Thursday, July 19, 2007

Smith on Petraeus on Hewitt

David Petraeus on HughHewitt here. [That's he was on Hewitt says something but anyway...]

Hewitt's views on the war on well known ("stab in the back" Congress and "Victory Caucus"). He plays his hand by asking Petraeus that if America leaves Iraq what would be the consequences of a "military defeat" in Iraq. He compares an Iraq "defeat" with the "military defeat" in Vietnam.

There is no military defeat. The US has not lost any battles in Iraq. It toppled the army and government it was sent in to defeat. It was highly efficient in that task. It was then, due to the lack of planning by the Department of Defense and the civilian staff asked to do what is could not do, what it was not designed to do--birth a government that would unite multiple sects and eradicate a nativist insurgency.

Just like Vietnam. There was no military defeat. The US was backing a corrupt government that soldiers (South Vietnamese) would not fight for. The battles were won, the peace was lost.

And in Iraq. The US Army wins battles and is fighting for a corrupt ineffective government that does not have the mandates of the masses and whose soldiers are "uneven" (in Petraeus' own words) because they have no existential reason to fight, no reason to die for corrupt petty thugs in Baghdad who are dependent on the real powers in the country: local warlords, local mosque leaders, local militias.

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Petraeus argues that "secret cells" of Moqtada al Sadr were trained by the al-Quds force of Iran and Hezbollah (the Gen. mentions one man captured--note the talking point of getting in Hezbollah). What is not clear, given what we know that Sadr's movement like all the movements fractures and splinters, is whether these cells were actually under his command.

HH also asks Gen.P whether Iran is supporting al-Qaeda, something I predicted we would hear more of you in yesterday's post. Sanely, Petraeus says no and points out that Iran fights AQ.

DP also discusses possible motivations for Iranian involvement in Iraq. What he never discusses, so far as I can tell, is who "Iran" is--is it the government, government-sanctioned groups, etc. Al-Quds is part of the Revolutionary Guards and there is strong evidence that the British hostages taken were ordered by Ahmadinejad's crowd not the Supreme Leader. The Revolutionary Guards (elements of) are subverting, it would seem, and not necessarily orders from Supreme Leader Khamenei.

Petraeus does repeatedly mention that suicide bombers of the foreign variety--which he does admit are small but can cause mass damage--come through Syria. Again part of the administration's line about the Middle East being about "moderate" governments like Saudi Arabia and Jordan versus "extremists" like Syria-Iran-Hezbollah. Again, of course people are coming through Syria. People are coming across the US border everyday, does that mean they are being trained by the Mexican government?

Petraeus does state that al-Qaeda and the Shia death squads (read: Iran) are the biggest short term threats. He lauds al-Anbar province and the fight against AQI recently in Baquba---where we learned much of the leadership fled, being tipped off the US Army was coming. They went to smaller villages in the surrounding area and massacres ensued.

Obviously Petraeus is all they got left. They're throwing the kitchen sink into this surge and the focus on al-Qaeda is a stop gag on the seeping Republican and US populace support. Not at only 30%.

Petraeus is the best the American military has, leadership wise. I mean Tommy Franks, Ricardo Sanchez, and George Casey--not exactly Bradley, Patton, and Eisenhower that bunch.

The Iraqi Army Petraeus trained is again in his words uneven. Not that that is all his fault. And the blueprint for fighting he is using is based on A)much larger force numbers and B)agrarian insurgencies and C)would take 10-15 years which he doesn't have nor does the military have the capacity for nor can American (and global) national security stomach a decade long occupation in the heart of the Arab Middle East.

The latest worry, expressed by Thomas Friedman in the NYTimes, is a sinking feeling that the surge has been a setup for a Rumsfieldian extend the problem to everybody solution set: namely bombing Iran. This has always been my real worry.

If that route is not taken, then draw down will not come quick nor pretty. Tanks, equipment, and the pull back of troops is not an overnight affair. Mistakes in logistics will be made, troops will likely be targeted. Groups opposed will win a psych ops victory (more important than real victories in 21st c. warfare) and use it for further recruiting. The country will split up. There will be death. And something in the range of 75,000 troops or so will still be there by the time the next president is in office.

What I've come to be angry about is the sanitized nature of the coverage and this (I hate to use this phrase but in this case it is correct) right-wing noise machine about the defeatism of the so-called MSM. There are no body parts on the evening news. You don't see this gruesome story how young men in Iraq are getting tattoos so when they wind up dead in the streets their families will be able to identify their tortured corpses.

None of the politicians are real about this. Bush is in la-la surge-land. Dems like Edwards talk as if you just waltz out and then everything in the world will be ok, as if you cold push a reset button to 9/10/01. Hewitt's strategy for winning is to say we are going to win. And stupid Harry Reid having sleepovers at the Congress to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing, pissing off the Republicans who would actually be with him for a real push (in stages) on the president.

It's going to only be shades of dark from here on out. The only real question is what can be salvaged, what of the good can be conserved (i.e. no war between Kurds and Turks) and what can be prevented (all out Middle East clusterf--k).

The rest is up to God and having to answer for the blood of the innocents.


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