December 07, 2006

Edited for Recreancy


Update: An opinion on the Baker Commissions findings from Sgt. T.F. Boggs, in Mosul, Iraq:

After watching the Iraq Survey Group press conference today I am a firm believer that all politicians are idiots. Okay well not all of them but they all have a problem understanding reality. If any politician is reading this now feel free to email me and we’ll go out for coffee and I’ll further explain. But I digress.

The Iraq Survey Group’s findings or rather, recommendations are a joke and could have only come from a group of old people who have been stuck in Washington for too long. The brainpower of the ISG has come up with a new direction for our country and that includes negotiating with countries whose people chant “Death to America” and whose leaders deny the Holocaust and call for Israel to be wiped from the face of the earth. Baker and Hamilton want us to get terrorists supporting countries involved in fighting terrorism!

...What the group desperately needed was at least one their members to have been in the military and had recent experience in Iraq. The problem with having an entire panel with no one under the age of 67 is that none of them could possibly know what the situation is actually like on the ground in Iraq. Now I concede that it is possible to have a good understanding of things as they stand in Iraq but unless you interact with the people of Iraq and spend a year or years of your life on ground you cannot possibly have a complete picture of the situation.

We cannot appease our enemies and we cannot continue to cut and run when the going gets tough. As it stands in the world right now our enemies view America as a country full of queasy people who are inclined to cut and run when things take a turn for the worse. Just as the Tet Offensive was the victory that led to our failure in Vietnam our victories in Iraq now are leading to our failure in the Middle East. How many more times must we fight to fail? I feel like all of my efforts (30 months of deployment time) and the efforts of all my brothers in arms are all for naught. I thought old people were supposed to be more patient than a 24 year old but apparently I have more patience for our victory to unfold in Iraq than 99.9 percent of Americans.

Sgt. Boggs understands that there are only two ways to deal with terrorists: you either kill them, or you appease them.

Jules Crittenden worries that short-sighted Americans, bored with this war (that is rightfully our responsibility to win), will pass down a much more dangerous world to future generations if we refuse to complete our mission now:

My son, 10 years old, has grown up in a world of war more intense than I grew up in. He was five and watching TV when he saw the Twin Towers on fire. His uncle was a soldier, helping to keep us safe, we told him. Then his dad went away to war. He met people who had been in war, even people who had been horribly wounded in war.

And he has said things to me like, "When I grow up, if I don't get killed in battle, I want to be a Major League pitcher."

I'm proud of a boy who talks like that, and heartbroken that he has to. I know the day may come when my boy has to go, and I'll learn things about war that hundreds of thousands of American parents have learned in the past few years.

Will my son then also have to learn all these gut-wrenching things?

What about the betrayal? Will he have to learn about that as I fear we might be about to?

Far too many people have deluded themselves into thinking that if we withdraw our military from Iraq, that Iraqis will somehow have peace. Far too many people have deluded themselves into thinking that if we withdraw from Iraq, that we will have peace.

We were not in Iraq on September 11, 2001. We were not in Japan on December 7, 1941, and in both instances, fanatics loyal to would-be tyrants attacked us.


65 years later, BB-39 U.S.S. Arizona still bleeds, but we finished the job. The United States destroyed the enemy and the ideology that sent her to the bottom. We fought a far more capable enemy that was armed with far greater resources and weaponry, and we sustained far more casualties in individual battles than we might loose in ten years in Iraq... Yet we prevailed.

If we refuse to finish the job of destroying Islamist terrorism where it lives in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Gaza, Sudan, and elsewhere, it will not slink away in the night. Terror will smolder like a peat fire in corners of the world both far and near, until once again one day, we look up to see burning building and burning people falling from the sky.

Then it will be our children—yours, mine and Jules'—sent off to fight what will then be a more widespread and entrenched enemy. This future war will requiring more men, more resources, and more terrible weaponry, and yet, this future war never needs to be... if we have the fortitude to finish this war that they started, now, in our time.

Iraq is but one battleground in a wider war that one day must include every nation that harbors, equips, or sustains Islamic terrorism.

"Cowboy" Bush was right on September 20, 2001.

You either honor the ideas, ideals and sacrifices required to maintain free and democratic civilization, or you allow barbarism, fanaticism, and oppression to reign.

The choice is yours.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 7, 2006 09:04 AM | TrackBack

Bush was the first president to violate the Bush Doctrine (long before now).

Posted by: Bearster at December 7, 2006 09:34 AM

We need a Roosevelt, a Patton But what we have is Bo Bo the Clown and his buddy Giggles.
Face it the enemy will have to kill one million Americans and Destroy an entire city before we forget Brittany Spears with out panties and Abu Ghraib with panties only then will we fight a real war.
But then again likely as not we won't.
Survival of the fittest.

Posted by: Barry at December 7, 2006 11:17 AM

Your contrast with the situation in World War II is apt. Back then, we knew what it would look like when we won: the Germans and the Japanese would surrender. They surrendered, and the war was over.

What does it look like to win the GWOT? How will we know that we've won? What are the criteria for success? Until someone can answer that question in a reasonable fashion, this war will look endless and, thus, unwinnable.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at December 7, 2006 11:25 AM

Posted by Doc Washboard at December 7, 2006 11:25 AM

It very well may be endless, or seem to be at any rate. Does that me we sould not fight it? Curl up and hope it goes away?

They came here once and killed innocents, don't you think they will do it again? Especially if they see us backing down now when it gets a little rough? They'll just up the ante, make it rougher and rougher to get what they want. Us under their rule, surrendered to Islam, or dead. Some choices huh?

Posted by: Retired Navy at December 7, 2006 11:36 AM

You want reasonable answers and reasonable criteria from an unreasonable enemy in a new/old war, Doc. You're entire way of thinking, your entire understanding of what kind of conflict this is, and how to fight it (or in your case, avoid it) is wrong.

You're still trying to apply WWII-era concepts of combat and victory among recognized combatants to a war with ideologies no less strident, but combatants far more shadowy.

We are fighting fundamentalist Islam of both Sunni and Shia varieties. The Shia "brand" arguably started this conflict against us decades ago, but with the rise of al Qaeda and affiliated groups during the 1990s, Sunni extremists are what we are more familiar with, even as Shia terrorism is undeniably the growing, larger and more dangerous threat facing the world today.

This war, which we cannot win without an explicit recognition of what it is, is a war against all variations of fundamentalist Islam.

Presently, there are two many branches of this fundamentalist Islam, Shia and Sunni, and each has their own terror groups and their own state sponsors (though sponsors can and do cross sectarian lines). The "marquee players" are presently al Qaeda, the Taliban, Baathist insurgents, various Palestinian groups, Chechens, and the janjaweed for "Team Sunni," backed to varying degrees by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and other Arab, African, and Asian players. The Shiite "marquee players" in this drama are the various Shiite militias in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, backed by Lebanese Shiite civilians, Syria, and Iran.

There are of course non-government actors supporting terror groups around the world, but the vast majority of terrorism on a scale that we should be dealing with as a foreign policy/military issue is state-sponsored or state-tolerated.

Who we need to beat to win is deceptively simple; we knock off the governments that sponsor terrorism, and make it quite clear that to support terrorism is suicide. Terrorists don't care about dying, but the cynical old men than send them out to die generally do.

If we are going to give an honest effort towards winning this war on fundamentalist Islam, we first have to find a way to depose governments in Iran and Syria, while simultaneously undercutting the terrorist group Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq.

This may not be easy, but it is easier than it appears, due in no small part to rapidly developing situations on the ground today.

Iran's real powerbroker, Ayatollah ali Khamenei (President Ahmadinejad is a mouthpiece) is dying, at a time when Iranian students are clamoring for freedom from an oppressive regime. Can you say, "unstable?" I think any student of the current Middle East conflict will agree that as Iran's mullacracy goes, so goes Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

I've written in the recent past of how U.S military air strikes can cripple Iran's ability to threaten Persian Gulf shipping, and how other air strikes can cripple Iran's very limited capability to refine their oil reserves into usable fuel. Combine those strikes with blockade of oil inbound to Iran via a U.S Naval blockade in the Gulf of Oman would literally bring Iran to a grinding halt within weeks. At the same time, Saudi Arabia (Iran's greatest regional enemy, a nominal U.S. ally, and the single nation most threatened by Iran’s involvement in Iraq) could increase production, so that the price of oil (and Iran's income) drops.

Concurrent to these destabilizing military air strikes, the blockade and the forced collapse of the Iranian economy, U.S. forces in Iraq could be concentrated on telegraphed head-on assaults on Mahdi Army and Badr Brigades to crush the Shia militias. I just recently completed We Were One, a book chronicling the U.S. assault on Fallujah, and think the lessons learned would enable us to win what would be a very bloody, but very necessary campaign. The Baker Commission and the in-coming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Silvestre Reyes, thinks we need an additional 20,000-30,000 troops deployed to Iraq. Make them combat troops tasked with the singular goal of crushing the Shiite militias. I'd also make sure that our friends the Saudis were making strong, under-the-table diplomatic overtures to the Sunni insurgency during this time, letting them know this is their last, best chance to emerge from this war without a genocide coming down on their heads. Considering the movement towards that direction from many Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders right now (self-preservation is a wonderful motivator), and together with success in pounding out the Shiite militias that will then no longer be able to rely on a waning Iran for support, and Iraq might just have a chance of making it.

Of course, with Iran's mullacracy faltering of failing, Syria also easily folds. Through a combination of economic sanctions and perhaps a short air assault along the lines of Operation El Dorado Canyon, we can "remind" Assad that he can be easily toppled through military force if he continues to provide a conduit of men and material to Hezbollah. Frankly, the weak-jawed dentist strikes me as someone who would prefer to remain alive and in power rather than die a martyr’s death. Roll Iran and Syria, and Hezbollah's influence in Lebanon starts to crumble, and when they inevitably clash with Israel again, they will be unable to rearm with heavy weapons. They will have no ability or replenish lost supplies or make payments (bribes, really) to the Shia that suffer in Lebanon because of their militancy.

Iran's mullahs will be stripped of their greatest threats and assets, and will likely fall in an internal revolt that could only bring forth a more moderate regime, whatever it would be. These new leaders (or even the current ones, if they survive), would know a simple bomb and blockade campaign could once again shut their nation down. Iran's leaders quit terrorism, because they could no longer afford to support it.

Syria, without the backing of Iran and against the threat of direct military and/or economic regime change, would also stop supporting terrorism, which would weaken their grip in Lebanon, and given democracy a chance to re-establish itself over a weakened Hezbollah. Iraq, no longer beholden to militias, would have a chance to forge nationalist ties, or form regional partitions, but at least it would have a chance, with U.S forces on hand to help train and stamp out terrorist brush fires as needed.

Other, smaller terror supporting nations such as Sudan, Yemen, etc, would likely change their ways as a result of the deposition of much more powerful regimes Syria and Iran. Incentives could be provided to promote more secularized, moderate forms of governments in all of these nations, and those that will not moderate, will die by force of arms.

This is all just speculation of course. You asked what victory might look like, and this is one vision of how it might be won. The simple fact of the matter is that we are in a cultural war between liberal western civilizations and those fundamentalist Muslims that would reestablish a bloody, oppressive caliphate and destroy our way of life. Which would you prefer?

I sincerely hope that this war can be confined to fundamentalist Islam. If not, I fear that we will have a conflict that will see their cultural ultimately eradicated. I'd much rather that Islam morph into a less violent, more enlightened and moderate religion through an Islamic Reformation, but the choice is ultimately in their hands.

I strongly suspect, however, that defeating those nations that sponsor terrorism, undercutting the terrorist groups themselves, and hoping to reform Islam by purging its radical elements, isn’t "reasonable" in your eyes, Doc.

I somehow suspect that any kind of victory isn't.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at December 7, 2006 01:04 PM

This all seems like a tall order. If that's what has to happen, though, then someone in the Administration needs to come right out and say it: "This war's not over until we have deposed the leaders of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, etc." and list the countries we need to invade or bend to our will. (Also: shouldn't Pakistan (as a harborer of terrorists) and Saudi Arabia (as the home of many of the 9/11 hijackers) be on that list?

Listing it like that--"this country, this country, this country and this one"--will give people a better idea of what is expected.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at December 7, 2006 06:31 PM

We were not in Iraq on September 11, 2001. We were not in Japan on December 7, 1941, and in both instances, fanatics loyal to would-be tyrants attacked us.

We were attacked on 9/11 by Sunni radicals financed by Saudi money. The administration's response was to topple the Sunni regime in Baghdad, and now Iraq is controlled by Shiites aligned with Tehran. How this is a good outcome is beyond me, but I'm sure you can exlain it. Oh and by the way, the Sauidis are still paying radical Sunnis to kill Americans:

Posted by: Pinson at December 8, 2006 02:27 PM

Mugtada al Sadr, who already had a price on his head for murder, slaughtered and mutilated those American contractors at Fallujah 2 1/2 years ago.

Instead of ordering him killed, the administration removed the bounty and invited him to form a party in the Iraqi government.

It was at that moment that our enemies, in Iraq and around the world, realized that "You are with us or you are with the terrorists" was nothing but retorical bullcrap.

Posted by: RKO at December 8, 2006 04:07 PM

RKO, I hate to intrude on your reality, by al Sadr had about as much to do with what happened in Fallujah as Rosie O'Donnell did... and maybe less. Fallujah was a Sunni/al Qaeda stronghold of Musab al-Zarqawi, and they would have likely killed the Shia al-Sadr just as quickly as they would an American. As a matter of fact, they have killed more Shia than Americans in Iraq.

Pinson, we responded to 9/11 by targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban, the people most directly responsible, not Iraq.

How do you guys do in school when yet get even the most basic facts of recent history absolutely wrong?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at December 8, 2006 04:16 PM


You're right about al Sadr and Fallujah. My bad.

al Sadr and his then 3000 strong militia were busy attacking Americans in the spring of '04, but not those contractors in Fallujah.

That said, I don't recall 60,000 strong Nazi militias being permitted to operate under our noses in occupied Germany. I don't understand why it has been permitted in Iraq. And as long as IslamoNazi militias are permitted to kill each other full time and Americans in their spare time, I don't see how we get to "win" and leave a pacified, stable Iraq. Are we supposed to hang around for another 2 or 5 or 20 years until they decide to just get along? It seems a passive, losing strategy to me, one that has made us look weak to folks like the N.Koreans, Iranians, Syrians, and the rest of the world.

Posted by: RKO at December 8, 2006 11:20 PM

RKO, you're absolutely correct. Because the reaction to 60,000 strong militias in occupied Germany would have been 600 plane air raids, artillery barrages, etc. And because the Germans, knowing that, would have lynched anyone suggesting it. And because the Allies had already killed or imprisoned in PW camps most of the military age males that would have made up those militias. See, in that war, we recognized that victory involved breaking the will and capacity of anyone in the enemy population who even tried to resist.

Instead, we have terrorist propaganda films on CNN, showing how much fun it is to snipe at Americans. We have ex-Presidents, opposition party candidates, and people like yourself who see Amerikkka as the world's biggest problem. We have news organizations publishing classified documents and nothing happens. We have 90% of our college faculties made up of people who want "a million Mogadishu's" for the "little Eichmans". In WWII, anyone who said things like that would have been lynched by the populace.

Oh, and Doc, here's your answer on what victory in WWII will look like: any citizen of any country who hears of someone planning an attack on us will immediately denounce that person, and the government of that country will imprison them, because they are nore afraid that their country will have the crap blown out of it than they are of their Muqtada al-Sadrs. And, no, I really don't care how many of their cities we have to nuke, or how many of them we have to kill, to get to that point. And if reaching that point requires killing the Fifth Column in this country to get them out of the way, that works too.

Posted by: SDN at December 9, 2006 08:17 AM

PIMF: victory in the WOT will look like:

Posted by: SDN at December 9, 2006 08:19 AM


I'm not certain what you meant by "...people like yourself who see Amerikkka as the world's biggest problem." For the record, anyone who sees America as any kind of "problem" isn't like me at all.

I agree with all you said about the media, academia, ex presidents, etc., but let's be clear about something.

For the entire duration of our involvement in Iraq, Bush has had the full power of Commander in Chief of the greatest nation on earth. He has had the full backing of a Republican House and Republican Senate. He has had under his command the finest military in the history of mankind.

If Bush had ordered our forces to pacify Iraq after the defeat of its army, or anytime during the past three plus years, it would have been done. The media, academia, etc. would have been utterly powerless to stop him. The only power they had was the power he gave away to them because he lacked the moral courage to ignore them and allow our troops to finish the job, whatever it took.

The day our tanks rolled into Baghdad, every enemy we have was pissing in their pants. After nearly 4 years of Bush's half assed, look how "compassionate" we are dithering, those enemies are laughing in our faces.

Posted by: RKO at December 9, 2006 10:00 AM

Let's look at this strategically and see how the ISG addressed the strategic goals of the GWOT.

US Strategic Goals: Defeat Al-Quida and establish conditions to prevent further attacks on the US.
1. Defeat Al Quida in Afghanistan by overthrowing the Taliban and destroying their bases.
2. Overthrow Saddam Hussein and eliminate terrorist safe havens in Iraq; win the low intesity war fought against US since 1998.
3. Defeat Al Quida globally by working with allies to roll up Islamic terrorist cells.
4. Implement long-term solution by addressing root causes of conflict. Establish democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq and later spread freedom and economic prosperity throughout the Middle East.

Al Quida Strategic Goals
1. Stay alive.
2. Remove US power from the Middle East: sets conditions for goals 3 & 4.
3. Overthrow existing Sunni-led Arab governments
4. Establish a totalitarian Islamic Caliphate to retake the Middle East, Balkans, and Spain.

Saddam's Strategic Goals
1. Stay in power.
2. Remove US power from the Middle East: sets conditions for goal 3.
3. Overthrow neighbors to establish a Nazi-inspired Sunni Baathist totalitarian empire.

Ahmadinejad's/Iranian Strategic Goals
1. Stay in power.
2. Remove US power from the Middle East: sets conditions for goals 3 & 4.
3. Overthrow existing Sunni-led Middle Eastern governments.
4. Establish Shia authoritarian theocracy over the Shia dominated lands in the Middle East and regain primacy in the Middle East.

Now that we have the strategic goals of the major players - how are we doing?

US: First three achieved and working on goal 4. Went on the strategic offensive and overthrew the Taliban and Saddam. Established democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. US and allied governments currently fighting to consolidate gains made to date. Rolled up terror cells worldwide. No successful attacks against US mainland in five years and kept economy strong.

Al Quida: Leadership has been decimated and is now in hiding. No successful attacks against the US mainland in five years. Has lost its bases in Afghanistan. Failed to get the US out of the Middle East, overthrow any Sunni regimes, or establish a Caliphate. Very poor support from the "Arab street." Has been able to continue to claim it is a player by simple survival and a very effective propaganda campaign. Hard to claim victory from a cave.

Saddam: Completely failed. Made arguably the worst intelligence failure by misreading the US.

Iran: Has failed to push the US from the region. Pursuing nuclear weapons because its support of the Shia insurgency in the south and support of Sunni insurgency in the west (with Syria’s support) isn't doing the job. Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons has spooked its Sunni Arab neighbors to begin nuclear programs.

Now that we have reviewed the strategic objectives of each of the main players, why would the ISG want to give our enemies everything they want and snatch defeat from the jaws of US strategic victory?

(I posted this over at Neoneocon earlier today, but I thought it would also work on this thread)

Posted by: Warrior Scholar at December 10, 2006 08:24 PM

Sorry to leave a link in the comments, but your trackback URL didn't want to play. I blogged about just this subject this weekend. I would suggest that what you see going on in Iraq right now is what victory looks like when the enemy is psychotic.

Posted by: K T Cat at December 11, 2006 09:17 AM