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Author Topic: An Iraqi Compromise
flydye45
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Here's an offering for both sides of the aisle. It's off the cuff, so feel free to offer "suggestions". Telling me I am a Republiclone, an idiot, or "misleading" does nothing to the debate except get you a Senate parking spot and speaking gigs.

1. Bush needs to make a timetable. He needs to announce he has a timetable. He needs to announce his timetable to the media. He then needs to get the carping Senators like Biden, Kerry, and Kennedy into a room, disclosure agreements fully signed, and have them read over the documents. They can read these "critically important" documents as long as they want, as often as they want. They then get to debate with an equal number of Republicans on moving it around a bit. NO STAFFERS! They reveal the timetable, it's impeachment time, plus a nice set of jail time with Bubba. This information is shared with a few Iraqi higher-ups.

Revealing a timetable is stupid. Not having one is also stupid. Pressure on the Iraqi's is okay. Any changes need to be fully agreed to by all parties WITH SIGNATURES.

2. Bubba Clinton gets on a blue ribbon committee checking into the role of intelligence cherrypicking going back to Iraq I. So does Sandy "Paper Underwear" Berger and a number of Republicans. They get to investigate all cherrying picking of intelligence, misleading of the public and statements by Congress which might mislead the public. They can also fully document the difference between '98 intelligence estimates and '02 estimates.

3. Bush needs to reach out to his enemies...I mean colleagues on the other side of the aisle. He needs to listen to their suggestions. He needs to take a Senator to help administrate the Iraqi situation. A junior Senator, who will have a long career to weather any problems such an assignment might bring, avoiding tarnishing a reputation in it's last ebb. A hawkish Democrat, full of new ideas, but critical of the administration. Perhaps a Senator from New York...Carping is easy. Being part of the solution is hard. If she can pull it off, I win. If she can't I still win. You want to be in the hot seat? You think you can do better? Fine. Damoclese thought the same.

But this should not be just a political stunt (which should be revealed in prime time without floating it first). It should have real authority. We MIGHT be able to do better. But we don't need to listen to people who just say so. Perhaps a role in getting our "allies" to join up, pony up money or troops?

Barring that, put in Lieberman.

4. More troops should be up for discussion. Additionally, a full Senate commission should be sent over to assess the quality and numbers of the Iraqi military. Film crews should be included. They need to bring their findings home. No one with presidential aspirations for next cycle should go. Conflict of interest.

[ December 01, 2005, 03:48 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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javelin
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Sounds VERY interesting.
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Haggis
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I like it. It's well thought out, fair, and would have a chance at being effective. All of those reasons suggest it will never happen.

It's too bad that gaining political capital at the expense of the opposing party drives our government more than getting a job done effectively.

Kudos to your idea, flydye. Especially since this is the first time I have ever agreed with you about anything. [Smile]

[ December 01, 2005, 04:08 PM: Message edited by: Haggis ]

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Joe Schmoe
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Your a republiclone flydye. There I said it, can I have that senate parking spot and hopefully a paycheck to go with? [Big Grin]

But seriously, that doesn't sound too bad off hand. I want to think about it more but I see most your suggestions as at least a step in the right direction. They would probably go a long ways towards regaining some public favor for bush.

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WarrsawPact
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quote:
Bush needs to make a timetable. He needs to announce he has a timetable. He needs to announce his timetable to the media. He then needs to get the carping Senators like Biden, Kerry, and Kennedy into a room, disclosure agreements fully signed, and have them read over the documents. They can read these "critically important" documents as long as they want, as often as they want. They then get to debate with an equal number of Republicans on moving it around a bit. NO STAFFERS! They reveal the timetable, it's impeachment time, plus a nice set of jail time with Bubba. This information is shared with a few Iraqi higher-ups.

Revealing a timetable is stupid. Not having one is also stupid.

Why is not having a timetable stupid?

Having a timetable means taking action based on arbitrary time limits, not results.
Setting a timetable for withdrawal is called surrender.

I should also mention that sharing withdrawal dates that are set months in the future with Congressmen --even without staffers immediately present -- would almost certainly result in some sort of leaks. It'd be even more stupid for Bush to tell Kerry and Kennedy those dates than for him to stick to conditions-based withdrawal.

As for suggestion #2 about intelligence cherry-picking... okay, some sort of committee should be put together (wait -- it already has. It just wasn't quite as broad as the one you mentioned -- it just stuck to WMD.), but if you put old administration officials on it you can guarantee that they're going to reach only one conclusion: that they weren't at fault. Try staffing the commission with people who don't potentially stand to lose face, regardless of what the facts may be.
Clinton is not one of those people. He presided over eight years of Saddam staying alive and in power.

quote:
3. Bush needs to reach out to his enemies...I mean colleagues on the other side of the aisle. He needs to listen to their suggestions. He needs to take a Senator to help administrate the Iraqi situation. A junior Senator, who will have a long career to weather any problems such an assignment might bring, avoiding tarnishing a reputation in it's last ebb. A hawkish Democrat, full of new ideas, but critical of the administration. Perhaps a Senator from New York...Carping is easy. Being part of the solution is hard. If she can pull it off, I win. If she can't I still win. You want to be in the hot seat? You think you can do better? Fine. Damoclese thought the same.
I see no reason to reach out to anyone who hasn't already proven they can be rational and constuctive in their criticism. Bush should indeed reach out to opponents, but only those who prove they can handle a proper debate -- the other Senators will have to prove they are more than partisan hacks if they want to join in the decision-making process with the Commander-in-Chief.

Hillary Clinton may have the Machiavellian thread in her to accomplish this, but that's a hot potato as far as the administration is concerned. She could do a lot of damage if she changed her tune.

quote:
4. More troops should be up for discussion.
Maybe once upon a time. Not now. At this point, sending in more troops would be akin to LBJ Americanizing a war that by all measures should involve less Americans over the coming years. We're passing the torch, remember? Agreeing to more troops at this point, who would have the be trained and shipped out, would mean we'd be increasing our troop strength at the same time we're beginning to withdraw.

quote:
Additionally, a full Senate commission should be sent over to assess the quality and numbers of the Iraqi military. Film crews should be included. They need to bring their findings home. No one with presidential aspirations for next cycle should go. Conflict of interest.
That I can mostly agree with. But again, try finding someone without political ambition for a change -- send over RAND Corporation policy analysts, not politicians! Senators will reliably report whatever they believed ahead of time.

Besides, shuttling Senators -- most of whom are not experts on counterinsurgency training -- into areas where the Iraqi security forces are doing offensive work would be one hell of a security fiasco anyway.

I'm rejecting most of your compromise. It doesn't accomplish what it's supposed to, much less help win the war.

[ December 01, 2005, 07:50 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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potemkyn
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"Why is not having a timetable stupid?

Having a timetable means taking action based on arbitrary time limits, not results.
Setting a timetable for withdrawal is called surrender."

OR, setting a timetable is an esay and effective way to measure how successful the US has been in accomplishing its goals. Having a well thought out timeline which is published would be a great measuring stick for the administration's actions in Iraq. Of course, that pretty much excludes it from the realm of possibilities... but hey, who knows?

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flydye45
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one hell of a security fiasco anyway.


[Wink]

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flydye45
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which is published

No

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WarrsawPact
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quote:
setting a timetable is an esay and effective way to measure how successful the US has been in accomplishing its goals.
No, it's not, because our military goals are not based on time metrics. We have several things by which we measure success, but it's not like the enemy has Strongholds A through Z that need to be systematically demolished, and we'd like to go through one letter a week until, half a year later, they have no strongholds. No war has ever worked this way, and insurgencies are especially immune from the kind of logic that assumes things can be done by a schedule. The things you put on a time chart are things like elections and economic growth... not vague and intangible "accomplishments" on the military front, where our enemy is stealthy, organized on an almost ad-hoc basis, and mobile.

[ December 01, 2005, 09:05 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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potemkyn
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WP,

What are you talking about? There's an easy way to measure success in terms of the % of troops compared to Iraqis in the country. You demand that there be 1 Iraqi for every 4 Americans in actual combat/stability work in x months (whatevers reasonable), 1 for every 3 x months after that, 1 for every 2, until you all US troops are gone. This works both ways as the US can increase Iraqi troops and decrease US troops at the same time. The important thing is that there is a least an inkling of control. If the US doesn't measure the progress made, then it shows it doesn't care about it. If you aren't measuring it, how can you see if you are making results or if you need to switch strategies?

I'm not saying that the timetable is a be-all-end-all sort of thing, but it should give the US public a reasonable time frame for success. It will also allow this administration to be held accountable. So far, there have been no objective standards to measure success or failure; a time table which gives a framework for when the Iraqis will take over their own security grants that. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it should be understood that while meeting the criteria is important, the US will be flexible if the situation changes dramatically. But there isn't a plan! There is no plan for leaving. This allows the US to grasp what is really needed and when troops will start returning.

And for the record, I'd view any timeline that had a large number of US troops returning home less than 2 years from now as very idealistic. It doesn't have to be in the next 6 months that this all happens, but there does need to be accountability and measurement of how the US is doing in Iraq.

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Everard
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Nicely done, Flydye.
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flydye45
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Part of what I meant may not have been clear.

Bush knows the timetable. The chosen Senators know the timetable. The selected Iraqi leaders know the timetable.

The Media and Public know that there IS a timetable, as does the Iraqi public. The former are comforted; the later knows it's time to get off the fannies (though how men being bombed to get in line to fight for their country are lazy or passive is beyond me).

And I mean it. If this thing get revealed, it's Fitzmas time from the whomever broke trust. Bush gets reamed, the Dems get reamed, the Iraqis get zero cash. You don't play with this stuff. It is a large assumption on my part that the Dems are capable of this secrecy.

Choosing Bubba puts him under the gun, immunizes pure partisanship from the Dems, and also puts the Congress under the wire as well. Biden doesn't get to say "I fully believe Saddam is a threat and has WMD." and still get to ding Bush. Let's bring out ALL the laundry. Or they get to shuffle off to important things and drop this childish nonsense.

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potemkyn
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Why the secrecy? You come out and tell the world, "I hope to leave in x years with incremental withdraws along the way. The reason is that I'm confident I can hand over security to the Iraqis within that time. While the insurgency may or may not have been defeated in such a time, the US military will not be needed to secure Iraq after such a time."

Boom. Everyone knows the plan, there are golas which are public and people are held accountable for how well they meet these goals. If they aren't met, the time line needs to change accordingly, but that's why you do a good job of setting up a decent timeline with plenty of room for error. I see no harm in this. A timeline for Iraq should not be based on when the insurgency is at X level but rather when Iraq's security forces are at X level.

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Everard
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"A timeline for Iraq should not be based on when the insurgency is at X level but rather when Iraq's security forces are at X level."

This point deserves to be repeated.

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WarrsawPact
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potemkyn -
quote:
WP,

What are you talking about? There's an easy way to measure success in terms of the % of troops compared to Iraqis in the country.

That'd be great if there were no qualitative difference between Iraqi forces and American forces, but as it is, we have specialized jobs and they need varying levels of training to take over from our job of fighting the insurgency. We're buying them space and time for the political and economic processes to operate, and giving their military time to strengthen itself. But we need results, not X number of Iraqi troops -- they need to be properly trained, not just equipped with a uniform.

quote:
If the US doesn't measure the progress made, then it shows it doesn't care about it. If you aren't measuring it, how can you see if you are making results or if you need to switch strategies?
You don't measure the military progress in an insurgency by looking at the clock and checking how many bodies have hit the floor since last you checked. If intelligence starts to report that the insurgency is having trouble recruiting people (it is), or is experiencing a lack of resources, or has lost support from certain groups who have chosen to join the political process and renounce violence to achieve their ends, you learn lessons based on what you had to do to accomplish that. What you do not do is plot it on a graph and guess at when you'll be able to pack your bags.

quote:
I'm not saying that the timetable is a be-all-end-all sort of thing, but it should give the US public a reasonable time frame for success. It will also allow this administration to be held accountable. So far, there have been no objective standards to measure success or failure; a time table which gives a framework for when the Iraqis will take over their own security grants that. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it should be understood that while meeting the criteria is important, the US will be flexible if the situation changes dramatically
Politically, a "reasonable time frame" will not be based on military necessity, but political convenience. I can't stress this enough: wars don't follow timetables. And if even the existence of a timetable is known to the public, that will be a signal to our enemies that they simply have to wait us out.

Handing this information about expectations to the Democrat Senators, then, is a formula for the failure of our mission.

quote:
But there isn't a plan! There is no plan for leaving. This allows the US to grasp what is really needed and when troops will start returning.
What is really needed is already on paper. The troops will return when Iraqi performance shows (gradually) that they can take over their own security; the economic aid will probably continue long after that. The political aid will continue, hopefully, forever.

quote:
And for the record, I'd view any timeline that had a large number of US troops returning home less than 2 years from now as very idealistic. It doesn't have to be in the next 6 months that this all happens, but there does need to be accountability and measurement of how the US is doing in Iraq.
Oh, I think we'll see them coming home in large numbers (tens of thousands) before that. We aren't going to fight the entire counter-insurgency for them.
-=-=-=-=-
flydye -
quote:
Part of what I meant may not have been clear.

Bush knows the timetable. The chosen Senators know the timetable. The selected Iraqi leaders know the timetable.

The Media and Public know that there IS a timetable, as does the Iraqi public.

... as does the insurgency, which knows there's a light at the end of the tunnel. As do members of the US military, none of whom want to be the last one to die in Iraq.

quote:
And I mean it. If this thing get revealed, it's Fitzmas time from the whomever broke trust. Bush gets reamed, the Dems get reamed, the Iraqis get zero cash. You don't play with this stuff. It is a large assumption on my part that the Dems are capable of this secrecy.
I don't like the risk. We can't trust this kind of vital strategic information to anyone whose interests might include sabotaging the administration, or at some point sabotaging our war effort.

quote:
Choosing Bubba puts him under the gun, immunizes pure partisanship from the Dems, and also puts the Congress under the wire as well. Biden doesn't get to say "I fully believe Saddam is a threat and has WMD." and still get to ding Bush. Let's bring out ALL the laundry. Or they get to shuffle off to important things and drop this childish nonsense.
I think that we could do better with intelligence and policy analysts than with politicians.
-=-=-=-=-
potemkyn again -
quote:
Why the secrecy? You come out and tell the world, "I hope to leave in x years with incremental withdraws along the way. The reason is that I'm confident I can hand over security to the Iraqis within that time. While the insurgency may or may not have been defeated in such a time, the US military will not be needed to secure Iraq after such a time."
... because what happens when you find out you made an error in your judgment of the robustness of the enemy? Or the knowledge of the imminent withdrawal emboldens jihadis to come and destabilize the Iraqi government before the supply and communication networks have been broken down?

They'll be playing a media game with us all along the way until the day we leave, trying to give the impression that they're chasing us out. For example, they could stage their most spectacular terrorist attacks to coincide with our withdrawals, maybe a week before each scheduled withdrawal, and in the last several days before we the last American soldier salutes the Iraqis as they get on the plane to go home. The last thing we need is another photo of Americans scrambling to get onto a helicopter as the allied capital is under attack.

quote:
If they aren't met, the time line needs to change accordingly, but that's why you do a good job of setting up a decent timeline with plenty of room for error. I see no harm in this.
I do. Setting a date, even with announced "room for error," is a political and strategic disaster. We've learned this lesson already.

quote:
A timeline for Iraq should not be based on when the insurgency is at X level but rather when Iraq's security forces are at X level.
Insurgencies have two sides, and we can't leave behind a strong Iraqi security force facing an even stronger insurgency. We need to know that we're leaving behind a country that can handle the situation and not start losing the war the minute we pull out, regardless of how many troops they have. It's about conditions and results.

And that's to Everard too, since you backed up his point.

The only way you know you have left behind enough Iraqi forces, trained at the proper level, is by seeing whether they're winning consistently. You cannot pick a number out of the air and aim for it.

[ December 02, 2005, 03:11 AM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by potemkyn:
Why the secrecy? You come out and tell the world, "I hope to leave in x years with incremental withdraws along the way. The reason is that I'm confident I can hand over security to the Iraqis within that time. While the insurgency may or may not have been defeated in such a time, the US military will not be needed to secure Iraq after such a time."

Boom. Everyone knows the plan, there are golas which are public and people are held accountable for how well they meet these goals. If they aren't met, the time line needs to change accordingly, but that's why you do a good job of setting up a decent timeline with plenty of room for error. I see no harm in this. A timeline for Iraq should not be based on when the insurgency is at X level but rather when Iraq's security forces are at X level.

Funny, but this is pretty much what's ALREADY BEEN SAID BY BUSH. As the security forces there draw up, we draw down. We hope that we will begin withdrawing forces next year. We are training their forces at this rate, and here are our goals in getting them trained as we go forward. What's the difference here?
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RickyB
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I generally like your proposals. However, I do not believe in the chances of the timetable not leaking. Especially if shared with Iraqi higher-ups. the only such who won't leak it are Kurds, and I don't see the point of sharing it only with Kurds.

I didn't get the reference to "jail time with Bubba". I also don't see the need in putting Sandy Berger on any commission. When has he become a Dem flag-bearer? Put Wes Clark on it, and others.

BTW, It has occured to me lately that a major difference between Iraq and Germany/Japan is that back then, we didn't need them to have a strong military for us to draw down our forces. On the contrary, we forbade them to have such.

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potemkyn
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jav,

"Funny, but this is pretty much what's ALREADY BEEN SAID BY BUSH. As the security forces there draw up, we draw down. We hope that we will begin withdrawing forces next year. We are training their forces at this rate, and here are our goals in getting them trained as we go forward. What's the difference here? "

You're right, this is pretty close to what the administration is saying, except that there is nothing but a vague promise to stand down while they stand up. What I'd like to see, and what I think a large number of Americans would like to see, is when that's likely to occur. Get a panel of military trainers and logistics personnel, get them the resources and time to accomplish this task, and get a fricking answer to this question. Get some points, so that we can measure how well we are doing against a reasonable timeline.

My biggest concern is a total lack of accountability which can easily be had if the President showed even the slightest concern about being held accountable for his actions. That and the fact that the US seems to have no guidelines for what its goals are in Iraq. The only public information that the Bush Admin has given the military is train the Iraqis to be up to speed. I don't think its that unreasonable to have tacked on to that, 'and this is when we'll be acheiving this proportion of Iraqis to US soldiers.'

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potemkyn
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WP,

I'll address your concerns later today, I've got go. But to make a long story short, I totally agree that the Iraqis would need to be measured by more than just numbers. Training and loyalty would also need to be accounted for in the timeline if it were to be effective.

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by potemkyn:
jav,

"Funny, but this is pretty much what's ALREADY BEEN SAID BY BUSH. As the security forces there draw up, we draw down. We hope that we will begin withdrawing forces next year. We are training their forces at this rate, and here are our goals in getting them trained as we go forward. What's the difference here? "

You're right, this is pretty close to what the administration is saying, except that there is nothing but a vague promise to stand down while they stand up. What I'd like to see, and what I think a large number of Americans would like to see, is when that's likely to occur. Get a panel of military trainers and logistics personnel, get them the resources and time to accomplish this task, and get a fricking answer to this question. Get some points, so that we can measure how well we are doing against a reasonable timeline.

My biggest concern is a total lack of accountability which can easily be had if the President showed even the slightest concern about being held accountable for his actions. That and the fact that the US seems to have no guidelines for what its goals are in Iraq. The only public information that the Bush Admin has given the military is train the Iraqis to be up to speed. I don't think its that unreasonable to have tacked on to that, 'and this is when we'll be acheiving this proportion of Iraqis to US soldiers.'

Read this Document . Your questions are pretty much answered.

[ December 02, 2005, 12:16 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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potemkyn
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jav,

Having just read over the document in question, I'm still very concerned with the strategy outlined.

quote:
Although we are confident of victory in Iraq, we will not put a date certain on when each stage
of success will be reached – because the timing of success depends upon meeting certain
conditions, not arbitrary timetables.
• Arbitrary deadlines or timetables for withdrawal of Coalition forces – divorced from
conditions on the ground – would be irresponsible and deadly, as they would suggest to the
terrorists, Saddamists, and rejectionists that they can simply wait to win.

This is all very true, but it doesn't address my concern. What about a non-arbitrary timeline? One which is NOT divorced from the conditions on the ground? What a strawman! Please tell me that the administration understands that not all timelines are 'arbitrary' and that there are ways to study the matter so that the conditions on the ground are taken into account in the timeline.

quote:
No war has ever been won on a timetable – and neither will this one.
What war? What 'war' is the US fighting that needs to be put on a timeline? The US already won the war, but this isn't a war. And the US shouldn't be trying to win the war anyway. What the US should be concerned with it making sure that the Iraqis can win the war.
And this also misses a crucial point. Timelines are used in every military, business, and governmental orginization. You don't fork over billions of dollars and thousands of lives to say, "we are making progress that isn't quantifiable (did you go to those websites that are said to contain more info? there is hardly anything there) on a timeline which is indefinate." That's a recipe for disastor. In any sort of business or military unit, coming back with that sort of plan would get you fired. There is nothing of substance or anything new in the plan the President has offered. And it completely ignores the fact that there are a large number of Iraqis and Arabs that are fighting in Iraq because the US is there. If the US wasn't in Iraq, they wouldn't be fighting there.

Javelin, I want specifics, and I'd like to see how I can track the progress the US has made in Iraq. The only measurements that are given are that the US makes 'progress' or that we 'rebuild infastructure' or 'defeat the terrorists.' OK, when is the US going to do this, what does progress mean? What will Iraq look linke in six months? What should the US military presence look like in 9 months? I've got no clue how well the US is doing in Iraq, and I don't think many Americans do either, and the Bush administration doesn't seem to know either.

I'll be blunt, I don't think the Bush administration has a real plan which is based on measureable results. I don't think they really know what's going on in Iraq any more than you or I. And that's a huge fricking problem! If you don't know how you're doing, how can you know if you are any closer to success?

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javelin
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quote:
This is all very true, but it doesn't address my concern. What about a non-arbitrary timeline? One which is NOT divorced from the conditions on the ground? What a strawman! Please tell me that the administration understands that not all timelines are 'arbitrary' and that there are ways to study the matter so that the conditions on the ground are taken into account in the timeline.
The timeline is outlined - it talks about the goals and requirements of victory, throughout the document, and ties troop levels to those goals.

quote:
What war? What 'war' is the US fighting that needs to be put on a timeline? The US already won the war, but this isn't a war. And the US shouldn't be trying to win the war anyway.
We are involved in a war with insurgents and terrorists in Iraq right now. Until we can hand it over to the Iraqis, we will continue to be involved in that war - unless we choose to lose it.

quote:
(did you go to those websites that are said to contain more info? there is hardly anything there)
Yep - I've read through those weekly reports, which have an incredible amount of data that no one bothers to report, on the progress being made in Iraq.

quote:
Javelin, I want specifics, and I'd like to see how I can track the progress the US has made in Iraq. The only measurements that are given are that the US makes 'progress' or that we 'rebuild infastructure' or 'defeat the terrorists.' OK, when is the US going to do this, what does progress mean? What will Iraq look linke in six months? What should the US military presence look like in 9 months? I've got no clue how well the US is doing in Iraq, and I don't think many Americans do either, and the Bush administration doesn't seem to know either.
I honestly don't understand how, after reading the document and reviewing the weekly status reports, you can still say this.
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potemkyn
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jav,

"Yep - I've read through those weekly reports, which have an incredible amount of data that no one bothers to report, on the progress being made in Iraq."

Please link me, my friend because there was a bare minimum of available data when I went through these sites.

"The timeline is outlined - it talks about the goals and requirements of victory, throughout the document, and ties troop levels to those goals."
Yeah, but I could have written that. If the President's report had been written as a strategy for winning football, it would have said, "We need to not turnover the ball, catch our passes, score points, and prevent the opposition from scoring." D'uh. I'd like some specifics beyond these vague premises, as in HOW to do these things. I don't think the President does a good job at this at all.

"We are involved in a war with insurgents and terrorists in Iraq right now. Until we can hand it over to the Iraqis, we will continue to be involved in that war - unless we choose to lose it."
And what I'm saying is that it isn't unreasonable for the President to set a time frame for when the US will hand over the war to the Iraqis. You all seem to think that by creating a well thought out plan which will detail when the Iraqis will take over the war from the US, the US will some how lose the war.

"I honestly don't understand how, after reading the document and reviewing the weekly status reports, you can still say this. "
I saw nothing of substance reported. Please show me what convinced you otherwise.

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javelin
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quote:
You all seem to think that by creating a well thought out plan which will detail when the Iraqis will take over the war from the US, the US will some how lose the war.
I think it'll be harder to win.

I'll post the links to the weekly reports in my next post. If I have time, I'll break it out for you - it feels like we are looking at different materials, which I find weird - usually I think we are pretty much on the same page, whether we agree or not.

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javelin
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Here's the weekly - there is even more stuff on the USAID pages:

Weekly Report

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potemkyn
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WP,

quote:
That'd be great if there were no qualitative difference between Iraqi forces and American forces, but as it is, we have specialized jobs and they need varying levels of training to take over from our job of fighting the insurgency. We're buying them space and time for the political and economic processes to operate, and giving their military time to strengthen itself. But we need results, not X number of Iraqi troops -- they need to be properly trained, not just equipped with a uniform.
That's not a problem or a reason to not have a timeline. It's a concern that needs to be dealt with, but it's not unreasonable to generate a timeline that would handle these issues.

quote:
You don't measure the military progress in an insurgency by looking at the clock and checking how many bodies have hit the floor since last you checked.
But the timeline is driven by the abilities of the Iraqi government not by the abilities of the insurgents.

quote:
I can't stress this enough: wars don't follow timetables.
What are you talking about? Wars most definently follow timeframes. Every campaign and every battle has a start and end point, with mile markers along the way to chart the course of battle. No commander in the field would send their soldiers out into battle without a detailed plan of battle. Does the plan always work? No. Does the timeline fail? Yes. But there needs to be a way to measure success. If you don't try, then you'll miss the point where you'll realize that your operations are wasteful and unimportant.

quote:
And if even the existence of a timetable is known to the public, that will be a signal to our enemies that they simply have to wait us out.

Unless the time frame doesn't have to do with how capable the insurgents are. If the Iraqi army is capable of dealing with the insurgents, then why should the US be there? If the US can chart the path necessary for the Iraqi army to get to that point, why shouldn't it do it and then inform everyone, this is what needs to be done and this is when it needs doing.

quote:
Politically, a "reasonable time frame" will not be based on military necessity, but political convenience.
This is a problem, to be sure, but I'm sure that there must be at least a few people who are more concerned that the US successfully complete its mission in Iraq and then leave.

quote:
What is really needed is already on paper. The troops will return when Iraqi performance shows (gradually) that they can take over their own security; the economic aid will probably continue long after that. The political aid will continue, hopefully, forever.
And all I'm saying is that you can predict how well the Iraqis will perform in the future if you look into it. And based off of those predictions, you'll be able to generate a timeline which can be followed which won't endanger Iraq or the US.

quote:
Oh, I think we'll see them coming home in large numbers (tens of thousands) before that. We aren't going to fight the entire counter-insurgency for them.
This is exactly the problem. No one has a fricking clue when the troops will be coming home. Everyone has their own estimate which they think is the best even though they only have part of the picture. It wouldn't be hard to come up with the whole report if the administration would just try to do it.

quote:
They'll be playing a media game with us all along the way until the day we leave, trying to give the impression that they're chasing us out. For example, they could stage their most spectacular terrorist attacks to coincide with our withdrawals, maybe a week before each scheduled withdrawal, and in the last several days before we the last American soldier salutes the Iraqis as they get on the plane to go home. The last thing we need is another photo of Americans scrambling to get onto a helicopter as the allied capital is under attack.

So because the insurgents might make it look like they drove the US out, in spite of the fact that US'll have planned out months in advance actually leaving, the US shouldn't plan on any withdrawals? That's insane. You can't keep the soldiers in the dark until right before they leave. And in any event, a hasty impromptu withdrawal will look more like a retreat than a well ordered, and planned out phased withdrawal plan where the US and Iraq meet certain requirements.

quote:
I do. Setting a date, even with announced "room for error," is a political and strategic disaster. We've learned this lesson already.
We have? From where? When did setting a time frame like the one I suggested come to bite the US?

quote:
Insurgencies have two sides, and we can't leave behind a strong Iraqi security force facing an even stronger insurgency. We need to know that we're leaving behind a country that can handle the situation and not start losing the war the minute we pull out, regardless of how many troops they have. It's about conditions and results.
Look, if the Iraqi army AND the Iraqi insurgency is getting stronger at the same time, something is very wrong with the situation. The two are mutually exclusive. You can't have a strong security force taking over from a strong security force going up against an even stronger insurgency unless the previous force was ineffective. And if they are ineffective, they need to get the hell out of there before they cause any more problems. Besides, you've said it yourself, the insurgency is getting weaker. I see no harm in announcing that the US is measuring success in this war by how well the Iraqis are doing on their own, and by measuring it using an effective time table for withdrawal.

quote:
The only way you know you have left behind enough Iraqi forces, trained at the proper level, is by seeing whether they're winning consistently. You cannot pick a number out of the air and aim for it.

Sigh... No one is going to pick a number out of the air!! Why is it assumed that a timeline is inherently some made up number? There are ways to create a realistic timeline, and it'd make sense to do so. I'd put money down that given the time and resources I could predict when the Iraqis would start to win consistently. It's not that hard if you have the information. All I'm saying is that the US should generate that report. And then let that report become public information to a) encourage accountability in the war b) show the Iraqis that the US is prepared to leave when they are ready (thus motivating them to step up, and de-motivating the insurgents who are there because the US is there) and c) give the military an easily identifiable, achievable, and reasonable goal to shoot for. Goals are incredibly effective motivating forces. And timetables make great goals.
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potemkyn
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jav,

"I think it'll be harder to win."
Interesting. Do you think it'll mean less support at home, or more resistance overseas?

"I'll post the links to the weekly reports in my next post. If I have time, I'll break it out for you - it feels like we are looking at different materials, which I find weird - usually I think we are pretty much on the same page, whether we agree or not."
Yes, your link was helpful. I'll look more into as I have time. I was looking at the first link provided by the government's 'plan for success' which has next to nothing in terms of real data. I was very unhappy with that site especially considering what it was supposed to have.

So do you think the government has created a plan for when the US will pull out that has any relationship with time or not?

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javelin
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quote:
Interesting. Do you think it'll mean less support at home, or more resistance overseas?
Both. It depends on the timeline. Bush gave one. You consider it inadequate - not enough details, not enough numbers. I don't believe that any timeframe put together by this administration is going to satisfy anyone, intensifying the disagreements between all parties. Also, I believe a timeframe will embolden those fighting what we are doing, in Iraq and beyond - they will use the timeline as a propoganda source, in ways that have already been mentioned. We may be ready for that, but why increase the danger? If we've got reasonable goals, with real milestones, laid out on a vague timescape, I think we are better off. And we do have these things.

quote:
Yes, your link was helpful. I'll look more into as I have time. I was looking at the first link provided by the government's 'plan for success' which has next to nothing in terms of real data. I was very unhappy with that site especially considering what it was supposed to have.
Gotcha - I see what you are saying now.

quote:
So do you think the government has created a plan for when the US will pull out that has any relationship with time or not?
Yep - Bush believes we will begin pulling out troops in the next year - as long as our goals are met. He's said we WILL be pulling some troops out in the next three months. These are real world time frames, and are based on a project plan - meeting a set of defined goals.
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flydye45
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The only benefit I see from publishing a timeline to the general public is to give the enemies of Bush (oh yes, and the insurgency) ammo if there is not progress made.

Your demands for accountablilty have a whiff of partisanism. "How can I show when Bush has failed" is as valid a read on your demands as "How do I know we are actually trying to advance?"

Bush's opponents now know. They can use the metric. And unless there is a HUGE and CASTASTROPHIC failure of the timetable, they have no valid reason to be sharing it.

If Bush suddenly drags his feet, yes, his critics in the know have a reason to divulge. But every burp and slowdown due to unforseen variables should not be ammuntion for the DailyKos and Jon Stewart if a valid attempt is being made.

My system makes Bush accountable. Just not publically, any more then intelligence operatives are accountable publically.

BTW Bubba the Jailhouse Rapist is not the same as Bubba the Intern Abusing President. I wasn't clear there. Senator Tightpants need to visit the first Bubba if he arbitrarily leaks the timetable. (He SHOULD be shot but I can compromise...)

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potemkyn
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jav,

"He's said we WILL be pulling some troops out in the next three months. These are real world time frames, and are based on a project plan - meeting a set of defined goals. "

How is this any different from generating a more substanial timeline?
----
flydye,

"Your demands for accountablilty have a whiff of partisanism. "How can I show when Bush has failed" is as valid a read on your demands as "How do I know we are actually trying to advance?" "
I'll admit that I'm unhappy with the way the President has run the war. I don't think he's been forthright with the public and he has shirked everywhere when it came to accountability. If this wasn't a long list of shady backroom deals where he refuses to let anyone in on his decision making process, things would be different. I'd also be unahppy if the Dems started whinning if a published timeline was off by days. But, hell, if a well thought out time frame isn't adheared too because the US hasn't been focusing on the goals, then there should be some recrimination. Bush isn't wartime God. He deserves criticism if he's plans fall through, and frankly, not having a plan because it'll get criticize sounds just like the Democratic platform at the moment, which is just stupid.

"Bush's opponents now know. They can use the metric. And unless there is a HUGE and CASTASTROPHIC failure of the timetable, they have no valid reason to be sharing it."
How about the right of the people to know what their government is up to? Isn't that a reason to have Bush announce a timeline?

"My system makes Bush accountable. Just not publically, any more then intelligence operatives are accountable publically."
If he's not accountable publicly, Bush has already demonstrated that he won't be held accountable. I don't trust him to hold himself accountable any more. I gave him the benefit of the doubt with WMDs, I gave it to him when things went wrong for a while in Iraq. I'm not giving it to him at this point because he's consistently abused my trust overseas and at home.

"But every burp and slowdown due to unforseen variables should not be ammuntion for the DailyKos and Jon Stewart if a valid attempt is being made."
Very true. But at this point, I'd need to see evidence that a valid effort is being made. I don't trust him to do this as fast as it could be without public oversight.

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Richard Dey
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Lieberman is what comes out of an orangatan's butt hole.

None of his points addresses Arab observations, not one. What are those observations? According to the Arabic press (from Egypt to Sumatra), GWII is being fought for:

(1) cheap oil
(2) Israel
(3) demoting the Arab world

Why doesn't Lieberman, who would adore the task he sets out in point (3), of advising the President, ask Bush why the Arab world thinks this.

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WarrsawPact
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quote:
That'd be great if there were no qualitative difference between Iraqi forces and American forces, but as it is, we have specialized jobs and they need varying levels of training to take over from our job of fighting the insurgency. We're buying them space and time for the political and economic processes to operate, and giving their military time to strengthen itself. But we need results, not X number of Iraqi troops -- they need to be properly trained, not just equipped with a uniform.

That's not a problem or a reason to not have a timeline. It's a concern that needs to be dealt with, but it's not unreasonable to generate a timeline that would handle these issues.

Do tell: how would it "handle" these issues?
By making an estimate and hoping for the best? How is that useful for us?

It's enough for us to look at where we are and ask if, given the circumstances, we've been doing things the way we need to do them. Setting a plan that is going to evaporate after prolonged ontact with the enemy is ridiculous. Are we supposed to *assume* that we're going to lose a town again after we take it, and work that into our plan?

Are we supposed to set a timetable along which a certain number of Sunni groups come forward? How do you "handle" that?

It's amazing to me that so many people think you can take loyalty and future surprises into account and plot "reasonable success" on a timeline, of all things. "Hey now, 200 Saudi jihadis just snuck across the border, but don't worry, we took account of that in our timeline!"
An insurgency is not so easily measurable, and neither is progress in the hearts and minds campaign. You try your best and you look for results. You see what works and what doesn't, over the entire time you're in the field and not just in the last six months or so... and you don't tie yourself down with predictions about future successes or failures that can't possibly be reasonable. The future isn't even close to that knowable from where we are today.

quote:
You don't measure the military progress in an insurgency by looking at the clock and checking how many bodies have hit the floor since last you checked.

But the timeline is driven by the abilities of the Iraqi government not by the abilities of the insurgents.

Then it's a really (pardon me) f***in' ridiculous timeline. You can't set meaningful goals for the future of a state without regard for the strength of an insurgency that's fighting it.

quote:
I can't stress this enough: wars don't follow timetables.

What are you talking about? Wars most definently follow timeframes. Every campaign and every battle has a start and end point, with mile markers along the way to chart the course of battle. No commander in the field would send their soldiers out into battle without a detailed plan of battle. Does the plan always work? No. Does the timeline fail? Yes. But there needs to be a way to measure success. If you don't try, then you'll miss the point where you'll realize that your operations are wasteful and unimportant.

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. You have to take into account the fact that there are many factors you don't know about that are going to change how you have to fight. You have to be flexible enough, especially in an insurgency where your opponents aren't terribly obvious about how strong they are in a particular place and time, to change on the fly. All timetables are off -- you just get the job done.

If they stood up and fought us reguarly; if we had some way of knowing what their strength was in a given time and place; if we knew[i] where all the arms caches and hideouts were likely to be and how to cut off the flow of arms, men, and meteriel; if they had territory and identifiable conventional military goals... [i]then we could start setting timelines of expectations. And even then they'd be terribly flawed because of how many unknown factors remained. How motivated are our allies? How strong are the institutions and security measures for our allies' state? Whose hearts and minds are we winning? Heck, we don't know if today's insurgent will lay down his guns and join the political process tomorrow, not until we have a chance to reach out to him through various avenues of communication and try to get him to see his interests as aligned with those of the state. These things are intangibles, things you can't set a watch by.

quote:
And if even the existence of a timetable is known to the public, that will be a signal to our enemies that they simply have to wait us out.

Unless the time frame doesn't have to do with how capable the insurgents are. If the Iraqi army is capable of dealing with the insurgents, then why should the US be there? If the US can chart the path necessary for the Iraqi army to get to that point, why shouldn't it do it and then inform everyone, this is what needs to be done and this is when it needs doing.

The answer to you is so obvious: the capabilities of the Iraqi army are directly related to the capabilities of the insurgency. Capability is a measure of what results they can produce. An army is a very different thing on paper than in the field.

Do we need to train up Iraqi batallions to a level at which they can operate alone and in cooperation with each other, instead of relying on us? Yes. But we've had to revise our estimates of how capable they are in that regard when we measure their performance in the field.
Do we need the Iraqis to have a certain level of military might to deter their neighbors, like Iran, from pushing them around? Yes.
But what really matters in this war, the thing that's going to make or break our strategic success, is whether they are strong enough vis a vis the insurgency to maintain and aggressively prosecute a war against them. If they are strong, but the insurgency is stronger, our measurements have been a big fat waste of time.

quote:
Politically, a "reasonable time frame" will not be based on military necessity, but political convenience.

This is a problem, to be sure, but I'm sure that there must be at least a few people who are more concerned that the US successfully complete its mission in Iraq and then leave.

None of those people can hold the military accountable alone.

quote:
What is really needed is already on paper. The troops will return when Iraqi performance shows (gradually) that they can take over their own security; the economic aid will probably continue long after that. The political aid will continue, hopefully, forever.

And all I'm saying is that you can predict how well the Iraqis will perform in the future if you look into it. And based off of those predictions, you'll be able to generate a timeline which can be followed which won't endanger Iraq or the US.

I disagree. Many of the most important developments in this war have been surprises, things we didn't plan ahead of time but which we nevertheless were trying to generally accomplish. Sunni political parties deciding to join the political process at particular times, political compromises working out, intelligence reports that lead to the seizure of important insurgent leaders. You want a timeline, go set up a predictions market.

quote:
Oh, I think we'll see them coming home in large numbers (tens of thousands) before that. We aren't going to fight the entire counter-insurgency for them.

This is exactly the problem. No one has a fricking clue when the troops will be coming home. Everyone has their own estimate which they think is the best even though they only have part of the picture. It wouldn't be hard to come up with the whole report if the administration would just try to do it.

Again, it sounds like you need a predicitins market, not a plan from on high. Many different players are involved in every different aspect of this campaign, and trying to pigeonhole their expected success into a calendar won't help them accomplish anything or really even hold them accountable. Instead, look to parts of the process and see whether they're coming off well enough to justify our continued progress along this path. Then you tweak what needs to be changed, on an ad hoc basis.

It's better not to change Iraq into a command-and-control situation like LBJ picking the bombing targets personally. You give basic goals and their respective urgencies to your personnel and they do their best to produce the best results they can as soon as they can. This is much more effective in an increasingly network-centric, low-intensity style of warfare.

quote:
They'll be playing a media game with us all along the way until the day we leave, trying to give the impression that they're chasing us out. For example, they could stage their most spectacular terrorist attacks to coincide with our withdrawals, maybe a week before each scheduled withdrawal, and in the last several days before we the last American soldier salutes the Iraqis as they get on the plane to go home. The last thing we need is another photo of Americans scrambling to get onto a helicopter as the allied capital is under attack.

So because the insurgents might make it look like they drove the US out, in spite of the fact that US'll have planned out months in advance actually leaving, the US shouldn't plan on any withdrawals? That's insane. You can't keep the soldiers in the dark until right before they leave. And in any event, a hasty impromptu withdrawal will look more like a retreat than a well ordered, and planned out phased withdrawal plan where the US and Iraq meet certain requirements.

We can have ordered withdrawal without alerting the whole world to where and when it will be taking place, particularly since these campaigns don't involve the gradual taking of territory by yards and miles like in WW2. You simply send the Marines on a helicopter to the airport instead of to Haditha one day, have the Americans salute the Iraqis, and send them home. We do it cyclically as it is, to move troops in and out for their tours of duty, but we don't announce large withdrawals.
If we do, they will take advantage. They understand the media, especially Middle Eastern media, and they'll milk any announced withdrawal for all it's worth. Mark my words, I'll stand by this.

quote:
I do. Setting a date, even with announced "room for error," is a political and strategic disaster. We've learned this lesson already.

We have? From where? When did setting a time frame like the one I suggested come to bite the US?

Oh geez. Where do I start? (and it's not just the US that's been bitten, and there's no reason for me to limit it to them) The cliche "We'll have the boys home in time for Christmas"? Hitler's top-down predictions of when his enemies would be defeated? And god-knows-how-many timelines and related false expectations were set up in Vietnam?

The problem is that even if you say the words "room for error," you have a devastating effect on morale -- of the troops and of the country -- every time you fail to meet top-down predictions. And since there are so many unknowns in warfare, especially in insurgencies, it's a bad gamble to make the prediction in the first place.

quote:
Insurgencies have two sides, and we can't leave behind a strong Iraqi security force facing an even stronger insurgency. We need to know that we're leaving behind a country that can handle the situation and not start losing the war the minute we pull out, regardless of how many troops they have. It's about conditions and results.

Look, if the Iraqi army AND the Iraqi insurgency is getting stronger at the same time, something is very wrong with the situation. The two are mutually exclusive. You can't have a strong security force taking over from a strong security force going up against an even stronger insurgency unless the previous force was ineffective. And if they are ineffective, they need to get the hell out of there before they cause any more problems. Besides, you've said it yourself, the insurgency is getting weaker. I see no harm in announcing that the US is measuring success in this war by how well the Iraqis are doing on their own, and by measuring it using an effective time table for withdrawal.

Wrong.

First of all, both the insurgency and the Iraqi security forces have been growing more sophisticated, have been learning from each other, and both have been recruiting more people to replace the people that they've lost and to strengthen their forces. But I do think that we are making progress against the insurgency, and that some aspects of the insurgency -- like Al Qaeda and the overall Sunni resistance to the new order -- are becoming weaker and that the seeds of their destruction have been planted. That said, I also predicted that 2006 would be the bloodiest year of this counter-insurgency -- and the turning point. An armed insurgency that gets desperate can get very very messy, and will not go down without a fight. I also think that Iraqi security forces will enter some of their bloodiest engagements over the coming year, but will continue to advance rapidly enough to overtake the insurgency. They're already winning the hearts and minds, especially against the jihadists.

quote:
The only way you know you have left behind enough Iraqi forces, trained at the proper level, is by seeing whether they're winning consistently. You cannot pick a number out of the air and aim for it.

Sigh... No one is going to pick a number out of the air!! Why is it assumed that a timeline is inherently some made up number?

Because no top-down prediction has a chance in hell against a force it doesn't fully understand. And we don't fully understand all the forces at work in this insurgency, their relative strengths, or what future unknowable events might have an effect on them. If the government makes big strides in legitimacy -- notoriously an intangible metric -- we might see a whole lot of Sunni groups and former regime elements come grudgingly to the table (seeing the new path to power, and losing hope for the old one), and see a drop-off in criminal militant activity. These events would have a cascading effect that would make it even harder for foreign groups like Al Qaeda to operate within Iraq. But we just don't know how it's all going to go down. Economic growth, which has a strong effect on such legitimacy, can't be so easily predicted -- we can't even predict it in our own economy, much less theirs where we have less information available.

But we can sure tell, after the fact, when success has come to us, and we can take lessons from the failures we do see.

quote:
There are ways to create a realistic timeline, and it'd make sense to do so. I'd put money down that given the time and resources I could predict when the Iraqis would start to win consistently. It's not that hard if you have the information. All I'm saying is that the US should generate that report. And then let that report become public information to a) encourage accountability in the war b) show the Iraqis that the US is prepared to leave when they are ready (thus motivating them to step up, and de-motivating the insurgents who are there because the US is there) and c) give the military an easily identifiable, achievable, and reasonable goal to shoot for. Goals are incredibly effective motivating forces. And timetables make great goals.
One last time -- you'd be much better off with a prediction market than a provisional authority.
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javelin
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quote:
How is this any different from generating a more substanial timeline?
Funny, that's the question I asked you! His critics are still asking for a timeline, and according to me (and apparently you), he's given one. But it's not what they want. They want "On December 1st, 2006, we will have withdrawn all of our troops from Iraq." That's stupid, and it isn't going to happen.
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flydye45
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Thank you for that "pithy" observation, Richard.
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javelin
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Oh, by the way, before we get there - Bush made it clear that its HOPE, not a solid timeline or prediction, when he talked about bringing troops home.
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flydye45
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I don't think we can set policy based on the "most cynical man" principle.
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WarrsawPact
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And now, something that makes me grind my teeth before I go off to work...

Timelines, goals, etc. for Iraq

[ December 02, 2005, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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David Ricardo
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I have to say that a timeline to withdraw American troops is foolish and would probably lead to disaster in Iraq and the Middle East.

While I opposed our invading Iraq in the first place, it would be naive to think that we can simply declare victory and leave according to a deadline decided more by domestic politics than by the reality on the ground.

The reality on the ground is that we are making some progress in Iraq and that now is not the time to retreat from Iraq with our tails between our legs.

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WarrsawPact
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Amazing. Ricardo and I agree again about the war.

... and with that, I'm gone. I am sooo late for work.

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potemkyn
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WP,

Perhaps you can correct me because this seems to be your strategy for Iraq. Keep going until something goes remarkably wrong, then figure out what it was and then change course. This is exactly why the US is in the mess it is in Iraq. Let's consider that this whole big mess has been the result of groupthink in the White House. Those 'intangibles' that no one saw coming is bull**** in it's most obvious form. Plenty of people forsaw a lot of the greater problems the US had in Iraq. The Bush administration gladly did not listen to them. What benefit would public accountability have on the administration? It would have to be honest about its conduct and it would have to do a better job. That's what accountability does, it forces you to respond to problems in a realistic and timely manner. I don't giving a crap about whether it's Bush or some Democrat in office because both of them will obviously be equally obnoxious and equally capable; but I would like to know the progress they are making.

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No plan survives first contact with the enemy. You have to take into account the fact that there are many factors you don't know about that are going to change how you have to fight. You have to be flexible enough, especially in an insurgency where your opponents aren't terribly obvious about how strong they are in a particular place and time, to change on the fly. All timetables are off -- you just get the job done.

If they stood up and fought us reguarly; if we had some way of knowing what their strength was in a given time and place; if we knew[i] where all the arms caches and hideouts were likely to be and how to cut off the flow of arms, men, and meteriel; if they had territory and identifiable conventional military goals... [i]then we could start setting timelines of expectations. And even then they'd be terribly flawed because of how many unknown factors remained. How motivated are our allies? How strong are the institutions and security measures for our allies' state? Whose hearts and minds are we winning? Heck, we don't know if today's insurgent will lay down his guns and join the political process tomorrow, not until we have a chance to reach out to him through various avenues of communication and try to get him to see his interests as aligned with those of the state. These things are intangibles, things you can't set a watch by.

I have no doubt that creating a timeline that is accurate would be difficult, but WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? Why aren't you concerned that the US has no clue to these questions above? These are vital elements to defeat the insurgency as you've said, but they haven't been researched fully? Why not? Why aren't there answers?

If the administration was forced to create a public timeline, they would be forced to answer these vital questions. I'm working off the principle that accountability would have the added benefit that it always has, that there would be increased efficiency and a decrease in lazy groupthink which has already made Iraq a fricking mess.

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But what really matters in this war, the thing that's going to make or break our strategic success, is whether they are strong enough vis a vis the insurgency to maintain and aggressively prosecute a war against them. If they are strong, but the insurgency is stronger, our measurements have been a big fat waste of time.
If the Iraqis are taking over for us, I thought it would be understood that they would be capable of defending itself. Why do you think it is impossible to create such a timeline? It's not impossible, it's only difficult right now because the administration refuses to do the research necessary to produce those results.

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I disagree. Many of the most important developments in this war have been surprises, things we didn't plan ahead of time but which we nevertheless were trying to generally accomplish. Sunni political parties deciding to join the political process at particular times, political compromises working out, intelligence reports that lead to the seizure of important insurgent leaders. You want a timeline, go set up a predictions market.
That changes nothing. Why do you always assume that a timeline would have to be created by some dumbass? What if, e-gad, YOU designed the timeline? Can you imagine someone of your intellect with the resources at your disposal creating a timeline? Any good timeline of this nature would have room for error which would be posted immediately. It doesn't have to say, 'on Dec. 17 the 101st leaves.' But that the 101st will leave some time between date x and y. If you don't have standards, nothing gets done or at best they get done at a slower pace.

quote:
Again, it sounds like you need a predicitins market, not a plan from on high. Many different players are involved in every different aspect of this campaign, and trying to pigeonhole their expected success into a calendar won't help them accomplish anything or really even hold them accountable. Instead, look to parts of the process and see whether they're coming off well enough to justify our continued progress along this path. Then you tweak what needs to be changed, on an ad hoc basis.

Look, this is totally unacceptable because it doesn't solve future problems until after they've occured. This is exactly how this war has been run to date and it's led to a series of messes. The best plans point out potential pitfalls prior to their actually occuring, and with a timeline you'll have done the research necessary to generate a decent sized list of potential problems for the military to look for.

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It's better not to change Iraq into a command-and-control situation like LBJ picking the bombing targets personally. You give basic goals and their respective urgencies to your personnel and they do their best to produce the best results they can as soon as they can. This is much more effective in an increasingly network-centric, low-intensity style of warfare.
I wonder how you'd react if the US changed its wellfare policy to this. You know, you should get a job, as a goal, and the US'll support you until you do, but we leave you with the final decision because there will be things we couldn't predict that will doubtlessly affect you and your decision making process. Some how I don't see you liking this idea, and I think it applies to this situation as well. When you don't hold people accountable in the fashion you suggest, you get a lot of people who switch to low gear. When there are deadlines to meet, people meet them, or they lose their jobs.

quote:
We can have ordered withdrawal without alerting the whole world to where and when it will be taking place, particularly since these campaigns don't involve the gradual taking of territory by yards and miles like in WW2. You simply send the Marines on a helicopter to the airport instead of to Haditha one day, have the Americans salute the Iraqis, and send them home. We do it cyclically as it is, to move troops in and out for their tours of duty, but we don't announce large withdrawals.
If we do, they will take advantage. They understand the media, especially Middle Eastern media, and they'll milk any announced withdrawal for all it's worth. Mark my words, I'll stand by this.

Please explain to me how sneaking out of the country at the dead of night is less like getting your ass kicked than announcing that you are confident that the Iraqis will be able to manage the insurgents and that you will begin withdrawal on these days.

quote:
The cliche "We'll have the boys home in time for Christmas"? Hitler's top-down predictions of when his enemies would be defeated? And god-knows-how-many timelines and related false expectations were set up in Vietnam?
Look, just because timelines were done poorly in the past doesn't mean that they are inherently flawed. And as you should know, most of those were slogns, not researched timelines. As for Vietnam, I'd think it would definently show you why this administration needs to be held accountable. Groupthink is a nasty thing.

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The problem is that even if you say the words "room for error," you have a devastating effect on morale -- of the troops and of the country -- every time you fail to meet top-down predictions. And since there are so many unknowns in warfare, especially in insurgencies, it's a bad gamble to make the prediction in the first place.
No it's not. You don't not makea prediction just because it's hard. You do your homework so that you can reduce your chance for error. If you say that there's a three month room for error to begin with then there will be an understanding that things don't always go as planned, and if things get behind schedule early on, then there will need to be a revision, but giving a good predicition has just as good a chance of raising morale as it has of 'devestating' it, which I might point out is reason to meet the deadline. If people are not succeeding in meeting their goals and those goals have been well thought out, then should be consequences.

quote:
That said, I also predicted that 2006 would be the bloodiest year of this counter-insurgency -- and the turning point. An armed insurgency that gets desperate can get very very messy, and will not go down without a fight. I also think that Iraqi security forces will enter some of their bloodiest engagements over the coming year, but will continue to advance rapidly enough to overtake the insurgency. They're already winning the hearts and minds, especially against the jihadists.

And if the President issued a timeline, these predictions would be blown to hell? The jihadis would realize, 'my god, the US is leaving in place a fully trained and equiped Iraqi force capable of renewing and bettering itself, victory is ours!'

quote:
Because no top-down prediction has a chance in hell against a force it doesn't fully understand.
Man, I don't get you. Why can't you understand that the timeline doesn't need to factor into things the US army can't control or substantially effect? The US military is a seperate entity of the Iraqi government and if the the Iraqis government does better or worse vis a vie appealing to the Sunnis will have little to do with the abilities of the Iraqi army to fight the insurgents. The US Army's goal should be to secure Iraq and transition the Iraqis into a position where they can do that without the US Army. It is certainly possible to set a timeline which shows when Iraqis should achieve a certain percentage of the combatants versus the insurgents.

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But we can sure tell, after the fact, when success has come to us, and we can take lessons from the failures we do see.
The problem with that is that you won't be able to see failure until its passed you by. Which is what happened in Vietnam. You set a standard which needs to be met for success to be declared, and you miss it, then you get the hell out of there. Failure is a possibility.

Potemkyn

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