Saturday, December 23, 2006

Here Comes The Surge

If we've learned anything over the last six years, it's that what bratty George W. Bush wants, bratty George W. Bush gets - and that means he's getting his Iraq war troop surge:

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq. Bush still must address concerns among some Pentagon officials and overcome opposition from Congress, where many Democrats favor a blue-ribbon commission's recommendation for the gradual withdrawal of combat troops.

But the recommendation by commanders in Iraq is significant because Bush has placed prime importance on their advice. The U.S. command in Iraq decided to recommend an increase of troops several days ago, prior to meetings in Baghdad this week with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the defense official said.


Commanders have been skeptical of the value of increasing troops, and the decision represents a reversal for Casey, the highest-ranking officer in Iraq. Casey and Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East who will step down in March, have long resisted adding troops in Iraq, arguing that it could delay the development of Iraqi security forces and increase anger at the United States in the Arab world.

I guess word came down to General Casey, formerly on record against the troop surge, that "The Decider" had already decided to surge troops in Iraq no matter what the commanders in the Pentagon and on the ground thought about the plan, so General Casey better get on board with the surge plan or follow General Abizaid (also on record against the plan) out the door and into retirement.

I'm sure the rest of the commanders and generals got the same word - you're either with us on the surge plan or you're out the door.

So now George W. is getting his troop surge. But how many troops and for what purpose? That, according to the LA Times article, is still up in the air:

Some officials remain concerned that the command in Iraq has not drafted a new battle plan or begun to develop new operations. These officials worry that even with extra troops, the American forces will continue using existing tactics, which have failed to stem sectarian violence.

Within the military, some officers favor using a buildup of forces to confront radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, perhaps by moving forces into Sadr City, the Shiite slum in Baghdad where he has his political base.

Other military leaders say a larger force should be used to improve the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy and take more effective measures to protect Iraqis. These officers favor a plan developed by retired Gen. Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to use the extra troops to secure mixed Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods where most of the sectarian violence is taking place.

Which mission is selected could determine the size of the troop increase.

"If it is a surge to take on Sadr, that is one size. If it is to do something else, that is another size surge," said the military official.

The Bush administration looks to be leaning toward a plan that would attempt to marginalize Sadr and his allies in the Maliki government and develop a "moderate coalition of Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites that would be more willing to confront Sadr's militias."

The administration now sees Sadr's militiamen and other forces loyal to the cleric as the top threat to security in Iraq.

But there's one problem with this plan:

Military officials were dismayed that one of the country's most influential clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, did not immediately back efforts to establish a new coalition government. If Sistani insists that Sadr remain within the Shiite coalition, it would represent a blow to the U.S. goal of marginalizing the radical cleric.

"The goals are tied to the palace intrigue," the military official said. "We are watching them carefully."

Frankly, the "Forging A Moderate Coalition" plan sounds doomed to failure before it starts. It sure would be difficult for Bush to try and marginalize Sadr if al-Sistani isn't on board with it.

Thus the Kagan/Keane counterinsurgency plan may be the one Bush chooses in order to justify his troop surge.

In any case, whatever plan Bush eventually decides on this Christmas season, the feeling remains that the troop surge is nothing but a political maneuver designed to staunch the bleeding in Bush's approval numbers with his core constituency and make it look like he has some "Plan for Victory" in Iraq when he really doesn't have any idea what to do other than hold on for dear life for the next two years and wait for an adult to come back to the White House and clean up the mess he, Cheney, Rummy, and Rice made over the last four years in Iraq.

And of course the ultimate outcome is that more Americans will die in order to help Preznut Bush save some "political face" and conditions on the ground in Iraq will not improve with the extra 20,000-30,000 troops added, as was proven back in August and September during the last troop surge in Baghdad.

BarbinMD at the Daily Kos points out that so far, General Casey has gotten everything wrong about Iraq - including his call for troop reductions a year ago today ("The reduction is a result of the progress in Iraq... In the past year there have been three elections, and in each case participation climbed while violence dropped," Casey said) and his pronouncement that the sectarian violence in the aftermath of the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra was contained (Preznit Bush noted last week that the Samarra bombing had set off a "new phase of violence" in Iraq.)

It is troubling that a man who has gotten everything so wrong in Iraq is still in charge there. It's even more troubling that he's so wishy-washy about decisions that he's willing to change his opinion on the Iraq troop surge plan at a moment's notice.

But I guess that's how you stay in the favor of the Boy King - you give him what he wants, even if it means sending more troops into a situation that you know doesn't call for it.

Maybe we shouldn't take what such a wishy-washy, go with the flow general says?

How about if we stopped going over there altogether - stop ALL financial efforts, handouts, and also stop all imports of foreign oil.

That would help solve two problems. First, we might stave off terror. Second, all of our fat asses would have to pedal in to work.
I'm very much with you on that, Steve - especially the part about having to pedal our fat asses to work. We spend billions and billions of dollars a year subsidizing the terrorists by gobbling as much oil as we do and no matter what the administration says, we ain't getting enough oil out of ANWR to replace it. So maybe some alternative fuel sources and some conservation? Heck, the word "conservative" is in the word "conservation" and it surely fits in w/ the old American Puritan work ethic.

I dunno, but I think there is too much foreign aid as well. Our infrastructure is falling to pieces, health system is crappy, education system is crappy, the electrical grid is ancient, we can't protect our ports, rails or nuclear power plants, but we can send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas in foreign aid? Charles Dickens said it in Bleak House and I believe it - sometimes charity starts at home.
You know what? I bet we consume equal amounts of sugar.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed as being a type II diabetic. I was getting fat and lazy; the soles of my feet were drying up and I was eating too much junk food.

I've turned it all around. No more dry soles. I go to the gym as much as I can. I may not go every day like I should, but my triglycerides, cholesterol, and sugar levels are back to normal.

Sorry for the deviation in topic, I guess it sort of has something to do with what I said earlier.

A lot of Americans are diabetic and don't even know it. If they took a bike to work instead, they'd be fit. Now, if I took a bike to work, I'd have to cross a mountain on my way there and back. I could be the next guy on the Tour de France.
"I dunno, but I think there is too much foreign aid as well."

One prime example is "Palestine." Oy, don't get me started. We were giving them millions, yet there is still no solid infrastructure there. Our tax dollars are helping to pay them to fight against Israel with suicide bombers, but that's another different topic.
My girlfriend and I are both vegetarians. We try and only eat whole foods and stay away from refined things - especially refined sugar, refined grains and high fructose corn syrup. It's difficult to always eat healthy when you're eating out but we really do try.

As for walking and running, I'm about to go out for a a three mile run now. This fall I've been going to the gym less, but that's because I hurt my left shoulder and couldn't work out for a while. But I'm back now and trying to get back to my routine - four days cardio, three days weight training. And both my girlfriend and I walk to and from work - 20 city blocks and three and a half avenues each way.

Still, I'd like to drop a few pounds and/or lose some of my body fat. It's a constant battle - every spring/summer I lose a few pounds and every fall/winter I put them back on!
Sugar is POISON, period. I agree.
steve harkonnen wrote:

"How about if we stopped going over there altogether - stop ALL financial efforts, handouts, and also stop all imports of foreign oil."

Impossible. Those thoughts apply only to an imaginary world.

It is impossible to end the oil dependence. The economies of the world depends on oil like humans depend on oxygen.

But the dependence is not analagous to addiction. Oil is like super vitamins for every country with the brains to convert oil energy into the forces of prosperity.

Of course the muslim morons are incapable of capitalizing on their resource wealth.

On the other hand, Japan, with no hydrocarbon reserves is one of the world's most prosperous countries. But it took the combined power of democracy and access to imported oil for Japan to climb as far as it has.

Cuba, meanwhile, has no oil, and is unable to find oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico, the same body of water from which we extract vast quantities. The only factor that explains their utter failure to exploit the resources in the waters off the Cuban coast is the lunatic marxist government run by the dying Castro.

Perhaps he'll give the world a Christmas present and die on Monday. A sudden deterioration in his health was reported this morning and that gives me hope he's almost a goner.

Meanwhile, we can't end our financial activities around the globe unless we are willing to accept that other governments will move in and perhaps seize power in countries of some importance.

Africa will become an islamic continent soon enough. That shift already threatens oil production in several countries. It will also insure that brutal corrupt regimes continue to successively control hundreds of millions of Africans and that little will occur that will relieve the misery of life on much of the continent. In turn, that means the vast resource wealth of the continent will remain largely out of reach of the rest of the world, leaving everyone a little less well off.

The African dictators have to be removed. And there's a lot of them.
reality based educator wrote:

"We spend billions and billions of dollars a year subsidizing the terrorists by gobbling as much oil as we do and no matter what the administration says, we ain't getting enough oil out of ANWR to replace it."

Your comments display how little you know about the global oil market.

First, oil consumption is a function of the Earth's population. More people, more oil consumption.

Oil use will NEVER decline as long as oil is cheaper than the alternatives, which it is.

Second, oil is fungible. If the US were to stop buying oil from the middle east and only import oil from non-muslim nations, other nations would purchase the middle-east oil we were no longer buying.

Thus, our refusal to buy middle east oil would have no impact on the middle east unless it were simply impossible for us to replace our middle-east imports with oil from other sources.

If that were true, prices would rise around the world. And that would benefit our enemies.

However, if global supplies were increased, prices would fall. Contrary to your belief, there's plenty of oil in ANWR and if that stream were added to our domestic production, the world price of oil would drop a little.

It would drop more if the US government allowed oil drillers to exploit every domestic reservoir known to exist and to explore for more. Today there are 80 billion barrels of known domestic reserves that are off-limits to US oil companies.

In other words, our own government -- mostly nitwit Democrats who embrace idiotic green energy concepts -- is ordering us to send billions and billions of dollars to the middle east for a product available here at home.

This is the ultimate "outsourcing" of opportunity and one of the only true examples of how we send jobs and money to other countries when a better alternative exists.

You wrote:

"Our infrastructure is falling to pieces..."

Where? Give me an example. I'm not suggesting there's no roads in need of repairs or bridges that need a paint job, but we've got infra-structure projects underway all over the country.

There's now a push to build a tunnel from the Long Island Railroad Terminal at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to lower Manhattan where a stop at the World Trade Center would be built, after which the tunnel would extend to New Jersey. This tunnel would allow people from Long Island and New Jersey to reach lower Manhattan without switching trains. It would bring huge numbers of new people to the Downtown area.

You wrote:
" system is crappy..."

Healthcare is another expenditure that will not decrease for any reason. There is no "economy of scale" in healthcare. Costs will climb faster than the rate of population growth because we are so brilliant we can treat more and more illnesses and maladies, and those treatments will allow more and more people to live longer and longer, all the while receiving more and more advanced medical benefits.

If your goal is to reduce medical expenses, the only solution is to stop offering medical treatment to those who would otherwise die. But the US doesn't work that way, so you can count on spiraling healthcare costs forever.

You wrote:

" system is crappy..."

Really? I think you mean the public-school monopoly is crappy. I can give you a very long list of private schools that achieve fantastic results. Moreover my list includes private schools that focus on kids with learning disabilities.

Your belief that the education system is crappy reveals your belief that the government should handle every aspect of our lives.

Meanwhile, there are successful segments within the NY public school system. The gifted program does very well. The Eagle and CIG classes are impressive.

However, public education in NY and elsewhere is hamstrung by the irrational fear of everyone in the bureaucracy that competition from privately run schools financed with tax money would hurt the employees of the bureaucracy. It can't be that union members are worried about the students because things can't get much worse for too many of them.

You wrote:
"...the electrical grid is ancient..."

By this comment, I gather you believe the government should run our electrical utility industry. Repairs and upgrading of the grid system will come about as quickly as Public Utility Control Authorities authorize private utilities to do the work.

Keep in mind that it is a law that New York City must have enough power-generation stations within the five boroughs to produce 80% of the city's power.

However, with a population rising to 9 million over the next decade, we will need more power stations in the city. No doubt about it. Call off the green nitwits now.

You wrote:

"...we can't protect our ports..."

How were they protected before you became aware of how unprotected they are? Meanwhile, it is effectively impossible to "protect" the ports. The threat comes from all the other ports in the world where ships are loaded. If you think we can inspect every item in every cargo hold you'll see ships loitering for weeks as they wait for a slot at a dock.

If bad boys want to bring a ship-board nuclear bomb into a city, they don't need to dock the boat before detonating it. A nuke going off anywhere in the East River or the Hudson would do enough.

You wrote:
"...rails or nuclear power plants..."

Railroads and nuclear plants are part of private enterprise. Nuclear plants are not at risk from an attack. The hardened external shells around the reactors can take a huge hit without cracking. In short, Indian Point is safe. No conventional attack poses a threat.

As for railroads, well, it's certainly possible to damage tracks and cause train-wrecks. But I'm not sure why anyone would bother. Only a few cities are fed by commuter train systems. And Amtrak carries fewer and fewer passengers all the time. It is proof that subsidizing rail travel is a failure.

If you think trains are at risk, then end the Amtrak subsidy and all but a couple of Amtrak's routes will stop operating.

You wrote:
"...but we can send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas in foreign aid?"

You should check your numbers. You should also check into what it means when aid is sent to a country. True, some money is wasted, like money sent to the palestinians. But some funds are disbursed to stimulate local economic activity and boost the markets for goods and services in the countries to which aid is sent. If the leaders siphon some off and send it to bank accounts in Switzerland, well, that's bad, but that's not always the case.
No slappz, as usual you are arrogant, insulting and self-righteous.

Happy holidays!
reality, you wrote:

"No slappz, as usual you are arrogant, insulting and self-righteous."

But apparently you don't dispute the accuracy of my comments.

You want to shoot the messenger.
No sallpz, you're free to have your opinions and you're free to express them here. But I'm done corresponding with you. It's tiresome and gets us nowhere.

Hey, cartledge, remember the "the human wizmark"? Do you still have that post? I think I might want to borrow it.
reality, you wrote:

"No sallpz, you're free to have your opinions and you're free to express them here. But I'm done corresponding with you. It's tiresome and gets us nowhere."

You're free to express your own opinions too, but you seem to think the people at the New York Times, who are desperately trying to recapture their glorious moment when the paper released the Pentagon Papers, offer the only valuable and credible thoughts on all topics.

After a while you might discover how flawed is the thinking of many at that paper.
reality, you wrote:

"...but we can send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas in foreign aid?"

Try $32 billion for the latest reported year.

You're one of the millions who thinks the US sends 20% of its annual budget expenditures to foreign countries. Sorry. Not so. Foreign aid is less than 1% of our budget.
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