WaPo editorial: Let’s face it, the casualty trends in Iraq are cause for hope; Update: Military believes AQI is crippled?

posted at 7:37 pm on October 14, 2007 by Allahpundit

The optimism that dare not speak its name:

A month [after Petraeus's testimony], there isn’t much room for such debate, at least about the latest figures. In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site icasualties.org. The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 — down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004…

The trend could change quickly and tragically, of course. Casualties have dropped in the past for a few weeks only to spike again. There are, however, plausible reasons for a decrease in violence. Sunni tribes in Anbar province that once fueled the insurgency have switched sides and declared war on al-Qaeda. The radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr ordered a cease-fire last month by his Mahdi Army. Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the top day-to-day commander in Iraq, says al-Qaeda’s sanctuaries have been reduced 60 to 70 percent by the surge.

Even the AP felt moved to marvel at the daily snapshot yesterday. The WaPo piece is getting all the traffic in the ‘sphere today but it’s less important than this story, which is also optimistic and a must read in light of the reports a few days ago about the possibly waning influence of the Shiite militias in the south and Baghdad. Ammar al-Hakim is the son of and future successor to Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of SCIRI and chief rival to Sadr for political power among the Shiites. Check out where, and with whom, he spent his Sunday:

In a major reconciliatory gesture, a leader from Iraq’s largest Shiite party paid a rare visit Sunday to the Sunni Anbar province, where he delivered a message of unity to tribal sheiks who have staged a U.S.-backed revolt against Al Qaeda militants in their region…

“Today, we must stand up and declare that Iraq is for all Iraqis,” said al-Hakim, son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who was diagnosed with cancer last May and has been receiving chemotherapy treatment in neighboring Iran.

“We stand together in one trench to defeat Iraq’s enemies,” al-Hakim said, with his host, leader of the Anbar movement Ahmed Abu Risha standing next to him…

Al-Hakim later led officials from his party and dozens of Anbar sheiks in prayer, a significant display of religious unity.

I don’t want to make too much of a photo op but seeing one of the five or so most important Shiites in the country sharing a laugh with one of the five or so most important Sunnis is striking, and all to the good. Part of the reason for the gladhanding is that al-Hakim was quoted yesterday as calling again for a federalist system where government power would devolve from Baghdad to the provinces. That’s convenient for him given SCIRI’s influence over the south and its oil wells; that’s also why I couldn’t understand last week how, per the Times of London, the Iraqi army was able to assert itself so quickly in Basra when SCIRI obviously doesn’t want any central authority there. The visit to Anbar, in addition to the goodwill aspect of it, surely also involved some chitchat about bringing the Sunnis onboard for the push towards federalism. They’re reluctant to go that route since Anbar doesn’t have much by way of oil, but if al-Hakim is willing to make a deal with them on resources in exchange for their support for decentralization, it would help isolate Baghdad and give SCIRI a freer hand over its own spheres of influence in the Shiite areas. How Sadr will react to that I guess we’ll see.

One more year, says Anthony Cordesman. The upside is too great to give up now.

Update: WaPo, page A01. The Anbar awakening + the surge + the tragic low-grade ethnic cleansing of mixed neighborhoods = hard times for Wahhabis, possibly to the tune of 60-70% degradation of their capabilities by Gen. Odierno’s estimation.

The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq…

There is widespread agreement that AQI has suffered major blows over the past three months. Among the indicators cited is a sharp drop in suicide bombings, the group’s signature attack, from more than 60 in January to around 30 a month since July. Captures and interrogations of AQI leaders over the summer had what a senior military intelligence official called a “cascade effect,” leading to other killings and captures. The flow of foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq has also diminished, although officials are unsure of the reason and are concerned that the broader al-Qaeda network may be diverting new recruits to Afghanistan and elsewhere…

In Baghdad, the White House official said, the group’s “area of operations has been reduced quite a bit for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad.” Three years of sectarian fighting have eliminated many mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods. Those areas had been the most fertile and accessible places for AQI, which is composed of extremist Sunnis, to attack Shiite civilians, security forces and government officials. But the death of mixed neighborhoods also has made another Bush administration priority — promoting political reconciliation — more difficult. The expanded presence of U.S. troops in combat outposts in many parts of Baghdad has also put pressure on AQI, but a major test of gains against the organization will come when the U.S. military begins to turn security in those areas over to Iraqi forces next year.

Amazingly, some military leaders want to seize the moment and declare victory over AQI, thereby not only opening themselves to another “Mission Accomplished” fiasco if the jihadis regroup but practically daring them to prove us wrong by pouring more men and materiel into the country and setting it on fire all over again. Petraeus and Adm. Fallon reportedly, and thankfully, think it’s a nutty idea.


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I think I can still hear the teeth grinding from WaPo as they admitted to this

Defector01 on October 14, 2007 at 7:39 PM

I have a theory: If the violence subsides for a 4 to 6 months the Iraqi populace will be unlikely to support troublemakers that could return the country to chaos.

liberrocky on October 14, 2007 at 7:40 PM

Rush said the war is over as a Dem. issue. They lost. And the MSM is now providing cover for Hillary to be “moderate” on Iraq. Don’t think the WaPo is beholden to the KosKids.

JiangxiDad on October 14, 2007 at 7:44 PM

I have a theory: If the violence subsides for a 4 to 6 months the Iraqi populace will be unlikely to support troublemakers that could return the country to chaos.

liberrocky on October 14, 2007 at 7:40 PM

I’ve been thinking along those lines too. Think of the effect this kind of stability is likely to have on Iraqi morale–I suspect that a lot of doubters are suddenly starting to realize that this thing can work, and that Iraq doesn’t have to devolve into chaos if ordinary Iraqis decide to pitch in and take ownership of their society. It’s something they’ve never had before, but it looks like it’s starting to catch on.

ReubenJCogburn on October 14, 2007 at 7:50 PM

Nice to see WaPo is catching up with HotAir.

fogw on October 14, 2007 at 8:04 PM

Getting ready for a Hillary presidency, are we?

Bob's Kid on October 14, 2007 at 8:05 PM

I just wish at some point people will realize the correlation from Rumsfeld’s departure and success in Iraq.

Of course Cheney still says that ole Brownie did a heckuva job. But this time last year, the Republicans were in charge of the house and the senate, the war was going bad and spiraling worse, Rumsfeld was still making decisions not to have a troop surge.

The war was the right thing to do. Rumsfeld was the wrong person to lead it. Once we got rid of Rumsfeld, our troops were given what they needed to succeed. Am I missing something here? Or is it still too early to say it was Rumsfeld’s fault? Does that make me unpatriotic?

ThackerAgency on October 14, 2007 at 8:10 PM

liberrocky on October 14, 2007 at 7:40 PM

Let’s hope that we can continue the present successes we’ve been having. It is starting to look like more and more Iraqis are deciding they don’t want to live in a sh*thole, but a couple more months will make things more clear.

BadgerHawk on October 14, 2007 at 8:11 PM

I think that we darn not underestmate the need for the anti war for to push even harder for us to lose now. If Bush starts winning in Iraq that will cause the left to explode into ever greater BDS.

I predict more democratic overtures to Syria and Iran in the next few days.

William Amos on October 14, 2007 at 8:12 PM

Nothing wrong with Federalism, we had it for awhile and decided we needed a stronger central government. But it should be their choice.

bnelson44 on October 14, 2007 at 8:21 PM

I think that we darn not underestmate the need for the anti war for to push even harder for us to lose now. If Bush starts winning in Iraq that will cause the left to explode into ever greater BDS.

I predict more democratic overtures to Syria and Iran in the next few days.

William Amos on October 14, 2007 at 8:12 PM

I’ve been thinking about how this House Resolution 106 fits into what you stated. It seems I’m far to skeptical to think that the Dems have some noble intent. It seems more likely they just want to throw another wrench in the Turkey/Iraqi/Middle East gears.

lowandslow on October 14, 2007 at 8:26 PM

I think I get it now. When Hillary said that Petraeus’ report required a willing suspension of disbelief it’s because it was too pessimistic!

Buy Danish on October 14, 2007 at 8:40 PM

I know this is a big if, but… IF we are able to pull this out and create a stable and free Iraq, I just feel sorry for all the leftists who won’t be able to feel as proud as the rest of the country.

krabbas on October 14, 2007 at 8:46 PM

I know this is a big if, but… IF we are able to pull this out and create a stable and free Iraq, I just feel sorry for all the leftists who won’t be able to feel as proud as the rest of the country.
There are only about 30% of us who have believed in this effort for the duration.

liberrocky on October 14, 2007 at 8:52 PM

WaPo correspondent killed in Iraq.

JammieWearingFool on October 14, 2007 at 8:53 PM

“We stand together in one trench to defeat Iraq’s enemies,” al-Hakim said, with his host, leader of the Anbar movement Ahmed Abu Risha standing next to him.

Just as long as we’re clear on who Iraq’s enemies are.

Connie on October 14, 2007 at 8:54 PM

The war was the right thing to do. Rumsfeld was the wrong person to lead it. Once we got rid of Rumsfeld, our troops were given what they needed to succeed. Am I missing something here? Or is it still too early to say it was Rumsfeld’s fault? Does that make me unpatriotic?

ThackerAgency on October 14, 2007 at 8:10 PM

I have this opinion about Rumsfeld for which I’ve been beaten up by his cheerleaders elsewhere. And let me preface my remarks that he’s been an otherwise good SecDef.

He was enamored with his theory on a light and lethal force, and was right about that when it came to the successful invasion of Iraq and the ousting of the Saddam regime. This was all well and good until the war was actually won.

But he was, in hindsight, woefully wrong about having the right number of “boots on the ground” for the aftermath. In the wake of the downfall of the Iraqi government, we’d have done well to have twice…hell…FIVE TIMES the number of troops to secure the borders and ensure the insurgency was stillborn.

I’m not well enough informed to know how much of that was Rumsfeld’s fault, and how much of that blame lies elsewhere, such as with Bremer, Bush or the military command. But by all accounts I’ve seen, Rumsfeld consistently opposed adding troops when they were sorely needed.

flipflop on October 14, 2007 at 9:09 PM

So the Bushitler War has been won? Won’t the liberal commies be pissed!

God Bless our Heros. I never doubted them for a minute.

DannoJyd on October 14, 2007 at 9:24 PM

So the Bushitler War has been won? Won’t the liberal commies be pissed!
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, OK Chief?

liberrocky on October 14, 2007 at 9:38 PM

But he was, in hindsight, woefully wrong about having the right number of “boots on the ground” for the aftermath. In the wake of the downfall of the Iraqi government, we’d have done well to have twice…hell…FIVE TIMES the number of troops to secure the borders and ensure the insurgency was stillborn.

I’m glad I got some agreement. Thank you. But for those of you still looking for someone strong on defense and the war on terror (other than the New Yorker who has done nothing but refuse a check from a Saudi for the war on terror), JOHN MCCAIN was saying this when it wasn’t popular.

Again, I don’t like McCain for many reasons either. But if you are looking for someone electable, AND someone who is strong on defense and the WOT, AND someone who will stand up for his beliefs no matter what the ‘polls’ say, I don’t see how you can support Guiliani over McCain.

Guiliani won’t stand up to a Democratic Congress when push comes to shove. McCain might.

Now that I’m left with that distasteful choice, I need to go shower for defending McCain who I disagree with on so many issues. But I see him as the best of the top four on the WOT and standing up to the Democrats. I think Guiliani even said he’d vote for McCain if he weren’t running in a debate. Thompson needs to bow out because he’s a dud. His support would probably go to McCain.

ThackerAgency on October 14, 2007 at 9:59 PM

The last few months have seen a marked improvement in the number of American troop deaths – that is DOWN. But April and May of 2007 were the first 2 months in a row that American troop deaths were more than 100 a month two months in a row and April, May and June of 2007 were the first 3 months in a row that American troop deaths were more than 100 a month three months in a row. There have already been more American troop deaths this year than last year and unless American troop deaths go down to practically zero the rest of this year, 2007 will be the worst year yet.
So are American troop deaths down or up? If you had a stock that was up the last few months from a low, but down from last year, would it be up or down? I guess the correct answer would be both.

They whole thing though is still like a doctor treating high blood pressure with finally some substantial success, at least in comparison to before, while the patients Islamocarcinoma is still there festering. General Petraeus himself has said that there can be no military alone solution.

Part of the reason for the glad handing is that al-Hakim was quoted yesterday as calling again for a federalist system where government power would devolve from Baghdad to the provinces.

…but if al-Hakim is willing to make a deal with them on resources in exchange for their support for decentralization

Yes, if they can’t get along together then encourage them to separate. Sure makes sense to me and has since 2003. The much malign strategy that has been around for years and has recently become known as the Biden/Brownback plan.

The window of opportunity may be open again for a while to at least spin a little silver out of straw, declare mission accomplished, well “close enough for government work”, and then get the Foxtrot out. (Except for Kurdistan)

MB4 on October 14, 2007 at 10:32 PM

IF we are able to pull this out and create a stable and free Iraq, I just feel sorry for all the leftists who won’t be able to feel as proud as the rest of the country.

krabbas on October 14, 2007 at 8:46 PM

If by some small chance there is a stable and free (free to do what?) Iraq, I will be felling sorry for the Israelis who may then have yet another united enemy. Would a “stable and free” Iraq be more likely to be like Turkey toward Israel or more like Iran toward Israel?

MB4 on October 14, 2007 at 10:44 PM

But April and May of 2007 were the first 2 months in a row that American troop deaths were more than 100 a month two months in a row and April, May and June of 2007 were the first 3 months in a row that American troop deaths were more than 100 a month three months in a row. There have already been more American troop deaths this year than last year and unless American troop deaths go down to practically zero the rest of this year, 2007 will be the worst year yet.
So are American troop deaths down or up?

The reason for the increase in troop deaths was that the fighting was intense to ‘root out’ the terrorists once the troop surge got into place. This was not a surprise as all the commanders said to expect an increase in the death toll initially as we take the fight to the terrorist strong holds.

They weren’t able to fight the insurgents without the troop numbers. As a result, they were dug in pretty deep. Rooting them out unfortunately cost us a lot of American lives. But that is how war is fought. It was understood that as the fighting got more intense, we would have more casualties. But at the end of the operation, there would be more peace.

That’s the whole Machiavelli deal. The ends DO justify the means. If you are brutal initially, you get to the victory sooner. If you dilly dally, it only gets worse and worse and worse.

In April, May, and June, our troops saw the heaviest fighting since the outbreak of the war. WE WON. But we lost a lot of soldiers. NOW, since WE WON, there are fewer deaths.

It’s like a sporting event when you let an underdog hang around until the end. Anything can happen and the superior team might even lose. If you strike hard and fast, you take the heart of the other team and victory is guaranteed.

Sports are not war, but casualties are down now because casualties were up earlier. We are much closer to victory now because all the Iraqis wanted to do was partner with the ‘winner’. After the surge, they realize there is no hope for them and we are the ‘winner’. This is why they will partner with us for peace.

ThackerAgency on October 14, 2007 at 11:10 PM

I’m afraid I need to disagree with:

“Nothing wrong with Federalism, we had it for awhile and decided we needed a stronger central government. But it should be their choice.

“bnelson44 on October 14, 2007 at 8:21 PM”

Under the Constitution we have a federation, and have had one since the Constitution was ratified in 1787 (I think). True, since WWII we have become much more centralized (I think unfortunately), but it’s still a federation. It was the Articles of Confederation that the Constitution replaced were very weak–unworkably so–but that was a confederation
that was designed to give almost all of the real power to the states.

But you’re right, ultimately it IS the Iraqi’s choice about their government.

Kevin K. on October 14, 2007 at 11:10 PM

There are only about 30% of us who have believed in this effort for the duration.

liberrocky on October 14, 2007 at 8:52 PM

Yep I’m a 30%er too and have the bruises to prove it!

Texas Gal on October 14, 2007 at 11:11 PM

Would a “stable and free” Iraq be more likely to be like Turkey toward Israel or more like Iran toward Israel?

MB4 on October 14, 2007 at 10:44 PM

Since American bases will be there for at least the next 50 years I’m not worried about this issue.

Entelechy on October 14, 2007 at 11:34 PM

Now that I’m left with that distasteful choice, I need to go shower for defending McCain who I disagree with on so many issues. But I see him as the best of the top four on the WOT and standing up to the Democrats. I think Guiliani even said he’d vote for McCain if he weren’t running in a debate. Thompson needs to bow out because he’s a dud. His support would probably go to McCain.

ThackerAgency on October 14, 2007 at 9:59 PM

I think it is time to start looking beyond the war on terror as far as it being the sole issue on which Republicans vote. In part because our leading candidates seem to all be on the same page and because Iraq is not going to be the issue that many thought it would be this time next year.

I think the economy is going to be a much bigger issue because the economy is slowing. FWIW.

Bill C on October 15, 2007 at 12:05 AM

The US revolution was over with the treaty of Paris signed 3 septerber 1783 and ratified by congress in 1784.

The US constitutional Convention wrote the constitution in 1787 and it didn’t get ratified until 1789. Washington didn’t become President until 1789. That is nearly 3 years that the US had no effective government following a period of 6 years of mostly inefective government (Article of Confederation signed in 1781) and that was in a time of a very homogenic populance.

And we’ve been expecting Iraq with its two dozen major tribes to get it done in one life time?

Federalism will be the answer in Iraq, but it may take a decade to get there at best.

opusrex on October 15, 2007 at 12:14 AM

Amazingly, some military leaders want to seize the moment and declare victory over AQI, thereby not only opening themselves to another “Mission Accomplished” fiasco if the jihadis regroup but practically daring them to prove us wrong by pouring more men and materiel into the country and setting it on fire all over again. Petraeus and Adm. Fallon reportedly, and thankfully, think it’s a nutty idea.

I completely agree–let’s just stick with the ass-kicking, which is working, and forego the premature celebrations. If I was GEN Petraeus, I’d personally give a big ol’ pimpslap to everybody that wants to celebrate before the mission’s complete. And the Petraeus pimp hand is strong.

ReubenJCogburn on October 15, 2007 at 12:17 AM

Prediction time!

What year will the following first appear in an American history book:

The Iraq War began to show progress not long after the Democratic Party gained control of Congress in 2006. In less than a year’s time, US forces were well on their way to victory.

Anyone want to hazard a guess?

MikeZero on October 15, 2007 at 12:22 AM

Hi MikeZero,
Given Harry Reid’s “we have lost in Iraq” statement, I’m not sure even the Democrats could pull off such magnificent chutzpah. But who knows… I should never underestimate them.

dave_lantos on October 15, 2007 at 12:29 AM

It wouldn’t take much chutzpah at all. See, the beauty of it is that it’s factually accurate. It’s the context that counts and they can conveniently leave that out. In 30 years my grandkids will be telling me that the Democrats won the Iraq War.

MikeZero on October 15, 2007 at 12:32 AM

Petraeus and Adm. Fallon reportedly, and thankfully, think it’s a nutty idea

All I can say is, thank God for Gen Petraeus.

bnelson44 on October 15, 2007 at 12:45 AM

I’m almost tempted to say “don’t post stuff like this”, because what it will do in the long run, is get libs stirred up to force a surrender again, which as we know emboldens the enemy, and leads to increased violence. I wish we could just let the job get done, and keep the media busy chasing Paris Hilton, and then let the guys and gals come home. As long as the media and the Democrats are invested in defeat, they’re going to step up their criticisms when things look positive. They WANT us to lose, as we’ve discussed before, progress simply cannot stand… so I’m actually kind of wishing the MSM would completely ignore the progress at this point.

By the way, with all of these positive progress reports rolling in, has anyone asked House Whip Jim Clyburn if these developments are “big problems” for the Democratic Party. He said it would be “a big problem”, I’m just curious if he’s feeling the negative affects of positive developments. POS.

RightWinged on October 15, 2007 at 2:24 AM

Yep I’m a 30%er too and have the bruises to prove it!

Texas Gal on October 14, 2007 at 11:11 PM

Bruises are nothing compared to what our heroes have to endure. This soldier (Channing Moss)had a live grenade(rpg)in him.
God Bless these heroes.

WildBillK on October 15, 2007 at 2:38 AM

I see the picture of those two and immediately think of Lisa One Eye Lopes singing:
Let’s talk about O&G
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about it

Should be interesting. I do not see how Shiite and Sunni willingly share. Good that the US is there to make them.

pc on October 15, 2007 at 3:05 AM

Rush said the war is over as a Dem. issue. They lost. And the MSM is now providing cover for Hillary to be “moderate” on Iraq. Don’t think the WaPo is beholden to the KosKids.

JiangxiDad on October 14, 2007 at 7:44 PM

Could be that AQI, Inc. are just laying off until after next year’s election. Reduce the violence and the MSM doesn’t report the news. The percieved lack of good news allows the dems to win. Then after “Madam President” takes office, a burst of violence will get her to pull the troops out. They get what they want, just by being patient and playing the MSM and dems like a finely tuned violin.

Texas Nick 77 on October 15, 2007 at 5:50 AM

It’s too early to be bragging. WaPo knows this and is trying to set things up for another “mission accomplished” moment.

If you want to know how things are really going in Iraq, read the multi national force website, especially the news release section. That’s an eye opener.

dogsoldier on October 15, 2007 at 6:50 AM

This isn’t a trend yet…why are they reporting it.

tomas on October 15, 2007 at 7:03 AM

actually, they are really saying guys you better have a big attack or we might lose…come on.

tomas on October 15, 2007 at 7:08 AM

Yes no victory celebrations yet please. If they are indeed down they step on their damn necks and keep them down.

By the way sixty suicide bombings a month? Is that incredible to anyone else that they can find that many willing pawns to do this sort of thing?

Dash on October 15, 2007 at 8:37 AM

Texas Nick 77 on October 15, 2007 at 5:50 AM

Scary. I was thinking the same thing. Or possibly that they might be laying low until they have enough assets in place to launch a full-on “surge” of their own just before the election, to ensure a win for the Hildebeast.

I was never in the military (flunked the eyesight requirement on every service’s physical), but in law enforcement, I learned a lot about street gangs. And one of the very first things I learned was that when the local gangs get quiet and “go bush”, it’s because they’re getting ready to go on a tear.

And AQI operates a lot like a street gang.

cheers

eon

eon on October 15, 2007 at 8:39 AM

Well, this certainly throws a monkey wrench into the media’s action line of “America/Bush is losing in Iraq.” Methinks the media is giving some leeway only to snap it back when something they perceive goes wrong

reppac122 on October 15, 2007 at 9:09 AM

Re: Rumsfeld.

We must be careful to not turn him into a scapegoat, even though Bush offered him up as one (and he manfully accepted the role).

Wars evolve. What wins wars is analogous to making bread. It isn’t ready to bake until the yeast has risen. It isn’t ready to eat until it’s cooled down a bit after baking.

Wars are fought the same way.

We look back at WWII as the inevitable march towards victory, that was somehow preordained on December 8, 1941. But it wasn’t (1) easy, or (2) inevitable.

Japan and Germany made mistakes and so did we. Think how things would have gone if Yamamoto personally led the attack on Pearl Harbor (the subject of Gingrich/Forschen’s new book, Pearl Harbor) instead of remaining back in Japan.

If you look at the horrific KIA/WIA battle toll from WWII, you have to wonder how and why America tolerated it. Thousands of men died, were wounded, or were captured at Arnheim. It was a huge intelligence clusterf*ck of massive proportions. So was the Battle of the Bulge where the American dead were numbered in the tens of thousands. Nobody expected Iwo Jima to be so bloody, and Okinawa was hell on earth.

Yet, even generals and admirals learn on the job. Halsey learned the hard way at Leyte when he disobeyed orders to chase a phantom. Bradley the hard way learned when he left the Ardennes undermanned. Yet both Bradley and Halsey retained their jobs.

And that’s my point.

The war in Iraq was just like every other war: Filled with friction, clouded by a fog, and with the actors stumbling over their lines and stage props on their journey to Act 5.

We fought an EXCELLENT WAR, and Rumsfeld was a major architect of it. We advanced 3 times faster than Patton ever did. We conquered TWO SEPARATE NATIONS, each nearly 26 million in population, in a total of 6 weeks combat time. We accomplished all this at a casualty rate of about *ONE PERCENT* of that of WWII. That was absolutely incredible!

And even now, after 4 years of war in Iraq, 5 in Afghanistan, our total KIA count is less than the losses incured at Normandy, on only 1 day, D-Day.

When we took Baghdad, we faced 10 divisions with 3+. The “conventional wisdom” from the siege of Troy through Vietnam was that you always needed 3 or more times the defender’s strength to successfully attack a defended place. We did it with the odds REVERSED, 1 to 3.

Rumsfeld REVERSED the decline perpetrated by the Clintons. He initiated new doctrine, even new tactics. Don’t forget that Petraeus had already served in Iraq with Rumsfeld as SECDEF. So, the architect of the surge was, no doubt, immersed on HIS own learning curve with Rumsfeld at the helm.

Yes, there is reason to criticise Rumsfeld, Bremer, Bush, and Powell. And even Petraeus as well as Sanchez and all the rest of the generals. Nobody is perfect (especially when fighting a war), and everybody makes mistakes. And we made many, that’s for sure.

We could have lost WWII. But we didn’t. We could have lost Afghanistan and Iraq, but we won’t.

Whatever blame you apportion out to Rumsfeld, please remember to accord him the credit due him.

That’s all I have to say.

georgej on October 15, 2007 at 10:00 AM

Bush has a bigger problem politically than just the need to win in Iraq. He has to remind the public “Why” we are there, and that we were “Just” and not the ‘aggressor’, and all the connections and funding of Terrorism Saddam had, etc.

jp on October 15, 2007 at 10:40 AM

Georgej, so you are saying that since he was better than ‘hatchet man’ Clinton for the military, he was ‘good’? OK, I’ll give him credit for the first 6 weeks. Although his failures to secure the border and keep people from looting in the streets initiated all the rest of the failures in Iraq.

I’d give him the benefit of the doubt if when he was over there and the soldiers asked him for Armored Vehicles he said, ‘we’ll get you what you need’. He didn’t. He condescendingly said ‘we go to war with the army we have, not the army we want’.

Durning WWI and WWII ALL PRODUCTION went into building ships, planes, tanks, trucks. We built planes trucks and tanks faster than the germans or Japanese could blow them up. We were a machine. No civilian cars were made because everything went to the war effort. WWI, and WWII was not focused on ‘going to war with the army you have’.

HE decided to send troops into harms way without the equipment that they needed. HE didn’t see any need or urgency to get the trucks they need (which the Pentagon has now ordered 20,000). HE decided that we didn’t need more troops. HE would not have gone out in those unprotected vehicles. If he did, I’d have had more respect for him.

AFTER he left, things started getting better. Can we say that? Can we infer anything from that? Or do you want to give credit to the Democratic congress for the new found success?

His negligence got lots of soldiers killed unnecessarily.

ThackerAgency on October 15, 2007 at 10:55 AM

I agree it’s too early to start blaming Rumsfeld. From what I’ve read, THE key to the current success is the cooperation of the local Sunnis. Would that have even been possible if a heavy American footprint had been sitting on the Sunnis since the invasion? Perhaps the virtual control of Sunni areas by AQI was a key prerequisite for success in convincing Sunnis to support the US forces and US-backed central gov’t. The grass always looks greener, until it comes in and rapes your daughter.

Clark1 on October 15, 2007 at 10:55 AM

I think its way too soon to say we have ‘won’ in Iraq. However I think we are ready to make a statement that “The Surge” has been successful. The surge gave us enough troops to enact a proper counterinsurgency doctrine, which has paid off tremendously. This, and the fact that the Sunnis finally realized that ANYTHING is better than life under Al Qaeda.

BohicaTwentyTwo on October 15, 2007 at 11:09 AM

ThackerAgency on October 15, 2007 at 10:55 AM

Um, you do know that CONGRESS decides Force SIZE, Structure, and armament?

Sec Def can ask… through the Administration… but he can’t appropriate money or change the size of the Armed Forces.

Key here was that I don’t think Bush thought he needed it enough to spend political capital on actualy increasing the size of the armed forces, until OTHERS outside the administration called for it.

Other part of the problem is that the Army is a combat entity… built for the feild of battle… not for occupation and Nation Building.

The other branches of the government have NOT stepped up to do their parts… The ARMY should not be training police… the ARMY should not be running power plants… the ARMY should IS not in charge of helping the Iraq government formulate (shoudl be state… but Condi seems to be too busy trying to surrender Palestine…)…

I think Rummy did the best he could with what he was given… just wasn’t enough.

There has NEVER been a General in history who did not want more troops at the point of attack… but in our system its the CONGRESS who decides how many we’ve got.

Romeo13 on October 15, 2007 at 11:26 AM

Rumsfeld did not ever say he needed more troops when asked. He never lobbied for more armor for his troops – he just said, ‘you guys go out there and do your job and quit whining about your inadequate equipment’.

If I was Secretary of Defense, I would have put these new bomb resistant trucks in the spotlight FROM THE FIRST TIME A SOLDIER WAS KILLED in a roadside bomb. Again, the surge in troops (which seems to have been successful so far) could have only been done AFTER Rumsfeld was gone.

not enough troops, not enough armor. . . those are two things the secretary of defense should be shouting from the rooftops. Sure, blame everyone. Make sure not to blame the guy whose departure led directly to our success.

Rah Rah Rummy. . . doing a heckuva job. . . it’s too bad he didn’t stay around til the end of the term isn’t it?

ThackerAgency on October 15, 2007 at 12:00 PM

ThackerAgency: “Georgej, so you are saying that since he was better than ‘hatchet man’ Clinton for the military, he was ‘good’? OK, I’ll give him credit for the first 6 weeks. Although his failures to secure the border and keep people from looting in the streets initiated all the rest of the failures in Iraq.”

I’m specifically saying that war-fighting is NOT a perfect science. That mistakes get made. I listed a whole bunch of them made during WWII that cost thousands of American lives. And I made the point of noting that in this war, our losses have not been that great, despite these mistakes. The implication ought to be obvious to all but the oblivious: WE HAVEN’T MADE THAT MANY MISTAKES! And Rumsfeld deserves some of the credit, as well as some of the blame.

It took more than a year for an “uprated” Sherman tank to be deployed to Europe, in enough numbers, with a gun big enough to defeat the armor of the German tanks. And that was with (as you correctly note), the ENTIRE INDUSTRIAL MIGHT OF AMERICA involved.

Such an effort simply is not economically feasable now. That’s why it didn’t happen. It takes too long to design, build and deploy new armaments. Nevermind the institutionalized competing program back-stabbing that has been endemic in the Pentagon since 1952.

Rumsfeld was right when he told the troops that modern wars are “come as you are.” He spoke it in language that the troops understood, despite the fact that the trooper involved was a media plant. It’s logistics and existing equipment that wins wars in the 21st Century.

He is not, nor should be, the scapegoat in this war. There is enough blame to go around. And if anybody must be singled out, I’d nominate Saddam Hussein, because if he wasn’t in power killing Kurds and Shiites and Iranians and Kuwaitis, and trying to make nukes (Osirak) and chemical weapons, WE WOULD NOT HAVE INVADED in the first place.

georgej on October 15, 2007 at 4:39 PM