First off, good for John McCain. Second, good for the Republican Party. And third, good for Barack Obama. During the 2008 presidential campaign, there was a lot of disagreement both within and between the two parties as far as Iraq was concerned. On the right, a group (often led by a member of the Kagan family) continued to insist that all the major decisions made in Iraq remained made by Americans and not Iraqis. In my view, this school was oblivious to the fact that by 1 January 2009, the U.S. had to either renew our mandate with the United Nations -- which would have meant Christmas for the Chinese and Russians, assuming they would have played ball -- or negotiate a SOFA agreement with Iraq. The latter meant an irreversible shift of power in Iraq from American to Iraqi policy-makers. Just negotiating a SOFA put power in the hands of the Iraqis.
During the presidential campaign, John McCain argued that imposing a deadline to remove combat troops from Iraq was tantamount to accepting defeat in Iraq.
It is a measure of how much has changed over the past six months that Mr McCain is now one of the chief cheerleaders for Barack Obama's plan to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq by August 2010.
Yeah, I know what you mean. The trouble was, when I said "it succeeeded tactically but failed strategically," I could just see people fail to compute. The average person (and the average Washington journalist) doesn't know the difference between the two. That's why I started using the less fashionable, less Clauswitizan formulation.
David Kilcullen, Petraeus's counterinsurgency adviser, concluded that just as the Iraqis had stared at the possibility of full-blown civil war that year but ultimately turned away, so, too, had the American public considered a leap into the unknown -- and stopped short.
"America," he said, "has taken a deep breath, looked into the abyss of pulling out and decided, 'Let's not do it yet.'"
As a friend of mine said, it's tough to win a war in Afghanistan when the enemy wants to fight it in the next country over, Pakistan.Abu Muqawama, on Tuesday:
It's tough to fight a war in Afghanistan when the opposing team decides to fight the war in Pakistan.So close! The day someone -- anyone -- says "Abu Muqawama" on a serious news program is the day I die happily. Which is so sad, really. You know you have reached true Washington loserdom when you yearn for such things.
The tendency in the U.S. Army is to want to solve problems immediately. And in an insurgency that's just not possible.
Now if you happen to know a lot of the people who were responsible for implementing the surge, you also happen to know there are several different narratives for who was responsible for making the surge happen. Team O, Team P, and Team First Cav all have their own versions of what happened, and those are just the guys and girls in Baghdad. I can only imagine how many people in the 202 area code also take credit for the drop in violence that took place over 2007.
In a recent interview, Odierno expressed surprise that a book by The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, published just as Odierno took command in Iraq, credited White House aides and others in Washington with developing the surge. From Odierno's perspective -- and that of many other senior officers in Iraq -- the new strategy had been more or less conceived and executed by himself in Baghdad, with some crucial coaching from Keane in Washington.
"We thought we needed it, and we asked for it and we got it," he said, referring to the strategy. "You know, General Petraeus and I think . . . I did it here, [and] he picked it up. That's how we see it. And so it's very interesting when people back there see it very differently."
On the long flight home to Washington in a C-17 military cargo jet, Gates, who declined to be interviewed for this article, disappeared into his mobile home in the plane's belly with Pace and a bottle of California cabernet sauvignon. A few days later, Odierno got the word: Gates wants you to have all five brigades.Now if that isn't the funniest thing you'll read all weekend, I don't know what is. This is how we plan our wars, world. Why you lot haven't succeeded in beating us in more of them I have no idea. I mean, this too was an actual news article in the Washington Post today:
"If not a need, there's certainly a demand," said Maj. Amanda Emmens-Rossi, a frequent customer at the beauty salon. "You come here on the weekend, and there's always Joes lined up to get manis and pedis. Just because you're deployed doesn't mean you have to look like a ragbag."How many pedicures do you think the boys in the Korengal Valley are getting? No wonder the Taliban think they can beat us. And they wear eye-liner!
1. Will ISCI accept their reverses?
2. Will there be some kind of backlash against Maliki?