Finally, Honesty About the Surge

Sunday was a good day for those of us wishing our politicians and media were a bit more candid about the success of the troop surge.

First off, Biden was on Meet The Press. Hopefully, when Palin is finished in political boot camp and learns where she stands on all the issues, she’ll go on there as well and we can see how well she regurgitates all her new policy stances. Like Biden said,

Well, in, in the sense I know Mitt Romney and know his positions, and I know Tom Ridge and I really respect them. And–but you know, I, I’ve debated an awful lot of tough, smart women. A woman who’s a judge here in our superior court was one of my toughest opponents ever for the Senate. And there’s a lot of very tough, smart women in the United States Senate I debate every day. So in that sense it’s not new. But what is new is I have no idea what her policies are. I assume they’re the same as John’s. I just don’t know.

The most important comments he made to Tom Brokaw, however, were in reference to the Iraq War, during this exchange:

MR. BROKAW: But it’s a process, and it’s beginning, and the surge made that possible, did it not?

SEN. BIDEN: No. The surge helped make that–what made is possible in Anbar province is they did what I’d suggested two and a half years ago: gave local control. They turned over and they said to the Sunnis in Anbar province, “We promise you, don’t worry, you’re not going to have any Shia in here. There’s going to be no national forces in here. We’re going to train your forces to help you fight al-Qaeda.” And that you–what you had was the awakening. The awakening was not an awakening by us, it was an awakening of the Sunnis in Anbar province willing to fight.

MR. BROKAW: Cooperating with the Shia.

SEN. BIDEN: Willing to fight. Cooperating with–no, they weren’t cooperating with Shiite. They didn’t cooperate with the Shiites.

MR. BROKAW: Once the awakening got under way.

SEN. BIDEN: No, no, no. No, they didn’t cooperate with the Shiites. It’s still–it’s a big problem, Tom. You got–we’re paying 300 bucks a month to each of those guys. Now the problem has been and the, and the promise was made by Maliki that they would be integrated into the overall military. That’s a process that is beginning in fits and starts now, but it’s far from over. Far from–look, the bottom line here is that it’s–let’s–the surge is over. Here’s the real point. Whether or not the surge worked is almost irrelevant now. We’re in a new deal. What is the administration doing? They’re doing what Barack Obama has suggested over 14 months ago, turn responsibility over and draw down our troops. We’re about to get a deal from the president of the United States and Maliki, the head of the Iraqi government, that’s going to land on my desk as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying we’re going to set a timeline to draw down our forces. The only guy in America out of step is John McCain. John McCain’s saying no timeline. They’ve signed on to Barack Obama’s proposal.

Finally, a politician mentions the payoffs we’re giving the Sunnis – and it’s more than just 300 bucks here and there. The continued payoffs and ability for the Shia government to modify their behavior toward the Sunni militias will have a big impact on the success, or lack thereof, of our troop withdrawal – which is why it is so important for our government and military leaders to publicly acknowledge this strategy. All the lefties demanding troop withdrawals need to understand the U.S. government’s pouring of cash into the region as well as the hundreds of thousands of refugees waiting to return. The Iraqi government must stand up and decide if they want peace and progress or simply cultural domination.

On to our next revelation of the Iraq War, this time brought to us by Bob Woodward on 60 Minutes regarding and the new information he has of the development of the surge as a strategy and its success.

Asked what the generals at the Pentagon thought when presented with the idea of a surge, Woodward told Pelley, “They think that it won’t work. And the president actually at one point goes and meets with them. And the Army chief of staff, General [Peter] Schoomaker, says ‘You can’t add five brigades, it will take many more,’ ‘What about another crisis?’ ‘We don’t have troops for this,’ ‘What about the damage your doing to the force, the young kids who see nothing but endless rotations?'”

“What does General Casey, sitting in Baghdad, think of having additional troops?” Pelley asked.

“He thinks that Baghdad is a troop sump-a place you can put endless numbers of troops in. And he does not want to add force,” Woodward said.

“The president, who has said in public, endless times, that he relies on his generals to tell him what they need, is actually going his own way here,” Pelley remarked.

“That’s right,” Woodward agreed. “The records of the joint chiefs show that the idea of five brigades came from the White House, not from anybody except the White House.”

(Later, Woodward says about General Casey) “Casey told one colleague privately that the president’s view is almost reflective of ‘Kill the bastards. Kill the bastards,’ and that way we’ll succeed.”

Alright, so what we have here is Bush wanting to add troops to Iraq and the generals disagreeing with him. I’m not sure if McCain, at this point, was supporting a surge – but if he was, he was also disagreeing with the top generals. Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney have said repeatedly that they aren’t taking into account public opinion (polls) or political ramifications – they listen to the men on the ground, the generals, before making their decisions. Obviously, this is not the case. And none of those men fought in a war. Now, we are considering whether to appoint McCain Commander-in-chief. It seems, at least when it came to the surge, he was not listening to the men on the ground – the generals – either. If McCain didn’t listen then, he certainly won’t if he’s president. Dangerous decisions when you’re playing with the lives of thousands.

Bob Woodward also reveals a new strategy, comparing its influence to the addition of the aircraft or tank to warfare,

But beyond all of that, Woodward reports, for the first time, that there is a secret behind the success of the surge: a sophisticated and lethal special operations program.

“This is very sensitive and very top secret, but there are secret operational capabilities that have been developed by the military to locate, target, and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, insurgent leaders, renegade militia leaders. That is one of the true breakthroughs,” Woodward told Pelley.

“But what are we talking about here? It’s some kind of surveillance? Some kind of targeted way of taking out just the people that you’re looking for? The leadership of the enemy?” Pelley asked.

“I’d love to go through the details, but I’m not going to,” Woodward replied.

The details, Woodward says, would compromise the program.

“For a reporter, you don’t allow much,” Pelley remarked.

“Well no, it’s with reluctance. From what I know about it, it’s one of those things that go back to any war, World War I, World War II, the role of the tank, and the airplane. And it is the stuff of which military novels are written,” Woodward said.

“Do you mean to say that this special capability is such an advance in military technique and technology that it reminds you of the advent of the tank and the airplane?” Pelley asked.

“Yeah,” Woodward said. “If you were an al Qaeda leader or part of the insurgency in Iraq, or one of these renegade militias, and you knew about what they were able to do, you’d get your ass outta town.”

What an interesting revelation. It reminds me of a quotation I recently read in A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy,

Successful high command has little or nothing to do with masculine attributes like brute force, bravado, machismo, arrogance, or even courage, except insofar as it may be necessary to advertise these from time to time to inspire the troops. Rather, it has to do with what one might regard as more feminine characteristics — sensitivity, subtlety, intuition, timing, an indirect approach, an ability quietly to assess strength and weakness (based perhaps on an intuitive grasp for the opponent’s likely behavior as much as factual information) to avoid and baffle strength, to flow around it, to absorb its force and strike unexpectedly at the weak spot at precisely the right moment.

Basically, in President Bush, we have extremely unsuccessful high command. Only through the military’s development of ground-changing “feminine characteristics” of warfare was the surge able to succeed. Not through the simple addition of men on the ground. McCain continues to pressure Obama to acknowledge the success of the surge – so much so, that Senators Graham and Lieberman are trying to bring legislation to the Senate floor demanding a vote acknowledging the success of the surge – yet will McCain acknowledge that there where other, possibly bigger elements at play than the simple addition of brigades to Iraq? Especially at a time when our military is far over-extended, rotations have grown protracted and numerable, and the war in Afghanistan is faltering severely?

I hear over and over that Obama is not ready. But he will listen. He will listen to our military leaders and allow them to help him make the best decisions in his foreign policy. McCain is not ready, either – nor will he ever be. He did not listen to the generals on the ground when calling for the surge and does not recognize the entire complex situation when chanting about the success of the surge.

By the way, Bob Woodward will be on Larry King tonight and Meet the Press next weekend.

5 Responses to “Finally, Honesty About the Surge”

  1. 1 Rob
    September 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    That “thing” they’re talking about is probably drones with supersonic and huuuuuuge zoom in capabilities with 3-d modeling and x-ray capabilities taken from a 2-d aerial video.

    That and invisible soldiers walking in and around Bagdad, un-detected.

    That shit is scary real.

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