View Full Version : Phased Transition: A Responsible Way Forward and Out of Iraq

06-26-2007, 09:03 PM
June 2007 Center for a New American Security publication - Phased Transition: A Responsible Way Forward and Out of Iraq (http://www.cnas.org/en/cms/?368) by James Miller and Shawn Brimley.

The U.S. military will withdraw from Iraq; the question is when and under what conditions. This report will provide a realistic appraisal of America’s enduring interests in Iraq — no al Qaeda safe havens, no regional war, and no genocide — and to provide a Phased Transition plan that identifies specific steps the Bush administration can take to make these outcomes more likely while also preparing for the worst and begins planning for subsequent phases. At this dangerous moment, such realism is essential to increasing the prospects that the United States will get out of Iraq more responsibly than it got in...

06-26-2007, 10:16 PM
June 2007 Center for a New American Security publication - Phased Transition: A Responsible Way Forward and Out of Iraq (http://www.cnas.org/en/cms/?368) by James Miller and Shawn Brimley.

I have to kind of laugh at the name of the "Center for the New American Strategy." Michelle and Kurt want so badly to be the Democrats' equivalent of the Project for the New American Century that they even almost stole the name. More power to them, though. They're good people.

Ken White
06-26-2007, 10:46 PM
For AN American Strategy. ;)

When they arrive, I hope they can develop one that will gain support from most -- never all -- in this rather chaotic, opinionated (varied) truly democratic (small d) milieu we call the US. If they do, that'll be a first...

Hey, we may not be too strong on unity but somehow we make it work in spite of ourselves. :)

Welcome to the new guys -- even if I don't agree with them at first blush. For example, this statement is undoubtedly true:

"...The U.S. military will withdraw from Iraq; the question is when and under what conditions..."

My perception is their version of "when" and mine differ by a decade or so at least. Have to go out for a bit so I look forward to reading it a little later.

Ken White
06-27-2007, 01:37 AM
was in need of becoming New but read it anyway. Not unreasonable, better than I expected but still off the mark, I think.

I earlier alluded to the fact that we are a chaotic bunch and while that's always been true, we've gotten sort of vituperative about of late. My perception is that Iraq has become a polarizing issue and I'm very skeptical that Bipartisan consensus on Iraq is achievable under current and most conceivable circumstances. Thus, that seems to me to be wishful thinking.

While it would certainly be nice, given our history -- ancient and modern -- it's probably not going to happen. I know many here disdain the 1/3 rule but, historically, it's reasonably accurate and I've seen nothing that indicates any change in the future. Most of the Think Tanks have a bias; even if the Tank is moderately unbiased, its scholars, fellows and writers have their own biases as do we all. My belief is that those biases intrude on the ability to grasp that the US has rarely had consensus or a coherent long term strategy -- yet, they keep trying to push their version of one..

One can cite WW II, certainly big and of enormous scope -- but of short duration and pretty firmly under the hand of a strong -- and devious -- leader. Many cite the Cold War and containment but that 'war' was artificial in so many respects and the containment took many varying guises over the years. The point is that our political system (of which I'm rather fond) with major changes (lurches?) every four or eight years is inimical to the development of a coherent long term strategy for much of anything. I used to despair over that, now I just accept it. Might as well, a combination of the Constitution, the structure, the system and our somewhat dangerous Congress mean that the poor strategists in the Think Tanks can get the diagnosis correct and they really generally do a good to great job at that -- but almost invariably miss on the prescription. Usually quite badly and generally due to idealism; they want to deal with the US Government as it should be (in their view)( and are unwilling to deal with it as it is.

Pity, it isn't that bad; just takes a little deviousness to get it to do what one wants...

Moving right along. "Strategic exhaustion" they say. Perhaps, though I'm very dubious. A tad tired I accept, exhaustion is hyperbole and political rhetoric. Not an item for their Paper but they probably miss the fact that the counterpoint of the 'tired' is well over a million combat experienced Soldats and Marines. No one else in the world can touch that and it's invaluable.

The big thing I think they miss is that Iraq cannot build an adequate external defense capability in the time proposed; they tacitly acknowledge that by leaving us in the AO, outside Iraq (sort of) but don't seem to address the finite where, the force structure (in any rotational detail) and logistic implications -- in fairness they do say that planning for that is required but the big issue IMO is while it may be there, I saw no reference to long term Iraq's own external defense capability.

At one point they mention consolidation in Green zone. Not germane to their paper but IMO, better to do away with the Green Zone entirely. Occupying any of Saddam's Palaces was never a good idea. Flat dumb, in fact.

They say US Diplomacy has been disregarded to concentrate on military solution. In my lifetime, US diplomacy has been good, bad and indifferent. Lately, it's been pretty indifferent which may have something to do with being ignored. It's okay to say we should use it more but they should also acknowledge its shortcomings.

Then there's this ""First, setting a timeline will provide incentives for Iraqi political leaders to take necessary steps on political reconciliation, i.e., it will help accelerate the "Baghdad clock.”" I have long railed about the fact that we spend millions training Foreign Area specialists and then totally ignore them. The Commanders egos get in the way and they don't want to listen to some LTC, no matter how smart he or she is. I thought it was a military flaw. Apparently the Think Tanks are also guilty. I'm no FAO but I spent enough time in the ME to say that the quoted statement is funny. Saying one thing and doing another, haggling and outwaiting folks are all national pastimes over there...

Regardless, IMO, the fatal flaw in their paper is the establishment of a finite time line. The reasons to not do that so far outweigh any reasons -- other than US domestic political -- to not do it that it, to me, effectively consigns their otherwise fairly good paper to File 13.

They further posit ""Sixth and finally, if the Bush administration proposes a Phased Transition and shows that its final months in office are aimed at implementing this plan, it can help establish a bipartisan consensus in the United States that may help avoid a precipitous withdrawal at the outset of the next administration."" I guess that means they haven't been reading the news lately. In the ME, attempts at compromise are seen as weakness; seems to me the same rule applies inside the Beltway...

I have always been amused at the campaign foreign policy statements of Presidential hopefuls -- and at the abrupt change in their rhetoric post November when they start getting all the classified briefings. My guess is that the next President whoever he or she from which ever party will avoid a precipitous withdrawal. I'd be willing to bet on it and ordinarily, I don't gamble, I just donate...

In short, that "Sixth and finally..." sort of gives the game away. Sounds to me like an an attempt to influence the political future, not necessarily the "strategy" or operational considerations relative to Iraq, not concern for the troops...

Lastly, I'm unsure of the provenance of this statement ""This means that because force protection needs require a minimum of nine troops to stay together during each patrol or movement..."" That may be a local requirement in Iraq, my perception is that it is not applied in Afghanistan and, other than an overreaction to the shooting of a couple of advisers by their nominally allied Iraqi Police I'm not sure why that would be done. Seems like overkill to me -- but, admittedly, I'm not there and all my interface with a lot of folks who have been is with guys from troop units; I think Rob's the first guy who was an adviser I've interfaced with in any way.

Interesting paper, pity about the timeline and bottom line....