During this week's Armed Services Committee hearing Republican Senator Lindsay Graham displayed a rare penchant to actually Do his Job when he asked General Abizaid how many Insurgents there were in Iraq and where they were coming from.
- Approx 1000 Al Qaeda Fighters
- Sunni Insurgents in the "Low Five Figures"
- Approx 10-20,000 Shia Militia members (who may in fact also be members of the Iraqi National Army and have become roving Death Squads
Graham then responded by asking why over 200,000 trained Iraqi troops can't seem to get a handle on "just 30,000-40,000" insurgents whom they outnumber by at least 5 to 1?
With that one question Graham hit the true failure of our policy in Iraq squarely on the head. The problems in that region are not one of manpower or of financing - it's an issue of willpower.
Ultimately it's the Iraqi people who have to paraphrase Sting from the song Russians that they have to "Love their children" more than they hate the enemy - whether that Enemy is the U.S., the Sunni, the Shia or the Kurds.
Several other Senators during the hearing made pointed statments.
Senator McCain, while discussing the recent plan to move 3,500 U.S. troops pointed out that we've been through this game before with Fallujah where we moved our forces in and and soon as they had cleaned the city out, the insurgents returned.
"We're playing a game of whack-a-mole here," McCain complained. "It's very disturbing."
No kidding. We're also not winning that game.
Oddly enough Senator John Warner when questioning Abizaid actually managed to echo a point repeated made by Cindy Sheehan - The Mission has long ago been accomplished.
From The Daily News.
The 2002 resolution authorizing military force, Warner noted, called for U.S. forces to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and to enforce all relevant U.N. resolutions.
"Many of those missions set out and envisioned by the Congress when it gave this authority - namely, the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime - have been achieved," Warner said.
Abizaid didn't respond directly to Warner's suggestion but said he was hopeful that civil war could still be avoided.
With the death toll rising above 100 people a day in what mostly to be a Sunni/Shia War - that hope seems to be rather in vain.
Besides Sheehan, Senator Warner's suggestion also echoes the efforts of Rep Lynn Woolsey to have the Iraq War Resolution Repealed.
Six weeks after we invaded Iraq, President Bush stood aboard an aircraft carrier before a banner that read "Mission Accomplished," declaring that "major combat operations in Iraq are over." From that moment on, we were no longer fighting a war, but rather participating in an occupation.
With only 90 Days left until the November Election, Republicans are clearly starting to run scared and have begun to shows some weaks signs of recognizing their oversight responsibility - yet, the harshes criticism of the entire hearing was still delivered by a Democrat.
Senator Hillary Clinton - while questioning Donald Rumsfeld from the Washington Post:
Under your leadership, there have been numerous errors in judgment that have led us to where we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a full-fledged insurgency and full-blown sectarian conflict in Iraq.
Now, whether you label it a civil war or not, it certainly has created a situation of extreme violence and the continuing loss of life among our troops and of the Iraqis.
You did not go into Iraq with enough troops to establish law and order.
You disbanded the entire Iraqi army. Now, we're trying to recreate it.
You did not do enough planning for what is called Phase Four and rejected all the planning that had been done previously to maintain stability after the regime was overthrown.
You underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency, the sectarian violence and the spread of Iranian influence
In a July 22 article in the New York Times, General Abizaid was quoted as saying, "Two months after the new Iraqi government took office, the security gains that we had hoped for had not been achieved."
In Afghanistan, your administration's credibility is also suspect. In December 2002, you said, "The Taliban are gone." In September 2004, President Bush said, "The Taliban no longer is in existence."
However, this February, DIA Director Lieutenant General Maples said that, in 2005, attacks by the Taliban and other anti-coalition forces were up 20 percent from 2004 levels, and these insurgents were a greater threat to the Afghan government's efforts to expand its authority than in any time since 2001.
So, Mr. Secretary, when our constituents ask for evidence that your policy in Iraq and Afghanistan will be successful, you don't leave us with much to talk about. Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios, but because of the administration's strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy.
Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?
And the Donald of course had an excellent response.
RUMSFELD: My goodness.
He then went on to question himself and further justify his ongoing failures in the region.
RUMSFELD: First of all, it's true: There is sectarian conflict in Iraq and there is a loss of life.
And it's an unfortunate and tragic thing that that's taking place.
And it is true that there are people who are attempting to prevent that government from being successful. And they are the people who are blowing up buildings and killing innocent men, women and children, and taking off the heads of people on television. And the idea of their prevailing is unacceptable.
Second, you said the number of troops were wrong. I guess history will make a judgment on that. The number of troops that went in and the number of troops that were there every month since and the number of troops that are there today reflected the best judgment of the military commanders on the ground, their superiors, General Pace, General Abizaid, the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense and the president of the United States.
I think it's not correct to assume that they were wrong numbers. And I don't think the evidence suggests that, and it will be interesting to see what history decides.
I think after three years we already have an incling of what history will ultimately decide on this matter, and it doesn't look promising from this angle.
After I originally posted the above on Dkos - one commenter brought up the less than obvious answer - at least not that obvious to someone like Graham.
It's about insurgency and occupation. This is not a symmetric war where forces meet on the battle field. An insurgency is necessarily an asymmetric guerrilla operation, and the correct response is counterinsurgency, not the GWOT that the US is fighting and losing.
David Galula wrote the bible on asymmetric warfare forty years ago. Bernard Fall's books on Vietnam are essentail reading also. (I did this research when I was a naval officer during the Vietnam years.)
And he's absolutely correct. And we should recognize this type of warfare, we helped perfect it during our own Revolutionary War. General Washington's Continental Army used non-convention tactics and sneak attacks such as crossing the Delaware River during the dead night and winter to attack Heshen troops while they still were in their quarters. They faced a vastly superior and far more experience force, they had no chance in a head-to-head conflict so instead they used guerilla tactics they'd learned from the American Indian. We also pioneered counterinsurgency when we later fought and eventually won the Indian Wars and the west.
We already know how to do this and "Wack a mole" isn't the way.
You take the terroritory inch by inch, house by house, town by town and you hold it. Slowly you drive you opposition out into the open, push them away from resupply routes and resources - you starve them out, bottle them up and smash them. But we haven't committed the neccesary resources or man power needed to do this - 200,0oo Iraqi soldiers (with some percentage actually being loyal to the new Iraqi government) combined with 130,000 U.S. troops really isn't enough. And the odd thing is the lower the number of insurgents - (or more accurately counter-occupationists) - the harder the job is to do thoroughly.
The only way to "win" this war would be to institute a draft - but that shit is not going to happen.
We have to take a step back and realize that we've been played all the way through this situation , when you look at indications that our man in Iraq, Ahman Chalabi. The one who assured us that Saddam had WMD's, has apparently been working with and for the Shia dominated government of Iraq all along. From William Rivers Pitt.
Ahmad Chalabi has been many things to many people over the last several years. Officials in Jordan considered him to be a petty criminal, convicting him of 32 counts of bank fraud and sentencing him in absentia to 22 years in prison.
Chalabi was, for a time, the leader of a manufactured dissident group called the Iraqi National Congress, and received millions of American taxpayer dollars thanks to the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act. This made him a source for New York Times reporter Judy Miller, who used his false information about Iraqi WMD capabilities to frighten the populace into war.
For Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the masterminds of the Iraq invasion, however, Ahmad Chalabi was the anointed one, a statesman-to-be, the man who would replace Saddam Hussein once they figured out a way to attack and overthrow his regime. Chalabi had been chosen for this position as early as 1997, before this whole mess was anything more than a twinkle in the vice president's eye.
Sept. 11 gave them the opening they needed and they went for it - but it didn't turn out how they'd planned once we'd taken over the country.
Chalabi was in the mix, to be sure. He ran for the prime minister's spot and was handily defeated, but resurrected himself long enough to become the oil minister. He was a mover and a shaker, adept at playing both ends against the middle, at one point standing as the avatar of American power and at another fashioning himself as the anti-American savior of Iraqi Shiites.
And then his house got raided, and the whispers began to percolate. Something happened with Iran, something bad, and soon enough it became clear that Chalabi was playing a double game. Rumsfeld's promise to put him in power, and to give him unfettered access to Iraq's vast oil wealth, had not been fulfilled. Chalabi, therefore, switched sides.
The NSA detected that someone was feeding the Iranians information through Baghdad, and the FBI suspected that someone was Chalabi.
"On May 20th," continued Bamford, "shortly after the discovery of the leak, Iraqi police backed by American soldiers raided Chalabi's home and offices in Baghdad. The FBI suspected that Chalabi, a Shiite who had a luxurious villa in Tehran and was close to senior Iranian officials, was actually working as a spy for the Shiite government of Iran. Getting the U.S. to invade Iraq was apparently part of a plan to install a pro-Iranian Shiite government in Baghdad, with Chalabi in charge. The bureau also suspected that Chalabi's intelligence chief had furnished Iran with highly classified information on U.S. troop movements, top-secret communications, plans of the provisional government and other closely guarded material on U.S. operations in Iraq.
The fact is that we've been suckered! Of course we're playing "Wack a Mole" only it's been the wrong freaking mole.
Now we have nearly 100,000 Shia in the streets of Baghdad protesting both us and the actions of Israel in Lebanon. Something tells me there hearts and minds haven't exactly been won over by our actions in the region.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Tens of thousands of Shiites, some burning U.S. flags and chanting "Death to Israel," thronged a Baghdad slum in support of Hezbollah Friday as protests surged against the Lebanon fighting in several Mideast nations.
Organizers and local police said hundreds of thousands attended the rally, but the U.S. military later estimated the crowd at 14,000. Associated Press reporters at the scene thought attendance was at least in the tens of thousands during the high point of the march.
The rally went off peacefully — a remarkable achievement in a city where bombings and shootings are an everyday occurrence. Sadr City is under the effective control of the cleric's Mahdi Army militia, which maintains its own security network.
Meanwhile in the nation of another one of our "allies".
In Saudi Arabia, hundreds of Shiites, who make up about 12 percent of the predominantly Sunni country's population, have marched over the past three days in al-Qatif municipality in the Gulf coast region.
Under the watchful eyes of anti-riot police during a demonstration Thursday, protesters chanted: "No Sunni, no Shiites, only one Muslim unity" while others waved posters of Nasrallah chanting "Oh Nasrallah, oh beloved one, destroy destroy Tel Aviv."
Isn't that just lovely, they're become one big happy Muslim family - all united against Israel and Us? Wonderful...
And while we talk about how Syria and Iraq are fueling the hostility of Hezbollah. Look at what the Iranian press is saying.
The horrific US and UK supported war waged by Israel against Lebanon under the pretext of self defence for the capture of two soldiers by Hezbollah is setting the stage for a US/Israeli military assault on Iran that would lead to a major conflagration in the Middle East and beyond. Only the antiwar movement and urgent action by a united Iranian community worldwide can stop such an aggression.
Iran has been the key player in this from the beginning, and they've been not just one step ahead -- but several moves ahead of us. It's well past time that we started playing this smart - something this administration seems completely incapable of doing.
Rumsfeld needs to go - now. Not later - now. He's resigned at least twice before, it's well past time that President Bush finally accepted. Seven Generals have called for him to leave, even Joe Leiberman has said it. It's not just the President perogative, it's a matter of what's best for the nation and the world. We can't afford to have an incompetent, demented boob like Rumsfeld in such a key position any longer.
Even without Rummy, this mess isn't going to end with Bush, heaven help whoever comes in after him to clean up the shitstain he's left on the oval office floor - they're going to need it.