Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Prezi-didn't Has A Plan That Isn't

Yesterday and today I took some time to read all of the 35 page PR blurb that pretends to be Bush's National Strategy for Victory In Iraq. Let me just say that this isn't a plan at all - its a half-assed mish-mash of wishful thinking, delusion, lies and political crap put together by someone with a fetish for bullet points. No-one who ever worked in any kind of management position, ran their own business or held a position of command in any military would put together something like this, call it a "plan" and not expect to be looking for new employment by the end of the week.

To explain why I think it is so terrible, I am going to put together a few bullet points of my own and then add some illustrations from other commenters.

  • Here, for a kick-off, is the single worst mistake the Bush administration could possibly have made - following a description of "Rejectionists" (and didn't some smartass PR spinner get a huge pat on the back for that one?), Saddamists and outright terrorists comes this beauty:

    There are other elements that threaten the democratic process in Iraq, including criminals and Shi'a religious extremists, but we judge that such elements can be handled by Iraqi forces alone and/or assimilated into the political process in the short term.

    Which basically says criminals are free to continue kidnapping Iraqis for ransom (a huge problem in Iraq) without US interference but also, and far more importantly, that the Shia and Kurds are free to form militias, infiltrate those militias into the Iraqi government, send out death squads, lock people up in basements, torture and starve those people, drill through their heads and dump them by the riverside - and all of that is beyond the remit of American troops! As is using violence to break up Iraq into three provinces or exporting terror into Kurdish parts of NATO allies like Turkey. They may as well have said "The Sunnis are the enemy and anything done to them is OK by us". Believe me, that is how it will be read in Iraq and across the moslem world. Its how it will be played by AlQaida and other Islamists. Sheesh, what a dumb way to put things. Even worse, this anti-Sunni prejudice is reiterated throughout the document - its no accident of one phrase.

    Bang goes the "Political Track" and the "Security Track" - which means the "Economic Track" is fubar'ed too and its full speed ahead for civil war as a matter of pure Sunni survival. One has to wonder how much the US Ambassador to Iraq, previously a supporter of being soft on both the Taliban and Iran, had to do with this wording.

  • Then of course there's the timetable thing.

    Arbitrary deadlines or timetables for withdrawal of Coalition forces -- divorced from conditions on the ground -- would be irresponsible and deadly, as they would suggest to the terrorists, Saddamists, and rejectionists that they can simply wait to win.

    I've talked about the fact that for everyone else timetables and milestones go together elsewhere. I will limit myself to noting that a timetable is the only way to bring the majority of the Sunni insurgency into any kind of negotiations (it doesn't have to be the real timetable, give yourselves lots of leeway!) and that the notion that any part of the "enemy" could wait out the occupation then begin again after months of ceasefire and still enjoy any form of popular support is ludicrous. No terror group has ever survived long without a modicum of popular support, and a ceasefire always destroys any support for a return to violence.

    Oh yeah...and the line about "No war has ever been won on a timetable -- and neither will this one," is just PR hokum they hope you believe. Wars need timetables. It's why we have phrases like "D-Day" in the language.

  • There's absolutely no...I repeat, no...reference to properly equipping the Iraqi armed forces. As I wrote a few days ago, that means this administration wishes Iraq to be dependent on the Coalition for its security against external threats such as Syria or Iran. It also means Iraq will be dependent upon the coalition - for at least the next five years - for heavy weapons and support in the fight against terrorists or the insurgency. This is why the "we will step down as the Iraqis step up" line is so misleading. It is why any exit strategy which does not include fully and properly equipping the Iraqi military in the way a national military should be is misleading.

  • Here are the assumptions the Bush administration must tell itself in order to justify "staying the course":

    Our Strategy Is Working. Much has been accomplished in Iraq, including the removal of Saddam's tyranny, negotiation of an interim constitution, restoration of full sovereignty, holding of free national elections, formation of an elected government, drafting of a permanent constitution, ratification of that constitution, introduction of a sound currency, gradual restoration of Iraq's neglected infrastructure, and the ongoing training and equipping of Iraq's security forces.

    But...while Saddam has been overthrown no-one was "greeted as liberators". The interim constitution was pilloried by all sides as weighted to preserve US, not Iraqi, interests. Sovereignty is a joke when the national military is a joke and British tanks can drive through an Iraqi jail. The national elections were notable mainly for Sunni non-participation which allowed a constitution to be drafted which heavily penaized Sunni interests. That constitution was then ratified only by gerrymandering the vote shamelessly. Infrastructure restoration has been sapped by security costs, graft and corruption as well as by ongoing attacks that are costing millions daily in lost revenue. The training and equipping of Iraq's armed forces I've already mentioned. Oh, and if the dinar is so solid why has the occupation only begun to pay its Iraqi food suppliers in dinars on 1st November and why are the Iraqi contractors still insisting on being paid in dollars?

    It looks like not one of their assertions is quite as solid as they would like us to believe or as they are deluding themselves.

    So that's some of my own thoughts. The rest pretty much echo the following pundits and experts:

  • Expert analyst Dr. Jeffrey Lewis points to a whopping lie about numbers of Iraqi forces trained. Adam Entous with Reuters obtained internal Defense Department documents in September 2004 that revealed only 8,169 had completed the full eight-week academy training. That means 46,176 of what are publicly being called “trained and equipped” forces by the "Strategy" were listed privately as “untrained.”

  • Defense reporter Noah Shachtman says kiss the "oil-spot" theory goodbye - there aren't going to be enough troops for it to work. There will be little "clearing" and "holding" no matter what the Strategy says. Certainly the events in Ramadi today, where around 400 militants led by the group al-Qaeda in Iraq took control of the centre of rebel city Ramadi for several hours after firing mortars at US and government bases, seem to say he is right. So too does the current offensive in the area of the town of Hit - the third such offensive there this year.

  • Notice that the Strategy doesn't mention the state of the US military after three years in Iraq? Rep. John Murtha says it is "broken, worn out" and unable to meet any new threats. He also says, that, the Strategy notwithstanding, the US will be forced by that weakness to withdraw most ground units from Iraq next year.

  • The veterans of the war in Iraq at Operation Truth are scathing. Paul Rieckhoff says no metrics and no timetable equals a plan in name only. Perry Jefferies says its more "focus on politicking and his perception and the ignorance of what is happening on the ground, the effects on Soldiers, the nation, and Iraq; and a stubborn demand to 'stay the course' without actually defining it." Brian Van Reet thinks "the questions Americans have about the war in Iraq are deeper than George Bush is willing to address," and I have to agree with him.

  • Think Progress were on the ball. One of the first to respond and one of the most accurate.

    The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as “metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use.” Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq. Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President “determined to stay his course.”
  • No comments: