“Brain trust” tells Petraeus: Six months or bust

posted at 4:15 pm on February 28, 2007 by Allahpundit

Time for another Iraq post no one’s going to read. Maybe I’ll start doing these as link dumps so people can just scan the headlines, pick what they want, or not, and move along. We’ll see.

In the meantime, the Guardian drops a non-bombshell from a “senior administrative official”: Gen. Petraeus doesn’t exactly have an infinite time horizon to get this done. And as usual, troop levels are a huge problem.

An elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad has concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq – or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat…

The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus’s team are:
· Insufficent numbers of troops on the ground
· A “disintegrating” international coalition
· An anticipated upsurge in violence in the south as the British leave
· Morale problems as casualties rise
· A failure of political will in Washington and/or Baghdad…

Possibly the biggest longer-term concern of Gen Petraeus’s team is that political will in Washington may collapse just as the military is on the point of making a decisive counter-insurgency breakthrough. According to a senior administration official, speaking this week, this is precisely what happened in the final year of the Vietnam war…

Despite the problems identified by Gen Petraeus and his advisers, a senior Pentagon official said this week that it was too early to gauge the strategy’s chances of success – but that preliminary reports were encouraging.

The more success they have, the shriller the cries of “it’s not working!” will be. Meanwhile, U.S. and Iraqi troops raided Sadr City yesterday and arrested at least 16 members of “rogue” Mahi Army cells. Except, according to Bill Roggio, it’s a lie: according to his intel sources, there really aren’t any “rogue” Mahdi Army cells, no matter what Gen. Caldwell would have us believe about the alleged lack of command and control within the JAM. Designating the guys we kill or capture as “rogue” is just our way of distinguishing Sadr as “non-rogue” so that he can plausibly lay down his arms and rejoin the political process in the future. Which is incredibly stupid, if true, but Roggio would certainly know better than I.

He also believes that the rumors of Sadr whacking his own guys is nonsense, and that in fact it’s U.S. and Iraqi forces who are responsible for “disappearing” them as part of shadow warfare. No wonder so many of his top deputies ran to Iran.

Finally, a timely op-ed in the IHT about the upcoming referendum in Kirkuk that would put the oil-rich city in Kurdish hands and scare the hell out of Turkey, which fears an uprising among its own significant Kurdish minority:

Iraq’s Kurdish leaders have a problem. They know that to hold the referendum is to provoke Shiites, Sunnis and the Turkish government. Few Kurdish leaders who oppose a vote are popular enough to count on unconditional backing from voters, a clear majority of whom want Kirkuk under Kurdish regional government control. Though support for the referendum is politically expedient, it may reap the whirlwind.

Virtually every Kurdish leader understands that the surest way to protect the relative stability and prosperity the Kurdish region of Iraq has gained is to postpone the vote. But none of them wants to pay the political price.

For the moment, Kurdish officials continue to insist publicly that it is postponement of the referendum, not the vote itself, that will provoke bloodshed…

Shiites, Sunnis, Turks, and even the Americans may raise pressure for postponement. But that pressure could backfire and fuel Kurdish determination to seize their prize.

Uh oh.

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So. Uh. Anyone see that old commercial where Captain Crunch defeats the French? That’s a pretty good commerical. For a cereal. Yeah, there’s a new version of that. Kinda looks like Shockwave animation. Its pretty good, too. Imma go not think about Iraq now. I mean, Imma go eat some Cap’n Crunch. Yeah.

Savage on February 28, 2007 at 4:27 PM

Hey Allahpundit,

Ok I read it so thats at least one in the column

Keep up the good work

Kevin43 on February 28, 2007 at 4:27 PM

Ha. Thanks, dude.

Allahpundit on February 28, 2007 at 4:28 PM

He also believes that the rumors of Sadr whacking his own guys is nonsense, and that in fact it’s U.S. and Iraqi forces who are responsible

Why not take advantage of the fact Sadr ran to Iran (I know there’s a pun or maybe even a song titled “I ran to Iran”). You not only make his people left behind think he abaondoned them, make them think he’s trying to get rid of them. Divide->conquer.

taznar on February 28, 2007 at 4:32 PM

Guide to wife beating. Did you guys post this before? I remember seeing it somewhere but I’m not sure where.
http://www.glumbert.com/media/wifebeat

Darth Executor on February 28, 2007 at 4:40 PM

More importantly he somehow has to get out the good news that is coming out of Iraq…

All we here is the bad… we never hear about us getting the bad guys, or how many of them we killed when we lost a guy…

Romeo13 on February 28, 2007 at 4:41 PM

Six months, huh?

There’s something naggingly familiar about that. … Damn … umm … Someone has said something about “six months” in Iraq.

commissar on February 28, 2007 at 4:50 PM

I have read this post, and most of the links on it.

Troy Rasmussen on February 28, 2007 at 4:57 PM

The Roggio links are good, but who cares what the Guardian attributes to a “senior administrative official” (whatever that is), who pretty much parrots anti-war CW.

Clark1 on February 28, 2007 at 5:00 PM

The six months you’ve just lived through are always shorter than the six months you’re approaching. And it will take more than six months for the Dems to grow the pair they will need to essential purchase the Iraq outcome from Bush.

I suspect the Friedman, like most fundamental units, works in both directions.

a4g on February 28, 2007 at 5:01 PM

An elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad has concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq – or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat…

It’s good to hear that SOMEONE on the good guy’s side is thinking ahead of the curve. The one problem with thinking in the long term is not knowing if there IS a long term.

Unfortunately, the quick, which is where this seems to be headed, is usually the bloody as well.

52Ranger on February 28, 2007 at 5:01 PM

essentially

a4g on February 28, 2007 at 5:02 PM

The team comprises an unusual mix of combat experience and high academic achievement. It includes … Col H R McMaster, author of a well-known critique of Vietnam and a seasoned counter-insurgency operations chief

Glad to hear COL McMaster is part of the Brain Trust. These are the people who should have been the ISG, not the bunch of has-been diplomats we had.

I had the priviledge of having then CPT McMaster teach me the history lession of the battle he actually fought in. After the class, he showed a Discovery Channel program narrated by Tom Clancy. At one point in the show, Tom starts interviewing McMaster about the battle, meanwile we got the guy himself sitting in the corner of the classroom, slightly embarassesd.

BohicaTwentyTwo on February 28, 2007 at 5:06 PM

I’ve now read this article twice.

AP, how do you just how many people read an article? By the number of comments? Or have you buried tiny little sitemeterettes in them?

You’ve seen the picture by now of the dry erase board in Iraq: “America is not at war. America is at the mall. The Marines are at war.”

Hoodlumman on February 28, 2007 at 5:09 PM

I don’t see Bush giving up, ever. He has absolutely nothing left to lose and I don’t think he gives a damn about his popularity. He is a true believer and the Dems in Congress have already demonstrated they are gutless.

If this does go as well as it has begun and Bush finally realizes the power of actually spreading good news, things could be very different in 6 months.

If the oil deal gets ironed out, relative stability comes to Baghdad and US casualites continue to go down… This ain’t Vietnam, not close.

JackStraw on February 28, 2007 at 5:13 PM

One of your better posts Allah. The Kurdistan question is a very important one. Based on what I know about the Kurds (not much) I support their efforts toward independence. U.S. policy seems to have completely shut them out which is a shame.

Theworldisnotenough on February 28, 2007 at 5:21 PM

If “leading experts in counter-insurgency” are actually saying we have only six months, they are saying we’re going to lose. No counter-insurgency can be won in six months (well, not without methods we’re not going to use, anyway).

This insurgency isn’t on the ropes. We don’t have enough troops to win “nicely”. We’re not going to be “nasty”. In short, if we only have six months, we are going to lose.

Turkey has threatened military action many times, should Iraqi Kurds make any moves to annex Kirkuk to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Why we let the Turks threaten the Kurds is baffling to me. The Turks screwed us in 2003, so we should back the Kurds and tell the Turks in no uncertain terms that Turkish military action in Iraq is unacceptable, so STFU.

Lehuster on February 28, 2007 at 5:37 PM

I never realized just how many “senior anonymous sources” the military has. The White House should start throwing out false rumors, if they haven’t already.

darwin on February 28, 2007 at 5:39 PM

I like these posts the best, keep them coming. Actually, I hope Petraeus can get as much as 6 months from this congress to start showing progress. I think that’s probably do-able – to make demonstrable progress, not pacify the place entirely – and if he does, that should buy him some more time to finish the job. I’m for staying as long as it takes, but if we can’t tell the difference in 6 months, then we’re screwed, they’ll defund the whole thing at that point the way the political climate is going.

Dudley Smith on February 28, 2007 at 5:41 PM

AP,

I read everything you post on Iraq and the internals going on there. I also subscribe to the MNF-I email news dispatches, and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in all news, good and bad, coming out of Iraq.

Just send an email to this address and request that you be put on the email list:
MNCI-PAO-VICTORYMAINJOC@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MIL

Great stuff. Thanks for posting it, and please continue.

techno_barbarian on February 28, 2007 at 5:53 PM

Allah, please do not mistake scant commenting for a lack of interest. There’s more usable info coming out of your posts than I see anyplace else on the net.

There’s not a lot to say here, but plenty to see.

Pablo on February 28, 2007 at 6:00 PM

I read all the Iraw posts. I don’t comment unless I have something to add…in this case I don’t, I just wanted to write to say keep them coming. There’s little to nothing more important IMHO.

JustTruth101 on February 28, 2007 at 6:08 PM

/sp Iraq

JustTruth101 on February 28, 2007 at 6:08 PM

AP,

I hope you don’t mind, but I found this over on The Corner from Mona Charen. It’s the speech Gen. Patraeus made upon taking command. We picked the right guy for the mission.

To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:

We serve in iraq at a critical time. The war here will soon enter its fifth year. A decisive moment approaches. Shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi comrades, we will conduct a pivotal campaign to improve security for the Iraqi people. The stakes could not be higher.

Our task is crucial. Security is essential for Iraq to build its future. Only with security can the Iraqi government come to grips with the tough issues it confronts and develop the capacity to serve its citizens. The hopes of the Iraqi people and the coalition countries are with us.

The enemies of Iraq will shrink at no act, however barbaric. They will do all that they can to shake the confidence of the people and to convince the world that this effort is doomed. We must not underestimate them.

Together with our Iraqi partners, we must defeat those who oppose the new Iraq. We cannot allow mass murderers to hold the initiative. We must strike them relentlessly. We and our Iraqi partners must set the terms of the struggle, not our enemies. And together we must prevail.

The way ahead will not be easy. There will be difficult times in the months to come. But hard is not hopeless, and we must remain steadfast in our effort to help improve security for the Iraqi people. I am confident that each of you will fight with skill and courage, and that you will remain loyal to your comrades-in-arms and to the values our nations hold so dear.

In the end, Iraqis will decide the outcome of this struggle. Our task is to help them gain the time they need to save their country. To do that, many of us will live and fight alongside them. Together we will face down the terrorirsts, insurgents, and criminals who slaughter the innocent. Success will require discipline, fortitude, and initiative — qualities that you have in abundance.

I appreciate your sacrifices and those of your families. Now, more than ever, your commitment to service and your skill can make the difference between victory and defeat in a very tough mission.

It is an honor to soldier again with the members of the Multi-National Force-Iraq. I know that wherever you serve in this undertaking you will give your all. In turn, I pledge my commitment to our mission and every effort to achieve success as we help the Iraqis chart a course to a brighter future.

Godspeed to each of you and to our Iraqi comrades in this crucial endeavor.

David H. Petraeus
General, United States Army
Commanding

techno_barbarian on February 28, 2007 at 6:10 PM

Allah,

I always read your Iraq articles, just not much to say about the subject anymore.

Max Power on February 28, 2007 at 6:15 PM

Man that Christina Aguilera is hot.

I know this is the wrong place but it got too crowded over there so I thought I could write this on one of the dead posts that nobody reads.

Bill C on February 28, 2007 at 6:24 PM

I’ll bet you more people read your Iraq posts than read my Iran posts at Jawa.

Vinnie on February 28, 2007 at 7:36 PM

I’ll bet you more people read your Iraq posts than read my Iran posts at Jawa.

Hey what are you doing slacking off! It’s been 20 seconds scince I last hit the refresh on my jawa page. Blogg, boy, blog!

Max Power on February 28, 2007 at 8:30 PM

They are important and they are read. Thank you.

MarcH on February 28, 2007 at 8:38 PM

Just wanted to say…… “Thanks, and keep up the good work, Allah…”

PinkyBigglesworth on February 28, 2007 at 9:28 PM

Allah, I too haven’t commented much lately because I haven’t had much worthwhile to add. I’ve been reading everything you guys post, though; this site is one of my favorites. Keep up the good work!

flutejpl on February 28, 2007 at 9:33 PM

Okay, Allah, how about some more of your stuff where you tell us how ‘brilliant’ Murtha’s ‘slow bleed’ idea was, and how it will probably succeed?

If you want more comments, juice your stuff up with T & A, maybe

Or try Not Being Wrong………

Janos Hunyadi on February 28, 2007 at 10:26 PM

Allah Pundit,I don’t always agree with you, but I do respect the work, time and effort that you put into this site.

I understand your frustration. You try to start a serious thread about Michelle and Bryan’s trip to Iraq,and it quickly degenerates into a commentary about how good Michelle looked in her camouflage uniform. It’s human nature; most people are jackasses, including this site, and despite your best efforts.

But there are many serious people who read your threads and greatly appreciate them whether they agree with your analysis or not.

You just keep plugging, and we’ll keep reading.

tomk59 on February 28, 2007 at 10:35 PM

Why are we so insistent that Sadr join the process? When has he ever shown a semblance of civility or rational thought? I’m sure there’s some reason he’s allowed to live, but i can’t imagine what it is.

forged rite on February 28, 2007 at 11:54 PM

From what I know of the Kurds, boy did they get the short end of the stick when their world was being carved up by the British. Kirkuk is historically Kurdish. Just as the Soviets did in regions of the Soviet Union with its ethnic population, Saddam forced Arab relocation to Kirkuk to dilute Kurdish control of the city.
Every time this issue comes up the Turks jump up and down because the next stop is… regaining control of historically Kurdish territory in Turkey. And don’t think for a minute that the Kurds in Syria and Iran aren’t watching this with great interest.

Babs on March 1, 2007 at 12:10 PM