Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"What defeat?"

From a Sixty Minutes interview with US General John Abizaid (right), the four-star commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East (transcript here; video here), comes this excerpt.
INTERVIEWER: "We hear very little about the victory in Iraq these days. We hear a lot about how to manage the defeat. And a lot of…"
GENERAL ABIZAID: "What defeat?"
INTERVIEWER: "How we minimize…"

GENERAL ABIZAID: "That's your word. You talk to our commanders in the field – they don't believe that they've been defeated. Defeat is your word, not my word. Can Iraq stabilize? Yes, Iraq could stabilize."
"We hear..."? Who from.

LINKS: An annotated transcript of the whole interview is here: Gen. Abizid on stabilizing Iraq - CBS, 60 Minutes
A video of the interview is here: "Manage the defeat" - Powerline
[Hat tip Major Scarlet]

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics-World, War

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Hamish said...

Semantics. The 'victory' goal-post has changed so many times that it's a bit churlish for General Abizaid to quibble the point. That's just called PR.

11/29/2006 02:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

They toppled Saddam, invaded Iraq and destroyed his army. By any normal yard-stick that is a victory.

The second phase of the war isn't as clear cut. Why? Because there is no front line. Some blonde cutie in a designer suit can't flirt with the camera and explain what's going on in Iraq like it's a weather forecast. And because of that they say that the USA is being defeated.

The US is having a hard time defeating the enemy. Militarily the US is a long way from being defeated. Politically, with reporters like that - that's another question entirely.

11/29/2006 03:38:00 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

Until Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other "moderate" mid-east regimes decide that helping Iraq is more important than not offending Syria and Iran there will be no end to the mission, and no-one other than the Coalition Forces willing to take the role on.

11/29/2006 04:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Robert Winefield said...
[They toppled Saddam, invaded Iraq and destroyed his army. By any normal yard-stick that is a victory.]

I agree with Robert here. This is the definition of "military victory" according to my 'Longman' dictionary.

11/29/2006 04:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Polemic said...

You guys have proved my point.

They toppled Saddam, invaded Iraq and destroyed his army. By any normal yard-stick that is a victory.

Classic case of moving the goal-posts. There was never any question of whether the US military could crush the Iraq war machine - that was only the first stage of turning Iraq into a western-friendly democracy (and.. ha.. removing those pesky WMDs). Which is why you had to add the caveat:

The second phase of the war isn't as clear cut.

So you're admitting that, while the battle was won, the war continues. So... how is that war going?

Because there is no front line. Some blonde cutie in a designer suit can't flirt with the camera and explain what's going on in Iraq like it's a weather forecast. And because of that they say that the USA is being defeated.

That's true. Instead US citizens have to listen to sombre presenters inform them how many more of their service[wo]men died today and how Iraq edges closer to civil war. By the only yard-sticks that the public can measure it, the situation in Iraq becomes worse month to month. And that happens to be the only measure by which the US 'victory' can be measured.

11/29/2006 10:02:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"There was never any question of whether the US military could crush the Iraq war machine..."

There certainly was if you took your news from Robert Fisk and his colleagues.

But the world is full of Monday morning quarterbacks and late-night Friday Cassandras, isn't it.

11/29/2006 11:03:00 pm  
Blogger CD said...

Now that man has had some decent media training!

He came across very well, I thought, and made his point without letting the journo (read: clueless loudmouth) steer him.

11/29/2006 11:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

So Hamish what are your goal posts for victory?

Do you even have any?

Or are you like all the Democrats in America, your only plan is to run away and blame Bush for everything?

Whether the Iraq war was a good idea or not the US is in it now.

Defeat is not an option, they must win or face having to do it all over again in a few years to clean out what will surely become a nest of Iran & Al Queada-backed terrorist vipers.

Their strategies so far haven't been a shining success especially in contrast to the initial invasion. But they aren't defeated. The enemy isn't attacking them, it is attacking the civilians that they are trying to protect. That should tell you something about where the terrorists think their effort is best expended.

The fact of the matter is that the kid gloves must come off. The USA needs to isolate the cities to prevent the terrorists outside from resupplying their brethren within.

They must then go after the leaders of this murderous insurgency whereever they reside. And if that means demolishing the odd religious building and imprisoning or killing the clerics then so be it.

Most important, once they have taken ground, they must occupy it in force. Fortifying and isolating it so that the only points of entry into the city are under military control.

I'm thinking here of a 20-30 foot high sand berm preceded by an anti-tank ditch surrounding the cities in question. It would be like the city walls of old. A massive engineering task? Yes! But hardly anything compared to the mountain of cash flushed down Iraq already. And this one may actually prove useful. Besides, if the insurgents attack it, what are they blowing up? A hill of sand?

Inside the cities they can increase their surveillance efforts in order to root out the members of this insurgency.

Yes I am proposing Big Brother. But this is a 911 situation. Either the US gets tough or it will be faced with playing piggy in the middle of a full blown civil war.

At the same time I would be giving Iran and Syria a taste of their own destabilising medicine. Formenting a revolution in those countries by supplying resistance groups with small arms and IEDs would go a long way to diverting Iran's attention.

11/30/2006 05:05:00 am  
Blogger KG said...

What Robert W. said! Exactly.

11/30/2006 06:50:00 am  
Anonymous Hamish said...

But the world is full of Monday morning quarterbacks and late-night Friday Cassandras, isn't it.

Absolutely PC. These days they're called bloggers.

Robert:

So Hamish what are your goal posts for victory?

Do you even have any?


You're asking what I think the victory posts are for an unwinnable war? Ok, here is my victory condition:

When the US leaves Iraq the Iraqi people are better off than when the US invaded.

Simple, measurable, and totally unachievable.

Or are you like all the Democrats in America, your only plan is to run away...

Wheeling out the rhetoric are we?

I don't have a solution but I don't advocate pulling out either. But that doesn't say anything about what is currently happening in Iraq. We're talking about whether the war in Iraq is going against the US or not, not what needs to be done.

...and blame Bush for everything?

There are lot more people that Bush to blame, but Bush is first on the list. You do remember the Bush lies that got US into the war, right? The pretend links to Al Qaeda? The flimsy WMD reports?

But again, this isn't about Bush, it's about what is currently happening in Iraq.

Whether the Iraq war was a good idea or not the US is in it now.

I love that line. Like stating the obvious is a reason for anything at all.

Remember that republican mantra during this years mid-terms? "We got you into this mess but we're also the best ones to get you out of it". Unbelievable seeing people like Cheney saying this with a straight face.

Defeat is not an option, they must win or face having to do it all over again in a few years to clean out what will surely become a nest of Iran & Al Queada-backed terrorist vipers.

Ahh, now we're getting to the core of your angst. Let me make two points.

1. 'Defeat' is not usually an 'option', you don't get to 'choose', unless you work in PR. Which is really what I'm getting at - the Administration (and all the PR spinners that irritate the hell out of me) think that you can just call it something else and get away with it. Exactly as Abizaid (and yourself) tries to do.

Deafeat is not an option.. what a stupid phrase.

2. This 'vipers nest' idea. You are right, but again, says nothing about what is currently happening in Iraq. If the result of the war is to produce a 'vipers nest' of terrorism then that is a defeat. If the war increases terrorist attacks against the US interests, surely that is a defeat.

Their strategies so far haven't been a shining success especially in contrast to the initial invasion. But they aren't defeated.

The US army is not achieving it's goals of bringing peace to Iraq. Not achieving your goals seem to be a pretty good definition of defeat.

The enemy isn't attacking them, it is attacking the civilians that they are trying to protect. That should tell you something about where the terrorists think their effort is best expended.

Oh I accept that terrorists use unethical tactics. (I love it when people like you try to infer that not agreeing with you is condoning terrorist acts) But, and I repeat myself again, your opinion on how the terrorists conduct their campaign doesn't impact on the fact that the US is failing to bring peace to the area.

The fact of the matter is that the kid gloves must come off. The USA needs to isolate the cities to prevent the terrorists outside from resupplying their brethren within.

Sure, change tactics. I agree. I'm sounding like a broken record: at this current time the situation is getting worse and unless the strategy is dramatically changed (unlikely) then Iraq will become a hell hole (ie, defeat).

They must then go after the leaders of this murderous insurgency whereever they reside. And if that means demolishing the odd religious building and imprisoning or killing the clerics then so be it.

As above.

Most important, once they have taken ground, they must occupy it in force. Fortifying and isolating it so that the only points of entry into the city are under military control.

I'm thinking here of a 20-30 foot high sand berm preceded by an anti-tank ditch surrounding the cities in question. It would be like the city walls of old. A massive engineering task? Yes! But hardly anything compared to the mountain of cash flushed down Iraq already. And this one may actually prove useful. Besides, if the insurgents attack it, what are they blowing up? A hill of sand?

Inside the cities they can increase their surveillance efforts in order to root out the members of this insurgency.


Sure, why not. I'm no tactician.

Yes I am proposing Big Brother. But this is a 911 situation. Either the US gets tough or...

Hahaha, 911? You've read the repulican play-book front to back.

...it will be faced with playing piggy in the middle of a full blown civil war.

Now this is important. You have just said that if the tactics are not changed then Iraq will end up with civil war.

let's look at the original post. Abizaid says: 'Can Iraq stabilize? Yes".. we can infer that if Iraq did NOT stabilize that Abizaid would consider it a defeat. You said that if the tactics don't change then Iraq will become destabilised. So you're agreeing that defeat is approaching. You might not like it, but if you can see past all that rhetoric you'll see that you agree with the reporter.

At the same time I would be giving Iran and Syria a taste of their own destabilising medicine. Formenting a revolution in those countries by supplying resistance groups with small arms and IEDs would go a long way to diverting Iran's attention.

Ah. So after turning Iraq into a 'vipers nest' of terrorism it would be a good idea to formet revolt in two other regional powers with a strong dislike of the US. Why exactly is this a good idea?

11/30/2006 05:33:00 pm  

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