Friday, September 05, 2008

Listening To McCain And His Shills You May Think Escalation Has Worked In Iraq-- Bad News


A report in the NY Times indicates that the Pentagon is recommending a shift of one brigade (out of the 15 stationed there) be transferred from Iraq to the recently more troublesome, and less dealt with, Afghanistan. Many in the Pentagon say far more troops are needed in Afghanistan but Petraeus, despite McCain-Lieberman-Graham triumphalism and premature pre-electoral screeches of "our surge strategy won the war," says he can't spare more men from Iraq and won't be able to any time soon. American commanders in Afghanistan say they need at least three new brigades there to contend with a revitalized threat from the Taliban.
The cautious approach taken by General Petraeus and his successor, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, reflects concern about a variety of uncertainties ahead in Iraq following the departure this summer of the last of the five brigades deployed as part of Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcement plan. Those concerns include what might happen if provincial elections are held as expected late this year or early next year; the fate of tens of thousands of Sunni volunteers who as Awakening Councils have volunteered for neighborhood watch groups; tensions between Kurds and Arabs over Kirkuk; and the possibility that Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents might step up their attacks.

Another concern of American commanders is the reduction in allied troops. Two thousand Georgian troops left unexpectedly during the recent clash between Russia and Georgia, and 800 Polish troops are scheduled to leave by October. There are still some 4,000 British troops near the southern city of Basra, but American officials are uncertain how active a role they will play and how long they might be in Iraq. That has added to the responsibilities of American forces south of Baghdad.

Last night Fox News "leaked" a report on Bob Woodward's new book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," due to hit book shops Monday. Aside from bragging about how technological advances have allowed U.S. intelligence to spy on every Iraqi leader and "to locate, target and kill insurgent leaders and key individuals in extremist groups," Woodward also asserts that, despite the Republican party platform, "the U.S. troop "surge" of 2007, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat forces and support troops to Iraq, was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months." The intelligence breakthroughs had more to do with it than the "surge."
Overall, Woodward writes, four factors combined to reduce the violence: the covert operations; the influx of troops; the decision by militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to rein in his powerful Mahdi Army; and the so-called Anbar Awakening, in which tens of thousands of Sunnis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and allied with U.S. forces.

The book, Woodward's fourth on the subject of Bush's war, also delves into the decision-making process inside the Bush Regime. I saw a news crawl under an MSNBC Infotainment program when I woke this morning that Bush was delusional and exhibited a distinct lack of leadership. I suppose that may be "news" to some people.
The book portrays an administration riven by dissension, either unwilling or slow to confront the deterioration of its strategy in Iraq during the summer and early fall of 2006. Publicly, Bush maintained that U.S. forces were "winning"; privately, he came to believe that the military's long-term strategy of training Iraq security forces and handing over responsibility to the new Iraqi government was failing. Eventually, Woodward writes, the president lost confidence in the two military commanders overseeing the war at the time: Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then commander of coalition forces in Iraq, and Gen. John P. Abizaid, then head of U.S. Central Command.

In October 2006, the book says, Bush asked Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser, to lead a closely guarded review of the Iraq war. That first assessment did not include military participants and proceeded secretly because of White House fears that news coverage of a review might damage Republican chances in the midterm congressional elections.

"We've got to do it under the radar screen because the electoral season is so hot," Hadley is quoted as telling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is described as challenging the president on the wisdom of sending additional troops to Iraq. "You're not getting a clear picture of what's going on on the ground," she told the president, the book says.

The quality and credibility of information about the war's progress became a source of ongoing tension within the administration, according to the book. Rice complained about the Defense Department's "overconfident" briefings during the tenure of Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Rather than receiving options on the war, Bush would get "a fable, a story... that skirted the real problems," Rice is quoted as saying.

According to Woodward, the president maintained an odd detachment from the reviews of war policy during this period, turning much of the process over to Hadley. "Let's cut to the chase," Bush told Woodward, "Hadley drove a lot of this."

Nor, Woodward reports, did Bush express much urgency for change during the months when sectarian killings and violent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq began rising, reaching more than 1,400 incidents a week by October 2006 -- an average of more than eight an hour. "This is nothing that you hurry," he told Woodward in one of the interviews, when asked whether he had given his advisers a firm deadline for recommending a revised war strategy.

In response to a question about how the White House settled on a troop surge of five brigades after the military leadership in Washington had reluctantly said it could provide two, Bush said: "Okay, I don't know this. I'm not in these meetings, you'll be happy to hear, because I got other things to do."

It certainly wasn't saving the deteriorating American economy or rebuilding New Orleans. Was it that vigorous treadmill routine, brush clearing and partisan, divisive politics? Woodward also reveals Bush ceded as many decisions as he could to Maliki and that General Casey eventually came to the conclusion that Bush "did not understand the nature of the Iraq war."
"Casey had long concluded that one big problem with the war was the president himself," Woodward writes. "He later told a colleague in private that he had the impression that Bush reflected the 'radical wing of the Republican Party that kept saying, "Kill the bastards! Kill the bastards! And you'll succeed." ' "

If you watched the Republican HateFest in St Paul last night and, even more so, the night before, you would have seen that in action, and experienced first hand, the root of most problems this country has gotten itself into in the past seven and a half years as McCain studiously ignored eight years of GOP dominace of the federal government and exhorted the greed-and-hatred driven party faithful with screeds like "We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children." Sounds like an endorsement of Barack Obama.

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