Pick out the guys who ain’t from the ‘hood!

The U.S. strategy for suppressing the militias of Baghdad has failed disastrously. The reasons are far-reaching.

The price of adopting an unsuccessful confrontation policy with the militias of Baghdad has been very high for the United States. American troop casualties for October soared to very high levels. Political and strategic tensions and distrust between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are worse than they have been in the half a year since Maliki took office. The militias are stronger and more credible than ever. And the Bush administration has been forced to make an urgent reassessment of its Iraq strategy when it never expected to have to do so at this time.

Little time need be assigned to considering U.S. officials’ demand for the Iraqi government to meet “benchmarks” in taking over responsibility for controlling the militias and ending the widespread sectarian violence that is in reality a state of civil war in many regions of the country.

For all previous U.S. official predictions and timetables for progress in Iraq have proven to be unfounded fantasies with no tangible connection to evolving political and security realities on the ground there. There is no indication that the latest projected “timetables” will be any different.

Nor does President George W. Bush’s widely reported comment at his news conference Wednesday that “we are winning” in Iraq conform in any way to the widely reported realities on the ground there.

The underlying reason for the continued weakness and lack of credibility of the new Iraqi forces is very clear: Maliki’s government is unable to function credibly by itself and its much touted armed forces, raised far too fast and with far too rapid training and individual security checks, fail to command the depth of loyalty the militias have. For the militias are rooted in their local communities and have proven far more credible at providing basic security and order in the enclaves they control than the central government has.

The bit in bold is how and why insurgencies keep invading armies from winning — whatever “winning” is supposed to mean this week.

It doesn’t matter which faction the man in the street with a gun belongs to. He can always pick out the guy in the funny clothes from some other country — and kill him. And disappear back into his neighborhood.



  1. ken ehrman says:

    W had no idea that all this civil unrest would happen, he saw an oppressed people lead by a maniac and freed them — i believe in my heart of hearts that he meant well.

    but the bottom line remains: he had no idea what he was getting us into and he has no idea how to get us out.

    he failed to achieve even his own objectives and it will fall to the next president to clean up after his disaterous failures.

  2. TJGeezer says:

    “Now maybe we can start to clean up this mess” – quote attributed to senior Republican politician in Texas after Dubya left the governor’s office. History repeats itself.

    Nothing I’ve seen makes me think Dubya thinks in large terms. He didn’t mean well, he just wanted to get even for what happened with Daddy. And then his buddy Cheney’s company Halliburton was in place to start sucking billions out of the once healthy public treasury.

    I saw an argument to the effect that we DID win the war. When Dubya put on his flyboy costume and posed in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner, the US had toppled Iraq’s government and chased its despot from power. In WWII terms, that’s winning the war. So why are we still there recruiting terrorists for Osama?

    I guess we learned nothing from the Viet Nam debacle. That was another war based on lies and promoted by corporations in the war industry. I remember it like it was yesterday. No, wait – I’m thinking of Iraq.

  3. Nah Bush is just a plain idiot. He tried to jump the gun with phony wmd evidence and got burnt.

    Then he says “We’re bringing them democracy and freedom!”

    Apparentely we brought some terrorists with us as well.

    “Fighting them there is better than fighting them here!”

    You can’t have it both ways either you’re bringing them freedom and security or you’re making the whole place a warzone. Either way you got the worst result of both.

  4. Jim Scarborough says:

    Okay, then. Let’s sing another round of “Stay the Course!”

  5. RTaylor says:

    This is déjà vu , but on a smaller scale. How many of you are old enough to remember the LBJ administration? How about Robert McNamara? In McNamaras book, ” The Fog of War”, he stated the biggest problem in Vietnam was our failure to understand the enemy and their motivations. We never understood their culture. Of course we should have never been in that mess either. We had a boogey man in those days too, the dirty red commies.

  6. Well he did say ‘bring it on’ and so they did

  7. mxpwr03 says:

    What a wonderfully unbiased news story. Maybe next week we can have one from Amnesty International?
    Commentators read this link:
    http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/qndguide/default.asp?target=Iraq

    -“he has no idea how to get us out” the DoD has an idea, it is called enabling the Iraqi security forces to provide security while America has a phased withdrawal (it will take another 12-24 months until 3/4 of the American troops will be redeployed)
    -“He didn’t mean well, he just wanted to get even for what happened with Daddy.” What are you referring to?
    -“Nah Bush is just a plain idiot. He tried to jump the gun with phony wmd evidence and got burnt.” Well then I guess Clinton was an idiot because he attacked Iraq, Operation Desert Fox, with the same motivation.
    -“Stay the Course!” Stay the course has always meant providing security, until the Iraqis can do it for themselves.
    -“our failure to understand the enemy and their motivations” I understand the enemy’s motivations, they want the liberal democracy to fail in Iraq so they can impose their own form of fascism.

    [Edited: comments guide]

  8. Smith says:

    Let’s see if I can get past the spam filter this time.

    The 2nd biggest mistake — the 1st is obvious — we made in Iraq was in disbanding the Iraqi army. What we should have done was place every soldier on paid leave until we could filter out the Saddam cronies from their officer core. We then could have recalled the army a battalion at a time for training and security patrols.

    Instead we fired them and dumped them into a crippled economy that had nothing to offer them.

  9. mxpwr03 says:

    I’ll agree with that statement. I think that it was short sighted for the CPA to disband the entire army just to purge 10-20% of them.

  10. moss says:

    #8 — not unlike what was done with the occupations after WW2 — more so in Japan than in Germany.

    But, I doubt if today’s CIA/Pentagon intel types are capable of differentiating between nationalists and Saddam’s buddies inside the Ba’athist cadre that threw the Brits out. Or even if they would be allowed to make that distinction by the White House brain(?) trust.

  11. tallwookie says:

    You know those t-shirts that say “Some village somewhere is missing its idiot…”? we need to get a pool together and send one to Bush

  12. RBG says:

    The Germans could have used guys like you during the London blitz.

    RBG

  13. god says:

    RBG — you win the non-sequitur of the day award!

  14. RBG says:

    Except in WWII, the allies, especially London, didn’t go into a paralysing, self-prophesying “woe is me, all is lost because war is tougher than we thought” mode. And doing such for political leverage would have been unconscionable.

    If I was a professional soldier in a war, with my life on the line daily, I’d want and require support daily from back home – not a made-in-USA knife in my back, not an enemy who gets direct strength from the debilitating effect of that knife. And I wouldn’t give one hoot for the precious politics involved.

    Blog thyself blogger. (Kinda like “heal thyself, doctor.”) The parallel works just fine.

    RBG

  15. Mike Voice says:

    14 Except in WWII, the allies, especially London, didn’t go into a paralysing, self-prophesying “woe is me, all is lost because war is tougher than we thought” mode.

    Kinda like us after 9/11, or Pearl Harbor, huh?

    Nothing like attacks on “the Homeland” to bring people together.

    Too bad they’ve pissed-away all that post-9/11 unity…

    14 If I was a professional soldier in a war, with my life on the line daily, I’d want and require support daily from back home…

    As if… You’ll probably get less notice than the World Series….

    And, I wish I could add a “/sarcasm” tag after that…. 🙁


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