Leaving Iraq
Posted by Lurch on November 30, 2006 • Comments (6)TrackBack (0)Permalink

Things are tough in Iraq these days. The US is caught in a three-way tug of war with the Muqtada al-Sadr, whose organization, the largest of the Shiite power blocs, comprises much of the political support Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki enjoys. Sadr’s Mahdi Army is the largest private armed force in the country, and it is believed that members of this army have heavily infiltrated the national police and Iraqi army. It is rumored to have as many as 70,000 fighters, but no one is really sure. Then there is the Sunni contingent, which is reinforced by a large contingent of Ba’athists and former members of the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard – battle hardened veterans of eight years of war with Iran. Estimates of this force run as high as 50,000. These two groups shoot and kill each other, and collect the occasional American scalp when opportunity presents itself. The third group is the legendary and almost mythical al-Qaeda in Iraq. Long pointed out by Bu$hCo and CENTCOM as the greatest danger facing humanity since Noah’s flood, realistic estimates place its strength at perhaps 1,500 fighters.

A recent Marine Corps report admitted that Anbar province was basically lost, and unrecoverable, given the US troop strength available to fight there. There are perhaps 15,000 US troops in the immediate vicinity of Baghdad, and, joined with the 12,000 or so Iraqi Army and National Police forces, they are hard-pressed to maintain any real semblance of order and security. Recently there has been talk of surging 20,000 to 50,000 troops into Iraq to get a handle on all the death and killing and bring some semblance of peace to the capital city at least. This talk emanates primarily from John McCain and Joe Lieberman, two morally corrupt politicians who would consign their grandchildren to walk point in Sadr City if it guaranteed them the White House. General John Abizaid recently appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and said he didn’t need the troops that Senators McCain and Lieberman have been posturing for.

Since we don’t have 600,000 troops to adequately police Iraq and train up its army, we should start planning for our inevitable evacuation. Some have postulated this will be an orderly, calm withdrawal “over the horizon,” while others have compared it to a Chosin Reservoir retreat, but with much more fighting to escape.

Since Mr Bu$h will never permit an American evacuation of Iraq because that would be an explicit sign of yet another failure in a lifetime of failures, some people have even compared the situation to the German Sixth Army’s position at Stalingrad, although that’s probably a bit extreme.

Steve Gilliard has examined some of the possibilities here, here, and here.

He doesn’t make it look attractive.

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Comments

Posted by: wkmaier at November 30, 2006 10:42 AM

Chimpy will stay and fight with your last son/daughter.

Lurch, good grown-up bit on NPR this morning. You can read a bit there, if you can't get the sound (about a 5 muniute segment, there is also a book as you will see).

My favorite part was the Republican calling the Administration's refusal to talk to Syria and Iran as behavior that is "infantile".

Posted by: Lurch at November 30, 2006 12:39 PM

Thanks for that, WK. I heard a portion of the radio piece. Very interesting.

Posted by: the cyber ruffian at November 30, 2006 01:03 PM

I had just been at Gilliard's before dropping by here, and no, it doesn't sound very attractive. It's too bad Bush doesn't get irony, he said this morning in his press conference that no one should expect the Baker Commission's report to lead to some kind of "graceful exit" from Iraq.

Indeed, if Sadr decides to squeeze the supply line or the Green Zone or both, I don't expect our exit will be very graceful. I keep thinking about something you and I both noticed last Spring or Summer, the deployment of a unit of those gunships (C-130s?) to the theater. Handy things to have around if you're having to conduct a fighting retreat.

Posted by: Lurch at November 30, 2006 02:56 PM

Well, he's right of course, since he refuses to consider leaving while he's in office. As I and many others have said, that would be proof that he is fallible, and not G_d's Annointed Messenger.

I hope we will be able to conjure up some sort of good faith agreement that will allow to unass Iraq without imitating the British Army's retreat from Kabul in the First Afghan War.

I also remember about the AC-130s. They were a discussion topic in some post. With their high ammunition capacity and long loiter ability they could be very important - unless the Iraqis really do have all the SAMs and MANPADs Bu$hCo claimed they have. I wouldn't want to see that being the only thing they were right about.

Posted by: the cyber ruffian at November 30, 2006 04:00 PM

No one would want to see that. Funny you should mention Afghanistan. I thought the Pakistani Foreign Minister said something to the effect of NATO can't win, they should negotiate some kind of power sharing agreement with the Taliban. I thought I saw that somewhere yesterday, and yet no one seems to be commenting on it. Did I imagine the whole thing? Seems to me to be pretty significant.

It's impossible to say today, while we are living this history in the making, but I wonder if a hundred years from now the failure in Afghanistan will be seen as more significant and more disastrous than the defeat in Iraq?

First Afghan War - was that the one where a single guy, a doctor I think, got out alive?

Posted by: Lurch at November 30, 2006 04:35 PM

That was a good catch, Ruffian. I saw that yesterday evening, made a mental note to write something about it but the Sleep Fairy erased the note. Someone did write a little something about it and as I took the commentary it was basically a case of the way a really smart opponent will tell you to your face in a very, very circumspect way that you got jacked after he wins.

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