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September 06, 2008


Jim Hu

there's an extra http:// in the link.

Charlie (Colorado)

This one should work.


This is a distraction. I'm afraid that, because Obama was so profoundly, insistently, breathtakingly wrong about the Surge, it takes attention away from the fact that he's also wrong about damn near everything else.


is hawkish Obama like kung fu grip GI Joe?


We leave when Sistani says we leave and not a moment sooner, and not an hour later.

Barney Frank

is hawkish Obama like kung fu grip GI Joe?

Yes, but not the anatomicly correct version.


Fiscal Obama says that whatever he does with the troops in Iraq, the money saved will be enough to support the entire not-wealthy portion of our nation.

Soylent Red

Doesn't Malibu Fiscal Obama also bleat about how the Iraq war was financed by Chinese loans and has added to the deficit?

So if I am to understand the Obamessiah (PBUH) correctly, we should not run a Chinese financed deficit to further our foreign policy and energy interests, but rather to fund a cadre of community organizers to dole out money for anti-American activities.

Got it. I advocate the DNC immediately begin running ads outlining this brilliant policy shift.

Barney Frank

but rather to fund a cadre of community organizers to dole out money for anti-American activities

Or, put another way, to fund the creation of, effectively, a one party state.
Presumably it will then be renamed the Democratic republic of the United States of America.


Have you seen his policy proposal, like the health care give everybody a $1000 deal to reduce your premiums?

Trust me they do not intend to get specific on any of these proposals as the light of midday would cause much convulsive laughter. They dont intend to do much of them either, they just want to tell less than bright and attentive voters they are passing out checks and candy if you stand in the right line. Anything for a vote, especially if the rubes will vote without having anything of value in return.


Video of the day


Since the start of the Iraq war I've followed daily the ups and downs of this conflict and have to say, I really feel sorry for all those Americans who missed out one of our nation's great and historic achievements.

America's miliary men and women along side their Iraqi brothers and sisters are crushing the enemy's will to win; now if could stop the International Collectivist Left from waging their multi-cultural caliphate against 'freedom, liberty and justice for all' then we could all get back on the road to prosperity and peace.

We have a long way to go.


Watch Neo's video to the end.



Fiscal Obama says that whatever he does with the troops in Iraq, the money saved will be enough to support the entire not-wealthy portion of our nation.

I thought he dropped this a few months back because the idea is so stupid that even his economics advisors couldn't defend it. Surprise, surprise that he picked it back up. Kudlow had something devoted to the topic a while back.

Cecil Turner

Nagl had an NPR (Fresh Air) interview a couple months back that covered the same subject in a bit more depth, and gave a lot more of the feeling. It's also worth noting that the Center for a New American Security is predominantly security-conscious Democrats, and at least at the top, Obama supporters. So the fact that they tend toward an Obamaesque view should not be too surprising.


RichUF- hmmm. I don't know if that line has expired. I was so floored by the magic pen theory of fiscal discipline that I forgot to remember if "ending" the Iraq war was mentioned at his convention speech.


You may be right that we are on Fiscal Obama 2.0, Rich

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

Loopholes closed.
Taxhavens gone
Magic pen weilded


I'm snakebit, Cecil, every time I see 'Center for', visions of Soros writhe before my eyes.


Kermit--The banner for Nagl's new home--Center for a New American Security--has some interesting faces floating in and out:-)



I don't know if that line has expired.

The first iteration is "no longer operative". It started with Stiglitz's papers and books putting the total over the life of US presence in Iraq north of 2 Trillion dollars. Funny how Stiglitz's assumptions are all forgotten and anti-war campaigners have seized the headline number.

I was doing a bit of googling because when this crap was first floated I posted a few comments here. FWIW-half of the Iraq War costs, about 576 billion over 66 months, is salary for military personnel.


"Doesn't Malibu Fiscal Obama also bleat about how the Iraq war was financed by Chinese loans and has added to the deficit?"

Yes,how are the Chinese going to repossess a war?


"Loopholes closed.
Taxhavens gone
Magic pen weilded"

Money out of the country before the ink is dry.


Basra proved the Brits did precious little in the three years and change; they were there, by practicing such a soft touch that
the Sadrists and their political arm in Fadhila were not to be tampered with. This does not detract from the fine duty of the British men and women, specially the SAS and
the Black Watch in country; just plans from
headquarters. I think the effort in Northern Ireland, did much to quell any British desire for counter insurgency.

How about Bob Woodward making a Susskind
level fool of himself in his latest book. Hadley as kingmaker, Seriously, don't make
me LOL. Is it possible that the administration was knocked off its game with the "Civil War" beginning after the Golden Mosque Bombing in Samarra, Zarquawi's
last gasp assault on the Iraqi people and the blood libelous nature of Salafi loving Tim McGuirk at Haditha; bueyed by Murtha and later the likes of Biden; I'll grant you that. Would firing Rumsfeld any sooner have really furthered the objectives of victory over the different armed elements(Badr/Sadr, AQ in Mesopotamia,) without the 'small pox vaccination'that innoculated the sheiks of Anbar/Dulaimi against Salafi enthusiasm; one kind of doubts it. It seems surprising that they need to learn this lesson, about once every hundred years; 1803 and 1925; being the previous instances where Wahhabism was acknowledged as the real foe. Rumsfeld was turning against the old garrison plan for the troops; although he didn't have a viable alternative yet. Petraeus, had been designing his CIS at Ft. Leavenworth, based on insights gained from Mosul, McMaster at Tell a Far, Mansoor in Baghdad, and even Mirabile in Ramadi Schoomaker, the former Special Forces chief that Rumsfeld had recruited to replace Shinseki,because of his experience in unconventional environments;(not unlike Boykin, the bete noire of Arkin and future Chalabi inquisitor, Rostom) was thinking very conventional thoughts. Gen. Baptiste one of the Pentagon mutineers, as Zarquawi had mentioned in one of his spring
dispatches,had turned to MoveOn; just as the surge was getting underway; because his version of a WW 2 style mobilization wasn't followed. In my view, that like trying to cure a headache, by using a power drill; but that's 'above my pay grade'. It was to the President's courage, that he stuck to his guns, gave Baker and Hamilton, the clic and claq of Saudi oil retainers, a round of rolled up newspaper and brought Keane, Petraeus and his staff on board.At the time, everyone in the establishment was thinking Tet if not American Embassy' '75
Actually Linda Robinson's account of the Petraeus tour of Iraq "Tell Me How It Ends"
and Bing West's overview "The Strongest Tribe," should be the go to tomes on the war. However, we know that doesn't win you points in the cozy dinners of Washington where Sally Quinn and the late Pamela Harriman hold court. We know the self serving tomes of Halberstam, who were so factually flawed,that Mary McCarthy, on jingoist she, skewered them, for errors and contextual tones. It would take another generation, before Moyar, would bury the
likes of Sheehan, and Halberstam. in Victory Forsaken. Not surprisingly that Baku director Richard Armitage, holds a slot at CNAS. I see Gen,. Newbold, another one of the mutineers, whose hurt feelings were recounted by then Rumsfeld enthusiast turned jeremiad writer Tom Barnett at Esquire; apparently turned him against the war, is also on board. We knoe Admiral Mullen wasn't on board with the surge, lets leave out the other Esquire pinup, Admiral
Fallon, who talked his way right out his office at McDill AFB. Makes me feel all warm inside (sarcasm) I know that Bob, along with Armitage, let Libby twist in the wind over an invented brouhaha involving the other Alaskan wunderkind; Valerie Plame, while a very hot war was going on. We see from L. Patrick Gray's son's memoir, that Deep Throat was another montage on which Woodward built his reputation; with pieces of Felt, Santarelli, et al; blended to make the right portrait of Nixon as Richard 111/Macbeth.

Another correction from another thread, the SCIRI Badrist & Da'Wa were well represented among the pre war exile conference; how do
you think Jaafari, al Rubaiie, aka; "Mow Baker" among others ended up in the top slots.In fact, Wayne White of INR,mentioned
in Hubris among other texts, that was one of the things that raised concerns, that and deep skepticism of possible WMD finds.
To see why that is, the film "Three Kings" gives you a good grasp on the matter; by the then liberation minded George Clooney, back when it didn't mean a thing.There have been references to Al Maliki's pig
headedness;re the Iraq War in general, the surge and the arming of the SOI. On that score, the man from Karbala and the
'community organizer' from Hyde Park, might as well be identical twins.


On Halberstam, and Sheehan 'historical & journalistic malpractice, and how it contributed to the wider media understanding or lack there of, of insurgent campaigns. Take note, of the fact that Westmoreland, had insight from the British experience in Malaysia; the closest counterpart to Galula; Petraeus's intellectual godfather in the field of counterinsurgency::href<http://www.vvi.org/Content/rollins2.htm> which follows a similar line of thought.

MAJ (P) John

"Under this model, embedded military advisers would provide just enough help to give Iraqis what they need on the battlefield, but not so much that it stymies their development and perpetuates a view of Western occupation. Yet this transition is risky."

You would almost think there would someone to do that, a Multi National Security Transition Command-Iraq or somesuch.

A Soldier serving in MNSTC-I
Baghdad, Iraq

JM Hanes

MAJ (P) John:

It's really quite amazing just how much of what Obama proposes to do (think joint Euro-US diplomatic pressure on Iran) consists of things we are already doing. We must be deep into Audacity of Ignorance, Vol. III by now.

JM Hanes

Speaking of ignorance, Soylent could you refresh my memory as to the meaning of PBUH?


Charlie's name is in lights again.

Any day now he'll be charging for autographs.


http://www.weeklystandard.com/Weblogs/TWSFP/TWSFPView.asp#8543>Charlie's List

JM Hanes

My, you're up late Clarice! Are you traveling in a different time zone?

Soylent Red

PBUH = Peace Be Upon Him.

It's one of the obligatory phrases you tag on to Mohammed's name when you refer to him.

Uh, when you're a Muslim, that is. Which Obamessiah (PBUH) is or isn't.

JM Hanes


The Rumsfeld story struck me as familiar: the hated reformer/agent of change gets vilified; his successor gets the benefits and the accolades. Yet I have the lingering feeling that perhaps it was he who ultimately hesitanted to complete the plunge into a different modus op, and was perhaps the one who was slow to realize what we were facing in Iraq? Even as anl amateur observer, I couldn't understand why we were abandoning ground taken -- not to mention why we backed off on al Sadr while he was still nominally a crimminal, not a political "leader." That's not hindsight on my part; I thought it was crazy at the time -- the same way I thought Clinton/Albright were nuts to wallpaper over Saddam's refusal to allow the return of Inspectors. When things seem clear to someone like me, they've got to be pretty obvious.

Did Rumsfeld really need to go, or had he just become such a political liability/whipping boy that Bush couldn't afford him anymore?

I don't really know how such things work; I assume Bush wasn't necessarily talking to the Generals on the Ground, but getting filtered news from Rummy? Odd, really, a Sect Def with enormous power, but I don't really know where he plugs into the command structure as a civilian. Does the Pres. transmit orders through Sec Def? Do folks treat orders from Sec Def as de facto orders from the Pres unless they hear otherwise? In any case, I was relieved when Bush didn't cave to the Baker crowd; hope that was Baker's last gasp, because he's a nasty piece of work. I was surprised Giuliani was part of his dog & pony exercise, but maybe that just shows how little I really know about Giuliani.

Gen. Baptiste was a weird case, wasn't he? The anti-Bush crowd took him up with a vengeance. I was still tuning in on Chris Matthews from time to time back then, and Baptiste had to be led by the hand through the talking points. Matthews would roll one out and then say, right?

Is Arkin still writing for anyone? Talk about a grim reaper. I also find myself wondering with regularity whether Armitage is just vastly self-serving or positively corrupt. He seems to have traveled that Pakistand-Turkey, etc. silky road that the rest of the back-stabbers did.

Just got "Stongest Tribe" and will order "Tell Me How It Ends"
 which I hadn't heard of. No surprise there.

Soylent: Thanks, I missed a lot of the entertainment by not asking sooner!


JMH--No I wasn't in a different zone but I'd gone to sleep earlier than usual and woke up in the middle of it.

Rick Ballard
Yet I have the lingering feeling that perhaps it was he who ultimately hesitanted to complete the plunge into a different modus op, and was perhaps the one who was slow to realize what we were facing in Iraq?....

Did Rumsfeld really need to go, or had he just become such a political liability/whipping boy that Bush couldn't afford him anymore?

The answer to the first question is a question - how long does it take to build a functional national security force from very close to scratch? Rumsfeld knew the anwser, knew the necessary steps and supported the endeavor throughout his tenure. The Iraqi security forces didn't make it to "they stand up" before the Copperheads' political perfidy forced an affirmative answer to your second question.

The more important question is whether the Iraqi security forces will become the strong arm of a new dictator and we won't know the answer to that for another 3-5 years. Maliki will win in October, due in part to his taking personal command of the operation in Basra and acting ruthlessly in the suppression of "lawless" elements there. AFAICT he did so without much coordination withe MNF. I don't couhat as a positive augury.

If the Copperheads had not resorted to sedition it wouldn't have shortened the process of training Iraqi security forces but it would have alleviated some of the bloodshed. The length of time required to build an effective security force isn't a state secret and we're still on the short side. The Iraqis may be able to field most effective security force in the ME, right this minute, but we're still in "tallest midget" territory.

The surge made for a nice graduation ceremony but it was graduation from middle school. There's still a way to go yet - as, I'm sure, Secretary Rumsfeld could explain in detail.

JM Hanes


"The surge made for a nice graduation ceremony but it was graduation from middle school."

I often think it's probably not a good idea to bring the new Iraqi army completely up to speed on the newest, best practice of war and/or COIN Ops! I've always been a Rumsfeld fan -- changing the course of one of the largest institutions in government requires more than a little ruthlessness -- and makes for a veritable cornucopia of non-believers leaking ammo to the press. The qualities that make a good executive don't always show to best advantage on Meet the Press.

I've been missing your comments -- decided to come up for air, did you? I'm having a tough time getting a handle on the CAC morass. I'm just hoping that if I keep reading, despite the mess of names and numbers whirlpooling around in my head, somewhere, somehow, some light will suddenly dawn.

Cecil Turner

The banner for Nagl's new home . . .

Heh. Yeah, and I don't know why we have to play "name that party" with every treatment of security that just happens to have a strong political slant. That said, these guys are at least on the responsible side of Democrat security pundits (which is a bit of faint praise).

Did Rumsfeld really need to go, or had he just become such a political liability/whipping boy that Bush couldn't afford him anymore?

That's going to be a very interesting treatise, some time down the road. And I don't claim to know the answer (though I suspect it was a little of both). As to the problems Rusmfeld faced, that was due to a confluence of several factors, which the war exacerbated, including:

  1. Rumsfeld championed the revolution in military affairs (RMA), a long-overdue restructuring of the Services to improve interoperability and deployability;
  2. resistance from the Army over the RMA, and dismay as they saw disproportionate cuts in their infrastructure (note, Rumsfeld was right on this one, but the war caught us in the middle of reorganization, and helped stall many reforms . . . e.g., proponents of armor-heavy formations point up OIF tank successes as evidence RMA is unwise);
  3. previous drawdowns had not only reduced available forces, but relegated many (e.g., Civil Affairs) to the reserves or to expected allies (whose non-participation was a serious blow);
  4. Army commanders in Iraq were torn between requesting enough troops and Service perstempo;
  5. for various political reasons, operational decisions were hampered by unhelpful interference from the Iraqi government, and US Congress and State Department.
How much of any of this is Rumsfeld's fault is debatable . . . as is the relative impact of the various factors. But the "keep the lid on" strategy obviously wasn't working (esp. after the al-Askari Mosque bombing), and Rumsfeld was both the logical scapegoat and becoming ineffective.

Does the Pres. transmit orders through Sec Def?

Yes, generally, but orders from SecDef are valid on their own. By law (Goldwater-Nichols), the SecDef and President together constitute the "National Command Authority" at the top of the chain of command (whose orders are transmitted through the CJCS). Hence an operational order from the Chairman is not valid, but one he's passing along from SecDef is.

JM Hanes

Appreciate the primer, Cecil -- on both command structure and the Rumsfeld backdrop. One of Bush's greatest executive weaknesses, IMO, was either unwillingness or inability (or both) to be ruthless himself when it came to deparmental empire building and internal backbiting. Ditto on his tolerance for being publicly undercut by everyone from cabinet ministers on down,which seemed absolutely inexplicable. Nobody can ever really control the monstrosity that the Executive bureaucracy (along with all the others) has become, but it sure looked like Bush wasn't even trying.

Rumsfeld doesn't really strike me as the memoirist type, but I would love to read this story from his perspective. OTOH, he's one of the few people I can think of who might be principled enough to wait till Bush is out of office till he makes his case, if so inclined, instead of trying to use the political winds to maximum advantage, a la McClellan and the forgettable Secretary of the Treasury who were both treated as running jokes when they actually held their positions, not to mention folks like Woodward.

In retrospect, it's really rather remarkable how many of Rumsfeld's most controversial soundbytes have become fixed in the analytical lexicon. Old Europe/New Europe is now a perfectly ordinary formulation; known/unknowns are standard conversational currency. As are his once infamous metrics.

Rick Ballard

"I often think it's probably not a good idea to bring the new Iraqi army completely up to speed on the newest, best practice of war and/or COIN Ops!"

I doubt that it would make much difference if we did. If Maliki turns "president for life" anything that we've taught will be dissipated very quickly. Dictators can't really afford to have a truly fine double edged sword laying around. That's why they all use clubs, which they call swords.

There are plenty of brave and intelligent Iraqis within their security forces. They're intelligent enough to understand that their bravery won't count for much of anything at all if they don control the high ground - and the sky belongs to the good ole USA. Even worse - some guy sitting at a console in AZ or KS has probably got the record for most enemy killed, and he never even left town to do it. I'm sure they realize the truth of that observation and I'm also pretty sure those type of facts are part of the knowledge that is being imparted to the Iraqis.

I've been mostly watching for a few days - yesterday was a complete break for me as I had the great fortune to watch a grandson have a fantastic first game of the season. He had a 40 yard run down of what would have been a morale busting second play of the game, catching a back at the 15, where he and his teammates then held for four downs. That was followed later in the game by a 60 yard TD run on a sweep where I saw some of the best team blocking that I've ever seen at that age level (10-11 year olds). It was an away game with a three hour drive to boot. Great day.


Sounds like a day to remember, Rick.


It may be a Kansan or an Arizonan sitting at a console at the Balad AFB, north of Baghdad. That's where air control is run in Iraq.


I think I've read that Balad is the busiest airport in the world, and most Americans have never heard of it. There's a Popeye's on base.


Am just now beginning to read Feith's War and Decision and it nicely written--but one that does not lend itself to just cruise through:-)

It seemed I read that there had been some enmity on Rumsfeld's part toward Patreus and was one of the reasons for the firing. Don't know if my perception is accurate on that score and hope some brilliant child that reads this blog can set me straight here.

Cecil Turner

. . . but it sure looked like Bush wasn't even trying.

Yeah, looked like they needed a pep talk from R. Lee Ermey:

There’s no fight left in you boys. You’re nutless.

Cecil Turner

It seemed I read that there had been some enmity on Rumsfeld's part toward Patreus and was one of the reasons for the firing.

Could be. I wish I knew how much to trust stuff like this, which claims considerable friction. They usually also blame footprint size on Rumsfeld, but every Army General I've heard on the subject seemed more worried about sustainable perstempo than troop levels in Iraq, and moments this certainly look like a love-in. It also looked to me like the surge strategy was adopted on Rumsfeld's watch, and not after he was gone. But I don't have any high-level contacts left to query (and I'm not even sure if they'd know, anyway).


There are two short references to Petraeus in Feith's book and none refer to any enmity on Rumsfeld's part. The surge was set by Bush and Gates in 2007 after Rumsfeld was gone.


Thank you Cecil for the Times link. That was the exact article I had read but not bookmarked.

Admire both Rumsfeld and Petraeus immensely and it's not surprising that there might be an ego bump-up there.

Clarice--I didn't phrase my earlier comment well and did not mean to imply that I had read the "enmity thing" in Feith's book.

Cecil Turner

And Clarice, I suspect the surge decision was made well before the public announcement in Jan '07, and the President would've been a fool to make it without expert input. The question is whether it was Rumsfeld's last recommendation . . . or if he was let go because he couldn't support it. The timing could be either, but if the pace is what I suspect, it favors the former.

But as there are political reasons to obfuscate, I doubt we'll know for sure for a long time, if ever.

JM Hanes

The fact that Rumsfeld stepped down so quickly after the election suggests to me that his departure was probably on the table before that. Things were close to hitting their nadir by then and I would think Petraeus COIN manual was well underway. Things were clearly coming to a head with the Baker group/Congress pressure at some point. If you're going to change course sharply, I can see wanting to settle Gates in, get Petraeus confirmed, etc., get the necessary $$, without having either new strategies or personnel tied in any way - politically or psychologically -- to the controversial Rumsfeld, and the potential kiss of death that he had come to represent. Just imagine confirmation hearings.

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