Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Putting troops at risk (guest post by Uranus)

President George Bush is making a lot of racket today about how setting deadlines to withdraw troops from Iraq places them at risk. He doesn't elucidate about that risk; perhaps he means they risk walking away from the misguided catastrophe alive! Bush wouldn't want that to happen:

"In the face of the administration's stubborn unwillingness to change course, the Senate has no choice but to force a change of course," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who signed on Monday as a co-sponsor of Reid's proposal with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

The move is likely to intensify the Democrats' rift with the administration, which already contends Democrats are putting troops at risk by setting deadlines."It's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept: You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy you're going to quit," Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday at a fundraising luncheon for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.


Bush has said several times he would veto the measure, and Republicans say they'll back him. On Monday, 154 House Republicans sent Bush a letter promising to stick with him in opposition to the legislation.

Mindful that they hold a shaky majority in Congress and that neither chamber has enough votes to override a presidential veto, Democrats are already thinking about the next step after Bush rejects their legislation.

Reid said Monday that if that happens, he will join forces with Feingold, one of the party's most liberal members who has long called to end the war by denying funding for it.

There appears to still be some mystery about it, so let me try to help: if you go into a battle, that's high risk behavior. If you don't go into a battle, that is not high risk behavior. Any questions?


Miguel said...

It's all politics. Everyone knows the war is lost. The Bush Administration wants the official withdrawal to take place under the next President, and is holding a gun to the troops head and telling the Democrats "If you try to stop the war, I'll pull my trigger and shoot"

«—U®Anu§—» said...

I've enjoyed watching the conservative mainstream media pump Bush and the war on cable the past few days. It's just a little hard to believe. Nixon ended the war in Vietnam abruptly, with no talk about phased withdrawal or starting a war in another country when too many corporate constituents complained, and John Dean told him Congress was about to initiate impeachment. Gosh, Nixon gaves us some good times, and we deserved it.

Hey, I had to show my driver's license this morning to purchase a fucking bottle of lighter fluid. The register lady mumbled something about "protecting children." I told her I didn't think so... Now I'm waiting for the guys in dark suits to show up and ask, "what are you doing with all that lighter fluid, kid?"

Enlightenment said...

It never ceases to amaze me how the Rethuglicans, who were the ones foaming at the mouth to START this unneccessary war in the first place, are the ones claiming DEMOCRATS are "putting troops at risk". The Rethugs are the ones who "put them at risk" by creating this war out of thin air. What is a greater example of showing lack of compassion for the troops than to start a war that had no legitimate reason to start and throwing them into the middle of it like pawns in some great chess game? The Repubs don't give a shit about the troops beyond using them as a prop for a convenient photo op, the squalor at Walter Reed's Bldg. 18 and many other military hospitals around the country shows that plain as day. Who's cutting back V.A. benefits? The Republicans. Who is obsessed with continuing to feed them into the meat grinder to try to sustain a lost cause for a little longer and waste more lives to put off the inevitable humiliation (and concomitant admission of a failed policy)? The Republicans.

And their "putting troops at risk" argument is disingenious nonsense. They continue to drag out the myth of defunding the war Monday equals no ammunition/no fuel/no food etc. on Tuesday. Anyone with any sense knows that there is enough money in the pipeline so to speak to be able to pay for an orderly withdrawl. Bush has even proven it so in his recent statements, saying it's been 59 days since he requested the supplemental funding, meaning the money didn't run out 58 days ago, and I have yet to hear of anyone in Iraq complaining about running short of any supplies. Furthermore, by the Pentagon's own statements they say that if they don't receive supplemental funding soon they won't be able to sustain the war in Iraq past LATE JULY without seriously cutting some corners, not falling apart next week as the hand-wringing liars of the Republican Party would have us believe. They are proving yet again they will say literally ANYTHING to get what they want, no matter how divorced from reality it is.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Thanks for those nice comments and I agree, I think that's right. The Bush administration gears its arguments-in-support to shout down people with the mental development of a three year old. It is really sad they've had such wild success with it. I had a college professor who told us again and again that most people are pretty smart. Maybe they were when he was growing up, but that just isn't true now.

Enlightenment said...

I agree Uranus, and thanks for the kind words. I just wish the Democrats would stop letting the Repubs dictate the terms of the argument; instead of taking 30 seconds and explaining to the American people exactly how defunding the war does NOT by any means equal what the Repubs are saying it does, instead they fold and just fall all over themselves saying "Oh, we support the troops and would NEVER do anything to harm them", conceding the terms of the argument to the other side by giving lip service to a shabby lie. It's disgusting. And shame on the American people for LETTING themselves be bullied into not using their minds and THINKING about the situation for themselves, instead accepting a dumbed-down cartoon of what might happen when anyone with sense should be able to easily see the real world doesn't work the way the Repubs are claiming. It makes me want to vomit.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

"We" never learn, it seems. We've had lots of chances. If most people saw more death during their lives, maybe this bullshit wouldn't happen. The democrats need to figure out they always have the time to reframe the discussion, and all their good reasons for not having the patience or backbone to do it don't stand up. Ha, ha! All my great advice, tapped out on a keyboard with meticulous concern and offered for free, when someone with more sense than money should offer to pay for it! Shucks, that's how the GOP does it.

noise said...

The Democrats have refused to explain to the public that past actions are tangible. Bush pretends (and the MSM assholes help him) that the current state of the occupation was inevitable. This is simply a lie. One huge issue was troop strength after the invasion. Gen. Shinseki warned that the light troop model wasn't sufficient for an occupation force. His expertise was ignored. Another huge issue was the replacement of Gen. Garner with Paul Bremer. Bremer proceeded to disband the Iraqi army, overdo de-Baathification and privatize the Iraqi economy.

IMO, the bottom line is that the civilian command betrayed the soldiers and the Iraqi people. But we live a media created fantasy world where Bush is above the fray and he has merely made mistakes in Iraq and questioning whether he acts in good faith is unpatriotic.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

What could I add to that except...precisely so. I'm not a veteran, and even I knew they were sending too few boots on the ground. The list of what's wrong includes everything. I'm just glad I wasn't one of the many people being paid to promote the war. No way to wash that dirt off.

damien said...

The internal strife in Iraq is a direct result of the lack of any plan by Rumsfeld for the US occupation. This failure constitutes a war crime. The US is a signatory of the Geneva Convention which explicitly requires that an invading military force is required to provide sufficient manpower to ensure the maintenance of civil order and the safety of citizens. Any deaths that result from the failure to provide such security constitutes a war crime. US military leaders know this and are expected to explicitly plan for it.

Here is an extract from an interview by Orin Kerr of Brigadier General Mark Scheid, chief of the US Logistics War Plans Division. Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, he says, Donald Rumsfeld told his team to start planning for war in Iraq, but not to bother planning for a long stay:

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Gen. Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation. Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said.

"We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today."

"He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."

"...In his own mind he thought we could go in and fight and take out the regime and come out. But a lot of us planners were having a real hard time with it because we were also thinking we can't do this. Once you tear up a country you have to stay and rebuild it. It was very challenging." (link)

Formal advice from senior US military leaders (and specifically, Gen. Anthony Zinni) to President Bush prior to the invasion was that he would need at least 400,000 troops to stabilize Iraq. In fact, they had specifically war-gamed the occupation of Iraq in 1999 in an exercise called "Desert Crossing" and 400,000 troops was the figure they came up with. That advice was ignored. 160,000 troops were sent in. The result was the looting of Iraq cultural and economic resources and the preventable deaths of over 655,000 people. Following the Iraq invasion, the Iraq army - which could have served to maintain order - was disbanded. Scores of Saddam's known weapons sites were left unattended by US forces. The result: hundreds of tonnes of explosives, bombs, grenades, rockets and other arms were stolen and later formed the basis of the civilian chaos occuring in Iraq today.

What kind of military and political leadership REFUSES TO PLAN for the aftermath of a military invasion? Rumsfeld is either grossly negligent, or he wanted the carnage to ensue. His orders to Gen. Scheid stand in marked contrast to the US efforts to build 14 large, heavily fortified US bases in Iraq. Why build permanent military bases if you have no intention of occupying the country? And, now, with the recently announced Iraqi oil production laws giving 60% of the oil directly to foreign oil companies - and effective control over a further 20% - a 20% economic rump is left to an Iraq government that is a government in name only.(link)

I guess if you want to steal a country's assets then defeat any semblance of an ordered government that might stand in your way. A civil war will do nicely.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Thanks damien. I still don't believe so many people didn't realize the Cheney White House was lying to everyone about everything. The real plan is quite simple: exterminate enough people to render the local population defenseless, if not extinct, and take whatever we want. It's not dissimilar from what the pioneers did to the Native Americans. That was taken as a joke the first time I said it, but I wasn't kidding. Next stop, Iran. The Bush administration thinks it'll be another cakewalk; but, even if it isn't, so what? The oil will go to privitization and lots of death is just good, old fashioned fun--truly pathetic and loathsome. And, we'd damn sure better hang them up by their thumbs, or what lies ahead is too horrible to imagine.

Enlightenment said...

Though my opinion is probably in the minority, I really cannot forsee the U.S. invading Iran, for several reasons.

For one, the U.S. military is so overstretched now that the high command is worried about breaking it completely if the "surge" of 30,000 additional troops in Iraq is maintained past late summer. For the first time in a long time the U.S. Army does not have even one brigade (c.3,500 to 4,000 troops) ready in the continental U.S. in case of a contingency elsewhere. Though one brigade wouldn't be enough to respond to anything beyond say a little unrest in Grenada or something, nevertheless, they don't even have THAT. That says a lot. Look at the way they have to keep sending the same divisions back to Iraq over and over again, now even cutting back the amount of time between deployments. They've had to drastically lower their standards for recruiting, now accepting people they would have NEVER accepted a few years ago, meanwhile increasing the bribe I mean "bonus" for enlisting quite dramatically, yet STILL cannot meet or just barely meet their quotas. Worse yet, they are facing severe shortfalls in company-grade officers, meaning the lieutenants and captains who lead platoons and companies respectively, are getting harder and harder to retain. Their equipment situation is also abysmal, with 40% of the Army's and Marines' equipment currently in Iraq and Afghanistan getting the wheels driven off of it, being used at many times the rate of use in peacetime, while exacerbating the pre-existing shortfalls of equipment so badly that critical stocks of equipment have to be rotated between units and as units prepare to deploy the equipment stocks of other later-deploying units get raped so as to enable the deploying unit to hastily cobble together enough gear to deploy. Which in turn further exacerbates the shortfall problem while simultaneously making training that much more difficult for units training to deploy by not having enough equipment to go around. The Army and Marines (as it stands right now) are a hairsbreadth away from being completely broken forces. And bear in mind, this is with the size of the force in Iraq being WAY too small to do what is being expected of it, needing as mentioned above by Damien around 400,000 troops in country to have a realistic chance of pacifying it. The Air Force isn't in too much better shape, having been active since the FIRST Gulf War ended in enforcing the "no-fly" zones in Iraq, whittling down Iraq's air defenses to nothing over the course of more than a decade. The Air Force is flying models of aircraft whose designs entered service in the early 1970s; yes, they have been upgraded but nevertheless they are elderly models. The new F-22 fighter and Joint Strike Fighter attack aircraft are not yet in squadron service. (The reason the U.S. military looks good in many instances is because the U.S. invariably picks on countries that can't fight back, like a heavyweight boxer taking on a light featherweight; when was the last time the U.S. Army fought against a country that was using tanks from the same generation as current American main battle tanks? That would be World War II and the U.S. Army's armored forces in WWII looked like TOTAL SHIT against the Germans; ask any American tanker from that war and he will tell you). Regardless, the U.S. military simply does not have the combat power available to even CONSIDER military action against Iran. The most that could be attempted would be limited airstrikes with no ground force involvement whatsoever, and bear in mind Iran has a well-developed air defense network so American aircraft would be flying into a thicket of surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft fire at any target they approach, quite the opposite of the invasion of Iraq which by 2003 had basically no air defenses at all. So just airstrikes are not going to achieve what they would want to achieve, and would anyway be totally worthless from the point of view of occupying Iran's oil fields because you can't occupy terrain with aircraft, you have to have, as the dumbed-down expression goes, "boots on the ground", and that is simply not an option. No boots remain available.

Secondly, even if there WERE available forces to launch an invasion of Iran, consider how different Iran is from Iraq. Iran's territory is much larger. Iran has between two and three times the population. Iran's terrain is mostly mountainous, ideal for defensive fighting and a hell for offensive operations, wheras Iraq is mostly flat desert, ideal for offensive operations rather than defensive. If it would take about 400,000 troops to have a reasonable chance of pacifying Iraq, then it would take about 900,000 to 1,000,000 troops to have a shot at occupying Iran. This amount is ludicrously impossible especially considering one would have to maintain Iraq's occupation WHILE invading and occupying Iran. Nothing of this magnitude has been possible since the draft was abolished. All-volunteer militaries simply are not designed to be able to do the things the Rethuglican politicians are expecting of them, not even close; all-volunteer militaries are meant for short, small wars, not lengthy, large wars.

Then consider that any move against shiite Iran would cause Iraq's shiite majority to go nuts. If you think the occupation of Iraq is untenable NOW, try imagining it after the U.S. tries anything against Iran. The Iraqi shiites would besiege every American firebase in Iraq themselves, and that's WITHOUT the likely possibility of an Iranian ground invasion of Iraq. The U.S. troops in Iraq would hold out as long as they could, but each firebase would inevitably fall and its occupants would be massacred.

Then consider that the U.S. has two aircraft carriers and a dozen smaller warships in the Persian Gulf. Carriers (and navies in general) are at their worst when they are bottled up in something like the Persian Gulf, which is practially a lake; all their advantages are negated and they would be sitting ducks for Iranian anti-ship missile batteries which are in place in the mountains all along the Iranian littoral. As soon as the U.S. tries anything belligerent the Iranians would sink that whole fleet before dinnertime. Thousands of American sailors would end up on the bottom of the Persian Gulf before they knew what hit them. Their only way out would be blocked by the Iranians, closing off the Strait of Hormuz with mines covered by anti-ship missile batteries.

Also consider the economic ramifications of attacking Iran: When the aforementioned closing of the Strait occurs, it will be closed not just to the U.S. Navy, but to tanker ships as well. The U.S. gets a hell of a lot of oil from the Middle East and it all flows through the Strait of Hormuz. The price of gas would go up immediately to like $20 a gallon and keep climbing until in about two days America's economy grinds to a halt.

So, no, I cannot realistically forsee the U.S. invading Iran or even attacking it with airstrikes. More sabre-rattling yes, to try to save face by trying to get the Iranians to back down on the uranium enrichment issue. But not military action. If they did it would be by far the dumbest, most self-defeating policy any American administration would have made ever, making the invasion of Iraq look like a good idea by comparison and virtually guaranteeing that America's "world's only superpower" status, now nothing but an illusion, would be not even that, just nonexistant, and America would be the laughingstock of the entire world for getting the shit kicked out of it in an afternoon by a country many times smaller than itself, with the Cheney administration going down in history as the ones who brought it about. No, I don't think they want to poke a stick at Iran. More sabre-rattling, probably yes. Actual military action, no.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

I hope you're right, I really do. Before Rumsfeld retired, the idea was promoted that the U.S. could rely on air attacks almost exclusively to knock out Iran's uranium enrichment facilities and other nuclear operations. The target list was expanded to military sites and some industry and transportation targets. It became evident the U.S. wanted to bomb targets all over the country and use low-yield nuclear warheads widely.

I think it's important to realize that "victory" was never the object of the Bush administration's misadventures in the Middle East; it is enough to create chaos to blindside the pursuit of its economic and political goals. Bush has been desperate for a clear way to expand the war (if a little is good, more is better) but no one in his cabal has the mental horsepower to figure out how to do it.

Enlightenment said...

Well, air power alone, with or without nuclear weapons, isn't going to eliminate Iran's uranium enrichment capability. Thankfully the Iranians learned from the Osirik bombing in Iraq when the Zionists bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in the early 1980s and have a lot of their stuff so far underground that nothing the U.S. does is going to eliminate it save actually occupying the facilities. And as I mentioned, a ground invasion is out of the question.

Also consider that the Iranians actually have an air defense network, meaning the U.S. wouldn't be able to bomb them unopposed, which considering the U.S. military's recent history means it would be highly unlikely they would TRY if they can't just fly in with no worries and drop bombs. The reason why the U.S. Air Force suffered no casualties and had very very few aircraft shot down over Kosovo was because they knew that Milosevic had a well-developed air defense network and they didn't want to risk flying low enough to actually encounter it. So they bombed from high altitude and achieved basically nothing versus Serbian military targets and were only able to get some success in bombing Serbian civilian infrastructure targets, like power plants, bridges, railyards etc. THAT was what made Milosevic buckle, as the U.S.A.F. did next to nothing against his military forces. Then remember that the U.S. didn't launch the unprovoked invasion of Iraq in 2003 until they had whittled Iraq's air defenses down to nothing. I cannot forsee the Air Force flying into the kind of air defenses like they encountered in the Vietnam War, they (and the American people) just don't have the stomach for that anymore. If they tried to bomb Iranian targets the air campaign would last until about a dozen aircraft get shot down and they would call it off. This heavyweight boxer has a glass jaw.

Besides, it is basically a guarantee if the U.S. fucked with Iran it would be America's biggest military disaster ever. Like I mentioned, the Iranians would quickly close the Strait of Hormuz and use the U.S. Navy carriers and their escorts in the Gulf for target practice, and believe me, their anti-ship missiles aren't just a bunch of 30-year-old Silkworms and Exocets, they have the latest shit including anti-ship cruise missiles from Russia that fly at wavetop level and make evasive maneuvers just before striking, missiles that the U.S.N. has no defense against. They have "carrier killers". Trust me, the Iranians would sink that whole fleet in no time flat and drown literally THOUSANDS of sailors in a day. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

But not only would they do that, as I mentioned they would at the LEAST incite the Iraqi shiites to besiege the U.S. firebases scattered all over Iraq. But most likely the Iranian Army and Revolutionary Guard would launch a full-scale invasion of Iraq to kick the U.S. out once and for all, and probably invade Bahrain and Kuwait as well, to eliminate U.S. bases there. The U.S. Army and Marines in the Middle East would get SLAUGHTERED. It would forever end any American military presence in the Mid East, the world's most important oil region. The U.S. military high command has to know this. I cannot under any circumstances see the U.S. ensuring its own removal from that region by attacking a country that will kick its ass and throw it out of the Mid East. And if you think everyone hates America now, wait until it nukes Iran. People the world over would be insisting their governments embargo American trade, China would stop financing America's public and private debt, meaning the dollar would soon be worth about 2 cents because foreign (mostly Chinese) debt financing is what props up America's economy, and with no oil coming out of the Strait of Hormuz the U.S. consumer would be trying to buy gas at $20 or $30 a gallon with a dollar that is worthless. No, screwing with Iran would be a certain recipe for destroying whatever shreds of American clout and importance are remaining in the world. It would become a third world country a couple generations ahead of schedule. History, even American history, would long remember what administration caused that. All the Cheney regime is doing regarding Iran is sabre-rattling. Last summer everyone in the blogosphere was raving about how the U.S. is going to attack Iran next week, and I told them the same thing I am telling you, it's all bluster. I said wait and you will see this time next year the U.S. will not have invaded Iran and none of them believed me. Well it still hasn't happened so far, and I am pretty certain it won't happen this year either. It's just sabre-rattling bluster, that's all.