Friday, April 13, 2007
Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette already took Senator Joe Biden to task over the latest of his usual foolishness (Washington Post, April 12), but I noted yesterday that Fred Kagan did so as well over at the Weekly Standard.
Biden, readers may recall, recently fell upon what he views as the inevitable partitioning of
Biden, ever lugubrious in speechmaking, nevertheless has been much less adept at politicking, at least as measured by media attention. I am sure he thinks he’s stumbled upon the winning differentiator among his Democratic Presidential rivals, by seizing as strategy, the net result he thinks will happen anyway. This will make him look wise and prescient in one pseudo-policy, or so he must think.
The problem is, Biden gets it wrong, according to Kagan. As demonstrated visually by the inapt metaphor of the “water balloon” of our current surge efforts in
* As violence has gone down in
* Muqtada al Sadr, leader of the extremist Mahdi Army, has not been seen, but "he has been heard, rallying his followers with anti-American messages and encouraging his thugs to take on American troops in the south. Intelligence experts believe his militia is simply waiting out the surge."
* Closing markets has precluded some car bombs, but terrorists have simply changed tactics and now use suicide vests.
* In Tal Afar, a truck bomb hit the Shiite community and sparked retaliatory Shiite attacks.
Kagan takes on these “misperceptions” point by point.
Biden fails, or chooses not to recognize that bringing a fight more directly to an enemy will necessarily increase the intensity of the fighting. (That’s okay, Joe, you and most of your colleagues haven’t served in the military, and may not really get all that fightin’ business.) What Biden sees as the “bulge of the balloon,” Kagan rightly identifies as expanding areas of operations, into which GEN Petraeus and his commanders are immediately sending forces to exploit what are acknowledged as initial successes.
Kagan summarizes for the military-challenged:
Attacking the enemy increases violence in war. Indeed, it's often the only way to attain an important objective like defeating al Qaeda, an objective that seems to be, for the first time, coming nearer to our grasp.
Posturing critics like Biden profess the goal of fighting Al Qaeda in
In responding to Biden’s much belated aggrandizement of al Sadr, Kagan notes the marked change in Sadr’s status among his purported followers, and the (relatively) weak response of his recent call to protest – the majority of the several thousand protesters were of the “rent a mob” variety, bussed in by Sadr from elsewhere.
Kagan refutes Biden’s claim that the Mahdi Army is “biden’” their time (apologies to Greyhawk, I couldn’t resist it either):
Biden's "intelligence experts" are also wrong that the Mahdi Army is simply lying low. Aggressive
No military reader of MILBLOGS would need any reminder that enemies change tactics, especially when their objectives are thwarted or they are defeated with ones used previously. So to Biden’s point about changed tactics, Kagan states dismissively:
The terrorists do, indeed, change their tactics constantly. That's what enemies do. It is the most naïve possible view of war to say that because the enemy has changed his approach in response to effective actions we have taken, we are being defeated.
Biden notes a recent attack in Tal Afar and what he sees as sectarian reprisals, yet reveals himself entirely unknowing of the true significance of recent changes in tribal, ethnic, and faction allegiances.
Here’s Kagan’s response in its entirety:
The story of Tal Afar that Biden presents is incomplete. Yes, there was a horrific truck bomb intended to re-spark sectarian violence that, the senator's beliefs notwithstanding, had been kept at a very low simmer despite the withdrawal of most
Biden wants anything in
These same have spent 4 years indulging themselves in incessant, partisan, unhelpful, and anything but constructive politicking against this President and his “war of choice.” Finally, a chastened President Bush, his new Secretary of Defense, and new (capable and aggressive) military leaders on the ground, undertake the Counterinsurgency fight long urged by critics and demanded by Democrats.
At this critical turning point, I wonder if the possibility of success wakes anyone up at night in cold sweats?
As anyone will tell you, squeeze hard enough on that water balloon, it’s sure to explode. And then you’ll likely end up all wet.
Links to this post:
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]