Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Couldn't Make this Shit Up.

GEN Ray Odierno on why 50,000 GIs will remain in Iraq:
"... (to) ensure that this government can be formed by the Iraqis, and that all the other nations respect their sovereignty as they go about forming their government. We will not allow undue maligned influence on the Iraqi government as they attempt to form their government..."
Influence, that is, other than...umm...ours.


  1. Well...he said 'undue'. He just figures that our malign influence is 'due'!

  2. Didn't Bush call "we got dibs!"

    In the series of reasons we have spent blood and treasure in Iraq, I am confused, is this reason number 4 or 5?

    1. WMD, they are everywhere!
    2. Um, Saddam is bad. Was bad. Iraq is a better place now.
    3. AQ lives in Iraq! (now...)
    4. Remember how bad Saddam was!
    5. Stop the spread of undue foreign influence (read Iran)

    I am sure I am missing an important declared reason for being in Iraq (ignoring the non-declared reasons, too many to speculate).

  3. "He just figures that our malign influence is 'due'!"

    Well that sure set my mind at rest. That and Bush having said "dibs!".

    A clear strategy after all.

    And bg, wasn't one of the original declared reasons for being in Iraq to "safeguard the mineral resources of Iraq which belong to the Iraqi people" . . . ?

    Which means the Iraqi government. Due malign influence . . . in the pursuit of a clear, consistent, tangible, material goal . . .

  4. One wonders what is going through Odierno's head with the news that Gates will (finally) put the shiv into JFCOM? I wonder what's next for the Big Guy? CSA?


  5. Is this our friend Sven?


    He got quoted at C&L:


    A piece by Bob Herbert is also at that link. It appears the "Professional Left" is turning into run of the mill DFHs.


  6. Not to be pedantic...Ok, I am being pedantic. If he is quoted correctly, Dierno said "maligned," not "malign."

    Malign means "malevolent" wheras maligned means "the person or thing about which harmful, and often untrue statements are made."

    So the General's statement actually means, "Anyone we badmouth will not be allowed to take part in forming the Iraqi government."

    'Course, Occam's Razor would indicate that Dierno simply doesn't know the difference.



  7. seydlitz,

    "And bg, wasn't one of the original declared reasons for being in Iraq to "safeguard the mineral resources of Iraq which belong to the Iraqi people" . . . ?"

    I don't know, I just showed up for a fight. It wasn't until 3 tours before I started really asking myself "WTF?" But hey, speaking of minerals, now that we've found over a trillion $ worth of Lithium in Afghanistan, we finally have a really good reason for staying there as well. Scratch up another victory for the GWOT.

    Tangent: I was in DC visiting monuments and memorials today. Of course, the WWII memorial is impressive, the Vietnam and Korea memorials are equally impressive and draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. I wonder what they will do for Afg/Iraq. Not a forgone conclusion that there will be a memorial (there is still no official national memorial for WWI). But I wonder if you will see monuments/memorials that put both wars together and if so, under what banner?

  8. But I wonder if you will see monuments/memorials that put both wars together and if so, under what banner?

    2 memorials, with a diorama of bin Laden in a cave with a video or tape recorder.


  9. "Is this our friend Sven?"

    Dunno about friend, but yes, that's me.

  10. bg-

    From SecDef Rumsfeld's press conference of 20 March 2003 concerning the war aims of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

    Coalition military operations are focused on achieving several specific objectives:

    to end the regime of Saddam Hussein by striking with force on a scope and scale that makes clear to Iraqis that he and his regime are finished.

    Next, to identify, isolate and eventually eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, production capabilities, and distribution networks.

    Third, to search for, capture, drive out terrorists who have found safe harbor in Iraq.

    Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can find related to terrorist networks in Iraq and beyond.

    Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can find related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction activity.

    Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian relief, food and medicine to the displaced and to the many needy Iraqi citizens.

    Seventh, to secure Iraq's oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people, and which they will need to develop their country after decades of neglect by the Iraqi regime.

    And last, to help the Iraqi people create the conditions for a rapid transition to a representative self-government that is not a threat to its neighbors and is committed to ensuring the territorial integrity of that country.


    Notice # 7. These are btw the official war aims given to Franks in March 2003, not justifications for going to war in the first place . . .

  11. can you give a source for this?

  12. seydlitz,

    Official war aims/objectives, that makes sense. And these aims means to a political end, yes?

    So when the General says, "We will not allow undue maligned influence on the Iraqi government as they attempt to form their government," is that a military objective, it sounds like a political objective that the military has been tasked to achieve.

    I think the topic here is the political justifications and political goals, those 7 military objectives were just the way in which the military planned to achieve these political goals. No doubt the overall military objectives haven't changed much, but it still seams like the political justification has changed.

  13. bg-

    I read them more as justifications for going in the first place. Military aims are traditionally simple and clear cut. Eisenhower's military aim was the defeat of the German Wehrmacht in WWII which in turn allowed for the achievement of the political goal: the overthrown of Hitler's Germany. It was not up to him to decide on the political goal, but rather achieve the military aim.

    But the real question is how did Franks and Central Command implement them?

    Considering that the WMD sites secured by the UN that were allowed to be looted (all well known), the failure to secure the actual Iraqi government documents covering WMDs which reporters found blowing around in the streets after the unguarded buildings had been looted . . . not to mention the failure to plan for Phase IV operations (point 8) . . .

    Here's the original link:

    Which leads me to believe they never took them at face value, saw them rather as propaganda for the rubes whereas the actual war aims were something else . . . although never publicly stated . . .

    *Overthrow of Saddam's government and the Iraqi state and it's replacement with a new client state, essentially smashing the state and then starting over from the beginning;

    *Establishment of permanent military bases in which to project power throughout the Greater Middle East;

    *Domination of the Iraqi economy including its mineral resources; and

    *Establishment of a new Iraqi political identity which would act as a template for future wars/regime change missions.

  14. seydlitz,

    all points well taken. I will tell you, as a member of the SOF community during the invasion, that we had three priorities. #1: Prevent any missiles from being launched on Israel (Counter TBM threat in the west desert) and #2: Find the Regime leadership and #3 find the "smoking gun" (aka WMD).

    #1 was very successful. #2 become the main effort quickly because #3 was proving fruitless (and boring). And #2 replaced "regime leadership" with AQ as soon as the we ran out of Ba'athists.

    Note: #1 is still a relevant mission in today's policy. Sometimes I think we feel pressured to action something before the Israelis do. From my vantage point, I heard discussions that our timeline for the invasion was advanced to prevent the Israelis from doing their own counter TBM strikes in Iraq. You gotta wonder what Israel's stance is towards a nuclear Iran, and what our reaction will be to that stance.

  15. "..was advanced to prevent the Israelis from doing their own counter TBM strikes in Iraq..."

    Against what?
    They were as unable to tell where non-existing hardware was as were the other intelligence services.

  16. bg-

    Thanks for this.

    "You gotta wonder what Israel's stance is towards a nuclear Iran, and what our reaction will be to that stance."

    Ya hear a lot of sabre rattling . . . but we have been through this before. Could it be different this time?

  17. Sven,

    We had pretty good ideas of where hardware was and found a few existing sites when SOF was inserted prior to the official "invasion forces", but more importantly, the Israelis absolutely believed they knew where launch sites were and had every intention of doing their own raids. I heard rumors that they did, but none confirmed. Either way, you must deal with the perceived threats in the same manner as the real ones.


    correct me if I am wrong, but sabre rattling is something that is done overtly so the enemy believes you have intent to unsheathe. While there is some of that, I think there may be a bit more going on than that. I often wonder what some of these closed door meetings between the Israeli and US leadership is about. Just based on my experience with Iraq, I bet there is some Israeli pressure for action, and knowing the Israelis, there won't be a single sabre rattled. I bet that the US is telling the Israelis to hold off, but I wonder for how long. And if the Israelis do strike (like they did in Baghdad when they bombed their nuclear facility), what will our reaction and the world reaction.

  18. bg: If the Israelis attack Iran our "reaction" - that is, our public response - will be an immediate and unconditional statement of support for whatever it is the Israelis do. We have never failed to support our 51st State whenever they have acted contrary to our interests because there is a big enough plurality that confuses the best interest of Israel with the best interest of the U.S. Think about the USS Liberty, the foolish campaigns in Lebanon (both the post-82 occupation and the foolish 2006 incursion), the settlement campaign, or the recent Gaza incursion. The reckless neocon talk about Iranian nuclear ambitions have laid the groundwork for this; at this point it would be virtually impossible for the U.S. to walk the Israelis back from, or to prevent, such a raid.

    The world will react according to its prejudices, and according to how messy the Israeli attack is. The Arab nations will go berserk publicly (while perhaps secretly enjoying seeing the upstart Shiites get their conge'). Most of the rest of the world will issue the usual statements of outrage without really caring one way or the other.

    I'm afraid that the end result would be little more than to return things to the status quo circa 2008. The Arab publics have already gone a long way towards fleeing Obama because of his pusillanimous behavior on the Gaza and settlements issues. The Arab states will go along with us al long as they fear us (up to a point). The AQ/Islamist groups can't hate us any more than they do.

    So the only real question is the extent to which Iran can make things worse for our forces deployed in the Gulf region. And I honestly don't have a clue on that score. But I can't imagine that the effects will be anything good...

  19. I should note, too, that re: Rummy's Seven Point Plan...

    1. Several sources, including the U.S. Dept. of State, cautioned that Saddam had done a damn good job of destroying the internal political structure and decapitating potential rivals, and that the most likely successor regime to his kleptocracy would be a Shiite-dominated government aligned more or less closely with Iran. The fact that the Bushies ignored this didn't make it any less true, as event have shown. The other widely-circulated prediction (the dissolution of Iraq into Shia-, Sunni-, and Kurd-majority substates), is, IMO, still a real possibility. So #1 was, militarily, always a product of wishful thinking rather than a true strategic objective.

    2. through 5. were, purely and simply, lies. We knew (that is, our Intelligence services knew and informed the NCA that they knew) that Saddam's ties with the Islamists were few, brief, and for the convenience of both parties rather than any sort of real axis of evil. The nukes, bugs, and gas people likewise made it clear that what Saddam had was a bagatelle at worst and probably nonexistent. These were smoke and mirrors - and Rummy knew at the time he said these that he had no hard evidence other than his and the other Bushies' opinions - intended to justify #1.

    Given the actual conduct of the campaign and occupation, #6 is kind of cruel joke. Doesn't anyone remember how the CPA tried repeatedly to end stuff like the civilian food and fuel ration so that Iraq could enjoy the paradise of the Free Market? IS Iraq better off today than under Saddam? Perhaps. But not because of what the U.S. intended.

    And I think we addressed #7 a little bit earlier when we found that only about, what, 4% of the Iraqi oil revenues that were supposed to "belong to the Iraqi people" were spent on stuff that benefited the "Iraqi people"

    The political objectives were always to establish a client regime in Iraq that would allow for power projection. Everything else was window dressing and bullshit designed to fool the fools. The fact that the people who launched this mess were ALSO unable to see that knocking the Saddam cork off the Iraq bottle was unlikely to produce the result they desired simply points out that THEY were fools, too.