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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why Patriot?

Leave it to this President to pay homage to a cliché. In the spirit of second verse, same as the first, the President made a speech tonight.

Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.

Address to Nation, Pres. Bush, 01/10/07

Sound familiar?

Thank you. I would like to deliver this in full. It's my first opportunity to talk to you specifically about Iraq. I've spoken many times about why we are there, but I would like to talk about how we assure victory.

In short, with the Iraqi Government, our political-military strategy has to be to clear, hold, and build: to clear areas from insurgent control, to hold them securely, and to build durable, national Iraqi institutions.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Opening Remarks Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, October 19, 2005

And not to be out done, a Connecticut for Lieberman senator had this to say:

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.

Sen. Lieberman (CFL-Conn.), Tuesday, November 29, 2005, Wall Street Journal

Let's not forget this press release in 2006 regarding a policy in place since May 2005:

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 20, 2006

Fact Sheet: Strategy for Victory: Clear, Hold, and Build

In Response To Experiences In Tal Afar And Elsewhere, The Coalition Adopted A New Approach - Clear, Hold, And Build. The ability of al-Qaida and its associates to retake Tal Afar was a problem seen elsewhere in Iraq, and the Iraqi government and Coalition adopted a new approach. Instead of coming in, removing the terrorists, and then moving on, Iraqi and Coalition forces pursued a strategy of clearing a city of terrorists, leaving well-trained Iraqi units behind to hold the city, and working with local leaders to build economic and political infrastructure.

In May 2005, Iraqi And Coalition Forces Began Implementing This New Approach To Restore Order In Tal Afar And Give Residents Confidence The Terrorists Would Not Return.

I must have missed the memo where the same old plan was magically transformed to the new way forward. David Ignatus wrote an op-ed in The Daily Star on 11/8/05 (via Yale Global) saying that Clear, Hold and Build was based on Vietnam War counter insurgency plans. Ignatus wrote that Gen. Abizaid and civilian administration leaders were reading, “A Better War,” by Lewis Sorley. In this book, Sorely suggests that Clear and Hold would have worked in Vietnam if only American public opinion hadn’t already turned against the war. Sure …

I found especially disturbing the truly novel part of the President’s plan.

We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region. (see first link)

Patriot missiles are used to shoot down other missiles. Remember Gulf War I? We used the Patriot air defense to thwart Sadam Hussein’s SCUD attacks on Saudi Arabia and Israel. From where exactly are we expecting a missile attack? With Sadam dead and his missile program dead a decade before him … oh, I should have thought before I wrote. This is either cowboy diplomacy or the President has already decided to bomb Iran and finally has some foresight to prepare for retaliatory missile or air strikes. Either way, the President seems hell-bent on escalating our military involvement in the Middle East. Just plain nuts.

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