Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Overplayed and Under-Sourced
Phillip Carter’s Intel Dump has been picked up by the Washington Post, where he posted commentary on yesterday’s Congressional testimony from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.
Phillip Carter is a Veteran of OIF who supports Barack Obama and serves in a quasi-official capacity as an advisor to Obama’s Campaign. He’s also been a longtime and consistent critic of our efforts in
I’d rather have someone like him blogging for the Washington Post than many other potential candidates, but still, I think Carter is the one overplaying his hand, here.
Carter’s take-aways up front:
They overstated the threat posed by al-Qaeda in
Origins of Violence
Carter asserts that Al Qaeda cannot rightly be held accountable for the lion’s share of violence in
The vast majority of Iraqi violence over the past five years has been caused a) by ethno-sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites; b) intra-sectarian fighting amongst Sunnis and Shiites; c) fighting over scarce resources (oil, fuel, water, food, control over ministries with responsibility for the same); and d) fighting by Iraq's homegrown Sunni insurgency and homegrown Shiite militias. AQI has played an important role as catalyst and spoiler -- stoking the fires of sectarian violence (as with the 2006 mosque bombing in
Clausewitz once wrote that the most important challenge for a commander was to visualize the battlefield -- because all plans and actions flow from his understanding of the situation. Our skewed visualization of
Carter summarizes the violence in a way that confirms that for Carter, Iraq has been a Civil War in the making from the start, and will devolve into sectarian violence under any scenario, resulting from any action we took to date, or will take – except of course, for the vague policy direction suggested by his preferred Presidential Candidate, Sen. Obama.
I would argue that Carter’s invocation of Clausewitz more accurately explains his (and Obama’s) “skewed visualization of
Al Qaeda aggressively sought to portray their terrorist plots and factions, as well as the resulting violence, as indigenous and homegrown. They created Iraqi puppets for what were otherwise foreign terrorist operations, all of which has been repeatedly revealed as designed propaganda in captured Al Qaeda documents. Yet, Carter acknowledges AQI as “catalyst and spoiler,” but relegates AQI to a minor, “supporting role.”
Yet even the example Carter cites, that of the 2006 Samarra Mosque bombing, undercuts his argument. That seminal event, engineered to create the impression of sectarian conflict, is widely regarded as having provoked much of the resulting violence, and that was just the most obvious example of years of steady provocation. That’s pretty central to the instability and violence of what happened, yet Carter fairly implies that it had no material impact, against intractable (and pre-existing) ethnic strife. No doubt Al Qaeda spinmeisters are pleased that analysts like Carter – and policy makers like Obama – have so thoroughly bought into their deceits.
Nor does Carter make any mention of Iranian war-and violence-making, or the degree to which
Carter also adopts another Democratic Party talking point, in claiming that other factors have led to the greatly improved security situation in
What about the massive flows of displaced people? And what to make of the relative importance of the political deals with Sunni and Shiite political leaders that have kept their partisans out of the fight? These have all had a massive impact on the security situation -- probably more of one than that exerted by
These are odd factors to juxtapose. In the first, Carter joins those who claim that a largely completed ethnic cleansing has moved warring ethnic groups far enough apart that they no longer are in (as much) conflict. Again, that is based on a premise that Sunnis and Shia, in their natural state, unmolested, will always be at war.
Based on my (admittedly limited) experience in
I find it also highly likely that the “political deals” that Carter dismisses could not have been possible within the degrading security situation that prevailed prior to the Surge of US Military forces.
Carter passes on another Democratic Party talking point:
Seeking a Strategy. So what is our strategy in
I can directly attest to this line of rhetoric as a Democratic talking point, as it was echoed all day long yesterday by Democratic Congressional aides as a rebuttal to the personal testimonies of Vets for Freedom members. If what Petraeus and Crocker have been presenting to Congress this past year doesn’t constitute a Strategy, and underscore what the Bush Administration and its critics alike assert would be victory – Iraq taking on the role as self-preserver of their own freedoms and nascent democracy – then no plan or conditions for victory can never be sufficiently articulated.
Competing Democratic Party Presidential nominees have been issuing these kinds of criticisms since our invasion of
Carter concludes, “We owe something more to our men and women serving in
I couldn’t agree more. The Nation and our elected officials owe much to Veterans who have served the country in combat in
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