Tuesday, April 08, 2008

CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION

As most of you know, Phil is taking Intel-Dump to the Washington Post. I wish him the best of luck. Thank you Phil!

My favorite part of the Dump was the comments, though. The level of discourse, the (usual) civility, and the ability to "vent" were all what brought me to the Dump. I don't think that is possible on a blog that is part of the Washington Post.

I would like to try it here. To comment you need to sign up with Google - which you should do anyway, Gmail is amazing - and then you can comment here.

For regulars, please try and keep your old names so we know who FDChief is, Seydlitz, etc.

And thanks to all for the kind and unexpected words about me over at the last Intel-Dump post.

To start this thread, what about Gen. Petraeus' testimony today? Did it ring true, was it clear and forthright, or did it appear he was parroting the White House in a partisan way? Either way, was it accurate, and if not, why not? What facts were wrong, or missing?

Please comment away, for me that is the best part - the conversation.

27 comments:

J.D. said...

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Publius said...

I'm with you, JD. as I suggested in a recent comment at Intel Dump, let's just move the whole damned circus over here, with you and FDChief orchestrating things. A little more responsibility for you boys; I'll help however I can. I know others will as well.

Intel Dump is no more. I don't have good vibes about that WaPo thing. Long live Buggie Boy!

FDChief said...

Hey, JD.

I missed the Mouse Circus on the Hill today, dammit - had to spend all day playing the Dirt Nanny down in Lincoln City.

That said, I'll bet I could have scriped the damn thing myself.

Typical GOP Senator "question": "Well, I just wanted to personally thank you, and as I reminded my constituents in my very last newsletter here at SenI'mrichwhyaren'tyou.gov, my dear, dear, heroic American General, for your sacrifice in travelling here from your air-conditioned trailer in the Green Zone to tell us the truth that those lying, traitorous Democrat Party rats will deny - that freedom is on the march in Iraq and the only way to stop it is for unAmerican cowards to "betray-us", isn't that right?"

GEN Petraeus: "Ummm, yes, certainly, well, that may obtain, Senator, yes. I'm not here to talk politics, but, we are making progress and we want the American people to understand that our wogs are nicer and better than their wogs, who are probably Iranian and certainly do not bathe as much as they should."

Typical Democratic Senator "question": "Now, General, and not that I'd ever even imply that our problems in the Middle East may reflect our foreign policy choices or possible but not very likely errors mostly caused by an excess of good intentions, isn't it possible that your troops are just possibly the teensy-eensiest involved in an Iraqi internal squabble that has nothing to do with the eeeeevil Islamic enemies that threated our very precious bodily fluids?"

GEN Petraeus: "Yes, Senator, it IS all the fault of the skulking Persian dogs. Thank you."

Am I right?

Keith G said...

To start this thread, what about Gen. Petraeus' testimony today? Did it ring true, was it clear and forthright....

He seemed to me to not be on his "A" game. Eyes weren't sharp, expression often seemed blank. I thought there was a bit more "fire" in his testamony last time.

Maybe it was jet lag or a late night getting ready. Or maybe something else....

Publius said...

An important golf outing precluded my actually seeing General Miracle (credit: FDChief) do his thing. Funny thing, I always seem to miss these televised things. Maybe because I've been around the government for a looooong time.

Now, having read the testimony, I'm kind of underwhelmed. I expected little from Petraeus; I wasn't disappointed. Cautiously optimistic, but not nearly so gee-whiz as before, is how I see it. I suspect one reason for what Keith saw (not on his A game) is that reality is sinking in. That, and the sad state of the Army, something I'm confident he's heard a lot about from his putative military superiors. Petraeus is tired. And aren't we all. All of us except Bush and McCain, I guess.

FDChief addresses the congressional script. Then there is the script from the executive branch. Drop the magic words "Al Qaida" as often as possible, deny any possibility of a civil war and always claim Iraqi government progress in growing up. Has it reached puberty yet?

Ho hum. SSDD.

Walter said...

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FDChief said...

I'd sure love to be a fly on the wall at Petraeus' actual G-2 briefs. Do you think they talk about the real (as opposed to Publius' dead-on characterization of the Administration "all-Qaeda-all-Iran-all-the-time" eyewash he parrots in public) politico-military situation? Or is it another of those typical teel-the-general-what-he-wants-to-hear type briefings?

I've heard from some fields that Petraeus is a stand-up guy, from others that he is a cheese-eating bullshitter. Certainly it seemed like Fox Fallon was in the latter group.

I just keep thinking back to MacArthur's division and corps G-2 shops screaming at him that the Chinese were across the Yalu and his bobo Willoughby shortstopping the intel until weeks after Americans and Chinese were killing each other in the ass end of North Korea...

So- what does Petraeus really know? And when did he know it?

FDChief said...

Actually, Fred Kaplan over at Slate has what seems like a pretty good take on the testimony today:

1. Both men stuck to the administration's stock line of "No, we can't leave. Ever."

2. But he calls Petraeus out specifically for NOT biting on a GOP lure to frag him some donkeys (specifically, asking him to dump on the Clinton/Obama withdrawl plans)

3. The $64,000 question, as Kagan mercilessly points out, is that if (as Petraeus according to the loyal Bushie script insists) we can't leave if we're winning and we can't leave if we're losing...when CAN we leave?

Aviator47 said...

OK, just checking into the net and getting familiarized with this Google stuff. Now that I have Google set in English and not Greek, things are easier.

Fire for effect, Gentlemen.

Al

seydlitz89 said...

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Rick98C said...

Very happy to see you guys back in the saddle.

I listened to the Petraeus thing in random increments. Listen until urge to vomit becomes irresistable then quick switch to the classical station to calm down. It was a classic dog and pony show. Pathetic. fdchief has it pegged, as usual.

SOS.... it's incredible to me that there are so many people highly placed in our government and military that are so utterly incabable of recognizing that they could ever have been wrong about anything.

sheerahkahn said...

I saw the lil prince speaking...and then I sat and listen to his parrot speak...both from prepared statements...yeah, a lot of words were spoken, but little was said.

Publius said...

An excerpt from Maureen Dowd's column in today's NYT:

"You know you’re in trouble when Barbara Boxer is the voice of reason.

“Why is it,” she asked, “after all we have given — 4,024 American lives, gone; more than half-a-billion dollars spent; all this for the Iraqi people, but it’s the Iranian president who is greeted with kisses and flowers?”

She warmed to: “He got a red-carpet treatment, and we are losing our sons and daughters every single day for the Iraqis to be free. It is irritating is my point.”

"Ambassador Crocker dryly assured the senator from California that he believed that Dick Cheney had also gotten kissed on his visit to Iraq."

Barbara Boxer as the voice of reason. Barbara Boxer! That's how low we've sunk.

I stayed up last night and watched the special "Nightline" with Crocker and Petraeus making their triumphal appearance. Actually, both appeared pretty subdued and beaten down. All they could say was withdrawal, etc., was "conditional," meaning this whole kerfluffle is going to be open-ended until the end of time or whenever.

They had no real answer when Terry Moran asked about reports that one of the three-stars had estimated that Iraq would be capable of handling domestic security by 2012, but couldn't handle external issues, i.e., foreign attacks until 2018. 2018! Now there's a nice target date, eh?

They also hemmed and hawed when asked whether or not Obama's question about why it wouldn't be just fine to leave Iraq as a "messed up" country, in other words, similar to most, made sense. This in turn led me to a blinding insight: the game plan is to make Iraq perfect in every way, a little America. This is what our national blood and treasure are going for.

These guys don't even have an answer to a very good question, namely why are we paying for internal shit when the Iraqis are making money and have growing cash reserves? That's one hell of a good question, one we should be asking our congresscritters. Don't bother asking anyone from the executive branch.

2018, boys and girls. WASF.

Anonymous said...

Publius: "Now, having read the testimony, I'm kind of underwhelmed. I expected little from Petraeus; I wasn't disappointed. Cautiously optimistic, but not nearly so gee-whiz as before, is how I see it. I suspect one reason for what Keith saw (not on his A game) is that reality is sinking in. That, and the sad state of the Army, something I'm confident he's heard a lot about from his putative military superiors. Petraeus is tired. And aren't we all. All of us except Bush and McCain, I guess."

I've always thought that the administration's reason for the surge was purely to 'kick the can down the road' a year or two, because they couldn't just keep saying Stay the Course after the November 2006 election.

Petraeus might have been a true believer, in which case he's realizing that kicking the can down the road until '08 just leaves him two years older and worse off, with a broken army.

Or Petraeus might have been a cynical stooge for the administration, in which case his obvious plan would have been to jump ship to another command position last fall, after giving his report to Congress. Then he could blame his successor. In that case, he's screwed up, and might not be able to get out now.

-BarryD

Almost Drafted said...

Publius,
"...why are we paying for internal shit when the Iraqis are making money and have growing cash reserves?"

In an interview on NPR, someone (outside the gov't) explained that this is because the bill for the needed reconstruction was measured in $Trillions. Far beyond what oil revenues are bringing in ($110/barrel helps but oil production is still below pre-war levels).

I'm not sure what the effects would be of taking all their current cash and part or all of the oil revenues, but they couldn't be good. Isn't that what they call "impoverishing" a country?

You have to wonder how much US cash never gets to the reconstruction effort. And of the money that gets there, how much goes to graft and bribes? And why the remaining trickle ends up in unusable results.

Yah, "rebuilding Iraq" sounds like an expensive proposition if we do it that way. But the Iraqi contribution would be negligible in any case, and what there was would end up in someone's pocket.

Wasn't there a four-letter acronym that describes the situation we're in? From some other blog maybe? Oh yeah, WASF.

Cheers,

JP

seydlitz89 said...

Gee you guys have already taken P-man (pacman?) apart. What is there left to say?

General Odom's testimony. . . Publius's old boss. . .

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/32419

He says some really good stuff here, why did it not get any traction I ask myself, not really wanting an answer. . .

bg said...

"I'd sure love to be a fly on the wall at Petraeus' actual G-2 briefs. "

Ah, the stories I've heard...But I won't spread RUMORINT, seeing how my information is all second hand (despite what we call a very reliable source with excellent placement, access and a solid reporting history).

Glad to see the old crowd back in the game.

Al Struelens said...

Testing from Fasteddiez:

Both Crocker of Shit and Petraeus Minimus had looks on their mugs of dogs about to be beaten. It's easy to guess why with Gen P; though he's smarter than Casey, Abi - Zaid, and the Frito Bandido from the valley, he knows he's enduring this shiite instead of the deciderer.

Ah, the cost of becoming viable for the right wing presidency, if not the reincarnation of St. Ike for the drool cup denizens of Ammurica.

All he has to do is willingly continue to use his yap as a dick warmer for the presidential micro wiener as the prez runs out the clock on his last Friedman unit.

I liked when Sen Webb told P that he experienced no politics in combat; a bitch slap par exellence that pointed to all that the eminent general had only experienced conflict as a Maj. general and above (political warfare, that is). This, when he wasn't responsible for the misappropriation of shitloads of Iraqimen AK's as well as his well documented goat rapine of the non benchmark setting training of the Iraqi Army.

As I've said before, the train clown express keeps a rollin' down the track, with every colorful billboard proclaiming to the suckers to forget the past, and to await...sittin' on yer bayonet, for the victory, jes' around the corner.

I love the smell of Strawmen...burning in the morning.

Publius said...

Seydlitz, good catch on the Odom testimony. In case anyone hasn't read it, here is Odom's summation in refuting claims that withdrawal would be catastrophic:

"First, it is insisted that we must leave behind military training
element with no combat forces to secure them. This makes no sense
at all. The idea that US military trainers left alone in Iraq can be safe and effective is flatly rejected by several NCOs and junior officers I have heard describe their personal experiences. Moreover, training foreign forces before they have a consolidated political authority to command their loyalty is a windmill tilt. Finally, Iraq is not short on military skills.

"Second, it is insisted that chaos will follow our withdrawal. We
heard that argument as the “domino theory” in Vietnam. Even so, the
path to political stability will be bloody regardless of whether we
withdraw or not. The idea that the United States has a moral
responsibility to prevent this ignores that reality. We are certainly to blame for it, but we do not have the physical means to prevent it. American leaders who insist that it is in our power to do so are misleading both the public and themselves if they believe it. The real moral question is whether to risk the lives of more Americans. Unlike preventing chaos, we have the physical means to stop sending more troops where many will be killed or wounded. That is the moral responsibility to our country which no American leaders seem willing to assume.

"Third, nay sayers insist that our withdrawal will create regional instability. This confuses cause with effect. Our forces in Iraq and our threat to change Iran’s regime are making the region unstable. Those who link instability with a US withdrawal have it exactly backwards. Our ostrich strategy of keeping our heads buried in the sands of Iraq has done nothing but advance our enemies’ interest."

I never liked the old boy very much. He lectures and is short in interpersonal skills. Pointy-headed intellectual. But he is one of the smartest dudes I ever met. And that he rose to the top in an Army where generals are generally hail-fellow-well-met guys is a testament to what he brings to the table. As I've said before, I always listen to Odom. And he always makes sense.

Plus he cuts to the chase. I especially like this:

"The real moral question is whether to risk the lives of more Americans. Unlike preventing chaos, we have the physical means to stop sending more troops where many will be killed or wounded. That is the moral responsibility to our country which no American leaders seem willing to assume."

That's where the rubber meets the road and that's where I'm coming from.

Frank Drackman said...

I think General Petraeus would have had more credibility if he had worn BDUs.

Keith G said...

Did any of you catch Charlie Rose last night, Ap. 8? His guests were John Burns and Dexter Filkins of the NYT. Realizing that C. Rose can be infuriating as he tends to answer his own questions and talk over the quest’s responses, nonetheless with patience and a good single malt I usually can make it through an hour without yelling at the TV.

I found the hour long interview with them intriguing because, especially, Burns did not say what I thought he would. Burns, in my memory, was one of the first reporters I read (and eventually heard on Rose) to forcefully say that our efforts in Iraq were falling apart.

I am not going to qualify it more than that since I am still thinking about the interview and the morning coffee has just been served.

If you didn’t catch it and have some time to kill:

http://www.charlierose.com/home

I am curious about any of your reactions.

J.D. said...

Frank, outstanding.

I guess Casey and the rest of the Pentagon Warriors (TM, all rights reserved) would have done so, but Gen. P likely wanted shiny things to distract Congress from pursuing lines of inquiry that he did not want pursued, so he wore his class "A" uniform.

Sometimes I would shake my keys at my boys when they were infants and it would distract them from crying.

J.D. said...

Thanks for the link Keith. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I will.

bg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
seydlitz89 said...

Publius-

Yes, Odom's an intel god. At least in comparison to some others. I'm thinking of the one Intel 3-star I met. . . Eichelberger, when he came all the way to Berlin and told us what a great job we'd done, and then effectively shot everybody in the head, at least career wise, "hey not near enough green suits out there". . . One of those moments.
Was the beginning of the whole "more with less" movement (he actually said it).

That's when I knew Humint was dead.

Corner Stone said...

"hey not near enough green suits out there". . . One of those moments.

Please tell an intel igmo like myself what this means.
Lawrence Eichelberger?

seydlitz89 said...

Corner Stone-

"green suits" would be active duty army intel officers, whereas "suits" would be civilian DOA GS/GSE intel officers. At the time the big push was away from "strategic" (as in civis) to "tactical" which meant intel officers serving with line units. In theory it was going to be all technical collection from then on, since Desert Shield/Desert Storm had "shown the way of the future".

Publius would have a different perspective on this, but I think we would agree on many points. Cut to the chase would be that the gutting of Humint took place under BushI/shotgun Dick with Clinton pretty much cluelessly carrying through what had already been decided prior to his term. Of course the problem was that you had people making very far reaching decisions who had also been unable to react to the fast pace of change during the end of the Cold War. . . That is the younger generation was seen very much as a threat.

It's amazing in hindsight, that here was LtGen Charles Eichelberger (not Larry Eagleberger aka "fat Larry") essentially telling us that we had no future when we were riding through US Strategic Humint's "Golden Age" if ever there was one . . . these being the days when we were stripping the Soviet military of all their S&T which was probably worth Billions, not that there will ever be that history placed in print.

Call me cynical? Hey, I've been taught by the best.