Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My response to Bush's "surge" speech

Last Friday I promised to comment on specific portions of Bush’s “Surge in Iraq” speech. Sorry it took so long, but here it is. This is my response to text of the surge speech given January 10, 2007, with sections underlined and noted by numbers from 1 to 15.

1. Bush says “the consequences of failure are clear”, and gives a set of dangers that might occur. Those are the very threats, which have occurred because of his preemptive invasion in 2003, and his effort to “surge” is so small and localized primarily in Baghdad, there is no real way it can prevent these threats from growing larger. The fact is that our presence in Iraq is the major cause of the dangers Bush suggests. If we left Iraq but retained the right to take out terrorist training camps we would be in much better shape than will result from increasing the combat forces and combat by U.S. troops in Baghdad.
2. How does increasing the combat in Baghdad using non-Arabic speaking American troops provide a solution to the security problem there?
a. The main result of our heavy firepower and unwillingness to lose many troops in a war of attrition will be the destruction of a lot of Baghdad.
b. The second problem is that the most dangerous combatants in Baghdad are the Sadr militia. But Sadr is also the main political support for Maliki. This plan is not one that Maliki has bought onto.
c. The third problem is that the Shiite members of the Iraqi Army are very likely to simply not aggressively press the battle against the Sadr militia. The only Iraqi troops likely to be effective in Baghdad are those who are Kurds. Kurdish troops against the Shia militia will clearly increase the sectarian strife in Iraq.
3. Because of the factors mentioned in 2 (above) there will continue to be too few effective troops to clear and hold neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents.
4. Bush’s statement # 4 means that our troops tend to be militarily less effective in combat operations because the Iraqi government has placed too many restrictions on their actions. But the restrictions represent political limitations that are essentially more important than any military “successes” the US forces might achieve. The problem in Iraq will require political solutions, as everyone with any gravitas has stated and Bush himself as stated even as he ignores what that means. Again, see #2 (above.)
5. This is not a plan that has been welcomed by the Maliki government. Maliki has specifically stated that more U.S. troops are not needed.
6. See #’s 5 and 2 (above.) Also, Bush has always said that he was not sending extra troops to Iraq because the U.S. Commanders had not asked for them. This has not changed. Gen. Casey and his commander Gen. Abizaid have not asked for more troops. So Bush removed them prematurely and has appointed a new troop Commander and Centcom Commander who will agree with Bush to ask for more troops.
7. What makes Bush think that there will be any change in the actions of Iraqi troops left in cleared areas to prevent the return of insurgents and terrorists? If the Iraqi troops are from the same sect as those living in the cleared area, they are unlikely to work actively to keep out insurgents and terrorists. If they are of a different sect, they locals will not support them and the insurgents will still be able to return. If there are Americans there to try to control the Iraqi army, the current problems of the locals not working with them remain, the inability of American troops to speak Arabic remains, and the Iraqi troops are unlikely to be willing to act against the locals in behalf of the Americans. This argument from Bush is simply an example that he and his speechwriters do not yet understand the problem.
8. Bush claims that Maliki has agreed not to interfere with the actions of U.S. and Iraqi forces.
a. There is no indication that Maliki has actually agreed to this.
b. There is also no indication that the Iraqi army will act on this supposed agreement. There is a limit to the tolerance that followers give to the orders by their leaders, and history and social science research suggest that this commitment is beyond the limit sectarian members of the Iraqi Army will give to their own leaders.
9. While Bush has spoken one of his few relatively few truths when he stated “Most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace” but the relatively few who do not are fully capable of continuing the violence. The small so-called surge will not stop them. Also, most of the Sunni and Shia who want peace will still support (if only passively) the violence of the insurgents which are aimed at getting the “occupying American troops” out of Iraq. This is not going to change until we begin to prove by our actions that we are leaving.
10. Bush stated “The Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November” [presumably that’s November 2007.] There is no indication that the Iraqi government is sufficiently unified and capable of making this promise effective. Also this really appears to be another “milestone” which the Bush administration as the occupier of Iraq intends to enforce on the Iraqis. This should be supported by some type of independent reports which appear that this is possible and being pursued. Don't expect it.
11 (a) This is somewhat true, but Bush presented the interventions of Iran and Syria as the main reason why his efforts in Iraq have failed. Untrue. The efforts in Iraq have failed because the people determining strategy IN IRAQ do not have a clue about what people in Iraq really believe or want. In his speech Bush is looking for enemies, an opposition which he can blame for his own (and Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s) failures. Bush’s failure to understand the actual relationship of Iran and Syria to the problems Bush is having in Iraq also leads to his utterly inadequate ideas on how to deal with those two nations. See 11. (b) below.
11. (b) Bush’s entire plan for dealing with Iran and Syria is to threaten or attack them using military forces. There is no intention to attempt discussions or diplomacy with either nation, in spite of Iran’s earlier effort to work towards better relations with the U.S. by cooperating a great deal on terrorists and Taliban members coming into Iran from Afghanistan (Also another example here), and in spite of Syria’s negotiations with Israel from September 2004 through July 2006 which led to a set of understandings that would lead directly to a peace treaty with Israel and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria along with joint use of the territory by both Syrians and Israelis. The understandings even include leaving control of the waters of the Jordan River to the Israelis. Both Iran and Syria can be talked with and with diplomacy can make reasonable agreements. It is Bush and Cheney who cannot be talked to.
12. /This item is essentially a promise to conduct diplomacy with Turkey and others in the area. See 11. (b) above. Bush and Cheney have a truly rotten history of negotiating, and clearly have no ability to do it.
13. If the disagreements between the U.S. with Europe and the Muslim Middle East are the decisive ideological struggle of our time, then we don’t have a whole lot to be concerned about. Whatever it is, it is certainly a lot more than a military conflict. In fact, it is first an internal conflict among the Muslims as their conservative fundamentalist fight the majority of Muslims who are looking for a more modern life. (The modernists will win. The Conservative fundamentalists have nothing to offer people who are willing to learn new things.) The involvement of the West is a left-over from the European Imperialism which in it’s last gasp after WW I expanded to control the detritus of the defunct Ottoman Empire, the spill-over of the internal Muslim conflict between the conservative fundamentalists and the modernists and the disruptions caused by the Western instigated Globalism. What part of this is amenable to military conquest as a solution? Nothing at all. Oh, and Bush’s Black-and-White discussion of “those who believe in freedom and moderation” and on the other side “extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy (our) way of life.” Is completely unrelated to reality. The second half, the destructive extremists, in fact describes the Bush administration as well as it does al Qaeda. Bush and Cheney are so afraid to the perceived threats that they do not realize that they are also similar threats to others. In both the West and the Middle East, the extremists are the last (but very dangerous) gasps of the losing side. The Modernists will win ultimately. The only real question is how high the casualty rate will be as the extremists lose.
14. Bush says that the victory of the United States will bring democracy, human liberties, and the rule of law to Iraq and the Middle East. The problem is that any society that is under attack by an outside nation (such as the United States) will abandon all those things in order to defeat the aggressor. None of those things can be delivered by the barrel of the gun, or worse, by bombs and artillery.
15. So Bush is going to establish a bipartisan working group (bipartisan because it is Republican and includes the Independent who abandoned the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman? Crap!) to advise on how to win the war on terror. Please notice that the members of the working group have to agree with Bush and Cheney before they are accepted into the groups. A better recipe for the group-think that got the U.S. into the mess that is the result of the unnecessary preemptive attack on Iraq. Bush and Cheney cannot stand to be disagreed with. It does not matter what the factual basis of the disagreement is. The facts are lost because Bush and Cheney cannot deal with the disagreement. Nothing in this speech changes that.

On last thing. Look at the speech and see how often Bush uses the term “Freedom.” Yet he is actively eliminating our privacy with uncontrolled wiretaps on anyone, using signing statements to avoid the clear guidance of law as passed by the legislature, and using the War on Terror as an excuse to remove the rights of habeas Corpus from anyone they wish merely by declaring them Enemy Combatants. American freedom requires that the President is controlled by law just like every other American citizen, even during wartime. American freedom includes the right of habeas corpus and the rights of privacy unless there is a clear indication that a law is being violated and a court agrees that wire taps and other technical spying methods are applicable – in advance of the use of those techniques. Bush has no real clue regarding what freedom really is. He is hung up on the work itself. “Freedom” is nothing more than a Public Relations mantra that he uses to sound good. But the only freedom Bush thinks Americans need is the “freedom” to agree with his pronouncements.

Bush has to go as soon as he can be removed. America will already take more than a generation to recover from his incompetence and idiocy. (Iraq will probably take two generations or more.)

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