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Dave Petraeus and Iraq Kabuki

The die is cast with respect to Iraq and the surge. There will be no substantive change until April of 2008, when the 15 month deployment of the “surge” force of 30,000 comes to an end. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, attended by members of Congress and pliant members of the media, will take center stage in today’s so-called drama, Iraq Kabuki. Kabuki is a type of popular Japanese drama “in which elaborately costumed performers use stylized movements, dances, and songs in order to enact tragedies and comedies.” Today’s presentation in Washington will include heated rhetoric and self-righteous indignation but, when the day ends, the guy with an earnest face and a chest full of medals will have the high road and the Representatives who attack him will be roundly booed as troop haters who are undermining the morale of our soldiers in combat.

Truth and facts do not really matter. Disagree? Please go back and watch what happened to Lt. Colonel Oliver North when Congress tussled with him as they tried to get to the bottom of the Iran Contra scandal.

Today’s presentation ostensibly is about our alleged progress in Iraq. But this argument is not about facts. If facts and ground truth were important then there would be no argument.

The facts are clear. Attacks on civilians have continued unabated notwithstanding the surge, according to the GAO report. And there has been no significant political progress in Iraq in terms of reconciling Sunni and Shia communities in Iraq.

Then there is the report from retired Marine General James Jones detailing the inadequacies and corruption of the Iraqi police. Notwithstanding progress in building a new Iraqi army, its capabilities are very limited and not likely to improve dramatically in the near future.

We also have Dave Kilcullen, an Austrailian special forces type who is working with Petraeus, who acknowledges that the so called success in Al Anbar has nothing to do with the surge and is an unexpected result of local tribes retaliating against foreign jihadists who murdered local tribal leaders and their families. In addition, countries with an interest in bolstering the Sunni tribes, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, have provided finance and support.

Then we have the fact that Petraeus and company are cherry picking the data and deliberately painting a false, rosy picture that security in Iraq is better and the the violence is abating. Dave and his boys achieved this result by excluding car bombs and other sectarian casualties from the calculation.

The arguing over the troop deployment masks the real issue–i.e., what should be the role of the United States in Iraq? The die is cast for the U.S. military in Iraq. We are coming up against some reality imposed deadlines. For example, by the spring of 2008 the United States will withdraw 30,000 troops from Iraq and does not have reserve forces to replace them. The withdrawal of those troops will mean diminished U.S. influence in those areas where the draw down will occur, regardless of whether or not the “surge” is working. The withdrawal of British forces from southern Iraq further strains the tactical demands on U.S. forces. The Shia militia, with Iranian support and meddling, will fight for a new status quo in the area with minimal U.S. involvement. But this also means that the logistics resupply line that runs from Kuwait to Baghdad will be under the potential control of Shia militia and criminal gangs. So far they have not tried to shut down the resupply routes.

Then there is the issue of rules of engagement in Iraq for US troops. Currently, US special operations forces have some freedom to carry out unilateral operations. But the freedom is going to be curtailed, either because the political powers that be in the sectarian sections of Iraq will insist on limiting what the US can do or, at the national level, what passes for an Iraqi government will chafe at US actions and try to impose limits. Conventional military missions run the gambit from convoy security and patrols against suspected terrorist cells.

The biggest problem, in my view, is that the current mission of U.S. forces in Iraq continues to foster the perception that we are attacking Iraqis. Our troops should not be the ones conducting broad base raids on suspected terrorist targets in Iraq. Invariably much of our effort is counterproductive. We end up antagonizing those we attack. We end up incarcerating them and being perceived, fairly or not, as acting on behalf of the Shia or the Sunni. And to the extent that we provide security for operations carried out by corrupt police or military units, we ultimately get the blame for those actions as well.

The recommendations of General Jones provide an important map forward. We need a revamped and serious police/military training program that is handled by special forces with skills for the Arab world. Up to this point the Arabists in the Army have been marginalized in this effort.

We are past the watershed moment for Iraq. It is in the process of becoming what the former Yugoslavia is now–ethnic enclaves. There is no political leader with the clout or stature to unify the nation.

The United States must accept that we do not have sufficient military forces to impose a unified, national political system in Iraq. We need to accept that our current efforts to empower the tribes in Al Anbar will antagonize the Shia government in Baghdad and help forge closer ties between Iraq and Iran. We need to accept that our efforts to build a government in Baghdad have in turn strengthened the hand of Iran in the region and fueled great concern in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

We are faced with the task of making chicken salad out of chicken shit. There are difficult issues facing us in Iraq regardless of whether we keep our troops there or withdraw them. We need to be asking what a policy should look like going forward that will serve our broader regional interests. Can we encourage political stability in Iraq that will not further inflame regional instability and heighten tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

I am doubtful the hearings this week will achieve little other than trapping the Democrats as defeatists who want to sell out America to the terrorists. That’s the storyline the Bush Administration will push and the media, by and large, appears willing to repeat unchallenged.

But this silly theater ignores serious, longterm problems confronting us in Iraq. We do not have a large enough Army to impose a political settlement in Iraq. Iraq cannot be fixed with military power. Arresting and incarcerating tens of thousands of Iraqis simply aggravates the tensions and fosters resentments and insults that, in terms of the culture, demands vengeance and recovered honor. A political settlement in Iraq is not possible without the assistance of Syria, Iran, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. These are not new facts. The Iraq Survey Group pointed that out last year. But despite the facts, nothing significant is likely to change vis-a-vis Washington. The Democrats lack the unity and the Republicans lack the integrity to confront the realities of Iraq.

One thing is certain–American soldiers will continue to die in Iraq and sometime next year, we will still be wrestling with the same basic question. Who lost Iraq?

  • J

    President Petraeus? Iraqi official recalls the day US general revealed ambition – Independent Online Edition > Americas

    petraeus willfully commits perjury before the congress, and he wants (expects) to become prez some day. sheez louize

    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2956422.ece

  • Shirin

    Hmmmm – looks like I messed up the html.

    http://justworldnews.org/archives/002627.html

  • Shirin

    Wow Leslie! I wonder whether that is actually true, or just an enticing rumour!

    Something what the wonderful a href =”http://justworldnews.org/archives/002627.html”>Helena Cobban had to say does fit rather nicely with Fallon’s remark:

    I guess the main thing that struck me was the cock-a-hoop way that Petraeus preened his way around the hearing room, gladhanding everyone like a seasoned politician… Whereas Crocker looked anguished, concerned, and very uncomfortable.

    “Also, whenever the Congress members asked questions that were not specifically directed to one or other of the two “witnesses”, Petraeus jumped right in and answered them without even seeming to ask Crocker if he wanted to go first. Even when they were on clearly political (as opposed to more military) subjects.

    “It was alpha-doggist discourse-hogging of the first order. Fairly nauseating, all in all.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

    Centcom Chief Fallon called Petraeus: ‘An ass-kissing little chickenshit!”

    Why would Fallon call Petraeus that?

  • http://www.food4humanity.org HoosierHoops

    greatdogs:
    From your link:
    according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. “If a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian,” the official said. “If it went through the front, it’s criminal.”

    I thought I had read that somewhere…
    Well that is about as dumb of a counting system I’ve ever heard of..
    What? If the bullet goes through your temple it’s a hunting accident?
    must be Deer season in Bagdad..

  • J

    Larry,

    an internal DOD report contradicts petraeus’s testimony that he’s giving to congress. in most places its known by the term ‘perjury’ when one gives false testimony before the congress.

    • Shirin

      Perjury? Well, I suppose so – in most places. In this case it is called “promoting one’s career”.

    • rugger9

      Technically, it doesn’t require swearing in either [though the oath makes it easier to prosecute], and Ray McGovern was apparently ejected today for asking why there wasn’t an oath taken.

      This is extremely unusual, and the only other time I remember it was when Specter was trying to cover AGAG’s tail. Why would the D chairmen allow this lack of an oath? I can’t think of a good reason for it.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

    HoosierHoops,
    I don’t think anyone knows what formula Petraeus is using?

    Here’s what the National Security Network has to say about his statistics and flow chart info, however.

    Newshoggers points out an important Petraeus deception: He “presents four maps of “ethno-sectarian violence” in the neighborhoods of Baghdad since December 2006. These maps pretend that the ethnic/sectarian mix of various neighborhoods has remained constant during this period. In fact, as I’ve commented here and elsewhere, the Sunnis have been driven headlong out of many neighborhoods since December 2006. Despite the map, there are no longer either majority Sunni or mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods east of the Tigris. And west of the Tigris, Sunni-dominated areas have shrunk considerably.”

    Talking Points Memo has more deceptions here.

    • rugger9

      Thom Hartman had one of his regulars on this morning (Radio Television Service correspondent, the name escapes me) and she noted that the map addressing the “Threats to Iraq” had no arrow from Saudi Arabia, but arrows from Syria (Baathists most likely), Iran (Shia, but not all Persians), Turkey (PKK most likely) and Jordan were prominently featured. This in spite of the large proportion of detained foreigners (around 50%) coming from Saudi Arabia, as well as the already documented money trail running to the Sunni militants from Saudi sympathizers (at the very least, and given the kingdom’s surveillance apparatus, the government has to be aware of who’s involved).

      As we all know, the Saudis were “off the radar” in the 9/11/01 commision investigations [courtesy of State, might hurt their feelings, y'know], as well as fact that the Bin Ladens in the USA were allowed to leave after 9/11/01, being the only planes flying in those dark days. The Saudis and Emiratis still don’t allow us to follow the money trail on the 19 hijackers (15 Saudis there, hmmmm…..).

      This is important to highlight the D&P show Petraeus and Crocker foisted on us this week in order to pin this whole mess on AQI and Iran, anybody but the Saudis. The fact that Gates today (again) harrumphed that we’re gonna git them Terrorists without fail and relentlessly, while the WH allows OBL safe haven in Pakistan means this is all Kabuki to buy more “stay the course” time.

      So, what is the WH really covering up here? I know Iraq is extremely important, but I’m sure none of us are under the illusion that anything at all will be changed out of this exercise regardless of the testimony. This means it is meant as a distraction for something else. Ideas?

      • greatdogs

        Wasn’t it one of the Saudi Royal Family (I forget which one) that TOLD Cheney on his last visit to Saudi Arabia that they were gonna funnel money and arms to the Sunnis? But I guess those weapons don’t kill Americans.

        In maybe a related matter, today at the OPEC Conference Saudi Arabia basically told the other OPEC members that oil production would be increased 500k barrels per day. Perhaps this is payback for not being mentioned as a player in the Iraqi civil war.

  • http://www.food4humanity.org HoosierHoops

    What statistical formula is the military using for casuality reporting? How can a rising number of deaths become a smaller number? It depends on where in their anatomy they were shot? Sounds rather 1984ish to me….

    This is what is so wierd.. If you get shot in the front of the head..it’s just plain old murder..but if you get shot in the back of the head…well then it’s sectarian murder…
    It gets counted.. the front head shot is disgarded..
    Am i right on this..Did someone else read that report?

    • greatdogs

      Hoosierhoops,
      This is what I was basing my comment on.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/05/AR2007090502466.html?hpid=topnews

      It seems for the most part the steno pool (once known as the media) are just happy to tell us in glowing terms how great everthing is going. I suppose they don’t want to be dropped from the after briefing cocktail party for saying something against the commander guy or any of his minions.

    • rugger9

      ‘Tis cherry picking. What I thought was amusing is that Petraeus claims to be using the same data as the GAO, but the conclusions are so at odds with each other.

      Of course he’s not telling how he massaged the data to get where he got.

      As Twain said:
      “First, get the facts, then distort them at your leisure”.

      And, we all need to remember the WH already admitted to writing this report for Petraeus, and Spinmeister Gillespie has a round-the-clock shop in the WH just for talking points, FDL had it.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

    Greatdogs,
    Your reply to “Prof. Feaver” was erased when I deleted the fake professor’s comment. Professor Feaver is no professor. He’s a freeper named Other Tom, who’s been banned. Yet he keeps reappearing under various guises.

    I’m reposting your comment below:

    greatdogs wrote:

    Professor Feaver,

    I would appreciate your directing me to your comments regarding the questioning of my patriotism (as a 20 year active army veteran) by the right wing talking heads and others in the media because of my oppostion to this war. TIA.

    Also I hope your outrage extends to the destruction of Iraq and the killing of, as cited by some, over a million of its innocent citizens. All occuring based on lies told by members and supporters of this administration.

    Instead of the classic “attack the messenger” technique, how about addressing the allegations made by the folks at MoveOn? Did Petraeus address the al Anbar situation before the surge happened? What statistical formula is the military using for casuality reporting? How can a rising number of deaths become a smaller number? It depends on where in their anatomy they were shot? Sounds rather 1984ish to me. I guess the numbers will only matter to the American people when the chocolate ration is affected.

    I personally do not agree with the method used by MoveOn, but they do have the right to their speech. Let them live with the consequences if any.

  • SufiLizard

    We have a tendency to portray these neocons as idiots, or people who are simply blinded by their ideology. But the facts seem to be a little different.

    Their strategies seem to always have multiple benefits to their overall position. It seems to me that a destabilized M.E. region is to their benefit as the oil profits have reached unprecedented levels. And now politically, they will be able to continue their goal of destabilizing the region, AND hang it around the next president’s neck, allowing the profiteering to continue after only a 4-year hiatus.

    And IMO, that 4-year hiatus might not be such a burden if we end up with another Clinton who is only too happy to promote the corporate agenda.

    We need to stop underestimating these people and start thinking 10 steps ahead as well. On the “left” we always seem to be putting out fires rather than preventing them.

  • http://jep-betweenthelines.blogspot.com:80/ JEP

    I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach yesterday watching Petreaus, that they have decided on two options… plan A, attack Iran if they can get away with it, and plan B, withdraw just enough troops next spring and summer to make the Republicans look like they are getting us out.

    It makes me also wonder, was that the reason for the surge from the git-go? Simple logic.. add 30,000 troops in a desperate, ill-conceived surge, then bring that bunch home on the eve of elections, with Republican claims on the withdrawal.

    SO, even if the war mongers don’t get their war with Iran, they still get to pretend they are bringing our troops home before the 2008 elections.

    Sounds like a Cheney plan to me…

  • The Oracle

    I wonder if “the surge” in U.S. troops and the reported increase in “ethnic cleansing” since the surge began earlier this year are related?

    Now, I’m not implying that our troops are in any way involved in ethnic cleansing, but troop-placement by higher-ups could either block or open the door to opportunities for ethnic cleansing by others.

    Apparently, many of the Iraqis who decided to flee the ethnic cleansing taking place have already fled, either leaving Iraq entirely or being displaced internally, over four million at last report.

    Iraqis that remain have barricaded themselves behind militias in areas deemed defensible. Sectarian battle lines and boundaries are hardening, therefore, throughout Iraq.

    Ethnic cleansing has a beginning and an end. Either 1) the people doing the ethnic cleansing are forcibly stopped or 2) the ethnic cleansing runs its course and winds down on its own.

    Since we’ve never had enough troops inside Iraq to stop any ethnic cleansing (or even looting) from happening, then the faster the ongoing ethnic cleansing takes to run its course, the sooner some semblance of stability will be realized…or at least that’s my guess of what some people in the Bush administration are thinking.

    Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that the Bush “strategery” is to somehow accelerate the ethnic cleansing in the short term (maybe just by having our ground forces stay out of the Iraqi’s way in certain instances) so that by next year the ethnic cleansing will have run its course to a large extent, with a hoped-for lessening in sectarian violence occurring.

    At this time, the Bush administration probably also hopes that they can somehow reconcile the Shia and Sunnis in the Iraqi legislature to the point where these two rival “ethnic cleansing” factions will finally pass the Iraqi Oil Law.

    I doubt this will happen. Too much centuries-old animosity exists between the Shia and Sunni, which all the ethnic cleansing has not helped, but has actually fueled even more animosity. Plus, why would any Iraqi cede control of their oil resources to foreigners for the next forty years?

    I figure that the Kurds will be the only willing oil partners that the Bush administration may have any leverage over in the end, but the Kurds will not roll-over for the western oil companies either.

    But then again the whole Bush misadventure in Iraq was founded on a pipedream…an oil pipeline dream, that is. So much red blood has flowed, both of our soldiers and Iraqis, and all because of someone’s lust for Iraq’s black gold.

  • taters

    Well done Larry.

  • zennurse

    Hi Larry,

    Been awhile, as always, thanks for your clear headed perspective.

    This is a bit OT, but not so much. A thread at FDL went into interesting territory late last night regarding the six nukes flown across the country and I’m wondering what you think.

    link, drop to comment 147, thanks.

    http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/09/09/late-late-sunday-nite-not-getting-married-today/

  • GSD

    Reports from Israel of a kassem rocket fired from Gaza wounding 66 IDF troops.

    Reports the troops were in tents.

    Now to see what the Israeli response will be.

    -GSD

  • Detroit Sam

    Question for Larry:

    What happened to the 350,000 Iraqi soldiers and police who were supposed to have been trained by the US and UK?

  • Jerome

    Larry, I said all this was going to happen BEFORE the surge started. Do I get some kind of reward.

    I will tell you now the money Bush wants to continue the occupation will come on another platter. I will tell you we will be there after the next report and the next report and the next report… We will be in Iraq after the next President takes office… for years.
    You are barking up the wrong tree. If you want to kill the snake cut off the money. Make it unprofitable for contractors to make a fortune on cost plus and make the military account for the money they get and the thrill will be gone for the Hawks in Congress.
    That is all.

    • http://NoQuarterUSA.net Larry Johnson

      You’ve earned the right to be smug, take a victory lap, and serve crow to all who doubted you. The role of prophet usually not accorded accolades or a pat on the back. Well done.

      • Montag

        Larry, let’s not forget that Christianity was founded by a prophet who got nailed to a cross because the guy just WOULDN’T shut up! Talk about a know-it-all.

    • http://robinstorm.blogspot.com Rob

      I agree… we never go to war unless money is involved. And in this war the special interests are really in charge…..

  • Diane

    His father had more sense then he did during the first Iraq war. W. did not learn from him.
    We did not learn from the Russians in Afghanistan.
    Hell, we did not learn from the British with all their years of experience in the Middle East.

    Why anybody thought this failed businessman with this cabal of idiots could make this work is beyond me.
    Canada is still an option for me and mine.

    • Delia

      Why anybody thought this failed businessman with this cabal of idiots could make this work is beyond me.
      Canada is still an option for me and mine.

      Well, the MSM did a bang-up job presenting Bush as a thoughtful, well-read Compassionate Conservative. It’s also been well-established that they were highly prejudiced against Al Gore and did everything they could to discredit him, including giving credence to every idiotic smear the rightwing machine could dig up. And these are the same papers that are telling us today what a fair and honest man Petraeus is.

  • Diane

    Hia father had more sense then he did during the first Iraq war. W. did not learn from him.
    We did not learn from the Russians in Afganistan.
    Hell, we did not learn from the British with all their years of experience in the middle East.

    Why anybody thought this failed businessman with this cabal of idiots could make this work is beyond me.
    Canada is still an option for me and mine.

  • Shirin

    We need to be asking what a policy should look like going forward that will serve our broader regional interests

    Larry, maybe, just maybe, if just this once Americans stopped seeing the world in terms of their own narcissistic, self-centered interests, and started looking at the interests of – oh, I don’t know – Iraqis? And not the interests of Iraqis as Americans think they ought to be, but the interests of Iraqis as Iraqis see them?

    Well, maybe if Americans tried that just this once, they might actually do the right thing for a change.

  • Shirin

    The biggest problem, in my view, is that the current mission of U.S. forces in Iraq continues to foster the perception that we are attacking Iraqis.

    Perception? No, reality, actually. You ARE attacking Iraqis. You have been attacking Iraqis from day one, and killing a hell of a lot of them, including a hell of a lot of women, children, elderly, and noncombatant men. That’s particularly the case when you attack urban areas from the air, which you have been doing a lot more of since The Surge™ began.

  • Delia

    They count on the US casualties continuing to be nothing more than the constant slow bleed so that the American people and Congress will accept it even if unwillingly. Now I’m no military expert, but maybe Larry or someone else who knows more about it can address this subject: what are the chances of something catastrophic happening? We know that the military’s been greatly weakened and that this have proved to be a war of attrition. What are the chances of some catastrophic event with very high casualties for American forces? Has anybody even talked about that possibility?

    • Detroit Sam

      Delia:

      There are so many Americans who have no idea of how many of our soldiers have died or have been wounded in Iraq, let alone the number of Iraqis who have been killed.

      I know people (many college educated, professional) who are not ashamed to admit that they don’t read newspapers or news magazines.

      At dinner recently with a group of eight other people I attempted to discuss Iraq but the conversation migrated back to work, who’s doing what and childre. Sad to say there really is no interest.

  • http://robinstorm.blogspot.com Rob

    Another wasted moment in time. There is no longer men of honor. There is just the honor of politics. Roman is falling….

  • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

    How does the GOP get away with saying that supporting the troops means keeping them in danger, and not supporting the troops means bringing them home safely?!

    • http://www.food4humanity.org hoosierhoops

      How does the GOP get away with saying that supporting the troops means keeping them in danger, and not supporting the troops means bringing them home safely?!

      Leslie: I can’t answer your question.. I sit here and think.. what should we do? we opened pandora’s box and what do we do? We can’t leave yet and we can’t stay and the whole mess is put on the next prez. I don’t appriciate what moveon.org said about our 4 star general today..that was over the top..what is he supposed to do? miracles?
      I’m depressed and want my son home from Iraq…

      • Shirin

        I don’t know what moveon.org said about your 4 star general today, but it’s difficult to believe they could say anything that would be “over the top” relative to the reality of that self-serving, sycophantic serial failure.

      • Centrocitta

        ….I don’t appriciate what moveon.org said about our 4 star general today..that was over the top..what is he supposed to do? miracles?….

        I heard Petraeus says he was going to consult his lawyer. Maybe he should have done that BEFORE Bush sent him to Iraq.

  • Teaeopy

    How can the public not be befuddled by all that’s coming out of the administration? I admit I am.

    Is the main objective in the Iraq strategy to be the establishment of bases in predominantly-Sunni provinces?

    In his pre-report report today, General Petraeus had harsh words to say about Iran. While I wouldn’t say he shouldn’t lay out the facts, right now it’s impossible not to wonder whether such statements are part of a pre-attack PR campaign.

    General Petraeus should know that an offensive against Iran would shred the list of objectives we’ve been hearing about. And what would he have President Bush do about military personnel shortages, given the critical situations that would result from such an offensive?

    • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

      What would Bush use for money to wage a sustained attack too? Or do they seriously imagine they could blitz Iran for three days and the regime would fold?

      • Detroit Sam

        Leslie:

        I do believe that Bush/Cheney and the reich-wing republicans believe they could bomb Iran for three days and that the Iranians would suddenly overthrow their government.

        Remember these are the same people who said that the Iraqis would greet us with flowers and dancing and that we would be out out of that country in six weeks.

        The Bushies are the types who make the same mistake over and over and each time expect sood results.

        By the way, where is Dick Cheney?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves

      Petraeus referenced Iran repeatedly in the brief time that I was able to listen to the hearing. Like , Teaeopy, I thought, ‘he’s laying PR groundwork for Iran’. No idea whether any Congressional questioners called him on it later.

      The MoveOn.org ad about Petraeus may be ‘impolite’, but it’s one more sign that we’re suffering Kabuki Overload. The Tipping Point ‘surged’ too far overboard to keep silent at this point.

      Appreciate the link to Kilcullen; fascinating!

  • MEP

    Leslie

    Prior to the invasion of Iraq did you express “We don’t know that they’ll attack Iraq.” Remember “Fool me once….. If these bastards think they can do it and keep their hides, they will. Do you really think that these people will allow themselves to be voted out of power to face potential war crimes?

    • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

      No, of course not. It was obvious Bush intended to attack Iraq. But, aside from obvious provocations, it’s not so clear whether they intend to attack Iran?

  • Phillip

    It is pretty simple. Progress or no progress. The country has to decide what the commitment will be to Iraq going forward? What are we willing to sacrifice to help bring stability to Iraq? What cost to what benefit?

    The cost will be more lives, more money, and more distraction from the larger war on terror or potentially continuing to create more enemies of the U.S.? The benefit could be a more stable Iraq or at least keeping the lid on a larger explosion.

    The question is how long will we have to be there keeping the lid on things?

    • Shirin

      What are we willing to sacrifice to help bring stability to Iraq?

      Phillip, you (collective) cannot bring stability to Iraq. You have no clue how to bring stability to anything. You think the way to “pacify” and bring stability is by continuously ratcheting up the violence. The fact that this technique has not worked only convinces you that you need to ratchet the violence up another notch or two or three. Oh yes – and you (collective) and Katy Couric – think Falluja is the perfect model for Iraqi cities, making destruction and extermination your current method of choice.

      And even if you (collective) suddenly got all smart and wise and understood how to bring stability to Iraq, it is just too late for you. You passed the point of no return there years ago. You have no effectiveness left there.

      The only way you can possibly help bring stability to Iraq is to get out, quickly and completely, and leave Iraq to Iraqis. It IS there country, after all, whether they manage it well or badly, and perhaps it’s time after eighty years of negatively interfering, to let them try managing it without your “help”.

  • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

    We need to address the policy of preemption, and I don’t hear anyone talking about that?

    The Bushie kabuki about whether or not the surge is working, etc., misses the point—what are we doing there in the first place?

    • Shirin

      Leslie, not to put too fine a point on it, but preemption is a bit of a propaganda term that, like “insurgent”, unfortunately the anti-war crowd has picked up on.

      What the Bushies have engaged in in Iraq, and appear to be preparing for in Iran is best termed preventive, not preemptive. It’s an important distinction, because under international law a preemptive attack is permitted under a certain set of circumtances.

      In order for an attack to qualify as preemptive there must be a threat of imminent attack. For it to be legal, the threat must be so immediate that there is no way to prevent it other than attacking before you are attacked. In other words, you are allowed to hit the guy first if you have reason to believe he plans to hit you, and you see him standing within arm’s reach of you, staring at you with his fist cocked. You’re not allowed to hit him first because you think he may one day get within arm’s reach of you, cock his fist, and therefore have the capability to hit you, which is the standard the Bushies seem to be applying.

      • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

        Shirin,
        I understand the difference. But I used the term preemption because that’s the term Bush used in his National Security Strategy report. It’s the term he continues to use to justify his policies.

        • Shirin

          OK, I understand. Maybe it would be a good idea to put it in quotes?

  • lester

    the concert was even more boring than I imagined. it put me to sleep, but then that was the point

  • MEP

    I find myself becoming convinced that Iraq is now nothing more than a staging area and smoke screen for the coming main event with Iran. It is painfully apparent that this administration, most Republicans and many Democrats do not give a rats ass what We the People think or want. Before the invasion of Iraq many people believed that individuals of honor within our government and military would not stand silent and allow a war to proceed if based upon lies. Gee, that did not play out well. Act II is about to begin. May your favorite Divine Being watch over you. It is time to find common cause with all who oppose this evil. We must put our petty differences aside and fight like hell to restore the Constitution, the Rule of Law and the Honor this nation once stood for. Hope to see many of you in the street, on the corners, using your voices in personal defiance. Add your voice and presence. It is not the time to simply lurk and bitch.

    • http://noquarterusa.net/blog/ Leslie

      We don’t know that they’ll attack Iran. They’re just talking like it and acting like it A LOT. The Bushies would certainly like to!

      The latest provocation is now we’re planning to build an Iraqi base close to the Iranian border.

  • GR3

    Playing politics with the war is the only way Bush knows how to operate. Of course facts are irrelevant.
    Read a good column last week about the September puffery. Here is a quote:
    “…the United States is now not counting more than 2,600 Iraqis killed in car bombings as sectarian deaths. Those, it seems, are now considered traffic accidents.

    In other words, the surge has reduced Iraqi civilian deaths — unless you’re an Iraqi civilian.”
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/david_sarasohn/index.ssf?/base/editorial/118895555521120.xml&coll=7

  • Sandy

    Thank goodness for Larry Johnson. Thank you for this great summary of …..the TRUTH. Wow, it’s so refreshing.

    Your knowledge, background, experience, and colleagues provide us with a truly important source of knowledge about what is really going on.

    No spin! Amazing.

    Thank you, Larry!

  • Jerome

    I didn’t see no post like this when the right wing was call ME a traitor. In the parlance of our time, screw you, pal.

  • SufiLizard

    Well perhaps some criticism is justified for MoveOn, but as for Patraes’ nickname, if the shoe fits…

    It seems that so far his testimony is living up to MoveOn predictions.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Petraeus is deliberately lying to curry favor with the administration. Maybe we had proof of Photoshopped images, some blatantly cooked statistics… Would it be fair to criticize him then?

    When, exactly, is harsh criticism appropriate?

  • greatdogs

    Professor Feaver,

    I would appreciate your directing me to your comments regarding the questioning of my patriotism (as a 20 year active army veteran) by the right wing talking heads and others in the media because of my oppostion to this war. TIA.

    Also I hope your outrage extends to the destruction of Iraq and the killing of, as cited by some, over a million of its innocent citizens. All occuring based on lies told by members and supporters of this administration.

    Instead of the classic “attack the messenger” technique, how about addressing the allegations made by the folks at MoveOn? Did Petraeus address the al Anbar situation before the surge happened? What statistical formula is the military using for casuality reporting? How can a rising number of deaths become a smaller number? It depends on where in their anatomy they were shot? Sounds rather 1984ish to me. I guess the numbers will only matter to the American people when the chocolate ration is affected.

    I personally do not agree with the method used by MoveOn, but they do have the right to their speech. Let them live with the consequences if any.