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A "Surge of Facts"
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, July 12, 2007

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 acknowledged its validity. One of the reasons that you see the reputed non-support for the war is most people think we're losing and as Patton once said "Americans can't stand a loser". But given the information that has been made available over the years, as well as the mismanagement of the war to this point, it isn't at all surprising that many Americans feel the way they do about Iraq.

Now, as a 'dead-ender', as those who prefer to engage in name-calling rather than actually engaging the problem like to refer to me, I'm of the opinion that we have a strategy, at least militarily, that can work. And as Tony Snow points out, political progress is not a leading indicator of success militarily, but obviously a lagging indicator.

While all that is well and good, that lagging indicator, as I pointed out yesterday, has real-world political ramifications in the US, and again I pointed out that when the war's supporters in Congress go home to their districts and states, and they're hit with the "why are we making such an effort on behalf of the Iraqi government when it is making no similar effort on its own behalf" question, they have no answer.

I asked Snow that question as well, and again, he acknowledged the point.

So how will the White House answer, given that time is not their friend? Said Snow, prepare for a "Surge of Facts". The plan is to begin (I know, I know, why is something like this just beginning?) presenting, hopefully on a regular basis (daily?), facts about all realms of what is going on in Iraq - the economic, the political, the military, etc. It will be an attempt to give the effort context beyond the constant "two IEDs killed 4 soldiers today" drumbeat of the media reporting to this point.

You're aware of the new press room at the White House? That's to be the venue (plasma screens, etc). The obvious hope, of course, is to not only produce the facts in written form but to present them in visual form as well. The idea is that if this data and those visuals enter into the main-stream awareness, they might begin to alter the perception of the public that Iraq is a loss and perhaps begin to buck up the numbers of those who support bringing the effort in Iraq to a positive conclusion.

For dead-enders like me that's welcome news, because to this point, I've only had Bill Roggio and Michael Yon available to present the type of information on the other and more successful aspects of the Iraqi effort.

Anyway, that's the White House plan. An expected percentage will see the effort as nothing more than a propaganda bid to change hearts and minds of Americans. They'll be right, that's precisely the purpose of propaganda. And to this point, the WH has been losing that battle rather badly. But what the detractors won't understand, or at least admit to understanding, is propaganda doesn't have to be evil or be a lie.

The White House will have to be very careful with this effort to ensure they present accurate and verifiable information as, and I'm sure they are as aware of this as anyone, there will be an army of fact-checkers out there. Snow claims the WH will be giving both the good and the bad as doing so is necessary to retain credibility within the effort.

We'll see how the "Surge of Facts" goes. You have to wonder, though, if it may not be too late in the game to have an effect, politically speaking. I certainly hope not, as I still believe that bringing Iraq to a successful conclusion is very important to our national interests and security.
 
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"Surge of Facts"

And it will be reported like this. "Today the White House tried to put a positive spin on their so far unsuccessful Iraq Plan".

Facts only come from the MSM, everything else is spin according to them.
 
Written By: Jay Evans
URL: http://
MqQ: Great questions on the call. You can hear a recording of it at the Wizbang podcast site.
 
Written By: Charlie Quidnunc
URL: http://wizbangblog.com/podcast
Well at least I finally have the impression they’re addressing the problem.
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Argh. Correct URL below. TDP, ml,msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Okay. Trying this again. TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Huh. When I put a URL (which both Firefox and IE7 load) into the URL: field with the "http://" dummy value, it doesn’t take it.

I’m doing something wrong.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
You have to wonder, though, if it may not be too late in the game to have an effect, politically speaking.
The military strategy behind the surge is sound, and it offers the best chance of success in Iraq, but by no means any assurance of success. The problem, as you correctly identified, is time. There is little chance of the military being given enough time to make it work, and the cause of this is twofold, the four years of failed plans, and related loss of faith in the administration to get it right this time or ever.

As I have said before, the best chance we have of allowing ourselves to succeed in Iraq is with new leadership that is not Bush or allies, but is aware of the need and the manner, that we can succeed. But any such leader would also have to address Americans desire to get out of Iraq. It will not be an easy balancing act. Getting someone elected who thinks they can "stay the course", even though the current course is far better than all previous "courses", will be politically impossible IMHO.

Bush did not have an unlimited amount of time to succeed in Iraq, and he squandered the time he had and there are consequences. This can be filed under sad but true.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Now, will Snow be giving facts or "facts"?

Because on the news this morning, Bush said again that US withdrawal in Iraq would mean victory for Al Qaeda. The next story was about Al Qaeda successfully reconstituting in Pakistan. The story after that was with the author of the Abu Aardvark blog who said that (a) AQ in Iraq is a very different organization from the original AQ, and AQ Iraq is just poaching on the brand; and (b) the US military knows full well that AQ Iraq is only a small portion of the problem, and the biggest problem is Sunni-Shia conflict. Other stories confirmed that there is no evidence to support the Secretary of Homeland Securities’ gut feelings.

So, we get the President and DHS laying out utter BS, with the rest of the newsday filled with administration officials trying to temper the earlier remarks.

yah, this truth surge should be fascinating.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I’m doing something wrong.
Kill the cookies in both which hold the values they save for you when you log in to leave a comment here. Then sign in like it’s your first time here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ you may be right that we finally have a strategy, at least militarily, that can work. Unfortunately, "at least militarily" is not sufficient. The military piece of the Iraq plan is may be one that can work but if it does so without the other components working it will be entirely wasted.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
McQ you may be right that we finally have a strategy, at least militarily, that can work. Unfortunately, "at least militarily" is not sufficient. The military piece of the Iraq plan is may be one that can work but if it does so without the other components working it will be entirely wasted.
We agree ... and that’s my point about time not being a friend to the administration. And when you add to that the point that Snow made, about political progress being a lagging indicator dependent on military success (providing the necessary security in which reconciliation can begin to work itself out), time becomes crucial.

My concern, obviously, is now that we have something militarily which may set up the necessaries to see that work, we’ll refuse to give it the time it needs because we’re tired of the war.

I think that would be a shame and it would, eventually, redound on us rather violently. Additionally, for all those concerned about how we’re perceived in the world, pulling out before we’re successful will again demonstrate to those who believe it now as well as those on the fence, that we’re unreliable and don’t have the necessary national will to do difficult tasks to completion.

Last, but certainly not least, it would provide a basis for terrorists near and far to claim a victory, whether earned or not, which they would use to influence the ignorant for decades to come. It’s all about power, and they’d use that as a demonstration of theirs.

And that’s not to mention the bloodbath in Iraq which would follow an immediate pullout.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
An expected percentage will see the effort as nothing more than a propaganda bid to change hearts and minds of Americans.
Yes, and most of those will be totally oblivious to the fact that they’ve been buying into enemy propoganda for years.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
We do seem to agree on a few things. Trusting Tony Snow isn’t somewhere I can follow you though. Was political progress a lagging variable when the elections were held? When the constitution was agreed? When the government was formed? Can he really think that political progress is any kind of "indicator" of military success leading or lagging, and not an equally significant theater in this battle?

I afraid I don’t agree that it will be a damn shame to abandon a strategy that has only one leg, especially as any success we do have in quelling the violence gives the various politicians less incentive to compromise. It is however a tragedy that so many will die between now and then to no purpose.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Trusting Tony Snow isn’t somewhere I can follow you though.
I’m not asking anyone to trust Tony Snow ... take what he says with a grain of salt if you prefer.
Was political progress a lagging variable when the elections were held? When the constitution was agreed? When the government was formed? Can he really think that political progress is any kind of "indicator" of military success leading or lagging, and not an equally significant theater in this battle?
He was very specific about his point, and that was the politics of reconciliation. It may be my fault that wasn’t clear in the write up. If shia and sunni are blowing each other up, it’s very hard then for shia and sunni to sit down together and reconcile. His point is that unless the military can make the violence a non-issue in that regard, i.e. provide the necessary level of security to foster reconciliation, then it isn’t going to happen. And it is reconciliation which will finally bring the government of Iraq together as a functioning whole.
I afraid I don’t agree that it will be a damn shame to abandon a strategy that has only one leg, especially as any success we do have in quelling the violence gives the various politicians less incentive to compromise. It is however a tragedy that so many will die between now and then to no purpose.
I’m not sure I follow your logic about less violence equaling less reason to compromise. That seems counter-intuitive. And, of course, my point is we’re attempting to "grow the other leg" for lack of a better metaphor, by engaging in security operations. This is all about giving them the time and room necessary to reconcile. Obviously if they don’t take advantage of the opportunity, then I’d agree there isn’t much more left for us to do. But we’re nowhere near that point yet as ongoing security ops still have a while to run.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Look, if the Iraqis don’t make any progress, then everyone agrees Plan B would be to leave trainers and get our troops out.

On a related issue, nowadays the military plans for the humanitarian crisis that accompanies the war...what about the withdrawl? If it all collapses ala Vietnam, what’s our plan for refugees, etc.? Will we prepare an exit strategy for the guys who worked as translators, the best of our Iraqi allies, etc.?

p.s. While the government can make every attempt to put out information, the MSM controls the agenda and the spin. Good luck trying to change that. It will be the daily grind of car bombs and death. Most people probably don’t even read past the headline by now.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Oh, and the Sunni-Shia split was greatly exacerbated by Al Qaeda. It wasn’t the nationalist sunnis who blew up all of those mosques.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Retief, the political has become a lagging variable only because the military has leapfrogged it, as we have finally adopted classic COIN tactics.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Yes, and most of those will be totally oblivious to the fact that they’ve been buying into enemy propoganda for years.
Don’t beat yourself up Billy, George Bush is not the nemey, he’s just a poor decision maker who got in over his head, chose bad advisors, and invaded a nation that was no threat to us. You wanted to be patriotic and bought his propaganda, lots of people did. The best thing you can do is admit the mistake and move on.

Cap (sarcastic)
p.s. While the government can make every attempt to put out information, the MSM controls the agenda and the spin. Good luck trying to change that.
The MSM was onboard for quite awhile, they didn’t fail here, the failure, besides invading in the first place, was not adopting these COIN tactics in the beginning.

Cap (not sarcastic)
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
James Joyner of OTB, following his review of the Initial Benchmark Assessment Report: So, essentially, despite AQI comprising something like five percent of the insurgency, we have diverted most of our resources to combating it. And we’re failing. Not only is AQI stronger but, as another report being released today suggests, al Qaeda in general is enjoying a resurgence. Meanwhile, the ISF continues to be an undependable, lackluster fighting force four years into the game. That, despite their training having been headed up by the counterinsurgency guru who’s now in charge of the whole shebang.

From an Op-ed published in the Boston Globe by two principals of the International Crisis Group (hat-tip Belgravia Dispatch):

TO IMAGINE what Baghdad will look like after the surge, there is no need to project far into the future. Instead, just turn to the recent past. Between September 2006 and March 2007, British forces conducted Operation Sinbad in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city. At first, there were signs of progress: diminished violence, criminality, and overall chaos. But these turned out to be superficial and depressingly fleeting. Only a few months after the operation came to an end, old habits resurfaced. Today, political tensions once again are destabilizing the city; relentless attacks against British forces have driven them off the streets; and the southern city is under the control of militias, more powerful and less inhibited than before.

And even though Iraq is a majority Shia country, the proprietors of this blog, like the POTUS, still seem afraid that a Sunni terrorist organization will find a home there.

weird.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Don’t beat yourself up Billy...
As I said, totally oblivious.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Anybody here read the Iraqi blogs? If you are, then you are not getting the message about the problems in Iraq. Or are you looking at Iraq only when blogged about as a success?
I read Yon also but I also read what Iraqi citizens are saying and this is not success. (But wait, these are citizens of Iraq so maybe they don’t count?) Why don’t they recognize success when they themselves see it? Please explain.
This post and others I read reminds me of the pre-civil rights talk in much of America, i.e., Why don’t they recognize how well off they are? It’s just those agitators stirring up this trouble. If the media didn’t show the pictures of the riots, the country would be better off and people would not be so upset. Let’s listen to what the President has to say and we will all feel better. We need to get the facts out about the Negro community, they don’t have it so bad. They are destroying their own neighborhoods, what sense is that? ...(I can almost here the Iraqis chanting now: Burn, Baby, Burn...)
Ah, yes, "The Surge" is just beginning...Gentlemen, the summers are longer and hotter in Iraq than they were in Detroit, LA, Atlanta, etc., etc. But, hey, the Iraqi people will just need to suffer a little longer until we can free them. I am sure the good ones will understand.
 
Written By: kindlingman
URL: http://
"An expected percentage will see the effort as nothing more than a propaganda bid to..."

Well of course it is a propaganda bid. That does not, as you point out, mean it is wrong. Of course it will, I am sure, be handled with all the deftness that the Republican hierarchy usually brings to these efforts. I can understand W, with his well known facility with the English(or any other) language, using the word "surge", but how all those highly paid soi-disant political "experts" could let that word get so ingrained in the political narrative still amazes me, cynical as I am.

*******************

"Well at least I finally have the impression they’re addressing the problem."

The problem is that even when they correctly identify a problem, they only address it for a week or two. Republicans have a habit of doing this with elections, too. They do not seem to know there is a difference between chronic and acute; between a battle and a war.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It could well be that the cost of going to war in Iraq are much higher than anybody anticipated. With the recent reports on renewed al qaeda strength and how Iraq has benefited them immensely by giving them more recruitment, another front, and the ability to regroup in Pakistan and Afghanistan, going to war in Iraq may have made another major terror attack on the US inevitable. It’s a sobering thought.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
As I said, totally oblivious.
I would have to say, in all seriousness, that supporters of this war, were the one’s who were oblivious. I laid out the facts as we knew BEFORE the war, and war supporters, like you, disagreed with me. I was right, war supporters were wrong.

But even though I thought this was a mistake from the beginning, I supported the effort to the extent that a private citizen can.

Is it enemy propaganda to suggest that the President should not be given authorization to declare if he chooses to? I thought that was the Constitution.
Are you saying that the Constitution is enemy propaganda now?

People who wanted to invade Iraq SHOULD have done more. They should have opposed the AUMFI unless specific objective factual determinations were made, and specific worst case scenario post war planning was presented. Instead, YOU let the administration go to war based on the rosiest of predictions, without the slightest idea of whether they had any idea what to do AFTER military victory.

I’m not omniscient, I accept that I could have been wrong about whether we should have invaded or not, and when we did, I supported total victory. But you don’t need to be omniscient to recognize that this war was entered into too lightly by the admnistration, and they were able to do this BECAUSE of blind support like yours.

We are not in the present situation because people bought into enemy propaganda, we are where we are because of the way the war was prosecuted by the political leadership. You could game this 1000 times, and every time the rosiest outlook did not come to pass, this is exactly the situation you would expect us to be in. And you want to blame who, the media, the left, the enemy, for an outcome that was all but unavoidable based on the assumptions made going in. If you want to know who is responsible for the current state of affairs, look at the people who made the invalid assumptions and stop with your constant nattering about the American people (and the left, and the right, and the MSM, and the enemy) who are doing exactly what they would expected to be doing under the circumstances.

Demand more from your government even as you demand less government.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
We are not in the present situation because people bought into enemy propaganda
Technically, yes we are. Everyone (esp the UN SC, and Congress) agreed before the war, that Saddam likely had chemical and bio weapons, and facilities. In fact, Saddam did all he could to give that impression, so he could appear stronger to his and his countries enemies.

He was given a last chance, wasted it. He was given an ultimatum, he ignored it. Saddam lied, and his bluff was called.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I think Saddam wanted the Iranians to think he had that kind of stuff. He was always paranoid that the 65% of the Iraqi population that was Shi’ite would strike a deal with Iran and depose him (that’s one main reason he attacked Iran when it went from the anticlerical Shah to the Ayatollah Khomeini). Weakened after Desert Storm, he was convinced Iran was waiting for the opportunity — he feared Iran more than he feared us. It was the last of Saddam’s many miscalculations as President. And now the biggest problem, I’m convinced, is not Iraq or even al qaeda, but Iran. (Iran can be dealt with while al qaeda cannot, which at least is one bright spot).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Technically, yes we are. Everyone (esp the UN SC, and Congress) agreed before the war, that Saddam likely had chemical and bio weapons, and facilities. In fact, Saddam did all he could to give that impression, so he could appear stronger to his and his countries enemies.

He was given a last chance, wasted it. He was given an ultimatum, he ignored it. Saddam lied, and his bluff was called.
Even if I were to cede your point, which I don’t, that eventuality did not require that it be done so incredibly badly.

Even though I thought we did not have enough evidence to support the claims that Iraq was a threat, if those with the power to start a war chose to do anyway, the American people had every right to expect that they did it competently.

So no, we did not have to be in this situation. If this war were entered with plans for the worst case scenario, the COIN tactics and the strategy behind them would have been implemented as soon as the statue fell.

Just because it was a bad idea, does not mean that is HAD to be prosecuted badly, and as much as I thought it was a bad idea, I still had high hopes that it would turn out well.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
He was given a last chance, wasted it. He was given an ultimatum, he ignored it. Saddam lied, and his bluff was called.
He said he didn’t have WMD’s... exactly where was the bluff?
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” — Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke

Of course, you’d probably have been calling for surrender when Washington drew his forces back to Valley Forge. Right?

Or when 29,000 troops died during the Normandy invasion?

Or maybe when American troops were surrounded by the Germans, you would have advocated surrendering and say drawing back to France.

Let’s see, the military planned for an initial phase that was going to take 6 months, and it took 6 weeks or so. Mostly because the enemy quit the field of battle and vanished into the population. We had enough troops for the initial phase, and were relying somewhat on Iraqi troops being able to help with security after Saddam fell. That was the major assumption that turned out not to be the case. We asked the Iraqi army to stand down, and many of them did, they went home and kept their heads down, and didn’t volunteer to help rebuild their country.

And if you want to play we shoulda done something, maybe if the military had been directed to train, equip, and plan for the types of conflict we actually get involved in, rather then being drawn down the past 2 decades since the cold war ended, we wouldn’t be in the straights we are in. But that type of war doesn’t lead to big sexy procurements or the budgets that go along with them. There are still those who want to equip ourselves for the next big war with the next big enemy, China.

Since 9/11, there are a ton of woulda, shoulda, coulda’s. With many, many people responsible for where we are now. No one party is at fault, however the long term incumbents should shoulder the most fault.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
He said he didn’t have WMD’s... exactly where was the bluff?
One of those congressional reports had the intel which said that many of his commanders thought they had WMD. And we collected that from listening to their conversations and from multiple defectors.

As ScottE said, he wanted Iran (and probably dissenters in his own country) to think he still had them. So why wouldn’t the rest of the world not think the same thing.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” — Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke
Ahh, very clever, GWB, knowing that "no plan" survives the enemy, chose to go forth with no plan.

Ingenius!
Since 9/11, there are a ton of woulda, shoulda, coulda’s. With many, many people responsible for where we are now. No one party is at fault, however the long term incumbents should shoulder the most fault.
If we had planned for the worst case scenario, it may still have been an awful mess, but that eventuality would have been far less likely than the actual eventuality of going in with plans based on best case assumptions.

I feel like we are talking past each other.

Do you think that post war planning was based on assumptions that were too optimistic or not? If so, wouldn’t failure be a greater likelihood? And isn’t that why we are where we are now?

Why blame the MSM?

It’s not rocket science.
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I guess you missed this...
We had enough troops for the initial phase, and were relying somewhat on Iraqi troops being able to help with security after Saddam fell. That was the major assumption that turned out not to be the case. We asked the Iraqi army to stand down, and many of them did, they went home and kept their heads down, and didn’t volunteer to help rebuild their country.
And what was the worst case scenario? And worst case according to who?

Absolute worst case was chemical weapons the entire way in, and having to take Baghdad street by street, with millions of refugees pouring past us. And that all was discussed at the time.

Always assuming the worst would have us never venturing outside and assuming the least amount of risk at all times.

Post war planning was light, and I have a feeling, though no confirmation, that part of that was the quickness of the initial phase. If you think the first phase is going to take 6 months, that’s a significant amount of time in which one could plan further in detail. You start with a very broad outline, which they had, and then refine it. A major component of the post-war plan never materialized, i.e. Iraqi’s providing their own security from the start.

We didn’t have a post-war plan when we started WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or any of the small conflicts we’ve been in the last couple of decades. Typically, that isn’t what the military does, it’s what the state department does.

We certainly need to change how we plan and maintain the peace once we get done with the violence.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
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.

Quite frankly, it’s audacious as it is dishonest to suggest ’the surge’ is barely beginning now and blame the MSM for the idea that it’s already failed. George Bush announced the plan in February and the Pentagon chose to begin the surge, to my recollection, that same month and stagger the increase over five months. You’ve certainly been talking about the surge and giving alledged evidence that it’s working for more than twenty-two days. But now that it’s rather obviously making nothing more than cosmetic alterations in either the military or the political stalemate, you’d like to claim it’s only been underway for 22 days...

As you’ve emphasized yourself, the "New Plan" isn’t simply the addition of more troops, it’s a change in strategy that’s been underway basically all year. Total insurgent attacks went up this quarter, not down. Read Brookings’ Iraq Index and please stop trying to spin this so obviously.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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