Thursday, November 30, 2006

Iraq III: Quotes du Jour on the War

"In the face of escalating civil war, of an increasingly Hobbesian conflict of each against all, the calls still coming from the U.S. military, the administration and Capitol Hill to step up our training of Iraqi forces seem light-years off the mark. The problem with Iraqi security isn't that Iraqi forces are poorly trained. It's that, like the rest of their countrymen, like the very government whose uniform they wear, they're not really invested in fighting for a unified, nonsectarian Iraq. Why do we expect them to defend an ideal that their countrymen either never believed in or were compelled to abandon under pressure of civil war?

"But on matters Iraqi, much of the Beltway -- and not just the administration -- remains impervious to fact. "We've got to get the Iraqi army and police better equipped, better trained and into the fight," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey declared recently. "And I think we've got 24 months." The police, of course, are already into the fight, many of them working with Shiite militias to execute Sunnis. They are, from any dispassionate perspective, proficient enough. Train them for 24 months and they will be the terror of the Earth.

"We have plumb run out of mission in Iraq. We have enemies galore, but, other than the Kurds, precious few friends. We defend the idea of Iraq in the absence of Iraqis willing to do the same. We are at best a buffer -- unable to deter the daily atrocities but ensuring by our presence that they won't grow cataclysmically worse. Since we cannot deter the sectarian polarization, however, the cataclysm will follow our leave-taking whether it comes sooner or later."


"Bush simply has failed to run his war. Historian Eliot Cohen describes how, in contrast, the best American wartime president conducted himself: 'Lincoln had not merely to select his generals, but to educate, train and guide them. To this end he believed that he had to master the details of war, from the technology to the organization and movement of armies, if only to enable himself to make informed judgments about general officers.'

"Bush has taken the opposite approach and — for all his swagger and protectiveness of executive prerogatives — is becoming a disturbing study in lassitude in the executive branch."

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