General Batiste And I See Eye To Eye On Iraq

General Batiste And I See Eye To Eye On Iraq


He’s spoken out against Rumsfeld’s incompetent handling of the Iraq war, but he’s still putting Democrats between a rock and an anti-war base.

From the Wash Post:

This should be the Democrats’ moment, if they can translate the national anger over Iraq into a coherent strategy for that country. But with a few notable exceptions, the Democrats are mostly ducking the hard question of what to do next. They act as if all those America-hating terrorists will evaporate back into the sands of Anbar province if the United States pulls out its troops. Alas, that is not the case. That is the problem with Iraq — it is not an easy mistake to fix.

An example of the Democrats’ fudge on Iraq was highlighted yesterday by Post columnist Dana Milbank in his description of retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste’s appearance before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Senators cheered Batiste’s evisceration of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but tuned out Batiste’s call for more troops and more patience in Iraq, and his admonition: “We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge.”

What a lot of Dems don’t appreciate is that it takes a hell of a lot of patience to fight these enemies, and their base simply does not have it right now. We live in a time of immediate gratification, and that’s what Rumsfeld and company tried to deliver. Shock and awe. But the only shock and awe we’ve truly experienced from this boondoggle is how poorly handled it’s been.

In short, if the Dems are going to applaud Batiste for sticking it to Rumsfeld, they should also seriously consider that we need to send more troops in there and wait it out until the Iraqis can mend their own fences. Otherwise, it’s civil war time…and you can bet that terrorists will be streaming into Iraq and trying to radicalize the various factions. We know this in our hearts to be true, and yet we don’t have the collective stomach for it. And I believe this impatience will ultimately lead to a far worse fate for the Iraqi people and the free people of the world.

What are your thoughts?

  • Mash

    So how do we know when the Iraqis can finally “mend their own fences”. In the meantime we just send soldier after soldier over there. If they come back in body bags or missing limbs then so what.
    We’ve made a mess in Iraq but we’ve rid them of Sadaam and trained their military. At what point do the Iraqis start to take over.
    What goal do we reach before we leave? Will we just know when we see it?
    Should we wait until the Sunnis and Shia just get along?

  • probligo

    “What goal do we reach before we leave? Will we just know when we see it?”

    “That is the problem with Iraq â€â€? it is not an easy mistake to fix.”

    “Otherwise, it’s civil war time…and you can bet that terrorists will be streaming into Iraq and trying to radicalized the various factions. We know this in our hearts to be true, and yet we don’t have the collective stomach for it. And I believe this impatience will ultimately lead to far worse fate for the Iraqi people and the free people of the world.”

    Can I suggest, with respect, that there is a point that is being missed here by all of those quoted.

    Do we (the west) really know what Iraqi Sunni, Shi’a and Kurd really want? No, not our assumptions, not our beliefs, not our “interests”.


  • An Independent’s Plan

    1) Divide Iraq into 3 provinces, based on ethnic lines. Warn of airstrikes if any section tries to expand its borders.
    2) March out of Iraq (to Kuwait?), as if we did “the job.”
    3) Be aware: Iran absorbs the Shi’a section.
    4) Be aware: the Kurds foment civil war within Turkey.

    5) Spend US time/effort on encouraging moderate Islam.
    6) Spend US time/effort on killing Al Queda.

    There. You want a reasonable plan. It’s the likely outcome I promised before we invaded Iraq. It my best (still awful) plan.

    Now, if you’ve got a (workable) alternative, now’s the time to speak.

  • m.takhallus

    There’s no support for increasing forces and rebooting the effort. There won’t be any support so long as the current incompetents are running the show. We don’t have the army for a significant troop increase and even if Mr. Bush and Nancy Pelosi somehow managed to agree that we need a draft it would still be at least a year until we had a significant number of additional men to send over there.

    I’m a big supporter of rebooting and doing it right: but it ain’t gonna happen. That ship has sailed.

    So I’ve come to the conclusion that we should give the Iraqis 3 months to come up with a political deal the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds can all sign onto. If they can reach a deal we’ll stay and provide some stability. If not then good bye.

  • ES

    As frank and challenging as Mr. Ignatius tries to be, the solution transcends the political parties. Part of the problem is the final state solution Ignatius tries to shoot for with a preconceived what success will be but has absolutely no idea how to think of the solution, let alone how to implement the solution. The second part of the problem is that the final solution is dependent on the American folks, and the last six years has shown they are too soft and too spoiled to sacrifice. It is easy to send the professional soldiers to do the dirty work because it is their job, but at some point Americans need to step up to fill the gaps in the line and they are no-where to be seen. It is easy to be a Rich Lowery and say more troops are needed, but it is something else to find the troops to do the work.

    Ignatius is boxing the solution as if one were starting from ground zero. To the chagrin of the rest of us, we are billions of dollars in the hole, two years of trying to catch up the events on the ground, piss-poor planning, and the hemorrhaging of over-deploying our military forces (active, reserve, and guard elements) for four years.

    First of all, Ignatius says the solution should not include a “retreat� option. So that means we will continue to do things as we have been doing them with no changes to the plan, add more resources to help expedite the process, or we will have to change the processes in which we operate from.

    The first option of continuing to do as we have done is not an option. The mission placed on the military is straining its men and equipment:

    · The planners have extended tours (1AD brigade and the Stryker brigade out of Alaska), called up IRR folks (2500 folks about 20 August 2006), early call up for a brigade’s deployment (3ID and 1CAV) are showing there is not enough men to do the work. To top it off, units are now finishing their second deployments and about to start their third deployments in GWOT/GSAVE.
    · GEN Shoomaker just the other day refused to send up the US Army’s budget because there was insufficient funds to help repair and replace equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan. The money of $20-some billion is for the repair and replacement required for the active US Army. LTG Blum told Congress on 3 August 2006 that the National Guard requires $21 billion to make its 34 brigades fully operational. I have never seen what the US Marines are requiring, but they are hurting also.
    · The contracts administered through the CPA office have been found to have a major loophole – Contractors really do not have to follow the contracts because CPA is not a government entity. Custer Battles has just shown a Contractor can go over to the Middle East and charge lots of money and not do their jobs; and nothing will happen to them.

    The second option of adding more resources is not going to happen. The fiscal conservatives and libertarians have had their panties in a wad with the increase in government spending and any additional resources will only add more burdens to the budget. In addition, the other resource required for the military officers are more warm bodies and the American people will NOT let a draft to occur. The American people are just too soft and too spoiled to actually step up. In other words, the military has its hands tied trying to do a mission with no cavalry to come help defeat enemy.

    The third option is to change the process to make them more streamlined and efficient to do the work. My response is going to be, “Yeah, riiiight!� This option is like asking to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic after it had hit the iceberg. There are ramifications to the poor planning and strategic visions from the initial get go.

    So that means the only solution not spoken is to “redeploy�, and according to Ignatius this is the non-viable solution. Do we sacrifice all of our pawns and knights to stop a worst-case scenario of an all-out civil war in Iraq? What am I missing?

  • les

    My thought: we leave. We say Sadaam’s gone, you have a government, in 12 months you have the responsibility. The Iraqis can govern themselves, or they can only be governed by a dictator; we can’t do it either way. Even if more U.S. troops could stop the fighting now–a mere hopeful assertion–what possible reason is there to suppose that as we begin a future draw down, the fight doesn’t restart? Add in the fact that there’s no apparent, politically possible route to more troops anyway. Until we announce our departure date, the Iraqi gov’t has no motivation to take over defense in lieu of promoting their individual causes and sects. If the result is a worse situation vis a vis fighting terror–unfortunately, we made the bed. At least we’ll have some resources for the real fight.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    Indy, dividing up iraq into 3 provinces won’t solve anything. The heart of the problem is Bagdhad, which is not geographically divided along ethnic lines, but is a mish-mash of ethnic neighborhoods and slums randomly dotted across the city.

    Speaking of, you guys should read milblogs because you would notice how tactics have been changing throughout the course of the war and how the enemy has adapted. We are not simply “just sending soldier after soldier over there. ” Has anyone heard anything out of Najaf, Ramadi, Falluhja or Mosul recently? Probably not, and there is a reason for that.

    The vast majority of recent violence is sectarian with the softest, most undefendable targets being attacked. On the one hand, that is why so many civillians are getting killed; on the other, it is a sign that military targets have hardened up, including the Iraqi military.

  • An Independent Plan


    Dividing Iraq will solve plenty. It will give each faction an area to control. Sure, it will encourage some genoside & some mass migration. But, if you think about it — It’s already a civil war. Let one have its Bosnia and the other its Serbia.

    But back to the greater issue: Who has ANY better plan than that? President Bush & Co. don’t have a plan. The Republicans don’t have a plan. (other than “Stay-the-Course” — which course?, they won’t say.) Any yet they accuse the Democrats of “Cutting-and-Running.” So, from the get-go, Democrats are scared poop-less to recommend an alternative to “Staying-the-Course” for fear of being a “Cut-and-Runner.”

    I offered an actual, concrete plan. I beg you– Offer a better plan, if you have one. Anyone???

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    I respect your opinion Indy, but I just don’t think its practical, especially considering that almost all of the recent violence is centered around Bagdhad, which does not have clear geographical ethnic boundaries.

    Also consider that a poll conducted in july indicated that 94% of the Iraqi people support a unity government.

    The goal in Iraq is to provide security and train up the Iraqi security forces to such an extent that we can draw down our troops, eventually leaving the country all together. The plan to achieve the goal must change from day-to-day depending on how the terrorists adapt to the campaign.

  • anon

    Jimmy, the problem is that the government the Iraqis have elected is divided starkly along sectarian lines. Kurds vote for Kurds, Arab Sunnis for Sunnis, Arab Shia for Shia. If asked they may wish for a united Iraq, but noone in Iraq trusts the other ethnic groups.

    The real situation is the security forces are pretty much completely compromised by Shia militant groups, and we have a defacto war between a US supported Shia government, and Sunni insurgents. The kurds have pretty much kept to themselves and kept their noses clean. They have their own military. Stand down while the Iraqis stand up is a failure of a policy. As long as we push for a unified Iraq, the civil war between Sunni and Shia will continue and probably worsen.

    Dividing the country into 3 regions with a loose federal entity is probably the only way out (and has been suggested by *gasp* a democratic congressmen). The problem is convincing the Sunni that they should agree to give up a sizeable amount of oil wealth. Added to this is the tension of Shia Iraq aligning itself with Iran, making all its other neighbors nervous. Tensions between the Kurds, the Iranians and the Turks also complicate matters.

    And as for those cutting and run comments, well ironicly dividing Iraq into 3 will probably signifigantly reduce our need for troop commitments. A fast reaction force, probably in the friendly Kurdish areas.

    But heres the thing. No matter what we do, do you trust the Bush administration to get it right, after they have completely and totally botched not only Iraq but also Afghanistan? The Democrats dont need a plan, provided they do 2 things: demand accountability and results from the administration on the war in Iraq, and start a serious debate about what to do in Iraq. Right now all we get from the republicans are talking points, and CYA from the administration, with help from the republican congress.

  • susan

    In short, if the Dems are going to applaud Batiste for sticking it to Rumsfeld, they should also seriously consider that we need to send more troops in there and wait it out until the Iraqis can mend their own fences.——

    Thats the problem with what USED to be my party. They only “hear” what they wish to hear. They only “see” what they want to see. They cannot come up with a comprehensive strategy of their own, but they can and will criticize anyone that does come up with a plan.
    They want to win elections by running on the platform of “The other party is wrong”. Thats NOT a platform, that is a cowardly way to lose an election.
    They are scared, have no backbone, frankly, the Democrats have become the terrorists best chance at winning the war on terror.

    I did not vote for Bush, but after 9/11, I thank God that He was the one that was president. I still do. Things change, Isure have.

  • REB 84

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are speaking up and getting involved in politics. Military professionals are extremely frustrated with the incompetence and cronyism on display in government today.

    QuestionItNow – Still in Iraq is now one year old. Sadly, we are not in a position to change the title of this blog. It is doubtful we will be able to do so any time soon.

    The Iraq war was sold to the American people and the world as part of a greater global ‘war on terror.’ Strangely, this has turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. While Iraq was not a haven for terrorists before we invaded, it has now become a rallying cry, a recruitment tool, and a training ground for the next generation of fanatical radical terrorists. The latest National Intelligence Estimate has confirmed what many progressive thinkers and questioning Americans have long feared, “…the continued U.S.-led occupation of Iraq is increasing the threat of global terrorism by spurring radical Islam.”

    Still In Iraq examines America at war in the post 9/11 world. We are living in an era unlike any other in our history. Our leaders have declared a perpetual ‘war on terror’ by ensuring we will have plenty of enemies to fight in this ‘generational struggle’. It looks like we plan to pass this war on to our children, and very possibly their children, in the same way the Bush administration is content with passing this war onto the next president. (more)

    This is getting crazy! We need to get some professionals in government. We need to listen to our veterans. We need to defend America and Support Our Troops with competent leadership.

  • ChrisO

    I really question whether terrorists will be “streaming into Iraq” if we leave. The largest portion of the population, the Shi’ites, are generally allied with Iran. Iran has a great deal of influence with most terrorist groups, and I really don’t think it will be a total free for all if we leave. What it could be is a disaster for the Sunnis.

    I think part of the problem is that the term “terrorist” is so loosely thrown around. First, attacks on our military are not “terror” attacks. The majority of the terror attacks are by Iraqis against Iraqis, and spring from a vicious cycle of sectarian fighting. Although I’m sure there are all sorts of people doing things as part of various agendas, I really don’t think the majority of the terrorist attacks are that closely related to the kinds of attacks we see perpetrated against the West.

    We also don’t take seriously enough the number of insurgents, who are attacking our military because they want us out of their country. A recent poll showed a vast majority of Iraqis want us to leave. Why is it so hard for people to accept that some of those people will take up arms against us, just as many of us would if our country was occupied (no matter how justified our occupiers thought they were)? And I seriously doubt we would consider ourselves terrorists simply because we don’t wear uniforms and march in formation.

    Finally, I have to question susan’s comments. Admittedly the Democrats have not covered themselves in glory. But are you really saying the Republicans’ performance has been so impressive that it actually caused you to switch parties? I have to question just how committed a Democrat you were in the first place. And I’m getting really tired of this “Thank God George Bush was President on 9/11” BS. This notion that Al Gore would have filed a lawsuit against al Qaeda or some such is just so much BS. Besides the fact that no one can say for sure exactly what Gore would have done, I think the fact that Democrats overhwelmingly supported the attack on Afghanistan and Clinton showed a willingness to commit troops in other areas of the world where we had much less of a gripe (in the face of significant Republican opposition) puts the lie to the notion that the Democrats would have somehow waffled. The attacks on 9/11 actually made things easy for Bush, because attacking Afghanistan was the only option, and any President would have done the same. It’s just that a Democratic President wouldn’t have taken a right turn into Iraq and totally made a hash of our Afghanistan efforts.

    I would encourage you to go back at some point and watch Bush’s speech to the nation on 9/11 (not the one days later, after he had a chance to compose himself and get his speechwriters to work.) I remember distinctly that he looked like a frightened rabbit, mutteirng about how we must “tell the children.” He exhibited zero leadership when the pressure was really on. I guarantee you that Clinton, or Reagan, to be fair, would have had the American people ready to run through a wall to get the terrorists.

  • Darryl Mason

    Most Iraqis want coalition forces to leave Iraq by this time next year. The polls that revealed that are pretty comprehensive.

    We stayed too long, and it’s too easy for the Iraqis to blame the coalition for security problems.

    The Shiites and the Kurds are now discussing breaking Iraq up into three seperate states. They’ll both get the oil regions north and south, and the Sunnis will get the empty sand.

    It’s hard not to think that the breakup of Iraq was always part of the neocon plan for Iraq, but this is also what Iran wants. So what the hell does that mean?

    I don’t know.

  • probligo

    “It’s hard not to think that the breakup of Iraq was always part of the neocon plan for Iraq, but this is also what Iran wants. So what the hell does that mean?”

    I disagree that three-part Iraq was on the neo-con plan. In fact the reverse is the truth. Two reasons –

    One puppet is easier to control than two or three.

    The threat that the Shi’a south would look to Iran. Remember Chalabhai? Yeah the guy who came out of Iran with the tales of SH’s WMD… Suckered the US completely 😉

    As has been pointed out – three part Iraq would also impact Turkey and the Kurdistan nation; it would put the Saudis and Jordan on a collision course with both US and Iraq(3).

    No, it was one thing that GWB and co were certain they did not want.

  • George Mauer

    What about giving up this whole going it alone? Making an earnest appeal appeal to internationals, admitting the mistake, being willing to make all sorts of concessions if other countries help us out?

    Just an idea, but why not? This country made a huge mistake, why not assume responsibility for it, and step down from our pulpit of power? Seems to be what everyone except for our current administration wants anyways.

    Any thoughts?

  • Steve

    In order to feed the fear we must stay in conflict ad perpetuity. In order for bush and co to succeed in destroying this country they need to contunue to feed the fear with tales of attacks, stay the course, torture, hatrid etc… the smartest thing we could do is leave… look at vietnam… when we left they healed. let these peolple heal from our arrogance and greed.