January 18, 2007

General Who? (Minor Attributional Update)

Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATE: We should have provided a link to the policy paper "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq" (hat tip to commenter Tomy); also, Gen. Jack Keane was not the primary author but one of the secondary authors. Everything said about the plan itself is accurate, however, as is Keane's advocacy of the plan to the president, and the fact that it formed the basis of the president's final decision.

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- now chaired by noted moderate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE, 100%) -- called several retired generals to testify that increasing our troop strength in Iraq was exactly the wrong thing to do... that we should be decreasing them instead.

The generals who testified were:

  • Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, Commander in Chief of Central Command from 1991 through 1994, after the Gulf War;
  • Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, Commander in Chief of Southern Command from 1994 through 1996;
  • Army Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Headquarters, Department of the Army 1981-1985 and Director of the National Security Agency 1985-1988. Odom is mostly known for saying we should not have deposed Saddam Hussein; for demanding our "immediate withrawal" of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2005; and for opposing the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program;
  • Army Gen. Jack Keane, Vice Chief of Staff and Acting Chief of Staff of the United States Army (ret. 2003). Keane's views on the surge were not reported by the New York Times... likely because he is the one of the authors of a policy paper this month titled "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq" [the principal author is Frederick W. Kagan, not Keane, as we incorrectly reported yesterday]. This paper was instrumental in persuading President Bush to adopt the change of course in our Iraq strategy that included building up our troop strength in Baghdad and Anbar provinces.

    The Times notes only that Keane said that if we start pulling out -- as the other retired generals advocate -- “We will be shot at as we are going out;” they more or less imply that he joins the others in testifying against the policy that he, himself persuaded Bush to adopt... which is rather underhanded practice on the Times' part, I must say!

Note that not a single general (except Keane) has any military experience post-9/11; in fact, Gen. Odom has no military experience after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Conspicuous by their absence are such previously celebrated retired military officers as Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff of the United States Army; and Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Commander in Chief of United States Central Command. They were earlier trotted out (by anti-Bush Democrats) as the cream of the cream of military advisors -- back when Bush had rejected increasing the troop levels, and Shinseki and Zinni forcefully argued that we needed to do just that to win the war.

Is that why they appear to have gone from sine qua non to personae non gratae in one quick election?

Say, here's a thought: wouldn't it be effective were the president to set up a video conference between Shinseki, Zinni, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, President Bush -- and Commander of Multinational Forces - Iraq, Lt.Gen. David Petraeus, to explain the entire strategic change of course... and see if we can enlist Shinseki and Zinni to promote it?

What would Slow Joe Biden say then, I wonder...?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 18, 2007, at the time of 05:53 PM

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The following hissed in response by: SkyWatch


Please tell me of the forms going around they say the oppiste.

The above hissed in response by: SkyWatch [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2007 07:55 PM

The following hissed in response by: Tomy


The plan layed out by Kean-Kagan "Choosing Victory: A plan for Success In Iraq" is well thought out and provides convincing and historical evidence that success is possible. The following excerpt, I believe, is central to the document:

The recently released military doctrinal manual on counter- insurgency operations declares, “The cornerstone of any [counterinsurgency] effort is establishing security for the civilian populace. Without a secure environment, no permanent reforms can be implemented and disorder spreads.” This statement encapsulates the wisdom of generations of counterinsurgent theorists and practitioners. The importance of establishing security is manifold.

First, people who are constantly in fear for their lives and for their loved ones do not participate in political, economic, or social processes in a normal way. The fear of violence and death distorts everything they do, think, and feel, and it often changes how they interact even with neighbors and friends. When violence reaches a level at which most people feel themselves to be in danger, as it has in many areas of Baghdad and Anbar, then political processes largely cease to function.

It is not usually possible to use those collapsing processes to redress or control the violence, moreover. In Iraq, as in many other insurgencies, rebel groups take up arms in part to gain leverage that the political process would not otherwise give them. The Sunni Arab rejectionists in Iraq have preferred violence to democracy from the outset because they know that they will not control a truly democratic Iraq. They have therefore hoped to use violence and its threat to force the Shiite majority to give them a much greater say in governing Iraq than their proportion in the population would attain. As long as they believe that violence is providing them with political leverage, they will continue to prefer violence to dialogue. Encouraging the Shiite government to negotiate with them without first containing the violence only reinforces the Sunni Arab rejectionists’ belief in the efficacy of violence to advance their cause.

Ongoing violence within a state, finally, saps the legitimacy of that state’s government in the eyes of its citizens. As the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency manual explains, the first indicator of a government’s legitimacy is “the ability to provide security for the population (including protection from internal and external threats).” Providing security for its people is the core mission of any state. Continual violence and death eliminate the people’s support for the government, leading to an increase in violence as individuals and groups undertake to protect and avenge themselves independently of state structures, legal institutions, or government sanction. Allowing disorder to persist over the long term is extremely hazardous to the health of any government. And America’s objective in Iraq is creating a secure and sovereign national government elected by the Iraqi people. The U.S. government has not given priority to providing security to the Iraqi population from the outset of the war, however. The inadequacy of coalition forces at the end of major combat operations to maintain order is well-known and well-documented now. It is less well-known that American forces continued to under-emphasize the importance of establishing and maintaining security even after the military command and the administration recognized that insurgency and low-grade civil war were erupting in Iraq. America’s commanders in Iraq, notably Generals John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command since mid-2003, and George Casey, commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) since mid-2004, have instead emphasized the need for Iraqis to solve their own security problems. The leading U.S. commanders have, therefore, prioritized using U.S. troops to establish and train Iraqi Security Forces. Indeed, American military commanders have never pursued the defeat of the enemy even after it became obvious that Iraqi forces lacked the ability to do so. As a result, the United States has ceded the initiative to the enemies of the United States and the Iraqi government and permitted the steady deterioration of the security situation.

A couple of notes:

  1. This is a true change in direction, not just a troop increase.

  2. The new couterinsurgency manual referred to above was prepared under the guidance of LTG Petraeus.

The above hissed in response by: Tomy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2007 08:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: MinorRipper

Not sure if everyone has seen these videos of the US military in Iraq or not, but they are pretty amazing: Hopefully our 'surge' will not include too many of these types...

The above hissed in response by: MinorRipper [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 05:52 AM

The following hissed in response by: SkyWatch

It is the Dems who are pushing a draft but I say O.K. lets do it....

We will keep the draftees out of Iraq but we sure need to start teaching people how to fight.

The above hissed in response by: SkyWatch [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 09:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

One comment deleted for being nothing but an insulting bit of twaddle.

Evidently, some Lefty site linked here and directed their readers to come and troll the joint. How clever.

-- the Mgt.

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 09:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Surprise surprise surprise
The NYT uses its editorial 'art' to telllies about America.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 11:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: SkyWatch

BTW Dyfydd,

You have called me a liberal, and a conference poster so even tho I did not see the attack against you (and glad) ,you can not be attacking others as such and not include yourself.

The above hissed in response by: SkyWatch [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 11:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


The personal attack made reference to something that has appeared on Lefty sites before. I speak not in a vacuum.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2007 11:31 AM

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