Friday, October 05, 2007

How Do We Leave Iraq?

By Land, and by leaving the office furniture behind.

Gregory Cochran is a physicist and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Utah who has developed some new ideas in evolutionary medicine and genetic anthropology. Cochran is known for several controversial theories, which is why The Economist considers him a noted scientific iconoclast. But that's not a problem for me, because he cuts through a lot of Bushit for us. As he says in his cover story in The American Conservative, "Knowing your goals makes life simpler."

There are just a few advisories:

Leave with all weapons systems, munitions, vehicles.
First, we should aim to get our troops out safely, with their weapons intact. Weapons are important-we win more because of superior equipment than superior training or talent. That equipment is expensive, takes a long time to replace with our existing procurement system, and we might actually need it if we found ourselves in a war of necessity…140,000 and 200,000 tons of crucial equipment and supplies in Iraq, as well as 15-20,000 vehicles and major weapons. That can't add up to more than half a million tons total.
Leave all other logistical hardware, buildings, supra-structure, non-combat-related materiel behind.
We've accumulated dentist chairs, chapel pews, swimming-pool filtration systems, office complexes, multimillion-dollar fitness centers, air-conditioners, refrigerators, prefab latrines, Coke machines, even 50-inch plasma TVs. We have stockpiles of 50-gallon oil drums full of battery acid, contaminated oil, and industrial solvents. We're being told that it all has to be shipped home. I have a better idea: leave it all behind. I'm sure that the Army bureaucracy thinks that we've got to move these refrigerators, got to move these TV's. They're wrong. Maybe they fear that leaving a single vending machine behind means that they will have to personally answer to the Coca-Cola Company…. Better to gift-wrap those drums and let the Iraqis steal them...
Don't leave any one behind. Except in Kurdistan.
. . . a solid majority of non-Kurdish Iraqis now find attacks on coalition forces acceptable-is asking for trouble. The British tried that in Basra, and they took rocket and mortar fire every day while achieving nothing.
Stop Congress' game of playing politics with numbers:
If we couldn't create a compliant Iraq with 150,000 troops, we won't manage it with 50,000 or 20,000. Many of our presidential candidates-you can recognize them by the humps on their backs-are talking about retaining smaller numbers of troops in Iraq, hoping to achieve some political end or at least disguise defeat, but that pig won't fly.
Leaving a lot of stuff in Iraq is not going to cost an arm and a leg Consider the real savings, when you think of the $10 Billion a month this fuckastrophe is costing us? Cochran is saying, "Bring out men, weapons, ammo, vital spares and leave the pews and the porta-potties." Removal of all moveable and rolling stock would take a week or two of normal traffic on the main road to Kuwait.

Casualties? It's said that a retreating army is the most vulnerable of all. Well, we are only re-deploying. We are redeploying into Kuwait, which leaves us a lot less vulnerable than if we were re-deploying into Iran. Chances are, we won't have to fight our way out of Iraq: Cochran thinks,
. . . . there's a fair chance that we will face some opposition, although more practical Iraqis will probably be busy looting our camps as we abandon them, just as they have looted the bases abandoned by the British in the south. But we can be sure that the opposition will be insignificant and our casualties few, since the insurgents we face in Iraq would be extremely weak in a conventional fight. Remember that we lost fewer than 150 men during the invasion, when we faced 23 divisions, organized troops armed with (according to U.S. estimates) almost 2,000 main battle tanks, 3,500 armored personnel carriers, and 2,000 artillery pieces. The insurgents today have no tanks, no APCs, no heavy artillery, and yet we're supposed to worry about the havoc they would wreak during any withdrawal. We've been seeing about 100 men a month killed in action in 2007, we'd lose fewer in a rapid withdrawal than we would by staying one more month. The insurgents excel at planting IEDs and blending into the population-but that's all they're good at. In a conventional battle, they would do about as well as a rabbit in a lawnmower. If you're worried that the Iraqi army we're always training might turn on us, relax: we never gave them any heavy weapons, which shows that someone was thinking ahead.
The real reason for a long-drawn out protracted withdrawal is a perceived need to avoid the appearance of 'cut & run'. Slow bleeding and dithering is, it is thought by lame-ass columnists, pundits and politicians, easier to spin. But these are the same neo-Machiavellian poseurs who got us into this mess to begin with. If neither the Iraqis nor our own U.S. Department of Agriculture can materially interfere (by insisting on inspections) we're good to go:
The bottom line is that we can get troops and war-fighting equipment out of Iraq rapidly and relatively safely, certainly in less than six months, probably in three. …It would be faster than that, except for complications such as evacuating contractors and completely securing or destroying advanced weaponry that we don't want examined or copied by potential enemies. That, we need to be careful about. Fast withdrawal is safer than slow-it minimizes the slow bleed of occupation, and it avoids leaving dangerously weak forces in-country for long periods. Once we make up our mind to leave, “then ‘twere well ‘twere done quickly.”
Like I've always said in these pages, the real problem in ending the occupation in Iraq is ending the current regime in Washington.

This Week's Redeemable Republican Friday

Is Cancelled.

I'm always having great difficulty selecting my Weekly Redeemable Republican (WRR) for Friday's feature. It's always 'hard work'.

Last night, I made the mistake of leaving Keith Olberman's show on in the background. His interview with John Dean just made this Friday's mission for me even more unattainable, because a comment made by Dean sapped all of my remaining motivation.

Dean was saying that when Reagan left office after eight years, the hard core of the Republican party - and 'hard' is the right term - was angry that their hero departed with an approval rating of 60 %. The implication was that he had been too soft on America; that he had 10% worth of political capital (or more) to burn; that he had left the scene with so few political enemies! In short, with only a 40% disapproval rate, the Gipper should have driven their GOP program harder. In football terms, Reagan left too much on the field. The Great Communicator had left the stage with too much love and admiration which he could have better spent driving their agenda.

Dean said that that was the feeling of the current hard core of the GOP: They want Bush to leave office with no political capital left to spend.

I could not believe it the first time I heard it. I had to replay my Tivo. But Dean should know what he's talking about.

This week's Redeemable Republican Friday feature is canceled. Maybe next week...