surge was only until mid-July," he said. "The number of attacks is down from mid-July by 45 percent and extra-judicial murders ... are down 35 percent since mid-July. We're there, we're definitely on the mend."
Per the article, the Iraqis are running about 60% of the operations. They're also using a different approach this time:
But Rubaie said the government's strategy of reaching out to those who have taken up arms was working.

"We tried the stick for three years. We need a big carrot and a smaller stick," he said, adding that even "die-hard elements" were now approaching the government with conditions for peace.

He said Iraq had made big strides towards establishing effective security forces of its own, and was aiming to build its army from 138,000 now to 150,000-160,000 by the end of this year.
But no, no progress. None.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Ah yes, the next "few months" will yet again be critical. But we’ve all but won already. Eternal optimism. Not at all warranted based on facts on the ground or recent history, but what else does the "stay the course" crowd have to offer?

I wonder how many "critical junctures that will definately lead to success" I could find in McQ’s archives? Is it possible he’s managed to out Friedman Friedman?

 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
Life is a linear undifferentiated event for you, isn’t it davebo?

It’s absolutely inconceivable that there may be more than one "critical juncture" in an evolving scenario, huh?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Davebo makes the plaint of a useless idiot:
"Not at all warranted based on facts on the ground or recent history, but what else does the "stay the course" crowd have to offer?"
First we beat the Baathists en masse.

Then we beat the Baathists holdouts.

Then we beat the Islamist Insurgency.

Now we will beat the sectarian terrorists.

We don’t lose unless we leave before we are done.

Even if it takes 20 years (that’s aimed at you, Henke).

There are four remaining interest groups in Iraq:

The Kurds - We leave them alone and they leave us alone. They don’t seem to be ready to take on Turkey, the Iraqi gov’t, and/or Iran alone, so they’ll stay nominally under the Iraqi central government’s umbrella for the time being.

The Shi’ites - will have more to gain from peace than civil war, on top of which they will naturally enough be the predominate power in central governemnt. They’d win a civil war, but it won’t get them much they don’t already have, either.

The Sunnis - would have just about everything to lose in fighting a civil, and they know they would lose it. Hence their apprehension about our bugging out.

The Elected Central Governemnt - has us as its essentially sole patron. It also represents the hopes for peaceful prosperity for every Iraqi without an over-riding sectarian identity, the professional and middle class, who number not a few.

We have the resources to indefinetly outlast the sectarian terrorists while "atritting" them no end. There are no other bones of contention remaining ir Iraq than the sectarian interests.

Once we’ve won this one, then I expect we can leave having met our goals there.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Life is a linear undifferentiated event for you, isn’t it davebo?
No McQ, though your position on the status of the war could certainly be described as such.

I attempted earlier to create a historic timeline of your views as such but a rather clever archive configuration here (read totally useless) made it more of a time consuming effort than I cared to engage in.

Let me put it in terms just about anyone can understand OK?

Stand up in your office or room or whatever and face the nearest door.

Then make a 90 degree turn, hence "turning the corner".

Repeat 3 more times and make note of your current perspective.

Because when it comes to grasping the realization of our current 250 billion dollar a day adventure you’ve been anything but linear.

But I do love the "we only lose if we allow ourselves to lose" argument. Two years ago I was in Marseille working a project with a dozen French nationals that was woefully planned and even more horrifically executed. As deadlines loomed and failure became obvious the only reaction I could get out of my French colleagues was "We will not allow ourselves to fail, and we will succeed by sticking to our flawed plan".

The results were pretty much indistinguishable from our current situation. Only we have the luxury of refusing to accept the fact that a deadline does indeed exist.


 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
No McQ, though your position on the status of the war could certainly be described as such.
Brilliant comeback davebo. Just devastating.

I’m also amused by the excuse for having nothing to back your assertion.

Of course, while entertained by your attempt to make something out of nothing I noticed you chose to address the first point rather than the second:
It’s absolutely inconceivable that there may be more than one "critical juncture" in an evolving scenario, huh?
And, given your "answer" it is apparent that such thinking is indeed foreign to you. Not that I’m particularly surprised, given the rather poor quality of your past participation.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Davebo errs when he aligns himself with the cheese-eating surrender monkeys. And it is also a mistake to mention that he has worked closely with the French.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Xrlq does a pretty fair job of shooting down the "Bush is clearly guilty" crowd on the FISA discussion that began here last Sunday. Mr. Shaughnessy leaves the discussion in a huff, claiming victory - had Xrlq accepted liberal framing of the issue.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Then make a 90 degree turn, hence "turning the corner".

Repeat 3 more times and make note of your current perspective.
You didn’t say Simon Says!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I wonder how many "critical junctures that will definately lead to success" I could find in McQ’s archives?
How many do you think you can find in any complex undertaking? "Lead to", by the way, is not the same thing as "arrive at".
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
McQ;

I love your optimism, but the reality is that time is running out in Iraq. We can argue about whether that is good or not, but that is the political reality. However committed (or stubborn) Bush is, his party can see the writing on the wall and even he won’t be around in two years. We need to begin laying the groundwork for goals that can be achieved in the near future, as in months, not years, so we can declare victory and get out. I hope you are correct that Baghdad can be stabilized and the Iraqi security forces trained within that time frame. I do wish I saw some sign that Bush recognizes the politcal reality of the situation, but frankly I don’t.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
It’s absolutely inconceivable that there may be more than one "critical juncture" in an evolving scenario, huh?
No McQ, it’s not inconceivable at all. The problem is that we’ve had literally dozens of "critical junctures" in the past and to date, few to none have resulted in the security situation improving.

If you’ve found the quality of my past participation lacking in quality why not address the points I’ve made rather than simply complain, or in many cases ignore rather pertinant points.

Say like here or maybe inane and meaningless cliche’s that don’t come near addressing the point or ignoring the facts and opinions offered all together.

 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
"Lead to", by the way, is not the same thing as "arrive at".
No one expected an overnight solution, just as the war supporters surely never expected the prolonged insurgency or sectarian violence.

But at the least, 3 years and hundreds of billions of dollars into the venture it’s fair to ask that quantifiable signs of progress in the security situation be evident. And with Iraq just completing what was arguably it’s least secure month do you hold out a lot of hope for August?
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
No McQ, it’s not inconceivable at all. The problem is that we’ve had literally dozens of "critical junctures" in the past and to date, few to none have resulted in the security situation improving.
Really? Hasn’t improved at all anywhere, right?

Tal Afar? Ramadi? The Kurdish north? The province just turned over to the Iraqis in the south? The 10 or so they’re getting ready to turn over very soon?

And, of course, what I’ve been talking about is the training piece and how it fits into the overall plan and how, then, when complete it is up to the Iraqis to make it work.

What the article I cite shows is the progress that’s been made in that area. Applying it to Baghdad is obviously a different game than applying it to Tal Afar, but you have to be pretty darn disingenuous to make a statement that "none have resulted in the security situation improving."

And that, Davebo, in a nutshell, is why I take very little of what you have to say seriously. Because you don’t treat this seriously yourself.


 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I love your optimism, but the reality is that time is running out in Iraq.
And I acknowledge that, David. That doesn’t mean it’s in the ditch yet though.

Another point. I spent 18 plus years doing and planning training. This is a process that takes time if you do it right. So it isn’t just "optimism" at work here. I know where these folks have come from in terms of their training (and I know what our trainers have had to do to get them there). From a training standpoint this has been as complex an operation as one could imagine.

Turn basically a rabble into a functioning army. Add appropriate command, control and logistics functions, integrate them and make it all into something which can handle an existing insurgency. Nevermind the language or cultural barriers or the ongoing war, get it done in X number of months and do it right.

Tall order well underway to being executed.
We need to begin laying the groundwork for goals that can be achieved in the near future, as in months, not years, so we can declare victory and get out.
Revisit the link I gave you yesterday David and review the progress to date. I’ve given you Casey’s time frame (the defacto administration time frame). All things being equal, you’re looking at some of the goals being achieved by next year. I’m not sure given the late start we had working toward them how you could reasonably expect them to be accomplished any earlier and actually do what is right and necessary to stand up competent Iraqi security forces.

This isn’t a some two month operation. It is a multi-year task. We’ll be in the 3rd year by ’07 and we should begin to see some payoff.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ:
I’ve given you Casey’s time frame (the defacto administration time frame). All things being equal, you’re looking at some of the goals being achieved by next year. I’m not sure given the late start we had working toward them how you could reasonably expect them to be accomplished any earlier and actually do what is right and necessary to stand up competent Iraqi security forces. This isn’t a some two month operation. It is a multi-year task. We’ll be in the 3rd year by ’07 and we should begin to see some payoff.
Why isn’t Bush saying this? That’s what troubles me. If this is the Adminsitration’s de facto timeline, shouldn’t he be laying the groundwork now? Clearly, this is a process. Is the Administration just going to announce one day, OK we’ve won and now we’re leaving?
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Why isn’t Bush saying this?

If it’s the Administration’s "de facto timeline", then he said it some time ago. If it isn’t, it very like what the adminstration has been saying all along.

Where you been?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Really? Hasn’t improved at all anywhere, right?

Tal Afar? Ramadi? The Kurdish north? The province just turned over to the Iraqis in the south? The 10 or so they’re getting ready to turn over very soon?
So much hot air, so little time. Let’s just take one example" Ramadi. From the LA Times, 8/6/06:
Insurgents in Ramadi, the capital of restive Al Anbar province, are using increasingly sophisticated tactics against U.S. and Iraqi forces. As in the rest of Iraq, the improvised explosive device, which the military calls the IED, is the most common and deadliest weapon. But after three years of fighting, insurgents here are combining roadside bombs with small-arms fire or rocket-propelled grenades to lethal effect.

"Darwin works every day for the insurgency," said a Marine intelligence officer, whose work with classified information prohibits him from speaking publicly. "The guys who are left know their business. The dumb ones are weeded out very quickly."

Here, fighters are increasingly operating in small units, with two men serving as spotters and others firing weapons or setting off bombs.

Marine officers say some of the insurgent teams coordinate their attacks with other groups of fighters, sometimes signaling to each other with pigeons.

When insurgents or their supporters spot an American patrol moving through the streets or a squad holed up in a house watching over a street, they release pigeons from rooftop coops. A flock of birds rising in the sky is a sign that Americans have been spotted.

In Ramadi, such coordinated attacks occur many times a day.

"Last year, when I got IEDed, I looked around for the triggerman," said Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Rabert, an infantry weapons officer. "This year, I look for an ambush."

The Marines here, part of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, say they faced a far less sophisticated enemy last year when they operated around Fallouja and the Abu Ghraib prison.

"He never came out and fought us with complex attacks," said Lt. Col. Stephen Neary, the battalion commander. "Last year there was nothing complex. Here he likes to put things together."

The danger of the complex attacks, along with the rising heat, has forced the Americans to put a stop to most daytime patrols. Instead, they roam the streets after sunset, when their night-vision goggles give them an advantage.

When the Americans venture forth on a daylight patrol, the insurgents attack — as the U.S.-Iraqi patrol along the walled street discovered.
So, the attacks have gotten so bad in Ramadi that the US has had to cease most daytime patrols. And the security situation is improving?

Do you actually believe your own BS, McQ? Or do you simply hope that others will?
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
So, the attacks have gotten so bad in Ramadi that the US has had to cease most daytime patrols. And the security situation is improving?
You are as dense as a lead ingot, MK. This is another example of why I don’t take you any more seriously than davebo.

Read the freaking post for a change.
The model for this appears to be Tal Afar where we essentially shut the city of 170,000 down, controlled everything going in or out and then, while so doing, rebuilt the place. The same is being done in Ramadi, a Sunni stronghold of 400,000. As you can imagine, that takes even longer and is still underway.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Really? Hasn’t improved at all anywhere, right?

Tal Afar? Ramadi? The Kurdish north?
Depends on who you ask I suppose.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/02/ap/world/mainD8J8HNKO4.shtml
Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer said most of the recent increase in attacks in Anbar province occurred around the provincial capital of Ramadi. Progress in pacifying the Sunni Arab-dominated province has lagged far behind most of the country.

"Right now, much like all of Iraq, the attack levels are up," Zilmer told The Associated Press. "While numbers of attacks are up, the effectiveness, the complexity (of the attacks) has not risen."

Zilmer did not disclose figures, but said much of the increase has taken place in Ramadi.
Now there is hope for Tal Afar, but keep in mind both Ramadi and Tal Afar are fairly homogenous ethnically.

As to the Kurdish north, I’d say it’s as stable as it was prior to the invasion. But since it was essentially independant before that isn’t suprising.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
If it’s the Administration’s "de facto timeline", then he said it some time ago. If it isn’t, it very like what the adminstration has been saying all along.

Where you been?
Well, I’ve been right here. Including yesterday when Bush heald a press conference. And I haven’t heard anything resembling this come from Bush’s mouth. After all, he is the president, and he will be be the one to lay the groundwork for any withdrawal under any circumstances. I’ve seen no signs of that. If I’m missing something, I’ll happily stand corrected.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Why isn’t Bush saying this?
Because those who work for him already have, David. It’s on the record for anyone to see (and find).
That’s what troubles me. If this is the Adminsitration’s de facto timeline, shouldn’t he be laying the groundwork now?
You mean by repeating it over and over again?
Clearly, this is a process. Is the Administration just going to announce one day, OK we’ve won and now we’re leaving?
Look, if you’re saying that it would be good PR to continue to beat the drum, I won’t argue otherwise, but it is in fact the time frame laid out by a guy who works for the C-in-C. Who else’s time frame could it be? And if I found it, quite easily I might add, why can’t others?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, I’ve been right here. Including yesterday when Bush heald a press conference. And I haven’t heard anything resembling this come from Bush’s mouth. After all, he is the president, and he will be be the one to lay the groundwork for any withdrawal under any circumstances. I’ve seen no signs of that. If I’m missing something, I’ll happily stand corrected.
From the news conference:
Look, eventually Iraq will succeed because the Iraqis will see to it that they succeed. And our job is to help them succeed. That’s our job. Our job is to help their forces be better equipped, to help their police be able to deal with these extremists, and to help their government succeed.
He’s supposed to be the "big picture" guy, David. Others lay out the details.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
This is another example of why I don’t take you any more seriously than davebo.
Ignoring the issues does make it easier to sleep at night I suppose.

But doesn’t do wonders for your gravitas.

Obviously locking down a city of 400,000 will take some time if it can be accomplished at all.

Tell ya what McQ, I’ll give it 90 days before I return and force you to ignore the issue again. Fair enough?

Although rebuilding Ramadi will be difficult with what’s left of dwindling reconstruction funding locked up by the provisional government.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
DavidS wrote:
And I haven’t heard anything resembling this come from Bush’s mouth.
So you need to be spoonfed information repetively because you have the attention span of a cocker spaniel?

I’ve known this or something like it was "the plan" ever since I heard we’d stand down as they stood up.

Yours, TDP, ml, mls, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
(This is mostly cross-posted from the other Iraq thread.)

McQ writes:
He’s going to give the big picture view, David, but if you don’t think Gen. Casey was giving the administration plan when he went before Congress, well ... I’m sure you know how that works and you understand that it is indeed the administration plan he was voicing. But I understand your point, that on the whole this administration has done a poor job of getting that message out and I don’t disagree.
This is from yesterday’s press conference and it sure doesn’t sound like the President is on-board with the limited goals of securing Baghdad and training Iraqi security forces in a two-year timeframe. Those may be goals, but it is not at all clear that they constitute "the mission" that President Bush refers to. It sounds a lot more open-ended than that to me. And, yes, to those questions about spoonfeeding cocker spaniels and beating drums: that is exactly what the president should be doing because the country is increasingly turning against what it perceives to be an open-ended, undefined mission. it’s called political leadership.
The United States of America must understand it’s in our interests that we help this democracy succeed. As a matter of fact, it’s in our interests that we help reformers across the Middle East achieve their objectives. This is the fundamental challenge of the 21st century. A failed Iraq would make America less secure. A failed Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will provide safe haven for terrorists and extremists. It will embolden those who are trying to thwart the ambitions of reformers. In this case, it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales.
The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That’s the strategy. The tactics — now, either you say, yes, its important we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We’re not leaving, so long as I’m the President. That would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we’ve abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists.

No, we’re not leaving. The strategic objective is to help this government succeed. That’s the strategic — and not only to help the government — the reformers in Iraq succeed, but to help the reformers across the region succeed to fight off the elements of extremism. The tactics are which change. Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective, it means you’re leaving before the mission is complete. And we’re not going to leave before the mission is complete. I agree with General Abizaid: We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Mr. Shaughnessy leaves . . . in a huff, claiming victory
Now that is an Iraq strategy.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
it’s called political leadership.
It’s called expending resources while looking desperate.

Given the effort they put into their circular firing squad a la Lieberman, the Dems efforts will overreach and fall to rope-a-dope yet again.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Given the effort they put into their circular firing squad a la Lieberman, the Dems efforts will overreach and fall to rope-a-dope yet again.
I’m thinking about what’s best for the country, not the Republican party. And I assume the president is, too. And besides, I think your political calculation is dead wrong. Without an articulated Iraq exit strategy understood by the general public — yes, dunces like me — the Republicans may well lose the House. The country does not believe in this war. And the President isn’t helping himself, his party, or his country by chanting messianic goals of transforming the Middle East into a collocation of peace and freedom-loving democracies. Someone should let him know.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Someone should let him know.
Heh ... I’m sure someone has. About 40 times a day.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Post has been updated.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Hey...it’s the 22nd. Has Iran summoned the 12th Imam or Gigantor or whoever it is that lunatic believes in?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"I’m thinking about what’s best for the country, not the Republican party."
Given what the Democrats want in Iraq, withdrawal, what’s good for the Republicans in the longer timeframe is the best the country can get.
The country does not believe in this war.
It is a certainty a large minority thinks attempting it was a mistake, and it is likely a large minority of those who think it wasn’t a mistake thinks our execution was poor. I do not think that these categories neccessarily or even likely form a logical union amounting to a majority who monolithically "do not believe" in this war.

Also, the best thing for the country is for the administration to get on with its plan—clearly better alternatives being entirely lacking—and if this is no good for the GOP in 2006, then so be it.

With no other likely roadblocks looming—we seem to have eaten the elephant one bite at a time and are chewing on the last piece—then if there is good success in 2007 as McQ foresees (to be a rough time frame for good trial of the strategy), then it will be a very good thing for the GOP.

If the issue is still in doubt in 2008, then it will be a very bad thing for the GOP.

I see getting on with it as being best for the country. It will work out sooner or it won’t, giving political purchase to the Dems won’t help either the country or the GOP.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
and it is likely a large minority of those who think it wasn’t a mistake
/=
and it is likely a large majority of those who think it wasn’t a mistake
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
RE the update:
adding that even "die-hard elements" were now approaching the government with conditions for peace.
I don’t have the impression Moqtada Al’Sadr & Iran have shot their last bolt.

I do think they are the last bunch with a bolt to shoot.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Yes, the Baghdad people have seen peace for a while and they will taste it again, but not entirely with the US forces.
 
Written By: tony
URL: http://mymassachusettsnewsblog.com
Yes, the Baghdad people have seen peace for a while and they will taste it again, but not entirely with the US forces.
Well I hope not. I hope it’s through their own troops.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
How can I praise the plan described here appropriately?

It’s not a stupid plan. Controlling ingress and egress points and isolating neighborhoods is a neccesary element to the theoretical successful counterinsurgency.

But the neighborhoods described here are Sunni-relatively easy targets for short-term tactical gains. The Sunnis are locked out of, not hopelessly entwined with, the very government we are attempting to bolster the legitimacy of. There is no political cover for them and no legitimacy issues with supressing them. Everyone cheers for supressing Sunni insurgents. Having said that, with Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia as a fallback area, and not nearly enough troops to permanently secure the borders/cleanse the area of weapons, the Sunni insurgency isn’t going to die. It dies down in the areas in which we concentrate forces against it, and springs up elsewhere. We’ve seen this in several urban centres we’ve had to capture two or three times. Davebo and MK are not just spouting hot air: Iraqi casualties overall are certainly no lower than they were two years ago. I’m not in Tal Afar or other areas where "the model" is claimed to have worked to judge for myself, but I don’t see the overall security picture as having stabilized. The Shiite areas are fairly well-controlled when we are not confronting them, and they still are. The Sunni-majority provinces are war zones, like they’ve been for years.

There is no plan to ’reform’ Shiite areas. Although I suppose, given that I haven’t heard of any anti-Sunni rampages recently, that Iran is keeping them on a temporary leash. There is no effective plan to lead the government to be truly inclusive of Shiites and Sunnis, working issues out politically. Our political positions, generously helped by the political self-interest of Shiite radicals and thugs, help guarantee this continued deficiency.

I continue to believe that these kind of operations can provide only intermittent relief under current constraints.

Furthermore, I agree with the skeptics crowd that these timetables are essentially improvised. They end in 2008, because that’s the furthest concievable time that the political will could exist to keep them there.

I’m dropping out of sight for a while. I’ve enjoyed the intellctual challenges. Have a blast.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
McQ on the "critical phase" of Iraq - the pacification of Baghdad after 3 years of semi-anarchy:
While the insurgents and death squads may indeed be waiting for the soldiers to leave the neighborhoods to resume their activities, they will no longer be able to claim the violence is a result of the government or army. In this sort of war, that is an important point to make.
There is no plan to clear Shiite death squads out of Interior or with the private death squads operating from militias that supported Maliki. The Iraqi Army "that will stand up while we stand down" is heavily infiltrated by Shiite radicals and pro-Iranians...It’s pointless anyways, because the Shia and Sunni have an excellent idea of who on the other side killed them, and which civilian population they must butcher in reprisal.

There have been all too many "we are really turning the corner for sure", "light at the end of the tunnel" claims for a highly skeptical American public to have any confidence in the latest one. All this one seems to do is put Americans in position of having more troops be killed or maimed so raging psychotic Shia and Sunni may be kept from killing one another a little while longer.

We have also woken up to "ask the lower enlisted soldiers who were there" they know! Because, unfortunately, and no slight on them, the soldier in the field gives a very slanted view. Highly motivated soldiers are geared towards the positive, and will tell anyone, even when it is clear they are not doing the mission...that they are prevailing. Be it all the stories of the grateful people of Fallujah in 2003 from some PVT knowing that from the reaction of some she knew "America was loved because we cared about their children and handed out toys". To the 2004 and 2005 stories of Marines convinced the people of Fallujah "loved them for saving them from the terrorists." To 2006 Army saying Fallujah "is a whole lot better" while privately admitting that "an unarmed American walking the streets of Fallujah has a 3-5 minute lifetime".

The Germans loved being able to get their fighters on the Eastern Front back on home leave every once and a while because they knew highly motivated Wermacht and SS, the great soldiers they were, would sincerely on their deepest beliefs say "Germany is prevailing!" to civilians they met...even when High Command knew the tide had turned...

Iraq does need an endpoint because we are strategically tied down and paralyzed given our still shrinking military, and the rest of the World knows it and is taking full advantage of it.

Bush refuses to bolster the military with additional forces or replacing critical military systems worn out in 5 years of intense use or just attrited out on age...because that would threaten his tax cuts for the wealthy.

We have less ships, subs, fighter planes, tankers, Bradleys, Tanks, bombers, and logistic resources now than when Clinton handed over his drawn-down military to Bush. We are now incapable of fighting 2 Wars at once. With Iran looming and other dangers like Venezuela, N Korea out there....we must reach a decision soon about rebuilding the military like Reagan did instead of throwing the money on Iraq Occupation and domestic "1st Responder Heroes and Security safety guardians".

How do we rebuild?

A. End Bush’s tax cuts.
B. Get out of the Iraq people and expensive equipment meatgrinder ASAP.
C. Get as serious as the threats and stop pretending this can all be done with no sacrifice asked of the general public. Be honest and say if full war breaks out we will need mandatory restrictions on energy use, resource use...more taxes...and even a Draft. Not that it is guaranteed full war will start, but we have to be ready to face standard of living cutbacks and a Draft...
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://

 
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