USA Today: How the war was (almost) lost

posted at 9:51 pm on December 19, 2007 by Allahpundit

A familiar narrative but read it anyway. What if Bush had switched to a counterinsurgency strategy three years ago? Arguably it would have stalled because AQI hadn’t yet alienated Anbar to the point where the Sunnis would switch sides and become U.S. assets. Or would it have strangled the insurgency in its crib, before the cycle of peak sectarian reprisals got going?

Tacitly the piece recognizes that the surge, under Petraeus’s guidance, is working, but at what a cost. The wages of denial:

[A] USA TODAY investigation shows that the strategy now used to defeat the bombmaking networks and stabilize Iraq was ignored or rejected for years by key decision-makers. As early as 2004, when roadside bombs already were killing scores of troops, a top military consultant invited to address two dozen generals offered a “strategic alternative” for beating the insurgency and IEDs…

Bush administration officials, however, remained wedded to the idea that training the Iraqi army and leaving the country would suffice. Officials, including Cheney, insisted the insurgency was dying. Those pronouncements delayed the Pentagon from embracing new plans to stop IEDs and investing in better armored vehicles that allow troops to patrol more freely, documents and interviews show…

“What’s astounding is how long we spent not applying traditional counterinsurgency principles to fighting what obviously was an insurgency,” says Fred Kagan, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and former West Point instructor. “It’s not that we’ve solved the IED problem, per se. It’s that we’ve begun to have success in defeating the insurgents.”…

[Andrew] Krepinevich, [the consultant who addressed the generals in 2004,] who has advised several secretaries of Defense and the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, says “the American military is on the clock in this war, and the American people, in a sense, gave the administration several years to make progress. Those years, to a significant extent, were wasted.”

From one form of denial to another: Here’s Jim Moran, making the case tonight for pulling the plug on the war by alleging that “we” have “ethnically cleansed” Baghdad.

It’s more of a Shiite city than it used to be, but read this and soak in the nuance. Quote: “this is the first Eid since the (U.S.-led 2003) invasion where we feel like we’re in a relatively secure condition.” Col. Ricky Gibbs, stationed in Baghdad’s Rashid district, also disputes that the city’s been ethnically cleansed: “We have lots of mixed areas, we do have some Sunni only areas–and when I say Sunni only I mean 80 percent Sunni, the rest is Shia and others–but we’re not seeing any violence in those mixed neighborhoods. And that’s attributable to the reconciliation efforts we have ongoing here.” The Guardian’s out tonight too with a report of Sunni and Shia Iraqis patrolling together in mixed neighborhoods to keep out militants of whatever sort:

Muhammad, a Sunni Arab, and his Shia colleagues in the neighbourhood watch group are determined to reverse the ethnic cleansing. Last month, the group agreed to protect a Sunni mosque in his street from local Shia militias. They have also been mediating between the divided communities either side of the highway.

The result was an understanding: Sunni families would return to their former homes in the heavily Shia areas, while Shia families crossed back into the mainly Sunni streets. The two communities agreed to guarantee the safety of the returnees. Such was the popular backing for the deal that even the local Mahdi army commander had to acquiesce.

No good news from Iraq comes without a sinister note, though, so here it is via Bill Ardolino: If you believe the Gulf News, Maliki himself is trying to torpedo the Shiite “awakening” before it gets going so that they don’t pose any threat to the militias.

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This stuff just annoys me no end.

Arrrgh.

Bob's Kid on December 19, 2007 at 9:54 PM

Get a brain, Moran!

Bad Candy on December 19, 2007 at 9:57 PM

Liberals don’t want our magnificent military men and women to win; liberals want us to lose in Iraq. Consequently, liberals should be regarded as unpatriotic, low life scum.

Phil Byler on December 19, 2007 at 9:58 PM

?

amend2 on December 19, 2007 at 10:00 PM

Here’s Jim Moran, making the case tonight for pulling the plug on the war by alleging that “we” have “ethnically cleansed” Baghdad.

One simple letter could transform this into reality.

Entelechy on December 19, 2007 at 10:03 PM

One simple letter could transform this into reality.

Entelechy on December 19, 2007 at 10:03 PM

Yeah, Zoran

TheSitRep on December 19, 2007 at 10:28 PM

TheSitRep on December 19, 2007 at 10:28 PM

Zoltan!

http://home.earthlink.net/~realbadger/dudealex.jpg

lorien1973 on December 19, 2007 at 10:33 PM

Bush administration officials, however, remained wedded to the idea that training the Iraqi army and leaving the country would suffice.

It’s good we’ve given up completely on training the IA/IP. Or better said “Get a brain, Moran!”

Thing that pisses me off about Petraeus’s “surge” has to be the lack of credit given to men like Col. MacFarland or Capt. Patriquin. Petraeus does deserve credit for changing the politics of the situation (as one philosopher said, “an army is best animated by one spirit”) but he wasn’t in command of the units that initiated the risky operations to close with the enemy. Even on the right-blogosphere, we do not give credit to the proper people.

Oh, and while ranting, this isn’t counter-insurgency as according to Petraeus. To have that, you first must have insurgents. As Ollie North wrote:

But this is no “guerilla insurgency.” By definition, “guerillas” or “insurgents” represent an organized political alternative to an established regime. Radical Sunni and Shi’ite clerics like Muqtada Al-Sadr, who tortured and killed 200 men, women and children, and buried them in a mass grave in Najaf, don’t promise to make things better for the Iraqi people. Nor do the remaining Baath Party warlords or foreign extremists like Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. These men inciting gunfights in Iraq aren’t “insurgents,” they are anarchists. They offer no unified “platform” other than “jihad!” When they aren’t shooting at coalition or Iraqi security forces, they are trying to kill each other. Dangerous? Yes. A “guerilla army”? No.

Counter-insurgency? No. Counter-terrorism? Yes, on a very large scale using a professional military force in a third world nation.

Sorry for the rant, but between this and AoSHQ comments, not that happy.

TheEJS on December 19, 2007 at 10:39 PM

Sorry for the rant, but between this and AoSHQ comments, not that happy.

TheEJS on December 19, 2007 at 10:39 PM

Eh, I kinda like the haloscan comments. They remind me of the old comment system before New Comments Thingy.

Bad Candy on December 19, 2007 at 10:42 PM

So Krepinevich goes and speaks to top generals, who say nothing, but USA Today wants to pin it on Darth Cheney and Scooter.

And to help, they bring in Paul Eaton — who was supposed to train the Iraqi Army and whose big NYT op-ed manages to not mention counter-insurgency at all.

Plus, no mention of issues related to the top military brass at the time.

M’kay.

Karl on December 19, 2007 at 10:49 PM

Bad Candy on December 19, 2007 at 10:42 PM

You are bizarre, but strangely arousing. Bookmark!

Granted the haloscan is easier to access, and doesn’t usually flop like the new comments thingy (or induce terrible lag-related migraine), but I like to keep multiple windows opened like a running AIM box.

TheEJS on December 19, 2007 at 10:50 PM

It took longer because the iraqis thought we would bug out in less than a year…they were hedging there bets, trying to survive. Most chose wrong.

Also, the difference between Iraq from the first to second war is night and day. If you can’t see a terrorist influence in tactics and general attitude your are frigging idiot.

tomas on December 19, 2007 at 10:55 PM

I’s sorry but I just don’t get these people

KBird on December 19, 2007 at 11:02 PM

USA Today,

The surge is working, but ……

USA Tomorrow,

The Sunnis and Shiites have made peace, but …..

USA Next Week,

Al Qaeda has been completely driven from Iraq, but …..

USA Next Month,

The utility grid is up and running at 100%, but …..

USA Next Year,

The troops are finally leaving Iraq, but …..

USA Next Decade,

Democracy thriving in Iraq, but …..

Terms such as accomplishment, perseverance, success and victory, in concert with anything associated with the Bush foreign policy, are unthinkable to the editors at USA Today and all the other liberal rags out there.

We know what to expect, but I am so disgustingly sick of listening to all of their cockeyed pessimism.

fogw on December 19, 2007 at 11:08 PM

When I opened the door of my hotel room this morning, I looked down and saw a USA Today at my feet. The front cover had this same story and made it sound like “Ok, we admit it, the surge is working, but, but, but it should’ve been done sooooner!”

Damned if ya do, damned if ya don’t. Ya just can’t win. It went right into the trash where it belongs.

Tony737 on December 19, 2007 at 11:16 PM

fogw, sorry, I must’ve been readin’ your mind and said the same thing … wait, what the …? Is that Halle Berry, stripping? Whoa, fogw, I like what I see when I read your mind!

Tony737 on December 19, 2007 at 11:19 PM

Tony737,

Close. It was Salma Hayek.

fogw on December 19, 2007 at 11:24 PM

mmmmmmm Selma Haaaaaayak … You have good taste in women, fogw, and good sense for politics.

Tony737 on December 19, 2007 at 11:34 PM

Whoa, fogw, I like what I see when I read your mind!

Tony737 on December 19, 2007 at 11:19 PM

Face value.

p.s. nothing wrong with real men :) Cheers to both of you,

Entelechy on December 19, 2007 at 11:44 PM

TheEJS on December 19, 2007 at 10:50 PM

If you’re a dude, I don’t swing that way, NTTAWWT

Bad Candy on December 20, 2007 at 12:02 AM

Bad Candy on December 20, 2007 at 12:02 AM

You don’t allow college-attending, white males to visit your website? How rude, but “super super cereal” Hetero of you!

TheEJS on December 20, 2007 at 12:52 AM

Heh.

Bad Candy on December 20, 2007 at 12:56 AM

From one form of denial to another: Here’s Jim MoranMoron, making the case tonight for pulling the plug on the war by alleging that “we” have “ethnically cleansed” Baghdad.

Nothing more need be said….

91Veteran on December 20, 2007 at 1:34 AM

One simple letter could transform this into reality.

Entelechy on December 19, 2007 at 10:03 PM

No need for that. Just shift the emphasis to the first syllable.

Bigfoot on December 20, 2007 at 9:14 AM

If liberal is an ethnic, continue cleansing.

right2bright on December 20, 2007 at 10:00 AM

This man is a dishonest, corrupt, Anti-American, Anti-Semitic, bigoted fool, abusive fool.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A25332-2004Jun8.html

http://www.noagenda.org/democrats/jim_moran/

apostle53 on December 21, 2007 at 9:24 AM