Great discussion over at Defense Tech

Withdraw, then What?

Full disclosure: I occasionally cross-post at both Defense Tech and Winds of Change (founded by Joe Katzman). They are two top-notch sites and should be in your bookmarks.

Noah Shachtman points out a Slate article by Fred Kaplan that I cannot currently access for some reason that notes the “Administration’s apparent newfound-readiness to take tens of thousands of U.S. forces out of Iraq, pronto.”

Here’s part of my comment on the post:

“Tens of thousands” certainly seems to refer to the extra troops sent in/held over due to the elections in October and December. If that is indeed the case, then this isn’t any “newfound-readiness” on the part of the administration, though many are spinning it as such.

When I wrote the comment, I couldn’t reach the Slate site. I can now, and there are very few specifics. And the generalities certainly seem to fit within the scope of what has been a matter of public record all along.

I don’t know if the journalists don’t follow the story and don’t get it, or if they know typical Americans don’t follow the story so they’re free to write whatever they want. I suspect it’s a bit of both.

Everyone laughed at Bush when he said “as the Iraqis stand up we’ll stand down”, but that’s been the general idea all along (with some obvious delays and extensions due to conditions on the ground) and we’re pretty much sticking to it. It’s taking longer and costing more in gold and blood than we wanted, but there hasn’t been any panic on the part of the strategists.

A few weeks ago everyone was running all around worried that only one Iraqi battalion was ‘Level 1’. Today they’re running all around saying “the Iraqis have over 200,000 troops…when are we going to get out?”. Both parties in Congress are playing games with the troop levels, jockeying for position to take credit for what’s been planned all along.

I’ve been writing about this a lot lately, most recently here.

Of particular interest in the comments should be Joe Katzman’s second entry. it’s too good to excerpt, but I’ll grab one little snippet anyway:

As long as Syria and Iran have nothing to fear from their meddling and terrorism efforts, Iraq may manage an Israeli existence of civil society hit regularly by terrorists, but never anything more. The American government’s lack of action on the Iranian democracy front has been a major failure of this war. Those tools were used successfully against Syria in Lebanon, however, and other means need to be explored until Syria is clear that continued support of the Islamist death squads in Iraq will have serious consequences.

These efforts need not necessarily be military. Many other elements can be explored. But the outside elements really do need to be choked off over time, and the regimes that work with them must have their own hands too full for mischief elsewhere. The Reagan Doctrine worked precisely because it was a relentless full court press on all fronts, and this needs to be as well. By the end of this exercise the USA will either have watched the end/change of terrorist regimes in Iraq, Syria, and Iran, or this phase of the war will have failed in all 3 places (the Saudis come at the end, not before).

He also asks readers to note that he uses the terms “phase” and “campaign” when referring to Iraq. I generally do the same thing, and for the same reasons. Those that criticize the President for not making some things clear enough are barking up the right tree, but you’ve got to admit that nearly everyone just laughs when he tries to call Iraq part of a larger war. Don’t forget, though, that sometimes people laugh to cover the fact that they don’t get what’s being said.

But some messages have obviously been screwed up so badly that there’s probably no way to fix it at this point. Joe notes that the President not only refused to move the nation to any sort of war footing after 9/11, he often tells people to carry on as if nothing’s happening. I commented:

Bush shouldn’t have been calling for gasoline rationing and copper wire drives, but there’s no reason to be surprised that people are confused about what we’re doing when one day it’s ‘this is a war for the future of freedom and liberty’ and the next it’s ‘just keep shopping…everything’s just fine’.

This is a war. I’ve been calling it World War Four since 9/12/01. We should be more aware of what’s going on and what we’re trying to do. We get coverage of Abu Gharib for months on end. I blame, to a great extent, the Legacy Media. I truly believe it to be horribly biased and often spectacularly uninformed, especially about matters military. But I don’t give the President a free pass, either. Even though his words are so often twisted or just plain ignored, he should be doing more to get the word out.

That’s why Murdoc is completely in favor of this: Bush urged to emulate FDR

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sunday suggested that President Bush use an FDR-style presentation to update people on progress in the war in Iraq.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., recalled that during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt often went on the radio in “fireside chats” to explain to the nation in detail the conduct of the war in Europe and Asia.

“I think it would be to Bush’s advantage,” said Warner, who served in the Navy during the war.

“It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of this concern that understandably our people have, about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public,” he said.

Sure, many would dismiss fireside chats as just so much propaganda, but the benefit would far outweigh the negatives, not only to the war effort but for the administration specifically and for the GOP in general.


  1. Emulate FDR? Well, Bush’s less sane critics have been accusing him of wanting to emulate FDR — wanting to send ‘unreliable’ people to internment camps, subject the press to military censorship, use carpet bombing and even institute a draft.

  2. George can get down on his knee and plead to me but it will do no good. Any credibility he had with me evaporated long ago. It’s to late to be sincere now.