24 January 2008

It seems like the Democrats, as can be expected, are up in arms about El Presidente's latest attempt to present himself as having a strong bond with the so-called Iraqi government - one that will keep American troops there for as long as John McCain thinks they should be.

Among the top critics is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). She has used the past two Democratic presidential debates to blast President Bush for his effort, as she put it Monday in South Carolina, "to try to bind the United States government and his successor to his failed policy."

Her concerns have been echoed by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and other Democratic lawmakers who are focusing their fire on the administration's plans for a long-term commitment to Iraq, after gaining little traction for their efforts to force a faster withdrawal of U.S. combat troops there.

(Somewhere, in the back of my mind, a little voice tells me how easy I was told the Iraq operation was supposed to be. We were supposed to be down to 30,000 troops there by the end of 2003. The President, after all, stood in front of a banner proclaiming to the world, "Mission Accomplished!"

Another little voice reminds me that I spent most of 2004 in Iraq, as casualties mounted, the Iraqi economy declined and my nation got sucked deeper into a quagmire, and it hasn't gotten any better, surge or no surge. Thanks for the reality check, other little voice!)
So here we are in 2008, nearly five years after the Iraq War started, and the Bush administration - one which equates rational problem-solving with defeat - is doing everything it can to basically say "not OUR problem!" They are setting up the next administration - assuming it's Democratic - for failure.
...Bush and his advisers express the private conviction that any presidential successor will find it hard to disengage from Iraq, no matter what is said on the campaign trail. One senior official, not authorized to speak publicly, said Clinton or any another would-be president will eventually welcome the agreement that the Bush administration intends to negotiate with the Iraqis.
"Is the next president going to say, 'I don't want to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq'? Maybe," this official said. "But I think they are going to want to, and we will give them the proper authorities."

I'm calling bullshit on this one. What this guy is really saying is that the only administration capable of working on a deal with Iraq is the current one, and what they are doing is locking Bush's successor into an agreement that won't give him/her any wiggle room to end the war.

Besides, "al-Qaeda in Iraq?" Really? No such animal existed until 2003, and even then, it's still a stretch to assume everyone there is AQI.

So, without further ado, I challenge all of our Senators and Congresspersons - of BOTH PARTIES - to challenge the administration on this.

BushCo's gone too long unchallenged, and when they are, it seems that all too often Congress caves.

It's time for this to end.

If the Dems are so up-in-arms about this, they must carry out their Constitutionally mandated duty and force the administration to run this agreement - which sounds more like a treaty - through the Senate.

Random thought of the day: Mayday is May 1, which happens to be the anniversary of the infamous speech on the deck of the USS Lincoln.

Has anyone given any thought to rebranding Mayday as 'Mission Accomplished Yet?' day ?

Also, I saw this little gem on the MNF-I Web site:

In August, electrical production of megawatts exceeded 5,000 for 25 days – producing enough power for approximately 450,000 homes.

That's it? After nearly five years?
Mission Accomplished, my ass.

17 January 2008

A tour is still a tour...

Yeah, sure, I'll take 12 months over 15 months any day, but the fact remains that our policies in Iraq - the Mission that Has Not Yet Been Accomplished - is still requiring men and women to go over again and again.

GEN Casey tries, I think, to sound magnanimous about this, but the statement he gives the AP gives me pause:

Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, said that as the number of brigades in Iraq comes down from 20 to 15 over the next several months, officials will be able to begin increasing the amount of time soldiers spend at home between tours.
But Casey cautioned that he is "not going public with that or final with that until I'm sure we're not going back'' on it.

So, if he's not going public, why in hell's he talking to AP about it?

And it seems that our intrepid reporter from AP didn't ask the pertinent questions regarding our previous commitments in Afghanistan (anyone remember that?), or the fact that President Bush seems hellbent on firing up yet another war with Iran. Let's see what that does for rotation schedules, General!

America's current rotations are barely tenable as is - I know of a Navy officer doing ground duty in Iraq because there basically wasn't an Army/USMC person to fill that billet - and now GWB is doing all he can to falsely ratchet up the stakes in the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, as evidenced last week.

With the new, contrived threats showing up on the military's radar screen - and sooner rather than later, methinks - I'm gonna go back to a long-held position of mine and see if it passes the IV test:

(From the AP story)
Plans are to increase the number of the active-duty Army, Army Guard and Army Reserve by 74,000 overall, with the active-duty force growing by 65,000 to a total of 547,000. In October, top Army leaders said they planned to move faster to increase the size of the force - adding the full 74,000 soldiers by 2010, two years sooner than originally planned.

OK...America's fighting two wars. One's got a pretty large contingent in one nation (Iraq, about 130,000 troops, plus contractors, diplomats, engineers, etc.).

The other war, the GWOT (or the RGWOT, Real Global War On Terror, as Brandon Friedman of VoteVets accurately calls it) requires about 30,000 US troops plus attendant CIV personnel in Afghanistan, plus others (hard to tell how many thousands) deployed worldwide in fights against Abu Sayyaf and other anti-US groups.

Keep in mind the US is done with one surge in Iraq, and is trying to mount another in Afghanistan (the "oh, yeah, that war!" response).

The current state of the Army and USMC - end-strength, equipment, OPTEMPO (operational tempo) and strain on soldiers/Marines and their families is running those services into the dirt.

And the Navy and USAF, I fear, are not far behind.

All the while, our nation - involved in two separate and distinct wars - chooses to increase the Army by a paltry 74,000 Soldiers over three years? While the specter of a new war hangs over America's head?

Seriously? War with Iran will force America to institute a full-scale, no-holds-barred draft. As in all males 18 to 45. Because it won't just be Iran that America fights - it will be World War III. The implications are global.

GEN Casey, SecDef Gates and (most of all) the President are more out of touch than we really realize.

It's indicative, yet again, as to how little planning went into the Iraq War. It's coming back to bite our nation - you and me - in the butt.