Friday, June 26, 2015

An expert leaves his fly open and his inexpertise slips out

Peter van Buren has a piece about "5 strategies that won't work" or some such topic that's everywhere -- The Nation, Salon, etc.

One problem with the piece, if you're going to talk possibilities in Iraq, you need to talk about what is being floated.

Where is the White House's plan/hope to use foreign fighters from surrounding countries?

As noted in the following (first is Third editorial, the other three appeared here):

"Editorial: Barack's actually trying to ramp up the..."

  • Iraq snapshot
  • Barack wants Gulf states to send ground troops int...

  • Iraq snapshot

  • sending in foreign troops is a plan/hope of the administration.

    This was revealed in the House Armed Services Committee hearing two Wednesdays ago.

    Ranking Member Adam Smith: The Chairman and I met last week with the Sunni leader of the Iraqi Parliament [Salim al-Jabouri] and one of the things he said during our meeting that surprised me a little bit as we were talking about the difficulty of getting support from the Baghdad government and sort of shifting focus to where could the Sunnis in that path sort of from Anbar up into Syria where ISIL is most dominant and he expressed disappointment, frankly, that the other Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, UAE -- or even Turkey, to go up north.  It did not seem to really be willing to provide much support -- uhm, even Jordan as well -- uhm, for the Sunnis in that area.  Uhm, number one is do you agree with that assessment?  I tend to take this guy at his word.  Uhm, and number two, why?  Uhm, it would seem to me that defeating ISIL is something that would be very important to Saudi Arabia -- amongst the others there.  Why aren't they doing more, uh, to help those groups that want to resist ISIS in that part of Iraq and Syria? 

    Secretary Ash Carter:  That's a critical question and it goes back to something that you said in your opening statement about other Sunnis and Arab forces countering ISIL.  And I too met with Mr. Jabouri last-last week who said the same thing  and I think he was speaking on behalf of a number of the Sunni forces -- political forces in western Iraq who would like to see more support and recognize -- as I think you noted and the Chairman noted in the operning statements -- that Americans and westerners  are, uh -- can lead and enable but if they get too high a profile that becomes a problem in its own right.

    Ranking Member Adam Smith:  Exactly.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Therefore all the more reason to get others uh, uh involved -- Sunnis involved in the fight.  Now the-the head -- one thing I'll note is the heads of state of the GCC were here in Washington and we went to Camp David -- about three weeks ago.  And I would say that this was one of the major themes of our conversation with them.  The other one being, to get them back to what the Chairman said checking Iranian malign influence which they're also concerned about.  Their concern about ISIL is genuine but their actions, I think, can be greatly strengthened.  And that was one of the principle things that we talked about, getting - leading them in the train and equip program --

    Ranking Member Adam Smith:  But again --

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Sorry?

    Ranking Member Adam Smith:  Yeah, I got all that.  But why?  Why isn't -- What, in your opinion, having worked with these people, why isn't it happening?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Well  one reason is that they simply lack the capacity and so we talked a lot about building special operations forces that had counter -- as opposed to air forces.  We have enough air forces.  We're looking for ground forces. 

    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter talks about not needing to build the air forces (the coalition has enough o those) but instead "we're looking for ground forces."

    That is the hope of the White House as Barack increases the number of US troops, bit by bit, in Iraq -- that other nations will send in ground forces.

    Is that going to work?

    Define work.

    And we say that because of this paragraph by van Buren:

    Among the boots-on-the-ground crowd are also some former soldiers who fought in Iraq in the Bush years, lost friends, and suffered themselves. Blinking through the disillusion of it all, they prefer to believe that we actually won in Iraq (or should have, or would have, if only the Bush and Obama administrations hadn’t squandered the “victory”). Needed now, they claim, are more US troops back on the ground to win the latest version of their war. Some are even volunteering as private citizens to continue the fight. Can there be a sadder argument than the “it can’t all have been a waste” one?

    Wining hearts and minds is not anything a jerk like van Buren ever focuses on.

    My opinion: the Iraq War was illegal, it broke with all norms and mores on top of being illegal.

    That said, had US troops left after the fall of Baghdad in 2003, the US government could have declared "victory."

    There were other key moments where they could have as well.

    Sending foreign troops into Iraq today -- or just US troops (which would also be foreign troops) -- is a failed strategy because what happens after?

    van Buren -- and those who republish him -- are just a little too eager to trash US troops.

    They really should be ashamed.

    US troops can take tough talk -- even trash talk.

    But if you're trying to build some form of consensus, writing like van Buren does is not helpful.  And calling the troops "delusional" is neither helpful nor accurate.

    Again, there are points where the US military succeeded.

    People like van Buren can't even be honest about the surge.

    Bully Boy Bush 'surged' (increased the number of US troops in Iraq) near the end of his term.

    The 'surge' had 2 points.  First, the US military was supposed to quell the increasing violence.  Second, doing so was supposed to create the space for Iraq's politicians to address a number of issues (including the benchmarks the White House set for the US Congress to measure success -- and determine whether or not to continue funding the Iraq War).

    The military accomplished their task.

    So, yes, they succeeded.

    The surge failed on the second part.

    This is important not just because it's factual.

    It's important because Barack's doing the same thing -- just not calling it a surge.

    That's what his plan is.

    The troops sent in and the warplanes dropping bombs are supposed to assist and allow the Iraqi politicians and officials to create the political solution (and he's stated only a political solution ends the crises).

    So since August, the US has been dropping bombs.

    And what's going on politically?

    Barack has spoken of the need for a national guard.

    The thought was that it would be voted on in the fall.

    It wasn't.

    Instead, the Iraqi Parliament has recently voted on a national anthem.

    And they're saying maybe next parliamentary session they might vote on the national guard proposal (that's what the Shi'ite National Alliance is saying).

    Maybe vote.

    If you don't understand how Bully Boy Bush's surge failed, you're not getting why Barack's measures are doomed as well.

    van Buren writes:

    Washington’s current man in Baghdad, Prime Minister al-Abadi, hasn’t moved his country any closer to Sunni-Shiite reconciliation than his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, did. In fact, because Abadi has little choice but to rely on those Shiite militias, which will fight when his corrupt, inept army won’t, he has only drawn closer to Iran. This has ensured that any (American) hope of bringing Sunnis into the process in a meaningful way as part of a unified government in a unified state will prove to be a pipe dream.

    There I disagree but he may be right.

    He's not the only one saying that.

    But as someone who called out Nouri in real time -- someone who didn't wait until 2014 to call out his thug behavior and how it was sending the country into crises (check 2012, you'll see me writing about where this was leading and I was correct) -- I really don't see why there's this oh-he's-trying.

    He said, for example, September 13th that the bombing of residential homes in Falluja -- bombings carried out by the Iraqi military -- had ceased and were no more.  The next day they resumed.  They continue to this day.

    Does he control the military or not?

    We asked that in September.

    If he does, he's at fault.

    If he doesn't, he's useless.

    There's also the various footage of him and thug Nouri being buddy-buddy that's been all over Arabic social media.

    There's also the fact that he is a member not just of Nouri's Dawa political party but of Nouri's political slate State of Law.

    Why are we pretending he's any different than Nouri?

    No results demonstrate a difference.

    Here, van Buren is just wrong:

    Go back to 2011 and it’s unlikely anyone could have imagined that the same guy who defeated Hillary Clinton and gained the White House based on his opposition to the last Iraq War would send the United States tumbling back into that chaotic country. If ever there was an avoidable American crisis, Iraq War 3.0 is it. If ever there was a war, whatever its chosen strategies, in which the United States has no hopes of achieving its goals, this is it.

    We could have.

    And we did.

    And I'm sorry van Buren thinks he can write about everything when he so clearly can't.

    We knew this was possible long before 2011 -- we knew it in 2007.

    Because we paid attention.

    November 4, 2007, the following appeared at Third:

    NYT: "Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq"

    The story you should have seen Friday.

    The New York Times
    Friday, November 2, 2007
    "Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq"
    by Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny

    Presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama who is perceived as an 'anti-war' candidate by some announced that he would not commit to a withdrawal, declared that he was comfortable sending US troops back into Iraq after a withdrawal started and lacked clarity on exactly what a withdrawal under a President Obama would mean.

    Declaring that "there are no good options in Iraq," Senator Obama went on to explain that even with his 16 month plan for withdrawal, he would continue to keep US troops in Iraq, agreeing that he would "leave behind residual force" even after what he is billing as a "troop withdrawal."

    "Even something as simple as protecting our embassy is going to be dependent on what is the security environment in Baghdad. If there is some sense of security, then that means one level of force. If you continue to have significant sectarian conflict, that means another, but this is an area where Senator Clinton and I do have a significant contrast," Senator Obama offered contrasting himself with his chief opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination. "I do think it is important for us not only to protect our embassy, but also to engage in counter-terrorism activities. We’ve seen progress against AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq], but they are a resilient group and there’s the possibility that they might try to set up new bases. I think that we should have some strike capability. But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."

    The Senator insisted, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities. How large that force is, whether it’s located inside Iraq or as an over the horizon force is going to depend on what our military situation is."

    The positon of the majority of Americans in poll after poll is that all US troops need to be brought home by 2008. Senator Obama's strategy calls for bringing some troops home, should he be elected president, in his first sixteen months; however, he is not, by his own words, an advocate of a "Out of Iraq" strategy.

    While maintaining that he would remove all combat troops in sixteen months he did agree that the forces left behind to fight "terrorists" would be performing "a combat function."

    He also spoke of deployment, and presumably bases, "in places like Kuwait" in order "to strike at terrorist targets successfully."

    Returning the topic of leaving US forces in Iraq even after what he's billed as a "withdrawal," the Senator delcared, "As commander in chief, I’m not going to leave trainers unprotected. In our counterterrorism efforts, I’m not going to have a situation where our efforts can’t be successful. We will structure those forces so they can be successful. We would still have human intelligence capabilities on the ground. Some of them would be civilian, as opposed to military, some would be operating out of our bases as well as our signal intelligence.

    The senator also admitted that he was comfortable with sending troops back into Iraq after what he's terming a "withdrawal" though he wanted to split hairs on what constituted "armed force."

    In what will be seen as a blow to his Democratic-center-slightly-left admirers such as the editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Senator Obama touched on the topic that led to a brief flurry of disappointment when he refused to take all options off the table regarding Iran. In the interview yesterday, he repeated, "I don't think the president of the United States takes military options off the table." In addition, he also endorsed the Bully Boy's unproven claim that the Iranian government is equipping the resistance by declaring, "Iran has shown no inclination to back off of their support of Shia militias as a consequence of the threats that they've been receiving from the Bush and Cheney administration."

    All in all, a candidate our readers can rest assured will not rock the boat or fundamentally change the current direction of the country.

    That's the story they could have written based upon the interview conducted by Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny. As C.I. noted in Friday's "Iraq snapshot," the interview the reporters conducted hit harder than the sop they wrote up on it that ran on Friday's front page of the paper.

    And November 2, 2007's Iraq snapshot had already noted that then-candidate Barack was saying that even if he pulled US troops out of Iraq, he was fine with turning around and sending them back in if things got rocky in Iraq.

    I'm sorry Peter van Buren's writing about a topic he's so unprepared for.

    But that's his problem.

    Or maybe it's a problem for the masses since he's set himself up as the great expert?

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