Gordo's war-on is wagging and dripping which explains "Military Hones A New Strategy On Insurgency" in this morning's New York Times. Obvious observations like "Three years after and they trot out a new strategy" go unstated because, when all the blood rushes out of the head, a War Pornographer can't think too well.
Let's note first that the role of the military is still undefined. This matters beyond Iraq. What Bully Boy's done, others who follow will do. Some within the bounds of the law and some outside. But it will happen again and the issue of the role of the military needs to be addressed at some point. One of the lengthiest critiques offered this morning of Gordo's article was made by a friend who believes you use the military to fight and only to fight. So let's note that point of view right off the bat. There are people who disagree with that. Among those disagreeing include people who point to projects in the immediate aftermath of the fighting during WWII and believe that the military also have a role in rebuilding (physical and emotional -- and note "emotional" is my term, not the term they use). This dispute has raged through most White Houses since WWII. A new "strategy" would address that but whether one ever does, at some point the people need to figure out what they feel the role of the military should be.
You can't keep changing objectives from conflict to conflict, war to war. And you certainly can't do so in the midst of fighting a war without confusing everyone serving. Which is why Iraq is lost. There is no comeback. It's over. The war has been lost and most know that already but to admit it would mean telling the American people who would then insist on a withdrawal date (as they should).
Instead of that, people like Gordo want to sit around their basements playing Combat and Risk. Running their ideal operation (via boardgames where no reality applies from one game to next).
The non-strategy is a lot like the 'peace' plan of the puppet. A number of members e-mailed to note that, yes, the press really seems to think no one can count to four as they continue to repeat "security councils" (which existed before the half-baked 'peace' plan was announced).
Amit R. Paley reports, in today's Washington Post, that Sadr City is thought to be a target for 'pacification.' Some may wonder why Sadr City and not Ramadi? (Sadr City is a section of Baghdad.) Because to play "whack-a-mole," vast number of troops were pulled from Ramadi and other areas (and stop-lossed) to flood Baghdad. Thoughts of 'pacifying' Sadr City only indicate that there is no new 'strategy' and that nothing has been learned or absorbed in the nearly four years (four years in March) that the illegal war has waged.
The NIE argued Iraq was a breeding ground for terrorism, that it became a focal point of rage and anger (what is being done there) and acted as a recruiter for terrorism from outside Iraq. Falluja acts a recruiter for opposition to the continued war and occupation. Not from outside Iraq, from within. All of the policies do, the checkpoints, the housing sweeps, the lack of electricity and potable water, etc. But an attack on Sadr City will recruit even more to the resistance than the daily tragedies and injustices because it will be seen, as was Falluja, as American forces slaughter Iraqis.
That such a plan for 'pacification' can be spoken of at the same time Gordo's stroking over a 'new' 'strategy' only underscores that the war was long ago lost.
Gordo goes misty-eyed and short of breath as he summons Lawrence of Arabia (and didn't that work out fabulously) and tells you that the answer is not to be holed up on bases but to get out in the streets. The 'strategy' is desperation measures. The holed up on bases happened for a reason. It was a response to life on the ground. The same reason that the reporters stay safely inside the Green Zone unless embedded within the military.
One of the talking points from Little Willie's Big Press Conference yesterday was that American fatalities might be on the rise because they are on the streets of Baghdad. Gordo, always one to swallow, somehow misses that point as he studies the 'strategy' and can't keep his hands out of his own pants.
The 'strategy' is "We're going to put a friendly face on occupation." Oh, that'll work. It's worked so well historically, right? It hasn't. And it's too far along in the illegal occupation for it to work now. The 'new and improved' illegal occupation can't erase the history and the thought that three years into the war you can suddenly change perceptions is so laughable that many who called this morning (those in the military) feel that the 'military' 'strategy' was outsourced to a p.r. firm and that is what Gordo's referring to when he uses the broad term "private groups" who had input on the 'plan.' (Considering this administration's history, that's probably very likely.)
The war is lost. The American people should have been told that a long time ago. Even had those words not been stated directly, had the mainstream press noted in their reports, long ago, that they were confined to the Green Zone and that they couldn't report outside of it without risking their own lives, Americans would have grasped that the war was lost.
But there will always be Gordos who get off on war porn and their active fantasy lives are fueld by 'strategies' and 'stats' and anything else they can hold with one hand while reaching in their shorts with the other. A colonel tells Gordo it's a "bottom-up change" and Gordo's off fantasizing doggie style.
The 'strategy' will be tossed ("modified") because it's not a military one and it's not going to change anything. It can't. Whether you can market an occupation or not (I don't believe you can, but that's me), you certainly can't do it after it's gone on for three years. The 'brains' behind the new 'strategy' see war as a 'product' that can be sold. Anyone who's ever had a bad experience with a product and stopped buying it knows you don't easily return to purchasing that product.
But that's the basis of this 'strategy' -- that the war can be marketed, all these years later, and that Iraqis are blank slates that can be 'filled' with the 'new message.'
The perceptions are too deep and too firm at this point. Madison Avenue whiz kids can't remarket the war to Iraqis. I was honestly surprised that Gordo, a war pornographer, would be as naive as he comes off in print. (But, as one editor put it on the phone, "He just wants his nut." Indeed.)
At the heart of the 'strategy,' and you have to read between the lines (those calling this morning from the military caught it right away) is a call for more US troops in Iraq. Possibly that's what has Gordo so excited because he favors that 'strategy' as well. At this rate, the next 'strategy' will be to settle Americans inside camps in Iraq and we all know how well that worked out for Israel. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)
Or maybe Ann Coulter can be made general and the US can just, as she suggested re: Afghanistan, bomb them all?
The only 'strategy' left is withdrawal. Some incidents of US violence are known. Other incidents that people may want to dicker over can be labeled 'perceptions.' You can't change perceptions when they are that firm (and trying to three years after the fact is both ignorant and desperate).
You can take perceptions and enter them into the equation in an attempt to modify them. Whether or not that would work in Iraq (my personal opinion is it wouldn't, it's too late for that), it's not been attempted. Instead it's another case of "We will decide, we will inform, everyone will follow."
The assumed ignorant 'other,' this 'we know best' attitude, is as responsible for the perceptions held by Iraqis as the actual violence and that insult is still present in the new 'strategy.' One reporter offered that it might be based on Bully Boy's ability to fool people when running in 2000? That may be the basis. He certainly fooled a lot of people. But, if as governor of Texas, he'd carried out his Iraq war, he wouldn't have fooled many Americans when he ran for president. The American image is not a good image to Iraqis. It's not even a blank image at this point. It's firmly established and the idea that troops out among the people can change that is insane.
Best case scenario, US troops do daily walks through Basra. They wave, they smile and six days out of the week, it works very well, they interact and some Iraqis even interact back. The seventh day, when they respond to an event (real or imagined) with gunfire, any momentary 'uplift' is destroyed as the old perception resurfaces.
This reality gets alluded to in a sidebar on page A19 that had one caller from the military saying the troops were now going to be "sitting ducks." He was referring specifically to this item:
The more successful counterinsurgency is, the less force that can be used and the more risk that must be accepted.
As the level of insurgent violence drops, the military must be used less with stricter rules of engagment, and the police force used more.
[Purists take note, all is bold print because it's an excerpt. In the paper only the first sentence is in bold print.]
Read over that slowly and you'll grasp why one person believes US troops will be "sitting ducks" and you'll also grasp that this isn't a military plan. It's not any kind of a plan, it's a marketing scheme. And it's come far too late to make a difference in perceptions but it will put US troops at risk and, as every caller noted, "the police force used more" is laughable on any day but especially after a unit that was probably aiding and involved with mass kidnapping is being 'retrained.' That's only one example. You can look at the bus depot incidents over the summer when the Iraqi police just stood around and US forces did nothing because they were told to wait to be 'invited in.'
The war is lost. The 'plan' is a joke. Maybe after Gordo comes down from his sexual high, he'll grasp that and also grasp that Tal Afar doesn't make for a good example?
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the new york times
michael r. gordon
amit r. paley
the washington post