T Nation

Iraq: What Next?

Seems like the current plan in play is to increase troop numbers over there for a “surge” to try to win. However, if all that is going to change is that more troops are going to go over to try to police various Iraqi municipalities, then this isn’t going to work. The military isn’t a police force, but it seems to me that they are being used as such, and essentially have been for going on at least two years now.

Professor Victor David Hanson has some changes that need to be implemented for our efforts to change – one wonders why they haven’t been already:

http://victordavishanson.pajamasmedia.com/2006/12/15/things_are_coming_to_a_head.php

[i]Putting Iran and Syria on notice that we will bomb terrorists flocking across their borders.

Give an ultimatum to militia heads, especially Moqtadar Sadr, to disband or face annihilation from the United States.

Expand the rules of engagement in all matters dealing with IEDs, with a shoot on sight rule concerning anyone found implanting or aiding such efforts.

Enlarge the planned Iraqi security forces to near 400,000, and embed far more Americans in those units.

Recalibrate the ratio of support to combat troops, so that we don?t simply create bigger compounds to facilitate larger troop levels to end up with more stationary and more numerous targets?and ever more enclaves of Americans behind thousands of acres of bermed reserves.

So spell out the mission, the new rules of engagement, and then, and only then, surge?if need be? more troops. [/i]

Does anyone else have any thoughts on what needs to change over there for our efforts to be successful?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Seems like the current plan in play is to increase troop numbers over there for a “surge” to try to win. However, if all that is going to change is that more troops are going to go over to try to police various Iraqi municipalities, then this isn’t going to work. The military isn’t a police force, but it seems to me that they are being used as such, and essentially have been for going on at least two years now.

Professor Victor David Hanson has some changes that need to be implemented for our efforts to change – one wonders why they haven’t been already:

http://victordavishanson.pajamasmedia.com/2006/12/15/things_are_coming_to_a_head.php

[i]Putting Iran and Syria on notice that we will bomb terrorists flocking across their borders.

Give an ultimatum to militia heads, especially Moqtadar Sadr, to disband or face annihilation from the United States.

Expand the rules of engagement in all matters dealing with IEDs, with a shoot on sight rule concerning anyone found implanting or aiding such efforts.

Enlarge the planned Iraqi security forces to near 400,000, and embed far more Americans in those units.

Recalibrate the ratio of support to combat troops, so that we don?t simply create bigger compounds to facilitate larger troop levels to end up with more stationary and more numerous targets?and ever more enclaves of Americans behind thousands of acres of bermed reserves.

So spell out the mission, the new rules of engagement, and then, and only then, surge?if need be? more troops. [/i]

Does anyone else have any thoughts on what needs to change over there for our efforts to be successful?[/quote]

What needs to happen over there can’t happen because of what’s happening HERE. Al Queda scripted this whole thing. Their goal was never to ‘win’ in Iraq. It was just be a pain in the ass and keep this thing dragging on. You’d think if you find your enemy’s prediction that your people will lose their taste for war and turn on their government and demand a pull-out you’d MAYBE not work to do exactly what your enemy wants you do do? Yet we have people ostensibly doing Al Queda’s bidding right here, right now.

Imagine finding a teams playbook and discovering they are stacking 11 men on the line. They don’t even HAVE a defense to defend a pass. They aren’t even going to COVER your receivers. Do you think you’d say, “Shit, man! We’ve got to run it! It’s the only think to do. RUN!”

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Does anyone else have any thoughts on what needs to change over there for our efforts to be successful?[/quote]

Yeah, I think “Cpt Trav” has a good plan in this Powerpoint slide show. Put local Iraqis in charge of local police forces. Give reconstruction money to local contractors to hire local workers. Use the Iraqi Army to secure the borders, roads and oilfields. You know, national Army type stuff.

There are no US forces to increase, all they’ll do is extend the tours of the troops who are there now and decrease the rotation time back home. And call up more Guard and Reserve forces.

Eventually troops will just be deployed to Iraq until they’re killed or too old to hang on patrol any longer. Great recruitment tool.

Edit: forgot to post the link to the PP site. Doh!

[quote]tme wrote:
Eventually troops will just be deployed to Iraq until they’re killed or too old to hang on patrol any longer. Great recruitment tool.
[/quote]

What? Long term thinking? What’s that?

We should move our troops from South Korea into Iraq. I think the South Korean military is much more powerful than the North’s and just incase they’re not we’ve got troops in Japan to back them up.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Seems like the current plan in play is to increase troop numbers over there for a “surge” to try to win. However, if all that is going to change is that more troops are going to go over to try to police various Iraqi municipalities, then this isn’t going to work. The military isn’t a police force, but it seems to me that they are being used as such, and essentially have been for going on at least two years now.

Professor Victor David Hanson has some changes that need to be implemented for our efforts to change – one wonders why they haven’t been already:

http://victordavishanson.pajamasmedia.com/2006/12/15/things_are_coming_to_a_head.php

[i]Putting Iran and Syria on notice that we will bomb terrorists flocking across their borders.

Give an ultimatum to militia heads, especially Moqtadar Sadr, to disband or face annihilation from the United States.

Expand the rules of engagement in all matters dealing with IEDs, with a shoot on sight rule concerning anyone found implanting or aiding such efforts.

Enlarge the planned Iraqi security forces to near 400,000, and embed far more Americans in those units.

Recalibrate the ratio of support to combat troops, so that we don?t simply create bigger compounds to facilitate larger troop levels to end up with more stationary and more numerous targets?and ever more enclaves of Americans behind thousands of acres of bermed reserves.

So spell out the mission, the new rules of engagement, and then, and only then, surge?if need be? more troops. [/i]

Does anyone else have any thoughts on what needs to change over there for our efforts to be successful?[/quote]

I’ve come to think a “surge” is just throwing good money after bad, sunk costs would be the economist’s term wouldn’t it? 30,000-50,000 troops would make a minimal impact, and the prospects of keeping them there for long are not good (see some of General Schoomaker’s latest comments). Bill Lind lays out some of the reasons why a surge is a bad idea, starting with the fact that the Iraqi state no longer exists (this is a key realization, if it is in fact true, and I think all the evidence points that way):
http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_11_30_06.htm

Also, I would take military wisdom from Victor Davis Hanson with a huge grain of salt. I respect his qualifications and what little of his serious historical work I’ve read, but he writes some asinine stuff when it comes to Iraq and “the war on terror.” Key example being the old World War II comparison. His points above:

Bombing Syrian and Iranian terrorists “flocking” into Iraq would have a minimal impact, because they are a tiny percentage of the forces arrayed against us, and anyway, terrorists aren’t conventional military formations, easily seen and targeted from the air.

We can’t give the militias an ultimatum, because the Mahdi Army, Badr Brigades and the rest are integral parts of the government, the only “friends” we have left in Iraq, not counting the Kurds.

Enlarge the Iraqi security forces and embed more Americans? Yeah, that’s been the plan for a couple years now.

He’s absolutely right about the ratio of support to combat troops, a point Lind touches on, I have a buddy in Diwaniya (the “safe” Shiite south) who’s told me horror stories about that, but getting the Army out of its FOB mentality is an enormous undertaking, and will happen, if it does, far too late to change what’s happening on the ground in Iraq. Professionals talk logistics, as the old canard goes.

Hanson’s plan can’t possibly work, because it would involve the US Military killing more people and/or taking more prisoners.

As we should have figured out by now, any time the US Military attempts to kill a terrorist, they just end up blasting a dozen innocent civilians, and any time they take prisoners, they just torture them crap on their koran, and then set them free or bury them.

Everything the US Military does ends up creating more terrorists anyway, so we may as well disband, and wait for the tidal wave of Peace that will surely follow.

THAT’S the plan.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Seems like the current plan in play is to increase troop numbers over there for a “surge” to try to win…

Does anyone else have any thoughts on what needs to change over there for our efforts to be successful?[/quote]

What do you mean by “win”? What do you mean by “success”? I’m serious. WTF is winning in Iraq mean, as of now?

If “winning” means that we create a unified Iraq where Shi’ittes and Sunnis and Kurds all coexist peacefully, and act as a partner with the US in the global war on terror, pardon me while I laugh my freakin’ head off. That’s a pretty ludicrous goal at this point IMO. Is that what you mean by “success”?

Wanna explain to me how sending even more soldiers over there will convince Iraqis that they should drop their tribal affiliations in order to satisfy George Bush?

A surge is just a way for Bush to play out the clock on his presidency, and try to avoid blame for fucking up royally. A surge is a political move for Bush, not a well-thought out and comprehensive military strategy.

After a few years, when a troop surge utterly fails to magically unite the warring factions in Iraq, the next president will finally start to reduce troop levels in order to try to salvage the military, and stop the hemmoraghing of our tax dollars. Then dumbfucks like Headhunter will be able to talk about how Bush actually had a winning formula for Iraq, but some other president/the media/the public/big liberal meanies wouldn’t let Bush win.

There may possibly be an imperfect political/diplomatic solution to the Iraq fiasco, which would require some diplomatic finesse, a willingness to compromise, and getting the cooperation of other countries in the region such as the Iranians and Syrians… all of which George Bush is totally incapable of doing successfully. Too bad because even an imperfect compromise would be an improvement over the trainwreck we have now.

Here’s a sure sign that Bush is totally fucked up and totally clueless on what to do in Iraq: All three of the proposed strategies* now being considerd are TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

*Increase troops/decrease troops/break Iraq up into 3 regions

[quote]Brad61 wrote:
BostonBarrister wrote:
Seems like the current plan in play is to increase troop numbers over there for a “surge” to try to win…

Does anyone else have any thoughts on what needs to change over there for our efforts to be successful?

What do you mean by “win”? What do you mean by “success”? I’m serious. WTF is winning in Iraq mean, as of now?

If “winning” means that we create a unified Iraq where Shi’ittes and Sunnis and Kurds all coexist peacefully, and act as a partner with the US in the global war on terror, pardon me while I laugh my freakin’ head off. That’s a pretty ludicrous goal at this point IMO. Is that what you mean by “success”?

Wanna explain to me how sending even more soldiers over there will convince Iraqis that they should drop their tribal affiliations in order to satisfy George Bush?

A surge is just a way for Bush to play out the clock on his presidency, and try to avoid blame for fucking up royally. A surge is a political move for Bush, not a well-thought out and comprehensive military strategy.
[/quote]

Maybe, but then why are both McCain and the neocons backing a surge? I think it’s a dumb idea, but I don’t think it’s just Bush covering his ass.

But what possible leverage do we have over Iran and Syria, and what incentive do they have to cooperate? I can’t see much.

There are no good options. Only bad and worse. We WILL have to leave eventually. The only questions are the time and manner. And there will be problems when we leave. There is too much secretarian violence, too much corruption amongst officials and sects, and too little culture of democracy sustaining the country.

[quote]Brad61 wrote:
If “winning” means that we create a unified Iraq where Shi’ittes and Sunnis and Kurds all coexist peacefully, and act as a partner with the US in the global war on terror, pardon me while I laugh my freakin’ head off. That’s a pretty ludicrous goal at this point IMO. Is that what you mean by “success”?..

…There may possibly be an imperfect political/diplomatic solution to the Iraq fiasco, which would require some diplomatic finesse, a willingness to compromise, and getting the cooperation of other countries in the region such as the Iranians and Syrians… all of which George Bush is totally incapable of doing successfully. Too bad because even an imperfect compromise would be an improvement over the trainwreck we have now.
[/quote]

Your inconsistent. First you laugh at the idea that a unified democracy could work in Iraq, then you start talking about the plausibility
of Iran and Syria actually helping us in the war on terror.

Too funny.

Get this, Iran and Syria are NEVER gonna help us out in the GWOT. Never. Period. What on earth ever made you think this scenario is at all more plausible than the first?

I will agree with you however that Iraq should probably be split up somehow. As a culture they are just so much more tribal than the west.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
There are no good options. Only bad and worse. We WILL have to leave eventually. The only questions are the time and manner. And there will be problems when we leave. There is too much secretarian violence, too much corruption amongst officials and sects, and too little culture of democracy sustaining the country.[/quote]

Js,

I agree with everything you wrote.

One of the main problems with the War in Iraq is that many of the goals are so subjective.

In World War II, taking an island was a victory in a larger goal. Entering Germany was a goal post.

In Iraq, it would be helpful to have a big ass chart that shows each individual province. Every Monday, George stands up and says: “We’ve turned over this province to the Iraqi’s, two more to go.”

I believe the American people (minus the nutcases like bradley) would be willing to cut George some slack if they had easy to follow milestones. Post-vietnam, Americans are very leery about seemingly open-ended commitments.

I also wanted to point out a phenomena to the nutjobs (like bradley). The recent election has forced the democrats to enunciate a strategy on Iraq. If you watch, the democrats are having a hell of a time coming up with a unified voice on the subject. We have everyone from joe “word salad” biden talking about resisting any troop increases, john “over the horizon” murtha talking about immediate pullout, hillary “I’m dead center” clinton decrying her vote, to harry “I’m off to South America during a State funeral” reid saying a temporary surge is ok.

The good news: The democrats are being forced to try to be for something. Hopefully, the democrats come up with some viable solutions or suggestions.

I know, fat chance. But, hope springs eternal.

JeffR

[quote]JeffR wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
There are no good options. Only bad and worse. We WILL have to leave eventually. The only questions are the time and manner. And there will be problems when we leave. There is too much secretarian violence, too much corruption amongst officials and sects, and too little culture of democracy sustaining the country.

Js,

I agree with everything you wrote.

One of the main problems with the War in Iraq is that many of the goals are so subjective.

In World War II, taking an island was a victory in a larger goal. Entering Germany was a goal post.

In Iraq, it would be helpful to have a big ass chart that shows each individual province. Every Monday, George stands up and says: “We’ve turned over this province to the Iraqi’s, two more to go.”

I believe the American people (minus the nutcases like bradley) would be willing to cut George some slack if they had easy to follow milestones. Post-vietnam, Americans are very leery about seemingly open-ended commitments.

I also wanted to point out a phenomena to the nutjobs (like bradley). The recent election has forced the democrats to enunciate a strategy on Iraq. If you watch, the democrats are having a hell of a time coming up with a unified voice on the subject. We have everyone from joe “word salad” biden talking about resisting any troop increases, john “over the horizon” murtha talking about immediate pullout, hillary “I’m dead center” clinton decrying her vote, to harry “I’m off to South America during a State funeral” reid saying a temporary surge is ok.

The good news: The democrats are being forced to try to be for something. Hopefully, the democrats come up with some viable solutions or suggestions.

I know, fat chance. But, hope springs eternal.

JeffR
[/quote]

Well, to the extent that viable soluctions or suggestions exist, hopefully, they’ll come up with them. Like we said, though, there will be problems no matter what.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
Maybe, but then why are both McCain and the neocons backing a surge? I think it’s a dumb idea, but I don’t think it’s just Bush covering his ass.
[/quote]

People back a lot of dumb ideas. The Neocons backed the original dumb idea, which was that removing Saddam would remove the problems in Iraq.

When I talk about Bush covering his ass, I refer to his motivation. McCain may not be driven by the same motivation, but that doesn’t matter.

And a surge may be more than Bush covering his ass… he’s in denial about the mess he made. He clings to a thread of hope that everything will turn out the way he imagined it would, as long as he never stops trying. How long will America be willing to keep trying, in Iraq?

50 years? 25 years? 12 years? 6 more years?

[quote]bigflamer wrote:
Get this, Iran and Syria are NEVER gonna help us out in the GWOT. Never. Period. What on earth ever made you think this scenario is at all more plausible than the first?[/quote]

Iran cooperated with us when we attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan. I guess you aren’t aware of that.

Then during Bush’s State of the Union address, he turns around and labels Iran as part of an Axis Of Evil, even though we had just had Iran’s cooperation. Bush is a fucking trainwreck as a statesman.

Syria has also cooperated with us on terrorism before. Everything is not as black and white as you imagine.

Don’t take my word for it though. Do some research.

[quote]I will agree with you however that Iraq should probably be split up somehow. As a culture they are just so much more tribal than the west.
[/quote]

I never said I was for splitting Iraq in three pieces. I’m for a gradual and partial withdrawal starting ASAP, leaving a small core number of US forces there… withdrawal in stages. I’m for internationalizing the effort at peacekeeping. (Not Bush’s bogus coalition where the US is responsible for 90% of the troops). The occupation should be truly internationalized. Bush was unable to do that effectively because he’s been trying to protect US corporate interests in Iraq. Other countries aren’t really pitching in because it’s not in their economic interests to do so.

An Iraq split in three may be much worse than what we have now. First, Turkey (our ally) doesn’t want an independent Kurd state on their border. Second, an independent Sunni state could become a safe haven for Al Qaeda. Third, an independent Shi’ite state could be absorbed into Iran, either literally or figuratively. Fourth, clearly delineated separate regions might simply make a civil war into a conventional war of neighboring regions.

Another thing about a split-up Iraq… a reason why it probably won’t happen any time soon… it signals an admission of failure on Bush’s part. Splitting up Iraq has NEVER been part of Bush’s rationale. It would be settling for something far far less than the stated goals.

[quote]Brad61 wrote:

Iran cooperated with us when we attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan. I guess you aren’t aware of that.

[/quote]

Iran hated the Taliban and was happy to see us boot them out but they also immediately started funding and supplying anti-Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Syria is the same way. They are more than happy to give us a tiny bit of help when we fight their rivals but they immediatly turn on us.

Iran and Syria are inconsistent but it’s wrong to say they haven’t helped at all.

One thing they are unwilling to do is assist in anything that looks even remotely like a US power grab, such as the invasion of Iraq.

Every country acts in their own self interest. This should be a no-brainer. If we want cooperation from Iran and Syria, we have to be willing to talk with them and make some concessions, even minor concessions. George Bush is apparently incapable of diplomacy with any countries who aren’t our allies, and that has been a been a problem. Bush thinks diplomacy is a sign of weakness, which is stupid and juvenile.

As someone (?) said, there is no need to negotiate with a true ally. You negotiate with your enemies.

For example Bush says he will only negotiate with Iran when they abandon their nuclear program. In other words, Bush says he will only begin negotiations if Iran starts off by conceding the end-point, first. First, concede the goal… Then, we’ll begin the negotiations.

That’s why I don’t expect to see ANY progress in our foriegn relations (on virtually any front) while Bush is still in office.

Mine their fucking borders except for a little bit from which they can trade and coalition forces can keep an eye on.

Brad, are you serious? Iran and Syria may have given some aid. But Iran, at least, did and does pose a much greater danger to us and the rest of the world than Iraq ever did. Of course, this may not remain the case given the masive unstability this ill-conceived and poorly executed and managed invasion threatens to cause in the region.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Brad, are you serious? Iran and Syria may have given some aid. But Iran, at least, did and does pose a much greater danger to us and the rest of the world than Iraq ever did. Of course, this may not remain the case given the masive unstability this ill-conceived and poorly executed and managed invasion threatens to cause in the region.[/quote]

Do you remember the Cold War? The old Soviet Union posed a far greater threat to America than Iran or Syria does… not even close. They had a huge nuclear arsenal aimed at our major cities. Comparing Iran or Syria to the threat the Soviets posed would be ridiculous.

Yet we negotiated with the Soviets. We used diplomacy to our advantage with them, and tried to cooperate when we could. We didn’t take the juvenile approach that Bush takes, that I’ll only negotiate with a nation if they make the end concessions first.