By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Sat Aug 20, 7:53 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The Army is planning for the possibility of keeping the current number of soldiers in Iraq — well over 100,000 — for four more years, the Army's top general said Saturday.
In an Associated Press interview, Gen. Peter Schoomaker said the Army is prepared for the "worst case" in terms of the required level of troops in Iraq. He said the number could be adjusted lower if called for by slowing the force rotation or by shortening tours for soldiers.
Schoomaker said commanders in Iraq and others who are in the chain of command will decide how many troops will be needed next year and beyond. His responsibility is to provide them, trained and equipped.
About 138,000 U.S. troops, including about 25,000 Marines, are now in Iraq.
"We are now into '07-'09 in our planning," Schoomaker said, having completed work on the set of combat and support units that will be rotated into Iraq over the coming year for 12-month tours of duty.
Schoomaker's comments come amid indications from Bush administration officials and commanders in Iraq that the size of the U.S. force may be scaled back next year if certain conditions are achieved.
Among those conditions: an Iraqi constitution must be drafted in coming days; it must be approved in a national referendum; and elections must be held for a new government under that charter.
Schoomaker, who spoke aboard an Army jet on the trip back to Washington from Kansas City, Mo., made no predictions about the pace of political progress in Iraq. But he said he was confident the Army could provide the current number of forces to fight the insurgency for many more years. The 2007-09 rotation he is planning would go beyond President Bush's term in office, which ends in January 2009.
Schoomaker was in Kansas City for a dinner Friday hosted by the Military Order of the World Wars, a veterans' organization.
"We're staying 18 months to two years ahead of ourselves" in planning which active-duty and National Guard and Reserve units will be provided to meet the commanders' needs, Schoomaker said in the interview.
The main active-duty combat units that are scheduled to go to Iraq in the coming year are the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. Both did one-year tours earlier in the war.
The Army has changed the way it arranges troop rotations.
Instead of sending a full complement of replacement forces each 12-month cycle, it is stretching out the rotation over two years.
The current rotation, for 2005-07, will overlap with the 2006-08 replacements. Beyond that, the Army is piecing together the plan for the 2007-09 switch, Schoomaker said.
With the recent deployments of National Guard brigades from Georgia and Pennsylvania, the National Guard has seven combat brigades in Iraq — the most of the entire war — plus thousands of support troops.
Along with the Army Reserve and Marine Reserve, they account for about 40 percent of the total U.S. forces in Iraq. Schoomaker said that will be scaled back next year to about 25 percent as newly expanded active-duty divisions such as the 101st Airborne enter the rotation.
August has been the deadliest month of the war for the National Guard and Reserve, with at least 42 fatalities thus far. Schoomaker disputed the suggestion by some that the Guard and Reserve units are not fully prepared for the hostile environment of Iraq.
"I'm very confident that there is no difference in the preparation" of active-duty soldiers and the reservists, who normally train one weekend a month and two weeks each summer, unless they are mobilized. Once called to active duty, they go through the same training as active-duty units.
In internal surveys, some in the reserve forces have indicated to Army leaders that they think they are spending too much time in pre-deployment training, not too little, Schoomaker said.
"Consistently, what we've been (hearing) is, `We're better than you think we are, and we could do this faster,'" he said. "I can promise you that we're not taking any risk in terms of what we're doing to prepare people."
Well, I think that we should seperate the need to try and make as best a job as possible of this, which will require at least the current troop levels (or, my preference, a lot more), and lambasting Bush for being a piece of useless shit. Bush has a big part in making this mess by doing things wrong that even war supporters (like me!) were concerned about, and may well not be in office long enough to fix them. There needs to be a good attempt to fix them, though; the downside is the huge financial cost to the US (which, frankly, I don't see why anyone else should pick up, given that the US pretty much ignored the concerns even of their allies who were helping) and the fact that a large number of Iraqis and a fair number of American troops will likely get killed in the process.
It's possible to think that Bush is a national disgrace and believe that the troops have to stay. Indeed, their numbers should probably increase, I think. Bush can hold firm with only slow corrosive political pain (that has been eating away at his approval ratings) but admissions of mistakes or elevating troops levels may be beyond his political courage, such as it is.
For the future, though, I think that it's pretty clear that the American government shouldn't try anything like this again, particularly not something much more difficult like invading Iran. If nothing else, this should show anyone, with eyes to see, how important building support in the UN is, both militarily and financially. But that's for the future.
Doesn't surprise me a bit. Even if things had been done perfectly AND our "allies" at the UN had signed on, this would still be the scenario in my opinion. Even when Iraq is finally stabilized, and it will be one day, this is just the beginning. Smug is correct that such a course should not be chosen the next go around, but I would submit that it will prove to be a moot point since it will not be long until virtually every nation is directly impacted by the power play of radical Islam. Spain was hit and flinched (this time), Britain was hit and did not flinch (they never do). Like it or not, it is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better and will go on long past a point where people can lay blame on Bush.
Firstly, this situation is worse than the American government expected, even if you did expect a long-term guerilla campaign including suicide bombings, 2000 or so coalition troops dead so far and many more Iraqis dead, infrastructure restoration to be so far behind schedule, the enormous cost to the American taxpayer, etc. Secondly, if Bush had expected this outcome and had told Americans about it back in 2002, say, he'd never have had the support to do it. But I don't think that he considered it a serious possibility that it would end up like this.
As for 'getting better at it', I'd like to see the American public convinced next time around. And there was no need to learn by fuckups, the expertise was already there for a lot of it (not, perhaps, sufficient training of troops on the ground, but certainly in terms of planning to press advantage early by getting things working again). So, while mistakes like opening fire on the Fallujah crowd of civilians very early one would have required troop training that hadn't been carried out, the ability to plan a post-war was already available to the administration, had they not followed their hopes and had instead taken a cooler look at it. All they fucking had to do was start the planning earlier, for Christ's sake (Jay Garner had such a short period of time to plan things that it throws serious doubts on the competence of the administration).
Iran must be safe from invasion. Bigger and with a significantly larger population than Iraq, far more fundamentalist Islam there than in Iraq, much more anti-US feeling amongst the population, and the risk of a Shia uprising against us in Iraq were we to invade Iran. Where would the money and troops come from to do it, even if they weren't still pinned down by necessities in Iraq? Iraq had better be the one that works and changes everything, because the dice are thrown and we can't afford to play again. Supporting that effort isn't the same thing as supporting Bush throwing the dice at all, of course, and people should mistrust the competence of Bush and his administration (they've earnt it). It's unfortunate that the partisan situation in the US is such that both sides would seize an honest effort from Democrats as a support of Bush's policy, rather than a recognition of the importance of the situation that he's (rightly or wrongly) created. There's no credit to the people like Novak (and Hitchens the newfound war-junky) who eagerly seize on anything from a Liberal that might be mutated into support for Bush's handling of this even though it is just an attempt to fix the mess that's been made. There's no credit to those that wish for failure in Iraq because it will fuck Bush and many republicans (which it would, to some extent, I think that it's fair to say). There's no credit to people who support Bush's handling of this for fear of admitting that they were wrong, even though the worms of doubt are eating at them, nor for those that decry the situation just because it was Bush that created it.
What we need is for Bush to admit the mistakes, as mistakes (which would require political courage from him) and the Democrats to engage with the Republicans in the business of trying to maintain the public's spine for long enough to at least see if Iraq can be a success (of course, there's no point in flogging a dead horse; I just don't think, myself, that it's clear that the horse is yet dead). The big loser there would be Bush, but he's not running for re-election and, frankly, he deserves it.
I am really when people express some sort of conviction in the inevitability of success. That's even more dangerous than people believing in the inevitability of failure, I think (because those people would cause a withdrawal and effective admission of defeat, which is bad, but people who think that success is inevitable could preside over a situation even worse than the aforementioned withdrawal/defeat one). Personally, I think that while the dice are thrown, ie, this probably is the one chance to do something like this, they've not settled yet; failure and success are both still viable results. The guy whose administration fucked up should own it and then he can ask for the help he needs from his political opponents; as it is, he's asking for that help by putting their nuts in a jingoistic vice, as if he can demand their support and then use it to maintain the shine on his political legacy. And, of course, I am suspicious of certainty, and the more complex and difficult the situation, the more I am suspicious of it.
quote:Originally posted by Trenchant_Troll ....but I would submit that it will prove to be a moot point since it will not be long until virtually every nation is directly impacted by the power play of radical Islam.
You surely mean every Western nation, as I don't really see Burkina Faso ever being directly impacted by radical Islam.
quote:Originally posted by billgerat You surely mean every Western nation, as I don't really see Burkina Faso ever being directly impacted by radical Islam.
If there wasn't any oil (which we all have a great appetite for) in that part of the world, and the US didn't have such an interest in protecting Israel, fundamentalist Islam wouldn't affect any of us at all. It's not like we haven't collaborated in creating this problem.
quote:Originally posted by Trenchant_Troll Our success had better be assured. If not, our destruction is.
Our economies will be fucked if they stop selling oil on the open market but then, so will theirs. They aren't going to turn the West into a Greater Caliphate by force of arms, that just isn't going to happen. So while the consequences are large, I don't think that they comprise our destruction.
It really is most importantly about oil for both sides. We wouldn't care much about them if they didn't threaten our oil, and if we didn't need the oil, they couldn't really threaten us (because, let's face it, suicide urban redevelopment teams aren't going to bring us down or even really fundamentally hurt us, but a sustained massive increase in oil prices will).
quote:Originally posted by Smug Git If there wasn't any oil (which we all have a great appetite for) in that part of the world, and the US didn't have such an interest in protecting Israel, fundamentalist Islam wouldn't affect any of us at all. It's not like we haven't collaborated in creating this problem.
That is very true, and the loss of that resource in that region and/or its obesolescence brought on by new technology will be the greatest catalyst for the change in the picture. It is my personal belief that it is the very knowledge that inevitable eventuality that has Islamists of that region seeking to gain new territory. It is what fuels the ambivalence about Islamic terrorism and even its active support within that religion.
It's over. For the U.S. to win the Iraq war requires three things: defeating the Iraqi resistance; establishing a stable government in Iraq that is friendly to the U.S.; maintaining the support of the American people while the first two are being done. None of these three seem any longer possible. First, the U.S. military itself no longer believes it can defeat the resistance. Secondly, the likelihood that the Iraqi politicians can agree on a constitution is almost nil, and therefore the likelihood of a minimally stable central government is almost nil. Thirdly, the U.S. public is turning against the war because it sees no "light at the end of the tunnel."
As a result, the Bush regime is in an impossible position. It would like to withdraw in a dignified manner, asserting some semblance of victory. But, if it tries to do this, it will face ferocious anger and deception on the part of the war party at home. And if it does not, it will face ferocious anger on the part of the withdrawal party. It will end up satisfying neither, lose face precipitously, and be remembered in ignominy.
Let us see what is happening. This month, Gen. George Casey, the U.S. commanding general in Iraq, suggested that it may be possible to reduce U.S. troops in Iraq next year by 30,000, given improvements in the ability of the Iraqi government's armed forces to handle the situation. Almost immediately, this position came under attack from the war party, and the Pentagon amended this statement to suggest that maybe this wouldn't happen, since maybe the Iraqi forces were not yet ready to handle the situation, which is surely so. At the same time, stories appeared in the leading newspapers suggesting that the level of military sophistication of the insurgent forces has been growing steadily and remarkably. And the increased rate of killings of U.S. soldiers certainly bears this out.
In the debate on the Iraqi constitution, there are two major problems. One is the degree to which the constitution will institutionalize Islamic law. It is conceivable that, given enough time and trust, there could be a compromise on this issue that would more or less satisfy most sides. But the second issue is more intractable. The Kurds, who still really want an independent state, will not settle for less than a federal structure that will guarantee their autonomy, the maintenance of their militia, and control of Kirkuk as their capital and its oil resources as their booty. The Shiites are currently divided between those who feel like the Kurds and want a federal structure, and those who prefer a strong central government provided they can control it and its resources, and provided that it will have an Islamic flavor. And the Sunnis are desperate to maintain a united state, one in which they will minimally get their fair share, and certainly don't want a state governed by Shia interpretations of Islam.
The U.S. has been trying to encourage some compromise, but it is hard to see what this might be. So, two possibilities are before us right now. The Iraqis paper over the differences in some way that will not last long. Or there is a more immediate breakdown in negotiations. Neither of these meets the needs of the U.S. Of course, there is one solution that might end the deadlock. The Iraqi politicians could join the resisters in a nationalist anti-American thrust, and thereby unite at least the non-Kurd part of the population. This development is not to be ruled out, and of course is a nightmare from the U.S. point of view.
But, for the Bush regime, the worst picture of all is on the home front. Approval rating of Bush for the conduct of the Iraqi war has gone down to 36 percent. The figures have been going steadily down for some time and should continue to do so. For poor George Bush is now faced with the vigil of Cindy Sheehan. She is a 48-year-old mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq a year ago. Incensed by Bush's statement that the U.S. soldiers died in a "noble cause," she decided to go to Crawford, Texas, and ask to see the president so that he could explain to her for what "noble cause" her son died.
Of course, George W. Bush hasn't had the courage to see her. He sent out emissaries. She said this wasn't enough, that she wanted to see Bush personally. She has now said that she will maintain a vigil outside Bush's home until either he sees her or she is arrested. At first, the press ignored her. But now, other mothers of soldiers in Iraq have come to join her. She is getting moral support from more and more people who had previously supported the war. And the national press now has turned her into a major celebrity, some comparing her to Rosa Parks, the Black woman whose refusal to move to the back of the bus in Atlanta a half-century ago was the spark that transformed the struggle for Black rights into a mainstream cause.
Bush won't see her because he knows there is nothing that he can say to her. Seeing her is a losing proposition. But so is not seeing her. The pressure to withdraw from Iraq is now becoming mainstream. It is not because the U.S. public shares the view that the U.S. is an imperialist power in Iraq. It is because there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Or rather there is a light, the light an acerbic Canadian cartoonist for the Calgary Sun drew recently. He shows a U.S. soldier in a dark tunnel approaching someone to whose body is attached an array of explosives. The light comes from the match he is holding to the wick that will cause them to explode. In the month following the attacks in London and the high level of U.S. deaths in Iraq, this is the light that the U.S. public is beginning to see. They want out. Bush is caught in an insoluble dilemma. The war is lost.
Iraq at the Gates of Hell
Asia Times Online | August 19, 2005
In early July, Iraq 's former interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, told London's Sunday Times that Iraq was "practically in stage one of a civil war." Since no known calculus exists for determining what level of violence qualifies as the initial stage of a civil war, we cannot know if Allawi was correct.
There has certainly been a sharp rise in inter-communal killings, particularly between Arab Sunni and Shia, to go with the deadly battle between occupation and government forces and the insurgents. But we have not yet seen the sustained military engagements, a la Lebanon, the Balkans, or Sierra Leone, for instance, nor the specter of large scale ethnic cleansing that would put Allawi’s claim beyond doubt.
Two years ago, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa predicted ominously that an invasion would "open the gates of hell" in the region. At the time western ears heard melodrama in that warning, the bombastic rhetoric of an out of time Arab nationalist. In retrospect, of course, it was nothing if not prescient. The invasion unleashed unspeakable horrors – cities bombed to ruin, gritty urban combat, gruesome beheadings, apocalyptic car bombings. Civil war, however, would truly complete Moussa's prophecy. It would be a tragedy to dwarf Iraq 's current blood-soaked chaos, ushering in not only a paroxysm of internecine killing, but perhaps a regional conflagration that would ripple instability far beyond.
Iraqi nationalism now appears to be dissolving as fearful Iraqis seek safety in confessional bonds. Patrick Cockburn has written vividly in the London Review of Books of Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad living in terror of Shia death squads that operate with apparent government sanction, and of Shia neighborhoods traumatized by the unending wave of suicide bombers. “The bodies of Sunnis are being found in rubbish dumps across Baghdad”, wrote Cockburn, “...the commandos rarely try to conceal their responsibility for killings. They arrive in full uniform, a garish green and yellow camouflage, at the homes of former Sunni officials and arrest them. A few days later the bodies - sometimes savagely tortured, with eyes gouged out and legs broken - turn up in the morgue.”
The latest suicide bombings in Baghdad that killed 43 on August 17th, targeted Shia travelers headed to the southern cities of Najaf and Basra. Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari speculated about the agenda behind such apparently arbitrary slaughter. "They want a reaction against Sunnis to therefore deepen the sectarian crisis in the country," he said. There are also reports of Sunnis trying to drive Shia from Ramadi (and Baghdad, according to Kubba), allegedly in retaliation for similar Shia actions against Sunnis in the south.
With the future of Iraqi Kurdistan up for grabs in the current effort to draft a permanent constitution, the always tense relationship between Kurds and Arabs is nearing its moment of truth. Veteran Kurdish leader Masud Barzani nearly set fire to straw when he said on August 4th that “the Kurdish people have the right to secede”. Barzani may well have been angling for concessions on the status of Kirkuk, the oil-rich northern city that is caught in deadly tug-of-war between Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. "We are encouraging our people to claim their rights peacefully," a Turmken leader told the New York Times. “But if talks with the Kurds break down, that will be the beginning of the civil war."
It is telling that even the new US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who is paid to be optimistic, recently broke the self-imposed American taboo of speaking of the possibility of civil war openly. But Joost Hiltermann, Middle East Project Director for the International Crisis Group (ICG), emphasizes that the dye is not yet cast. “There are the signs of civil war, but its not inevitable that civil war will come,” Hiltermann told Asia Times Online. “Steps can still be taken to prevent it.” Hiltermann stressed the importance of training the Iraqi security forces and bringing Sunni Arabs fully into the political process. “If things get out of control here it’s going to be a bloodbath that will be something we cannot imagine, of a scale we cannot imagine,” he said.
The deepening tensions between Iraq's basic communities are being played out in the constitutional deliberations. The divisive debate about federalism is perhaps most troubling. With SCIRI, Iraq's most powerful Shia political party, now demanding an autonomous Shia region in the south to mirror the Kurdish region in the north, the battle lines for a civil war may literally have been drawn. SCIRI's demand constitutes the sum of all Sunni Arab fears -the threat of exclusion from Iraq's oil wealth (which is buried in the north and south) and the possibility that perceived western plots to divide Iraq will succeed. “We hoped this day would never come,” said Sunni negotiator Saleh al-Mutlak on learning of SCIRI’s demands.
With heavy US pressure being exerted on the negotiators, there may well be an agreement on at least the framework for a charter. But major disputes - over federalism, what the role Islam should play in shaping Iraq’s laws, how oil wealth will be distributed - are profound, and a document that papers over these questions could be worse than none at all.
Iraq’s descent into zero-sum sectarianism has increased fears in the Arab world that it will become another Lebanon, where a gruesome 15-year civil war tore that country's intricate sectarian mosaic asunder. The denominational map in Iraq is not as maddening as it is Lebanon, but the grievances of Iraq’s three major communities are becoming ever more intractable. And Iraq’s population of 25 million, ten times larger than Lebanon's, clearly has a stellar per capita rate of martial acumen to go with an apparently endless reservoir of arms. An all out conflict in Iraq would therefore make Lebanon seem quaint.
It is a pretense of many in Lebanon that their civil war was actually a proxy war fought on Lebanese soil. In reality the war had its roots deep in Lebanese domestic politics and history. But to some degree Lebanon did eventually become a battleground for competing regional interests. Unfortunately, there is vastly more at stake in Iraq, the most gifted Arab country in terms of natural resources and strategic geography. Iraq shares long borders with Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, all of whom it has had at least contentious relations with previously. In a civil war, the temptation for Iraq's neighbors to forcefully assert their interests would be irresistible.
Given all this grist, how might the dark mill of civil war begin turning in Iraq? It might simply develop out of a continuing, steady rise in the vicious cycle of revenge killings. Alternatively, a sudden breakdown of the political process could lead each sect to quickly assert their interests by force: the Kurds attempting to seize Kirkuk, for example, or Arab Sunnis and Shia fighting for control of the mixed Sunni-Shia towns south of Baghdad - all of which would entail ethnic cleansing. Further ideological and interdenominational divisions would also arise. Inter-Shiite rivalries were recently on display in the southern town of Samawa, where supporters of SCIRI and influential cleric Moqtada as-Sadr clashed. As-Sadr espouses a brand of Iraqi and Islamic nationalism that could lead his Mahdi army to side with those opposed to federalism if civil war did erupt.
And then there are the neighbors. As professor Juan Cole, an expert in Iraq and Shiism at the University of Michigan, recently wrote in the Nation: "if Iraq fell into civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, the Saudis and Jordanians would certainly take the side of the Sunnis, while Iran would support the Shiites." In essence, a civil war would see the eight year Iran-Iraq war replayed on Iraqi territory. To complicate matters, any Kurdish success would draw in Turkey. Beyond Iraq, a civil war could destabilize the Gulf, and thereby the world economy. Sunni-Shia tensions could be kindled in states like Bahrain, Kuwait and most importantly, Saudi Arabia , where an occasionally restive Shia population forms a majority in the eastern part of the country (where all the oil is).
This situation presents the US with an unenviable quandary. If civil war does break out it will be blamed regardless - either because of the provocation of its enduring presence or the vacuum left if it withdraws precipitously. To an extent, the Bush administration has only itself to blame for Iraq’s simmering sectarian tensions. Iraq was hardly a model of communal harmony under Saddam Hussein. But US support for sectarian political parties and the creation of a political system centered around confessional quotas has significantly elevated identity politics. If the administration intended to divide Iraq's communities in order to make them more malleable, its success could come at a very high price.
The joke in Iraq before the invasion was that Iraqis actually wanted the gates of hell to be opened so they could get out. But even Iraqis' stubborn gallows humor is fading as the prospects for a better future after Saddam diminish. Every hour the violence continues there are countless new scores to be settled, new hatreds born and old ones reinforced, and a greater likelihood that Iraq will disintegrate.
Yet there are slivers of light amidst all this darkness. Reports out of Ramadi tell of Sunni Arab tribesmen bravely fighting off the insurgents who had come to drive away their Shia neighbors. In the testing days ahead, that kind of unity will have to be the rule rather than the exception if Iraq is to survive.
Intelligent observers of the situation in Iraq are increasingly calling attention to the hugely contentious issue of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. And they are calling on the press to ask some key questions.
Here’s Larry Diamond, a former adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority and author of "Squandered Victory," a scathing book about the occupation, writing earlier this month on the TPM Café blog with some suggested questions for President Bush:
Q. "Mr. President, do we seek long-term military bases in Iraq?"
Q. "If so, do you believe this strategic goal is worth the loss of more American lives in Iraq?"
Q. "If not, why don’t you declare that we will not do so, so as to remove one of the most powerful political mobilizing grounds for the insurgency?"
Diamond has a question for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as well:
Q. "Mr. Secretary, are we building permanent military bases in Iraq? What are our intentions there?"
Diamond explains that "we know from a variety of sources, private as well as public, that intense opposition to US plans to establish long-term military bases in Iraq is one of the most passionate motivations behind the insurgency. There are many different strands to the violent resistance that plagues Iraq: Islamist and secular, Sunni and Shiite, Baathist and non-Baathist, Iraqi and foreign. The one thing that unites these disparate elements is Iraqi (or broader pan-Arab) nationalism—resistance to what they see as a long-term project for imperial domination by the United States. Neutralizing this anti-imperial passion—by clearly stating that we do not intend to remain in Iraq indefinitely—is essential to winding down the insurgency."
Here’s Cornelia Carrier, a 1976 Nieman Fellow, responding to retired Gen. William E. Odom’s NiemanWatchdog.org article about the merits of a total pullout:
"While the Iraqis are talking about an eventual pullout of all US troops, the US is busy building bases there. Someone needs to ask the President or Rumsfeld, or Rice what the plans are for these bases.
Q. "Do we plan to be in Iraq forever on these bases?"
Q. "Shouldn't the American people and the Iraqis know the administration's plan?"
Ronald Brownstein writes in the Aug. 15, 2005, Los Angeles Times:
"President Bush and his top advisors have never said the United States wants to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. But they have never ruled out the possibility either.
In the absence of a straight answer, some experts are looking for clues – and finding signs that indicate the U.S. is in fact planning for a long term presence.
From Brownstein’s story: "John E. Pike, a defense analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, points to another indication. Although the United States is systematically training Iraqis to fight the insurgents, he notes, the Pentagon has not taken key steps — like making plans for acquiring tanks or aircraft — to build an Iraqi military capable of defending the country against its neighbors."
Ashraf Fahim writes in the Aug 6, 2005, Asia Times: "Erik Leaver, of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and a long-time proponent of a promise to close US military bases, told Asia Times Online that the kind of construction taking place belies statements from President George W Bush that the US only intends to stay ‘as long as necessary and not one day more’, as Bush said on April 13, 2004. Not only are ammunition dumps and concrete runways and roads being built, he said, but so is long-term housing for US troops."
Bradley Graham wrote in the May 22, 2005, Washington Post that U.S. military commanders are planning to consolidate American troops into four large air bases – initially referred to in planning documents as "enduring bases," but now called "contingency operating bases."
Writes Graham: "The officers said a master plan for the positioning of U.S. forces in the Middle East, maintained by U.S. Central Command, did not envision keeping U.S. forces in Iraq permanently. Instead, it calls for what one Army colonel here described as ‘strategic overwatch’ from bases in Kuwait, meaning U.S. forces there would be near enough to respond to events in Iraq if necessary."
So is that in fact the plan? Are Bush and Rumsfeld ready to say so publicly? Wouldn’t that be worth nailing down?
You're talking about radical Islam, TT. That's different than the War in Iraq, which is not, in fact, a War against Radical Islam (in fact, about half of the suicide bombers in Iraq, I hear, aren't even Muslim). You're still leaving Step 2 vauge, undefined, and some kind of nebulous magic bean.
In any case, I'm not even convinced, at this point, that our military can handle another 4 years of Iraq, even if we maintain our political will on the matter (far from assurred--I'm not convinced the War can survive another president). We're getting into large chunks of guys pulling third tours already--those guys ain't gonna be around forever. We're already going dry recruitment-wise; that + huge chunks of our active forces getting out is going to be a bad situation made worse, particularly if we come to find that our training of Iraqi troops might not be as sunny as our leaders spin it (which pretty much everybody but said leaders knows already).
quote:Originally posted by Paint CHiPs That's different than the War in Iraq, which is not, in fact, a War against Radical Islam (in fact, about half of the suicide bombers in Iraq, I hear, aren't even Muslim).
quote:Originally posted by Trenchant_Troll That is very true, and the loss of that resource in that region and/or its obesolescence brought on by new technology will be the greatest catalyst for the change in the picture.
Reason #216 for Supporting Kerry Over Bush If Islamofascism is Your Single Issue.
quote:Originally posted by Trenchant_Troll You lost. Get over it.
There is a significant difference between losing an election, and having an election stolen, my friend. George W. Bush and cronies stole the election in 2000, and stole it again even more blatantly in 2004.
Wow! A thread about how it's all over in Iraq, how new and refrereshing!
Sarcasm aside though, the people hammering on about the clusterfuck that Iraq is (which it really isn't when you compare it to Vietnam) will no doubt be the same people who say that the state of Iraq after we leave is only like it is because we left. Having said this, anyone who thinks that there won't be a signifncant western military presence in and around Iraq for the next 25 years is a bit thick really.
quote:Originally posted by philjit anyone who thinks that there won't be a signifncant western military presence in and around Iraq for the next 25 years is a bit thick really.
That would have been a cool statement maybe a year ago.
Have you factored in the breakdown in communication between population and administration?
The time frame for success in Iraq has now been presented as being between 14 days and several lifetimes.