October 24, 2006
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   Calling In The Big Guns
U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a video teleconference with Vice President Dick Cheney (on screen) and military commanders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington October 21, 2006. Bush said on Saturday he would make 'every necessary change' in tactics to respond to spiraling violence in Iraq, and he acknowledged a drive to stabilize Baghdad had not gone as planned. Pictured from second left, are: National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor J.D. Crouch, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State on Iraq David Satterfield, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Army General John Abizaid and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Eric Draper/White House/Handout/Reuters)
(Eric Draper/White House/Handout/Reuters)
The Prez called home the generals Saturday to talk about strategy in Iraq. A mite late, I think.

What can the generals tell him that he has not been told over and over? The present strategy has failed plain and simple. Plus, there is limited trust in the generals, not that they are not honorable men, but most owe their allegiance to the present Powers That Be. This very fact is a fault of our system.

Generals, policemen, firemen or others who we trust as public servants may feel they owe their allegience to someone in power. At times issues of ambition and politics often win out over the public good. Consequently, by necessity, the saner voices should come from outside the circles of power. Will they? No, not really.

One of the things the generals need to say is, "We can't beat these people if we stay over there years." Mao of Chinese fame, the master strategist, noted it early on, "It takes the support of just 2 in 100 people to have an insurgency." In Iraq, the number of insurgents is legion, based on what they are able to do.

We can second guess ourselves till we are "blue in the face." We could have done what we needed to do with the proper numbers of troops; secured the country, borders, etc., and then moved out swiftly, leaving a contingency of Special Forces or whatever; but, unfortunately, we did everything wrong which has been more than adequately documented. We can't win, because we can't beat tribal people who will kill themselves and others. We simply did not take into account what we were facing.

I was not against the war, but have turned against our stupidity. Staying cannot be defended by rational people without drastic changes and the generals don't have the answers. At least they are meeting, but our goal of democracy cannot be advanced by the bayonet. We have to accept whatever the Iraqis come up with if they do come up with anything.

We are "in a pickle" and we don't need me to tell us. What the generals have to do is figure out another course. The question: what course? Now maybe a new course means paying some attention to history in terms of the French in Vietnam and our own debacle there. We left and the Vietnamese figured it out on their own.

Iraq is dragging us down and down and no amount of "staying the course" is going to do it. One of the best articles I've read is one authored by former Army Captain Phillip Carter, a lawyer, who returned from Iraq a month or so ago. He served as an Army police and civil affairs officer training Iraqi security forces.

Phillip Carter says that our strategy of "stand up the Iraqi forces so we can stand down" is a blueprint for withdrawal, not for victory. He says that improving the Iraqi Army and police is necessary to prevail in Iraq, but not sufficient.

I really like this statement, "Counterinsurgency is more like an election than a military operation; the Iraqi government must persuade the Iraqi people to choose it over the alternatives offered by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants." And, I would add, figure out a way to rid the Iraqi army and police of overt bias in favor of their tribe or sect. This may simply be impossible.

Regardless, what we have been doing is not working. As Carter points out, "our prospects for achieving our goals are much less today than they were in 2003 and this makes it all the more imperative to figure it out."

I think that one of the things he means by "stand down as Iraqis stand up is a formula for withdrawal" is that we must turn it over to the Iraqis and take our chances.

We may have to leave some Special Forces and possibly the CIA along with some ready reaction conventional forces hidden in the desert. Advisors are also needed with various skills to assist the Iraqis as they come to grips with what they have to do to restore their country to any semblance of order. We also need to butt out in terms of what democracy they choose. Guys like Phillip Carter need to be talking to the President, not the generals. We've already heard what the generals have to say. kt
Sunday Weekend Webzine 10.22.06

little man reading These are just a few inspirational thoughts (we hope) put together for those of us who couldn't get to the mosque, synagogue, or church of our choice this weekend. If you don't gain any inspiration, maybe you'll enjoy reading something a little different. This weekend webzine includes a special movie review on Clint Eastwood's latest release Flags of Our Fathers.
Sunday Weekend Webzine

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