2005 December 04 Sunday
Orwellians In Bush Cabinet Out Of Step On Iraq

The Bushies need to get more skilled like the communists of old when changing between versions of official reality.

-Rice told interviewers late last month that the U.S. would not need to maintain current troop levels in Iraq "very much longer." Rumsfeld told radio talk show host Sean Hannity that the war would wind down over the next few years. But Bush, in his Naval Academy speech, gave no sense of a departure date. That, he said, would be decided by commanders on the ground and not "politicians in Washington."

-Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference last Tuesday that he would no longer use the word "insurgents," instead substituting "enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government." But Bush used insurgents the next day at the Naval Academy and it appeared 14 times in a 35-page accompanying document issued by the White House.

I'm surprised Bush is not just calling the insurgents "terrorists". After all, his official message on Iraq is that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror, right? Or did he change that while I was busy focusing on other matters? Is Iraq once more primarily about spreading democracy or maybe did WMDs make a come-back?

Dick Cheney's becoming like Spiro T. Agnew attacking all those nattering nabobs of negativism.

Cheney is popular with the party's conservative base. "Cheney has become the junkyard dog" on Iraq, said Stephen Hess, a political analyst who was a speechwriter in the Eisenhower and Nixon White Houses. "He's speaking out to hold the president's base, and he's not giving any quarter."

Well, on Iraq I'm negative. The US troop draw-down next year is going to happen because the US military is overextended and is running out of soldiers to rotate in. The partial withdrawal will be spun as a sign of progress whereas it is really a sign of overreach by an Administration that does not want to pay the political costs of proposing a draft.

Update Richard Clarke told Stephen Colbert that the new acronym for the enemy is "Elgis" or El-Gees" for Enemies of the Legitimate Government of Iraq. Fighting the Elgis is part of the Global War on Terror or Gwot. According to the Bushies we can't win the Gwot until we defeat the Elgis.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 December 04 07:46 PM  Mideast Iraq

Stephen said at December 4, 2005 10:43 PM:

Do people really swallow George's good'ole boy blarney? He's saying that "commanders on the ground" will decide when to finish a war and no one has remotely called him on that arrant nonsense.

I suppose it just goes to prove that people truly deserve the government they get.

Randall Parker said at December 4, 2005 10:55 PM:


Yes, there really are people who believe absurd nonsense that comes out of whoever is leading their tribe.

davod said at December 5, 2005 6:10 AM:

If the US is running out of soldiers to totate in and out of Iraq you have to ask yourself whether the tooth to tail ratio is to great. If we cannot support the level of effort in Iraq we have a really big problem with our military.

Ivan Kirigin said at December 5, 2005 7:30 AM:

"if we cannot support the level of effort in Iraq we have a really big problem with our military."

I'm sure in a more serious situation, the limits on deployment duration would be decreased. Further, in a direr situation, the government would ask more people to enlist, and pay them more. This would mean more deficit spending, but would prevent a military defeat.

Any conventional army can be defeated by the US military. Peacekeeping for tens of millions is a different story.

The discussion in the original post about labels is a bit silly. Everyone knows who is fighting, and debating semantics is ridiculous.

Further, the timetable issue isn't complicated:
Over the next 1-2 years, we are expected to have more Iraqi troops to rely upon. This means troop levels can go down without hurting performance. Local commanders assessing the abilities of the Iraqi forces will make these decisions. This is not a timetable: it is an expectation. Putting an explicit date on full withdrawal would put the situation in unneeded risk if, for whatever reason, this timetable became untenable.

Stephen said at December 5, 2005 4:57 PM:

Ivan, I can't help but recall the 'vietnamisation' strategy of an earlier era. In that, the South Vietnamese Army had 15yrs worth of US training, funding and a high veteran:recruit ratio. But it nevertheless collapsed entirely just under 2yrs after final US withdrawal, even though on paper it was capable of holding its own.

Randall Parker said at December 5, 2005 7:47 PM:


Bush and Rumsfeld are playing the "silly" labels game. I'm just drawing attention to it.

As for expectations: Do track records count with you? Read the Mark Ames eXile essay "Freaky Iraqis" for an overview of just how much the Bush Administration's Iraqi military troop readiness figures have bounced all around over the last few years. If you believe the Bushies then you are riding the Bush Administration's Rollercoaster of Hope (see the chart in the article).

Ivan Kirigin said at December 6, 2005 6:24 AM:


Iraq isn't Vietnam. Just let the myth go...


I base most of my expectations on accounts from military bloggers. You've already stated you don't trust them to see straight, so I won't belabor the point.

One distinction that is often made that can't be found in a sound bite is of the capability of the Iraqi forces (let alone the group to which they belong). You have:
- those in training
- those who can accompany a group of coalition forces as a minority
- those who can accompany a group of coalition forces as a majority
- fully lead with coalition advisors
- act completely alone

Since there will probably always be advisors, the second to last category is the goal. Many security operations are being controlled by Iraqis, while US forces are freed to go on the offensive. This also relates to why there hasn't been a constant decrease in casualties: when you shoot at someone, they tend to shoot back.

Besides, my whole point was that the talk of a time-table is clear. Your original post made it sound like there was doublespeak. If your new point is that their coherent statements are unlikely given the track record, well, then maybe you should update the post.

That is, unless you would like to claim both that the statements are both incoherent and unlikely.

"This restaurant is horrible. The food tastes awful and the portions are so small!"

Stephen said at December 6, 2005 2:33 PM:

Ivan, I didn't say it was Vietnam, I merely referred to the failed "Vietnamisation policy", defined as:

(1) Vietnamization

First, it was necessary to reduce American casualty rates and the number of combat troops in Vietnam. To this end, Nixon defined his policy as "Vietnamization" -- the idea that South Vietnamese would gradually assume a greater combat role and ultimately eliminate the need for American ground forces. Because the US would not withdraw abruptly, the policy of Vietnamization would require time. The domestic political objective was to convince the public that the Army of South Vietnam could eventually handle the war on their own.

I suspect that nothing would seem out of place if you substituted 'Iraq' for 'Vietnam' in the above quote. Then again, there is a difference - things are going to hell much faster in Iraq than they did in Vietnam.

Oh, and for some delicious irony, the next definition is:

(2) The "Politics of Polarization"

To buy time, Nixon had to build a larger and more reliable base of support within the American public. His popular vote margin in the 1968 election was razor thin. However, to his advantage, the Democratic coalition was shattered in 1968 and there were political opportunities. To exploit these opportunities, the administration would pursue a "politics of polarization" in which it would, at one and the same time, appeal to a "silent majority" and attempt to isolate opponents and paint them, in one manner or another, as extreme.

gcochran said at December 6, 2005 5:46 PM:

If everyone knew who we were fighting in Iraq, public support for the war would be even lower than it is. Support is concentrated among people who believe that we found weapons of mass destruction, who believe that Iraq was behind 9-11, and who believe that we're fighting lots of international terrorists, instead of local tribesmen.

For Bush, ignorance is strength.

Randall Parker said at December 6, 2005 7:38 PM:


Two facts can be true at the same time. One can speak about one of them without bringing up the other one.

1) The Bush Administration uses double speak.

2) The Bush Administration makes wrong predictions about Iraq and has been doing so for years.

I do not make both points in every post I make on Iraq. I do not see the point of doing so.

As for the military bloggers: They've got terrible track records on predictions too.

As for the Iraqis in the training pipeline: Some have left the pipeline and left the Iraqi military. Some have joined the insurgency. Some stay in the military but are not much use.

Why should it take so long to build up the Iraqi military? Iraq had a military under Saddam. There's no shortage of people in the country who have had military training. What they lack is will to fight for us or for the government of Iraq.

silchiuk said at December 7, 2005 12:43 PM:

Ivan, these being trues believer here. Nothing is being enough to divest the believers from their positions. These long listings and not supporting. Very bad logic.

FriendlyFire said at December 9, 2005 2:10 PM:


Do you watch the Daily show / Corbert report ? Or did you mearley pick up on a reported story ?
They had Clarke on the Daily show for an interview. Which was more or less drew the same conclusions.

Randall Parker said at December 9, 2005 8:12 PM:

Friendly Fire,

I saw Colbert interview Clarke. Didn't see the Daily Show interview.

Hero said at March 4, 2006 4:11 AM:

I love this site so so so much :) Cool site!!

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