December 22nd, 2007

No, Petraeus! So say us: Time‘s untimely choice

I’m with William Kristol on this one: why wasn’t General Petreaus the obvious choice for Time magazine’s annual “Person of the Year?”

Time was when Time actually had something intelligent to say about the world. But that Time was a long time ago. Putin is certainly an influential man on the international scene, but why him, why now?

Because, that’s why. Because first runner-up Al Gore didn’t need the trifecta (Nobel, Oscar, Time), for what even the NY Times acknowledges is a film and a message that is “exaggerated and erroneous” from the standpoint of science. Because although Harry Potter’s a fine creation, the coice of second runner-up J.K. Rowling would have been an absurdity. Next in line seems to have been China’s Hu Jintao (who?? Jintao?). I’m sure he’s influential as well, and China is always a big story and will continue to be so into the distant future, but certainly he has not done anything to make him extaordinarily noteworthy this year.

Which brings us to Time’s next in line, Petraeus. How very non-Americentric of them to place him almost as an afterthought. But Iraq, and our recent turnaround there, is of major consequence to the world, not just to the US—especially if it is allowed to go forward and to be built on further.

And at this point it does appear, wonder of wonders, that the Petraeus manual will get a further workout. One of the interesting things (to me, at least) about the success of the so-called “surge” is that it constitutes a test of the principles Petraeus laid out in his guide to counter-insurgency. Theories are great, but there’s nothing like having to follow them up with performance. In this case, the performance (as Kristol points out in his Weekly Standard piece) has far exceeded expectations—not only of critics, but even of those predisposed to think it had a chance of success.

I’m sure Petaeus will manage to soldier on without Time‘s highest honor. He has far greater ones: the respect of those who serve under him, the gratitude of so many of the Iraqi people, and the satisfaction of tackling a very hard and important task and doing it well—work that is far from over, and that continues to be difficult and risky. Let’s salute him.

112 Responses to “No, Petraeus! So say us: Time‘s untimely choice”

  1. njcommuter Says:

    Well, it is only the first draft of history. Of course, in this hurried age, people no more learn how to edit than they learn how to write.

    History’s judgement of our actions in Iraq will (I predict) depend critically on the next three administrations. Constancy of purpose enlightened by clarity and depth of understanding give us the chance to remake the entire middle east, and to change the strategic picture of the whole world. For good or ill, we might add, though I hope that the road will be toward peace and prosperity for all.

    Whether we will be wise or lucky enough to chose Chief Executives who understand this, care about it, and have the skill to act on it is up to us. The most vocal advocates of the Nanny State are, by necessity or accident, the most feckless when facing the community of nations. They seem to raise fecklessness to a virtue; by letting things go to hell they prove both their “humility” and their singleminded apathy for everything outside their social agenda.

  2. Americaneocon Says:

    Putin was probably the worst pick imaginable, if one looks at his “stability” has representing the exact oppposite of the democracy consolidation the U.S. is currently working to achieve right now in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Petraeus is the one:

    http://americanpowerblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/vladimir-putin-and-russian.html

  3. Jimmy J. Says:

    I could care less who Time might pick for “Man of the Year.” I don’t read the rag.

    But there is reason for caring because a lot of people do read it. And believe most of what they read.

    The problem is, as I see it, there aren’t enough middle of the road or conservative media outlets in this country. All points of view are well represented on the blogosphere, but not enough people read the blogosphere for it to have the kind of impact that some of these mass circulation publications have.

    In the U.S. it seems that about 30% are committed to the left wing philosophy and 30% are on the right. It is the 40% who are in the middle that actually move this country in one direction or another.

    Most of the MSM are tilted left. Some, such as the NYT, extremely left. It is difficult for the middle 40% to hear the other side of the story or even get a neutral point of view. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a new mass circulation publication dedicated to reporting only the facts in its news stories, but with a lively editorial page where both sides of issues were debated? Would it sell? I sure would like to see it tried.

  4. Ozyripus Says:

    njcommuter said:

    “They seem to raise fecklessness to a virtue . . . .”

    I have known many liberals in the academe and liberal-religious situations, and came to think there was an underlying cowardliness in avoiding choosing better from worse, from fighting for the better, much less entering the police or military where physical discomfort, again, much less danger, becomes a real possibility.

    But that didn’t seem the correct word, so to the New SOED:

    coward: noun. A person who shows unworthy fear in the face of danger, pain, or difficulty; a person with little or no courage. Heraldry. Of a lion or other animal: having the tail drawn in between the hind legs.

    But many liberals I’ve know — albeit a sample skewed to the upside of sixty — have been very courageous, effective people. So, back to the New SOED:

    fecklessness: adj. Feeble, futile, ineffective, aimless; irresponsible.

    njcommuter has an excellent sense for the correct word.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    neo, thank you for reminding me of why I canceled my Time subscription a few years ago, after 30 years of reading it.

    They periodically gong on me to renew (including at one juncture sending me the rag, unrequested, then billing me for it), but on each invoice I wrote, “Lose the reflexive anti-Americanism and then I’ll reconsider.”

    Probably doesn’t do any good, but it makes me feel better.

  6. Vanderleun Says:

    Without dentists’ and doctors’ offices, they’d be nothing.

  7. Mitsu Says:

    Petraeus is indeed an astute general, with a deep insight, and he ought to be praised indeed. On the other hand, had we gone into Iraq with more troops in the first place, as Shinseki had recommended, the situation in Iraq wouldn’t have deteriorated nearly as much as it has.

    Time and Newsweek have both been, in my view, relatively uninteresting and sub-par news organizations for many years now.

    As for the NYT being “left-wing” — that may be true in some ways, but you guys are probably forgetting that it was the NYT that published a long series of extremely pro-war articles by Judith Miller among others, which relayed disinformation coming from Chalabi and other bad intelligence promulgated by the White House with far more credulity than it deserved. The New York Times was responsible for a large amount of cheerleading in favor of going to war, based on bad information and lack of skepticism of very unreliable intelligence (of course, they weren’t alone in this in the runup to the war — though some more astute reporters did notice there was something fishy about the stories — for example, the fact that the same source would one day be reported to be a colonel, another day a general, another day a senior Iraqi civilian official, etc.)

  8. Vince P Says:

    Time Magazine used to be pretty good.

    Their website has archives that go back to the 1920s.

    I made a page on my website that shows all the reporting they did from 1922 to 1967 (that’s where I stopped)

    You can see back in the 20s and 30s Islam must have been in the news a lot. How said how much we forgotten in the past 50 years.

    Here is the link

    http://home.comcast.net/~vincep312/timemagislam.html

  9. Vince P Says:

    Opps i left out a word….

    I made a page on my website that shows all the reporting they did REGARDING ISLAM rom 1922 to 1967 (that’s where I stopped)

  10. Douglas Watts Says:

    Found those Iraqi WMDs yet ?

    Didn’t think so.

    This reminds me of what Howard Roark said to Gail Wynand in the Fountainhead:

    “Gail, how much lying to yourself are you capable of?”

  11. Vince P Says:

    You want to know about the WMD…

    Read the whole thing here. I hope you’ll stop asking the question now, now that you’ve been informed.

    http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=09F9FC90-1752-4965-8D02-D2EFD4FB112B

    FP: John Loftus, Dave Gaubatz and Ryan Mauro, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

    John Loftus, let us begin with you.

    Your volunteers at the IntelligenceSummit.org have been examining the secret documents captured from Saddam — and it appears that they have solved a large part of the mystery of Saddam’s missing WMDs. Correct?

    Loftus: Yes, now the truth is beginning to emerge. Saddam’s own secret files show that he was lying to the UN, year after year. He told the UN that Iraq had no more WMD after 1991, and would never start those WMD programs again. But his own secret records show that in 2001, 2002, and 2003, Saddam was repeatedly purchasing banned chemicals, covering up radiation leaks, and generally orchestrating a cover-up.

    Are the records genuine? We had NSA check the audiotapes to make sure it was Saddam’s own voiceprint. It is. Now, why would Saddam and his top aides record all those tapes year after year and hide the forgeries in secret vaults? There are three shelf miles of paper records. What is the point? These are secret internal records, it is not as if he was using them in public to fool the Iranians into thinking he had WMD. These records almost did not even make it onto the light of day. They were buried amid a forest of documents that might not have been reviewed for decades, if ever. I cannot think of any explanation but these are genuine secret archives of Saddam’s innermost feelings at his innermost meetings.

    Moreover, at the time people like Dave Gaubatz and John Shaw were putting their statements on the record about how the WMD ended up in Syria, they did not know that we would get circumstantial corroboration from Saddam’s own files. Statistically, this is beyond the realm of possibility of fabrication.

    Gaubatz: Thanks Jamie. My friend Mr. Loftus is the person who has inspired me to continue requesting our political leaders and the American public demand the truth about WMD be brought forward. There was a point in time when I had raised the flag indicating I surrender and can no longer fight the WMD cause further. Then I thought of the innocent children who would suffer the most during a terrorist attack in which WMD was used. I have obtained a second wind and want to inform everyone based on many years of working counter-intelligence, I left Iraq knowing WMD had indeed been buried, some had been transported out of Iraq directly before the war, and some has now been looted by our enemies.

    Are the records genuine as Mr. Loftus stated? The documents are genuine. In the last year I was informed by Federal Agents on the ground in Iraq, that many Iraqi sources who provided WMD intelligence to us in 2003, were subsequently kidnapped and killed for helping Americans.

    I want people to realize the war in Iraq is unlike any that our country has ever faced. There was chaos in 2003, and there is chaos in 2007. I do not mean to put fault on any one person for the failure to locate the WMD when we had the opportunity. Our leaders had the best intentions, but failed to properly review intelligence reports in a timely manner, and most were not acted upon. We are now suffering the consequences of not listening to the counter-intelligence officers on the ground and who was obtaining first-hand intelligence. In 2003 we reported the pending civil war between the Sunni and Shia Muslims. In pure Islam the Sunni Muslims consider Shia Muslims to be non-believers and apostates. The punishment for apostasy is death as described in Fiqh Us Sunnah. Fiqh Us Sunnah is in virtually every Sunni mosque in America. Our mapping team just left Florida. A prominent Islamic Scholar (Sunni) advised that all Shia people need to be
    killed in the U.S.

    The best way to solve the WMD mystery is to have all witnesses involved in either the search or excavations come before Congress and testify. This is when I will release names and contact information of the Iraqis who know first-hand about WMD and the Al Qaeda presence in Iraq well before 2003. Military agents will then be called forward.

    This issue is very easy to prove. Put all players before Congress, under oath. The truth will be revealed. Some will be hurt politically or their military careers will be damaged, but America will know the truth. The truth is the only thing that may have a remote chance of preventing another attack against our great country.

    Mauro: In 2006, particularly after pressure from the Intelligence Summit, the Bush Administration began declassifying some of the millions of documents that have been found in Iraq. Many of them were not translated due to the sheer volume of documents the U.S. possessed and how few reliable Arabic translators we have. These documents, as they were declassified, were put on the Internet where concerned citizens, fluent in Arabic, began translating them. Joseph Shahda and Ray Robison are two individuals who played a critical role in this. My only role was organizing and presenting them at the 2007 Intelligence Summit, and coupling it with the extensive open-source research I’ve done.

    However, this web site where the declassified documents were placed has been taken down. An Iraqi document with critical details on how to build a nuclear weapon was posted, and the government decided it was best to end this practice. As a result, millions of documents are not translated and analyzed, leaving a big gaping hole in our intelligence collection. Though the picture is incomplete, we have clear indications that Iraq, at the least, had the capabilities to produce WMD and was actively researching and expanding that capability. There is also evidence that WMD went to Syria.

  12. Ymarsakar Says:

    On the other hand, had we gone into Iraq with more troops in the first place, as Shinseki had recommended, the situation in Iraq wouldn’t have deteriorated nearly as much as it has.

    Is Shinseki and you therefore better (armchair) generals than Petraeus?

  13. Vince P Says:

    if we had an oppresively heavy footprint in iraq they would then be complaining about how much like NAZIs we are, and blamed the inevitible insurgancy on our simplistic notion of might = right.

  14. Mitsu Says:

    >therefore better (armchair) generals

    So now even actual generals are armchair generals to you guys?

    What’s so disheartening about reading comments like yours, Ymarsakar, is that you seem to be so wedded to the idea of your side always being right that you can never see even the possbility that any critics of your “side” can ever be right, no matter how overwhelming the evidence.

    >if we had an oppressively heavy footprint in iraq

    If we had had enough troops to begin with, we would have had a chance of preventing much of the unrest we’ve seen before it even began. Of course, it would also have been a huge benefit to have had much smarter tactics on the ground, which wasn’t about to happen while Rumsfeld was in charge. The insurgency would have still happened, of course, but on a much smaller scale, and we would have had far less reason to engage in tactics such as the Falluja incident, etc. So, I think you’re wrong, Vince P — it would have resulted in fewer accusations of brutality, etc., against our troops.

  15. Vince P Says:

    I’m wrong about speculation of an event that never happened?

    Sure.. what ever you say.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Mitsu: Please take a look at the comments section of this thread for a discussion of some of the issues you raise. There are some decent arguments advanced there for the position that more troops would not have been a good idea early on although they were a good idea later on. Another relevant point is that the so-called “surge” is not merely a matter of more troops—the increases involved are relatively small—but a change of tactics as well.

    That’s why I tend to put the word “surge” in scare quotes—the term itself indicates that the most important (and perhaps the only) change was in numbers. The increase in numbers was certainly vital; but the change of tactics was at least an equal factor, if not a greater one.

  17. Occam's Beard Says:

    Mitsu, any idea where I can get down a bet on last week’s NFL games?

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    So now even actual generals are armchair generals to you guys?

    Are you somehow trying to claim that Shinseki had the same combat command responsibility as Petraeus right now does or did as the commander of the 101st? I know you aren’t claiming this about yourself, but you are under the presumption, I assume, that Shinseki has made the same kind of decisions as Petraeus.

    Even if we assume such an erroneous view on the past is correct, it would still only mean that Shinseki made the wrong decisions while Petraeus made the right decisions given the fact that the success is occuring now under Petraeus and now under Shinseki, whatever Shinseki was over on.

    Ymarsakar, is that you seem to be so wedded to the idea of your side always being right

    I think you’re talking about yourself and all those generals that failed in Iraq and are now putting the grindestone to the axe.

    Petraeus is not on your side, yet you still behave as if your views about Petraeus are somehow compartible with your views on other generals, like Shinseki. Those beliefs are rather in conflict, have you not noticed?

    that any critics of your “side” can ever be right, no matter how overwhelming the evidence.

    The only evidence you have provided is that somehow you can see into alternate dimensions and state, with finality, what would have happened if things went the way you said they should have.

    Am I supposed to accept this “evidence”, Mitsu?

    which wasn’t about to happen while Rumsfeld was in charge.

    McCaffrey made the same point that you did here. He also praised Petraeus’ actions. The comment I made over at Belmont Club covers why General McCaffrey is operating on tunnel vision. Specifically, tunnel vision on how Rumsfeld was bad and they were right. Rumsfeld was not bad and they weren’t right.

    I’ll dig up the link later.

    and we would have had far less reason to engage in tactics such as the Falluja incident, etc.

    There is the belief that simply with a bigger hammer, the enemy won’t try and fight like they did in Fallujah. That’s an erroneous reading of human nature, of course, but that’s proto-typical of those with the wrong philosophy.

    Wars contain more than just your plans and reasons, Mitsu. It also contains the enemy’s reasons and plans. Any analysis in the midst of a war, before a war, or after a war must take into account the fog of war which means the fog of human liability and fallibility.

    The insurgency would have still happened, of course, but on a much smaller scale

    That simply demonstrates that regardless of how much you may praise Petraeus, you simply do not understand the reasons for his success. That is due to the fact that you have erroneous assumptions about what could have happened, what Rumsfeld did, and things like that.

    it would have resulted in fewer accusations of brutality, etc., against our troops.

    The idea that the international media and Al Qaeda would create less Blackwater deathblossom accussations, less Haditha civilian massacre accussations, and less Abu Ghraib masturbations if Bush had used 500,000 American troops, is an idea that is simply without sense.

    Do atrocities and mistakes become less frequent when you add more people into the pot? Do they? Does the enemy suddenly become more reasonable and say that it is no longer profitable to cry war crimes if there are two Americans instead of one in a particular neighborhood?

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    Which brings us to Time’s next in line, Petraeus. How very non-Americentric of them to place him almost as an afterthought. But Iraq, and our recent turnaround there, is of major consequence to the world, not just to the US—especially if it is allowed to go forward and to be built on further.

    Look, Neo. Petraeus is a puppet and carries Bush’s political water to the Left. There is no way the Times believes Petraeus is influential, because they don’t believe Petraeus is his own man. You can’t change such beliefs easily, as you know already.

    But Iraq, and our recent turnaround there, is of major consequence to the world, not just to the US—especially if it is allowed to go forward and to be built on further.

    Every war is meaningless and nothing but a cycle of violence. Thus how can any one man influence it either way?

    the gratitude of so many of the Iraqi people, and the satisfaction of tackling a very hard and important task and doing it well—work that is far from over, and that continues to be difficult and risky.

    You may or may not have heard this story from Blackfive, Neo, but Petraeus was shot in the chest, unarmored, at a live fire training exercise one time. He was touring the premises, presumably, when a soldier dropped his rifle and it fired off and into Petraeus. Now, normally, such a soldier would have found that his military career just died. Petraeus, on the other hand, recommended that soldier for the Rangers.

    # Occam’s Beard Says:
    December 23rd, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Mitsu, any idea where I can get down a bet on last week’s NFL games?

    Forget that, I want the next year’s NFL games. Let’s go to lottery numbers as well. There must be more than one alternate dimension with the same lottery number. Find the ones with the greatest repetition and I’ll use em.

    The oracle that can see into alternate dimensions also gets a cut, of course.

    There are some decent arguments advanced there for the position that more troops would not have been a good idea early on although they were a good idea later on.-Neo

    Numbers mean nothing without the right leadership, Neo. So long as the Army insisted on failed policies, strategies, and Rules of Engagement, nothing decisively productive will get done even with more people. Shinseki could not solve the Army’s problems. The Army’s problem was solved by learning from a mortal enemy, Al Qaeda. You can’t get that through bureacratic number crunches. No matter how well intentioned or how “if only we could have, we would have been…”.

    The increase in numbers was certainly vital

    Not to the Democrats that said we should have had more troops in Iraq in the first place. Then when Bush was actually going to increase the numbers, suddenly things were different. Suddenly the Democrat obstruction started failing to put the fog of war over on folks.

  20. Mitsu Says:

    Vince P: you were speculating that what would have happened if we had more troops would be people would have complained about our “heavy” presence, etc. In my opinion, you are incorrect. Obviously we’re both speculating here, I happen to think you’re wrong (note that I used the words “I think”). In my opinion, you’re wrong.

    Neo,

    Thanks for the reference. I looked at the thread. One commenter made the point that COIN would not have worked prior to 2006 because the local insurgents were not interested in cooperating with the American military at that time. My point is somewhat different — that a much heavier troop presence at the outset of the war would have prevented the initial insurgency from gaining nearly as much traction as it did, i.e., fending off the cooperation between enemy forces that existed in Iraq prior to 2006.

    I fully agree, of course, that Petraeus’ success is not due merely to numbers of troops, but to a set of counter-insurgency tactics which are far more intelligent than what was in place prior to this. In other words, I agree that without Petraeus’ tactics, the surge probably would have failed — note that the surge merely increased troop levels to a level where they were previously, and at that time it didn’t work, and now it is (though one should also note that Petraeus is benefitting from natural political evolution in Iraq, as Iraqis themselves are recoiling against the fundamentalists just as Iranians have in response to the hard liners there — i.e., it is partly Petraeus, partly just time).

    But I still think significantly greater troops, guided by intelligent generals on the field, would have made a big difference. We DO have experience dealing with similar situations — for example, Bosnia. What people don’t realize is that Shinseki didn’t pull his estimate out of his ass — it came from the troop densities used successfully in Bosnia and elsewhere. There were existing tactics and strategies we and other Western nations have used with success in volatile areas, which Shinseki had in mind (according to press reports) when he gave his estimate. Another interesting fact is that Petraeus’ COIN manual also specifies a very similar troop density to what was used in Bosnia, i.e., if you follow his manual, we should have had hundreds of thousands more troops in Iraq at the outset.

    The “surge” strategy has a lot of prongs, but one idea was that since we don’t have the troops to implement COIN across the whole of Iraq, he used the “surge” troops to implement greater troop density in a much smaller area, the most unstable parts of Baghdad. It’s a testament to his creativity and intelligence that he managed to fashion a strategy that is working, to some degree, in Baghdad, despite the fact that he’s working with far fewer troops than his own manual recommends.

    But I suppose my general point is that I think that even without a brilliant general like Petraeus in charge, we could have done a lot to prevent the breakdown of security in Iraq had we simply employed strategies and tactics we’ve used successfully elsewhere, which required much greater troop density. That is, Petraeus can pull off the surge with a small number of troops but lesser generals may have needed more. Further — I really do think Rumsfeld simply lacked the vision to plan and prepare adequately, and didn’t want to be ready to employ the civilian population control tactics we already knew how to do before COIN, because he believed that everything was going to be fine after the invasion, like most of the architects of the war.

    Finally, let me make another point regarding Falluja. The breakdown there was not sudden — it was precipitated by a number of events, including our killing of a number of peaceful demonstrators who were objecting to us commandeering a school for our troops. I believe if we had had a more troops, ironically, they may have felt less trigger happy and threatened, and incidents like that may have been averted. Naturally, this is just my speculation — but look at the success, for example, of increased police presence in, say, New York City — it has eventually led to a significant downward trend in crime in the city that has sustained itself, combined with lower tensions between police and minority communities. Of course, Bratton’s COMPSTAT had a lot to do with it, plus community policing and other similar tactics, but the point is that sometimes more “troops” (in this case, police) actually leads to less tension, not more.

  21. Gray Says:

    My point is somewhat different — that a much heavier troop presence at the outset of the war would have prevented the initial insurgency from gaining nearly as much traction as it did, i.e., fending off the cooperation between enemy forces that existed in Iraq prior to 2006.

    Alternatively, more troops might have just provided more targets of opportunity to the insurgents.

    Hey, Mitsu, do you think that modern troops line up shoulder to shoulder and shoot musket fusillades at the enemy?

    More conventional troops become a liability in fighting an insurgency. The reason the ‘surge’ is working is not that it is ‘more troops’ it’s because it is more troops performing unconventional warfare tactics.

    This is not something an army just learns overnight. Only a few troops ever go to counterinsurgent and unconventional warfare courses.

    Now we have the bulk of the Army performing those specialized and delicate missions.

    You don’t know anything about this….

    Shinseki was just sniping at the current leadership. He was one of our ‘affirmative action’ generals less qualified by his rather undistiguished career than by his ethnicity. Worthless….

    Yes, I am still enjoying my stupid Shinseki Black Beret that he took from the Ranger Battalions and gave to the undeserving, much like Shitsacki’s generalship.

    It is amusing to me to see the acronym “COIN” blythely tossed off the keyboard of an utter and complete neophyte

  22. Gray Says:

    I believe if we had had a more troops, ironically, they may have felt less trigger happy and threatened, and incidents like that may have been averted.

    It took a while, but there it is:

    The Old Blood Libel against American troops.

  23. Mitsu Says:

    Gray, are you even aware that Petraeus’ own COIN manual specifies troop densities similar to those recommended by Shinseki?

  24. Gray Says:

    You’re not actually going to try to compare Kosovo to Iraq, are you?

    In Kosovo, we were arming and training the insurgents.

  25. Vince P Says:

    Mitsu 12/23/2007 2:34 PM
    Gray, are you even aware that Petraeus’ own COIN manual specifies troop densities similar to those recommended by Shinseki?

    You did the parts where people have said that it wasn’t troop numbers alone that made the difference.. it was the their entire force posture.

  26. Occam's Beard Says:

    Miscalculations, missed opportunities, flawed doctrine, strategy, and tactics necessitating changes in leadership, lots of “firsts” in the history of warfare here. Wars usually proceed so smoothly, with initial plans crisply implemented on the expected timetable, aided in part by the eagerness of the enemy to cooperate and their inability to change their strategy and tactics.

    My God this is tiresome. Even if Shinseki were 100% correct back when and should have had his advice implemented (which, following Gray, I do not concede), it’s irrelevant now. Read, e.g., Bruce Catton’s history of the Civil War to gain some perspective on how a war can be really screwed up, again by a Republican.

  27. Gray Says:

    My God this is tiresome. Even if Shinseki were 100% correct back when and should have had his advice implemented (which, following Gray, I do not concede), it’s irrelevant now.

    The simple fact was that we did not have enough troops in uniform to send the number of troops Shinseki called for!

    His call for ‘more troops’ was wholly political and disingenuous:

    If we gave every cook, clerk and 98lb female truckdriver an M-4 and pointed them toward the enemy, we would not have enough troops.

    Shinseki was calling for a draft for political reasons, not advocating a ‘troop density’….

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    that a much heavier troop presence at the outset of the war would have prevented the initial insurgency from gaining nearly as much traction as it did, i.e., fending off the cooperation between enemy forces that existed in Iraq prior to 2006.

    How exactly was Shinseki planning on separating the Baathist insurgency from foreign jihadists?

    I agree that without Petraeus’ tactics, the surge probably would have failed

    And yet you see no conflict in believing that if we had done as Shinseki wanted, things would now be even better than it is, when Shinseki had no ability or willingness to engage in counter-insurgency.

    note that the surge merely increased troop levels to a level where they were previously

    Two brigades reinforced Al Anbar to bolster the Sunni Awakening Council and the US brigades in Baghdad were doubled due to the fact that he who controls the capital controls the nation.

    though one should also note that Petraeus is benefitting from natural political evolution in Iraq

    All politics are local. There is nothing natural or evolutionary about politics. It does not “naturally” get better or worse. It just reflects what people are, good and bad, wise and foolish.

    But I still think significantly greater troops, guided by intelligent generals on the field, would have made a big difference.

    When war is a game where we can see the tactical, strategic, logistical, and loyalty traits of any allied and enemy general, then maybe we can make use of what you said here.

    We DO have experience dealing with similar situations — for example, Bosnia.

    No way, not even close.

    Have you heard the stories coming from Bosnia US peacekeepers?

    What people don’t realize is that Shinseki didn’t pull his estimate out of his ass — it came from the troop densities used successfully in Bosnia and elsewhere.

    And how long are we in Bosnia? Iraq needs to be taken care of and then used as a logistical base to launch new attacks. It is a totally different mission than saving Europe’s bacon, again, in Bosnia.

    which Shinseki had in mind (according to press reports) when he gave his estimate.

    AQ would rip his forces apart if he tried fighting Bosnia over again.

    Another interesting fact is that Petraeus’ COIN manual also specifies a very similar troop density to what was used in Bosnia, i.e., if you follow his manual, we should have had hundreds of thousands more troops in Iraq at the outset.

    Which section are the book are you trying to refer to?

    I believe if we had had a more troops, ironically, they may have felt less trigger happy and threatened,

    To believe that Arabs will act wiser because you have more Americans standing around is a gross distortion of Arab character and pride.

    but the point is that sometimes more “troops” (in this case, police) actually leads to less tension, not more.

    You’re still doing the armchair general trick of traveling back in time and trying to fix something with what you learned from a completely different timeline.

    Useless, irrelevant, and pointless even if you could do it well.

    None of what you say, write, or believe will ever be of use against current or future US enemies.

    Bosnia’s a UN designed disaster. The UN got themselves kicked out of Iraq when their HQ was bombed. Who knows whether the locals cheered the removal of the UN sex for food cliques.

    None of that should be repeated for Iraq.

    Your desire for more bodies is similar to your desire for international allies, Mitsu. It all rests upon the same belief that problems are solved by putting a bigger hammer on it. Or in your case, a greater and larger confederation of people/allies/organizations.

    I have a different philosophy about fighting conventional and irregular forces.

    # Mitsu Says:
    December 23rd, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Gray, are you even aware that Petraeus’ own COIN manual specifies troop densities similar to those recommended by Shinseki?

    War isn’t about “reading a manual”, Mitsu. Don’t you know that by now? Shinseki could quote Petraeus’ own words 24 hour/7, but Shinseki will still bungle leadership and warfare when it is time to put the steel to the fire.

    Gray, folks over at blackfive and some other sites were seriously pissed about that decision with the brevets.

  29. Gray Says:

    Gray, folks over at blackfive and some other sites were seriously pissed about that decision with the brevets.

    With the berets? Yeah, I know. I was one of them….

    The only upside turned out to be that the Rangers really, really like the new tan berets, and they are striking.

    The rest of the Army looks like crap–like chefs, or Frenchmen–even a lot of the senior officers don’t know how to form and wear a beret.

    Good ol’ Shitsacki….

  30. nyomythus Says:

    For those who consistently rock, we salute you!! …or how ever the song goes =D

  31. Richard Aubrey Says:

    It is both unfortunate and a bit dirty to entertain the following speculation:

    The Iraqi people, especially the Sunnis, would not have “awakened” to help our side and their government, if they had not had a full dose and more of the insurgents.

    It takes a good deal to overcome nationalism, religious solidarity, opposition to female soldiers (one Iraqi was quoted as saying the Americans brought women soldiers to humiliate Iraqi men), ethnic identity, language commonality, and other factors. If al Q and other insurgents had not had time to torture, kill, rape, bully, and rob Iraqi civilians wholesale, we would not be in our current favorable situation.

    So, whether on purpose or by accident, the post Golden Mosque-bombing chaos worked to our advantage.

    I half subscribe to this. It does take a deal of work to get some people’s attention. It is not for nothing that five-hundred pound bombs were referred to as “Serbian hearing aids.”

  32. Vince P Says:

    Richard:

    I agree with what you said.. I thought the same thing myserlf

    Plus, i hope we’ve shown ourselves to be honorable and trustworthy (at least our miitary.. cant say the same for our treacherous govt) and that the Sunnis and Shiias will remember our conduct and our sacrtifice on their behalf for a long time.

    Which is what really pisses me off about the Dems… all this hard work wer’re doign and if it ends badly becaue someone wanted to win a senate seat who knows what the price to pay will be

  33. Gray Says:

    Y’know, I wish ‘Truth’ would come back. We were starting to build a rapport and I would like to hear his views on this.

    Seriously–as an arab, I’d like to see his take on some of these things.

    The best one I heard recently was:

    “There are many tribes in Iraq, and now you have become the Al Ameriki tribe, the most powerful tribe of all.”

    That’s how you win respect, but it’s a two-edged scimitar: You’re still locked in the tribal system….

  34. Vince P Says:

    Truth is an Arab? I should have figured.

  35. Gray Says:

    Syrian, I think, based on his responses. I asked him, but he never confirmed, nor denied it.

  36. Truth Says:

    Richard Aubrey,
    opposition to female soldiers (one Iraqi was quoted as saying the Americans brought women soldiers to humiliate Iraqi men),

    Richard, I don’t know how much you know about Iraq?
    Are your words from media? Or from other sources?

    Just to say Iraq was the top of 3rd world list in early 1980 there were Iraqi women in within police department and most Iraqi women working side by side with men in Iraq, this not new it’s started from 1050 and I can say before when Iraq women inter universities and collages. while most other countries around Iraq behind Iraq in all aspects includes the women rights, sadly those who come with US and supported by US in Iraq (specially Iranian background and supported/Mullah) or open minded but corrupted folks like Ahmad Chalabi these sort of people who put US on the wrong tack in Iraq they trying to drive the wheels back, hope they will fail.

    Please read this from old days of (corrupted) Sheikh Paul Bremer III

    The Iraqi Governing Council Attacks Women’s Rights


    In summer 2003, L. Paul Bremer, the top administrator of the US occupation, assembled the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), described by The Washington Post as, “a body that will cooperate with [the occupation] and support policies that are generally in line with US interests.”4 The members of the IGC were hand–picked by Bremer, who retained final veto over the Council’s decisions. Among those who Bremer appointed were Islamists who openly declared their intent to restrict women’s rights.5 These same men are the architects of Iraq’s civil war. One of the first acts of the US–installed IGC was a harbinger of things to come: the Council replaced Iraq’s observance of International Women’s Day on March 8 with a celebration of the birthday of the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.


    Then, on December 29, 2003, the IGC held a quasi–secret vote to replace Iraq’s 1959 family law—among the most progressive in the region. The family law (also referred to as the personal status law) was enacted in 1959 by the left–leaning government of Abd Al Karim Qasim, who was later overthrown by the Ba’athists (with support from the United States). According to Huibin Amee Chew, “Aspects of the progressive family law persisted until the eve of the US invasion, when Iraq still remained exceptional in the region. Divorce cases were to be heard only in civil courts, polygamy was outlawed unless the first wife consented, and women divorcees had an equal right to custody over their children. Women’s income was recognized as independent from their husbands’.”6 The law also restricted child marriage and granted women and men equal shares of inheritance.7

    Apologies being out topic but just to correct some info here

  37. Mitsu Says:

    Whatever you may think of Shinseki or Petraeus, the point is it is not as though Rumsfeld or the politicak leadership chose some alternative tactics for containing the insurgency over what we have done in prior conflicts; it’s not as though they thought fewer troops would be enough and Shinseki and others thought we needed more: it’s that they thought things would be stable relatively quickly after the war. They were clearly wrong on that score, as we have all seen.

  38. Mitsu Says:

    politicak -> political

    in other words, the reason we had the troop levels we had was Rumsfeld wanted to prove his lightweight, air-centric approach would work in Iraq. He didn’t think the postwar would look anything like it has. To me, that was by far the biggest error of the war.

  39. Truth Says:

    It indeed does turn the troops in a wasteful and wasted invasion and war, ordered by a wasteful, thoughtless administration of gamblers and schemers who had no hesitation about spilling other people’s blood, into hostages. Realistically, for an administration that was, until now, unfazed by the crisis at Walter Reed, this is nothing but building your politics on the backs of the dead, the maimed, and the psychologically distraught or destroyed.

    As the Iranians in 1979 took American diplomats hostage, so in 2007 the top officials of the Bush administration, including the President and Vice President, have taken our troops hostage and made them stand-ins and convenient excuses for failed policies for which they must continue to die. Someone should break out those yellow ribbons. Our troops need to be released, without a further cent of ransom being paid, and brought home as soon as possible.

    Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com

    Petraeus “Person of the Year?”
    Yes, he will be when he finishes his job by saving US face from a wasteful and wasted invasion, manmade disastrous war.

  40. Gray Says:

    it’s not as though they thought fewer troops would be enough and Shinseki and others thought we needed more: it’s that they thought things would be stable relatively quickly after the war. They were clearly wrong on that score, as we have all seen.

    Man, look at him pick up those goal posts and go!

    No, it is as though they though fewer troops would be enough and Shinseki and others though we needed more….

    We have defined military disasters down. Things have gone very, very well in Iraq in comparison to any other campaign in history!

    I’ll bet Mitsu would have been calling for Eisenhower and Bradley to resign after The Battle of the Bulge:

    “How could they let a ‘bulge’ form? Why aren’t there more troops? Why didn’t they have winter clothes and more armor? Why didn’t our allies help more? Why wasn’t there enough food or ammunition? Why-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi!”

    Y’know, you’ve never even warn a uniform: Shut the hell up, quit second-guessing the experts and learn some military history.

    This is as good as it gets and it could be a hell of a lot worse….

  41. Vince P Says:

    Truth: Why do you hate Arab freedom so much?

  42. Gray Says:

    Yes, he will be when he finishes his job by saving US face from a wasteful and wasted invasion, manmade disastrous war.

    So, ‘Truth’, how long should we have enforced the sanctions on Iraq? Forever?

    It’s not about ‘saving face’. We’re not arabs, we don’t even understand that kind of thing in America.

    If we actually were fighting a war to ‘save face’, we would be respected and feared…..

  43. Gray Says:

    Truth: Why do you hate Arab freedom so much?

    ‘Cuz he’s a relatively privileged Syrian with an internet connection and he knows that if Iraq gains freedom, the crack down will come in Syria to prevent any such thing there.

    US Success in Iraq would make his life hard as the Syrian hardliners cracked down….

    Besides, there is no such thing as ‘arab freedom’ in the Middle East, there is only ‘my freedom’.

  44. Occam's Beard Says:

    They were clearly wrong on that score, as we have all seen.

    All right, for Christ’s sake, Mitsu, they were wrong. WRONG! They were not PERFECT!

    Happy now?

    In the words of the communist fellow-travelers, move on.

  45. Mitsu Says:

    >this is as good as it gets

    What a joke… it’s one thing to dispute strategic and tactical analysis, but to suggest that even the best strategists have done everything as well as possible is ludicrous on its face.

    Many people, both in uniform and not, thought the neocon predictions of postwar stability were pipe dreams. I was hardly the only one who thought so. Now that we turned out to be right, we’re accused of “second guessing” the “professionals”? That’s pretty amusing, Gray. Whether we are right or wrong, I guess you will always be a cheerleader for whatever your side did, no matter how clear the evidence of a mistake.

    On my side, however, I both admit mistakes and criticize faults. The surge: a mistake to have opposed it. Overly quick withdrawal: also a mistake. Has your side ever made a mistake? Clearly not in your brain.

  46. Mitsu Says:

    Occam,

    I am not trying to get into a childish battle of one side vs the other here. I do disagree with the architects of this war on many fronts, but what really depresses me is the fact that we can’t debate reasonably about it, because no one is ever willing to admit making a mistake, for fear it makes them seem weak. To me, we’re all Americans and we should be trying to discuss everything openly. I don’t think Republicans are always wrong any more than I think Democrats are always right. It seems to me we’re stronger when we all admit mistakes on either side. Maybe that makes me the crazy one in this charged political climate today.

  47. Gray Says:

    Many people, both in uniform and not, thought the neocon predictions of postwar stability were pipe dreams.

    Later:

    I am not trying to get into a childish battle of one side vs the other here.

    No, Mitsu, of course you’re not….

    You predicted defeat, expected defeat, sought defeat and then you claimed defeat in spite of any and all evidence of success.

    “A foolish consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds” –Emerson.

    And you have been so veryconsistant!

    Iraq is already won, this is the post-mortem.

  48. Truth Says:

    Truth: Why do you hate Arab freedom so much?

    Hah

    Go after Al-Saudi, or Bin Maktum, or Al-Thani, Mubarak, Abdullah II, or in Morocco the best your new friend and allies Qadaffi

    Free those Arabs go after those ………PLEASE………

  49. neo-neocon Says:

    Mitsu: I think we are debating (relatively) reasonably about it—especially for the blogosphere.

    I also think the thing that annoys people when someone says “mistakes were made” about a military campaign is that mistakes are part and parcel of virtually every military campaign. Big mistakes. And one can always imagine it would have been better if we had done this and this and that instead of what actually happened.

    One cannot be perfectionistic about war; it’s exceedingly unrealistic to expect that mistakes won’t happen, and that they won’t be costly. It is always possible (and relatively safe) to say a certain alternative would have been better, because we cannot go back and see whether that’s correct or incorrect. We can only go forward.

    We can definitely learn from our mistakes, and we need to discuss mistakes for that reason. I, for instance, have said for quite some time that I think the way the looters were treated right at the beginning was a mistake and set a tone of chaos and free-for-all, and the way al Sadr was allowed to flourish was a mistake. But I reluctantly accept that many mistakes are always made in wartime, even though I wish it were otherwise.

  50. Gray Says:

    We can definitely learn from our mistakes, and we need to discuss mistakes for that reason. I, for instance, have said for quite some time that I think the way the looters were treated right at the beginning was a mistake and set a tone of chaos and free-for-all,

    NY Times:

    “Father of 5 shot in cold blood by American troops for a loaf of bread. “This is worse than Saddam, maybe Al Qaeda can protect us!” Said an arab source we made up.”

    The ‘antiquities looting’ turned out to be a hoax. They were sold off by the museums….

    and the way al Sadr was allowed to flourish was a mistake. But I reluctantly accept that many mistakes are always made in wartime, even though I wish it were otherwise.”

    Washington Post:

    “Rumsfeld is preparing for a lengthy and brutal post-invasion insurgency conflict. “Arabs are not capable of self-governance and can only live under oppression, it’s their nature.” said a Pentagon official we made up. “Americans cannot win a counterinsurgent war without a basquillion troops in the field.” Said some old lefty peacetime general.”

    I think we played Sadr perfectly by squeezing until he ran off to Iran and lost support. Cracking down would only have created a new cause to rally around.

    The only ‘mistake’ we make in considering Iraq is thinking like a Westerner…..

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    Gray: I am not referring to the “antiquities looting,” which I know was not at all the big deal it was cracked up to be. I believe, actually, most of the antiquities were not sold off but were stored in advance by the museum staff. It was, however, a period of other generalized looting and lawlessness.

    And I respectfully disagree with you on al Sadr. From what I read, initially he didn’t seem to have a whole lot of support, and “cracking down” would probably not have caused all that much trouble at the very beginning of his ascent.

  52. Mitsu Says:

    Neo,

    Well, each participant here is debating in a somewhat different way — at least Occam, for example, is willing to admit that we made mistakes (as are, in fact, most neocons at this point), but Gray says things like “This is as good as it gets” — as though he’s unwilling to ever admit that his “side” ever made any mistakes at all! To me, it’s reasonable to claim, as you do, that mistakes are inevitable in war, but it’s not reasonable to suggest that we’re handled things as well as we could have.

    If (some of us) can at least admit that “mistakes were made” (I find the passive voice here somewhat odd, however, as though mistakes just happened, like acts of God, committed by no one in particular…) the question then comes down to whether these mistakes were foreseeable and preventable. I would argue that the mistake of thinking the postwar situation would be relatively stable without a serious deployment of troops and a serious effort to stabilize the situation, a la Bosnia and many other previous situations (counter-insurgency isn’t something that Petraeus invented, after all — while he certainly seems to have improved upon what we knew before, we could have employed what we did know how to do, much sooner)…. I would argue that this mistake was a fairly major, blatant one, one which many armchair generals AND real generals, and military analysts, and so forth, all did think, before the war, was likely to be a major problem.

    I read an article, for example, prior to the war, which was about the frustrations of some civilian planners in our government who had been trying to put into place postwar reconstruction and stabilization plans — the Administration thwarted this, because they were worried that talking about the costs of the post-war period would make people worried that there was more risk to going to war than they thought there was. Essentially, we actually prevented people with expertise in reconstruction planning from doing their jobs, because we wanted to push the idea that the post-war was going to be easy. When I read that article I knew it was going to be a big problem, and so did many other people — and we were right.

    So yes, of course, war is a messy business and no one can possibly expect it to always go perfectly. But I think fairly strong arguments can be made that this particular war was planned and executed far worse than it should have been, because of blind spots among the planners, which reflect poorly, in my view, on their political and strategic judgement.

    However — this is not to say, again, that I think Republicans are always wrong — as I keep saying, I really do agree with the thrust of your post that Petraeus deserves a lot of praise and recognition. I was embarrassed and annoyed at the infantile “Petraeus Betray-Us” MoveOn ad — how ridiculous was that? It represented, to me, exactly the sort of asinine political posturing that I think is dragging this country down.

    I think as Americans we need to debate, fight, disagree, etc… but do so together, because we are all trying to find the best strategy, together. Sometimes one side will be right sometimes another, but we’ll all Americans in the end.

  53. Gray Says:

    Go after Al-Saudi, or Bin Maktum, or Al-Thani, Mubarak, Abdullah II, or in Morocco the best your new friend and allies Qadaffi

    Free those Arabs go after those ………PLEASE………

    Truth makes a point there: The only opposition to those leaders are from the Islamic radicals.

    However, are Arabs capable of nothing? Is it Arab nature to live under strongmen or Mullahs?

    Unfortunately, the strongmen are nominally more pro-US than the Mullahs. Did we interfere in ‘Arab Politics’ too little?

    Who will be the next Ataturk in the name of Arab self-reliance and secular government?

    Hopefully Iraq can provide a model.

  54. Gray Says:

    And I respectfully disagree with you on al Sadr. From what I read, initially he didn’t seem to have a whole lot of support, and “cracking down” would probably not have caused all that much trouble at the very beginning of his ascent.

    I dunno…. I thought his father’s mantle was passed on to him: “Sadr City” slum and all that. They were always an insurgency waiting for a cause.

    I think that “cracking down” would have looked a lot like what Saddam did to them. We didn’t want to go there. If we erred, then we erred on the side of self-determination.

  55. Gray Says:

    However — this is not to say, again, that I think Republicans are always wrong — as I keep saying, I really do agree with the thrust of your post that Petraeus deserves a lot of praise and recognition

    How odd…. I was unaware that Petraeus was a Republican.

    I think as Americans we need to debate, fight, disagree, etc… but do so together, because we are all trying to find the best strategy, together. Sometimes one side will be right sometimes another, but we’ll all Americans in the end.

    Insh’allah.

  56. Occam's Beard Says:

    Thank you, neo, for a temperate exegesis of my point.

    I’d thought that my references to previous wars, and particularly our Civil War, would bring home the point that wars invariably entail lots of mistakes; indeed, if one side makes no mistakes, then the other clearly made a multitude. But apparently those references were insufficiently direct.

  57. Gray Says:

    To continue, Mitsu:

    But I think fairly strong arguments can be made that this particular war was planned and executed far worse than it should have been

    Do you have any idea what ‘far worse’ would really look like? I mean, really?

  58. Mitsu Says:

    >I was unaware that Petraeus was a Republican

    I am referring to the fact that Petraeus was elevated by our military while Republicans are in control of the White House and therefore the Commander-In-Chief is a Republican — and, I think we can all agree that Republicans are pointing to Petraeus as evidence that their policy may finally be turning around. Democrats, of course, also have been reasonably supportive of Petraeus, but groups like MoveOn have attacked him unreasonably.

    Whether Petraeus himself is a Democrat or a Republican obviously none of us know and I’m glad we don’t. My father was an officer in the Air Force and he says that many officers avoid talking about their political affiliation until they leave the service, because they think their role ought to be to execute the policy of the civilian government, and not to be too overtly political while they are doing their jobs. Though I think of course military people are entitled to their political views and should express them if they wish — I’m glad there is this general tradition amongst some officers, at least, to avoid declaring their political affiliation while they are serving.

  59. Mitsu Says:

    >Do you have any idea what “far worse” would really look like?

    I’m not suggesting that what we’ve done so far is the *worst* it could possibly be. I am simply arguing we could have done better, and not only this, but it’s not as though some of the mistakes we made were not foreseeable at all.

  60. Occam's Beard Says:

    We could have done far worse in the war on terror. If you want to contemplate real mistakes, reflect on the fact that we could have had a Democrat in office on 9/11, in which case we’d all be well-advised to be working on our Arabic right now. Fortunately, we had grownups running things then, and now. Not perfect grownups, Mitsu, but grownups. In contradistinction to contemporary Democrats, whom I wouldn’t trust to run a school board.

  61. Gray Says:

    My father was an officer in the Air Force and he says that many officers avoid talking about their political affiliation until they leave the service

    That’s true. There is no part in military service for partisan politics.

    That is why I am so disgusted by the retired generals shooting off their mouths and second-guessing serving generals.

    As the son of an officer, you’ve pretty much been traumatized by the military. I got off active duty before I ever even thought of having a family.

    Then I joined the Guard “part time” and started working for a defense contractor full time. I hope I am not traumatizing my family, I’m gone a lot.

    I hope my little son never figures out that I’m in the military….

  62. Gray Says:

    I am simply arguing we could have done better, and not only this, but it’s not as though some of the mistakes we made were not foreseeable at all.

    I’m not even sure the things you’ve cited were mistakes.

    There was a sure way to prevent a ‘civil war’ or an ‘insurgent war’ in Iraq. I’m sure you can guess what that sure way was….

  63. Mitsu Says:

    >Not perfect grownups, Mitsu, but grownups

    We just disagree on this, Occam. I think, as Richard Clarke has said, Clinton did a good job with counter-terrorism efforts during his Administration, and it took about a year before the Bush Administration got their act in gear. I can’t totally fault them for that —- there’s bound to be some disarray at the outset of a new Administration, but I personally believe had Gore won and we had had continuity in our anti-terror efforts, I think it is conceivable we may have even stopped 9/11. We had FBI field officers who were aware of parts of Al Qaeda’s actions, as you know.

    I am quite sure you’ll vehemently disagree with that as well, and I don’t want to get into endless debates about the past, but I did want to at least express that view.

    >traumatized

    I am proud my father was in the military, frankly, but he retired from the service as a young man so it didn’t affect me, except to the extent that my family has always had an interest in military affairs, as a result. (We have a long history of that, since back in Japan, before we came to the United States, my family was actually from the samurai class). So, unlike some “liberals” (and I’m not even sure I completely like to call myself a “liberal” since I disagree with them on a number of fronts, mostly in terms of economic and sometimes military policy) I am quite sympathetic to the military and the tough job they do for us.

  64. Gray Says:

    We just disagree on this, Occam. I think, as Richard Clarke has said, Clinton did a good job with counter-terrorism efforts during his Administration

    The First World Trade Center Bombing
    Khobar Towers
    Kenyan and Tanzanian Embassies
    “Blackhawk Down”
    USS Cole

    and ultimately, 9/11.

    I would say that there certainly was a continuity of counterterrorism policy from Clinton to Bush.

    As far as Algore goes: would he wear a turban and mufti on his first or second address to the nation after 9/11?

  65. Occam's Beard Says:

    I think, as Richard Clarke has said, Clinton did a good job with counter-terrorism efforts during his Administration, and it took about a year before the Bush Administration got their act in gear. I can’t totally fault them for that —- there’s bound to be some disarray at the outset of a new Administration, but I personally believe had Gore won and we had had continuity in our anti-terror efforts, I think it is conceivable we may have even stopped 9/11.

    Clinton by any reasonable account did an appallingly bad job against terrorism, to wit, nothing. Getting BJs, his salient accomplishment in the White House, didn’t do a thing against terrorism, any more than did blowing up a few jungle gyms. His dereliction of duty was criminal. (Catching the would-be millennium bomber was pure luck, since the clown freaked at a border crossing, so no props there.)

    Gore has more than a little blame for the disarray of the nascent Bush Admiinistration, which lost six weeks of preparation fighting that a-hole (for whom I voted, btw). Had Gore mustered more statesmanship and/or more control over his unfounded amibtion, there’s a better chance we would have found/dealt with the 9/11 conspirators in time.

  66. Mitsu Says:

    >there certainly was a continuity

    Funny. But seriously — after the first WTC attack and Khobar Towers, Clinton put the government on an anti-terror footing. Part of the untold story about Bosnia is that Al Qaeda was attempting to use it to gain a foothold there — the Clinton Administration thwarted them there. He bombed the Iraqi intelligence headquarters after they attempted to assassinate Bush Sr. He put the government on alert in 1999 which helped to prevent two domestic terror attacks planned for the millennium, and dramatically increased counterterrorism funding.

    Sure, maybe he should have done more, but had the same focus been applied in 2001 that we applied in 1999 to stop two terror attacks then, who knows. Might not have stopped 9/11 but it would have been better than what we were doing, which was basically nothing, that year. Admittedly, a few days before 9/11, the Bush Administration did conclude their review of Clinton’s plan to attack Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and decided to expand the plan from what Clinton had proposed — but during that year-long review, they were pretty much in stasis, and had actually deemphasized the anti-terror effort until just before 9/11.

  67. Mitsu Says:

    Occam,

    The objective record is quite the opposite. Clinton did quite a bit to combat terrorism during his Administration — this is well known, undisputed fact by either side. He dramatically ramped up funding for anti-terror, helped to stop at least two domestic terror attacks, carried out a variety of bombing operations, and when Bush won specifically emphasized to him the danger from Osama bin Laden. Most of all he elevated anti-terror operations to Cabinet level attention on numerous occasions. Bush did this, of course — but not for a year after he took office, after they had done a skeptical review of Clinton’s plans against Osama bin Laden.

  68. Mitsu Says:

    Correction: One of the millennium terror attacks Clinton helped to stop was to be against Americans in Jordan.

  69. Vince P Says:

    Clinton did worse than nothing… he did something inscifinetly
    In the 90s , the taliban and AQ were not really so chummy with each other… somehow AQ managed to talk its way into afghanistan and the taliban, as it took over more of the country, more or less tolerated AQs prescene.

    The Taliban wanted to truely create a pure islamic state there and did not want the attention and distrcation that AQ’s activities were provoking.

    in 98 negotionations were going on between Washington and Taliban about handing Bin Ladin over.

    Then the two embassies got blown up.

    Clinton, to distract from his grand jury testimony, lobbed a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan.

    This angered the Taliban and then forged the alliance between th e Taliban and AQ.. Taliban told AQ it could do whatever it wants

    Clinton should have just his cock busy and done nothing,,, instead of doing something that only served to hardened our enemies while doing them no harm.

  70. Vince P Says:

    >Mitsu Says:

    December 24th, 2007 at 12:50 am
    Correction: One of the millennium terror attacks Clinton helped to stop was to be against Americans in Jordan.

    Clinton had F-all to do with that… a border guard doing her job extremely well did.

  71. Vince P Says:

    oops i didn’t run my last long message through spell check.. sorrry

  72. Mitsu Says:

    >border guard

    That’s not true; you’re thinking of the LAX attack. The attack foiled in Jordan was in fact due to an extensive effort by many intelligence agencies, including efforts by the Clinton Administration.

  73. Paul Gordon Says:

    Neo:

    Can you please fix “the Petraeus manual” link?

    It is pointing to the same NYT Al Gore link as the “even the New York Times acknowledges” link.

    Thank you.

  74. neo-neocon Says:

    Paul Gordon:

    Done. Thanks.

  75. Occam's Beard Says:

    Clinton did quite a bit to combat terrorism during his Administration — this is well known, undisputed fact by either side.

    It’s nothing of the kind, since it’s simply untrue. The only thing he did was to make sure there were no terrorists under his desk in the White House, because there wasn’t room.

    He dramatically ramped up funding for anti-terror,

    Wow, he increased funding. Whoohoo! (You do know that Congress, not the President, allocates money, right?) What did he do with the funding?

    …helped to stop at least two domestic terror attacks,

    “helped,” the classic weasel word from advertising (“Helps to build strong bones twelve ways”), commonly used by ad execs because it’s impossible to disprove. He didn’t do squat; the LAX millennium bomber was foiled through his own incompetence and the astuteness of a Customs agent.

    Never mind that the 9/11 attacks were planned, practiced, and the agents put in place, all on his watch. I’m not saying he could have done anything about it, but don’t say he did. He didn’t.

    carried out a variety of bombing operations, >/b>

    Yessirree, the terrorist will never use those jungle gyms again.

    and when Bush won specifically emphasized to him the danger from Osama bin Laden.

    You’re kidding, right?

    “Uh, George, look out for Osama bin Laden. He’s not good folks.”

    “Thanks for the tip, Bill. Where do I find him? How can we penetrate his networks? What does intel say about his intentions? What’s he going to do, specifically, and when?”

    “Dunno, George, but you’ve been warned. Gotta run, my term ends today. I got some wealthy felons to pardon. Presidential libraries don’t come cheap, you know.”

    Most of all he elevated anti-terror operations to Cabinet level attention on numerous occasions.

    Wow, I bet they had to print up new stationery. That’s really doing something against terrorism. What’s the next step – drafting a strongly worded letter to bin Laden, or appointing a blue ribbon panel to investigate his attacks?

    Sheesh.

  76. Thomas Says:

    Mitsu Says:

    December 23rd, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    “My point is somewhat different — that a much heavier troop presence at the outset of the war would have prevented the initial insurgency from gaining nearly as much traction”

    We know. But we are skeptical. Maybe you are right, but maybe not… Other armies have had larger say ‘per capita’ occupation forces and still had problems like we had in Iraq. See the French Algerian war…

    Also, even though most of the insurgency was Iraqi, most of our problems were caused by outsiders (re: constant bombing of civilians). I’m not sure staving off the local insurgency (and/or more troops) would have stopped foreign extremists.

    We’ve sort of gone full circle now and this is probably what we needed. Local support helped stop them. To get to having the necessary level of local support the locals had to.. unfortunately… give violence a try and decide for themselves it didn’t work / pay. Now instead of working with foreign extremists, they shoot them or tell us where they are. They’re tired of having Shia markets bombed by outside Sunnis trying to start a regional war… and then being retaliated against.

    In other wars, getting to this point is done up front. A national army stands and fights… and when it looses (and/or has many of those who want to fight… die… in the initial conflict) the country in question gives up (along with those who wanted to fight but saw it was futile while on the front). Didn’t happen in Iraq… and that was probably the root cause. More troops may have simply been more targets until the Iraqis reached this point.

  77. Mitsu Says:

    Occam,

    Again you’re missing the undisputed success in which they stopped the attack in Jordan. As for your other snide comments regarding Clinton’s anti-terror efforts, whatever. It’s pretty obvious you’re predisposed to judging him negatively regardless of what he did, so there’s not much point in discussing his record objectively.

    It is certainly the case that the Bush Administration de-emphasized terror during their first year in office. Rice was more concerned with Russia and other state-level diplomatic issues, and the irony is, they were even talking about relaxing the sanctions on Iraq! 9/11 changed everything, but I think by any objective standards the pre-9/11 Clinton White House was far more on the ball when it came to fighting terror than Bush was. So, no, I am NOT glad Bush was in office on 9/11. As I’ve said before, if Gore had been in office there may not have been a 9/11.

  78. Gray Says:

    As for your other snide comments regarding Clinton’s anti-terror efforts, whatever. It’s pretty obvious you’re predisposed to judging him negatively regardless of what he did, so there’s not much point in discussing his record objectively.

    I’m taking the final word on this point:

    I was a Military Intelligence officer, and then a Counterintelligence officer 90-96.

    One of the reasons I left was the absolute dismal state of America’s Intelligence Services and Agencies under Clinton. A few key points:

    o State Department veto over Intelligence Estimates and Intelligence gathering–the White House decreed that we had no enemies, only friends and State enforced that in the Intell communities. See Blackhawk Down and the USS Cole to see how well that worked.

    o The ‘wall’ between Intell agencies and law enforcement–if Military Intelligence discovered plans or intentions we could not turn over evidence, or even alert the FBI to a bad actor.

    o The Law Enforcement approach to terrorism–if the FBI discovered terrorist plans or intentions, that information could not be turned over to military units for military action in the field.

    o The Political Correcting of the Intell Agencies. I’ve been to CIA HQ at Langley. I’ve seen the Pride of Place that the Aids Quilt had in the lobby. I assure you, the NSA goal at that time was diversity and they were using every means to discover more ‘people of color’ who had advanced computer and language degrees.

    o The loosening up of Security Clearances. It was seen as an elitist thing to have a higher clearance than someone else (I’m not kidding) so it was a free-for-all to give away Top Secret Clearances. The backlog ran up to 24 months, but interrim clearances were given freely. It was a bad thing.

    o Human Rights initiatives that prevented “any dealing or negotiation with suspected human rights abusers”. This of course prevented paying for information from the bad guys, ‘cuz they were human rights abusers, which is why they had the good info on the Rogue Nations!

    o No more Rogue Nations. The State Department directed that ‘Rogue Nations’ now be called ‘Nations of Concern’. This was symptomatic of the weakness of the Clinton administrations’ approach to terrorist states and organizations.

    From the inside, I can tell you that Clinton’s approach was an absolute disaster for antiterrorism and paved the road to 9/11. It was hopeless and demoralizing….

    I can’t make it any simpler: by executive order and State Department Fiat, the US Counterterrorism and Intelligence apparati were neutered and prosecuted if we did our jobs protecting the nation from terrorist action.

    Look what happened….

  79. Mitsu Says:

    Gray,

    You may be surprised to hear that I agree with some of your remarks. As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, a lot of the failures surrounding the attack were due to lack of coordination between the FBI and CIA. The so-called “wall”, however, was never a statutory nor administrative requirement, as noted in this interesting and informative article:

    http://www.cnss.org/KM%20SAIS%20Article1.pdf

    and it was certainly not “erected” by the Clinton Administration — whatever policies were in place in terms of keeping the FBI and CIA in separate spheres had been in place long before the Clinton Administration, and furthermore the Bush Administraton kept them in place all the way up to the attacks on 9/11.

    As for your other remarks, it’s not clear to me how having an AIDS quilt hurt us, nor reaching out to minority communities for recruitment — both then and now we have a shortage of translators and other staff with cultural knowledge of Arab and Muslim countries. To me, we need to increase our efforts to recruit people with knowledge of their culture and language to aid us in combating terrorism.

    As for some of your other criticisms — if we weren’t dealing with or gathering intel from the bad guys, I certainly agree that was probably a mistake. “Rogue Nations” vs “Nations of Concern” — isn’t that just semantics? Who cares what we call them?

    So sure, there were problems and weaknesses during the Clinton Administration, but as the 9/11 Commission pointed out, most of those problems remained in the Bush Administration for the entire first year they were in power — not only this but many of the issues (such as the “wall”) dated to policies that existed long before Clinton came to office. The main point I am making is that the Bush Administration deemphasized terrorism as a threat during their first year, which to my mind was clearly a mistake.

  80. Gray Says:

    You’re not seriously quoting The Center for National Security Studies are you!? It’s a commie front organization and has been since 1974!

    What is the matter with you, Mitsu? Really, what is wrong with you?

    I give you real world, first hand experiences and you quote back some crazed leftists who miss the Soviet Union?

    From the CNSS Mission and Accomplishments:

    The Center achieved landmark victories such as:

    · Outlining the secrecy reforms that were incorporated in the 1995 Clinton Executive Order on classification of national security information;

    · Organizing the “End the Cold War at Home” campaign that identified and overturned civil liberty restrictions left over from the Cold War;

    · Ensuring basic civil liberty protections and multiple layers of review in government procedures for foreign intelligence wiretapping;

    · Defeating the Bush I administration’s attempt in the Supreme Court to overturn Congress’s right to intelligence information and a similar Clinton administration effort seven years later and suing the CIA to force the historic release of the intelligence budgets for 1997 and 1998 (as well as successfully litigating over twenty-five years for the release of thousands of other government documents that would otherwise be secret today);;

    · Leading the “Free Trade in Ideas” campaign that repealed ideological visa exclusions and the bans on information exchange included in U.S. trade embargoes;

    · Restoring basic privacy and due process rights in security clearance investigations by the U.S. government; and

    · Stopping the enactment in 2001 of an “Official Secrets Act” criminalizing public disclosures of government information.

    That’s almost the same as the list of problems I cited! That’s not the mission of a group that wants to strengthen US Intelligence, that’s a group that wants to destroy it!

    If you weaken Intell capabilities, you get bad intelligence and decisions based on bad intelligence.

    And quoting the 9/11 Commission is just laughable–it’s the foxes ‘splaining how the henhouse got raided. Ferchrissakes, Jamie Gorelick was the architect of the “Wall” erected between Intell and Law Enforcement in the 90′s!

    And I assure you, from personal experience, it was enforced, it was a real thing and it did weaken our ability to prevent terrorism and kill terrorists.

    I see now that my own experiences and first-hand knowledge cannot compete in your mind with even the most ham-fisted leftist boilerplate.

    You don’t have a political viewpoint, you have a personal problem that manifests itself through your weird political views and opinions.

    You’re a True Believer; there is no point discussing anything with you.

  81. Mitsu Says:

    I’m hardly a “True Believer” in anything — precisely the opposite. If anything, your hyperbolic comments about the CNSS are an example of “True Believer” behavior more than anything else. A “commie front organization”? Does anyone seriously say things like that anymore?

    I’m certainly open to hearing evidence that “the wall” was instituted primarily by Gorelick, as some right-wing critics often repeat, but if the wall was, in fact, an innovation by the Clinton Administration, and not, as many others have stated, a longstanding policy created in the aftermath of the Church Commission report, why did Bush leave it in place after he took office?

  82. Occam's Beard Says:

    Again youre missing the undisputed success in which they stopped the attack in Jordan.

    I’m not going to waste my time arguing about this, for two reasons. One, the Bush Administration has stopped any number of terrorist attacks, and two, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Jordan. Meanwhile, as Gray pointed out, the WTC (1993), USS Cole, Khobar Towers, and embassy bombings all occurred. Guess Clinton didn’t “help” to prevent those.

    Most damningly, his Administration refused Sudan’s offer to turn over Osama bin Laden to the US.

    It’s going to be a tough to wriggle off that hook, Mitsu.

    As for your other snide comments regarding Clintons antiterror efforts, whatever. Its pretty obvious youre predisposed to judging him negatively regardless of what he did, so theres not much point in discussing his record objectively.

    My comments are snide, but not untrue. Clinton did pretty much F-all on terrorism. From 1993 to 2000 his success was, shall we say, modest. Whom exactly did he capture? As mentioned above, he was offered bin Laden on a platter, and passed.

    It is certainly the case that the Bush Administration de-emphasized terror during their first year in office.

    Clinton never emphasized terror, not even after the first WTC bombing.

    9/11 changed everything, but I think by any objective standards the pre-9/11 Clinton White House was far more on the ball when it came to fighting terror than Bush was.

    Nonsense. Total, pure, crystalline nonsense, made up out of whole cloth.

    As I’ve said before, if Gore had been in office there may not have been a 9/11.

    And if Wilkie had been in office the Japs may not have bombed Pearl Harbor. Hey, this counterfactual stuff is fun!

    You’ve said it before, but it was nonsense then too. When 9/11 would have happened – and it would have – Gore would have wrung his hands, appointed the dreaded blue ribbon panel, given a few speeches (sighing heavily and rolling his eyes, no doubt), and maybe blown up some more jungle gyms.

    I voted for Gore (before I realized he was nuts), and yet thanked God that Bush was in office when 9/11 took place. Gore became unhinged just by losing an election; 9/11 would have sent him totally around the bend. Having a President in the fetal position would have sent, shall we say, the wrong message.

  83. Occam's Beard Says:

    Regarding the domestic/overseas intelligence wall, read the 9/11 Commission Report (which is surprisingly well-written, btw). It’s pretty critical of Gorelick & Co. for establishing and maintaining it, as part of a legalistic approach to national security. (Which is why Clinton didn’t accept Sudan’s offer of bin Laden: concern that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him.)

  84. Mitsu Says:

    Interestingly, I happened to come across a post by Neo herself, on the subject:

    http://neo-neocon.blogspot.com/2005/08/able-danger-and-firewall-getting-some.html

    “So there you have it–the history of the Clinton/Gorelick firewall. It was simply an extreme extension of a trend that had been going on for decades, albeit an exceedlingly costly one. At the ourset, though, it probably seemed quite rational to those implementing it, especially since terrorism was being uniformly treated (by both parties, I might add) as primarily a law enforcement rather than a national security issue.”

    In any event, I think everyone now agrees that the “wall” was a mistake, myself included. I simply assert that it wasn’t something that the Clinton Administration invented ex nihilo, and it was, in fact, continued in the Bush Administation.

  85. Gray Says:

    If anything, your hyperbolic comments about the CNSS are an example of “True Believer” behavior more than anything else. A “commie front organization”?

    That’s what it is. That’s what it has always been. There’s no denying it.

    Does anyone seriously say things like that anymore?

    Why does that strike you odd? It is the truth.

  86. Occam's Beard Says:

    No, of course the Clinton Administration didn’t invent it, but rather formally codified what had been a growing unwritten understanding. Nevertheless, it was a mistake.

    I find it hard to believe that the Bush Administration has maintained the wall. Leaving it in place as a formality (to avoid from civil rights groups, who already accuse him of having cloven hooves) while circumventing it in practice, sure, I’ll believe that. But maintaining it formally and practically is tougher to believe. Got a link for that?

  87. Mitsu Says:

    >counterfactual

    Well, naturally, no one knows for certain what would have happened, but we do know two things. Clinton had in place a plan to go after Osama in Afghanistan which Gore would have implemented had he won. This plan was put on hold for a year while the Bush Administration reviewed it. This is not necessarily crazy — after all, why should they trust Clinton to know what he was doing — but it certainly was a delay.

    The other thing we know is that the official at the FBI in charge of antiterrorism efforts had reports cross his desk (he was on the cc list) from field officers in multiple jurisdictions regarding some of the 9/11 conspirators. I’ve never quite understood why he didn’t connect the dots, but I assume it’s because he didn’t read those field reports. What if Gore had continued Clinton’s policy of alerting the agencies of an impending attack, as Clinton did in 1999? Obviously we’ll never know.

    As for what would have happened after 9/11 if we hadn’t stopped it? Do you think Gore wouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan? If you’re right about that, then perhaps it WAS good that Bush was in power then, though I think the Iraq wr was a total sidetraack. But I actually think Gore may have done the same thing Bush did at first — attack Osama full blast. Keep in mind that Clinton had *already* planned to attack Osama in Afghanistan, and after 9/11 this would have just been an escalation of that plan. I really don’t see why you think Gore would have just sat back and twiddled his thumbs after the worst domestic terror attack in our nation’s history. IF you’re right — then I’d agree with you — but I suppose in my opinion it’s unlikely.

    Naturally, we’re all just engaging in speculation here…

  88. Gray Says:

    In any event, I think everyone now agrees that the “wall” was a mistake, myself included. I simply assert that it wasn’t something that the Clinton Administration invented ex nihilo, and it was, in fact, continued in the Bush Administation.

    He hoists the goalpost and off he goes!

    No one can compete with Mitsu in the 100m goalpost dash….

    The difference here is that my opinions were shaped by experiences and events like the ones I cited.

    Mitsu has an opinion that shades all experiences and events while he looks for things that confirm his ill-held opinion.

  89. Mitsu Says:

    >Why does that strike you as odd?

    Because Communism is dead and thoroughly discredited? Even China, the last major “Communist” country, isn’t Communist anymore in anything but name — they’ve become an authoritarian oligarchical capitalist state. (Just for the record, by the way, I have always been a strong critic of Communism and Marx in particular, on technical grounds Marx made some mistakes I believe.)

    >Got a link for that?

    Sure:

    http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0606/chapter2.htm

    “On August 6, 2001, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson issued a memorandum to the Criminal Division, OIPR, and the FBI regarding the Department’s policies governing intelligence sharing and establishing new policy. It stated that the 1995 Procedures and the additional 2000 procedures remained in effect. The memorandum stated that “the purpose of this memorandum is to restate and clarify certain important requirements imposed by the 1995 Procedures, and the [January 2000 measures issued in response to the AGRT report], and to establish certain additional requirements.””

  90. Gray Says:

    Even China, the last major “Communist” country, isn’t Communist anymore in anything but name — they’ve become an authoritarian oligarchical capitalist state.

    Yes, Comrade, the dream was just too beautiful and beyond the reach of the people…. (wipes tear from eye with a red handkerchief).

    (Just for the record, by the way, I have always been a strong critic of Communism and Marx in particular, on technical grounds Marx made some mistakes I believe.)

    You just can’t make this stuff up….

    It’s that wierd domestic synergy between the loopy left and the Islamic Terrorists (who would kill them first) that makes fighting this war so damned hard.

  91. Occam's Beard Says:

    Mitsu, fair enough. We are just speculating.

    My guess that Gore would have gone through the motions but not done anything militarily – in my view, the only productive response – was based on the track record of recent Democrats in facing down threats.

    Neither Carter nor Clinton showed much taste for sending in the Marines even after severe provocation, and I see no reason to think Gore would have been any different.

    Instead, my guess is that he’d have gone for the tried and true: the blue ribbon commission, sternly worded letter, bleating before the UN (most of whose members would secretly be pleased that we were attacked), deliver a few earnest speeches, that sort of thing.

    The idea of getting on TV and saying that some brown-skinned people far away need to die (i.e., speaking the truth) and that we were going to see to it would probably be pretty unpalatable to wide swaths of the Democratic Party. No more A-list Hollywood parties for the President who made that speech.

    Pace leftists and their cherished beliefs, but no President wants to go to war. No US President has come out well from a war (Lincoln and FDR dying in office, Wilson having a stroke, Truman and LBJ were flayed in public opinion, GHWB turned out of office after one term).

    War is pure risk, with no upside, unless one recognizes that the alternative is even worse. Lots and lots of opportunities to screw up; generals tend to get the credit for successes, Presidents for failures. (See Bush v. Petraeus now, to go back on topic.) So Presidents have every reason to go the blue ribbon commission route, and hope this war passes them by.

    I potentially have sympathy for the FBI guy who got those reports. It’s easy to go back and pull out the operative reports and ask why that guy didn’t connect them. The question is how many such reports did he commonly get, how specific were the reports, and how overt was the inference to be drawn?

    I can easily imagine he received hundreds of reports per week (maybe per day, for all I know), so one from FL from a flight training school, another from San Diego about some Saudis acting strangely (probably dog bites man news there in any case), that sort of thing, might be pretty hard to figure out except in retrospect.

    And as for Clinton’s plan to go after bin Laden in Afghanistan, WTF was he waiting for?

  92. Gray Says:

    Neither Carter nor Clinton showed much taste for sending in the Marines even after severe provocation, and I see no reason to think Gore would have been any different.

    Not entirely true, they did bomb the crap out of the Christians in Belgrade to make them be nice to the Turks (“Ethnic Albainians”) in the name of diversity….

    From Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon’s book “The Age of Sacred Terror”:

    The two authors, both Clinton-era National Security Council experts on terrorism, share their thoughts in a new book, “The Age of Sacred Terror.”

    They say Clinton wanted to do something about al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan late in his second term, his cruise missile attacks on the group’s facilities in August 1998 having achieved little.

    He approached Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and said, according to the book, “It would scare the (expletive) out of al Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters in to the middle of their camp. It would get us an enormous deterrence and show those guys we’re not afraid.”

    Yeah, that was Clinton’s “Big Plan” for Afghanistan: Ninjas….

  93. Gray Says:

    The question is how many such reports did he commonly get, how specific were the reports, and how overt was the inference to be drawn?

    No one had ever hijacked a plane and flown it into anything before, ever.

    He’d not only have to ‘connect the dots’, he’d have to posit an unheard-of terrorist tactic….

    After they canned him for being a loon and 9-11 happened I guess he could have hit the talk show circuit….

  94. Mitsu Says:

    >Yes, Comrade

    I have no idea what you’re going on about, Gray, but clearly, you seem to enjoy your world, so feel free to amuse yourself with it. I’ve stated on numerous occasions that, while I certainly have friends on the left (and the right), even on the far left — I have never supported Communism in any form, for two major reasons: obviously any centralized economic system is going to be grossly inefficient due to information delays (even the most benevolent centralized economy could never remotely reach market efficiencies), and Marx’s analysis of capitalism and its eventual collapse was based on several unrealistic assumptions, such as flat productivity.

    >As for Clinton’s plan to go after bin Laden in Afghanistan, WTF was he waiting for?

    They formulated the plan in the last days of the Clinton Administration, and there wasn’t time to move forward with it. Clarke attempted to resurrect the plan after Bush came into office, but there was a lot of resistance to it because it was a holdover from the Clinton Administration (though there were some who were enthusiastic about it, like Richard Armitage.)

  95. Mitsu Says:

    >he’d have to posit an unheard-of terrorist tactic

    One of the field reports already did posit this. The agent in question specifically speculated that the reason these guys were taking flying lessons to take off but not land, is they planned to fly the planes into a major landmark, and he even included the World Trade Center as one of the possible targets in his report. Sure, it’s true that going back and criticizing the FBI counterterrorism chief is 20-20 hindsight — but these reports DID cross his desk, from multiple areas of the country (at least two, maybe more).

    >ninjas

    I have no idea where you get this stuff, Gray. You can read the chronology here about the actual planning process and the delays in the first year of the Bush Administration, if you are interested:

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,333835,00.html

    Ironically, in Time magazine.

  96. Gray Says:

    They formulated the plan in the last days of the Clinton Administration, and there wasn’t time to move forward with it.

    Hey! It takes a long time to train real ninjas!

  97. Mitsu Says:

    >train real ninjas

    Merry Christmas, Gray. Or should I say, Happy Holidays?

  98. Gray Says:

    Thank you, Mitsu. Merry Christmas to you too, or should I say Happy Hannuramakwanzmas?

  99. Mitsu Says:

    Merry Christmas will do just fine. Or you could say, “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu,” though maybe that’s too multi-cultural for you…

  100. Gray Says:

    “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu,” though maybe that’s too multi-cultural for you…

    No, that’s fine, Japan isn’t multi-cultural at all….

  101. Mitsu Says:

    >Japan isn’t multi-cultural at all

    True, you’d never see Japanese getting excited about foreign sports like baseball, or alien ideas like Chinese writing and philosophy and architecture, or celebrating European or American holidays like Christmas. Gotta keep the culture pure from outside influences, I always say.

  102. Occam's Beard Says:

    In fairness, Mitsu, multiculturalism involves a lot more than taking on a few superficial trappings of another culture. The Japanese have always been big on borrowing things from other cultures, up to a certain point. But a culture that historically (and to a lesser extent still today, according to my friends in Japan) looks a bit askance at those who’ve lived outside the country hardly qualifies as “multicultural.”

    In any case, Merry Christmas!

  103. Mitsu Says:

    Merry Christmas to you too, Occam, sincerely.

  104. Truth Says:

    Human Rights initiatives

    We can definitely learn from our mistakes, and we need to discuss mistakes for that reason.

    Take a look HOW Human Rights initiativesguys doing in Iraq, and HOW they learn from “Thier” mistakes

  105. Occam's Beard Says:

    Thanks, Mitsu. I appreciate that.

  106. Truth Says:

    Petraeus’ PhD thesis

    The American military and the lessons of Vietnam: A study of military influence and the use of force in the post-Vietnam era
    “The Vietnam experience left the military leadership feeling that they should advise against involvement in counterinsurgencies unless specific, perhaps unlikely, circumstances obtain — i.e. domestic public support, the promise of a quick campaign, and freedom to employ whatever force is necessary to achieve rapid victory. In light of such criteria, committing U.S. units to counterinsurgencies appears to be a very problematic proposition, difficult to conclude before domestic support erodes and costly enough to threaten the well-being of all America’s military forces (and hence the country’s national security), not just those involved in the actual counterinsurgency.”

    By the way, did anyone ask Patraeus why the 50:1 rule of thumb for counterinsurgency operations (20 soldiers per 1000 population) was so completely ignored for Iraq?

  107. Ymarsakar Says:

    I half subscribe to this. It does take a deal of work to get some people’s attention. It is not for nothing that five-hundred pound bombs were referred to as “Serbian hearing aids.”

    Richard, I think some of your reluctance may have to do with the fact that people are willingly to allow the destruction of civilian populations just so they can come back and attack with more justification. This is the old ethical argument between pre-emption and waiting to be attacked so we can attack back harder and with less PR problems.

    In the case of Iraq, America tried our best and so did our enemies. It just so happens that we came out on top. We did not allow the Sunnis to get hammered, they were able to do that themselves pretty well without our help.

    Wisdom cannot be bought, after all, it can only be earned.

    War is only one of the many methods of understanding what is.

    it’s not as though they thought fewer troops would be enough and Shinseki and others thought we needed more:-Mitsu

    Casey and Abizaid made it very clear to Rumsfeld and Bush that less troops was the way to stabilize Iraq, in order to get an Iraqi face on the problem. Don’t you remember what they were advocating and telling the press in 2004-5?

    Regardless of whether Rumsfeld thought fewer troops would be enough, that is what his military commanders recommended and wished to go with. Shinseki wasn’t in a position to contradict the combat commanders on the ground, Abizaid and Casey. Not in a way that would convince Rumsfeld or the President, or me.

    Also, the President heard from the “loyal opposition” that Americans were seen as occupiers so the President wanted a light footprint. You also can’t blame Rumsfeld for what the President wanted done when he heard the advice of the Dems.

    it’s that they thought things would be stable relatively quickly after the war.

    The less troops strategy was being implemented long after the IEDs of 2003.

    we had was Rumsfeld wanted to prove his lightweight, air-centric approach would work in Iraq

    You’re attributing things to Rumsfeld that just didn’t exist. Certainly Casey or Abizaid prefered a lightweight approach, but that doesn’t mean Rumsfeld wanted to prove something. The man’s been rotating around the department leadership for many presidencies now. As such he has many enemies and allies inside the bureacracy and the Pentagon.

    because no one is ever willing to admit making a mistake,

    We’re not willing to admit that you and your faction were right, because you all weren’t. That has zero to do with making mistakes, except mistakes made by your faction. Do you not understand that people can make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you were right about those mistakes either?

    A “commie front organization”? Does anyone seriously say things like that anymore?

    It is true for Code Pink, you know. Such things do exist, even though their Masters fell from power in the Cold War.

    a longstanding policy created in the aftermath of the Church Commission report, why did Bush leave it in place after he took office?

    Bush wasn’t ruthlessness enough to put a dagger in Chirac’s back. How do you think he would have dealt with the DoS wolves?

    In any event, I think everyone now agrees that the “wall” was a mistake, myself included. I simply assert that it wasn’t something that the Clinton Administration invented ex nihilo, and it was, in fact, continued in the Bush Administation.

    Whether Clinton made the wall stronger or created it, is immaterial to the discussion or the points made by Gray/Occam.

    I’m sure Jimmy Carter, that infamous darling of international thuggery, put up some intelligence walls as well. That is separate from what informed Clinton’s domestic political agenda, though.

    I find it hard to believe that the Bush Administration has maintained the wall.

    Patriot Act broke some of it down, but Bush doesn’t issue Executive Orders, which would be of more immediate effect and be invulnerable to Supreme Court nullification without Congressional majority votes.

    Because Communism is dead and thoroughly discredited?,/b>

    Communism is dead? That’s like saying fascism is dead. Nazis were discredited and destroyed by the US, but the basic ideas of fascism or national socialism is just as alive now as it was back then.

    Ideologies don’t die, for the spirit of humanity lives on. On that note, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

  108. Mitsu Says:

    Well, my only response to the above is that Rumsfeld picked generals who went along with his ideas to run the war, as many reports stated at the time and since. So yes, I do think the responsibility for the strategy lies primarily with him.

    And Merry Christmas to you too, Ymarsakar.

  109. Truth Says:

    In the case of Iraq, America tried our best

    Wonder what’s America’s best that tried in Iraq?

    Did you mean the distraction of the statehood of Iraq? YES

    We did not allow the Sunnis to get hammered,

    Did you really know what is Sunni before and now? I doubt it?
    Why you care about them and what they done for you?

    national socialism is just as alive now as it was back then..

    When you and other prod binding American, this some sort of national pride for you and others, thus whey Iraqi nationalists considered as enemy on their land occupied by American nationalists?

    American’s nationalists some sort of Ideologies don’t die, so other country ‘s nationalists,

  110. Truth Says:

    Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month

    That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some “shared beliefs” that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war.

    Can we leave Iraq? They don’t want us there

  111. armchair pessimist Says:

    As far as I am concerned General P and our troops walk on water, so they’re above anything Time can do to either increase or decrease their merit.

    And I would like to put in a word for Putin. Nice guy, bad guy, czar or red or thug, he has picked Russia up off the floor. I can see how he is a Russian Reagan, to Russians anyway. Time has rightly noticed this.

    Lastly, a question for you paleocons: What is your objection to a strong and Orthodox Russia?

  112. Ymarsakar Says:

    This puts the perspective into the right place, which isn’t about Petraeus or Rumsfeld but about solving problems

    It also isn’t about making up useless speculations, Mitsu, about what Shinseki would have done in your opinion.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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