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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Good speech from Bush

Bush hit the all the right buttons in his speech today. I like his mention of strategy to the American people:
The president also discussed three new steps being taken by U.S. troops:

— Partnering coalition units with Iraqi units to conduct field operations together;

— Embedding coalition "transition teams" inside Iraqi units to provide battlefield advice and assistance during combat operations. Between battles, U.S. officers teach skills such as urban combat, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance techniques;

— Working with the Iraqi ministries of Interior and Defense to improve their capabilities and develop command and control structures as well as civilian and military leadership training.
and
"Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever — when we are in fact working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave."
FOXNews.com - Politics - Bush: 'Terrorists Are Failing' in Iraq

During the Viet Nam war, a period leftists are apparently fond of remembering because it led to the embarrassment of the US, the US Government and Armed Forces were rather less forthcoming about some issues.

People who draw lame comparisons with Viet Nam should note some other 'small' differences:
  • Viet Nam was supported by the USSR in a Cold War proxy fight.
  • The US armed forces were conscript-based, not professional.
  • Viet Nam was a jungle fight, Iraq is an open terrain and urban warfare fight.
  • By the end of the Viet Nam war, the USSR had so upgraded the North Vietnamese Government it had one of the best air defense systems on the planet (many US aircraft were shot down, not just the odd helicopter).
  • Over the 10 or so years of the main Viet Nam war, around 60,000 Americans died, equating to around 6,000 Americans per year. In Iraq the number of deaths per year is about 800, and thats including deaths related to the initial invasion (I have to check these figures - will publish proper stats when I get the chance). In fact the number of deaths from enemy action is so low that vehicle crashes contribute a significant proportion of all military deaths in Iraq (I think these are considered combat deaths because Iraq is a war zone - something else to check).
  • The US Army was never committed to properly training the local South Vietnamese armed forces, aside from a limited programme to send Green Berets into countryside hamlets. It preferred to rely on its own military units and the US Marines. A foolish mistake, as the Pentagon's own internal reports (the 'Pentagon Papers') and various people said at the time. They did run 'joint operations' with the local army, but certainly didn't invest as much resources as they are today. I detect there is also a willingness amonst the US Administration to encourage the rise of successful Iraqi military units, regardless of their origin in the Ministry of Interior, Iraqi National Guard etc.
  • The US Air Force was dedicated to a programme of statistics-oriented bombing campaigns, devoid of substantial links to real strategic wins against the enemy.
  • The US Government never properly supported democracy in South Viet Nam, despite early attempts. Instead a succession of coups decided the Top Dog.
  • North Vietnam was never confronted over its continual support for the Viet Cong, aside from periodic B52 bombing campaigns (ie, it was not invaded despite lending incredible military support to the VC). Therefore the primary advantage in US supremacy on the ground was never utilised (theres a potential for the same situation to arise with Syria, but much harder to smuggle large amounts of weapons from that country)
  • Despite all of the above, the US never lost a major battle in a tactical sense. Even the infamous Tet Offensive ended in the deaths of many VC and few Americans. It was just one big PR campaign aimed at the television cameras of the day. Of course you'd never know that if you believed references in the media...
  • The US technological advantage now is phenomenal, and increasing.
  • Also remember that the 1960's and 70's was a period of great internal unrest in the USA, including the rise of various domestic terrorist groups (they'd be called terrorists today). I think this is the period the Miami PD created the concept of 'SWAT' teams - paramilitary units dedicated to attacking armed groups.
One day I'll make a full list. I direct interested readers towards a great book entitled 'A Bright Shining Lie', about a former American commander in Viet Nam who rose to control an entire US Corps in South Viet Nam while working as a civilian (yes, you read correctly). What he advocated as US strategy in Viet Nam (ignored by his statistics-obsessed superiors of the day) is the strategy in Iraq today.

One thing the US armed forces does have to do is purchase vehicles for its soldiers which are designed to survive roadside bombs. Such designs have existed for decades (e.g. Brits in Northern Ireland, South Africans, Israeli's), but the US military purchased its present Hummer fleet to service Armoured Divisions during a Cold War, not to use them as patrol vehicles in the middle of urban areas.

Bush & co. are saying the 'insurgency' will last years if not a decade or so. I'd pick several decades at the very least. Think a combination of the IRA in Northern Ireland and the various groups in Colombia. For Islamist terrorists and Iraqi Ba'athists there is too much on the table for them to give up: if the Islamists concede Iraq then they lose credibility with Muslim supporters elsewhere; the Ba'athists deadenders have little to lose and much to gain; and of course theres a substantial criminal element who just want to make money out of paid bombings and kidnappings (Lets not forget Saddam released many Iraqis convicted of violent crimes during his populist 2001 amnesty programme, and I think many Ba'athists could be considered plain crims anyway). Mix in various aligned Sunni and Shi'ite groups and you have your 'insurgency'. The one thing the insurgency does not have is an overall alliance dedicated to one cause, with an associated Government-in-waiting - because no such cause exists.

Ultimately of course, the present war in Iraq is what the original neocons were wanting all along: drawing terrorists towards a professional US military outside of US soil; spreading democracy amongst people who have always had tyrants (though I doubt the neocons expected the Islamists to be so dedicated to blowing themselves up); and maintaining the military centre of balance away from the US mainland and bordering on the originator of the Islamist problem: Saudi Arabia. Have no doubt that Iraq is a very important piece of land given it borders on Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria, as well as possessing massive oil reserves. The US invasion was all about a confluence of geopolitical interests, neocon theory on what makes for Islamists (and totalitarian countries in general), and the political reality of attacking a country the United States had already effectively declared war on (Congress passed the Iraq Regime Change Act in 1998).

Also remember: Israel endured massacres of civilians and reservist soldiers for years after Phil Goff's mate Yasser Arafat declared war on them. And look where it got Yasser - holed up in a clapped out building until the day he died.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 6/29/2005 05:15:00 PM

15 Comments:

Blogger Ackers1 said...

It's the same clueless speech he's been giving since.......that would be the last one.

Jon Stewart has a funnier and more perceptive analysis of the crap spinning from this bunch of clueless chickenhawks.

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/videos/headlines/index.jhtml?playVideo=15887

6/29/2005 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

No ackers, you're the clueless one.

American strategy in Iraq today (in terms of orienting military support towards training native troops) was created after the loss of Viet Nam. ON TOP of that there are all the other differences I bothered to list above, which you apparently didn't bother to read.

Do you have some sort of built-in text filter which prevents anything not originating from Juan Cole from being absorbed into your brain?

6/29/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

I read them, each meaningless one. Your conclusions are as idiotic as ever.
"Ultimately of course, the present war in Iraq is what the original neocons were wanting all along: drawing terrorists towards a professional US military outside of US soil;"

Oh how delightful for the Iraqi people. So that's what it was all about. let's really punish a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 by turning it into a wee war zone so the Americans and the terrorists can battle it out.

Today's NYT's editorial is a far more honest and intelligent assessment of the situation and just how good a speech Bush has made.

"We did not expect Mr. Bush would apologize for the misinformation that helped lead us into this war, or for the catastrophic mistakes his team made in running the military operation. But we had hoped he would resist the temptation to raise the bloody flag of 9/11 over and over again to justify a war in a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with the terrorist attacks. We had hoped that he would seize the moment to tell the nation how he will define victory, and to give Americans a specific sense of how he intends to reach that goal - beyond repeating the same wishful scenario that he has been describing since the invasion.

Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking. He told the nation, again and again, that a stable and democratic Iraq would be worth American sacrifices, while the nation was wondering whether American sacrifices could actually produce a stable and democratic Iraq."

6/29/2005 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger reid said...

Here's what IMO appears to be a good article - his sources seem to be good.

Here's another that presents a summary of what IMO is wrong with this conflict point-by-point, sentence-by-sentence.

I'm afraid I can't see Iraq as Bush presents it. Perhaps the allegations in those articles I've linked to aren't wholly true, but it seems to me they have at least equivalent credibility as anything Bush has said today.

6/29/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kimble said...

Bush lied... blah blah
Blood for Oil... blah blah
Haliburton... blah blah
Quagmire... blah blah
Fake turkey... blah blah
Ashcroft is Hitler...blah blah
Patriot Act kills puppies... blah blah
Arab Street... blah blah
Gitmo's a gulag... blah blah
One mans terrorist... blah blah
Invasion bungled... blah blah
Insurgents are the majority... blah blah
Real Iraqis hate the Americans... blah blah
Puppet goverment... blah blah
Arabs cant handle democracy... blah blah
One hundred thousand dead... blah blah
Israel... blah blah blah
Sanctions... blah blah
UN... blah

BLAH BLAH NEOCON BLAH!

6/29/2005 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Ackers, any more unjustifiable personal attacks and you're out of here. Our blog, our rules.

As for your attempt at portraying yourself on the side of the 'innocent Iraqis', pull the other one. New Zealand was founded on the defeat of a religious 'insurgency'. If the Red Coats had listened to you back then, those freaks would have been left free to murder at will both European colonists and other Maori tribes.

If you supported the Iraqi people, then rationally you would support any effort to bring them lasting democracy and peace by the annhilation of terrorists and Ba'athists. You do not, therefore you are either pro-terrorist/Ba'athist or more likely a reactionary aligned with US Democrats who are trying to turn Iraq into a partisan political issue for their own electoral gain. Ie, you are willing to sacrifice the future security of Iraq and Iraqis so long as you can shaft Bush and the US Republicans.

Stop wasting our time and our comments space.

6/29/2005 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Ackkers1, if you are trying to make a point that the Republicians are trying to soften bad news (the amount of casualties comes at great surprise and distress, I am sure) with their "spin" then I agree with you to an extent. Hoping that the "throes" are "last ones" is not the way to say it.

That is not to entirely discount the successes they have, and take pride in recounting.

In terms of splitting hairs with words, I do think the war is over, and the insurgency begun - there is a difference between the war to remove Saddam and disband the defending army, and then the insurgency that sprung up after it.

Given the cost in lives and funds, I do not believe the US is still there just for the oil. Do you?

Kimble said that extremely well.

I think AL makes equally good points.

You seem (to me) more intent on ridiculing Republican word semantics than looking at the bigger picture - especially from the Iraqi citizens point of view.

What's your point? Vote Democrats, because Saddam would still be in power and people would be dying by the hundreds of thousands, but hell, they know how to spin...and you gotta admire that.

Is saying the right thing more important than doing the right thing?

I think the US is trying to develop a sensible exit strategy, with the Iraqi citizens interests at heart. I see lots of criticism but no good alternatives.

6/29/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

I'm neither pro terrorist or pro Democrat. To say the Democrats are trying to turn Iraq into a partisan political issue is missing the point. They have been gutless on the issue. It seems to me that the Republican party and the American people are the ones starting to lead the charge on this one. Any Republican with half a brain must be looking at those poll numbers and starting to realise that this is indeed becoming a very serious political issue - for the Republican Party. The problem is AL I don't look at Iraq and see a nice tidy divide of peace loving would be democrats on one side and terrorists and Baathists on the other. This simplistic attempt to put the world into neat ideological boxes of good and evil doesn't actually do much good in attempting to find a way out of the conundrum the Americans have found themselves trapped in in Iraq. I am so sick of Bush spinning the same old story. He has learnt nothing.

3 years ago the people of Fallujah were not sitting actively plotting the destruction of the United States. I am sure they are not so kindly disposed towards them now.
This terrorist threat that we are now so actively engaged with in Iraq is very much a creature of our own creation and with our present failed policies looks only like getting bigger.

Nothing in his speech gives me confidence that he has any idea of how to extract himself from the disaster that he has created.

"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue,and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

A reality check courtesy of George Orwell.

6/29/2005 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Sorry I missed your post ZenTiger. No I don't think they are necessarily there for the oil -obviously it's part of the bigger picture, if there was no oil we can be well assured they wouldn't be there at all, maybe making appropriate noises in support of democratic reform but certainly not expending lives and money in the way we are seeing now. I'm beginning to think they really were delusional enough to believe it would be easy and they would be greeted as liberators.

The reaspon I'm ridiculing Republican semantics is because they are so ripe for ridicule. Can anyone listen to this tripe for any length of time before there is a disconnect between what you are hearing and what is being reported by the main stream media?

The reason Jon Stewart is so funny is because he is using satire which is also devastatingly accurate.

As for the sensible exit strategy -I'm sorry but that is exactly what I don't think the US is doing - developing a sensible exit strategy. I don't think they had one - much like it has now been revealed they didn't really have a post invasion plan.

Why do you think people such as myself were so opposed to this war? It's not because we are heartless reactionaries who wanted the Iraqi people to suffer any longer under the totalitarian yoke of Sadaam. I was as pleased to see him go as I'm sure you were.

It's just that we have been around long enough to have had a slight inkling of what might have been released from the genie's bottle.

Subsequent events have proved our caution to be justified.

I don't know what the answer is and don't pretend to but I am sick of hearing the same self serving meaningless pap dished up by Bush time and time again.

I know you don't hold truck with the New York Times but I suspect today's editorial is quite an accurate summation of how Americans are feeling. Bush is not addressing their concerns on this issue.

6/29/2005 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger vanzyl said...

Folks when are you going to wake up!!!??? Listen to the lefties. How can we be so blind? You want facts? I'll give you facts, courtesy of (Mikey Moore, Susan Sarandon , most of the Baldwins, 3/4 of the Democrats. Type in Google and the links are all there)

Now as any greenie will tell you
1) Bush and Chaney ordered 9/11
2) Bush stole the first election
and 3) then the bastard went and bloody did it again.
4) The CIA engineered Aids on behalf of the Reps and bible thumpers to deal with the pesky gays.
5) Iraqis hate the US and the few we see say different are simply US plants
6) The moon landing never happened and was simply the US trying to beat the much smarter Russians, who in fact have already landed 12 manned flights on the sun before the US faked a moon landing. (and don't try that capitalist crap that you cannot land on the sun without burning up. They went at night.) They also kept it quite because the workers collective does not have the capitalist's fanatical need for self promotion.

For god sake get it right! The media is all under the influence of the REP and the only credible sources of info are the actors. As we saw again MR Cruise show so beautifully.

6/29/2005 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Ackers1, you said: "I don't know what the answer is and don't pretend to but I am sick of hearing the same self serving meaningless pap dished up by Bush time and time again."

I find I feel the same way about the endless pap dished up by the mainstream media in its "analysis" of the war.

I often wonder if the Bush team think their "accommodating rhetoric" is designed to "calm" those opposing the war - and don't realise it just makes things worse, partly because they are so bad at it (speaking lefty), and partly because many of the detractors have a bigger agenda than just opposing the war.

The NYT editorial sounded like a far more reasoned view of the "left/anti-US in Iraq" crowd in terms of asking for a reasonable solution.

It (to me) seems to come down to the fact that the US stepped in and handed Iraq a golden opportunity. They were expecting the Iraqi to take this opportunity and run with it.

Iraq, rather than being a single nation, united in their new-found freedom, has instead acted like a factionalised bunch of violent, ignorant and ungrateful maniacs intent on getting their own way by killing as many Americans and innocent Iraqi as possible.

Somehow, the US is being blamed for this. They should not be.

"You shouldn't have rescued Iraq, because even though 80% or more of the people will appreciate it, the other 20% will make EVERYONE rue the day a helping hand was extended."

The debatable bit seems to be defining the percentage of maniacs - 1% or 20%?? It seems a lot, but then again, many of the insurgents are foreigners.

Eventually, Iraqi of all types may be longing for the day they live in the peaceful land that was Saddam, content to sacrifice a few percent of the population a year to the alter of Saddam's ambitions.

Of course, by then he may have decided to take on more than just Kuwait, and the information I've seen would not make me surprised to see that he would eventually join North Korea and Iran as new "serious weapons" powers.

So what's the deal? Rather than criticising America, it would be nice to see some good analysis on why the small factions (or big ones - lets get the numbers) in Iraq are so ungrateful they would rather die.

Surely, this is a golden opportunity to explain to the neighbouring Arabs and Persians that 10 minutes before they become a threat to the US, based on the fact that they are all behaving like a bunch of lunatics, they will be nuked out of existence.

This situation doesn't prove American imperialism. It proves the insurgents irrational, depraved and violent radicalism.

Then maybe some-one who really understands the situation, that the Iraqi insurgents will listen to, can quote the correct verse from the Koran to ensure Allah saves them.

6/29/2005 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Stan said...

Looks like the Americans have started using some mine protected vehicles. This article has some good links to each of them:

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001233.html

Interestingly enough, none of them seem to have as much protection as the Australian Bushmaster. Looks like a good sales opportunity (and a useful interoperability capability) went begging.

6/29/2005 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger reid said...

Interesting that the same points come out every time Iraq is raised. The points depend on your fundamental belief as to whether the war was a justifiable response to terrorist aggression or an unjustified attack for darker motives possibly involving oil and/or other supranational dynamics.

Personally I'd love to see a list of motives/assertions and evidence thereof; both for the original war and with respect to what's happening/going to happen now. For example, why is the US building permanent bases in Iraq? Is the Iraqi Army being trained not for internal security but for other purposes: e.g. to invade Iran? Who/what is driving the insurgent groups towards civil war with each other and why? Who is providing the insurgents with the highly accurate intelligence allowing precision attacks on US patrols? What is happening with the infrastructure rebuilding?

Calm and respectful discussion of those and many other questions would expand knowledge. Otherwise, one just goes round the same circles, everytime this subject is mentioned.

6/29/2005 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Absolutely the best thing I've read on Bush's speech. Amazing what a difference a day makes plus a good helping of intelligence and historical knowledge.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1517910,00.html

6/30/2005 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger reid said...

Here's another take on the same speech ackers.

6/30/2005 11:15:00 PM  

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