Pre-debunking the next Iraqi troop readiness lie
Whatever genius strategy Bush and company cobble together for Iraq, we can be sure that a key piece of Bush mis/disinformation will be a claim that more American forces, specifically, more American trainers, will focus on getting Iraqi troops up-to-speed over the course of the next 12-18 months.
As we know, this is a charade. It is a stall tactic designed to help Bush "run out the clock" on Iraq during his presidency, leaving this epic disaster for the next president.
So presented here (for the benefit of our lazy media who likely won't question Bush's bogus assertions of past and potential successes in training Iraqi troops) are the cold, hard facts on past claims, and on the very dubious possibilities of future success.
A Note on Calling Out This Lie
Please note that I would be quite happy to pretend today that Iraqi troops are trained and ready to take over all security from American forces. I believe that Iraq is destined for an even more bloody civil conflict, whether that conflagration happens 10 days from now, 10 months from now or 10 years from now.
But I also know that no amount of training will solve the issue of centuries-old sectarian grudges that now serve as the driving force for most Iraqi military and police units. That being said, it is in our best interest to remove ourselves from the middle of this ongoing and worsening civil war.
We know that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al. have been touting phony Iraqi troop readiness numbers for years. And we know that Generals Abizaid and Casey echoed these lies, predicting over and over that an American drawdown would commence on an ever-shifting timeline thanks to the readiness of these forces.
A quick review of the "stand up/stand down" fibs from just the last two years reveals these "predictions":
- April 2005
The Bush Administration and senior military commanders have suggested in recent days that the training of Iraqi security forces -- one of the linchpins of America's exit strategy -- is going so well that significant troop reductions may be possible by early next year (2006).
- July 2005
The top U.S. military leader in Iraq said Wednesday there could be substantial withdrawals of some of the 135,000 U.S. troops in the country as early as next spring (2006).
- November 2005
In a departure from previous statements, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the training of Iraqi soldiers had advanced so far that the current number of U.S. troops in the country probably would not be needed much longer.
President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which aides say he is expected to herald the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for pulling out U.S. forces.
The developments seemed to lay the groundwork for potentially large withdrawals in 2006 and 2007, consistent with scenarios outlined by Pentagon planners.
- November 2005 - The realists knew better, like Lt. Gen. William Odom (Ret.):
LT. GEN. WILLIAM ODOM (Ret.): It is an illusion to think you could leave a stable military there. What you are leaving is a more competent set of militias, which we are training under the illusion that they are the Iraqi security force and police are essentially a front for militias putting their forces in there.
Bernie (retired Lt. General Bernard Trainor), I know you have been talking to some of the people out there, lots of the trainers at the tactical level know that we're not going to train a security force up; they know these people are more loyal to militias than they are to any Iraqi regime. That is a fact that staying three more years won't change.
- June 2006 - What reality?
The U.S. commander in charge of coalition forces in Iraq projects large reductions in the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, starting in September and continuing through 2007, according to an online report posted late Saturday.
- August 2006 - The moving of the goalposts continues
Bombers killed nearly 50 Iraqis on Wednesday, mostly in Baghdad, but the top U.S. commander said a security drive in the capital was making progress and local forces could largely be running Iraq within 12 to 18 months.
- October 2006 - Does the goalpost-moving ever stop?
U.S. officials said Tuesday Iraqi leaders have agreed to develop a timeline by the end of the year for progress in stabilizing Iraq, and Iraqi forces should be able to take full control of security in the country in the next 12 to 18 months with "some level" of American support.
And here we are on the verge of yet another Bush pronouncement on Iraq which is almost certain to include the lie of "training Iraqi troops so we can stand down."
We know better by now. As I have pointed out, our military's own trainers including Lt. Col. John Nagl and Maj. Gen. William Nash (Ret.) have said recently that training a competent Iraqi force would take 10 to 12 years minimum and that is under optimal conditions, meaning a stable central government and no sectarian strife.
In other words, as General Odom correctly pointed out back in November 2005, it ain't gonna' happen. Ever.
And should anyone doubt the utter futility (not to mention the incredible waste of capital, human and monetary) of training Iraqi forces, today's front page of The New York Times should provide all the proof one needs to see that what Odom was talking about in November 2005 was dead-on:
For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task — trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician — Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie — but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.
“I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting,” Major Voorhies said.
Read the article. There is no Iraqi army. And the police forces are even worse.
I am posting this in the hopes that our too-often-lazy-and-unquestioning media will challenge the bogus claims on Iraqi troop training that Bush will use to cover his escalation this war. And exposing this lie is also critical because many Republican senators and representatives -- and, unfortunately, probably a few Democrats -- will likely use this lie as political cover for endorsing Bush's reckless escalation of this war.
We can surely expect more lies out of the administration on Iraq. And more will die as result of their ignorant, arrogant folly. But all of these lies must be exposed.