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Thread: The Basrah Gambit

  1. #41
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Our President was unaware of the Sunni/Shi'i divide in Islam until shortly before the invasion of Iraq.

    If there is some secret American plan to sideline or curb ISCI, it does not appear to be working given that party's level of influence in the Iraqi government and security forces. OTOH, ISCI does have the advantage of being a relatively well-disciplined force and never having been caught trying to kill American soldiers - few factions in the Iraqi government can really make that claim, excepting the Kurds.
    Cutural awareness being important and not quite as good as it could have been I don't think anyone disagrees however I wasn't trying to point to some sort of "secret" operations but rather thinking about the fact that as well as westerners not always reading those in the mid-east the shoe fits on the other side as well and as such there may be considerations within the overall context which they haven't seen also.

    I just think one should never be drawn into thinking they have seen the whole picture on either side. It's only wise to always review what they think they know in order to compare it to the reality they face. I think quite a few of those in positions of power know that better than we may give them credit for.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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  2. #42
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    It's only wise to always review what they think they know in order to compare it to the reality they face. I think quite a few of those in positions of power know that better than we may give them credit for.
    I hope you are correct. However, hope has had a rather poor track record over the past five years.

  3. #43
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I hope you are correct. However, hope has had a rather poor track record over the past five years.
    May or may not be a lot of Iraqi's and / or Afghans out there who would disagree with that

    Kinda hard to tell yet
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Then how is one to differentiate when one is simply seeing what they wish, what they expect, or what is actually taking place.
    In advertising, we do focus groups and polling. In conventional combat I imagine the key is expecting fog, friction and enemy adaptation and not getting personally attached to any particular tactic or plan. (There's a Darwinian process; people who see what
    they want to see will sooner or later end up dead or defeated.)

    Personally, I think the way we've defined "victory" and "defeat" in Iraq - and all the politics that surrounds those issues - pretty much guarantees that even if you can see what's actually happening, not very many people are going to agree with you.

    I'm sure that Marc and Rex will also have some excellent suggestions for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    the shoe fits on the other side as well.
    Undoubtedly and those who attack us pay a high price for their misjudgment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    I think quite a few of those in positions of power know that better than we may give them credit for.
    I hope you're not seeing what you want to see , but that just goes to show how difficult the problems of perception are.
    Last edited by Rank amateur; 04-10-2008 at 04:13 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  5. #45
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    I hope you're not seeing what you want to see , but that just goes to show how difficult the problems of perception are.
    But luckily enough for us I'm not the one who decides who does what, where.

    Now one would think those who do decide have a some much wider scope than I
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I didn't know we had done that. Thus

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    ...
    Personally, I think the way we've defined "victory" and "defeat" in Iraq - and all the politics that surrounds those issues - pretty much guarantees that even if you can see what's actually happening, not very many people are going to agree with you.
    ...
    I'm curious as to what those definitions are?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm curious as to what those definitions are?
    An excellent question. (I'm talking about layman's spin, but I haven't seen any coordinated effort by anyone to replace the spin with a more nuanced approach. Present company excluded of course. The dialog on council is always extremely intelligent and nuanced.)

    Near as I can tell, anyone who wants to withdraw troops is admitting defeat and anyone who wants to stay supports victory. There doesn't seem to be a very big "weigh the costs and benefits" camp and those people seem to end up being quickly labelled defeatists. It might change after our election but both candidates have a vested interest in keeping the debate binary until then. I don't really see any candidate saying "I just saw a 15 slide PowerPoint that made me change my mind."

    Interestingly, I found a game theory simulation that suggested we should be lowering our definition of victory. Which would suggest that I'm wrong or the country isn't being rationale.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  8. #48
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post One thng which might be considered

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post

    Near as I can tell, anyone who wants to withdraw troops is admitting defeat and anyone who wants to stay supports victory. There doesn't seem to be a very big "weigh the costs and benefits" camp and those people seem to end up being quickly labelled defeatists. It might change after our election but both candidates have a vested interest in keeping the debate binary until then. I don't really see any candidate saying "I just saw a 15 slide PowerPoint that made me change my mind."
    Is that the idea that everyone including the GOI wants large amounts of American forces there for any longer than absolutely necessary is highly lacking a realistic assessment. Everyone wants the same thing for a variety of different reasons. The difference is to be found in the fact that some don't like it when the world doesn't move to their beat. A wise approach is to consider what can be done while maintaining a forward momentum towards a long term solution.

    This doesn't fit to well with those who think that
    A: The world can go to heck in a handbasket and well still be able to avoid suffering for it because we our US

    B: How can we fund our five thousand plus govt gimme programs if we actually have to spend money trying to help stabilize countries who may not be able to do it on their own(for a variety of reasons)and which if we don't could and probably will cost us much more in the long run

    Let me ask you a question. If you are hired to run an advertising campaign for blue shoes and get the contract for 3 million then two months after you start the company decides it isn't happy because the results aren't what they want them to be. And lets just throw in that one week after you got the job there was a world wide boycott of blue shoes because black is the new blue what would you tell them.

    A: ok here's your money back sorry bout that

    B: You have to give it a little more time because we're working behind the scenes to make blue the new purple

    Cwhatever your answer is since i'm pretty sure you won't pick either A or B)
    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    Interestingly, I found a game theory simulation that suggested we should be lowering our definition of victory. Which would suggest that I'm wrong or the country isn't being rationale.
    As to that sometimes simulations are good for telling you that you might have to adjust your expectations in order to match them to the given scenario
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  9. #49
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the response

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    ...
    Near as I can tell, anyone who wants to withdraw troops is admitting defeat and anyone who wants to stay supports victory. There doesn't seem to be a very big "weigh the costs and benefits" camp and those people seem to end up being quickly labelled defeatists. It might change after our election but both candidates have a vested interest in keeping the debate binary until then. I don't really see any candidate saying "I just saw a 15 slide PowerPoint that made me change my mind."
    I suppose one could look at it that way. I have a strong personal dislike of the terms victory and defeat attached to any COIN or nation building effort. The best one can hope for is a satisfactory outcome -- that obviously can vary dependent upon outlook.

    In any event, I think it's safe to say that if we do withdraw precipitously, the Islamists will claim 'victory' and thus trumpet our 'defeat.' That can have a detrimental long term effect albeit not probably a fatal one -- so any cost benefit analysis should consider that in some detail.

    What the candidates now say and what they will do if elected and getting all the detailed classified briefings are more than likely to be quite different things. I was almost looking forward to Kerry being elected in '04 so I could watch him back and fill in December. You're correct that both do have an interest in keeping it binary until then, though.
    Interestingly, I found a game theory simulation that suggested we should be lowering our definition of victory. Which would suggest that I'm wrong or the country isn't being rationale.
    Americans. Not being rational? Surely you jest, Sir!

    Heh -- I thought that was an American specialty...

    In fairness to them, though, in this case they're using the worlds that ignorant politicians and media (and even the random General...) use. That misue of the words has skewed the meaning of them beyond all hope of redemption for this one, I'm afraid. This may not be the most politicized war we've ever had but it sure is the one with the widest communication (of sorts...).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    A: ok here's your money back sorry bout that

    B: You have to give it a little more time because we're working behind the scenes to make blue the new purple

    Cwhatever your answer is since i'm pretty sure you won't pick either A or B)
    B, but when they asked "how long is a little more time?" I'd give them an answer, because this is what I do for a living and I know what a reasonable time is. I know how to set metrics and see if we're on the right track or not. I also know that if I don't get results it's because I screwed up. (None of my clients have ever made a mistake.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    I have a strong personal dislike of the terms victory and defeat attached to any COIN or nation building effort. The best one can hope for is a satisfactory outcome -- that obviously can vary dependent upon outlook.
    We agree. (Although every time I say that, you say we don't.) I just think that once the commander in chief uses the terms victory and defeat it is extremely difficult to find middle ground. Now that I think about it, that's probably a more accurate expression of what I meant initially. If we hypothetically came to an acceptable outcome, I don't think many people would accept it. They'd still be looking for victory or looking back at all the mistakes. (It goes back to seeing what you want, biases, self images, allegiances etc. All that spin doctor stuff that has it's uses but can also cause problems.)
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Cool Heh, the Adman cometh...

    This is not a good idea:
    Originally Posted by Ken
    A: ok here's your money back sorry bout that

    B: You have to give it a little more time because we're working behind the scenes to make blue the new purple

    Cwhatever your answer is since i'm pretty sure you won't pick either A or B)
    This medium doesn't lend itself to the subtleties that direct communication allows and Ken didn't say that.

    EDITED TO ADD: Other than not understanding your meaning, I don't personally have a problem with the technique but on an open board, it can cause confusion. Someone else sees it, takes it out of context and a month from now I get accused of saying "You have to give it a little more time..." I respond, correctly, that I've never said that, then he produces the 'quote.' no big thing but I try to quote people verbatim to avoid such problems.

    That said, I suggest that I did not and would not offer you any money back because I have none of yours; if, as I suspect, you meant something sort of allegorical by that, it went right over my head???

    I am not suggesting that you 'give it a little more time.' My view has been and is that we'll be there for many years, so no reason for me to ask for more time. No attempt to make anything into something it is not. I don't think anybody in DC or Iraq is trying to do that and I know I'm not. If, by that comment, you meant that what the Islamists say about victory or defeat is irrelevant, all I can do is suggest that you might want to give that some thought.

    IOW, I think your message got lost in the medium...
    B, but when they asked "how long is a little more time?" I'd give them an answer, because this is what I do for a living and I know what a reasonable time is.
    And what would your answer be? Ten weeks? Ten months? Ten years? Make it too long and you'll lose, make it too short and you may get stuck with something you can't deliver. So what is your reasonable time? You do messages for a living, if you fail, your client may lose a buck or two and get a tax write off. If we fail in Iraq, even more lives than it's already cost will be at stake. You do it for a living but are lives at risk if you err? not to mention that the ol' fog of war is awfully hard to see through -- and harder to predict.

    Not that Politicians don't ignore that and err...
    I know how to set metrics and see if we're on the right track or not. I also know that if I don't get results it's because I screwed up. (None of my clients have ever made a mistake.)
    Be nice if it were that simple. First, metrics and war do not mesh well; too many intangibles and unforeseeable unknowns. Second, a lot of of folks who are also good at metrics have set or are setting metrics on this one -- most have been wrong and I predict the next crop will be equally wrong.

    Your clients must be politicians; they have the same ability -- every time there's a screw up it's never their fault...
    We agree. (Although every time I say that, you say we don't.)
    Then stop using the word!
    I just think that once the commander in chief uses the terms victory and defeat it is extremely difficult to find middle ground.
    Too true -- that's one of many reasons I object to the word, it sets up unreasonable -- even unrealizable -- expectations. Hate it when the Pols use it but they and the media I can excuse on grounds of ignorance. Harder to excuse the Generals who should know better.
    Now that I think about it, that's probably a more accurate expression of what I meant initially. If we hypothetically came to an acceptable outcome, I don't think many people would accept it. They'd still be looking for victory or looking back at all the mistakes. (It goes back to seeing what you want, biases, self images, allegiances etc. All that spin doctor stuff that has it's uses but can also cause problems.)
    Sure, that's the American way. The One third rule applies. 1/3 would object, 1/3 would agree and the middle third would split with a tilt to one side depending on how well, on balance, we came out of it. Always been that way and likely most always will. That's okay.
    Last edited by Ken White; 04-11-2008 at 05:14 AM. Reason: Addendum

  12. #52
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Thumbs down How much does it cost when you put the wrong name on an add?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    B, but when they asked "how long is a little more time?" I'd give them an answer, because this is what I do for a living and I know what a reasonable time is. I know how to set metrics and see if we're on the right track or not. I also know that if I don't get results it's because I screwed up. (None of my clients have ever made a mistake.)
    .)
    As to this as Ken said metrics for real time decisions in war are pretty fuzzy and more often than not if one gets stuck on them one will probably get stuck

    Also consider that the client not being liable for bad luck in an ad campaign at worst cost someone their livelihood. In War whether the "clients" like it or not if it goes wrong someone or many someones die. It is largely different doing risk management in markets vs in war and it would be better for all of us if some would come to realize that. Unfortunately probably won't happen because most that have that problem aren't really paying attention to the war itself but what propaganda value it holds for them
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    My apologies to Ken and Ron. I was responding to multiple quotes, started copying the quote tags and then deleted some quotes and got confused about who said what. (Maybe someone can fix it for me. I can't edit it anymore.)


    To summarize my thoughts. War is messy. COIN particularly so, but I think we need to move beyond "it takes a long time" to "A COIN effort is going down the wrong track if [or the right track if]...."

    From Abu Muqawama

    Quote Originally Posted by abu muqawama
    While we're on the subject of Lebanonization, though, here's another historical analogy that Amb. Crocker missed. In Lebanon, in September 1983, the U.S. lent direct support to what it assumed was a national institution, the Lebanese Army, in the battle at Souk el-Gharb. By doing so, it became, in the eyes of the rest of the Lebanese population, just another militia and thus fair game. What happened next? Ask any U.S. Marine.

    Now we all know the situations in Iraq and Lebanon are not exactly the same, but Souk el-Gharb was running through Abu Muqawama's head during the battle of Basra two weeks ago when we were lending our support to the "national" army of Iraq in its fight with the Sadr crew. To us good-natured Americans, it may have looked as if we were lending our support to the legitimate, national institutions of Iraq. But to other Iraqis, it probably looked as if we were taking sides in the intra-Shia political dispute between ISCI and Sadr in the run-up to this fall's provincial elections.
    I think we can discuss the issue here, which is one reason why I like having discussions here, but I can't see the Senate having a reasonable discussion about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Then stop using the word!
    An excellent example of how a single word can make it difficult to wrap everything up. Imagine how long we'd both go on if we both believed that this was a debate, instead of a conversation, and that one of us would be declared a winner and the other a loser.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    In any event, I think it's safe to say that if we do withdraw precipitously, the Islamists will claim 'victory' and thus trumpet our 'defeat.' That can have a detrimental long term effect albeit not probably a fatal one -- so any cost benefit analysis should consider that in some detail.
    An excellent point. I think the analysis really depends on how the debate is framed. Losing a battle in a long war isn't a problem. In a long war, you can have Pyrrhic victories. On the other hand, if you frame Iraq in black and white terms, no one likes to lose.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Well now, this is interesting: Petraeus on the Sadr movement:

    General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is a "leader of an important and legitimate political movement," urging the Iraqi government, in whose selection Sadr was a kingmaker, to recognize and deal with it.

    "I think the way, the best way to characterize Muqtada al-Sadr is that he is the face and the leadership of a very important and legitimate political movement in Iraq," he said."

    Muqtada, the leader of the Sadrist movement, is the son of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who was assassinated by the former Iraqi regime's intelligence agencies in early 1999. The elder Sadr was Marja al-Taqlid, source of emulation, for Shiite Muslims. Muqtada is also the leader of Jaysh al-Mahdi, or the Mahdi Army, militias, which he founded in July 2003 as a military wing for his movement.

    "Sadr's movement is part of the alliance that elected the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki," Petraeus said during a joint press conference he held in Washington on Thursday with U.S. ambassador in Iraq Ryan Crocker.
    Much more from both Petraeus and Crocker on Sadr's movement in 10 April press conference in DC. You can see it on CSPAN's website - scroll down to "Petraeus and Amb. Crocker News Conference on Iraq (April 10, 2008)".

    The Muqtada question is right at the beginning. Crocker and Petraeus both emphasize the Sadrists' legitimacy, say that that Sadr is not an enemy of the U.S., and Petraeus even calls on the Iraqi government not to "back anyone into a corner".

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Well now, this is interesting: Petraeus on the Sadr movement:



    Much more from both Petraeus and Crocker on Sadr's movement in 10 April press conference in DC. You can see it on CSPAN's website - scroll down to "Petraeus and Amb. Crocker News Conference on Iraq (April 10, 2008)".

    The Muqtada question is right at the beginning. Crocker and Petraeus both emphasize the Sadrists' legitimacy, say that that Sadr is not an enemy of the U.S., and Petraeus even calls on the Iraqi government not to "back anyone into a corner".
    never quite so predictable as some might think it is
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not a prob. Life, as always, goes on...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    ...
    To summarize my thoughts. War is messy. COIN particularly so, but I think we need to move beyond "it takes a long time" to "A COIN effort is going down the wrong track if [or the right track if]...."
    I agree. Now all we have to do is convince the politicians and that 1/3 who are adamantly opposed to the Iraq intervention at all levels that should happen...
    I think we can discuss the issue here, which is one reason why I like having discussions here, but I can't see the Senate having a reasonable discussion about it.
    Sadly true. Even more sad is the fact that neither Iraq or US policy are the real issues.
    An excellent example of how a single word can make it difficult to wrap everything up. Imagine how long we'd both go on if we both believed that this was a debate, instead of a conversation, and that one of us would be declared a winner and the other a loser.
    Also totally true and a sad commentary on public and politics in the US today.
    An excellent point. I think the analysis really depends on how the debate is framed. Losing a battle in a long war isn't a problem. In a long war, you can have Pyrrhic victories. On the other hand, if you frame Iraq in black and white terms, no one likes to lose.
    Also true though I would submit some battles are far more important than others and their loss can affect the future course of the war.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. Truer words were never spake..

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Life's never quite so predictable as some might think it is
    or writ or supm'n...

    Fortunately, I'm all for that; life would sure be dull and boring, otherwise.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Spaken of unpredictable

    Any one want to lay odds on the actual perpetrators of the Sadr's aides assassination having been Special groups rather than IA/IP or Coalition as seems to be the first place many are looking
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Default We're not wanted by the Iraqis - it's time to go

    Under this title in The Daily Telegraph (UK) the author Con Coughlin, who supported the Iraqi invasion advocates UK forces leave Basra airbase: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/m.../11/do1104.xml

    The comments it has attracted do include some reasoned responses.

    He has also written an article on Afghanistan 'Whose side are the Afghans on?', which reveals he is accompanying the UK's most senior military officer, Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...wafghan112.xml (which I will copy to an Afghan thread).

    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Any one want to lay odds on the actual perpetrators of the Sadr's aides assassination having been Special groups rather than IA/IP or Coalition as seems to be the first place many are looking
    My initial gut reaction - and my continued belief - is ISCI. Najaf brings in million and millions of dollars in donations to the shrines. ISCI doesn't want JAM nosing in on their territory. They get their cut for now. When Sistani kicks the bucket, they hope to get a bigger slice. The farther away JAM stays, the bigger the slice for ISCI.

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