Abizaid Opposes Withdrawal, Increase in Troop Levels;
Nearly 100 Killed, including 6 GIs
Hayden: Almost Satannic Terror
Reuters was able to find out about and report nearly 100 killings in the ongoing Iraqi civil war on Wednesday. Police discovered 55 bodies in Baghdad alone, and there were car bombings, firefights and assassinations. The deaths of 6 US troops were announced.
Here’s how I interpret the contretemps Wednesday between Gen. John Abizaid and Republican Senator John McCain.. McCain wants to send another division, about 20,000 US troops, to Iraq.
Abizaid told him:
1) that would produce only a temporary improvement since the US doesn’t have a spare division to send to Iraq for the long term and
2) Increased US troop levels are counterproductive because they remove the incentive for the Iraqi government and army to get their acts together and fight the guerrillas and militias effectively and
3) If Iraq is going to come back to better days, it will have to be primarily with Iraqi troops and
4) Iraqi troops are not now doing the job, so if more US troops are sent to Iraq it should be as trainers and units available for joint patrols, not as independent combat troops.
I’d just like to point out that most of Abizaid’s arguments could also be deployed for a phased withdrawal, which he opposed. My senator, Carl Levin supports the phased withdrawal idea, and so do I. What if it isn’t just an increased US presence that would remove the incentive for Iraqi leaders to compromise and/or fight effectively? What if *present* troop levels do that? I say, let’s take out a division ASAP (20,000 men) and make it clear that we’re never putting a division back in to replace it. Then let the Iraqis try to fill the resulting vacuum themselves. Give them armored vehicles, tanks, helicopter gunships, and a nice wood-panelled room where they can negotiate with one another.
And then after a couple of months I would pull out another US division.
Such a phased withdrawal is not guaranteed to succeed. It has a better chance of succeeding than the current policy.
Matthew Stannard at the SF Chronicle on the Ministry of Higher Education kidnappings.
Here’s what Director of Central Intelligence Michael Hayden really thinks of the Iraq situation:
‘ MICHAEL HAYDEN: In Iraq today there is criminality and lawlessness on a broad scale. In Iraq today there are rival militias competing for power.
Any Iraqi leader, no matter how skilful, is going to be hard-pressed to reconcile the divergent perspectives that I’ve mentioned. Divergent perspectives that Shi’a and Sunnis and Kurds bring to the table and also unfortunately very often bring to the streets.
And to deal with that, against a backdrop of an intentional al-Qaeda campaign of almost satanic terror.’
Here’s what Bush makes him say:
‘ MICHAEL ROWLAND: The CIA chief believes progress is being made in Iraq, but the gains are very slow. ‘
You can’t see it because this is not video, but I am doing one of those Jon Stewart double takes at the juxtaposition of these two assertions.
Louise Roug of the LA Times reports that Iraq’s health system is very ill.
The ‘I hate to say I told you so’ Department: French Foreign Minister Dominique Villepin let Washington have it on Wednesday, complaining that the US-induced civil war has made Western policy success in the Middle East far more difficult. I guess we’ll have to go back to calling them French Fries, even if the French never knew what we were talking about in the first place in that regard. They just call them ‘fried potatoes’ and I think they think they are American in origin.