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Bush's Iraq 'bluster' wrong: Expert

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Election 2008
[What is this?]
Posted April 10, 2008 12:04 PM
The Swamp

by Frank James

Wow! Anthony Cordesman, one of Washington's most-respected national-security experts, just let President Bush have it. He opened up a can of you-know-what on the commander-in-chief.

In a new commentary on Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker's testimony this week, he reads the riot act to Bush in no uncertain terms.

"The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camouflage a leadership vacuum," writes Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

"Inarticulate presidential bluster" aka IPB. What do you really think, Mr. Cordesman?

Cordesman's outrage come from the inability of Petraeus and Crocker to provide a clear path to success in Iraq. But he doesn't blame them. He blames the man he accuses of IPB.

In a nutshell, Cordesman believes the U.S. has to lay down the law to Iraqi officials, give the Iraqis a limited amount of time to get their act together and head for the exits once the planned timeline reaches its end.

He acknowledges that the timing and U.S. actions will have some play in the joints in order to take into account conditions on the ground. But he wanted to see more of a plan from Petraeus and Crocker than he did. Mind you, Cordesman believes U.S. troops should stay in Iraq. He's on the president's side there.

Cordesman ends his piece this way:

If President Bush cannot provide such plans, he will cement his status as a failed president who has at best relied on the competence of the US military, and on the systematic waste of America’s political capital We need real leadership and we need it now. The President, and only the President, has this responsibility.

That does it. If Cordesman was ever on the White House Christmas card list, he's probably off now.

Read Cordeman's entire analysis below:

The Failed Crocker-Petraeus Testimony and a “Conditions-Based” Strategy for Staying in Iraq

Anthony H. Cordesman

I believe there is still a case for staying in Iraq, but I also believe that Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus decisively failed to make it. My sympathy lies with the senators and congressmen who tried for hours to get some hint of a clear plan or strategy for the future, and got nothing but “conditions based” statements of uncertainty. In saying this, I do not blame Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus. It is not their function to develop a clear strategy and set of conditions for stating in Iraq. It is the responsibility of the President, and this President seems incapable of that kind of leadership.

We should not be wandering into the void without a clear plan for the future, and with open ended and undefined commitments. Five years into a war, we should have clear and well-defined goals and priorities for the coming years although these clearly will have to change according to conditions. The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camouflage a leadership vacuum.

There should be a US strategy, plan, and five year program budget for the Iraq War, just as there should be one for Afghanistan. This plan should not consist of rigid milestones, and it should be based as soon as possible on Iraqi plans rather than US ones. In fact, the most discouraging single aspect of the Crocker-Petraeus testimony is the lack of any coherent Iraq plans for political accommodation, effective governance, creating independent Iraqi security forces, and economic development five years after the US-led invasion. We should not have to lead at this point; we should be helping an ally implement its own goals and plans at a pace that it feels is practical and that it can actually achieve.

In reality, however, the present Iraqi government has tenuous legitimacy, and little practical competence. It is led by a compromise prime minister from a minority party and even its leading Shi’ite coalition is a fragmented mess that would probably never have emerged if Iraqis had had the opportunity to vote for open lists and candidates they knew and that represented them at a local and regional level. The shock of 35 years of Ba’ath tyranny, and the long series of mistakes the US made after the invasion, has also left the Iraqi government with a weak and uncoordinated central government with limited planning and administrative capabilities.

Accordingly, one condition-based reason for staying in Iraq is that the US should visibly and constantly press the present Iraqi government hard for clear plans that will show why the US succeed in Iraq. These Iraqi plans should include a comprehensive plan for moving towards political accommodation with specific proposals for legislation and implementation. There should be a clear Iraqi plan for developing Iraqi forces that goes beyond increasing force quantity and focuses on honest and realistic measures of force quality and specific goals and timeframes for phasing out dependence on US forces. There should be an Iraq five year plan, with a budget, for development and one that sets clear goals for phasing out dependence on US and other foreign aid.

Creating such plans will almost certainly take the Iraq government time, and they probably will not be complete until the next Administration takes office. They will then constantly have to be changed and updated, and there will be a long series of problems and delays along the way. “Conditions-based” planning is very different, however, from no plan at all, and if the US is to persist in Iraq, Iraq must give it the reasons to do so and show it is moving towards true sovereignty and independence.

The US should not, however wait on the present Iraqi government. It needs to define its own strategy, plans, budgets; and use them to step up the pressure on the Iraqi central government. The US has every reason to set its own goals for political accommodation, and some and should be conditions-based criteria for staying in Iraq. The US should only stay in Iraq if there are fair and open provincial and local elections by the end of 2008, and fair and “open list” national elections in 2009. It should be clear to all Iraqis that the US will not favor the current central government in the national elections, or Dawa and the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq in the provincial and local elections, and it will not stay or support governments that are not based on UN-supervised elections and legitimate representation.

The Congress, the US military, and the American people also have every right to go into the coming US election with a far clearer basis for judging what the US is seeking to do in Iraq over the coming years and whether US plans and goals are practical. In practice, this means having well-defined and public US plans for Iraqi force development and for shifting US military forces out of their combat role to a much lower presence and the role of strategic overwatch. It means having clear US plans for phasing out most development aid, and transferring fiscal responsibility to Iraq. These plans will again have to be conditions-based, but the US should make it clear how it seeks to change its role over, and what its goals are in terms of timing and cost. In fact, this may be the key to both winning enduring US-domestic support and pushing the Iraqi government into developing and implementing adequate plans of its own.

Finally, one key aspect of defining a strategy and plan for conditions-based success is for the US to also define a strategy and plan for conditions-based withdrawal. It should be made unambiguously clear to the Iraqi government that the US will not stay if Iraq does not hold fair elections, if its not more active in bringing Sunnis and more secular Shi’ites into the central government, does not create truly national armed forces, and does not take more active steps to protect minorities and mixed populations and to act to halt sectarian and ethnic cleansing. It should be clear the US will not bail Iraq out from a failure to move towards fiscal responsibility.

It should be clear to both Iraqis and Americans that the US will not back any given party or side in an intra-Shi’ite power struggle, or support the Kurds if they do not seek a fair settlement in defining the nature of Kurdish autonomy and Kurdish controlled territory. It should be clear that the US will not support any form of “federalism” that fragments the nation, and will not stay in Iraq if central government inaction triggers serious civil-fighting between Sunni and Shi’ite.

If President Bush cannot provide such plans, he will cement his status as a failed president who has at best relied on the competence of the US military, and on the systematic waste of America’s political capital We need real leadership and we need it now. The President, and only the President, has this responsibility.

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Comments

Honestly, at this point it wouldn't matter if Petraeus himself said these things. Bush is the Man, he isn't going to change his mind, and that's that. You voted for it, you got it. That's why it cracks me up when people are so harsh in their criticism of Obama or Clinton. At least they are outlining plans, and at least they can articulate them.


Anthony Cordesman is a political hack. Yet, Frank James continues to use him over and over and over and over again.
I'll try this again: Frank, from Journalism 101 taught in high schools and colleges: For articles, use MORE than ONE source, use SOURCES with VARYING views, and don't keep going back to the same source over and over and over again. To keep doing what you do is lazy, unprofessional and lame "journalism."


Rank! You should be ashamed of yourself. Everyone knows that Anthony Cordesman is a raging lefty and a tool of the DNC. How many times do you need to be reminded of it before you at the very least quote an "expert" with an opposing view? And you know that said experts are legion.

Cordesman is a tool of the reactionary left and anything but "Washington's most-respected national security expert."

At least Rank is beyond pretending he's an objective journalist. Posts like this show he's willing to wear his bias on his sleeve.


Anthony Cordesman is a political hack. Yet, Frank James continues to use him over and over and over and over again.
I'll try this again: Frank, from Journalism 101 taught in high schools and colleges: For articles, use MORE than ONE source, use SOURCES with VARYING views, and don't keep going back to the same source over and over and over again. To keep doing what you do is lazy, unprofessional and lame "journalism."

Posted by: John D | April 10, 2008 12:44 PM

John (with random words in CAPS, cause you LIKE it SO)... I haven't taken Journalism 101, but I BELIEVE this is an EDITORIAL BLOG. THESE POSTINGS aren't in the actual NEWSPAPER. THEREFORE they can start with "Wow!" like this VERY story does, are more OPINION oriented, and AREN'T held to JOURNALISTIC standards that, say, a front-PAGE investigative piece would be.

BUT you must ALREADY know that, because they must've COVERED that already in that top-notch JOURNALISM school you're going TO where THEY teach you that it's GOOD JOURNALISTIC PRACTICE to put words in ALL caps every now and then FOR effect.

Tool.


Posted by: Jeff | April 10, 2008 12:47 PM


It never fails.


Every single time someone says something that doesn't fit into the rightwing lunitic fringes tiny little ideological box they start flinging crap at the source.


Not only is Cordesman right about the incompetent Bush/Cheney regime we also could expect more of the same stupidity from a McCain Presidency.


McCain was dumb enough to hire all of the same inept Neocon foreign policy advisors that BushCo used when they decided to quit looking for Bin-Laden and pre-emptively invade Iraq.

http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/03/17/mccain-advisers/


When we fail to look for the truth, we fail to see reality. Reality does not fail us.
Intentional ignorance of the truth is complicit approval of the lie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlKFIEIN1Y0&NR=1


Anonymous, while this is an editorial blog, Frank James is passing Anthonny Cordesman off as the most respected foreign policy analyst in the history of foreign policy analysts. He also uses Cordesman, and only Cordesman, over and over and over. And, while a blog, this is a blog for a newspaper, not the Dailykook or Huffleupogis Post. James works for a newspaper and as a reporter for said newspaper is suppose to make some sort of an effort toward objective, nonbiased journalism.
In regard to the CAP, hey if ROGER MORRIS can use ALL CAPS for ALL POSTS, if figure a few STRATEGICALLY PLACED CAPS is OK. Got it?


"Every single time someone says something that doesn't fit into the rightwing lunitic fringes tiny little ideological box they start flinging crap at the source."

Hmmm... Tell us again your thoughts on Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon?


" Bring 'em on! " sure is presidential, isn't it? What a clown!!!
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, BRING THEM HOME, ALIVE. NOW.


John E., no one's saying Cordesman's views aren't informed opinions, but why does Rank use him over and over and over again and pretend that he's the end all, be all of foreign policy thinking?

It would be nice if he, just once, included the view of another policy expert. He doesn't even need to be a republican, but it'd be nice if he was one who didn't walk in lockstep with the fringe left wing like Cordesman does.


John, in the interest of civillity and good debate, I'll give you a ferinstance: for instance, what if Rank only quoted, and quoted over and over again, John Bolton as the greatest foreign policy expert in the land and the only one whose voice deserves, not just one, but several posts. How would you feel?


"Inarticulate presidential bluster" aka IPB. What do you really think, Mr. Cordesman?"

Let's see what other phrases IPB could mean.

Irritable Preemptive Bowel
Irrational Processing Block
Initial Proactive BS

OK Swampies! Go for it!


Jeff, you should know by now that any rational, intelligent discourse with John E is about as likely as happening as John E voting for John McCain.


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