2005 October 30 Sunday
Loss Of Libby As Aide Will Weaken Cheney
Part of the influence of US Vice President Dick Cheney derived from his indicted aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby's ability to work the bureaucracy for information.
Cheney allies were sprinkled across the bureaucracy, even in the State Department, and they helped keep Libby in the information loop. After Wolfowitz left the administration to become president of the World Bank, the number three spot at the Pentagon was given to Eric Edelman, once Libby's deputy in Cheney's office.
"His staff intervened at select but critical junctures when they thought State was going to push policy off track," said one Cheney ally who works elsewhere in the administration.
Bush's top people and their neoconservative aides and neoconservative allies in the press and think tanks are the authors of the Iraq debacle.
Here's the first praise of Condi Rice I've read that has substance behind it: She blocks Cheney.
The power of the vice president's office appears to have diminished somewhat in Bush's second term, in part because of Libby's legal troubles and also because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proven to be an effective counterweight, administration officials said. But Cheney remains extremely powerful, in part because of the effectiveness of Libby, who ran a small but talented staff that kept its pulse on the bureaucracy. At key moments, Libby or Cheney would weigh in, often tipping the scales in the direction they sought.
You go girl!
Will Cheney's weakening in any way change the course of events in Iraq? Does Libby's indictment make a US withdrawal from Iraq any more likely? The US death toll in October 2005 is running well above the war's average. So much for the idea that government Iraqi soldiers are shouldering more of the burden of fighting. If they are then the insurgents are growing more effective faster than the Iraqi military. What's Cheney's explanation for this? How does Bush explain it? Well, they just ignore the basic facts.
“More attacks” does not necessarily mean “more effective”. It's all a bit too reductionist. More deaths = Things are worse.
Things are different. Things change very quickly. To sum it up in "effectiveness" is a bit silly. Read this:
Alternatively, I could over simplify the situation: there are more attacks, meaning the insurgents are getting desperate. They're losing!
I won't disagree with the comments on Rice. She is smart and gaining power. Few should complain.
October 2005 has a US death toll daily rate that is higher than for all but a few months of this war. StrategyPage can spin it all they like. But the basic daily US death rate is not going down.
I do not see this as excessively reductionist. The war has been going on for years. The Iraqis have these many battalions. Why isn't the US death rate going down?
What I hear from the Panglossians is:
1) The terrorists/insurgents are getting killed.
2) The supply routes and infrastructure of the insurgents is getting destroyed.
3) US intelligence quality is greatly improving with great strides, ya da, ya da, ya da.
4) The US military is learning all sorts of tricks and tactics.
5) The US military is improving its equipment and coming up with better designs rapidly.
6) The Iraqi military is expanding size and capability and taking over lots of the fighting.
How can all this be true and yet October 2005 has a higher US death rate than all but a few of the months of the war? Surely the Panglossians are leaving out some facts or distorting the truth.
"How can all this be true and yet October 2005 has a higher US death rate than all but a few of the months of the war? Surely the Panglossians are leaving out some facts or distorting the truth."
Ok, but then it really seems that in the year 2006, Iraq might disintegrate into chaos. At the moment, we shall see who will fill the vacuum in the Middle East...
Any guesses for the year 2006 and beyond? One reason the US dollar is important in the world, is because oil is officially traded in US dollars. But then, if the US loses credibility and power in the Middle East, then there is a high probability that a basket of other currencies, especially Euro might start competing with the US dollar in the oil trade. But if the oil trades are no longer in US dollars, then the chances are very high that the US will not be able to sustain the same trade deficit. This means that there will be a disaster in the world later, because the US lost the manufacturing base, and there will be a drastic lowering of life standards in the United States as a result of much higher costs at least temporarily, and the US can also be forced to pay $200 per barrel of oil. This implies not only economic and social chaos, but later on even violence will result.
I link to StrategyPage to demonstrate a thought-out description of the situation, not to show a group who gloss over everything to say "things are great".
It isn't "things are worse" or "things are better". It is a gradual growth in competance and number of Iraqi national guard & army units, combined with more offensive strikes against "hives" of insurgents, and more. This might also precipitate more attacks from insurgents.
To boil it down to a single snap-shot number is wrong.
"fill the vacuum in the Middle East..."
Iraq is militarized to such a great degree, you can't call it a vacuum. The only question is who will quit first (alternatively, if the supply of insurgents from Syria & Iran get cut off, Iraq will stabilize.)
The petro-dollar is very complicated. No one wants to rock the boat, even OPEC. There would have to be a very concerted effort from the EU nations, Russia, & OPEC in order to trade in the Euro in such a way as to precipitate a collapse of the dollar.
Why haven't all the supposedly positive developments decreased the US casualty rate?
First, you should normalize by the number and scale of attacks. It is very easy for a very small number of people to make large scale attacks. You could have a dwindling number of insurgents, while also having far more active and deadly insurgents.
Further, the goal in Iraq is not minimized US casualties. It is maximized insurgent elimination, through arrests, swapping sides, or kills. A good illustration: the offensive in Fallujah most recently was very bad for the insurgents. It was a blow logistically and militarily, just from the body count. More US soldiers died in the offensive.