Monday, May 7

Shut Up

Frederick W. Kagan, "Plan B? Let’s Give Plan A Some Time First". Times May 6
ONE of the most common criticisms of the current “surge” in Iraq is that its proponents have not developed a Plan B in case it fails.

IT'S nice when one of these guys just goes ahead and pegs the Dishonesty meter with the first sentence and gets it over with. (Bonus points for putting "surge" in quotes, since the "surge", or whatever else you want to call it, is pretty much Kagan's baby.) Correct me if I'm wrong, but complaining there's no Plan B would seem like a criticism of the administration, or the Pentagon, or the military command, not of the "surge". You can add to that I can't recall three people bringing it up, and apparently, neither can Kagan. Actual criticisms of the actual "surge" seem to revolve around concepts such as "Too Little Too Late," or "Not Enough Troops By Army Protocols", or "Already Lost". These would seem to make the existence of a Plan B a dead issue.
The skeptics liken this lack of a backup strategy to the Bush administration’s failure to plan for various contingencies after the initial invasion in 2003; they see a continuity of errors between previous strategies in Iraq and the new one.

Hey, there's just no pleasing some people. Skepticism--which is not a swear word, by the way; more of it could have prevented this problem in the first place--is no longer a requirement for doubting the Bush administration's wisdom, sincerity, or reliability in making change. The current baseline for that is "presence of cortical event and breathing without assistance".
In fact, the debate shows only how little the critics of the war understand about military operations.

As distinct from the all those neocon geniuses, as the last five years have shown us.
As one of the initial proponents of the surge

Lost your scare quotes, I see. Does that you you're a proponent of the surge, but not the "surge"? I guess I don't really understand military operations.
I argue that there is no Plan B because there cannot be one.

Wait! Maybe I do! We're in complete agreement on this!
The idea that there can be a single alternative strategy, developed now, just at the beginning of the surge, is antithetical to the dynamic nature of war. At this early stage, there are only possible general responses to various contingencies, which will become more focused as operations move forward.

Oh, never mind. I meant "there cannot be a Plan B" because we're out of troops, options, and ideas, and we're just carrying on so the Bush administration and certain "Conservative" think-tank sinecures who shall remain nameless can cover their asses a while longer, like until a Democrat gets elected in '08 and they can start blaming him. Or her. Which reminds me, I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton, but in the unlikely event she gets elected the period between election day and the Inauguration is gonna be the sweetest two months of my life since pot was $15 an ounce and all women went braless.
The strategy now under way in Iraq — we are providing an increased number of American forces, working closely with Iraqi troops, to establish and maintain security in Baghdad as a precondition for political, economic and social progress — will change the situation in Iraq significantly, whether or not it succeeds in its aims.

Because in fifteen months the only boots we're gonna have left to send to Iraq will be your's and Victor Davis Hanson's.
In fact, it has already done so, and for the better: the rebel Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has apparently fled to Iran; American and Iraqi forces have killed or captured more than 700 key leaders and allies of his Mahdi Army, causing the movement to fragment; sectarian killings in Baghdad in April were about one-third of the level in December.

Wow, that's some textbook data mining there. Seems to me that if things really were going so swimmingly it wouldn't take such contortions to prove it.
Associated Press,

Baghdad Security Crackdown Has Not Reduced Sectarian Violence, U.N. Report Says

April 25:

...UNAMI also said that for the first time since it began issuing quarterly reports on the human rights situation in Iraq, the new Jan. 1-March 31 one did not contain overall death figures from Iraq's Ministry of Health because it refused to release them.

The U.N. agency said the reason appeared to be that after the publication of its last human rights report on Jan. 16, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office told UNAMI its mortality figures were exaggerated, "although they were in fact official figures compiled and provided by a government ministry."

Emphasis mine. How fortunate no one was exaggerating the figures before then. Probably a temp. Oh, wait.

We can add to that the bit about "sectarian killings". In case the wording strikes you as a bit odd, it's because it's administration code for "overnight murder victims whose corpses aren't discovered until morning." Not only are we dealing with figures which are at least partly blanched, if not completely cooked; we're making up categories and insisting they're significant if they show something we want shown. Car bombings are up. So car bombings don't count. Because they're, uh, non-sectarian!
When Moktada al-Sadr called for fellow Shiites to demonstrate against the American surge last month, General Petraeus wrote an open letter to the Iraqi people pointing out that such demonstrations would not have been permitted under Saddam Hussein, and asking the demonstrators to avoid violence. In the end, the demonstrations were limited in scale and peaceful, and fears that Sunni terrorists would set off a wave of attacks on the protesters proved unfounded.

There were hundreds of thousands of Iraqis protesting the Maliki government's refusal to demand US withdrawal. That was the "limited scale" reached by al-Sadr, despite his "apparently fleeing to Iran." Which, by the way, he most likely didn't. Apparently.

He managed to orchestrate that mass resignation from the Cabinet and orchestrate two major protests last month. Plus, we need him, I mean the hard-working sovereign government of Iraq needs him. Funny how "understanding military operations" includes counting rounds of ammo but not figuring out what should or shouldn't be a target.
This is not the time to be rehashing strategies developed six months ago under very different conditions, or to be planning for the collapse of a strategy that has just begun. It is time, however, to consider the possibility that any Plan B in Iraq will focus on exploiting the success of the current surge rather than on mitigating a failure.

We're already mitigating a failure, sir: yours and your fellow neocons. Forced to add an adjective, we select "unmitigated". The surge, or "surge", or "ratfuck" is an accident of electoral politics; shorter Presidential terms, a parliamentary system, a recall proviso, and your control of the troops would have already been ended. That too, sir, is the nature of military operations. Mussolini's war ended with him flying upside down.

This "plan" of yours, or "escape attempt" (it was entitled "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq", in keeping with the whole Disney™ marketing scheme approach to history): one of the ever-changing realities of military operations it dealt with--was forced to deal with--is the absence of troops. You spent a lot of time and effort detailing how we could come up with 20,000 additional troops. Was that because you'd spent that much more time and effort detailing why 20,000 was the right number for the job? Nope. It was because that was all we could scrape together without setting off alarm bells even John McCain might have heard.

If now is not the proper time to revisit current failures, not until we've incurred some new ones, let's return to the beginnings of the war you and your cohorts designed. Plenty of intervening failures between then and now. You do remember that war, right, Professor Kagan? It's the one whose honored dead are kept awake nights as you whistle past it. Where were all the troops that might have made a difference then, sir? Or is that the sort of insight experts in military operations gain only after the situation has changed on 'em?


Anonymous said...

No Plan B? Haven't we run through the alphabet a couple times already and we're now on Plan F double prime? When everything you touch turns to shit, what do you call the shit that is created when you touch shit? Hasn't the neocon Army of Darkness reheated this shit so many times it resembles Ultimate Shit, the postmortem heat left of the universe when entropy is maximized?
Oh, yeah, and Fred? Look up "strawman".

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