You know that things have gone from horrible to miserable when the generals who replaced the generals who replaced the generals who were booted when they dared to question the planning of this horror called the Iraq invasion are throwing up their hands.
Are we at the point where we will hear someone ask “Why does General Petraeus want America to lose?” Because, frankly the news out of Iraq this week, if you read more than just the surface, is pretty damn disheartening. When the President runs through enough generals and top military officials because they see the writing on the wall and all that is left are “yes men” who will carry out his half baked “plans”, that is bad enough. When they start to say that we are screwed, then that should set off all sorts of alarms.
Things aren’t just “fucked” anymore. They are seriously truly critically on life support fucked. And even our generals know it.
Before I go any further, I want to address the “well, al Sadr and his militia are not attacking” meme. That is great news. But honestly, when you have months of warning that there will be an escalation targeting you and “cracking down” on violence (Version 4.2, of course), you are probably going to lay low for a while. Just like the whole “if there is a timeframe for withdrawal, they will wait it out” line that was so very popular.
Well, guess what? They are waiting this out.. And that isn’t even the bad news. Of course, the hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and dozens of bombings over the past two weeks should be noted as something that is most certainly not progress or a good sign or even “last throes”.
But when our own generals are saying that the military hasn’t been able to adapt to the insurgency – you know that our troops are in greater danger than at any time over the past four years. And the finger should be pointed directly at those who figured that the military would be able to “wing it” after the invasion as everything would magically fall into place. With respect to planning, I’ll refer to a diary by some smart ass last month:
What about the planning and thinking going on from the US top brass? Sadly, that has been lacking since the very beginning. And it isn’t like many alarms didn’t go off immediately. In late 2003, the very conservative (to say the least) Washington Times ran an article titled US rushed post-Saddam planning, which cited a State Department report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that indicated:Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) elimination and exploitation planning efforts did not occur early enough in the process to allow CentCom to effectively execute the mission. The extent of the planning required was underestimated. Insufficient U.S. government assets existed to accomplish the mission.
WMD elimination/exploitation on a large scale was a new mission area. Division of responsibility for planning and execution was not clear. As a result planning occurred on an ad hoc basis and late in the process. Additionally, there were insufficient assets available to accomplish the mission. Existing assets were tasked to perform multiple, competing missions
A Congressional Budget Office report issued that same week raised concerns about the cost, feasibility and sustainability of an occupation in Iraq from a troop level standpoint. A State Department memorandum from February 2003 (warning: .pdf) indicated that there could be “serious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance”. The memo went on to indicate that these issues were also raised with “top CentCom officials”.
Just this past week, original Iraq war plan documents were declassified which projected only 5,000 troops in Iraq by December 2006. While we think this is scary but laughable, it was called “completely unrealistic” and “delusional” by the Executive Director of the National Security Archives:"Completely unrealistic assumptions about a post-Saddam Iraq permeate these war plans," said National Security Archive Executive Director Thomas Blanton. "First, they assumed that a provisional government would be in place by 'D-Day', then that the Iraqis would stay in their garrisons and be reliable partners, and finally that the post-hostilities phase would be a matter of mere 'months'. All of these were delusions."
But now, we are going from bad to worse in the “planning department”. First, General Petraeus rightfully said that this is not something that can be solved with the military alone:
"There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq," he said.
"Military action is necessary to help improve security... but it is not sufficient. There needs to be a political aspect."
He said some groups "who have felt the new Iraq did not have a place for them" would have to be engaged in talks.
While the petulance of this administration has shown through and through with respect to talks with Iran and Syria, the fact that representatives from all three countries were in the same room was an encouraging first step. Why this is happening now as opposed to four months ago (remember the flat out refusals by Rice, Cheney and Bush) to engage in talks with Iran and Syria) is a question that I don’t have the answer to, and frankly am just glad that something diplomatic is happening, no matter how small. The fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia are talking is also encouraging, but we need to take a more proactive role in the mess that we created.
On the heels of the multinational conference this past week, another disheartening admission was made by top generals. This time, echoes of prior warnings are being heard with respect to the lack of adaptability by the US military to the insurgency. The fact that this type of insurgency (among many other warnings that were ignored but then occurred anyway) was predicted by General Zinni - the man who did the original “war gaming” for an Iraq invasion back in the 1990s shows the gravity of the current situation.
According to the US generals:
What is more devastating now is that the world's only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.
By contrast, the US military is said to have been slow to respond to the challenges of fighting an insurgency. The senior officers described the insurgents as being able to adapt rapidly to exploit American rules of engagement and turn them against US forces, and quickly disseminate ways of destroying or disabling armoured vehicles.
‘Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up resources at a faster rate than we planned for,' one three-star general said. 'America's warriors need the latest technology to defeat an enemy who is smart, agile and cunning - things we did not expect of the Soviets.'
An enemy who is smart, agile and cunning. Too bad those who planned this ill-fated invasion and occupation are none of the above.
So now what is the answer? It seems painfully obvious that Bush’s latest plan is akin to putting the pedal to the medal as we hurtle straight into that brick wall.
Which makes it all the more imperative to defund the continuing operations, fund a redeployment and international effort towards rebuilding the economy and getting the Iraqi people basics like clean water, electricity and real safety. 150,000 of our troops can’t do that. All they can be are targets and sitting ducks.
Support the troops – get them out of Iraq. Support the Iraqis – get serious about fixing this mess, or at least not making it worse. Even our third (or is it fourth) round of generals can see it.