TCS Daily


Where We Are in the Long War

By Austin Bay - December 7, 2006 12:00 AM

It isn't irony, it's history, our immediate history, where what we choose to do -- or not do -- will have extraordinary effects on the course of this challenging century.

Still, the week of the 65th anniversary of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor is a historically profound moment to consider what the military calls "courses of action" in Iraq and the Global War on Terror. It has been a week of "strategic" leaks. The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group dropped hints, then The New York Times published Donald Rumsfeld's classified "goodbye memo" containing Iraq war options. On Dec. 4, The Wall Street Journal discussed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace's "study group," which is considering other alternatives.

In an interview that appeared in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, John McCain supplied a pithy reminder for all engaged in the debate: "... in war, my dear friends, there is no such thing as compromise; you either win or you lose."

The Pace group recommends more military forces in Iraq (focused on Baghdad). It may view Iraq as a peacekeeping problem. The Journal wrote that Pace's group sees a U.S. pullback as triggering "more violence" and making "political compromise impossible."

Rumsfeld's memo is a hodgepodge of ideas at least two years old. I found three exceptions. He suggests embedding Iraqi troops in U.S. units to train them (a Korean-like Katusa program). He suggests the United States might provide security only in provinces that request U.S. help and adds an "accelerated 2007 drawdown" option -- which looks like a drawdown and re-basing proposal considered for the 2009 time-frame.

The Baker-Hamilton report is out this week. It suggests a "diplomacy-led" option, with a publicly broader inclusion of Syria and Iran. Publicly is an important word, because "back channels" have been steadily engaged.

All three studies lay the groundwork for establishing a bipartisan U.S. commitment to finishing the job in Iraq and -- by implication -- this century's long war for modernity. Democrats now have leadership stake in determining U.S. policy, and the process of policy reconsideration gives them cover for slipping the critic's role and assuming leadership responsibility.

The three "strategic leaks" consider how "best to fight" the war. Precious time, lives and treasure will be wasted if debate sidetracks on "when to fight." Like Dec. 7, 1941, we've got a war, like it or not.

Arguably, after Khomeinist Iranians sacked the U.S. Embassy in 1979, the United States tried to delay a war on Middle Eastern tyranny and terror. Sept. 11 changed that.

The radical Sunni war on the West (as expressed by al-Qaida's precedents) has roots in the 1940s. (Read Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower," which I will review in a couple of weeks).

Our enemies have long time lines. They see the United States through the templates of Vietnam and Somalia (bug-outs), not the template of sticking out the Cold War.

But our "course of action" must account for others' capabilities as well as our expectations. In August 2004, I had a conversation in Baghdad with a U.S. Army officer -- an Arabist with a diplomatic background. He was tasked with helping Iraqis establish an operations center. I asked how that project was going. "They're doing the best they (the Iraqis) can," he replied, thoughtfully. "(They'll be running it) in their own way, not like us." Translation: What they can achieve is not on our schedule.

President Bush insists on achieving this strategic goal: a self-sustaining, free Iraq that is an ally in the War on Terror. That is an achievable goal.

Columnist Michael Barone likens Bush's determination to that of Harry Truman confronting the Korean War or Winston Churchill after Dunkirk. These are dramatic analogies, but our situation is not nearly as desperate. We've had big successes. Iran is surrounded, Syria hemmed, al-Qaida shot to shreds. Given the ideological and political dimensions, a more apt analogy is Ronald Reagan's 1983 "Euromissile" struggle.

The Soviet Union gambled it could to "decouple" Europe from the U.S. nuclear umbrella; it waged a war of perception in the United States and Western Europe. America was the aggressor. Reagan was evil, a warmonger. Reagan focused on the strategic goal of winning the Cold War and deployed U.S. missiles to counter the Soviet missiles. The Kremlin broke negotiations in a huff, but within two years returned to serious disarmament talks. The road to 11-9 (Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall cracked) is history.


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74 Comments

Earth to Austin Bay! Earth to Austin Bay!! Iraq didn't attack us on 9/11
The Pearl Harbon analogy has zero to do with the rationale for invading Iraq. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Invading Iraq has done nothing to make the US more secure against future terrorist attacks against the U.S. Yammering about Pearl Harbor is utterly irrelevent.

Earth to Mr. Austin
Disregard that other guy's dumb remark. Everybody else knows that sometimes you have to go to war to support your friends and allies, like the US did against Germany who also never invaded the States, but did allies like the UK; same with Iraq who did invaded the friendly country of Kuwait. Please ignore the liberal fifth column from the States that wants the US to lose. Continue with the decent articles.

Reality check
This is rhetoric without any connection to the facts on the ground.

>Everybody else knows that sometimes you have to go to war to support your friends and allies, like the US did against Germany who also never invaded the States, but did allies like the UK; same with Iraq who did invaded the friendly country of Kuwait.

What 'friends and allies" were we supporting by invading Iraq?
Germany declared war on the US after Pearl Harbor. Yes, we defended Kuwait, but that was in 1990, not 2003.

Earth to eric
Saddam was actively supporting terrorism.

every ally who was being threatened by the terrorists Saddam was supporting.
...

Then we still have a really, really long list of other people to invade, don't we?
And since this invasion has been such a huge success, let's move on to the next three or four.

We're talking "Pearl Harbor." Iraq was not involved in anything remotely like Pearl Harbor
All kinds of countries all over the world were and are "actively supporting terrorism." Saddam wasn't supporting it against us (unlike certain others), and whatever threat he represented was completely contained. Austin Bay is noisemaking about Pearl Harbor. If 9/11 was Pearl Harbor, invading Iraq would be like the U.S. invading Thailand after Pearl Harbor.

invading
You must be mixed up again. Kuwait was a friend and ally of the US, and that place would not exist if the US had not helped it out. They are really, really happy about it, and do actually appreciate it. Also, the UAE emirate called up the prez and pretty much begged him to take over their bases and protect them from Sadam. I was actually there at the time as a kind of 'consultant'.
So you don't invade everybody all the time, but some places sometimes. For example, even many liberals are happy that the US sorted out Milosovich in yugoland and saved all those muslims there. How about you on that one? Or maybe you one of those who says that they went there too just to steal the oil.

If we want to survive, we have to see the world as it really is.
This war will take generations to win.

Kuwait is not the issue.
Nobody, or at least certainly not me, is criticizing the decision to liberate Kuwait. That was in 1990. The question is why invade Iraq in 2003? The story puts this decision in the context of Pearl Harbor, which is ridiculous: Iraq was not involved in the 9/11 attack.

The problem is, we are ignoring reality, as events in Iraq have shown
We invaded believing that we'd be welcomed as liberators, that Iraq would speedily put itself on its feet as a democratic beacon of free enterprise in the Middle East. Nobody who knew anything about Iraq thought this would happen; but instead of looking at the reality, we had a President listening to his gut. Slopping generalities about a war lasting generations is just a coverup for more reality denial.

It is you who can't see reality
We were welcomed as liberators by most Iraqis. The ones who wanted the return of Saddam, or to impose their narrow brand of Islam on the rest of the country opposed us.

As to the war lasting for generations, that's inevitable. There is a sizeable fraction of the Muslim community that will not stop fighting until either they are killed, or the rest of the world converts to their brand of Islam.

We could end this war quicker, but weak hearts and minds, such as yours refuse to recognize that there is even a problem.

What have you been smoking?
If "most Iraqis" want us there, why is the situation disintegrating - why has it gotten so much worse since the invasion? Why has the area destablized since the invasion.

>As to the war lasting for generations, that's inevitable.

Because you say so?? Iraq wasn't in a state of civil war before we invaded. Nor was it threatening us in any urgent way. That's all changed since the invasion. But you're sure that's a good thing.

>We could end this war quicker,

How? But a-bombing the whole country? By setting up concentration camps? Please be specific

> but weak hearts and minds, such as yours refuse to recognize that there is even a problem

Excuse me, I'm the one saying there's a problem. You're the one saying we're right on track, stay the course.

The war in Iraq ended in 2 weeks...
...The USA army won he war decisively and easily. Sadaam is in prison his part gone.

The nation building drags on. Keeping the Shia and Sunni from killing each other is a police matter. It is only reamining task. I have no idea how to stop them from killing each other (maybe separation would work, I hear that 10,000 people move to areas where they are the majority each day. This could be a plus.) but it is time to admit that the war is over and that we won.




So we can leave and stop spending $200,000 a minute tomorrow!!!
The war is over!!! This is such good news. So no Americans are in danger any more, and we can stop spending money, and just admire the democratic government and free market economy we have built!!

The war is over!!! Why don't the mainstream media recognized what a huge success this was? And it's only cost $350 billion so far.

If we leave the Shiites and Sunnis will really get to butchering one another
Lemuel,
Nobody now thinks, given the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that the Iraq invasion was necessary, wisely planned, or wisely executed.

But, if you measure every leader in history through the lens of 20/20 hindsight you will find that very few leaders show up as all wise in planning and carrying out their objectives.

The question is what to do now, given the facts on the ground now.

You're right that the author stretched things a bit by using Pearl Harbor as a jumping off point for discussion of Iraq, but that doesn't change the need to deal with the situation as it is.

Do you believe we should withdraw and let the butchery begin?

The butchery began eleven months ago.
Sully-- You certainly have a point. If we leave now, the Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Turks will all start killing one another.

But if we stay a year and then leave, they will then start killing one another.

And if we stay for ten years, and THEN leave, they will still start killing one another now.

In fact since January of 2006 they have already been killing one another. And the monthly death tolls are going up sharply every month.

So then, what reason would we have for not getting out now? Ten more of our guys have been killed in the past 24 hours.

I was actually there at the time as a kind of 'consultant'.
Helping to put the porta poties in doesn't realy count D.

The war on terror and the war on drugs
While both can be seen as things we need to do, they are not things you can realy hope to "win". However the war on terror is harder to fight cause the act of fighting can cause that that what your fighting against.

and the last 24 hours have cost us $288 milliion
... but who's keeping track?

We just had a report presented in Washington about possible things that can be done. That's a good beginning. What's not a good beginning is for people to talk about victory having been lost because of faint hearted liberals bla bla bla

try a little perspective - - - -
Winning is necessary and just a matter of time and effort, which we can easily afford. We're running this war on the cheap, while maintaining the world's most vibrant economy. We're diverting but a tiny fraction of our wealth and power to it, while most of us go about our productive, comfortable daily lives little affected.

Many, venal, vicious people, at home and abroad, wish to see us humiliated and lose, as they did in the Viet Nam war, because of politics, envy and the cussednesss of human nature, a lot of them are called Democrats.

We're like an elephant being attacked by an insane, rabid mouse. The elephant's MSM wants its defeat and tries to convince it that the war is tiresome and annoying, so the elephanat should just give up, lie down and let the mouse chew it to bits. After all, who are we to judge a murderous mouse?

We not only can, but will, win, at relatively small cost. While moslems are dealt a bloody and devastating blow, as were the Axis Powers, and the Soviets. Cheer up, patriots. Let's keep a little perspective.

Dream on..
Why not say what benchmarks exist for 'winning?'
then say what the base was in Iraq pre-invasion and show the improvement.
Should be a no-brainer, right?

you should know - - - - -
Lem, I wqs referring to the world-war against moslem mass murderers. In the matter of Iraq the case is simpler, so since you apparently haven't noticed, I'll do you a great favor reciting the obvcious to help you out. The "bench marks" are; 1) the cashiering of Saddam and his ability to continue to commit murder, rape and war on Iraqis and their neighbors. That alone is worth the price of admission. 2) The creation of the first nascent constitutional Arab democracy, that is also a great acheivemnt. 3) The killing and imprisioning and attrition of large parts of the international terrorist organization.

Preinvasion; we were in a state of war with Saddam. He violated the conditions of his truce, negating it, and autimatically restarting the war. Daily, he fired on our patroling aircraft, which required a huge expensive infrastructure in Turkey and Arabia, He bribed the French and Russians, and others and was about to escape UN sanctions. All this was solved by the invasion. Would you like to reverse these obvious blessings?

And I've got an email from Nigeria that can be a real money-maker for you
None of this is remotely engaged with the reality.

Pre-invasion, we had an unpleasant 3rd world dictatorship that did not threaten us, nor the stabiliity of the region. Now we have a mess. the rollcall is clear:

>the cashiering of Saddam and his ability to continue to commit murder, rape and war on Iraqis and their neighbors. That alone is worth the price of admission

worth it to whom?? He was not threatening the neighbors. He had killed lots of Iraqis but was not doing so presently. Many more Iraqis have died in the 3 1/2 year post invasion than died in the 3 1/2 year since then.

>. 2) The creation of the first nascent constitutional Arab democracy, that is also a great acheivemnt.

Sure it is. Ask any Iraqi!

>3) The killing and imprisioning and attrition of large parts of the international terrorist organization.

Not in Iraq, not remotely.

>Preinvasion; we were in a state of war with Saddam. He violated the conditions of his truce, negating it, and autimatically restarting the war. Daily, he fired on our patroling aircraft, which required a huge expensive infrastructure in Turkey and Arabia,

Expensive??? Zero U.S. casualties, a few billion a year. Now we are spending 8 billion a month, $200K a minute, losing 10 Americans in the last week.

>, He bribed the French and Russians, and others and was about to escape UN sanctions.

about to escape??? the security council cracked down in 2002. We wouldn't let them follow through.

>. All this was solved by the invasion. Would you like to reverse these obvious blessings?

with blessings like these, who needs curses?

I'm inclined to agree but I'm not yet all the way to your level of fatalism
A little part of me still thinks it possible that the Iraqis can get together around a reasonable government if not a perfect one.

If they can't get it together, and if we leave and let the region devolve into chaos I think there are very bad alternatives down the road a piece.

As to our guys getting killed that is always a tragedy, just as it is always a tragedy when cops get killed in the line of duty. We don't pull the cops out of bad neighborhoods because of the possibility they will be killed. We weigh the costs and the benefits.

Who's being fatalistic??
We don't have a lot of good alternatives here. But just keeping on keeping on hasn't done anything for anyone so far. The president just got a report on what might be done. It'd be good if he recognized that what's being done now isn't working.

thank god - - - -
Lem, your obvious, impregnable moral confusion is the reason the American people have had the good sense to keep you leftys out of power for so long, all to the benefit of our grand children.

Blaming "leftys" doesn't solve the problem, Don
...as the last election illustrates. Why not deal with the real issues raised, instead of pretending they wouldn't exist if only "leftys" didn't talk about them?

And as far as "moral confusion" - we weren't talking morals in this; we were talking facts. Finger wagging about 'bad bad Saddam' doesn't change the mess that exists now on the ground.

Buncha lefties and sellouts, like Bob Gates
I notice that the party line, around here and elsewhere on the Right, is dead set against the ISG recommendations. Apparently we are to Stay the Course. No deflections, no adjustments. Fearless Leader is always right, and never looks back or rethinks the game plan, once his mind has been made up for him.

Get set for more bad Neville Chamberlain analogies.

The Iraq Study Group recommendations - Neville Chamberlain is not a good analogy
Roy,
I've read (or strictly speaking, skimmed) the Iraq Study Group Recommendations. Basically they call for staying in, getting out, sending more troops, taking out troops, increasing the violence, becoming more touchy feely, threatening Iran and Syria, partnering with Iran and Syria.

Total bullshit - the typical production of a committee of superannuated burnouts seeking concensus.

I would have more respect for them if they'd simply called for a pullout.

Neville Chamberlain isn't a good analogy for the Iraq Study Group because at least Neville Chamberlain had a plan.
Sully

Wonder of wonders - we agree that what's being done now isn't working
However you may want to read my message to Roy (above) concerning the report that the president just got.

I like the elephant and rabid mouse analogy
What the left doesn't recognize is that we or our children are almost surely going to win this war. The main question is whether we do it by killing a few hundred thousand Muslims, a few million Muslims, a few tens of millions of Muslims, or a few hundred million Muslims.

The major irony is that we will most probably do the truly massive killing under the leadership of a politician firmly regarded and elected as a "progressive." I'm picturing someone like Hillary Clinton after someone insists that she needs to start wearing a burka to international meetings.

The Brits, French, Russians and US could almost surely have stopped the Germans and the Japanese at the cost of a few thousand allies and a few thousand or tens of thousands of Germans and Japanese in 1937/1938. Instead they dithered and eventually stopped them at the cost of a few million allies and ten or so million Germans and Japanese.

Exploring our options
We could certainly imagine an Iraqi government being formed that could find a workable recipe for national unity. But given the ingredients now in the mix, that is a cake unlikely to ever be baked. Consider...

A majority of Iraqi Arabs do not want a government managed by the Americans. Yet that is what the Maliki government now is. It is weak, unstable and likely to fall as it has no support from any quarter but the Americans.

The Sunni are nearly 90% violently anti-American. They won't support our Maliki.

And the Mahdi Army, Iraq's largest military force other than the US forces, has broken with him as well. Expect his government to topple, as their cooperation was required to create his governing coalition. He is only supported by a few "moderates". And as we know, the number of Iraqi moderates can be counted on one's fingers and toes.

So what are we left with? We cannot continue to run Iraq in the way we would like to see it run, without the use of overwhelming force. And we do not have that force. The American public is against it, and the armed forces are unable to supply it. Combat-ready reserves are tapped out, as is the national will to stay and die for some vague benefit to the oil companies.

That leaves the diplomatic solution. With the people we have in charge now? Give me a break. Maybe after 2008.

Existing Bush plan: Elmer Fudd not a good analogy
Elmer at least knew who he was chasing.

25000
Iraq was paying families 25,000.00 for children that blew themselves up in Israel. In addition, Iraq did meet and support various terror groups. Is that not coming to the aid os Israel?

Oil
It always comes back to the oil companies doesn't it? It is as cliche' as it gets. Alas, in 2008 we can get a nice democrat like Hillary or Obama to sell us out?

He wasn't?
"Saddam wasn't supporting it against us". YOu know this for a fact?

Reading
LIFE Magazine: Americans Are Losing the Victory in Europe
January 7, 1946. It is interesting reading for naysayers.

A cliche
If you say so. It's probably just a coincidence that our ruling clique-- the Bush dynasty, Cheney, Condi, Khalilzad, etc are all Big Oil people.And that they have chosen a policy of invading Iraq despite the fact that Iraq never had anything to do with 9/11. While all the wile Iraq is potentially the world's second biggest supplier of sweet crude. And a prime objective of the invasion was to put a government into place that would write a new constitution (at Khalilzad's direction) that permitted the sale of oil assets-- a clause that was NOT contained in the old constitution-- and the removal of 100% of oil profits to investors outside the country.

You can check the Iraqi constitution, which is on pdf. You will find that language in it.

They get the oil for free, since all the costs of the invasion and the occupation are borne by the American public. And then they get paid a second time, when they sell Iraq's oil to that same public.

If he was, the administration never presented evidence of it that stands up
After the invasion, we did a lot of research on this. We questioned both Iraqi officials and Al Qaeda people not always politely, If we had found a link, do you really think the White House wouldn't be yelling about it?

If you look at Saudi Arabia, on the other hand....

Sure. Germany 1946 and Iraq 2004 are really similar
Except how many GIs were killed by enemy action in Germany after VE day? How many were killed in Iraq after Bush proclaimed "Mission Accomplished?"

A contradiction
The sound bite of the day is that the ISG is "seeking consensus". Yet you yourself note that all their various recommendations are a grab bag of different approaches, with no common theme.

Which is it?

Did you read the article?
Huh? Did you? For that matter if today were 1946 I bet people would be whining about everything just like today. In fact, I bet the NY Times would publish the D Day plans

The Iraqi people might not want a democracy...
We keep assuming that democracy is the best possible political structure for everyone. This is philosphy. The political processes of strong central governments (including ours) in the world today are not very democratic. The really pure democracies (like that in the Philippines) deliver weak central governments (in nations where it often does not matter very much).

We went into Iraq to disassemble the regime of Saddam Hussein. Fundamentally, we are not in a position to tell anyone how to structure their government. We simply removed Saddam's government but then it took us until December to actually find him. We urged our friends there to draft a democratic constitution. We knew (or should have known) that this was a global public relations sham.

A democracy would give Iraq a weak central government unable to control civil disobedience (leading to domestic anarchy) and unable to defend its borders from intrusions by its warlike neighbors. Iraqi society needs a strongman. He should be a Shiite. Muqtada al-Sadr is the guy. He will put an end to domestic violence the same way we would in America. With lethal force. And he will play nice with his neighbors. He is not our boy, as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were when they were his age. So he will not get cute with us and overplay his hand as they did. One really good mistake and we'll give him a sound thrashing. And he knows it.

A democracy would keep Iraq weak and dependent on us indefinitely. It's over. We are certainly disengaging. Quickly. We will establish an Okinawa style presence on the ground up near the Kurds and over in a quiet corner of Afghanistan. And stay 100 years. We've been in Germany and Japan for 60 years already!

The Baker Report is confusing enough that the Administration can spin end game any way it wants and still find political cover. We are already in the middle of this process in spite of how the Executive sells it. If the media does not understand this...well everyone in Washington does. Put a fork in this expedition and let's get ready for 2008.

to: ww geek1
Don't understand, must be a joke you said re potties, but i'm not a native speaker of English, so often don't understand stuff like that. Or maybe you don't know about such 'consutancies'. I had skill sets that were very valuable over my career.

No, actually now...
I question whether anyone in our government ever expected democracy to work in Iraq. So they quietly looked at Plan B which called for a strongman out of the Shia camp and that player was identified as far back as 2004 to be: Muqtada al Sadr.

We can't make him "our boy" as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were when they were his age. (But such marriages to young people do not always turn out all that well anyway.) Would he be useful against the Iranians? Maybe. He is Shiite so he can at least talk to them but he will not let them keep intruding across his borders with impunity. The Sunni insurgents crossing from Saudi Arabia and the al Qaeda foreign fighters...they are all out of business the same day he comes to power.

Oil profits? Al Sadr would immediately void any such language giving Iraqi oil away to foreigners.

Close to "a peace with honor" then we throw millions to the slaughterhouse
Seems like the dhimmiecrats have managed to do it again. Well having done everything they could to undercut the war effort we can look forward another betrayal of an ally and a cut and run (proclaiming peace with honor.) We can then look forward to an jihaddie effort supercharged with revenues, recruits, and the consequent increase in worldwide terrorism. We will see Europe surcumb that much faster (good riddence) to the forces of Islam and PC. We will see the terrorist sponsors like Russia and PRC draw the wrong conclusions (or possibly the correct ones regarding America's will) and this will lead to an escalation in aggression just as our retreat from Vietnam saw a massive increase in Soviet expansionism until the Politboro was treated to the spectacle of Jimmy Carter, when they told themselves the USSR was on the verge of triumph.

Only I doubt we will see another Reagan. There are too many trolls and seven year olds among us. We have created generations of geldings and wonder what happened to our men. We have exiled God from our society and wonder why our society is corrupt and weak. So can ignore evil and the forces that would destroy us and take comfort in the words of Pelosi and Reid as we did after WWI. And when the final confrontation takes place we will find out why the French collaborate so willingly.

Proof positive the war on drugs isn't working
-

Oh I'll bet you were in Kuiwait
Tell us the most unusual thing one sees in Kuiwait. Something that no Westerner fails to remark on.

Bets Geek boy runs off never to be heard from again?

I bet the Times would!
Publlish the 1944 D-Day plans in 1946.
Again: how many American soldiers died in 1946 from enemy action in Germany?

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