Bad, bad doings meanwhile in Tal Afar, a town featured on “60 Minutes” a year ago as proof of progress in Iraq. Jihadis detonated two truck bombs yesterday, killing 63 people; Iraqi police responded by going on a rampage overnight and executing approximately 50 Sunni men in retaliation. The Iraqi Army has detained 18 of them. Whether they end up being punished probably depends on which IA unit is holding them. There are rumors swirling that one or more parts of this story are false, but Bob Owens has done some good work in trying to confirm it. He’s confident that it’s true, unfortunately.
WaPo‘s got a story out today about an Iraq memo prepared for Bush by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey. It’s grim so naturally he’s taking heat for it on some blogs, but read through it and you’ll see it’s not as dark as WaPo makes it sound. Bottom line: he thinks we can still stabilize Iraq, that the Sunni “awakening” against AQ is real, and that there aren’t enough superlatives in Webster’s to properly describe the conduct of U.S. military operations. We’ve got less than 36 months at the outside to get it done, though, and the strain will be tremendous:
In total, enemy insurgents or armed sectarian militias (SCIRI, JAM, Pesh Merga, AQI, 1920’s Brigade, et. al.) probably exceed 100,000 armed fighters. These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted [Iraqi army]. They do not depend fundamentally on foreign support for their operations. [Perhaps, but… — ed.] Most of their money, explosives, and leadership are generated inside Iraq. The majority of the Iraqi population (Sunni and Shia) support armed attacks on American forces. Although we have arrested 120,000 insurgents (hold 27,000) and killed some huge number of enemy combatants (perhaps 20,000+) — the armed insurgents, militias, and Al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently re-generate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up— not down— as they incur these staggering battle losses…
We will be forced to call up as many as nine National Guard combat brigades for an involuntary second combat tour this coming year. (Dr Chu at DOD has termed this as “no big deal.”) Many believe that this second round of involuntary call-ups will topple the weakened National Guard structure— which is so central to US domestic security. The National Guard Bureau has argued for a call up of only 12 months instead of 18 months. This misses the point—DOD will without fail be forced to also extend these National Guard brigades in combat at the last minute given the continuation of the current emergency situation.
He expects the insurgency to last for another decade.
It’s still too early to gauge the success of the surge but that won’t stop Gallup from taking a meaningless poll. I leave you with our quote of the day, as discovered by Rick Moran while he was trolling the blog that brings you Pretty Vicious Rants and Important Action Alerts regularly in the service of people-powered politics:
[Hillary] is for the war in Iraq – she voted for it, she has always refused to say she was wrong for doing so, and she would keep US troops in Iraq if elected. Her use of al-Qa’eda to justify keeping troops in Iraq is nothing more than a cynical play on the American public’s paranoia about al-Qa’eda, not a sincere strategy to defeat al-Qa’eda (or if it is, she’s beyond stupid, something I don’t believe.)
Hillary’s a pro-war candidate. And if Democrats nominate her, they will be nominating a pro-war candidate. And then the war will be a fully American war, not just a Republican one.