Patterico's Pontifications

4/4/2007

Iraq: Mixed Feelings

Filed under: General — Teflon Don @ 8:16 am

Patterico asked for my thoughts and reaction to this Powerline piece, featuring a particularly gloomy view of Iraq from an anomymous soldier somewhere in the south. Badger 6 has already weighed in lower on this page, and he illustrates many of the differences between the author’s area, and the area of al-Anbar in which we both serve. I’ll focus more on my reactions than re-stating what Badger 6 has already written.

Iraqi police in Southern Iraq are not in the fight against the militias at all.

 In most cases police stations are manned by JAM members in police uniforms who actively aid the terrorists.

On the rare occasion that a Shia terrorist is actually arrested by an ISF unit, he must be turned over to CF immediately or he will be released by the police or courts.

In addition, politicians from the city council to the CoR, if not Maliki himself, make calls and appearances on behalf of the terrorist, often threatening the job (if not the life) of the offending ISF leader with the audacity to actually do his job.

In these statements, the author seems to mistake the reality of his micro-cosm of southern Iraq for the reality of the nation as a whole. Obviously, some area of Iraq are better off than others. Some seem to be slipping into chaos, such as Basra. Others seem to be slowly emerging from chaos, such as Ramadi. Iraq is too diverse, too complex, to look at one area and declare the fate of the country. Reporting trouble in one area of the country and declaring the war lost does no one service. Instead, why not examine trouble areas and ask what we can do, or what we can help Iraqis do to make things better?

The situation on the American side is not much better. The careerists in the Army and DoD have learned that not taking chances and reporting only good news up the chain are the  ways to advance their careers.

There is no better counterpoint to this assertion than General Petraeus. His successes in working with, not against, the media, in building a solid Iraqi security force, and in promoting good counterinsurgency doctrine made Mosul an early bright spot in Iraq. Mosul later became increasingly violent, under the less adept hands of other leaders, and finally turned around again under another bright leader- LTC Kurilla of the 1/24 Strikers. LTG Petraeus, meanwhile, has been tasked with the command of all of Iraq. That’s quite a career advancement for someone who took chances and reported bad along with good.

The Army is not flexible enough or well trained enough to win a counterinsurgency.

Someone once said that the Army is doomed to chronicly prepare for the last war, and not the next war. In essence, as junior officers rise, they continue to focus on the strategy and tactics they learned during their time “in the trenches”. As the Powerline author rightly points out, there have been innumerable missteps and mistakes in this war. Many mistakes have been due to commanders inexperienced at COIN. However, I feel we have come to the point at which the cream has begun to rise to the top- the point at which our purpose is more clear, our mistakes are fewer, and our flexible, bright commanders control the field of battle.

Then there’s the domestic political situation which I won’t rehash except to say that it’s crippling to the war effort.  …  Would, should, any rational person bet his life helping CF when you’re expecting them to leave at any time?

This is the one point of the article on which I agree 100% with the author. Why indeed would you fight alongside the soldiers that will leave when you need them the most? Why would you care if the temporary occupiers of your fields are blown apart by IEDs? Why would you devote your tribe’s men, time, and treasure towards the success of a government that you expect to fall as soon as the Americans leave?

What I say I don’t say lightly and I say with regret. But as someone who has been separated from my wife, friends, and family for 20 months already (with four months to go thanks to the surge) and as service members continue to lose life and limb I feel that I can no longer hold my tongue.

Badger 6 said it already- I’ll say it again. Speaking out against the missteps and problems of Iraq as you see them is one thing. Allowing your fatigue to inject bitterness into your comments and color your thinking is another.

We have mismanaged Iraq in ways too numerous to list here  for four years. In order to succeed on the ground we would  have to scrap everything we have done and start over….

I agree with the first point, but not the second.

Shall we tear up the roads we have built? Shall we break apart the hard-won working relations we have forged with the sheiks of al-Anbar? Shall we repeat our first post-invasion mistake,  dissolve the Iraqi Army a second time, and once again leave our troops to face a hostile populace alone?

41 Responses to “Iraq: Mixed Feelings”

  1. What the US Armed Forces and their Coalition partners *have* done is create a brand new way of addressing counter-insurgency that works, as it allows for the Nation they are in to slowly gain capability to fight on its own. The old method of the ‘oil drop’ is always pointed out, but the problem with it is that maintining a few cities alienates the countryside and allows insurgents to become dispersed and endemic… and then they start to attack the cities. Folks from cities are not looked upon well in the countryside, and so have huge problems. This concept has been tried and failed repeatedly, in places like Columbia, Chile, Peru, and large swaths of Africa. That gets you into a decades long, losing fight… even Mexico has this problem. It takes a long time to create a reliable Army which is something that modern education doesn’t teach you, and you have to dig into a bit of history to understand what that takes.

    Quite frankly, looking at the historical record from the Philippines circa 1901 and Haiti circa 1915, the Armed Forces of today have pulled off a miracle and would be the envy of their predecessors from decades past. By using modern telecom on the ground units can get the help of training units back in the States and they examine problems to help come up with solutions. Apparently the training no longer *ends* in Iraq, but is a continuous cycle of work.

    What I would like to see is CENTCOM pulled down by 50% or so to help put some more troops into the rotation cycle, possibly some from PACOM, too. That said the ‘spin up’ time means that is a help a year or so down the road, not immediately if it is done. The Armed Forces of today have achieved something that would be a miracle to any pre-2000 military: figured out how to get supplies out of stores on a timely basis. All of the moaning about armor and such are due to *production* shortfalls, not storage and shipment problems. And do you know who gets that lovely job in the division of powers? Congress does, given wholly to them… so when I hear Congresscritters complaining about shortfalls on production, they should look in a mirror instead of pointing a finger at someone *else*.

    By this point I expect that the fifth time around is getting to be a drag… the Executive can help… but so could Congress as they set the overall force structure and size. I hear so much whining from Congress and see so little of them doing their jobs on things they have oversight for. I have trouble complaining about the troops, the mission or the CinC when the folks doing the supplies and requisitioning are twiddling their thumbs.

    ajacksonian (87eccd)

  2. […] the Good, see Teflon Don’s post responding to the above at Patterico’s Pontifications: In these statements, the author seems […]

    A Second Hand Conjecture » Three Views on Iraq (f55714)

  3. Personally, I believe we should thank every military person who is willing to take the time and make the effort to communicate as best they can what they are seeing at their individual level, and then try to use that input for positive purposes. I don’t think it’s constructive to openly dissect each statement or tear down their input. That will only discourage people from talking freely.

    dale stoy (6920eb)

  4. Hold on, Don. This guy never claimed to speak for all of Iraq: “My job as a Human Intelligence collector provides me with uncommon situational awareness regarding, not Iraq as a whole, but much of southern Iraq.”

    Much of what he says echoes my own thoughts from Baghdad last fall:

    WIN, LOSE, OR DRAWDOWN

    I was right at the frustration level this guy seems to be at. Once you cross the year mark and you still find yourselves doing what you’ve always been doing but somehow expecting a different result, it really begins to wear on you in a way that before you could shrug off as a learning process. Anything that takes more than a year to learn simply isn’t getting learned. It’s called wheel spinning.

    Unfortunately, there are still too many areas of Iraq where OIC’s simply haven’t learned the lessons that should have been passed down to them from years prior. Take Baghdad: when we arrived there from Tal Afar in late summer ’06 it was a total disaster. The war had been on for four years and the capital city (really the only place that mattered in the end) was totally FUBARed. There’s absolutely no excuse for that, other than idiotic generalship.

    There’s plenty of things worth dying for, but incompetence is not that high of my list personally. It’ll get to that point for you too, eventually, where you get fed up with risking your life for what essentially feels like nothing. Not the war necessarily, but rather the war as you see it being fought, as in fought poorly.

    In any event, good luck out there,

    Buck Sargent
    4-23 Infantry
    172nd Stryker Brigade
    Mosul/Tal Afar/Baghdad 2005-06

    Buck Sargent-
    The author begins his piece by stating his “uncommon situational awareness” for his area, but he progresses from there to unequivical statements about Iraq, Iraqi troops, the US Army, and the war in general. The statements he makes may be true in his area, but he allows himself to make statements that seem to apply to all of Iraq, when in fact, they don’t. I don’t disagree with most of what he said- I just want to make it clear that the problems in his area are not the standard all across Iraq. My apologies for not making that more clear.

    ~TD

    Buck Sargent (217529)

  5. To clarify,

    Being frustrated with the war effort does not mean that simply giving up and throwing in the towel is any kind of solution; if anything that just makes the previous four years entirely moot.

    But if these lessons aren’t going to ever be learned, then the outcome may be the same no matter what we do. I want to give Gen. Petraeus time to turn the ship around, but he can’t take all year to do it. Certain moronic decisions from years past need to be countermanded today, not tomorrow or “soon.” And if he doesn’t have the power to do this, then it can’t be done.

    I do think we need to create and foster a sense of inevitability to our success, especially with an eye toward Iraqi opinion. No one wants to be left holding the Bagh and caught supporting the weak horse when the strong horse eventually takes over.

    Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cambodian Killing Fields will pale in comparison to what will happen if we pull up stakes without a foundation firmly in place to hold the line. You’re correct that it would be a whole lot easier if half our country would cease sabotaging their military’s efforts just to score political points for their own side.

    Buck Sargent (217529)

  6. Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cambodian Killing Fields will pale in comparison to what will happen if we pull up stakes without a foundation firmly in place to hold the line. You’re correct that it would be a whole lot easier if half our country would cease sabotaging their military’s efforts just to score political points for their own side.

    Amen, brother. And thank you.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  7. Hey Teflon Don.
    How is the traffic situation in Anbar province?
    I have this theory that in a situation where everybody is allowed to pack heat, that there is less horn honking and more polite motoring in general.
    Wonder if it holds water in the real world.
    You seen any evidence?

    PT

    P.S. thanks for being there.

    papertiger (b56000)

  8. Has anybody bothered to notice that the main reason for the war has been proven false? Sadam Hussein did not have the WMDs Bush insisted he did. That was the reason for the war and if Kerry or Gore had suggested we invade Iraq in order to engage in “nation building” and end 14 centuries of hostility between two groups, Republicans would have called him crazy and demanded his impeachment on grounds of gross incompetence, destroying the American military, causing hundreds of thousands of needless deaths and bankrupting the country for a false cause.
    Yes there will be thousands killed if we leave and Iraq will be a haven for terrorists and the US will have been humiliated and thousands of US soldiers will have died in vain. But that is going to happen anyway.
    But the real reason Bush will not leave is that he is an arrogant self righteous ignoramus who lied his way into this war and now would rather see thousands more killed and billions more spend on this lost cause so he can pass the war on to his successor rather than admit his cocksure arrogance and total ignorance has brought about a disaster for this nation and strengthened terrorists everywhere.
    Ye,s we have a hell of a problem in Iraq and there is no easy answer but the first thing we have got to do as a nation is to realize that Bush is the President and the responsibility and the buck stops with him. He is the one resposible for this debacle and the first step in getting out of this mess is to place the blame where it belongs and impeach this stupid, ignorant self righteous man who has brought about so much harm overseas and divisions here at home.
    And again I defy any Republican, Conservative or Bushhead to tell me that if any democrat had led us into such a disaster you would not be calling for impeachment and even a trial. The fact that 35% of Americans still support him is proof positive that there is an element of this society that would be just as happy living in a fascist state where lies and deceit and manipulation are part and parcel of government policy. Come to think of it, that is exactly the way things are under His Royal Excellency and Protector of the Universe Lord Bush!

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  9. One final thought.. what if we do succeed in bringing democracy and peace and harmony to Iraq..and they vote to join their brother Sheites in Iran in a block against the US? What then? Say we are happy to see democracy in action or claim its time for another regime change?

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  10. We’re obviously going to get slightly different reports from differing areas, etc, but the one thing that has held constant in my own experience in speaking with guys back from Iraq is the frustration with the rules of engagement.

    I told one friend that I was speaking to a prior service recruiter and the road blocks that I was meeting and he emphatically told me not to do it. I thought “Great, he’s a closet pacifist” but his thing was the rules of engagement, and everyone else I’ve spoken with has given similar stories that he went on to tell me.

    Anecdotal, but consistent.

    Ray G (50194a)

  11. God damnit Charlie…

    I know it’s been said before, and I know you’re a tad too dense to actually grasp the idea, but try and follow along…

    “tons and tons of ‘junk metal’ shipments to Syria after our announcement to go to Iraq, but before we got there”

    If you think it was car-bodies and sheet metal, you’re slow.

    And REGARDLESS of that, the reasons put forth to Congress were far more than WMD’s. You have locked on that one point because it’s the only one you can even remotely claim wasn’t true.

    You probably don’t think fire can melt steel either…

    And I find it slightly funny your name is charlie… Is it ok if I call you by your first name of “Victor”?

    And the fact that even before Bush 43 many prominant Dems thought that Iraq had Chemical and Biological weapons is probably a detail just beyond your grasp.

    Cretin.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  12. Charlie, #8:

    You forgot to say that Bush is also a homophobe.

    nk (37b8ef)

  13. To Scott Jacobs and Crew:

    WMD’s shipped out of the country??? Ha-ha-ha-ha!

    And I bet you believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa and that Bush actually won the 2000 election?

    Name just one other instance in the history of the world when a nation, threatened by attack, ditched their best weaponry?

    You people will construct and swallow any lie that’s necessary to keep your little fake worlds glued together.

    You’re pathetic and an embarassament to the species.

    Brent Mack (ca66f3)

  14. Some first principles Charles:

    1) Radical Islam is a threat to global security.

    2)International terrorism, to be done effectively, has had to rely on state sponsors.

    3) Preemptive action to avoid a known and probable threat to personal safety is both natural and, in the case of public safety, a matter of moral obligation on the part of the government.

    A first principle is self-supporting, you can’t prove it. Like I can’t prove to you the color blue is blue. If you see blue, and want to call it green, you’re just not going to be on the same page as the rest of the human race.

    Those things I’ve numbered above are first principles on the war in Iraq, and the GWOT in general. You can argue against them, but you’re really not using anything remotely connected to rational thought to do so.

    Now for some facts that are agreed upon by all parties; even France and the UN:

    1) Saddam Hussein possessed and used WMD at one time, and to this day, items that Iraq admitted to possessing have not been accounted for.

    2) Hussein hosted a number of terrorist organizations for training, and allowed terrorists to reside – or “lay low” – in Iraq frequently. (Saddam’s training camps were well known; they were even equipped with airline fuselages for hi-jack training.)

    Now, tying the undisputable facts to the first principles is easy.

    Ray G (50194a)

  15. a matter of moral obligation

    You’re talking over their head there, Ray…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  16. Brent:

    WMD are not anyone’s “best weaponry.” You know squat about military history, strategy or tactics.

    I’ll save you the tutorial, and merely point out that once a biological agent is released into the atmosphere, both sides are at risk, and thus WMDs are really only effective for terror tactics; by terrorists as we normally think of them, and despots like Saddam on villagers.

    As for your claims, they are all false, and are easily researched.

    This link doesn’t qualify as “research” but it’s a good read nonetheless.
    Hitchens In Slate

    Ray G (50194a)

  17. That link isn’t working for me, so here is the simple paste job.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2162157

    Ray G (50194a)

  18. Hey Cretin why dont you pass that info about Syria along to the CIA which says that Sadam did not have WMDs at the time of the invasion. I am sure they would be happy to have your “intelligence”.

    While you do that you might also explain how the UN and the IAEC went to all the sites that Bushie said there were WMDs before the invasion and found nothing and that after the invasion they have not found the factories that supposedly produced WMDs or any of the tons of materials said to be there. What a marvelous job of moving and hiding all the evidence! Of course, since Syria is a terrorist nation and now, according to you possesses WMDs, we should invade them, should we not? And if we fail to find it there perhaps we should check the North Pole to see if Santa or the reindeer have them..

    You say others thought there were WMDs in Iraq.
    You seem to forget that even those that suspected there were WMDs in Iraq also urged Bush not to invade. (Just thought I would remind you of that fact which you must have forgotten. You Republican elephants have such poor memories!)

    And finally Cretin ,it doesnt matter what others thought because, like me, most believed evidence that was presented by Bush never thinking for an instant that he would ever cherry pick evidence in such a serious matter…. or that “facts were being fixed around the policy” as the Downing street memos said. No!!that only happens in other countries were evil dictators rule..not here in the USA, right Cretin?

    And regardless of what others did or did not believe, Bush was the one that pulled the trigger on the war and so must accept the responsibility for the war and the deaths resulting and saying “but others thought this or that” doesnt absolve him from responsibility.. He is the President, unfortunate though that may be, and therefore the responsibility must fall to him regardless of what others thought or did not think and regardless of what he may claim his horoscope, wiji board or fortune cookie may have told him.

    Yes there were other reasons..all given after the failure to find WMDs..like the implied connection to the attackers on 9/11…. also shown to be false…and yup we are certainly going to be make a model democracy out of Iraq and end 14 centuries of hostility between Sheites and Sunis…and water will flow from the rocks and manna will fall from the heavens…another good reason for the invasion.

    Stop making excuses for Bush, Cretin. He lied and deceived us, or at the very least was negligent in his due dilligence leading up to the war. Perhaps he was too busy reading one of the 92 books he claims he reads each year..!!

    Tell me Cretin, would you be so forgiving if Gore or Kerry had done the same thing? You and I both know the answer to that question.

    Oh and PS Bush is a homophobe..thanks for reminding me NK..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  19. Yes Ray as you said the WMDs were UNACCOUNTED FOR.. and that is the entire case for more UN inspectors and not an invasion.. glad you understand that.

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  20. and that is the entire case for more UN inspectors and not an invasion.. glad you understand that.

    HItchens makes a nice, straight forward answer for that. I could of course just copy it and reword it a bit, but you need to get out more, and, as I’ve already implied, you’re looking at blue and calling it green.

    You’re looking at established facts, and lying to yourself in order to fuel your ideological zeal.

    Ray G (50194a)

  21. Ray we both know this discussion will lead nowhere so I will end it with these remarks

    The principle reason for the war was the supposed construction of WMDs by Iraq as claimed by Bush.

    Against the advice of others and based on selective information Bush invaded.

    Those reasons have proven false. Thousands have died. Billions have been spent. No end in sight.

    I want him to be accountable. You do not..

    I look at the facts. You make excuses.

    End of discussion. Have a good night.

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  22. Oh, Ray, how did you ever get to be so smart?

    By listening to O’Reilly at night and cruising around listening to Limbaugh all day, that’s how.

    Where I come from, we call people like you, “parrots.”

    Brent Mack (ca66f3)

  23. Charlie;
    You are wrong, and the facts show this to be true.

    WMD were part of the case against Saddam, but the overall cause was to strip another state from the list of those enabling international terrorism.

    It is not even debated that Saddam at one time had WMD.

    It is not even debated that this same WMD is still unaccounted for.

    It is not even debated that Saddam had supported various groups of international terrorists, and given safe haven to individual leaders.

    In light of all that, and in the aftermath of 9/11, going to war with someone who was 12 years in severe violation of UN sanctions, and already training and funding terrorism was the obvious and only good answer.

    Ray G (50194a)

  24. “Where I come from, we call people like you, “parrots.””

    But offer no evidence or facts for you point of view.

    It must be a very simple place; no sharp edges, soft pastel colors, easy listening music so as not to exicte the residents.

    Ray G (50194a)

  25. You seem to forget that even those that suspected there were WMDs in Iraq also urged Bush not to invade.

    It’s good not to post specific names, because all of the leadership of the Democratic Party, including Nancy, voted for regime change in Iraq.
    That was even the name of a bill that Pelosi co-authored. It passed both houses and was signed into law by President Clinton.
    So if Charle here had posted a name, he would have been proven a liar quickly.
    When Charle says, “against the advice of others” by others he means Spankie, Shemp, Curlie Joe, and the other members of his tree house club.

    /// sticking my tongue out
    ///// at the Huff Po cross over poster

    papertiger (445b04)

  26. “But offer no evidence or facts for you point of view.” – Ray G

    If you haven’t caught any of the pertinent facts in the past 7 years – why, oh why – would I try to educate you here in this tiny little forum?

    The facts are freely available to anybody with the slightest bit of interest.

    Hint: You won’t find many of them flowing from the mouth of Bill O’Reilly.

    Brent Mack (ca66f3)

  27. Charlie,

    Yes there were other reasons..all given after the failure to find WMDs..

    Brent Mack,

    The principle reason for the war was the supposed construction of WMDs by Iraq as claimed by Bush.

    For the kajillionth time, the reasons for invading Iraq were numerous and all were laid out beforehand. Go away and don’t come back until you’ve managed to wrap your brains around the Joint Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq.

    History will be determined by the documents, not by your sad, biased, revisionist, uniformed and faulty memories.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  28. If you haven’t caught any of the pertinent facts in the past 7 years – why, oh why – would I try to educate you here in this tiny little forum?

    Shorter Brent: “I’m right, everyone knows I’m right, I don’t have to prove that I’m right and if you don’t know that I’m right, you’re stupid.”

    And yet, he’s so wrong. Ironic, ain’t it?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  29. I don’t believe “ironic” is the word/phrase I’d use…

    “Absolutely predictable”, however…

    Seriously, it’s like watching a dog try and lick peanut butter off of the roof of it’s mouth – amusing, yet painful.

    Scott Jacobs (90eabe)

  30. If I could bring this conversation back to the original topics, I would like to reiterate some points made recently by Gen Petraeus.

    It has been CENTCOM’s position from the beginning that this will be a long war with Baghdad’s security as the linchpin of progress. You can’t give a report card a mere 7 weeks into our new direction in that effort. This operation will take months, not weeks to see real indicators of progress. As it stands now, though, there have been some encouraging indicators in Baghdad, in terms of a reduction in sectarian murders; there have been some families returning; and there have been revivals in marketplaces. We all want to see progress such as this and it’s very important to convey the need for progress to our Iraqi counterparts.

    Regarding the Tal Afar conversation, it should be noted that it was the Iraqis that were able to get under control what Al Qaeda did in Tal Afar last week with only some coalition assistance. It was the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Authorities that flew up there in an Iraqi Air Force plane with relief supplies.

    Keep your patience. Fighting insurgencies is a long-term proposition — with our partners in the region we need to remain committed.

    Maj David Small, U.S. CENTCOM spokesman (066f62)

  31. Maxspeak Feb 28, 2007

    On Monday, the Iraqi cabinet approved the new oil law, allowing profitable deals and great power over policy by foreign oil companies. Official media in the US, symbolized by the Washington Post, are completely missing what is going on in this story, hailing it as a triumph of Iraqi national unity and reconciliation.

    This extends my earlier post on this in which I provided a link to an English translation of the new law. I misspoke in that post attributing the translation to the poster, Raed Jarrar, when in fact it was translated by Greg Muttitt, who hangs out at nishaq.org. High quality details of the negotiations involved in all this can be found also at al-ghad.org, where one can find a link to the Kurdish law on petroleum passed in Sept. 2006.

    Other useful links include one posted by Juan Cole yesterday to Pepe Escobar of Asia Times and also commentary on stories in al-Hayat discussed by badger on Arablinks.

    Some of the highlights out of all this are that 1) The WaPo story says a big fat zero about the power of the oil companies in all this or the size of their potential profit gains. 2) It is confirmed that their executives will be able to sit on the ruling Federal Oil and Gas Council, which will have power to approve or disapprove most (see below) contracts. 3) While revenues going to the government will be distributed to the provinces according to population, the amount of these revenues will be much lower than in contracts in other Middle Eastern states, with profit rates for companies running as high as 75% possibly, and 65 out of 80 identified fields open to private contracts. 4) The Kurds have been granted rights to cut deals directly on half the contracts in their terrritories (most of the unexplored fields, with what is “their territory”very much up in the air because of the dispute over who owns Kirkuk), I note that WaPo did note some kind of arrangement with the Kurds, but was rather vague on the details. 5) There is some kind of disagreement over who will be controlling revenues in the Shi’i controlled South, governors or other bodies, with only two provinces having much oil, and with Basra controlled by al-Fadhila rather than the more regionally and nationally powerful SCIRI, which is linked to both Iran and the Bush administration (who said we live in a simple world?).

    The government hopes to pass the law by May 1. Some Sunni groups in the parliament are opposed, notably the Iraqi Accord Front, but Pepe Escobar says it is a done deal. I note that Escobar’s article has some errors in it, including the ridiculous claim that it only costs $1 per barrel to pump oil in Iraq. It is up to $3 per barrel in Saudi Arabia, so, while there are still huge profits at $60 per barrel for crude, $1 per barrel is an understatement, raising some questions about Escobar’s general credibility.

    While I continue to think that the immediate impetus for the US going into Iraq was more trivial and also misguided, the Cheney faction has clearly long wanted this since his widely quoted remarks in 1999 (it is requoted in the Escobar piece) about US oil companies needing more oil reserves, and Iraq the place to get them. This is clearly a triumph for them, and it is clear that the Bush administration has recently been pushing very hard on this, looking for some kind of gain out of all this mess, and for their pals in Big Oil, this is a huge win, now putting pressure on other oil producing countries to up the current 12% of world oil pumped on the basis of such PSAs.

    I note that recent reports on Econbrowser (sorry, getting lazy with the links, but it is accessible, and this is still up there) have serious production problems occurring in the world’s largest oil pool by far, al-Ghawar, responsible for 5% of world production. There has also recently been a plunge in production by over 25% at Cantarell in Mexico, the world’s second largest pool. These probably lie behind the recent uptick in world crude prices from about $50 to $60 per barrel.

    BTW, one claim by Escobar I am wondering about is that the law was originally promulgated in English. He repeats what I have previously read, that the basic outline was put together in the US by a consulting company, with input from the oil companies, the IMF, the World Bank, and the Agency for International Development. Supposedly all this was done before all but a handful of Iraqis ever saw it. If that is the case, then clearly there were further negotiations and modficiations on it in Arabic in Iraq, which led to the version that was translated by Greg Muttitt and posted by Raed Jarrar.

    AF (c319c8)

  32. Maxspeak Feb 28, 2007

    On Monday, the Iraqi cabinet approved the new oil law, allowing profitable deals and great power over policy by foreign oil companies. Official media in the US, symbolized by the Washington Post, are completely missing what is going on in this story, hailing it as a triumph of Iraqi national unity and reconciliation.

    AF (c319c8)

  33. “The other thing was that the whole weapons industry, including the WMD industry that Saddam had mothballed, was riddled with corruption.” – Michael Ware, Hugh Hewitt interview 02 APR 2007

    “Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;” – Joint Congressional Authorization for the use of force in Iraq.

    I do not see merely getting rid of *weapons* in Iraq, I see programs and means to deliver them as cited by Congress in this paragraph. Apparently those that want WMD blinders on will not actually read what the Congress put forward as the goals of their Authorization, of which WMDs is one and only one in their listing. And I do have some problems with Mr. Ware, who seems to have some disconnect between his experiences and his ideology.

    And I will correct myself and say that no draw down of CENTCOM, but of EUCOM… why we still have a hundred thousand or so troops in Germany is something to think about. Counter-insurgency is not a short-term affair, and never has been. The Philippines saw some of the most nasty, gruesome fighting the US Armed Forces have ever been in and a decade long counter-insurgency finally extinguished the insurgents. The Haiti 1915-34 work failed by conception and changing political winds that dragged things one way and then another over and over again.

    ajacksonian (87eccd)

  34. Major Small:

    The problem is that not even the Republicans will commit to staying in Iraq for the long term.

    davod (edeb6d)

  35. Another increase in troops being sent to Iraq to fight Bush war..will Congress please step up to the plate and impeach this psycho.. Is there any limits to what this country can endure before either becomming a fascist state or demanding this madman step down! What the hell do you guys want?? One man rule!

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  36. I bet Charlie thinks the Supreme Court ruling that made his bad breath a regulated polutant doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with “civil rights”.
    What say you Charlie? Good law?
    Do you prefer your dictators dressed in robes?

    papertiger (ab2f41)

  37. Brent’s disbelief that Iraq would send weaponry out of the country is another indicator of an inability to regard and learn from history. In the 1991 war to push Iraq out of Kuwait, Saddam flew what elements of his air force that did not fall to our superior air fighters to be safed in Iraq, a country he had been warring with for a decade. It should not cause a moments disbelief that he would cache,in Syria, weapons, as itemized before the UN, that would incriminate him.

    Pablo2 (c95c88)

  38. You cannot confuse the political situation in Washington with the Operational situation in Iraq

    Maj David Small, U.S. CENTCOM spokesman (066f62)

  39. In a somewhat related matter.. Iran released the British captives and SURPRISE they were not waterborded, forced to masturbate or threatened by dogs or hooded and chained.. Seems under Bush the US has ceded the moral high ground to Iran..
    Think about it folks….those of you that still are able too…

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  40. Maj Small:

    Thank you for your open, clear communication on this blog re CENTCOM position/statements. You are doing exactly what I’ve been trying to encourage some of our USN PAOs to do. Active advocation and promotion of a service’s or command’s operations and analysis rather than relying upon passive press releases to slow bleed into the conversation only makes sense in the digital world where arguments are made and opinions formed well within the “battle rhythm” of traditional media. I would encourage you to also make use in your comment of links back to relevent source material for those wanting more than the ten cent tour.

    submandave (47859a)

  41. Charlie, only in your convoluted thought process could random seizure on the high seas, being paraded for political purposes, being forced into making false and disloyal statements and being held in confinement and isolation for no legitimate reason be construed as “moral high ground.”

    submandave (47859a)


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