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  • Have we lost and is this why ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 30th, 2014 (All posts by )

    A new book by a retired army general explains that we lost the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Why ?

    I have had reservations about Iraq for years, at least since 2008.

    When President Bush convened a meeting of his National Security Council on May 22, 2003, his special envoy in Iraq made a statement that caught many of the participants by surprise. In a video presentation from Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III informed the president and his aides that he was about to issue an order formally dissolving Iraq’s Army.

    I think that decision probably lost the post-invasion war. The other puzzle that was not explained until the recent book, Days of Fire explained it, was why Bremer was put in place of Jay Garner, who had done well with the Kurds.

    Garner began reconstruction efforts in March 2003 with plans aiming for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. Talabani, a member of Jay Garner’s staff in Kuwait before the war, was consulted on several occasions to help the U.S. select a liberal Iraqi government; this would be the first liberal Government to exist in Iraq. In an interview with Time magazine, Garner stated that “as in any totalitarian regime, there were many people who needed to join the Baath Party in order to get ahead in their careers. We don’t have a problem with most of them. But we do have a problem with those who were part of the thug mechanism under Saddam. Once the U.S. identifies those in the second group, we will get rid of them.

    Had Garner continued with that policy, we might have been out of the cities in a few months instead of years, as was the case with Bremer.

    When Garner was replaced in his role by Paul Bremer, the former Managing Director of Kissinger and Associates, on May 11, 2003, there was quite a bit of speculation as to why he was replaced so abruptly. It has been suggested that Garner was moved aside because he did not agree with the White House about who should decide how to reconstruct Iraq. He wanted early elections—90 days after the fall of Baghdad.

    The book “Days of Fire,” suggests that Bremer charmed Bush and got the job. The result was disaster.

    There has been considerable criticism of Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks about their lack of plans for the occupation. It may well be that they did NOT plan an occupation. That was Bremer’s plan and he did not even consult Bush .

    When President Bush convened a meeting of his National Security Council on May 22, 2003, his special envoy in Iraq made a statement that caught many of the participants by surprise. In a video presentation from Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III informed the president and his aides that he was about to issue an order formally dissolving Iraq’s Army.

    The decree was issued the next day.

    That was the end of “Iraq for the Iraqis.”

    The account that emerges from those interviews, and from access to previously unpublished documents, makes clear that Mr. Bremer’s decree reversed an earlier plan — one that would have relied on the Iraqi military to help secure and rebuild the country, and had been approved at a White House meeting that Mr. Bush convened just 10 weeks earlier.

    Now we come to Afghanistan. I have been no more enthusiastic about that war, as it developed.

    The second ground reality is the clear distinction in behavior and operations between the “Neo Taliban” of Afghanistan, headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar, based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the various Pakistani Talibans led by tribal sirdars such as Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan

    These are people we deal with in Pakistan. They are essentially the same as those in Afghanistan.

    “By next Memorial Day, who’s going to say that we won these two wars?” Bolger said in an interview Thursday. “We committed ourselves to counterinsurgency without having a real discussion between the military and civilian leadership, and the American population —’Hey, are you good with this? Do you want to stay here for 30 or 40 years like the Korean peninsula, or are you going to run out of energy?’ It’s obvious: we ran out of energy.”

    The military fumbled the ball by not making clear how long it would take to prevail in both nations. “Once you get past that initial knockout shot, and decide you’re going to stay awhile, you’d better define ‘a while,’ because in counter-insurgency you’re talking decades,” Bolger says.

    The military was not really prepared for a long counterinsurgency war and the politicians certainly weren’t. We will be lucky to get out of Afghanistan without a massacre. This is not Vietnam with the ocean a helicopter flight away.

    The nation and its military would have been far smarter to invade, topple the governments they didn’t like, and get out. “Both wars were won, and we didn’t know enough to go home” after about six months, Bolger argues. “It would have been messy and unpleasant, and our allies would have pissed and moaned, because limited wars by their nature have limited, unpalatable results. But what result would have been better — that, or this?”

    I have believed this for several years. Afghanistan, even more than Iraq, is a cancer on our military. The war is lost and getting out will be a real challenge.

    Pakistan is probably lost, as well. It has not been an ally for years and their cooperation has been bought but even that is failing.

    Here’s how the game works. The Pakistanis are currently engaged in a much heralded crackdown on jihadists. But they are limiting those operations to the jihadists in the northwest tribal region — i.e., those whose primary target is the Pakistani government. By contrast, the Taliban — i.e., the jihadists targeting the U.S. and Afghanistan — are holed up in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, under the protection of the ISI. In fact, there are now reports that Mullah Omar has been moved to Karachi to protect him from U.S. drone attacks.

    That was written in 2009!

    If the likes of Mullah Omar take over in Afghanistan, it will have serious implications for Pakistan,” Mr. Qureshi said. “They have a larger agenda, and the first to be impacted by that agenda is Pakistan. . . . Whether they do it in Pakistan or whether they do it in Afghanistan, it will have implications on Pakistan and it will have implications on the region.”

    Bolger does not avoid tough talk.

    Bolger said his views on the wars grew more sour during his three tours. “My guilt is not having earlier figured out what was going wrong, and making a more forceful case and working with my peer generals to make a better military recommendation,” he says. “What eats at me the most is the 80 dead people I had in my command over my three tours, that eats at me a hell of a lot.”

    Getting out will be major military action with the result in doubt It is time to acknowledge this. The British already knew this and their evacuation of their positions in Helmand province was done with careful planning .

    It comes after Task Force Helmand moved from provincial capital Lashkar Gah, where it had been based since 2006, to Camp Bastion in August.

    Its disbandment yesterday is the latest in a series of steps marking Britain’s withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan – due to be complete by the end of this year. This was a complex military move comparable to an invasion but in the other direction. The Russians are enjoying the dilemma we face .

    The US military is learning the hard way from its lengthy experience in Afghanistan that it is far easier to get bogged down in a foreign adventure than it is to extricate oneself from it. Landlocked, isolated and surrounded on all sides by potential enemies, Washington’s withdrawal of its troops and equipment from the Central Asian country by the end of 2014 is beset with numerous obstacles.

    Obama’s diplomatic success with Russia has probably blocked one route, through the northern republics.

    The main problem confronting Pentagon planners is choosing the best exit route, an option that has substantially decreased thanks in large part to Washington’s failure on the diplomatic front, for example, with Russia over the ongoing political crisis gripping Ukraine.

    One of the most reliable methods of moving military equipment in and out of Afghanistan has been via the Northern Distribution Network, 3,000 miles of winding railroad that passes through Central Asia into Kazakhstan, Russia and through parts of northern Europe to the sea.

    In fact, 75 percent of military supplies into Afghanistan were delivered by this slow but reliable route.

    However, recent violent protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, which led to the overthrow of the government and Crimea voting in a referendum to become part of the Russian Federation – an event that Washington has attempted to label as a “Russian military invasion” – have put a severe strain on Russia-US relations.

    How about the other way? No luck there, either.

    “The best, fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get out is to drive south from Afghanistan and through Pakistan to the major port of Karachi, on the Indian Ocean,” Doug McGreger, a retired colonel with the US Army, told RT reporter Meghan Lopez.

    However, Washington’s heedless and occasionally reckless determination to eliminate terrorists in the region at all costs, even at the expense of Pakistani lives, it seems, has placed a heavy toll on the Islamabad-Washington partnership, a relationship that was never on solid footing from the beginning.

    What’s left? There are no good options. The British fought their way out in 1842. Is that the future?

     

    70 Responses to “Have we lost and is this why ?”

    1. Purpleslog Says:

      “… Romney and Tommy Franks…”
      Is Romney=Bush or is Romney=Runsfeldt?

    2. dearieme Says:

      “We will be lucky to get out of Afghanistan without a massacre.” True, but you may find that paying lots of tribute to ‘terrorists’ does the trick. Though they’ll be tempted to take the money and still attack you.

      The Afghanistan lark was justifiable only as a punitive expedition: a war of occupation was madness. Whereas Iraq was madness from the off. Perhaps the worst crime a politician can commit is to fight a frivolous war. You guys can do what you like with W but personally I’d like to see us hang Blair.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      ” Romney and Tommy Franks…”
      Is Romney=Bush or is Romney=Runsfeldt?”

      Oops. Thanks Corrected.

    4. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “Iraq was madness from the off. ”

      I disagree but the occupation was madness. The theory was that Saddam had secularized Iraq and, if any Arab state could be taken into the 20th century, Iraq was the best bet. That was obviously incorrect but it was worth a try. Sanctions would never work and everybody, including the Democrats, was worried about WMD. That should never have been a premise of the invasion, of course, but was added for Blair.

    5. Whitehall Says:

      Some interesting new info here but I’m not convinced to change my positions on the wars. Bremer was always a cipher to me. Our State Department seemed to be our weak link in-country.

      The early take-down of the Afghani government was necessary. We then left a small legion there to ensure we could do it again if needed. That had a small logistical tail and low casualty rate. Obama blew it by doing a big ramp up for which there was no need and no success path.

      Iraq was won in 2008. They were learning to live together as one polity. We had troops to keep the lid on and keep one side or another from being tempted to overthrow the consensual government by arms and as a trip wire for Iranian meddling. Obama deliberately lost that one too by not negotiating to keep a garrison in Iraq.

    6. Jonathan Says:

      Right. We had won Iraq and achieved a good enough outcome in Afghanistan. It all could have been kept together relatively easily. Instead Obama blew it, either by design or from colossal incompetence. He is like a CEO who sells his company’s most profitable operations in order to expand the unprofitable ones.

    7. Jimmy J. Says:

      I agree that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was something that had to be done. If any ME country could become a secular democracy, it looked like it was Iraq. But we didn’t secure the victory by staying, which IMO would have meant 20,000 troops plus for at least 15 years.

      Afghanistan was a always a bridge too far to hope to bring them into the 21st century. It would have taken 50,000 troops for 25 years and even then the outcome would be in doubt. Obama made a huge mistake by trying to “fight the right war.” Especially with such ridiculous rules of engagement and telegraphing our intentions.

      I believe there are a few things we’ve learned:
      1. The ME (Muslim world) is not ripe for secular democratic government.
      2. We have to recognize that we can’t fight this enemy through conventional means.
      3. They have an inexhaustible supply of trigger-pullers/bomb-makers. Killing them off one by one or even by the hundreds (as we’ve been doing) is a Sisyphean task.
      4. Their main line of support is money. We have interdicted their banking operations, but the money (mostly oil money) still flows through mosques and couriers. One strategy to reduce their money supplies would be to reduce the price of oil.
      5. Their primary line of recruiting and incitement is through imams and mosques. Some of the imams operate on the internet. It would seem clear that we need to interdict their on line operations and start exposing radical imams to naming and public mocking. We might also carry out some black ops against radical imams. So far they have been able to preach hatred pretty openly without much fear of consequences.
      6. We must name the enemy – radical Islam or as some call it political Islam. Explain why their sharia law and intolerance are totally unacceptable to the West. We have to be able to speak openly to the moderate Muslim world (yes, I know some don’t think there is such a thing.) and tell them we have no quarrel with them, that we want to live in peace and tolerance. But we also have to make it plain that if they allow the radicals to shelter in their midst, we cannot be responsible for collateral damage because we it is war and we intend to defeat the radicals. Encourage them to expose the radicals and cast them out, so we can all live in peace. (Well, it’s worth a try and will force the moderates to choose a side.)

      We have to recognize, as has happened in the last six years, that the terror operators will morph and move to wherever there is a void. Libya, Mali, Somalia, Nigeria, Waziristan, parts of Iraq/Syria, etc. are all home to organized radical groups with terror as their tactic. They are like jello – very hard to pin down and isolate. Better to starve them of money and recruits.

      Their intent is to wear us down through third and fourth generation warfare, infiltrate into our societies, and keep the pressure on. Can anyone claim that they have not been pretty successful so far? We have to become more realistic about the enemy and how to defeat them.

    8. Ronald F Says:

      I seriously wonder how we will get anybody to volunteer for the military in the near future. These people are not dumb and our government has emptied its sack of trust.
      It is time to come home. Yes, this will make things much worse in the short run, but it is still time to come home. All the countries that depend on us should know the truth. We will not back you up. It’s a damn shame that nobody elected understands how military force works; however, that is where we are at right now.

    9. Grurray Says:

      “Bremer was always a cipher to me. Our State Department seemed to be our weak link in-country.”

      Agree that was a big part of it. The real evil empire turned out to be facile Colin Powell, the inept Condoleezza Rice, and Bremer.

      It makes me wonder now about Shinseki’s congressional testimony about needing hundreds of thousands of troops. He was lauded by the left for taking a stand against neocon overreach and was rewarded for it when Obama appointed him VA chief. It’s easy to write him off as a political hack in a general’s uniform, but it’s possible that a heavy troop presence was the army’s plan all along.

      Remember Bush ran in 2000 on a platform of no nation building.
      Also, Rumsfeld and his generals weren’t on good terms from the start because he had plans to reform the Defense Dept and reduce the size of some military sacred cows by emphasizing technology and precision weapons.

      The army would’ve been opposed to any plan that Rumsfeld came up with that would have subordinated their role, and a quick in-n-out operation would have done just that. In order to protect their turf, they colluded with Powell at State to transform the war into a protracted counter-insurgency operation.

    10. dearieme Says:

      “That was obviously incorrect but it was worth a try.” The conceit of thinking the USA – a country where notoriously almost nobody knows any history or geography – could or should take Iraq “into the 20th century” is risible. The place has a five-thousand year history; had it ever shown the least inclination to become a liberal democracy? And why was it “worth a try”? The US had no vital interest in Iraq. It seemed at the time to be about hysteria post 9/11: “Arabs have attacked us: where are there some Arabs whom we can kill in huge numbers?”

      OK, there are blogs like this where people show a lively interest in, and knowledge of, history and geography – I’ve learnt a lot from you – but by American standards that probably makes you a bunch of eccentrics. I urge you to entertain an even more eccentric possibility: the USA should devote its defence expenditure to defence rather than attempting to invade wherever it fancies, claiming to promote in the world values that it is itself giving up. There is a case that you were once a liberal democracy: it seems to me that that status is slowly slipping away. (It is in many other places too, of course.) Western Civilisation is doomed anyway but I’m darned if I see why the USA should want to accelerate that trend by starting wars that it goes on to lose in humiliating fashion. Vietnam, Iraq II, Afghanistan – what’s next for heaven’s sake? At least the USA’s humiliations over Egypt, Libya, Syria and Crimea have cost few American lives. If you must choose to be humiliated, it’s best to do it without the preceding war: it’s so much cheaper.

      Kipling on Britain’s humiliation in South Africa:

      Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should,
      We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good.
      Not on a single issue, or in one direction or twain,
      But conclusively, comprehensively, and several times and
      again,

      Were all our most holy illusions knocked higher than Gilde-
      roy’s kite.
      We have had a jolly good lesson, and it serves us jolly well
      right !

    11. Oliver Suess-Barnkey Says:

      Obama’s drone policy has been disastrous, creating dozens of new devoted terrorists for every terrorist leader taken out. We should hope that the recent decline in drone strikes is a response to the painfully obvious reality that they are counterproductive.

    12. MikeK Says:

      “The conceit of thinking the USA – a country where notoriously almost nobody knows any history or geography – could or should take Iraq “into the 20th century” is risible.”

      So, passive acceptance of disaster is preferred ? I seem to remember a fellow named Chamberlain who believed the same. Iraq was aggressive toward its neighbors and sought local hegemony. I grant you that we presently have an administration, if I would dignify it by that term, which is willing to see Iranian hegemony in the same area. Fortunately we have an alternative to the oil which makes the Middle East of interest.

      The British fantasy that Americans know no history or geography is similar to the belief in France in the 1840s that Americans were short and underdeveloped. No matter how stupid American teenagers may sound on history and geography, British adults will triumph in such quizzes. I’ve been there and seen it.

    13. Oliver Suess-Barnkey Says:

      Apparently, Bush was unaware of the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims and Cheney lacked an appreciation for it, thus his risible insistence that Saddam was allied with al Qaeda.
      In the two-year run up to the invasion, none of the discussion was about what might happen between Sunni and Shia when the head of the Sunni power structure was severed. The civil war that erupted apparently came as a complete surprise to the Bush administration.
      It’s hard to even imagine that level of arrogance and incompetence, but that is indeed how it happened.

    14. MikeK Says:

      Dearieme, here is a thought experiment from another blog that is very American. See if you can detect the ignorance you assume is endemic in America.

      Here is the thought experiment .

      The proposed action is very interesting,

      I, on the other hand, decided that I would travel back to July of 1924 and use the medkit to cure Calvin Coolidge Jr of the blood poisoning that killed him. Jr’s death really took the heart out of his father, if he survives, my hope is that Cal runs for reelection in 1928. He would have won easily, and when the crash comes in 1929, he would have done the proper thing-nothing (I believe this because that’s what Harding and Coolidge did in response to the post WWI depression that was every bit as bad as the 1929 one. The result was the Roaring 20s).

      Interesting , eh ? Of course, he would have to being some penicillin with him.

    15. East Anglian Says:

      So, passive acceptance of disaster is preferred ? I seem to remember a fellow named Chamberlain who believed the same.

      You are demonstrating the kind of risible knowledge of history dearieme referred to. Chamberlain was not passive. He organised a massive British military buildup, one of the biggest in history. Britain could not fight in 1938. This neocon narrative about appeasement is embarrasing.

    16. East Anglian Says:

      So is misspelling embarrassing.

    17. Kirk Parker Says:

      Britain could not fight in 1938

      This is *way* more embarrassing than anything you allege of American “neocons”.

      Was Britain in a good position in 1938? No they were not.

      BUT that is not the question. The question is, when you look at the combined position of Britain and its allies (France, Czechoslovakia, Poland) at that moment, compared to Germany at that moment, what would have been the outcome?

      That’s a completely different question, and one that some of the German general staff thought was so unfavorable to Germany that they were starting to float coup ideas around if the Allies had called Hitler’s bluff.

    18. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I’d always thought that toppling Saddam was a bit of a gamble but worth taking for certain reasons. First – he was low-hanging fruit, so to speak, and making an example of him would encourage the others, so to say. He was also leftover unfinished business from the first Gulf War. We had been running protection in the no-fly zones for ten years at that point, and IIRC, we were wearing ourselves pretty thin. The Kurds in the north had ten years to sort themselves into something resembling a modern mostly secular state, so perhaps the rest of Iraq stood a chance. Then we would have an ally in a strategic ME location … and it would change the paradigm in a big way. I thought Iraq might be in a fair way to turn out like South Korea, eventually, if we could hang tough maintain a low profile and keep the odd military base … which might even become an accompanied-tour base in another couple of decades. Rather like Korea, these days as a matter of fact.

      Afghanistan, though … a thinner chance. Let the Special Forces have it as a play-ground and to thump the obvious Talibunnies now and again, and don’t have a large establishment in-country just to be an easily acquisitioned target. Just my .02.

    19. Kirk Parker Says:

      First – he was low-hanging fruit, so to speak, and making an example of him would encourage the others

      You’re joking, right?

      All that stuff about A.Q. Khan and Kaddafi was just a fluke! Nothing to see there….

    20. Sgt. Mom Says:

      No, I am not joking, Kirk. Saddam had form, he was unfinished business, and methodically smashing his nasty little empire would be an object lesson. I thought so then, when I began blogging in 2002 and I think so now.

    21. Kirk Parker Says:

      Sorry, Sgt Mom, I thought you’d get the sarcasm w/o putting in literal <sarcasm> tags. I actually totally agree with you, and if I had it do to over again I’d do the initial parts the same too.

    22. Sgt. Mom Says:

      These days, Kirk, when one can easily muddle the straight news headlines with stories in the Onion, it’s hard to detect actual sarcasm, sometimes! ;-)

    23. Jay Manifold Says:

      I find the conventional wisdom on Iraq and Afghanistan wearisome. In an attempt at chronological order:

      1. Yes, invading Afghanistan was a mistake. Pakistani officials – usually ISI or factions thereof – created the Taliban, hid Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and are now hiding Mullah Omar, all on Pakistani territory.
      2. Invading Iraq, however, removed the most dangerous man in the world from power, killed his abominable sons, and ensured that even with a botched occupation (and now, lack of a status-of-forces agreement), that nation would be entirely unable to significantly threaten its neighbors or start a nuclear arms race in the Gulf. These are irreversible gains.
      3. The liberal version of reality, in which the Afghan war was somehow good while the Iraq war was an unfortunate distraction, is therefore almost perfectly unrepresentative of the truth. In particular, the notion that Iraq drew resources from Afghanistan is belied by actual troop counts, which increased in Afghanistan every year, and nearly every month, for almost a decade, from late 2001 through mid-2011.
      4. A Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan is overwhelmingly likely, although the Obama Administration is thoughtfully taking steps to ensure that it will not be entirely completed before the US presidential election of 2016. I expect a helicopters-on-the-roof-of-the-embassy scene a few months later.
      5. Denial of revenue to various bad actors in southwest Asia would mean not only aggressive pursuit of techniques for substituting for fossil fuels from that region but, even more obviously, removal of the blanket prohibition of opiates and moving toward a regulatory model. This would probably entail withdrawal from the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
      6. The time to easily secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is of course long in the past, but nearly any effort that does not result in WMD use seems warranted.
      7. The coming conflict, what I have elsewhere called the geopolitical/military phase of the “Crisis of 2020,” seems certain to involve war with the Muslim world generally and a significant intra-Islamic component as well. We may end up with some exceedingly distasteful allies (cough, KSA, cough) by way of forestalling even worse outcomes.

    24. dearieme Says:

      “that nation would be entirely unable to significantly threaten its neighbors or start a nuclear arms race in the Gulf”: was there ever the slightest chance of it start a nuclear arms race in the Gulf?

      “the most dangerous man in the world”: what, the chump who couldn’t beat Iran or hold Kuwait? Adolf Hussein he wasn’t.

      But you do touch on one strong point. The only Muslim country that it could make sense for the US to fight is the one that might decide it would be a merry wheeze to have nuclear bombs in containers sail, or be trucked, into one or more American cities. The question is whether you could destroy Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in good time. Is it beyond the competence of your armed forces?

    25. dearieme Says:

      “toppling Saddam was a bit of a gamble but worth taking for certain reasons. First – he was low-hanging fruit, so to speak, and making an example of him would encourage the others, so to say. He was also leftover unfinished business from the first Gulf War. We had been running protection in the no-fly zones for ten years at that point, and IIRC, we were wearing ourselves pretty thin.”

      But Sgt Mom, there’s not a single vital American interest on your list. Make an example, encourage the others …: to what end? Why are you going to kill people by the hundreds of thousands to make some sort of schoolmasterly gesture? Unfinished business: on the contrary, Bush the Elder (your last grown-up President) had the wit to have a limited ambition and achieved it. You could have decided that the no-fly zones were a tedious expense, destroyed his air forces, declared victory and buggered off home.

      I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone who has chosen to tell me what the US’s vital interests in the ME are. Presumably something to do with Saudi oil? Whatever they are they can presumably be safeguarded by more intelligent means than seeking out humiliating defeats because you feel somehow that you can convert middle eastern muslims into Koreans.

      It all makes little sense; I suppose it must have more to do with the hope of winning elections in the US, or of enriching particular Americans, than in defending American interests.

    26. MikeK Says:

      “the US presidential election of 2016. I expect a helicopters-on-the-roof-of-the-embassy scene a few months later.”

      I believe we will be fortunate to see that after 2016.

      I tend to credit David Goldman aka “Spengler” with the best analysis of the middle east.

      The most urgent issue with Saddam was the fact that the sanctions were not working and the “no-fly zone” was one SAM from failure, Remember US soldiers found one BILLION dollars in cash in one of his son’s houses.

    27. Kirk Parker Says:

      Dearieme,

      was there ever the slightest chance of it start a nuclear arms race in the Gulf?

      And here I thought you were one of the sane ones! There’s a nuclear arms race going on there now!

      Pakistan: in the club! (Yes, they’re not literally-speaking in the gulf, but the border Iran, and Gwadar is at the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, so yes they are relevant.)

      Iran: about to join club (if they aren’t in already and just haven’t found the right moment to announce yet.)

      Saudi Arabia: could easily afford to join the club (and if you think they aren’t seriously thinking about it… then I literally don’t know what to say to you.)

    28. Sgt. Mom Says:

      No, Dearie – not a SINGLE vital interest, just all of them taken together. We were fairly certain that Saddam was facilitating all kinds of unpleasantness generally

      I’m not certain at this date what our vital national interest in the Middle East might be, since the Europeans are closer to it anyway. Maybe we were just are tired of being deafened by Euro-whines about how we were doing nothing about things outside our own borders. Say, did we have any national interests at stake in Europe in 1941? Or in 1917. (Well, aside from Germany facilitating terrorism in one case, and sinking our ships fairly often in both.)

      Dearie, you want insight into the American frame of mind in 2002? Go read Stephen den Beste’s various essays from that period, or perhaps Wretchard at Belmont Club from the same time period. Wretchard’s archives are on the bogroll, and I am certain you can find Stephen’s by looking for USS Clueless, his blog at the time.

    29. Bill Brandt Says:

      I have thought that while America has been good at winning wars on the battlefield, she is ignorant on the geopolitical considerations.

      War is, von Clauswitz said, merely an extension of politics.

      One thing that haunted Eisenhower, who was President while the Cold War descended, was allowing the Russians into Berlin.

      German troops wanted to surrender to the British or Americans (and with good reason).

      Patton was a day from Prague.

      Churchill wanted to cut the Russians off from Eastern Europe by driving north from Greece? (forget the exact proposal)

      OTOH we needed the Russians who absorbed 2/3rds of the Wehrmacht. It was a constant fear The West – and Stalin – of 1/2 of the allies making a separate pact with the Nazis.

      One thing done right from that time – I was watching a documentary from that era on Neflix and a Canadian / British unit moved into Denmark keeping the Russians from moving into there. And it has been suggested that The Bomb was dropped on Japan to keep the Russians out of Japan.

      Iraq? Perhaps history will be a better judge but I would agree – dissolving their military seemed like a dumb move. We looked at the battlefield conditions and ignored the centuries old Shia / Sunni enmity – which has come to the forefront.

      To not even leave a presence there with the Iranians?

      Foolish – as they used the airspace to help Syria recently.

    30. Kirk Parker Says:

      Jay Manifold:

      Everything you say is right on except #1. A brief punitive expedition was absolutely called for–and isn’t that exactly what we opened with?

    31. MikeK Says:

      “One thing that haunted Eisenhower, who was President while the Cold War descended, was allowing the Russians into Berlin.”

      Eisenhower acceded to Churchill’s map, drawn with Stalin, of spheres of influence in post-war Europe. I am a fan of Churchill (who actually pressed the very limited rearmament in the 1930s, contrary to Chamberlain and Percival) but he acquiesced in the rape of eastern Europe because he had no choice. For the same reason, Roosevelt encouraged Russian entry into the Pacific war, which they had avoided since 1937. We needed Russians to die.

      One huge error made by Eisenhower and Dulles was the repelling of the invasion of Egypt in 1956 to secure the Suez Canal. There is a probably apocryphal story of Dulles on his deathbed apologizing to a British politician (I forget who) about the Sinai declaration. It wrecked the Conservatives in Britain and brought down Eden although he was already sick from a bile duct injury during a gallbladder surgery.

      The high minded statements of our British friends, speaking from Londonstan, can be safely ignored. Americans have been dumb but not so incredibly stupid as to import millions of barely literate Muslims who now ban dog walking in London. Our Mexican immigrants may harm the illiterate blacks who vote for Democrats but they will not fundamentally change our society. We have Silicone Valley billionaires to do that.

    32. MikeK Says:

      Sorry, I meant Stanley Baldwin, not Percival.

    33. Tom Holsinger Says:

      Oliver, the Bush administration was very aware of the Sunni/Shiite division. That was why Bremer disbanded the Iraqi Army. It was necessary to establish our bona fide credentials with the Shiites. Our relationship with Iraqi’s Shiite majority was the strategic center of gravity of the Iraq occupation campaign. I said that on-line back in December 2003.

      http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000976.html#007417

      “Victory in the Iraq occupation campaign (conquering the place was a different campaign) depends on our relationship with Iraq’s Shiite majority, not its Sunni minority. The Shiites are the strategic center of gravity.

      It would be nice if we succeed in turning all of Iraq’s factions into ones we can live peacefully with. That’s not the only way to win.”

      Even in October 2003:

      http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000849.html#003954

      “The differences between us pacifying Iraq’s Sunni Arab tribes, and not doing so, will chiefly be
      … how many Sunni Arabs remain in Iraq once we leave. Note that the Iraqi armed forces are being rebuilt with an all-new, i.e., non-Sunni, cadre. Unreconciled Sunni Arabs in Iraq will have the following choices once our occupation ends – (a) becoming reconciled, (b) becoming gone or (c) becoming dead.”

      IMO Iraqi corruption is and was such that the place’s present sorry state was inevitable. I very much disagree with the opinion that Obama’s precipitate withdrawal from Iraq made any difference save to avoid loss of more hundreds of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money to Iraqi thieves. The Democrats wanted to steal it themselves instead, and did.

      As for Aghanistan, the place is and was a sorry mess. All Obama’s surge there did was enrich some Afghans and a lot more European bankers. I fearlessly predict we’ll have to go back into Afghanistan sometime in the next ten years but, again, Obama’s withdrawal now won’t be the cause of that. Afghanistan will be the cause of that.

      The world does not revolve around us. S*** happens for reasons besides us.

    34. MikeK Says:

      The Iraqi army was probably not salvageable but the rapid disbandment left the country in chaos. If we could have done better, I don’t know. Garner did a good job over 10 years with the Kurds. Bremer was a disaster.

      Afghanistan was never going to be worth the “bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.”

    35. Tom Holsinger Says:

      Mike, the choice was between short-term chaos and winning. Bremer and President Bush knew the difference. We won the occupation campaign because of their policy decisions, not those of the generals. “War is too important to be left to the generals” – Clemanceau.

      I understood what was going on at the time and laid down markers about it which I just cited.

      Tell the families of the 9/11 victims that our invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was not worth it.

      Also in my post at:

      http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000849.html#003954

      “9/11 was a world-changing event. You either get it or you don’t. The Americans who haven’t never will. A paradigm shift happened. It is a waste of time to discuss related events with people on the wrong side of the paradigm shift.”

    36. MikeK Says:

      The invasion of Afghanistan was a good idea to punish the Taliban for sheltering the Osama folks. Occupation and the Big Army was not a good idea.

      The occupation of Iraq was a good idea but the tribal society was not fertile ground for democracy.

      My own thoughts about the invasion were posted in 2008.

      The Times is so hostile to the Iraq War, and the president, that it has been waging a campaign in its news coverage. One example, is in today’s paper. It says:

      There has been heated debate since the start of the war about the nature of the threat in Iraq. The Bush administration has long portrayed the fight as part of a broader battle against Islamic terrorists. Opponents of the war accuse the administration of deliberately blurring the distinction between the Sept. 11 attackers and anti-American forces in Iraq.

      I was a supporter of the invasion but I think the occupation was botched. We didn’t need to lose 4,000 troops.

    37. Jonathan Says:

      One huge error made by Eisenhower and Dulles was the repelling of the invasion of Egypt in 1956 to secure the Suez Canal.

      I think this was one of the major western post-war blunders.

    38. dearieme Says:

      “We were fairly certain that Saddam was facilitating all kinds of unpleasantness generally”: Sgt Mom, that’s true of half the rulers in the world. Are you to invade them all? If, on the other hand, you are to invade only the ones that offer some sort of threat to the US, then you were wrong to invade Iraq, which was no threat to you at all.

      ““was there ever the slightest chance of it start a nuclear arms race in the Gulf?”

      And here I thought you were one of the sane ones! There’s a nuclear arms race going on there now!”

      The proposition that I was dismissing is the idea that Iraq could start such an arms race. It was a preposterous idea. Equally, it’s preposterous that you think that the current existence of such an arms race can be proof that it was wise to attack Iraq. If the arms race happened in spite of the Iraq attack, the attack clearly didn’t avert such an arms race.

    39. MikeK Says:

      “then you were wrong to invade Iraq, which was no threat to you at all.”

      I agree and also agree that we should have stayed out of WWI and WWII. Hitler and the Kaiser were no threat to us. Pretty powerful logic there, pal.

      When the British kept chickening out on Normandy, the US chiefs just mentioned the Pacific and all was well again.

    40. Sgt. Mom Says:

      One more time, Dearie – to encourage the others to behave. Publically demolishing the worst of the bullies usually has that effect. Unfortunately we had a change of administration and focus in 2008, which various national and international fools assumed would be a change for the better. It wasn’t – but this wasn’t as obvious in 2002 as it is now. YMMV.

    41. Grurray Says:

      One huge victory for us, intended or not, that resulted from the Iraq War was a permanent geo-political premium was established for the price of oil. This allowed us to develop domestic energy fields.

      The first Iraq War and subsequent containment did the opposite. The price of oil stayed low for a decade.

      Regarding resupply (or retreat) routes out of Afghanistan, there’s another alternative.

      Head north by rail and take a left through Turkmenistan. Ferry across the Caspian Sea, then back on rail through Azerbaijan and Georgia. This route exists but needs investment and upgrades, particularly in Georgia. It would also serve a serious blow to Russian dreams of a Eurasian union by establishing a southern trade route to Europe that bypasses the Rus.

    42. MikeK Says:

      More evidence we have lost in Afghanistan:

      From the Daily Mail

      “Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails Bergdahl is said to have sent to his parents that suggest he was disillusioned with America’s mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army’s mission there and was considering desertion.
      Bergdahl told his parents he was ‘ashamed to even be American’.
      Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, also wrote: ‘The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong.'”

      At least five US soldiers were killed looking for him. He would be a Taliban ace if he were a pilot.

      As usual, we have to read UK newspapers to find out our own government’s behavior.

    43. Whitehall Says:

      All this is pretty much water under the bridge. Obama is not going to make any improvements.

      Next up, nuclear war between Vietnam and China!

    44. dearieme Says:

      “to encourage the others to behave”: Gaddaffi had eventually been tamed, so then a revolt against him was supported and he was butchered. Mubarak was abandoned in Egypt. It all makes no sense.

    45. MikeK Says:

      I finally agree with you Dearie. Gaddaffi had given up his WMD and North Korea has not. We see how that worked out.

      The next nuclear war will be between Israel and Iran or between the Saudis and Iran.

    46. Kirk Parker Says:

      MikeK, you’re missing the (mal-)nuance in Dearieme’s comment about Libya and Egypt.

      Dumping on Gadaffi and Mubarak happened on Obama’s watch, not Bush’s.

    47. Trent Telenko Says:

      Bill Brandt,

      Ike had no choice regards Berlin.

      He was not in the position to risk 100,000 casualties taking Berllin from the Nazi-SS Hardcore hold outs because he lost his infantry replacement stream in the final month before V-J Day because of the casualty projections for the invasion of Japan.

      See the following —

      D.M. Giangreco’s “The Maximum Blood Letting and Delay.” USNI PROCEEDINGS Oct 2009 Pgs 64 – 69

      ‘The Casualty Surge’
      On 6 August 1945, the United States had been at war
      for almost exactly three years and eight months. Entering
      World War II “late,” and with no invading armies rampaging
      across its soil, it had not even begun to suffer the huge
      day-in, day-out losses common to the other antagonists
      until just the previous summer. Operation Overlord, the
      invasion of France, and Operation Forager, the invasion
      of the Mariana Islands, marked the beginning of what
      the U.S. Army termed “the casualty surge” in postwar
      analyses, a year-long bloodletting that saw an average of
      65,000 battle casualties among young American soldiers
      and Army airmen each and every month from June 1944
      to May 1945. And these figures did not include the considerable
      Army losses due to sickness and disease or the
      appalling Marine and Navy casualties in the Pacific.

      The number of dead,wounded, injured, and missing
      reached its peak during the months of November,
      December, and January at 72,000, 88,000, and 79,000
      respectively, even as the War Department, in conjunction
      with the Office of War Mobilization, hammered out
      both the details of how to handle the nation’s manpower
      shortage and what needed to be done to ensure
      that the public’s support for the war with Japan did
      not waver during 1945 and 1946. The result was a partial
      demobilization in what was then believed to be
      the middle of the conflict.

      Through use of a “points system,” the longest-serving
      troops were allowed to return home for good, even as Selective
      Service inductions were nearly doubled in March
      1945 to 100,000 men per month in preparation for the
      grim losses expected from upcoming series of operations
      on the Japanese Home Islands.

      Official figures for American casualties during the
      war, repeated in countless books and articles, vary only
      slightly depending on such things as whether or not the
      early phases of the postwar occupations of Germany and
      Japan are included, or the loss of the U.S. Army’s Philippine
      Scouts are factored in, and usually stand at 291,577
      dead and 671,846 wounded. Occasionally, when “other
      deaths” from accidents and disease are added, the mortality
      figure is presented as 405,399, and totals are often
      rounded. These figures are perfectly sufficient for most
      uses, such as general comparisons with the losses suffered
      by other nations or of America’s previous wars, but it is
      important to understand that they represent only a fraction
      of what the nation’s military and civilian leaders at that
      time recognized as the war’s true cost.

      and

      In all the United States’ armed services had to contend with
      losses amounting to no fewer than 2,580,000 men in overseas theaters,
      with the monthly totals running generally in tandem with
      the rapid growth of forces overseas and leaping upward
      when the tempo of operations intensified during the last
      year of fighting. And this was before a single soldier or
      Marine set foot on a Japanese beach.

      and

      Serious Shortfalls
      Although the precise details of Selective Service conscription
      statistics remained a closely guarded secret until
      after the war, Truman, his military and civilian advisors,
      and senior members of Congress were painfully aware that
      there was a yawning gap between the draft “calls”—essentially
      targets—and the number of men actually inducted.

      Subsequent to a spate of successful months in early 1943,
      when the number inducted exceeded the calls, the rest of
      the year and 1944 saw few occasions when quotas were
      met. The armed services absorbed 4,915,912 draftees during
      that period, an impressive figure by any standards.
      However, the calls, in order to fulfill the insatiable demands
      of global war, had actually totaled 5,815,275.

      This shortfall of nearly a million men fell heaviest on
      the draft’s biggest customer, the Army, and had an immediate
      impact on the ground force element that engages in
      the heaviest, most prolonged fighting—the infantry. And
      although the effort to generate a large pool of potential
      inductees to choose from resulted in the calls exceeding
      the armed services’ actual needs, the dearth of young men
      being sent forward was painfully real and contributed to a
      deficit of up to 400,000 soldiers during the countdown to
      the invasion of France.

    48. Trent Telenko Says:

      Grr…Make that V-E day.

    49. Oliver Suess-Barnkey Says:

      Katrina slammed Bush because it dramatically undermined his seminal narratives about the uselessness of government and the nature of threats to public safety.
      It was a perfect storm against the administration. Had it happened a few years earlier, or a few years later, it would have been just another Act of God.
      To understand why it shredded Bush’s credibility, you have to look at what the basis of that credibility was in the first place.
      Bush won re-election in 2004 by winning over “security Moms” and other fundamentally non-ideological voters who became very deeply invested in the idea of a world that could be made safe by setting aside any ethical qualms about when, where and how we wage war. Such was the blow of 9/11 that it created a kind of mass hysteria in which this absurd notion gained just enough currency to allow someone as inept as Bush to win re-election.
      Equally important was another “mainstream” faction Bush had won over: middle aged men and women experimenting with anti-governmentism. Partly with political capital accrued in the early parts of the GWOT, Bush won some mandate for free market orthodoxy mass-marketed as “everything the government touches, fails.”
      When Katrina hit, it became undeniable how important government is and how our overwhelming investment in military strength failed to guarantee our safety.
      All this would have been just another day in the culture/ideology wars were it not for the simultaneous, horrific unraveling in Iraq.
      Just at the right time, those “swing” voters started to question the whole right-wing narrative about government as the enemy and Islam as the uniquely mortal threat.
      So while the excuses for Bush’s failure to rescue New Orleans are almost all valid, they don’t matter when trying to understand what happened in political terms.

    50. MikeK Says:

      “This shortfall of nearly a million men fell heaviest on
      the draft’s biggest customer, the Army, and had an immediate
      impact on the ground force element that engages in
      the heaviest, most prolonged fighting—the infantry.”

      The Army constantly suffered from the tendency of recruits to seek places other than infantry. The IQ of infantry was low and got lower.

      ” Truman, his military and civilian advisors,
      and senior members of Congress were painfully aware that
      there was a yawning gap between the draft “calls”—essentially
      targets—and the number of men actually inducted.”

      By 1944 the American public was convinced that the war was over. There was considerable resistance to increased draft calls. That should have been a warning for Korea and Vietnam.

    51. Kirk Parker Says:

      Oliver Suess-Barnkey,

      What alternative history are you getting this information from? Unless you are trying to report what the MSM narrative was, and mimic that extreme foolishness, you’re just wrong: it was the Democrat-run city and state that failed.

    52. Oliver Suess-Barnkey Says:

      Kirk, read my comment again. You missed the point.

    53. Kirk Parker Says:

      I read it several times. “Excuses” for Bush’s “failure to rescue” New Orleans? Oh please.

    54. MikeK Says:

      The latest example of OBama foreign policy “success” is falling apart in one day.

      the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him.

      Six better men died during the missions to try to find him.

    55. Oliver Suess-Barnkey Says:

      Kirk: Bush failed to rescue New Orleans. You may well argue, with justification, that it wasn’t his responsibility alone to rescue the city, but you cannot argue with any justification that he succeeded in rescuing the city. He was simply overtaken by events, as was everyone involved with it. Not saying that means Bush was a crappy president — just stating the fact that he failed to rescue the city. The federal government took control of the disaster and Bush was the head of that government. No matter how you sliced it, he failed.

    56. Grurray Says:

      “Partly with political capital accrued in the early parts of the GWOT, Bush won some mandate for free market orthodoxy mass-marketed as “everything the government touches, fails.”
      When Katrina hit, it became undeniable how important government is and how our overwhelming investment in military strength failed to guarantee our safety.”

      Incorrect. Under Bush, government expanded, the domestic budget ballooned, and regulations increased.
      No Child Left Behind, the 2002 Farm Bill, expanded Medicare prescription drug benefits, the 2005 Highway Bill were all part of Bush’s “Guns and Butter” philosophy.

      When Katrina hit, it proved that government is incompetent because it has grown so complex and corrupt that it no longer works. As the head of the government, Bush was judged to be incompetent as well.

    57. Kirk Parker Says:

      He failed to “rescue” the city, and so did you.

      The federal government, and FEMA, has never been considered a first-responder to disaster; they do followup.

      Imagine if you can (I have my doubts) if Bush had nationalized the LANG components actually in LA and imposed martial law in defiance of Blanco and Nagin, in advance of the actual landfall of the storm, just because he had a gut feeling of how incompetent their management of thing was going to be. The resulting media sh*tstorm would have been so loud you could have heard it on Mars…

    58. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>The Army constantly suffered from the tendency of recruits to seek places other than infantry. The
      >>IQ of infantry was low and got lower.

      That was Sec of War Stimpson’s and General Marshall’s fault.

      General Marshall was the godfather of the Army Air Force and saw to it that the AAF had the pick of the best men until it came time to staff the ground divisions for the D-Day invasion of France.

      The War Department did not stop taking requests for aviation cadet pilot training from all qualified applicants from the Army Ground and Service forces until February 1944 and for the aviation aircrew training programs until March 1944.

      The Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was even worse. It was the baby of Sec Stimpson to keep colleges open and out of bankruptcy during WW2 by filling them with government paid draftee-students.

      Both programs systematically robbed the US Army infantry of qualified “catagory one” personnel who would have made good officer’s and NCO’s during their unit formation.

      This is the best and shortest take I have seen on the effect of ASTP on Army mobilization from wikipedia —

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_Specialized_Training_Program

      Legacy
      Major General Henry Twaddle wrote, “The underlying reason for institution of the ASP program was to prevent some colleges and universities from going into bankruptcy. From a strictly mobilization viewpoint, the value of the program was nil.”[8]:128

      Largely a failure, one secondary benefit of ASTP was a financial subsidy of land grant colleges whose male student bodies had been decimated by the diversion of about 14 million men into the various armed forces, and another was a softening of university resistance to lowering the draft age from twenty to eighteen. One positive contribution was the number of men exposed to college who might not have attended otherwise. After the war ended, four out of five surviving ASTP alumni returned to college.[5]

      My wife’s grandfather was one of General “Hap’ Arnold’s aviation cadets. He suffered a case of spial menangitis in 1942 and missed being a B-17 pilot in the 8th Air Force in 1943.

      During his protracted recovery, he wa kicked out of the aviation cadet program and became an infantry replacement.

      He was stationed on Saipan in Augist 1945, and was doing patrols hunting Japanese hold outs, the day the Atominc bomb was dropped.

      I told Mindy her grandfather was a fugitive from WW2’s law of statistics.

    59. Trent Telenko Says:

      This is the best one-liner and article I have seen regards Bergdahl —

      On Bergdahl: Never Leave a Man Behind, Even If He’s a Dick

      http://sunnyinkabul.com/2014/06/01/on-bergdahl-never-leave-a-man-behind-even-if-hes-a-dick/

      …today isn’t about the Pentagon’s favorite outsourced PR outlet. It’s about Bergdahl, and why all those calling for his head on a pike and that we shouldn’t have traded Gitmo detainees need to figure out how to shut the hell up. Because while he may be a young man whose goal in wandering off into the dark in 2009 was to desert, and for that you think he’s a dick, the fact is…he’s our dick.

      “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

      Because private citizen Bergdahl found his way into a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) once upon a time and raised his hand and swore an oath and put on a uniform means one thing: he’s a brother in arms. A comrade. Maybe a misguided comrade, a brother who got lost along the way, and who put a lot of other people in harm’s way looking for him after he went missing, but a comrade nonetheless.

      That doesn’t mean I’ll leave him behind if I think he’s a dick, or I don’t agree with him, or I’m pissed that a lot of people worried about him over the years, and think maybe he wandered off on purpose and deserves what he got.

      It means we’d move heaven and earth to bring that comrade back home again. It means we’d do whatever we can to give his family closure. It means we’d never leave him behind.

      I know a few who won’t be coming home to anyone ever again. None of them were the kind of man who’d leave their unit and go off into the darkness alone. But it’s not about what we believe about Bergdahl. It’s about what we’d do for every one of our brothers and sisters in arms, and we never leave them behind.

      Even if we think he’s a dick.

    60. dearieme Says:

      Bergdahl: that rant completely ignores trade-offs. How many men are you prepared to lose trying to rescue Bergdahl? 5? 50? 500? Talk of “never” is just childish.

    61. Trent Telenko Says:

      Dearieme,

      The US army lost five men in the search for Bergdahl, perhaps more given the price paid by border bases from undetected by diverted UAV assets Taliban attacks.

      Saying “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” means just that.

      The issue isn’t _that price_. _That price_ is inherent with the moral value commitment never to leave anyone behind.

      The issue is the price other American soldiers will now pay via enemy operations to capture other soldiers, since the Obama Administration traded for hostages just like the Israelis.

      That is what I am most displeased over.

    62. dearieme Says:

      You’d really be prepared to lose 500 men to rescue one? Then “enemy operations to capture other soldiers” would be immensely profitable even if the US never did another swap.

      “Saying “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” means just that.” But what is “just that”? Obviously the capitulations in Iraq and Afghanistan mean that you have left, or will have left, many fallen comrades there, dead.

    63. Trent Telenko Says:

      Dearieme,

      >>Then “enemy operations to capture other soldiers” would
      >>be immensely profitable even if the US never did another swap.

      That also depends on the exchange ratio.

      If the other side lost 10-12 for every one of the 500 America lost, a lot of people would call that a victory…none of the Post-Vietnam Democrats, unfortunately.

      Please see Mogadishu and the Clinton Administration.

      There is a reason for the saying that that “Victory or Defeat is in the mind of the enemy.”

    64. MikeK Says:

      The Bergdahl story comes after the example of Benghazi where some people definitely got left behind.

      The atmospherics are just going to get worse as soldiers from his unit speak out and the evidence that he was a collaborator appears.

      I really don’t think Obama cares. After the election, he will release the Blind Sheik on some pretext or other.

      There were deserters in Korea who have been appearing from time to time.

      CNN has the Bergdahl story and they may go to town on it. They need ratings.

      At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

      I screen applicants for the service and we would never be able to use a questionnaire that would identify an applicant with his political views. It sounds like he was primed for what he did even before he enlisted.

    65. Tom Holsinger Says:

      It is very helpful to be informed that even the US ground forces’ permanent losses to disease and accidents way exceeded its WWII combat losses. That puts US manpower issues in a much better perspective.

      I was aware that permanent disease manpower losses in the South and Southwest Pacific theaters way exceeded combat losses, due to the awful tropical environment they operated in (look up British losses in the WWI East African campaign, where “the diseases had diseases”), but had no idea European theater permanent disease losses were so high.

      I suppose that’s because of the facile distinction between “deaths” and “permanent losses”. WWII was our first war in which combat deaths exceeded disease deaths. Too many writers assumed that applied to all categories of manpower losses, and so equated the terms.

      Trent is just dynamite on correcting erroneous historical assumptions like that.

    66. David Foster Says:

      MikeK….don’t understand the thing about the questionnaire…could you elaborate? thx

    67. MikeK Says:

      “WWII was our first war in which combat deaths exceeded disease deaths”

      That was actually WWI, which was the first in history in which that was true.

    68. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>but had no idea European theater permanent disease losses were so high.

      The Mediterranean Theater — AKA North Africa, Sicily and southern Italy — had disease issues that were worse than North West Europe, but no where near as bad as the South & South West Pacific.

      >>Too many writers assumed that applied to all categories of manpower losses, and so equated the terms.

      That seems to be a pretty consistant issue with WW2 histories.

      The US Army, US Navy and USMC all had different ways of measuring those losses. Their catigories were different and had specific meanings.

      The USMC also made 100% evacuations of units from island assaults, so “other losses” during operations were much lower than army units and they recourded more minor wounds per engagement as “wounds” than Army units.

      In US Army units minor wounds that got better in a few days or a week were not recorded as “wounded.”

      There were also significant “Other losses” reporting issues in the South West Pacific compared to other US Army theaters due to poor record keeping and serious lack of transportation for “other losses” that were retained in theater in reduced non-combat roles.

      For example, the 32nd Infantry division took 6-months to recover from the 1942-43 Buna campaign. Most of the sick from the Buna Campaign — think Malaria — were retained in Australia for Army Service Force jobs while new and non-diseased replacements rebuilt the division.

    69. MikeK Says:

      “.don’t understand the thing about the questionnaire…”

      We ask a series of questions that are supposed to help identify potential mental health issues.

      Examples are about arrests and even traffic tickets, school suspensions, anxiety and depression therapy, self mutilation (and watch closely for evidence), and moving out of parents’ home early. There are new rules about anti-social behavior, etc but none about politics or attitudes about war or foreign policy.

      I doubt there is any way, except after the applicant is in the military, to test attitude toward duty and incentive to serve. Bergdahl had all kinds of warning signs to his friends who were shocked when he told them he had enlisted.

      We see kids with real anti-social attitudes once in a while and they get turned down but if somebody is interested in gumming up the works and hides it, it is not easy to do anything.

    70. Xennady Says:

      Kirk: Bush failed to rescue New Orleans. You may well argue, with justification, that it wasn’t his responsibility alone to rescue the city, but you cannot argue with any justification that he succeeded in rescuing the city. He was simply overtaken by events, as was everyone involved with it. Not saying that means Bush was a crappy president — just stating the fact that he failed to rescue the city. The federal government took control of the disaster and Bush was the head of that government. No matter how you sliced it, he failed.

      I agree- Bush failed.

      He failed because he was unwilling to say openly, publicly, relentlessly, that it was not his job to take certain measures to deal with a natural disaster. It was the job of people like Kathleen Blanco, governor of that state, who was famously caught on tape demonstrating a deer-in-the-headlights level of inability to meet her responsibilities as governor and utilize the national guard for disaster response. It was the job of people like Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans, who was shown on television shrieking, shrieking for buses to evacuate the city- all while hundreds of buses were sitting unused at various locations in New Orleans.

      Bush should have pointed out, then and there, that FEMA didn’t exist to save people from drowning. It existed to sign contracts later for disaster relief.

      It’s been a long time and I’m sure my memory has faded.

      But my view is that the primary failure of George Bush was that he failed to explain why the federal government shouldn’t be responsible for the failures of local governments, in a federal system.

      Heck of a job, Georgie.