Abizaid: “Cost in Blood and Treasure”
2nd Lt.: “The War is Lost”
Vice President Dick Cheney needs to talk to his generals more often. Michael Hedges of the Houston Chronicle reports that Gen. John Abizaid, who has recently consulted with US commanders in Iraq, said today that the guerrilla movement in Iraq is as strong now as it was 6 months ago. Dick Cheney recently said it was in its “last throes.” If so, the throes appear likely to go on for decades. Abizaid, however, conveyed an unrealistic impression that the Iraqi forces will take over the heavy lifting any time soon, and he continued to deny that the US needed more troops on the ground. CNN’s Jane Arraf reported on Wednesday from Anbar province that virtually no one among the Lt. Colonels and fighting troops on the ground in Iraq thinks they have enough boots on the ground.
‘ “The most important thing I saw this time is that there is increasing confidence in Iraqi security forces to get the job done,” said Abizaid. Abizaid dismissed the notion that more American troops were needed in Iraq. “There are more troops on the ground than ever before,” he said. “Iraqi troops are coming on line and they are fighting.” . . . Among Abizaid’s other concerns was the danger of a civil war in Iraq. . . Abizaid . . . was told that the U.S. war effort would likely stretch into the indefinite future. “It is like running a marathon. You hit the wall at 21 miles or 22 miles,” he said Friday. “If you give up, then you lose the prospect for victory or success. We’re not at the 21-mile mark yet, but we are heading for the wall. “We need to work our way and fight our way through the wall. It is not going to be done without work and without sacrifice. And it is not going to be done without cost in blood and treasure.”
General Abizaid has always been a straight shooter, and as a Lebanese-American Arabic speaker, has a more detailed and realistic idea of the situation than most US officers. But if he was quoted accurately, I don’t think he was delivering any good news.
There appears to be a big gap in attitudes in Iraq between the generals and the subaltern officers and servicemen. An academic sent me this:
“Yesterday I talked with a 2nd Lt and West Point grad who has just come back from Iraq. He says flat out that the war is lost, that “we” only control territory when the troops are there in massive numbers and that “they” take over as soon as the troops leave, that the army is over-extended and morale is terrible — drug use is escalating — that there still isn’t enough armor, that the Iraqi army and police are worse than useless, and that senior officers are convinced that it is Vietnam redux. One of his classmates a 23-year old was killed last week — for nothing. There are signs that this story is belatedly beginning to sink in across the country, but he, and I, fears that it is too late.”
We saw this sort of thing in Vietnam, too. The Generals are the last to know, and they always think victory is around the corner if only they can convince the US public to commit “blood and treasure” for a few decades.