mm107: The War as We Saw It – New York Times

August 19, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Read. This. Now.

nytimes

August 19, 2007 Op-Ed Contributors

The War as We Saw It

By BUDDHIKA JAYAMAHA, WESLEY D. SMITH, JEREMY ROEBUCK, OMAR MORA, EDWARD SANDMEIER, YANCE T. GRAY and JEREMY A. MURPHY

Baghdad

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

Found this sooner rather than later courtesy of the newest member of MUDGE’s blogroll, Talking Points Memo, blogroll2 turned on there (later, sorry to admit, rather than sooner) by well informed Older Son.

The writers in this Op-Ed piece in today’s NYTimes are serving soldiers. As TPM points out, courageous two ways: just serving honorably in this no-win cauldron; and speaking out so publicly while on the front lines. Citizen soldiers, manifestly.

Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The War as We Saw It – New York Times

The prosecutors of this war remain oblivious to the reality of this conflict, and will undoubtedly ignore this opinion piece — after all, consider the source: the news equivalent of the anti-Christ.

So they’ll continue to ignore the hard truths.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

I am proud to have such citizen soldiers serving and protecting us. For in spite of all of the above, and indeed, proving it by writing it, they tell us,

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm096: Bush’s non-exit exit strategy

August 4, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Completing today’s war trilogy is this excellent commentary…

salon

Bush’s non-exit exit strategy

Not only is the “surge” not working, it’s destabilizing Iraq. Yet military leaders say troops should stay for the long term.

By Joe Conason

mullen

Aug. 03, 2007 | To read the prepared testimony of Adm. Mike Mullen, President Bush’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is to understand that the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy requires U.S. troops to remain in that country for a long time, perhaps permanently. With unusual candor, the admiral explained in answers submitted before his appearance in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he and the president believe in the necessity of a “pragmatic, long-term commitment that will be measured in years not months.”

How many years Mullen did not say, but he did offer a suggestion in this tangle of redundancies: “We must commit to a long-term security relationship with Iraq that facilitates political reconciliation, supports development of a stable Iraq, and is directly tied to our enduring long-term interests in the region.” American forces will be there for the long term, just in case that wasn’t clear the first few times.

Mullen forthrightly admitted that there is no “purely military solution” to Iraq’s problems, and his testimony was refreshingly honest about the catastrophic errors committed by the Bush administration over the past four years, from disbanding the Iraqi army and purging all Baathists from government to the failures of war planning and diplomacy. As he noted during his live testimony, the prospects for “victory” are mixed at best because Iraq’s political leaders have made so little headway toward a political settlement among the country’s warring ethnic and religious communities.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!] Salon.com | Bush’s non-exit exit strategy

Adm. Mullen is well respected by MUDGE‘s own military advisors, his son and daughter-in-law, both former Navy lieutenants with front line experience, and his testimony this week is a clear demonstration that at the Joint Chiefs level, politics always trumps military excellence. Think Colin Powell.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. have led us to the point where there are only bad choices, where the only sure bet is that many, many more of our daughters and sons will die, fighting battles that everyone now understands are unwinnable in a country that will blow itself apart even if our troop strength was an order of magnitude greater.

As Conason writes:

But at this late date, as the political structures in Iraq fall, the war’s advocates cannot pretend that their strategy is working, either. The way to encourage compromise, if not reconciliation, among the Iraqis is to place our withdrawal on the negotiating table — and to warn those we have brought to power that we are leaving, sooner rather than later, and that their only hope for stability is to dither no longer. That was the essential recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, and it is still the only plausible exit strategy.

Plausible, of course. But if there’s one sure fact that emerges from six years of war, it’s that logic will never budge this administration. Only the next election, or given a gutsier Congress, impeachment.

January 20, 2009 can’t come soon enough.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE