Sunday, December 31, 2006


Heckuva job, Bushie!

The U.S. hit another milestone in the Iraq war today - 3,000 American military casualties. You can see the list at

Sadr Supporters Taunt Saddam At Execution

The scene at Saddam's hanging is emblematic of the problems the U.S. is facing in Iraq today:

Grainy footage of (Saddam's) execution, apparently shot on a mobile phone by a witness who was standing below looking up at the gallows, was circulating widely on the Internet on Sunday, a day after Saddam was hanged for crimes against humanity.

As the hangmen prepare him for his final moment, some of those invited to attend standing below the platform taunted the former president, who was executed on Saturday before dawn.

One man shouts "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada," a reference to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who heads a powerful Shi'ite political movement and a militia blamed by Washington and Sunni Arabs for running death squads targeting Saddam's Sunni Arab minority.


Though Sadr's movement is a major force in the coalition government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the outspoken comments by his supporters in the execution chamber may fuel charges by Saddam's defense lawyers and his supporters in Iraq and the wider Arab world that the process has been "victors' justice".

There is little doubt that Sadr's thugs are in the ascendancy in the Maliki government and in Iraq at large today.

We seem to have traded one murderous, genocidal thug in Saddam for another potential one in Sadr.

And all it cost is the lives of 2,998 American military personnel, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, $400 billion dollars, and a commitment of four years of occupation and counting.

Mission Accomplished?

While The Decider Decides How Big The Iraq War Troop Surge Will Be...

...other major problems facing the nation and the world go unattended. Here's Richard Clarke's list in today's Washington Post:

Global warming: When the possibility of invading Iraq surfaced in 2001, senior Bush administration officials hadn't thought much about global warming, except to wonder whether it was caused by human activity or by sunspots. Today, the world's scientists and many national leaders worry that the world has passed the point of no return on global warming. If it has, then human damage to the ecosphere will cause more major cities to flood and make the planet significantly less conducive to human habitation -- all over the lifetime of a child now in kindergarten. British Prime Minister Tony Blair keeps trying to convince President Bush of the magnitude of the problem, but in every session between the two leaders Iraq squeezes out the time to discuss the pending planetary disaster.

Russian revanchism: When Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bush leave office in rapid succession in 2008 and 2009, it seems likely that Russia will be less of a democracy and less inclined to cooperate with Washington than it was six years ago, when Bush stared into the eyes and looked into the heart of the Russian leader. Given her extensive background in Soviet studies, Condoleezza Rice would have been a natural to work on key U.S.-Russian issues, first as national security adviser and now as secretary of state. But the focus on Iraq has precluded such efforts, even as the troubling issues multiply: Russian governors are no longer elected, but appointed; dissidents die mysteriously and probably at the hands of the new KGB; opposition media are suppressed; and corporate leaders are jailed or hounded out of the country.

Meanwhile, Moscow plays petro-politics by dramatically raising the cost of energy to former Soviet republics that do not toe the Kremlin's line, and by threatening to turn off the pipeline to European nations that don't cooperate. If Bush hoped that turning a blind eye to all this would help win Russian cooperation in Iraq and Iran, the strategy failed.

Latin America's leftist lurch: In the years before the Iraq war, U.S. presidents were welcomed at summits throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Indeed, the attacks of Sept. 11 found then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in South America, visiting one area of the world where U.S. policies had worked. Friendly, democratic governments were in power in every nation in the hemisphere except Cuba. Formerly debt-ridden economies were implementing pro-market reforms, and the United States was welcomed as a partner. Washington seemed confident that if and when Fidel Castro died (there was always some doubt), even Cuba might join the democracy/free market club.

Today, Castro has been replaced, but not just by another Cuban dictator. The leader of the hemisphere's new anti-Yankee alliance is Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela. Chávez's anti-U.S. campaign is supported by Cuban intelligence and Venezuelan oil money. By 2006, Venezuela and Cuba were not alone in their opposition to Washington; kindred spirits have been elected in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Having begun his administration pledging new cooperation with Mexico, Bush backtracked after Sept. 11, focusing instead on tightening immigration and border controls.

Africa at war: The genocide spilling from the Darfur region of Sudan into neighboring Chad has captured attention in the United States mainly because of (belated) media coverage and an aggressive advocacy campaign by concerned groups, but the prospects of Washington dealing with the problem seem slim. Darfur, however, is only one of a pox of conflicts that, together with HIV/AIDS, are depopulating parts of Africa and robbing it of potential wealth from mineral, oil and gas deposits. Wars have also raged in Chad, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia. Were it not for the Iraq war, Washington may have acted to stop what the Bush administration admits is genocide in Darfur, or taken steps to prevent the chaos sweeping Somalia after a group affiliated with al-Qaeda took over the country and left Ethiopia no choice but to invade in hopes of preventing a more disastrous war. Unfortunately, even designating a small presence of U.S. Special Forces to lead a U.N.-approved peacekeeping force in Darfur appears beyond the capability of the badly stretched American military.

Arms control freeze: Once atop several administrations' national security agendas, international arms control has received little White House attention since the Bush administration decided early on to walk away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley has extensive government experience working on arms control and he began to focus on this turf in early 2001, when he was number two at the National Security Council. But after 9/11, Hadley has had little opportunity to advance international efforts to control biological weapons, nuclear testing and proliferation, or the threat of nuclear or radioactive terrorist weapons. For a long time, the White House outsourced dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons to the Europeans, just as the onus of stopping North Korea's nuclear development was placed on Asian nations. The sustained senior-level attention that is needed to stop two nuclear weapons programs at the same time has simply not been available -- because of Iraq.

Transnational crime: In a nationally televised address in 1989, President George H.W. Bush held aloft a bag of cocaine that had been sold near the White House and declared a "War on Drugs." That initiative was later enlarged to target the international criminal cartels engaged in human trafficking, gun and contraband smuggling, money laundering and cyber fraud. The momentum from these efforts produced international treaties to combat hidden global crime conglomerates, but the White House leadership necessary to coordinate dozens of U.S. agencies and mobilize other nations has dissipated. Moreover, the world's international crime cartels received a major shot in the arm with the occupation of Afghanistan by NATO forces. From relatively low levels of heroin production in 2001, Afghanistan's economy is now dependent upon the widespread cultivation of heroin that is flooding black markets in Europe and Asia. With most of the U.S. Army either in Iraq, heading to Iraq or returning from Iraq, insufficient U.S. forces were available to prevent the once-liberated Afghanistan from morphing into a narco-state.

The Pakistani-Afghan border: Afghanistan increasingly receives the attention of senior U.S. policymakers, not because of the narcotics problem, but mainly because the once-defeated Taliban again threaten Afghan and coalition forces. However, if there is a solution, it lies on the other side of the Khyber Pass where a sanctuary has emerged, a Taliban-like state within a state in western Pakistan. Dealing with that problem is more than Washington has been willing or able to handle, for it involves the complex issue of who governs nuclear-armed Pakistan and how.

Thus far, Washington has accepted Gen. Pervez Musharraf's half-hearted measures for dealing with the nuclear proliferation network of A.Q. Khan, addressing the terrorist involvement of Pakistani intelligence and controlling the Taliban/al-Qaeda bases in Waziristan. Getting Pakistan to do more would require a major sustained effort by senior U.S. officials, including addressing the longstanding tensions with India. Because of Iraq, Washington's national security gurus do not have the hours in their days to manage that -- nor the troops needed to secure Afghanistan.

As the president contemplates sending even more U.S. forces into the Iraqi sinkhole, he should consider not only the thousands of fatalities, the tens of thousands of casualties and the hundreds of billions of dollars already lost. He must also weigh the opportunity cost of taking his national security barons off all the other critical problems they should be addressing -- problems whose windows of opportunity are slamming shut, unheard over the wail of Baghdad sirens.

Of course when you're as stupid, short-sighted and arrogant as Dick Cheney, George Bush and Condi Rice, it's "hard work" trying to deal with more than one problem at a time.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Violence As Usual

Saddam's dead, but not much else has changed in Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Bombings killed at least 68 people in Iraq on Saturday, including one planted on a minibus that exploded in a fish market in a mostly Shiite town south of Baghdad.

The attacks came hours after Saddam Hussein was hanged in Baghdad for ordering the killings of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982. Despite concerns about a spike in unrest, Saturday's violence was not unusually high and there was no indication it was related to the execution.

The U.S. military also announced the deaths of three Marines and three soldiers, making December the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq, with 109 service members killed.

The bombing at the fish market in Kufa, a Shiite town about 100 miles south of the Iraqi capital, killed 31 people and wounded 58, said Issa Mohammed, director of the morgue in the neighboring town of Najaf. The man blamed for parking the vehicle was cornered and killed by a mob as he walked away from the explosion, police and witnesses said.

Shoppers had crowded into the market to buy supplies for the four-day Eid al-Adha festival, the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar for Shiites.

Television footage showed hundreds of men in traditional Arab headdresses swarming around the minibus' charred frame, toppled on its side in the street. Ambulances and fire trucks pulled up to the site, and a coffin was loaded on top of a car.

In northwest Baghdad, two parked cars exploded one after another, killing 37 civilians and wounding 76 in a mixed neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, police said.

The Marines died Thursday of wounds from fighting in western Anbar province, the U.S. military said. A soldier also died in combat Friday in Anbar, and two others were killed by roadside bombs in northwest Baghdad, the military said.

Their deaths pushed the December death toll past the 105 U.S. service members killed in Iraq in October. At least 2,998 members of the U.S. military have been killed since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The good news is the violence hasn't increased in Iraq after Saddam's hanging (at least so far.)

The bad news is the "usual level of violence in Iraq" killed at least 68 people in car bomb attacks and 6 American military personnel in combat.

I'd say the "usual level of violence" is pretty horrific in and of itself and many military experts say Preznut Bush's 17,000-20,000 troop surge plan will do little to solve the security problem long-term.

But at least Saddam's dead, right?

Friday, December 29, 2006

CNN Says Two Arab TV Stations Are Reporting That Saddam Has Been Executed

No word if Saddam's old friend and buddy from the Reagan years, Donald Rumsfeld, came by to offer his last respects before they hanged him.

UPDATE: CNN confirms Saddam is dead.

Still no word whether BFF Don Rumsfeld will come by to help collect the body.

I suspect since there's no oil pipeline involved this time, Rummy won't be coming by.

SECOND UPDATE: Will the execution of Saddam will make this better?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Three more Marines were killed in battle in Iraq, the military said Friday, making December the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops with the toll reaching 106. The Marines, all assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, died Thursday of wounds from fighting in western Anbar province, the U.S. military said. Their deaths pushed the toll past the 105 U.S. service members killed in October.


December was shaping up to be one of the worst months for Iraqi civilian deaths since The Associated Press began keeping track in May 2005.

Through Thursday, at least 2,139 Iraqis have been killed in war-related or sectarian violence, an average rate of about 76 people a day, according to an AP count. That compares to at least 2,184 killed in November at an average of about 70 a day, the worst month for Iraqi civilians deaths since May 2005. In October, AP counted at least 1,216 civilians killed.

The AP count includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported.

I guess you can add Saddam's death to the list of those killed in war-related violence. While I cry no tears for Saddam, I don't think his death is going to stop the insurgency, the sectarian violence or the genocide.

Military Pessimistic About Iraq War

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The American military, once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war, has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83% of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50%.

Only 35% of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way Bush is handling the war, and 42% said they disapprove. While approval of the president's war leadership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.

Just as telling, in this year's poll only 41% of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65% in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population — 45% agreed in a recent USA TODAY-Gallup poll.

Professor David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, was not surprised by the changing attitude within the military.

"They're seeing more casualties and fatalities and less progress," Segal said. "Part of what we're seeing is a recognition that the intelligence that led to the war was wrong."

When the men and women on the ground in Iraq are pessimistic about the war nearly five years into it, what does that say about the war?

Holy Joe Lieberman Plans A Sacrifice...

...of someone else's son/daughter/mother/father/brother/sister/wife/husband. Lieberman has written an opinion piece in the Washington Post today to make public his support for the preznut's "New Way Forward" troop surge of 17,000-20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.

Holy Joe says the Iraq war is winnable if only we have the "vision, will, and courage" to do "what is strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term" and stand "with the moderate Iraqis until the country is stable and they can take over their security."

Couple of things here:

You'll note that Lieberman wants to sacrifice someone else's kid/parent/sibling/spouse. I have yet to see him have the "vision, will, and courage" to offer his own kids and grandkids to do what he says "is strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term."

Second - "what was strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term" was to leave a contained Saddam in place to counteract Iran's power in the region while the United States fought the WoT against Al Qaeda and other jihadis. Why Bush decided to take out a secular Arab with no ties to Al Qaeda in his crusade against Islamic extremism is beyond me, but now Bush has turned a country that was not a haven for terrorists pre-war into a jihadi paradise.

Third - Lieberman analyzes the Iraq war this way -

On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought

That could NOT be more wrong-headed and simplistic an analysis of the Iraq conflict as it now stands than if a four year old child gave it. Many of the "extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran" are Shiites sitting in the Maliki government and technically allied with the United States. The Shiite militiamen carrying out the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis are almost certainly backed by Iran but they are not the only force for violence and mayhem in Iraq. The Sunni insurgents/Al Qaeda members/jihadis carrying out the big-item terrorist attacks in Iraq (i.e., the car bomb and suicide bomb attacks) are NOT allied with Shiite Iran and if anything are being armed and funded by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers. For such a Washington Wise Man as Lieberman to simplify the Iraq war into an "Iran vs. U.S. conflict" shows he's either one of the dumbest or one of the most dishonest people in Washington (and that's saying something on both counts.) Either way, we ought not to take military or political advice from such a man.

Fourth - Lieberman doesn't REALLY give a shit about what's in the interest of this country. Lieberman (and many of the other neocons who helped develop, carry out and/or cheerlead the Bush administration's Iraq war policy - e.g., Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Abrams, Frum, Bolton, Gaffney, Kristol) are more concerned with what is in the interest of Israel than what is in the interest of the United States. Let's say it openly: the ties between the right-wing neocons and right-wing Israeli think tanks/Likud Party apparatchiks/Israeli government officials have a major effect on what policies the administration has pursued in the Middle East, especially as relates to the Iraq war and the recent Israel/Hezbollah conflict. This is not necessarily all bad, since historically Israel has been America's staunchest ally in the Middle East, but it is also important to say that what is in Israel's national interest is NOT always in the national interest of the United States. I think there is little doubt that Lieberman and many of the other neocon supporters of this war cannot distinguish between the two national interests and thus have gotten the United States involved in what Chris Matthews called on Hardball last night "this neoconservative war fought by strange ideologues with their own strange objectives." Matthews didn't have the guts to REALLY say what he meant by that phrase, but there can be little doubt of his meaning and little doubt about the accuracy of the charge - the Iraq war was pushed on the American people by pro-right-wing Israeli ideologues who mistakenly believed (and still believe) that taking Saddam out would help the national interest of Israel (and thus the United States.) Given the consequences of the war and the disastrous way it has been fought (spreading Sunni/Shia conflict, emboldened Iran, broken American military that cannot tend to other international problems, a United States that has lost "face" in the Arab world), they were very, very wrong. And they continue to be wrong.

Nonetheless, Holy Joe and the rest of the necons want to double down on the war and so we will get an increase of 17,000-20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.

Never mind that the time for additional troops is past, never mind that truly having the "vision, courage, and will" to try and bring about "victory" in Iraq would be for Lieberman, Bush, Cheney, McCain et al. to not only send their own kids and grandkids to the war (as McCain has done) but to also call for a draft and have ALL Americans bear responsibility for this unfortunate war of choice, never mind that calling for a draft would give the U.S. military the real numbers it needs to have a chance (albeit small) for success in Iraq, never mind that generals like Abizaid and Powell now think the surge plan is a bad idea.

Nope - never mind all that. Holy Joe and Cheney and Bush and McCain are NEVER wrong and if we only we have the "vision, will, and courage" to go along with their "Plan for Victory," victory will be achieved!

Do You Think An Infusion Of 17,000-20,000 Is Going To Fix This Bush-Created Mess?

Hannah Allam covered Iraq for Knight-Ridder in 2004-2005. She just returned to Iraq and has found a vastly different (and more dangerous) place than the one she left:

When I was last here in 2005, it took guts and guards, but you could still travel to most anywhere in the capital. Now, there are few true neighborhoods left. They're mostly just cordoned-off enclaves in various stages of deadly sectarian cleansing. Moving trucks piled high with furniture weave through traffic, evidence of an unfolding humanitarian crisis involving hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced Iraqis.

The Sunni-Shiite segregation is the starkest change of all, but nowadays it seems like everything in Baghdad hinges on separation. There's the Green Zone to guard the unpopular government from its suffering people, U.S. military bases where Iraqis aren't allowed to work, armored sedans to shield VIPs from the explosions that kill workaday civilians, different TV channels and newspapers for each political party, an unwritten citywide dress code to keep women from the eyes of men.

Attempts to bring people together have failed miserably. I attended a symposium called "How to Solve Iraq's Militia Problem," but the main militia representatives never showed up and those of us who did were stuck inside for hours while a robot disabled a car bomb in the parking lot.

Then there was the Iraqi government's two-day national reconciliation conference, which offered little more than the grandstanding of politicians whose interests are best served by the fragmenting of their country. The message was: The south is for the Shiites, the north is for the Kurds, the west is for the Sunnis, and the east is open for Iran. Baghdad, the besieged anchor in the center, is a free-for-all.

On one of my first days back, I took a little tour with my Iraqi colleagues to get reacquainted with the capital. We decided to stay on the eastern Shiite side of the Tigris River rather than play Russian roulette in the Sunni west.

Even on the relatively "safe" side of the river, a dizzying assortment of armed men roamed freely. In the space of an hour, we encountered the Badr Organization militia, the Mahdi Army militia, the Kurdish peshmerga militia, the Iraqi police, interior ministry commandos, the Iraqi military, American troops, the Oil Protection Force, the motorcade of a Communist Party official and Central Bank guards escorting an armored van.

We drove through one of my favorite districts in hopes of visiting shopkeepers I knew. But they had fled, leaving behind padlocked doors and faded signs for shops whose names now seem ironic rather than catchy: "Nuts," "Ghost Music," "Once Upon a Time."

I asked my colleagues to arrange meetings with old Iraqi sources - politicians, professors, activists and clerics - only to be told they'd been assassinated, abducted or exiled.

Even Mr. Milk is dead. The grocer we called by the name of his landmark shop in the upscale Mansour district was kidnapped and killed, along with his son, my colleagues said. The owner of a DVD shop where I once purchased a copy of "Napoleon Dynamite" also had been executed.

So many blindfolded, tortured corpses turn up that an Iraqi co-worker recently told me it was "a slow day" when 17 bodies were found. Typically, the figure is 40 or more. When the overflowing morgue at Yarmouk Hospital was bombed last month, one of our drivers wearily muttered, "How many times can they kill us?"

Even the toughest of my Iraqi colleagues hit their breaking points after experiencing the indignity of being forced from their homes, the trauma of a bomb outside a doorstep, the grief for a cousin killed by a mortar, the shame of staying silent while a neighbor's house was torched.

My colleagues were fearful of the future when I left, but at least they went home every night to home-cooked meals and the bustle of domestic life. A few had even purchased land in the optimistic belief that 2006 would bring a measure of calm. Now, half the staff has sent their families to safer countries, and others plan to do the same. For them, there is no ivory-tower debate over whether they're living in a civil war.

On any given night, we have three or four Iraqi staff members camping out at the office. I find them surfing the Internet for visa applications to European countries, information on the U.S. green-card lottery, fellowship programs, political asylum eligibility. At night, they burn through phone cards to baby talk with their children in Syria or blow kisses to them from a Web cam.

I covered a day of the Saddam Hussein trial because I was curious to see the dictator in person. When I returned to the office, none of my Iraqi co-workers asked about their former president. They despise him, to be sure, but they shrugged and declared him yesterday's news, as irrelevant to their lives as the current crop of leaders cloistered in the Green Zone with no control over the anarchic landscape outside.

Survival is their chief concern, and it's reflected even in greetings. Local custom calls for a string of flowery salutations, but these days the response to "Shlonak?" - How are you? - is shortened to one word: "Alive."

Electricity is on for just a couple of hours a day in most districts. Gas lines stretch for block after block. Food prices are higher than ever, especially for fresh produce, which requires rural farmers to make the treacherous drive to Baghdad markets. The water is contaminated. Gunmen in police uniforms stage brazen mass abductions, evaporating faith in the Iraqi security forces.

Universities are in bad shape. Instructors have fled, mortars interrupt classes, and people have been kidnapped at the gate. With violence emptying campuses, the Iraqi prime minister issued an order this month that threatens expulsion or dismissal for students and teachers who don't come back to class.

On the drive back to our hotel from the Green Zone last week, I saw a group of adorable little girls in pinafores, knee socks and ponytails. They were walking home from a nearby elementary school, stepping over trash and yanking their skirts from barbed wire. I had my camera with me and asked the driver to stop so I could take a picture.

A year ago, I would have snapped away. This time, I hesitated.

Perhaps a guard somewhere would think I was a kidnapper and shoot at me. Perhaps a parent would come screaming and cause a ruckus over a suspicious foreigner in the neighborhood. But more than anything, I was stopped by the thought of the terrified looks on the girls' faces if a stranger holding a camera approached them.

In a country where there is so much fear, why add even a little bit more?

Now tell me exactly how Bush's grand, exalted "New Way Forward In Iraq" plan of adding 17,000-20,000 troops to Baghdad is going to solve this horrific U.S.-created mess?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Casualties Mount

17 dead American soldiers since Christmas. The casualty number for American military personnel in Iraq now stands at 2,990. December is on track to be the month with the most American military casualties for the whole of 2006.

Helluva way to end the year. And it doesn't bode well for American military personnel in iraq for next year either.

But that's what happens when the American mission changes from finding the WMD's/proving Saddam had Al Qaeda ties/fighting 'em over there so we don't have to fight them in London and Madrid/making democracy flower to the policing of a civil war.

Ten Myths about Iraq 2006

If you missed Professor Juan Cole's post about this from a few days ago, you should really take a look at the whole thing. Here are a few highlights:

1. Myth number one is that the United States "can still win" in Iraq. Of course, the truth of this statement, frequently still made by William Kristol and other Neoconservatives, depends on what "winning" means. But if it means the establishment of a stable, pro-American, anti-Iranian government with an effective and even-handed army and police force in the near or even medium term, then the assertion is frankly ridiculous. The Iraqi "government" is barely functioning. The parliament was not able to meet in December because it could not attain a quorum. Many key Iraqi politicians live most of the time in London, and much of parliament is frequently abroad. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki does not control large swathes of the country, and could give few orders that had any chance of being obeyed. The US military cannot shore up this government, even with an extra division, because the government is divided against itself. Most of the major parties trying to craft legislation are also linked to militias on the streets who are killing one another. It is over with. Iraq is in for years of heavy political violence of a sort that no foreign military force can hope to stop.

The United States cannot "win" in the sense defined above. It cannot. And the blindly arrogant assumption that it can win is calculated to get more tens of thousands of Iraqis killed and more thousands of American soldiers and Marines badly wounded or killed. Moreover, since Iraq is coming apart at the seams under the impact of our presence there, there is a real danger that we will radically destabilize it and the whole oil-producing Gulf if we try to stay longer.

2. "US military sweeps of neighborhoods can drive the guerrillas out." The US put an extra 15,000 men into Baghdad this past summer, aiming to crush the guerrillas and stop the violence in the capital, and the number of attacks actually increased. This result comes about in part because the guerrillas are not outsiders who come in and then are forced out. The Sunni Arabs of Ghazaliya and Dora districts in the capital are the "insurgents." The US military cannot defeat the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement or "insurgency" with less than 500,000 troops, based on what we have seen in the Balkans and other such conflict situations. The US destroyed Falluja, and even it and other cities of al-Anbar province are not now safe! The US military leaders on the ground have spoken of the desirability of just withdrawing from al-Anbar to Baghdad and giving up on it. In 2003, 14 percent of Sunni Arabs thought it legitimate to attack US personnel and facilities. In August, 2006, over 70 percent did. How long before it is 100%? Winning guerrilla wars requires two victories, a military victory over the guerrillas and a winning of the hearts and minds of the general public, thus denying the guerrillas support. The US has not and is unlikely to be able to repress the guerrillas, and it is losing hearts and minds at an increasing and alarming rate. They hate us, folks. They don't want us there.

So much for the preznut's"Plan for Victory" and Troop Escalation plan working.

But Operation Save Preznut Bush's Presidential Legacy is still going strong.

Stuck Between Iraq and a Hard Place

Or as Atrios sometimes puts it - "Iraq'd":

For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task — trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician — Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie — but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.

“I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting,” Major Voorhies said.

A two-day reporting trip accompanying Major Voorhies’s unit and combat troops seemed to back his statement, as did other commanding officers expressing similar frustration.

“I have personally witnessed about a half-dozen of these incidents of what I would call political pressure, where a minister or someone from a minister’s office contacts one of these Iraqi commanders,” said Lt. Col. Steven Miska, the deputy commander for the Dagger Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, who oversees combat operations in a wide swath of western Baghdad.

“These politicians are connected with either the militias or Sunni insurgents.”

Whatever plan the Bush administration unveils — a large force increase, a withdrawal or something in between — this country’s security is going to be left in the hands of Iraqi forces. Those forces, already struggling with corruption and infiltration, have shown little willingness to stand up to political pressure, especially when the Americans are not there to support them. That suggests, the commanders say, that if the Americans leave soon, violence will redouble. And that makes their mission, Major Voorhies and Colonel Miska say, more important than ever.

They added that while political pressure on the Iraqi Army is great, the influence exerted on the police force, which is much more heavily infiltrated by Shiite militia groups, is even greater.

Shiites, led by militia forces and often aided by the local police, are clearly ascendant, Colonel Miska said.

“It seems very controlled and deliberate and concentrated on expanding the area they control,” he said.

OK, so if we stay, we have to spend most of our time policing the Iraqi civil war, and if we leave, the Iraqi civil war will explode, helped by the infiltrated Iraqi army and police forces which we helped train and arm.

We're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Will the expected troop surge of 20,000-30,000 additional American forces solve this dilemma?


The problem is primarily political now, not military. The time when additional American forces could have made things better was BEFORE the sectarian sides became so intractable in their revenge and power-grabs - and that time has passed.

How does a slightly larger American force put an end to the centuries-old political, ethnic and religious hatreds that Bush and Cheney helped unleash by taking down strongman Saddam?

The answer is simple - it doesn't.

So why send more troops?

The answer to that question is simple too - because the Bush administration can't think of anything else to do. The Joint Chiefs opposition to the surge plan, first reported in the Washington Post last week, came primarily because they believed that the administration was sending more troops to Iraq for political reasons here at home, not for political or military reasons that would help improve conditions in Iraq.

So again I ask - why send more troops?

I guess we must remember the first rule of the Bush administration - what is good for George W. Bush is good for America.

Bush needs a delaying action for the next two years. He needs to look like he's doing something to improve conditions in Iraq and help bring Americans home while he's REALLY running a holding pattern and waiting for the next president to come in and clean up and/or take the blame for his mess.

How would you feel if your kid/mother/daughter/father/son/husband/wife were sent to Baghdad to police the Iraqi civil war not to REALLY affect any positive change in the conditions on the ground but so George Bush can hang on to some hope that his presidential legacy (i.e. - two failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) will be shared by the next president who comes in '09?

And how would you feel if your kid/mother/daughter/father/son/husband/wife were to die while preforming Operation Save Preznut Bush's Presidential Legacy?

I know how I'd feel - like the preznut had committed murder.

It's one thing for a president to put the lives and health of American troops at risk for the national interest. It's another thing entirely for a preznut and vice preznut to put the lives and health of American troops at risk because they want to save "political face" for themselves or because they're too macho and stubborn to admit they were wrong.

And yet that's what we have happening right now - even after the American electorate delivered a strong anti-war message in the midterm election and only 11%-12% of the American public support the administration's rumored escalation plan for the war.

The shame of it is, this did not have to be. Back in 2002 and 2003, General Shinseki warned the administration not to undertake an invasion of Iraq without 500,000 troops to handle the post-invasion phase. Former Bush 41 and Ford adviser Brent Scowcroft warned the administration that taking out Saddam and rebuilding a nation in the Mideast would take massive amounts of troops, money and effort and might still not be possible to accomplish. Pundits like Pat Buchanan and George Will warned about the excesses of the American Empire (see Buchanan's December 20, 2006 column on the "hollow American Imperium" for where he thinks this Iraq war has brought the U.S.)

And yet, the administration followed it's own course and set in motion the chaos and carnage that is now Iraq. The U.S. would do well to learn from the mindless hubris and inane policies of this administration in order to avoid such foreign policy disasters in the future. As Pat Buchanan wrote this month:

The American Imperium is hollow. We have nowhere near the troops to sustain the security commitments and war guarantees we have ladled out. Like the Brits in 1945, ours is an overstretched empire with a sinking currency, whose enemies are salivating at the prospect of being in on the kill.

America may need a larger Army. More imperative is the need for a radical reduction in treaty and war commitments.

While the U.S. Navy and Air Force remain supreme, the Army and Marines are, as Abizaid says, too small a force to fight a long war. We must adjust our commitments to reflect our capabilities and, beyond that, to defend only what is truly vital to the national security.

While our armed forces are more than adequate to defend us, they are insufficient to defend an empire. Rather than bleed and bankrupt the nation endlessly, we should let go of the empire.

Americans must learn how to mind our own business and cease to meddle in other nation's quarrels. Iraq was never a threat to the United States. Only our mindless intervention has made it so.

Buchanan is right: we cannot police the world and certainly wouldn't be stuck in Iraq policing their civil war had the members of this administration given a little forethought to other outcomes for the war than their own rosy, overly-optimistic scenarios.

We must learn this lesson for the future.

We are already "Iraq'd" and there will be no good outcome from this war no matter what George Bush or the next president decides to do. The Sunni/Shia civil war is set in a motion and will play itself out whether we leave tomorrow or 2009. Tens of thousands more innocent Iraqis will die in Mr. Bush's war of choice whether we sacrifice hundreds more Americans or not. The sticking point becomes just how can the United States extricate itself from the Iraqi civil war without setting off full-scale slaughter. I don't have the answer to that question any more than the administration, the Iraq Study Group or any of the Wise Old Men in Washington do.

That is the reality in Iraq now.

It would be good for Americans of all political stripes to take the Iraq lesson to heart for the future - BEFORE the United States again engages in exercises in empire-stretching (as Buchanan has called the Iraq war), it ought to remember the laws of unintended consequences and realize that good intentions sometimes (or often) lose out to reality and history.

Right now, all of the administration's "good intentions" for the flowering of democracy in Iraq and the Middle East have lost out to the centuries-old animosities and ethnic/religious hatreds.

Let's remember that before the next Wilsonian president full of hubris decides he's going to try and remake the world to his own liking regardless of the realities here at home and abroad.


Too bad Bob Woodward couldn't release this interview he had with former president Gerald Ford back in June 2004 when it might have had some impact on the war and/or the 2004 presidential election:

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

I'm sure the administration was hoping to use the Ford memorials and funeral this week as a way to deflect from questions about the preznut's "New Way Forward in Iraq" speech to be given next week to the American public.

But now every time the cable news networks cover the Ford story, many people will be thinking about how Gerald Ford said the Iraq war was a mistake.

The administration just can't get away from Mr. Bush's war anymore.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford Dies

Just saw this go up on the TV. Ford was 93 years old (the longest living president ever.)

He was a nice, down-to-earth man liked by people in both parties. His pardon of Nixon did him in politically and cost him re-election in 1976. Some of his policies were a little crazy (remember WIN buttons?), but overall I think history will judge him well for what he did post-Nixon.

Ford had a reputation for being clumsy (due mostly to Chevy Chase's silly shtick imitating him on Saturday Night and a few prominent accidents captured on camera like the time he hit his head getting into the presidential helicopter), but you have to understand that Ford was an All-American football player in college, continued to ski well into his 70's, and played golf nearly up until the end. He was really a very good athlete as well as a nice man.

I also have a spot in my heart for Betty Ford for what she did both for the fight against breast cancer and for the alcohol/drug recovery movement. (NY Daily News reporter Tom Defrank just said on CNN that Gerald Ford gave up drinking after his wife went into recovery as moral support for her - which says an awful lot about him.)

My thoughts and prayers are with Betty Ford and the Ford family tonight.

Rest In Peace, Jerry.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Denial and Delusion

From the NY Times:

“The poll numbers that continue to come out show that the American people have turned against this war,” said Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska. “The Republicans are no longer in charge of the Congress because of this war. Those are the realities, and I don’t think the administration has quite accepted those realities yet, nor the realities of how bad it is on the ground in Iraq.”

Indeed, another article in today's Times suggests Bush is simply paying lip service to the Iraq war policy change that polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans want and will be escalating the war for the remainder of his term:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 — Immediately after the beating his party took in November, President Bush indicated that he had received the message that voters wanted change, and that he would serve some up fast. He ousted his defense secretary, announced a full-scale review of his war plan and contritely agreed with critics that progress in Iraq was not happening “well enough, fast enough.”

But in the last two weeks, the critics and even some allies say, they have seen a reversal. Mr. Bush has shrugged off suggestions by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that he enlist the help of Iran and Syria in the effort to stabilize Iraq. Countering suggestions that he begin thinking of bringing troops home, he has engaged in deliberations over whether to send more. And he has adjusted the voters’ message away from Iraq, saying on Wednesday, “I thought the election said they want to see more bipartisan cooperation.”

In a way, this is the president being the president he has always been — while he still can.

With Congress out of session, Mr. Bush has sought to reassert his relevance and show yet again that he can chart his own course against all prevailing winds, whether they be unfavorable election returns, a record-low standing in the polls or the public prescriptions of Washington wise men.

He has at least for now put the Iraq war debate on terms with which he is said to be more comfortable, if only because they are not the terms imposed on him by Democrats and the study group.

The Times goes on to say that the preznut's independent stance on the war could be short-lived, noting that both incoming Dems like Carl Levin and Joe Biden plan on holding extensive hearings on the administration's war policy next month that will force the preznut to deal with the reality of conditions on the ground and that even Republicans and former Bush/war supporters like Joe Scarborough are no longer supporting their preznut:

“I’m growing more disturbed every night by how isolated George W. Bush has become,” the former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough said on his MSNBC program last week. “Shouldn’t more Americans be disturbed at this unprecedented example of a White House that’s in — and you can only call it this — a bunker mentality?” The screen below him read, “Bush: Determined or Delusional?”

I can't wait for the oversight to start next month. When the subpoenas start to fly and we finally get a chance to look into the pre-war intel manipulation, the funky war financing, the torture and rendition policies, the cronyism and war profiteering of KBR, Halliburton and other administration allies, the fucked-up deployments, and Bush's privately ignoring his generals' advice while publicly stating he's listening to them, we're finally going to get some real insight into just how arrogant, incompetent, inept and criminal this preznut and his merry men and women have been in the running of this war.

And with the Rubber Stamp Republicans out of power in both the House and the Senate, we're finally going to be able to do something about it.

How Come The Preznut Never Mentions this When He's Talking About The Flourishing Afghan Economy?

The quality of heroin has drastically increased in the United States as a result of the importation of Afghan supplies of the drug - the purest in the world. The LA Times, via Think Progress, has the story:

Supplies of highly potent Afghan heroin in the United States are growing so fast that the pure white powder is rapidly overtaking lower-quality Mexican heroin, prompting fears of increased addiction and overdoses.

Heroin-related deaths in Los Angeles County soared from 137 in 2002 to 239 in 2005, a jump of nearly 75% in three years, a period when other factors contributing to overdose deaths remained unchanged, experts said. The jump in deaths was especially prevalent among users older than 40, who lack the resilience to recover from an overdose of unexpectedly strong heroin, according to a study by the county's Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology.


According to a Drug Enforcement Administration report obtained by The Times, Afghanistan's poppy fields have become the fastest-growing source of heroin in the United States. Its share of the U.S. market doubled from 7% in 2001, the year U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban, to 14% in 2004, the latest year studied. Another DEA report, released in October, said the 14% actually could be significantly higher.

Poppy production in Afghanistan jumped significantly after the 2001 U.S. invasion destabilized an already shaky economy, leading farmers to turn to the opium market to survive.

Not only is more heroin being produced from Afghan poppies coming into the United States, it is also the purest in the world, according to the DEA's National Drug Intelligence Center.

You see, it's not ALL bad news coming out of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars - free market enterprise is flourishing in Afghanistan.

Too bad it's flourishing in the illegal opium trade.

Oh, well - as they say in the White House, "A flourishing free market economy is always a good thing."

The Failure Of The Old Bush Iraq War Policy

Last year at this time, Preznut Bush announced a new plan for Iraq with "eight pillars" of U.S. policy that were designed to bring "victory" in the war.

This year, after tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, heightened sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia, and 798 American military casualties (and counting), that old policy has been declared a failure and the preznut and his merry men and women are struggling to come up with a new policy - a "New Way Forward," if you will.

We've already heard that the "New Way Forward" will be an escalation of the war with an additional 20,000-30,000 troops being sent to Baghdad to police the civil war between Sunni and Shiite.

Today in the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler takes a look at the old Bush Iraq war policy from last year and notes that the simple stats the government keeps on how the war is going have shown the old Bush Iraq war policy to be a miserable failure:

A year ago, President Bush announced a new plan for Iraq, framed around "eight pillars" of U.S. policy for victory. In the past month, the president and his national security team have been busily working on a new recipe for success in Iraq, having declared the previous plan a failure.

But never mind what the politicians are doing. The bureaucracy churns on.

The State Department continues every Wednesday to issue a 30-page public report that details exactly how the U.S. government is meeting the goals set forth in the president's now-abandoned plan. The report frames the data around Bush's storied eight pillars, which include such goals as "Defeat the Terrorists and Neutralize the Insurgents" (Pillar 1) and "Increase International Support for Iraq" (Pillar 7).

In many ways, the report is a microcosm of the administration's lost year in Iraq. The reams of details aimed at touting success belie the fact that few of the goals are being met.

The report is often upbeat as it presents some of the most minuscule factoids of the situation in Iraq. The Dec. 13 report noted that on Dec. 7, 40 sheikhs from across Diyala province met "to discuss ways to maintain peace and stability" and that on Dec. 9, U.S. soldiers discovered a factory for making improvised explosive devices in a house in Baqubah.

But the bottom-line graphs tell a story of failure. Under Pillar 5 ("Help Iraq Strengthen Its Economy") the reports show that week after week, the Iraqis cannot meet their goals for crude oil production. Another chart shows that efforts to build a 15-day supply of all refined products, such as diesel and gasoline, are woefully behind schedule, reaching a peak of a four-day supply.

Under Pillar 7, increasing international support, the trends are on the decline. The first report of the year showed that 28 countries, in addition to the United States, contributed 23,000 troops to coalition forces. By last week's report, the number of countries had fallen to 25 -- and the number of troops was down to 16,860, a decrease of more than 25 percent. Italy recently dropped off the list when the last of its troops departed.

One figure has not really budged: the $20 billion apportioned for rebuilding Iraq (under Pillar 4, "Help Iraq Build Government Capacity and Provide Essential Services"). That is because the administration ran out of money for rebuilding Iraq, in part because about 25 percent was diverted to security. The latest report says that all but $4 billion has been disbursed.


The twists and turns of American policy are imperfectly reflected in the report. "Operation Together Forward," the effort this summer to bolster security in Baghdad, which was later deemed a disappointment, was the subject of several upbeat reports but then seemed to fade in importance. During the spike in violence in October, the report noted that the Iraqi Ministry of Interior had recalled a police brigade for more training after "possible complicity with sectarian violence," though it brightly added that the training "will improve the professionalism and confidence within the national police."

The report seemed uncertain how to treat the release of a report by the Iraq Study Group, the independent bipartisan panel that criticized the administration's policy and spurred the White House to come up with a new plan. The earliest mention of the study group's report, in the Dec. 13 edition, came under Pillar 3, "Help Iraqis to Forge a National Compact for Democratic Government."

The headline said it all: "Iraqi Leaders Blast Iraq Study Group's Report." The State Department, perhaps in an effort to demonstrate the unity of Iraqi leaders, then devoted a whole page to negative quotes about the panel's recommendations.

It must be hard to put a positive spin on a policy that the administration has already abandoned as a miserable failure.

And yet, as Kessler notes, the spinmeisters continue to churn out their spin.

Note that the last troop surge the administration tried in Iraq - called "Operation Together Forward" - in which the administration brought additional American and Iraqi troops into Baghdad last August through October was deemed a miserable failure when all measurements of sectarian and insurgent violence went up despite the surge in troops.

Let's see how the spinmeisters try and spin the "New Way Forward" troop surge and policy next year after it, too, is deemed a miserable failure.

American Casualties in Iraq Surpass Casualties on 9/11

Another milestone in the Iraq war:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of six more American soldiers, pushing the U.S. military death toll since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to at least 2,978 - five more than the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The milestone came with the deaths of the three soldiers Monday and three more Tuesday in roadside bomb attacks near Baghdad, the military said.

And you can expect the casualty count to continue to increase after the Decider sends in an additional 20,000-30,000 American troops to police the Sunni/Shia civil war in Iraq.

What was the reason for the Iraq invasion and occupation again? WMD's? Al Qaeda ties? Fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them in London and Madrid? Making democracy flower in Iraq and then across the whole Mideast?

All bullshit - now we're there to police the civil war Bush started when he took down Saddam without enough troops to handle post-invasion security, the burgeoning Sunni insurgency, or the sectarian violence inflamed by that insurgency.

Nice work, dickheads.

After everything else they've gotten wrong with the war policy and strategy so far, does anyone but the most ardent Bush apologist really think the new "surge" policy is going to work?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in Iraq

Not too much peace on earth these days in Iraq thanks to Preznut Bush's brilliant Iraq war strategy:

First, the Brits had to take on a "renegade police force" in Basra and blow up their headquarters:
BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 – Hundreds of British soldiers laid siege to a police station in the southern city of Basra today, killing seven gunmen, rescuing 127 prisoners from almost certain execution and ultimately reducing the building to rubble.

The focus of the attack was an arm of the local police called the Special Crimes Unit, which British officials said had been thoroughly infiltrated by criminals and militia members who had used it to terrorize local residents and violently settle scores with political or tribal rivals.
Then the U.S. said it captured 4 Iranians the administration claims who were "meddling" in Iraqi affairs:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Monday the arrest in Iraq of alleged Iranian provocateurs, including two diplomats, underscored U.S. concerns about "meddling" amid rising U.S.-Iranian strains.

U.S.-led forces detained the Iranians during operations "against those planning and plotting attacks against multinational forces, Iraqi forces and Iraqi citizens," the State Department said.

"In the course of those operations, multinational forces recently picked up groups of individuals involved in these kinds of activities, including Iranians operating inside Iraq," it said.

Via Mike at Crest, we learn from the Australian Sun that Iraq's Interior Minister has blamed "a regional power" for the recent mass kidnappings of Shiites in Baghdad:

Jawad al-Bolani said an investigation into the hostage-takings, in which large squads of gunmen in camouflage uniforms and police jeeps grabbed dozens of Iraqis from central Baghdad, would soon lead to charges.

"The mass kidnappings were messages addressed to the Iraqi political process and the government,'' Mr Bolani said.

"We have uncovered information and we will soon bring those behind these kidnappings to justice. There is a regional actor behind these kidnappings and we will soon place the results of our inquiry before the public.''

Commanders of the US force deployed in Iraq, in support of the Government, regularly accuse both Iran and Syria of fomenting unrest, but Mr Bolani would not be drawn on the identity of the country or countries fingered by his inquiry.

Bolani is undoubtedly talking about Syria. So now we have the U.S. accusing Iran of fomenting and/or financing violence and murder in Iraq against coalition and Iraqi forces and a Shia minister in the Maliki government accusing the Syrians of backing the Sunni insurgency.

The regional war between Sunni and Shia becomes more and more open by the day.

In the meantime, Preznut Bush is getting ready to tell the American people he's going to send another 20,000-30,000 additional troops to Iraq to handle the deteriorating security conditions in Baghdad while the civil war rages unabated:

*BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol in southern Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding two, the U.S. military said in a statement.

*ANBAR - Two U.S. soldiers were killed in action in Iraq's western Anbar province on Sunday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 15 when it exploded on a busy commercial street in the mainly Shi'ite New Baghdad district of the Iraqi capital, police said.

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber killed three people and wounded 20 others when he blew himself up aboard a crowded bus in the Shi'ite Talibiya district in northeastern Baghdad, Interior Ministry sources said.

RAMADI - A suicide bomber targeting a police checkpoint near the main entrance of Anbar University killed three policemen and wounded two students in the city of Ramadi, 110 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad, police Lieutenant Kareem al-Rishawi said.

The U.S. military said one student and one police man were killed, and five police wounded. The bomber was also killed. A U.S. statement said the reports of three policemen dead were a deliberate inflation of the casualties in an effort to intimidate the police and dissuade people from enlisting.

MAHAWEEL - Gunmen killed a police lieutenant colonel and wounded three other policemen in a drive-by shooting in the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. An Interior Ministry source said two of the policemen with the officer also died in the attack.

MUSSAYAB - Gunmen killed one civilian after they stormed his house on Sunday night in Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

JURF AL-SAKHAR - Gunmen wounded three policemen when they attacked a police checkpoint on Sunday in Jurf al-Sakhar, about 85 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

HAWIJA - Gunmen killed two Shi'ite brothers on Sunday in the town of Hawija, 190 km (120 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - A total of 29 bodies were found shot dead, with most showing signs of torture, in different districts of Baghdad on Sunday, an Interior Ministry source said.

RUMAITHA - Clashes between security forces and militiamen loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr killed six people and seriously wounded one on Sunday in the southern Iraqi town of Rumaitha, 25 km (16 miles) north of Samawa, police said. Three days of clashes have killed at least eight people in Samawa.

MOSUL - A total of seven bodies, including three policemen, were found in different districts of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a hospital source said.

8 Americans were killed in Iraq over the weekend and U.S. casualties in Iraq now stand at 2,972.

That toll is guaranteed to increase as the preznut doubles down and surges troops levels in Iraq from 140,000 to 160,000+.

And don't expect the additional troops to come home any time soon. Neocon Bill Kristol said yesterday on FOX News that the troop surge cannot be temporary because the bad guys will just wait us out for whatever time allotment is given for the surge:

"There's no point having a short term surge," Kristol said on Fox News Channel. "Especially, if it's proclaimed ahead of time that it's just short term. Then [the enemy] goes into hiding for 3 or 6 months."

"We pull back and we're in the same situation," the Weekly Standard editor said. "Bush will commit -- I believe, when he speaks in a couple of weeks -- to doing this. That this is a strategy for victory and that he's willing to do this for the remaining 2 years of his presidency."

Forcasting the president's plan for Iraq, Kristol adds, "I think [Bush] will say 'We can win. We have to win. We're going to increase troop levels as part of a new strategy for the sake of victory.' And, so, it will not be a short term surge."

There you have it - the preznut's "strategy for victory" in Iraq is to send 20,000-30,000 additional troops into the middle of an expanding regional conflict between Sunni and Shia and hope to hell they can lessen the violence.

Given that the last "Baghdad Troop Surge" in August-October resulted in higher sectarian violence and insurgent attacks than before, I have serious reservations that Bush's "New Way Forward" strategy will accomplish much. Still, the troop surge should take us right to the end of 2008, which is ultimately what Bush is looking to have happen. This way he can wash his hands of the whole business and hand it off to the next guy or girl.

Let's see how Congressional Republicans, GOP strategists and the '08 presidential candidates other than McCain feel about Bush doubling down on the Iraq war for the next two years after the Grand Old Party got trounced at the ballot box in 2006 on that very issue. I bet a more than few Repubs are going to follow Indiana Congressman Mike Souder and publicly criticize the preznut's plan:

I think it’s intriguing that the president is looking at trying to put more troops on the ground like Sen. McCain has suggested all the way along. But my impression – and I haven’t been there since spring – is that we’ve passed that point. Even doubling the number of troops on the ground won’t do it. Instead of just having potentially a few thousand people that you’re trying to stabilize who are picking at random where to hit, or even 20,000, basically at this point the whole country’s engaged. Which means an increase in troop power isn’t going to stabilize it.

I give it three months from the beginning of the surge before Bush faces a full-scale revolt in his own party over his Iraq war policy. Let's say by April or May. If Bush can't point to some improvements in the security situation and sectarian violence in Baghdad by then (and I mean REAL improvements, not phony Rovian/Rumsfeldian spin masking as improvement), he's going to have watch his back at the GOP Memorial Day Prayer Breakfast. Listening to Joe Scarborough and some other former war supporters/Bush supporters/Republicans who've turned against the preznut and his war of choice, I wouldn't be surprised if they try and take him down before he takes the Grand Old Party down in the '08 elections.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Al-Sistani Opposes Bush's "Coalition of Moderate Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds" Plan

So much for Reason A the administration has been giving for the troop surge in Iraq (i.e., the U.S. will be marginalizing Moqtada al-Sadr and his militiamen and forging a coalition of moderate Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to govern Iraq and take on the proponents of sectarian violence.) The Associated Press has the story:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric withheld support Saturday for a U.S.-backed plan to build a coalition across sectarian lines, Shiite lawmakers said, jeopardizing hopes that such a show of political unity could help stem the country's deadly violence.

Members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition that dominates parliament, met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf after traveling to the holy city over the past few days. Al-Sistani holds no political post and rarely emerges from his home and adjacent office, but he has strong influence over Shiite politics.

Some members of the Shiite alliance have sought a coalition that would include Kurds and Sunnis, and sideline Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric whose militia is blamed for much of Iraq's sectarian violence. Lawmakers who attended the meeting with al-Sistani said the cleric opposed any move that would divide Shiites.

''There are obstacles in the face of forming this coalition, because al-Sistani does not support it. So we will work to strengthen the (Shiite) alliance,'' said Hassan al-Sunnaid, of the Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.


An official close to al-Sistani, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the cleric ''will not bless nor support any new bloc or front. He only supports the unity of the Shiites.''

Such a development could frustrate U.S.-backed efforts to persuade Iraq's political leaders to set aside sectarian interests and work together for the sake of national unity. Without progress in Iraqi politics, some observers say, the security situation in the country is likely to remain tenuous.

If al-Sistani is not backing the administration's "Moderate Coalition" plan, then it ain't happening. Which means the administration is going to have to use Reason B to justify their troop surge - the Kagan/Keane counterinsurgency plan that calls for American troops to act as referees between the Sunnis and Shiites in the ongoing sectarian violence.

Yeah, that should be easy to do with an extra 20,000-30,000 troops in Baghdad.

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?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Scarborough Country: Bush Is Dangerous and Delusional

Via Crooks and Liars, here's Joe Scarborough and Mike Barnicle on just how crazy and isolated they think Preznut Bush has become:

Stop the presses. George W. Bush says America is not winning the war. Yes, those words coming from the man who‘s decided the only way to turn things around in Iraq is by sending in more troop, Despite being told by the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell and the man running the Iraq war, General Abizaid, that sending more troops to Iraq would only get more Americans killed. Perhaps it was no coincidence that on the same day that Mr. Bush ignored his top generals‘ advice, General John Abizaid abruptly quit, announcing he would step down soon.

Now, seeming to confirm his opponent‘s worst suspicions that this president does not value the opinions of those with whom he disagrees, Mr. Bush has now decided to go it alone in Iraq against the wishes of his allies, against the desires of his fellow countrymen, and yes, even against the advice of his own generals.


SCARBOROUGH: When all of his generals abandon him, when the Joint Chiefs abandon him, the admirals abandon him, when John Abizaid abandons him, when Colin Powell abandons him, everybody abandons him, he‘s standing alone! He just doesn‘t seem to have any credibility. And this is extraordinarily disturbing to me, as a guy who supported this war and supported this president twice.


SCARBOROUGH: I want you, if you will, to imagine, how would Republicans have responded if President Bill Clinton had ignored the advice of all of his Joint Chiefs, his top general in the war zone, his former secretary of state, and 80 percent of Americans? Is it not a stretch to say that many Republicans would have considered impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton if this situation were identical?


SCARBOROUGH: Well, Mike Barnicle, as you know, I supported this war and I supported this man twice for president, and yet I‘m growing more disturbed every night by how isolated George W. Bush has become. All the Joint Chiefs oppose his plan for Iraq. His lead general opposes his plan in Iraq, and now he‘s going to quit because Bush has ignored him. Colin Powell opposes his plan in Iraq. And an “L.A. Times” poll is showing that only 12 percent of Americans support his plan for more troops in Iraq. Shouldn‘t more Americans be disturbed at this unprecedented example of a White House that‘s in—and you can only call it this—a bunker mentality?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, Joe, that more Americans ought to be truly depressed by what they saw today on TV, the latest press conference. We have a president of the United States who is isolated. He‘s delusional. He is stubborn. He has had one intervention that clearly didn‘t work, the Baker-Hamilton report. He is clearly in need of another intervention.

You don‘t have to be von Clausewitz to figure out that urban warfare in the city of Baghdad, comparably the size of New York City, a tremendously hostile environment now, will become even more hostile with the introduction of more American troops. It will do very little, if nothing, to lessen the level of violence in Baghdad. The only...

SCARBOROUGH: And you‘re just going more—you‘re only going to get more American kids killed...


BARNICLE: You‘re going to get more Americans both killed and captured. And the only services that we will have ended up improving in Baghdad are funeral services.

SCARBOROUGH: No doubt. And Mike, I want you—once again, I want to put this “L.A. Times” poll up again just briefly. Look at these numbers again. Only 12 percent of Americans support this president‘s plan to send more troops to Iraq. His Joint Chiefs all oppose him. General Abizaid opposes him. Mike, let me ask you, historically, has a president ever been so alone in his determination to fight a war, even when his generals and the American public oppose it? I mean, there‘s not a more significant decision a president makes than war.

BARNICLE: You know, the last...

SCARBOROUGH: Have you ever known of any president being this alone?

BARNICLE: No. The last great—the most recent epic that this country has been through, a cultural and social epic that shattered the country, Vietnam, the president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, as obstinate as he was for as long as he was, going down to the White House Situation Room, monitoring bombing runs, both strategic and tactical bombing runs over North Vietnam and South Vietnam, at least finally, at the end, toward the end, he listened to Clark Clifford and withdrew, withdrew himself from the presidency, a noble gesture in retrospect.

This president—this is dangerously close to a delusion that is going to result in death and carnage for years to come in the Middle East, too many Americans and too many people in the Middle East.


SCARBOROUGH: Mike Barnicle, do you take any comfort from the president finally admitting we‘re not winning in Iraq, or are you disturbed that it took him so long?

BARNICLE: Joe, I don‘t think he knows what he‘s saying. I don‘t think he comprehends what he‘s saying. I don‘t think...

SCARBOROUGH: You really think he is delusional?

BARNICLE: I do. I don‘t think he could explain to us tonight what he meant by what he said today. At one point, he said we‘re not winning, but at another point, he said, you know, we‘re going to win a victory there. He can‘t define victory.

The deaths in this war right now, at this stage in our life, our political life, our national life, and especially if there‘s a surge in troops in Baghdad—the deaths of American soldiers verges now on the criminal. And I don‘t think that‘s too strong a statement. It verges on the criminal. There‘s no plan. There‘s only this poppycock that you get from the president of the United States, who says one thing one moment, another thing the next moment, and he can‘t figure out what he is saying.

SCARBOROUGH: So what‘s going on there, Mike?

BARNICLE: What is going on there? I think you have a president totally isolated from reality, totally delusional, kind of paranoid, figuring that everyone‘s against him, including his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, figuring that history 30, 40 years from now is going to prove him correct. And he‘s going to have to weather this storm in the interim. He‘s going to have to take the abuse, look at the polls plummeting down to 5 and 4 percent. He‘s going to have to live and endure the casualties, which clearly affect him. Clearly affect him. That‘s the humanizing aspect of George Bush today. But I think he‘s intent on riding out this storm, thinking that somewhere down the road, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., 30 or 40 years from now, that that version of Arthur Schlesinger will say he saw it correctly when nobody else did.

If the oversight hearings the Dems are about to hold on the Iraq pre-war intel, the war funding, the troop deployments, etc. uncover ANY malfeasance by this administration, Scarborough looks like he will be ready to call for the impeachment of the man he supported twice for president.

That's pretty extraordinary.

All but the most ardent and delusional of Bush supporters have left this president behind. He's crazy, he's stupid, he's stubborn and he is clearly in over his head. It's gratifying to see a former supporter like Joey Scar come around and treat Bush the way he would have treated Clinton if the tables had been turned. It gives me hope for the future of the Republic that at least one prominent conservative cable commentator can put country and principle above party.

Just for old times sake, though, why did Joey Scar and the other wingnuts want to impeach Clinton anyway?

Oh, yeah - lying about blowjobs and thong bikinis.

Seems like small peanuts compared to the current guy's crimes.

And I say that as a guy who thinks both Clintons are unprincipled sleazeballs.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More Bullshit or a Real Threat?

Via Mike at Crest, ABC News says the Brits are bracing for terrorist attacks this holiday season:

British intelligence and law enforcement officials have passed on a grim assessment to their U.S. counterparts, "It will be a miracle if there isn't a terror attack over the holidays in London," a senior American law enforcement official tells


"It is not a matter of if there will be an attack, but how bad the attack will be," an intelligence official told

Frankly, they've cried "wolf" so often with these terror alerts that I just roll my eyes when I hear about them now. Remember the plot from over the summer when terrorists were supposedly going to blow up five commercial airliners with explosive feminine hygiene products? Remember how CNN went batshit over the "terror plot" for days as the Brits arrested nearly 40 people who were supposed to be involved in the plot?

Well, the more we learn about that case, the more bullshit it sounds. The BBC reported this week that the alleged ringleader in the "Liquid Bomb plot" will not be tried on terrorism charges because of lack of evidence. Nearly all the other people arrested in the case have already been released. The Register reported that cooking up liquid bombs in-flight is not as easy as the Blairites and Bushies made it sound back in August . In fact, it seems it would take a minor miracle for terrorists to actually be able to cook the explosives up on board without having them detonate long before the flight took off or even before they got out of the cab.

And the Bush and Blair governments wonder why people roll their eyes when they declare an imminent terror attack is coming down the pike?

Stop playing politics with terrorism, fellas, and maybe we'll take what you say seriously. It's important because one of these days, you're not going to be crying wolf but nobody's going to take you seriously after all the other times .

I just hope it's not this holiday season.

The Hollow Men Lead Us To A Wasteland Of Their Own Making

So says Christopher Dickey in Newsweek.

Read it.

It's pretty persuasive.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In For The Long Haul

Preznut Bush finally admitted what every military person already seems to know - the current size of the United States armed forces is not large enough to handle simultaneous permanent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the overall WoT. He has asked the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, to permanently increase the military, perhaps by as much as 70,000.

Preznit Bush has also admitted something every sane person watching their TVs or reading the newspapers already knows - we're not winning the war in Iraq. While he can't bring himself around to say that we're losing (and we are losing - the longer the United States stays in a sectarian/insurgent conflict in a foreign country, the more likely the outcome will be defeat - and the signs are already there that that's exactly what is happening), at least he's acknowledging some form of reality now that the midterm elections are over.

Still, the old Bush administration spin machine remains in full-force on the troop surge front. The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Joint Chiefs are opposed to Bush's Iraq troops surge plan because they don't believe the mission is sufficiently defined enough and are concerned that more troops for a short period of time will just make things worse afterward. Tony Snow, the White House Bullshit Officer, tried to quash that notion at the the gaggle yesterday by saying there was no argument between the WH and the Joint Chiefs on the troops surge plan. Snow also said no decision had yet been made by the preznit on what to do with Iraq.

And yet, watching Hardball last night and listening to retired General Barry McCaffrey (one of the military men who just spoke w/ Bush as part of his "I'm listening so we can find a New Way Forward" tour) , I could see that he believes the administration will be going forward with the troop surge plan at the end of next month and just as fervently believes it will be a mistake. The transcript for the show is not up at yet, but when it goes up I will post it and you will see just what a mistake McCaffrey thinks the administration is making by escalating the war with American forces. His point was this - by placing 20,000 extra troops into Baghdad to police the Sunni/Shia civil war that has a political and religious origin, you increase American casualties without actually stopping the civil war and even if you can stop some insurgent activity for a little while, it will return after U.S. forces leave.

The previous Baghdad build-up is a prime example of why a 20,000-30,000 temporary troop surge won't work. Remember back in August when the U.S. pulled forces out of Anbar province to handle security in Baghdad along with additional Iraqi forces. Security got better in Baghdad for two weeks until the insurgents and the militias shifted their tactics and went right on back to killing each other and innocent Iraqis. Many people feel this is exactly what will happen with Bush's proposed troop surge.

But we'll know soon enough. With his call to increase the overall size of the military yesterday, I don't think there's any doubt that Bush intends to increase troops in Iraq in January. He's doubling down and going in for the long haul. Unfortunately, many military people say that "the long haul" plan he's pursuing isn't actually going to change any conditions in Iraq. And so all we're going to get is more American casualties and the continued onslaught of civil war in Iraq.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joints Chiefs Are Opposed To Bush Administration's Surge Plan For Iraq

Wow - doesn't this put a bit of a damper in the Bush/McCain/Lieberman "Send 20,000-30,000 More Troops To Iraq" plan? The Washington Post has the story:

The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.

Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.

But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.

The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.

At regular interagency meetings and in briefing President Bush last week, the Pentagon has warned that any short-term mission may only set up the United States for bigger problems when it ends. The service chiefs have warned that a short-term mission could give an enormous edge to virtually all the armed factions in Iraq -- including al-Qaeda's foreign fighters, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias -- without giving an enduring boost to the U.S military mission or to the Iraqi army, the officials said.

The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said.

The informal but well-armed Shiite militias, the Joint Chiefs have also warned, may simply melt back into society during a U.S. surge and wait until the troops are withdrawn -- then reemerge and retake the streets of Baghdad and other cities.

Even the announcement of a time frame and mission -- such as for six months to try to secure volatile Baghdad -- could play to armed factions by allowing them to game out the new U.S. strategy, the chiefs have warned the White House.

The Post article goes on to say that there can be no larger military deployment for a longer amount of time because the Pentagon does not have the troop numbers.

So now we have both former Joint Chief/former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the current Joint Chiefs publicly opposing a a temporary troop surge of 15,000-30,000.

Surely that doesn't help the administration when an LA Times/Bloomberg poll finds that only 12% of Americans support the Bush administration's troop surge plan (CNN finds only 11% support the plan.)

In fact, I think the administration has even lost one of their biggest apologists in Congress - Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI). When asked on CNN this morning whether he supported the Bush administration's troop surge plan for Iraq or shared the concerns of Powell and the current Joint Chiefs that additional U.S. troops will not help, Hoekstra said (and I'm paraphrasing):

"According to the latest pentagon report, the biggest problem in Iraq now is not Al Qaeda, it's the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia. It's the Shiite militias. I just don't see how more U.S. troops can help solve those problems. The Iraqi forces themselves are going to have to step up to handle the sectarian violence and carnage."

If the administration has lost a hack like Hoestrka and only 11%-12% of Americans support the troop surge plan, how are Congressional Republicans - already worried that the Iraq war is going to do to them in 2008 what it did to them in the 2006 elections - going to back the preznit's troops surge plan?

And I realize incoming Senate Majority leader Harry Reid kinda sorta backed the surge plan on Sunday, but Reid basically said he supported it only if it made military sense. With the former and current Joint Chiefs both opposing the plan as currently constituted, Reid should now say "I leave the military decisions to the generals, and with the generals firmly opposed to a troop surge, I have to oppose the administration's plan as well."

None of this means Preznit Bush still won't send 20,000-30,000 more troops to Iraq. Remember, he has told us that he is "The Decider" and he doesn't care if everybody but the twins, laura and Barney are opposed to his Iraq policies - he will "decide" what he wants to do based on his feelings alone.

Which means we may get the troop surge that the Pentagon doesn't want and that experienced military men say might actually make things worse for the U.S. military and the Iraqi government overall.

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