Bush Makes Same Mistake Twice: Pulling Troops from Afghanistan to Deploy to Iraq

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President Bush is planning to pull troops out of Afghanistan to deploy to Iraq.
From the Baltimore Sun:

As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.
Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.
According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.
“We anticipate significant events there next spring,” said Tata.

You would have thought he would have learned what a mistake this was after Tora Bora.
More soon — flying to DC tonight.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “Bush Makes Same Mistake Twice: Pulling Troops from Afghanistan to Deploy to Iraq

  1. kenia brewer says:

    i believe that this was a very bad decision to make twice

    Reply

  2. Pissed Off American says:

    “Her husband would stay there to take care of them while she continues her practice.
    It may be time to consider a “Iran getaway”
    somewhere away from the maddening crowd. Most people have avoided any punishment or sacfrice due to the Iraq war, that won’t be the case in a war with Iran.”
    Posted by Carroll
    Posted by Carroll
    I live in a rural community that has only one way in. To my back is one of the largest private tracts of virgin Californian wilderness in the state. It is literally covered with wildlife; from a healthy and thriving population of mountain lion, to extremely large and thriving mule deer herds, to moderate but growing amount of elk herds. Cottontails are everywhere, the coveys of quail are huge and numerous. Its fertile land, as the large amont of agri-business in the general area demonstrates.
    I’m a survivor. I live here for realistic reasons. Goerge Bush is one of them. But if he is crazy enough to go nuclear, an elk steak ain’t gonna safe anyone’s ass.

    Reply

  3. Fire The Decider says:

    > Why don’t Democrats argue that Bush just has it
    > completely backwards, and that troops should be
    > taken *out* of Iraq and put *into* Afghanistan?
    WAY more oil in Iraq.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7374585792978336967

    Reply

  4. PUBLIUS says:

    Reidar Visser’s analysis of the ripple…
    What Exactly is Washington Surging for in Iraq?
    By Reidar Visser (http://historiae.org) – research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs with a background in history and comparative politics (University of Bergen) and a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies (University of Oxford).
    11 January 2007
    “This lackadaisical approach to political reform in Iraq is alarming. In today’s Iraq, a surge without a credible political component will be like pouring oil on fire. During the past year, sectarian forces have been boosted to such an extent that today, out of each American tax dollar earmarked for national reconstruction in Iraq, a significant portion effectively goes to financing sectarian infrastructure instead. Only political reform – or more precisely, constitutional amendments that can recreate a sense of balance in Iraqi politics – can break this vicious circle.”
    “one hopeful element in Bush’s speech was his declared belief in “reconciliation” between Shiites and Sunnis and coexistence in Iraq generally. He is to be commended for this stance, which serves as a healthy antidote to what has become an unfortunate side effect of the anti-war campaign in the United States: the increasingly widespread fallacy that violent sectarian conflict in Iraq is endemic and has gone on for centuries.”
    “More realistically speaking, however, this kind of strategy would probably backfire. It severely underestimates internal complexity in the Shiite camp – including Sadrist resentment of SCIRI dominance, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s consistent reluctance to be part of any kind of carve-up of Iraq to benefit foreign interests, and Basra resistance to Baghdad control of the southern oil resources (whether by SCIRI, or by other Shiites, or by anyone else). At the same time this is a strategy that probably exaggerates SCIRI’s independence from Tehran, and it involves unrealistic expectations regarding Sunni preparedness to act as a compliant “ethnic minority”, fenced in inside a Bantustan in western Iraq.”
    “This approach would mean engaging in dialogue with a greater number of Iraqi political factions, across sectarian boundaries, and including moderate factions in circles previously demonised by Washington – like the Sadrists. It would involve creating a perfect atmosphere for the revision of the constitution and its subsequent adoption in a referendum across Iraq’s governorates. (This is the one act that still has the potential for achieving what thousands of US marines and billions of dollars in micro-loans cannot do: bringing closure to a period of internal conflict. Conceivably, fatwas from Sunni and Shiite clerics could help.) Not least this strategy would demand some serious discussion with SCIRI, to establish whether it wants to be a sectarian party or is interested in playing a leading role in national reconciliation in Iraq.”
    “Instead of cutting off funding at this stage, might it not be a more useful idea for the Democrats to concentrate their power of oversight precisely on those reconciliation issues? If a bipartisan focus on Iraqi national reconciliation emerged in Washington, a completely new dynamic in US–Iraqi relations could follow – with increased opportunities for US politicians to make sure that American money is invested in Iraqi nation-building and does not end up in militia coffers.”

    Reply

  5. Marcia says:

    To erichwwk:
    If you are interested in a deeper analysis go to Google…video…Presidential Power Conference..
    This is a posting of the Conference held at the Mass. School of Law comprised of a group of scholars of Constitutional Law from various Universities in the country and Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe who did the investigation of signing statments. So far there are six videos available. The other are due near the end of February.
    Some of those speaking presented briefs to the Supreme Court during the Vietnam War so they are more than familiar with the functioning of the courts and Congress.
    They are lucid and not overly optimistic. That is an understatement.

    Reply

  6. erichwwk says:

    Marcia:
    Nice heads up On Law Dean Velvel’s blog. As John Gaddis makes clear in his “The Cold War-A New History”, it will likely be the people acting when pundits and legislators are unable to respond in a meaningful way. I also found is comments on why Congress(wo)men refuse to use the powers granted to them to set war policy quite lucid. Thanks.

    Reply

  7. Marcia says:

    Sorry for the double posting.

    Reply

  8. Marcia says:

    “You would have thought he would have learned what a mistake this was after Tora Bora”
    How can a man who thinks he knows it all learn anything? It is like looking for the fourth side of a circle.
    “We May Need A Huge March On Washington To Force Democrats To Put An End To The War Instead Of Immorally Merely Worrying About Their Political Futures.” at:
    http://velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com/
    If the American meople do not force Congress to act, who will?

    Reply

  9. Marcia says:

    “We May Need A Huge March On Washington To Force Democrats To Put An End To The War Instead Of Immorally Merely Worrying About Their Political Futures.” at:
    http://velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com/
    What higher crimes could a president and vice-president commit than the ones already on the book?
    If the American people do not force Congress to act who will?

    Reply

  10. rich says:

    How many times did Bush use the word
    “Will” last night?
    Note his syntactical construction conflates plans he is implementing (“20,000 troops will roll into Baghdad”) with the Power of Kings (“a bipartisan Congressional Commission led by Sen. Joe Liebrman WILL forge a solution”).
    That’s no coincidence.

    Reply

  11. humanfodder says:

    Don’t forget that these are not just “troops.” A large part of the contingent in the Middle East are National Guard who are going way beyond what the even imagined was the worse possible scenario when they signed up. These are not Army regulars we are staining to the max. Not only will we pay the cost now, but we will be paying their psyche med bills far into the future. How many times could you handle being told, “You only thought you were going hime.”?

    Reply

  12. buck says:

    You would have thought he would have learned what a mistake this was after Tora Bora.
    Steve, you’ve got to be kidding! The man is incapable of learning. There is a difference between a puppet and a follower. Both do what they are told, but one keeps on doing that and needs to be told again every time.
    But who’s the puppet master? Cheney has oil interests worth protecting in Iraq (note that the oil contracts are front-loaded, just in case Iraq decides to go the nationalization route again later). But there is also Exxon gas interest in Afghanistan. I guess, they’ll just have to cut losses somewhere and leaving Iraq would remove pressure from Iran and Syria. Oy vei!
    There are only two ways to get rid of this cabal. One is a palace coup and that’s not likely to happen here. (Oh, where is a John Hinkley when you need one?!) The other is impeachment, and the problem with that is time–by the time the process can be started, they’ll be getting Americans slaughtered in Iran. And it would take longer still to get the ball rolling after that. The problem with impeachment is not lack of will–it’s lack of time. Unless Dems can establish an information pipeline by May 2007 that would release results of investigations to the public, there is no chance to get the process really rolling before the next election cycle is in full swing. Without the information pipeline, these guys will be afraid to gamble on impeachment in election seazon.

    Reply

  13. Carroll says:

    Bush said we are sending Patriot Missiles to the ME…..I do beleive he is declaring war on Iran…it’s just a matter of time, probably months. There will be a incident or false flag operation and then……..
    I see he also referred to his friend Joe Lieberman, who will be helping him out corralling congress to go along with this.
    Last year my family doctor and friend took me out to see her cabin-house in the woods outside of town. She and the other doctors in her practice have made personal and professional plans for coping with an outbreak of bird flu in this country if it should ever come and this was to be the place where she would take her children. Her husband would stay there to take care of them while she continues her practice.
    It may be time to consider a “Iran getaway”
    somewhere away from the maddening crowd. Most people have avoided any punishment or sacfrice due to the Iraq war, that won’t be the case in a war with Iran.

    Reply

  14. leigh says:

    Do not imagine the Government wants Hicks’s repatriation. It wants him to stand trial at Guantanamo. Five years after the first terrorist suspects arrived at Guantanamo Bay, some of them remain in a legal limbo, writes Leigh Sales
    RICH Armitage arrived for our interview just as the television in the corner of his boardroom broadcast a news flash. George W. Bush was about to accept the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.
    The former US deputy secretary of state and the embattled secretary of defence loathed each other. I picked up my pen, sure that Armitage was about to let fly. Instead, he gazed intently at the TV. His body language betrayed nothing. He did not say a word.
    He was a lot less restrained a few minutes later when we began discussing the way Rumsfeld and the Pentagon have treated the Australian Government in the case of the Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.
    “They are incompetent and this is Rich Armitage on the record,” he thundered. “They cannot explain themselves and their treatment of our allies in general hasn’t exactly been stellar.”
    Five years ago today, the first planeload of detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay. Ever since, the Pentagon has repeatedly assured Australian officials it would resolve Hicks’s case quickly.
    It has not done so.
    “I think it’s fair that the Australians feel ripped off,” a senior US military official told me recently. “It’s unfortunate, because they have been very loyal.”
    The Howard Government has shown extraordinary patience, which is now running out. The Hicks matter will reach a pivotal point in coming weeks. After January 17, new rules will be in place for military commissions, opening the way for Hicks to be charged and tried. But can the Government be confident the Pentagon will finally deliver?
    Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says his US counterpart, Alberto Gonzales, has assured him Hicks’s case will be among the first to be heard. But for five years the Bush administration has let the Australian Government down time and again on this issue.
    It took 2 1/2 years to get Hicks before a military commission the first time around. The Australian Government considered that 2004 hearing so “untidy” and “unprofessional” that it complained to a top US National Security Council adviser and requested changes. And the Government was furious at the beginning of 2005, when the Pentagon decided it was not going to charge the other Australian held at Guantanamo, Mamdouh Habib, after years of assurances it had a strong case against him.
    Ruddock often excuses the Pentagon’s poor handling of the Hicks case by blaming defence legal challenges for the delay. However, they stopped the military commissions from November 2004 to September 2006: 22 months. Hicks has been in US custody for 62 months altogether. The remaining delay has been caused by the Bush administration’s poor management and the low priority of trials at Guantanamo, the Pentagon’s bureaucratic inefficiency, a legitimately complicated and unprecedented situation and a severe breakdown in the Office of Military Commissions in 2004, when three prosecutors walked out, declaring the trials were rigged. There are warning signs once again that the Pentagon may not deliver quickly.
    Its new strategy in Iraq, including a substantial increase in US troops, is a much higher priority than trials at Guantanamo Bay. There are plans to build extra courtrooms at Guantanamo for the new hearings, possibly delaying their start. As well, an appointing authority in the Office of Military Commissions has to approve charges against Hicks before his case can be heard.
    The last appointing authority resigned in November and has not yet been replaced.
    Given the Australian Government has tolerated this situation for five years, why has it now reached a tipping point?
    First, it’s risky for Canberra to continue relying on assurances from Washington. The Pentagon’s credibility on this matter ended with its release of Habib without explanation in 2005. It could do the same thing now with Hicks.
    Second, the present situation benefits nobody. It denies justice to Hicks. It cheats members of the Australian public, who wanted to see him tried years ago when there was timely evidence. It hurts the career of the American military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, who is stuck with the case until it ends. It devastates the Hicks family. It drains the resources of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian embassy in Washington. It does not enhance Australian national security. And it delivers no political advantage to the Prime Minister. For five years the Australian Government has been dogged by criticism that it has abandoned Hicks. The moment he lands back on Australian soil, Hicks himself, and the question of whether he poses a terrorist threat, will become the story, much as it did when Habib arrived home.
    Third, this is an election year. Although the Hicks case has gained little traction in middle Australia during the past five years, it is an irritant. The longer it goes on, the more people feel uneasy about the process. Why allow it to fester?
    Finally, the Bush administration is toxic. The President’s approval rating has plummeted to 36 per cent. He lost the House of Representatives and the Senate in the November mid-term elections. The war in Iraq is disastrous. John Howard has closely aligned himself with the Bush administration. Criticising the handling of the Hicks case now would establish some distance between the two before the next election.
    Do not imagine the Government wants Hicks’s repatriation. It does not. It wants him to stand trial at Guantanamo. But it is not prepared to accept more promises without results. When the FBI arrested Nazi secret agents in the US during World War II, their trials via military commission and subsequent executions took less than a month. From capture to execution, the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein spent two years and 17 days in custody. Hicks has now spent five years, one month and two days in prison, with no end in sight. The Pentagon must now act quickly and efficiently to fix that. It is said that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. On that basis, the Australian Government must be terrified.
    Leigh Sales is the ABC’s national security correspondent and author of the forthcoming The Worst of the Worst: The Case of David Hicks (Melbourne University Publishing).

    Reply

  15. karenk says:

    Yes Bush has the troop destinations backwards. Seems from what I’ve been reading, the Taliban has a mini state in the broder tribal areas, Waziristan I believe and Al Qaeda is getting back to business in these border areas and its believed OBL and al Zawahiri are in this area- FATA-Pakistan. I read there were 12 British citizens who were trained in a camp there and took circuitous routes so it was unknown they were in Pakistan. Now they’re back in Britain. Comforting…these things above should not be happening 5 years later, Musharref should be told “You’re either with us or you’re against us and if you can’t go in there and stop this we have to do it.” It’s vital to our national security.

    Reply

  16. TonyForesta says:

    What about deceiving the American public repeatedly and insistently, perverting the Constition, and profiteering wantonly gq? Wingnutisa fanaticus screaching like banshee’s during the pornographic Clinton witchhunt, – involving sexual improprieties.
    If fanaticus wingnuts can p;ervert the judicial process in a partisn attempt to impeach Clinton for lying about sexual exploits, then how do you turn you back on a president lying repeatedly and insistantly to the American public about the justifications, cost estimates, ultimate objectives, timeframe, and the wanton profiteering ongoing in Iraq!!?
    How do you close your eyes to the president and VP’s radical perversion of our core principles, advancing policies of torture and rendition, dimissing habeas corpus, due process, probable cause, and heaping the enormous costs in blood, treasure, loss of credibility and humanity resulting from the noendinsight horrorshow in Iraq, on America’s children?
    Look up the words fascist and hypocricy, and get back to me.

    Reply

  17. Dennis says:

    Hey, hey, hey! It’s 7:00p.m. eastern time. Not long now before Bush gives his “speech” and we get to watch the puppets jump up and down and up and down and, up….
    Then the praises, “Oh, what a wonderful speech” followed by the reply “Well, he didn’t say what we wanted to hear.”
    Then we’ll have the mainstream announcers telling us what we’ve already heard…blah, blah, blah; and if that’s not what we heard, then that’s what we “ought” (being good American citizens) to have heard.
    If Congress was worth its salt, at a minimum it would be jumping up and down demanding that Bush get out of Iraq.
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

    Reply

  18. gq says:

    dalivision,
    Impeachment is for high crimes and misdemeanors. I’m not sure his incompetence qualifies as grounds for impeachment.

    Reply

  19. Easy E says:

    Iraq “surge” is really about IRAN…..
    Bush’s speech includes ’stark new warning to Iran.’
    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/01/10/bushs-speech-includes-stark-new-warning-to-iran/
    here we go.

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    Why don’t Democrats argue that Bush just has it completely backwards, and that troops should be taken *out* of Iraq and put *into* Afghanistan?
    As far as I can tell, there are a lot more generals who would support that redeployment than there are generals who support the Bush plan.
    But such redeployment should be coupled with an overall phased withdrawal in Iraq so that the net result is more American troops rotating back to the world.

    Reply

  21. Zathras says:

    Could an additional 20,000 combat troops be sent instead to Afghanistan within the next couple of months?
    I’m not expecting the President to announce this tonight, nor members of Congress to suggest it tomorrow. It would just be interesting to know if it were possible.
    Now, news reports can be misleading, but those I’ve read suggest that the Taliban/al Qaeda types think they have some kind of momentum going for them in Afghanistan, and may be in a position to launch major offensives against government positions once the winter ends. If this really is the case they would have a hard time holding off even if it suddenly looked as if the Americans were ready for them.
    I have a high opinion of Gen. Petraeus, based on the information available to me, but counterinsurgency doctrine or no securing urban neigborhoods from rampaging militias is a lot farther from what American soldiers have been trained and equipped to do than blasting gunmen coming across the Afghan-Pakistani border. I doubt as well that any blow additional American troops could strike against Islamists in Baghdad would make half the impression produced by a Taliban offensive that could be, not merely held off but crushed.
    As I say, I don’t expect the President and his team to do anything like this. But in their position, I might.

    Reply

  22. liz says:

    Wow…. are they really going to let him do this again? Does anyone in Washington have a dictionary? Tell em to look up ” insanity” and apply that definition to this situation and possibly some of the players in the game as well.

    Reply

  23. sdemetri says:

    Another NPR piece this morning talked about the changing troop levels over time, going from 100k at one point, to 160k at another, and now to about 130k. Putting in 20k more will not even bring the total to the high of 160k.

    Reply

  24. Marky says:

    MP,
    Here’s the story on the French soldiers who purportedly could have killed Bin Laden:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20061221/wl_sthasia_afp/afghanistanqaedausattacksfrance

    Reply

  25. dalivision says:

    Why do we ‘cut and run’ from Afghanistan into Iraq?
    Only ‘way forward’, I guess. This admin can only think to make the rich richer but let the ordinary people die and maimed for life.
    I never thought I would press for impeachment but if 43 does do this, impeachment is necessary (for whatever reason).

    Reply

  26. Bill H. says:

    The same point was made by Jim Webb in an NPR interview this morning–that by the classic definitions, what is being proposed is not a new “strategy”–it is a tactical shift. By those definitions, apparently Bush does not now, (or perhaps never did) have a true strategy for the war.

    Reply

  27. DonS says:

    Shall we be serious here and stop buying into this whole “surge”-as-a-strategy. Call me a defeatist (as junior would), but if I had a bunch of money I would wager a good part of it that this impetuous, neocon-fulfilling little foot stamping, “I’m the decider”-laden gesture at trying to have a legacy, kick the “cut and run” can down the road to ’08 etc., etc., is about as fatuous a piece of non-strategy as I can imagine.
    Fatuous, that is, except for the increased loss of life, and expenditure of money we don’t have.

    Reply

  28. Sandra in Dallas says:

    Well that answers one big question – where the heck does the boy king think he can get 20,000 more troops? Someone needs to mail Biden a backbone and tell him that he needs to get on board with blocking this escalation and stop yammering about how he thinks it can’t be done.

    Reply

  29. MP says:

    Hey Marky, what was this one about? I don’t recall it.
    “Why do you think the US refused to allow the French to kill Bin Laden in 2003 or 2004?”

    Reply

  30. Marky says:

    LOL
    Pulling troops out of Tora Bora was one of Bush’s most brilliant moves. Without Bin Laden as a bogeyman Bush would never have been reelected in 2004. Why do you think the US refused to allow the French to kill Bin Laden in 2003 or 2004? Capturing Bin Laden will always be Bush’s lowest priority.

    Reply

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