Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 16, 2008

The NYT's Experts on Iraq

The New York Times OpEd page asks:

nine experts on military and foreign affairs to reflect on their attitudes in the spring of 2003 and to comment on the one aspect of the war that most surprised them or that they wished they had considered in the prewar debate.

So who are experts on military and foreign affairs?

From the collection the NYT editors assembles, it is obvious that they consider as experts mainly those people who have been wrong again and again.

They collected self lauding words from L. Paul Bremer III, Richard Perle, Kenneth M. Pollack, Danielle Pletka and Frederick Kagan. Certainly all experts in starting illegal wars and foreign policy desasters.

Now why isn't expert Judith Miller on that list?

Posted by b on March 16, 2008 at 12:48 UTC | Permalink


Over One Million Murdered -- and Nothing Has Been Learned

Posted by: Cloud | Mar 16 2008 15:38 utc | 1

The most surprising thing for all of the warlord punditry, is likely how easy it
was to resurrect the Third Reich under their Reaganaut banner, dust it off, shiny
up it's corrupted brass, and create a Neo Reich of 1,000 Years, in only four!
All in full view! On prime time TV!! With the effete liberals marching in tune!!!
What would the world have been like, if the Nazi's had won? Well, now you know!!!! "Helping government serve the people;" "Your papers, please."

Posted by: Arnold Carlyle | Mar 16 2008 17:26 utc | 2

Maybe these same experts are wrong again... U.S. may be just at midpoint in Iraq

That doesn't sound like "Mission Accomplished" at all! I think... I think I might have been misled on this whole Iraq thing.


"Four years, optimistically" before the Pentagon can begin a significant troop withdrawal from Iraq, said Eric Rosenbach, executive director of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School, "and more like seven or eight years" until Iraqi forces can handle the bulk of their own security.

What that means depends largely on your vantage point.

For the Pentagon, it means trying to build up a credible Iraqi security force while struggling to support its own troop levels in a military strained by nonstop warfare since 2001.

For many Americans, it's about a rising toll — nearly 4,000 U.S. military deaths and more than 60,000 wounded — with no end in sight. Iraqis count their dead and injured in much higher figures — hundreds of thousands at least — and see neighborhoods changed by the millions who have fled for safer havens.

For others, it's about a mounting loss of goodwill overseas: "We've squandered our good name," said Ryan Meehan, 29, sitting in a St. Louis coffee shop.

The war can also be framed in terms of the cost to the U.S. Treasury: $12 billion a month by some estimates, $500 billion all together, and the prospect of hundreds of billions more.

All worth it, right? We paid 'em back for 9-11, didn't we? Waitaminnit... that was just a connection the White House presented without ever confirming and the Baathist government had nothing to do with that at all? Oh. Well, then, we certainly stopped Hussein's weapons program didn't we? He didn't have one? Huh. Well, we removed a tyrant and installed the democracy of our choosing then, right? No? Well, for fuck's sake, tell me we at least got some cheap oil out of this...! Record highs, huh?

Are the defense contractors at least making a killing...? Yes...? GO TEAM!!! Take THAT, you expert-doubters!!


If the Democrats win in November, these type of assessments will clash with their calls for a rapid and comprehensive withdrawal.

By that time, U.S. troop strength is expected to shrink with the pullout of many of the 30,000 forces that poured into central Iraq last year as part of President Bush's buildup. Pentagon officials expect to be at 140,000 soldiers by July, 8,000 more than the total before the buildup.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has predicted the insurgency will "go on for years and years and years." But, eventually, the Iraqi forces will have to fight alone. It's the often-touted South Korean scenario: local forces someday on the front lines with a U.S. military presence in a supporting role, possibly for decades.

"A thousand years. A million years. Ten million years," McCain said in New Hampshire in January. "It depends on the arrangement we have with the Iraqi government."

It depends, too, on whether the Iraqis and their government can hold on. To a lesser extent, the war's length also hinges on world sentiment. The U.N. Security Council mandate for the U.S.-led force in Iraq is set to expire at the end of the year, which could increase international pressure for withdrawal.

But more than anything else, it depends on whether Americans are willing.

Wars continue for as long as both sides have the will to continue. The defender's wills will, out of necessity, remain unbroken as long as they have no other options. There is no amount of shock or awe that will break their spirits if their backs are placed firmly to the wall. If their necks are yoked and they are given the mere semblance of choice and homes, there is the possibility they will bow to the will of their oppressors (just as Americans have largely rolled over and allowed themselves to be ruled against their best interests). In the absence of even the pretense of a "Noble Lie", the defenders will resist to nearly the last man.

The oppressor's will, in the face of losses of blood and treasure, will break first. War fatigue affects both the soldiers (whose presence is being built up even in the face of recruitment shortcomings) and the taxpayers at home. Sun Tzu wrote that prolonged campaigns were, by their nature, doomed to fail and this is precisely why.

Further, if the U.N. security council resolution is not renewed at the end of the year, whoever assumes office and does not end this campaign at that time will be guilty of brand new international criminal charges (whether they are pursued or not). This should have been wrapped up while the blanket of the U.N. still offered a speck of protection.

The contractors got greedy. You can blame the generals, the civilian leadership, AOA in the street, but the war continues because the will of the contractors has not been broken. The "experts" represent the interests not of America or even a party or administration, but their defense-heavy stock portfolios. They will stop suckling that golden teat when they are forced to by a united world and not one second before.

Posted by: Monolycus | Mar 16 2008 17:31 utc | 3

to paraphrase colonel kurtz - 'exterminate the experts'

Posted by: r'giap | Mar 16 2008 17:53 utc | 4

the thing that these 'experts' are experts on - is their criminal consultany fees (perle's intimate relationship with conrad black for example)

Posted by: r'giap | Mar 16 2008 18:09 utc | 5

While the OpEd page gives experts like Bremer room to spread their lies, the news page takes these apart: Fateful Choice on Iraq Army Bypassed Debate

The account that emerges from those interviews, and from access to previously unpublished documents, makes clear that Mr. Bremer’s decree reversed an earlier plan — one that would have relied on the Iraqi military to help secure and rebuild the country, and had been approved at a White House meeting that Mr. Bush convened just 10 weeks earlier.

The interviews show that while Mr. Bush endorsed Mr. Bremer’s plan in the May 22 meeting, the decision was made without thorough consultations within government, and without the counsel of the secretary of state or the senior American commander in Iraq, said the commander, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan. The decree by Mr. Bremer, who is known as Jerry, prompted bitter infighting within the government and the military, with recriminations continuing to this day.

Colin L. Powell, the secretary of state and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was never asked for advice, and was in Paris when the May 22 meeting was held.

Mr. Powell, who views the decree as a major blunder, later asked Condoleezza Rice, who was serving as Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, for an explanation.

“I talked to Rice and said, ‘Condi, what happened?’ ” he recalled. “And her reaction was: ‘I was surprised too, but it is a decision that has been made and the president is standing behind Jerry’s decision. Jerry is the guy on the ground.’ And there was no further debate about it.”

Posted by: b | Mar 17 2008 7:36 utc | 6

Jim Lobe: Perle, the New York Times, and Chutzpah

Of the nine, two were serving in the military at the time, two others were war sceptics (Anthony Cordesman — who memorably called the notion that the Iraq war would democratize the Middle East “neo-crazy” — and Anne-Marie Slaughter), and the rest were public boosters of the war, including L. Paul Bremer III, Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution, and — not one, not two, but — three fellows from the hard-line neo-con American Enterprise Institute (AEI): Frederick Kagan (who became formally affiliated with AEI well after the occupation had begun); Danielle Pletka; and Richard Perle who, in addition to his AEI responsibilities in the run-up to the war, served as chairman of Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board (DPB) until he resigned his chairmanship (while maintaining his membership) just before the war.
In any event, one has to ask why the Times, which, after admitting that its pre-war coverage of Iraqi WMD was highly misleading and journalistically irresponsible, then added a pro-war propagandist like William Kristol to its stable of regular columnists, would not only offer a disproportionate amount of space to people whose judgment with respect to Iraq and Iraqis has proved so disastrously wrong, but also, in Perle’s specific case, offer it to someone with such a long-standing and proven record of contempt for the historical record. I guess it shows that chutzpah has its rewards.

Posted by: b | Mar 17 2008 8:39 utc | 7

Erroneous intelligence, late apologies, fanatics discredited, people fired, new analyses, etc. etc. All media food for the public. Most of the players are aware and expect to be paid / employed / compensated for their valiant servitude after they have been proved liars.

The US invasion and control of Iraq was hoped for or planned since is difficult to fix a date... but late 90s at least. Public opinion, the media, had to be managed. What better than promoting controversy, quarrels, rousing stumbling bumbs to muddy? Having contradictory info flying about? Sparking controversies the solidity of the info? Etc.

Each and everytime, US citizens have only the past (info, decisions, view points, leaders, media, etc.) to scrutinize and critisize. And much good it does them then.

The new hype is soon cheered with flying flags, raised fists, discussion of military strategy.

Posted by: Tangerine | Mar 17 2008 16:27 utc | 8

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