Unbelieveable

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Jccarlton
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Unbelieveable

Postby Jccarlton » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:33 am

Get a job in the Obama administration. No relevant experience required:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RhMl51d1rM
All you need is a Harvard Degree and a witch hunting license.

H/T Save US energy jobs
http://www.facebook.com/SaveUSEnergyJobs

bcglorf
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Re: Unbelieveable

Postby bcglorf » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:15 pm

Jccarlton wrote:Get a job in the Obama administration. No relevant experience required:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RhMl51d1rM
All you need is a Harvard Degree and a witch hunting license.

H/T Save US energy jobs
http://www.facebook.com/SaveUSEnergyJobs


Not exactly unbelievable, nor new. Paul Bremer comes to mind.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:54 pm

Bremer caused a LOT of immediate problems. However, in the long run I believe the actions he took were for the most part good (de-Baathification is the biggie.).

The question always was could the policies survive the short run? That was decided in the summer of 2007.

Now a man with a plan (even a bad one if he is willing to learn) is better than a man with no plan.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.
http://protonboron.com/
THE OPEN POLYWELL FUSION CONSORTIUM

bcglorf
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Qualifications

Postby bcglorf » Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:04 pm

MSimon wrote:Bremer caused a LOT of immediate problems. However, in the long run I believe the actions he took were for the most part good (de-Baathification is the biggie.).

The question always was could the policies survive the short run? That was decided in the summer of 2007.

Now a man with a plan (even a bad one if he is willing to learn) is better than a man with no plan.


The biggest problem with Bremer was choosing him in the first place. The second problem was when he was chosen. Only after all that did his choices start becoming part of the problems caused by him.

He was tapped for the position two whole weeks before he was to be in place and running things, and had NO prior experience with Iraq. That's a whole mountain of inexplicable incompetence for an enormously important position and situation.


If anyone cared about making the near impossible Iraqi transition smoother, they could have started by putting someone in charge that had previous experience with Iraq. Ideally, that person would also have been given months, not days, to form a team and prepare with them for the task.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:22 pm

Sometimes knowing nothing (esp the way things used to be) is an advantage.

Military men sometimes only have hours to prepare. Two weeks is a lot. As contractor I take any job I feel I can be productive in with a week of OJT. i.e. about how long it takes to get a feel for the application and to learn a new assy. lang.

===========

In the case of human interactions sometimes it is best to have to form a new network rather than rely on the network you know. esp. if you want to destroy the old network.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.
http://protonboron.com/
THE OPEN POLYWELL FUSION CONSORTIUM

bcglorf
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Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:58 pm

Seriously?

Postby bcglorf » Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:18 pm

Sometimes knowing nothing (esp the way things used to be) is an advantage.

Sometimes, but 99.9% of the rest of the time knowing something is better. Do you really want to argue from the position that the best path to running post-invasion Iraq was ignorance?

MSimon
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Re: Seriously?

Postby MSimon » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:44 am

bcglorf wrote:Sometimes knowing nothing (esp the way things used to be) is an advantage.

Sometimes, but 99.9% of the rest of the time knowing something is better. Do you really want to argue from the position that the best path to running post-invasion Iraq was ignorance?


Oh. Not total ignorance. Just few connections with the crowd that used to run the place into the ground.

To do that you may need to appoint a head of the effort with no previous experience.

The question is: do you just want to modify the old machine or start with a blank sheet of paper? If modification is the order of the day an old hand is the right choice. If a fresh start is what you want then some one with no connections is probably best.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.
http://protonboron.com/
THE OPEN POLYWELL FUSION CONSORTIUM

bcglorf
Posts: 436
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:58 pm

Re: Seriously?

Postby bcglorf » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:11 pm

MSimon wrote:
bcglorf wrote:Sometimes knowing nothing (esp the way things used to be) is an advantage.

Sometimes, but 99.9% of the rest of the time knowing something is better. Do you really want to argue from the position that the best path to running post-invasion Iraq was ignorance?


Oh. Not total ignorance. Just few connections with the crowd that used to run the place into the ground.

To do that you may need to appoint a head of the effort with no previous experience.

The question is: do you just want to modify the old machine or start with a blank sheet of paper? If modification is the order of the day an old hand is the right choice. If a fresh start is what you want then some one with no connections is probably best.


That's a pretty convoluted dance, I wonder if you really believe that was the reasoning behind his appointment? I think there is a much stronger case he was picked for his connections within the far right, rather than his lack of connections within Iraq.

Even if you have absolute confidence in your ignorance was best argument, what about the timing? Do you hold that when picking someone for their lack of connections, it was also best to cripple them further by giving them no time to prepare either? Or was building a team to run the CPA on a two week timeline also probably best?

Don't get me wrong, I support the invasion 100%, I think it was a tremendous favor to Iraqi's. That doesn't mean I feel the need to look the other way to gross incompetence along the way. I will state that the invasion and subsequent occupation are still as a whole a good deed for Iraqi's. I'll accept that mistakes, errors and crimes are unavoidable when prosecuting a a war, and you accept that those will happen when choosing to start one. That doesn't mean you don't still call a spade a spade when assessing what was done right and what was done wrong.

Diogenes
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Re: Seriously?

Postby Diogenes » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:19 pm

bcglorf wrote:
MSimon wrote:
bcglorf wrote:Sometimes knowing nothing (esp the way things used to be) is an advantage.

Sometimes, but 99.9% of the rest of the time knowing something is better. Do you really want to argue from the position that the best path to running post-invasion Iraq was ignorance?


Oh. Not total ignorance. Just few connections with the crowd that used to run the place into the ground.

To do that you may need to appoint a head of the effort with no previous experience.

The question is: do you just want to modify the old machine or start with a blank sheet of paper? If modification is the order of the day an old hand is the right choice. If a fresh start is what you want then some one with no connections is probably best.


That's a pretty convoluted dance, I wonder if you really believe that was the reasoning behind his appointment? I think there is a much stronger case he was picked for his connections within the far right, rather than his lack of connections within Iraq.

Even if you have absolute confidence in your ignorance was best argument, what about the timing? Do you hold that when picking someone for their lack of connections, it was also best to cripple them further by giving them no time to prepare either? Or was building a team to run the CPA on a two week timeline also probably best?

Don't get me wrong, I support the invasion 100%, I think it was a tremendous favor to Iraqi's. That doesn't mean I feel the need to look the other way to gross incompetence along the way. I will state that the invasion and subsequent occupation are still as a whole a good deed for Iraqi's. I'll accept that mistakes, errors and crimes are unavoidable when prosecuting a a war, and you accept that those will happen when choosing to start one. That doesn't mean you don't still call a spade a spade when assessing what was done right and what was done wrong.




From what I saw, Bremer was incompetent for the purpose we needed him most. Overseeing a peaceful transfer of power back to the Iraqis.

I keep saying this, every time the topic is brought up. Disbanding the Iraqi army and announcing all former bath party members would not be allowed to keep their jobs or work in government was the absolute stupidest thing that it was possible to do.

Regardless of WHY he was appointed, or how long he had to get prepared, the results were that the man CAUSED a huge freakin mess because he did the absolutely stupidest thing possible. I think if he had tried to do anything stupider , the army would have stopped him. He managed to obtain the optimum balance between maximum stupidity and adult supervision. The threshold just shy of which his stupidity would be rolled back.

Bremer is responsible for Obama and the Democrats getting control of the legislative and executive branches, a catastrophe FAR worse than the value of the entire nation of Iraq, and probably greater than the entire value of the middle east.

The world is a far sorrier place for having allowed Paul Bremer his promotion to incompetence.

bcglorf
Posts: 436
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:58 pm

Admitting failures

Postby bcglorf » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:21 pm

From what I saw, Bremer was incompetent for the purpose we needed him most. Overseeing a peaceful transfer of power back to the Iraqis.

He was incompetent, but I think it's dishonest for anyone to have suggested or expected there ever was or could have been a peaceful transfer of power after the removal of Saddam. The country was already a disaster, in every meaningful respect and there was going to be chaos, violence and death no matter what was done.

Bremer is responsible for Obama and the Democrats getting control of the legislative and executive branches, a catastrophe FAR worse than the value of the entire nation of Iraq

You know what, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Obama's election win wasn't even the worst catastrophe to hit the US in the last year. I'd also give more credit to Bush and Cheney for that than Bremer. Even Rumsfeld deserves more credit than Bremer for driving the public to vote against the Republicans.

Finally, I don't think it's fair to blame Bremer for his incompetence without giving even more blame to those that gave him the responsibility in full knowledge of how incompetent he was. When Bush met with a group of Iraqi exiles only months before the invasion, they discovered that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunni and Shia and spent the better part of the meeting explaining it to him. One of the central cultural divides in the entire Middle East, and Bush hadn't even heard of it at a point where he had almost certainly already heard from all his advisers and decided on his course for Iraq.

Bush's plan for Iraq
1. Remove Saddam
2. ?
3. Democracy!

The question mark potentially being appoint someone on the basis of their lack of experience in Iraq to handle the transition.

It took a lot to make the right call to finally remove Saddam. I'd say it is a big enough right that it overshadows Bush's many mistakes. I'd also say Bush's handling of most things suggests it may have been blind dumb luck, rather than any manner of perceptive insight, that led him to that right choice.

CaptainBeowulf
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Postby CaptainBeowulf » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:11 pm

Bush's plan for Iraq
1. Remove Saddam
2. ?
3. Democracy!


LOL! That is one of the best summaries on this topic I've seen. Removing Saddam was the right thing to do, but having no transition plan was extremely bad. Yes, there would have been some chaos and a few deaths no matter what you did... but hundreds of thousands of people didn't need to die.

It goes beyond Bremer. As pointed out in this thread already, key decision-makers had little idea of the importance of the Sunni-Shia divide and other ethnic/regional/tribal enmities. The U.S. Army had people who did. The Army had done studies of this stuff. Shinseki and others wanted to send in between 300,000-500,000 troops, not 120,000 or so.

Rumsfeld figured that the "transformed" Army based on the "revolution in military affairs" didn't need such large numbers. The Army knew that it didn't need much more than 100,000 to defeat the Iraqi regular army. It wanted those extra troops to prevent an insurgency from starting. With Rumsfeld, that argument fell on deaf hears.

Having, say, double the number of "boots on the ground" would have been a good way to start an effective transition plan. All those other sites - like weapons depots and government offices - could have been guarded against looters and would-be insurgents.

From there, I suspect that keeping the Iraqi army intact and then, over a period of several months, removing the worst Ba'athist officers (ones who could be proven to have participated in war crimes etc., not guys who were just members of the party because that was the only way to get ahead) would have been the most effective approach. It would have stopped most of those young guys from becoming unemployed and deciding to join a Shia or Sunni militia.

You can't completely remake a country into a model democracy in a few years. You have to either be in and out quickly, in no more than a year, or else you have to stay for a very long time. In Iraq there were still the rudiments of a functioning state. They could have been used to transition quickly. In Afghanistan there really is no state, so there could be no quick transition.

With a quick transition, you can hedge against a return to tyranny this way: you point out to the new government that gets elected just before you leave how easily you were able to take out Saddam. You tell them that if they start to act like Saddam - ie. terrorize their own people, massacre Kurds, suspend democracy and rule as tyrants, etc.- then you'll come back and remove them as well. Then let them work out the rest of their path to democracy on their own.

And as for reconstruction, offer them reconstruction help. However, don't just hand out contracts on your own initiative to U.S. companies to come in and start building oil facilities and other infrastructure. The optics of that make you look like a colonialist. You have to get an elected government in the country in question to issue whatever contracts, and you have to get the maximum number of local workers employed.

Unfortunately the Bush admin played into many of the stereotypes/caricatures of the right that the left creates. I think someone like McCain would've done better.[/code]

Diogenes
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Re: Admitting failures

Postby Diogenes » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:49 pm

bcglorf wrote:From what I saw, Bremer was incompetent for the purpose we needed him most. Overseeing a peaceful transfer of power back to the Iraqis.

He was incompetent, but I think it's dishonest for anyone to have suggested or expected there ever was or could have been a peaceful transfer of power after the removal of Saddam. The country was already a disaster, in every meaningful respect and there was going to be chaos, violence and death no matter what was done.




We managed it after World War II with former Nazis, the same tactics would have worked just as well in Iraq. We didn't follow the game plan of the far wiser men who dealt with the far larger, and more belligerently effective nation of Germany. We decided to have an amateur hour with ignorant players.

It may be true that some violence was unavoidable, but with the two announcements that Paul Bremer made, it was a guaranteed certainty. I distinctly recall the time I first heard the idea. I started screaming at my radio how stupid it was. My thinking at the time was very simple.

We won the engagement of armies. The former enemy was waiting to see what our next move will be. They were uncertain, and concerned for their well being and that of their families. We should have put them all to work rebuilding their country, and giving them confidence in a Democratic Iraq. We should reassure them, not tell the people who know where all the guns and bombs are that we will throw them out of work, and as long as we are here they will never have a future in their own country!

We intentionally picked an unnecessary fight with the most dangerous people in Iraq. People who would have cooperated with us (and are now doing so.) had we just tried to assuage their concerns for their future and the future of their families. The money spent fighting them would have been far more beneficial had it been spent paying them to rebuild their country.


If you recall at the time, from the point which active combat with the Iraqi army ceased, to the point where the first bombs started going off, there was a long lull period in which bombs and explosions weren't happening. It was not until after that stupid announcement that the bombs started going off, and that the "kill the invaders" attitude commenced among the Sunnis. We never had a moment's respite after that, until the recent General Petraus strategy, (which is more or less what I was advocating back in 2003) finally led to success.


bcglorf wrote:Bremer is responsible for Obama and the Democrats getting control of the legislative and executive branches, a catastrophe FAR worse than the value of the entire nation of Iraq

You know what, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Obama's election win wasn't even the worst catastrophe to hit the US in the last year. I'd also give more credit to Bush and Cheney for that than Bremer. Even Rumsfeld deserves more credit than Bremer for driving the public to vote against the Republicans.

Finally, I don't think it's fair to blame Bremer for his incompetence without giving even more blame to those that gave him the responsibility in full knowledge of how incompetent he was. When Bush met with a group of Iraqi exiles only months before the invasion, they discovered that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunni and Shia and spent the better part of the meeting explaining it to him. One of the central cultural divides in the entire Middle East, and Bush hadn't even heard of it at a point where he had almost certainly already heard from all his advisers and decided on his course for Iraq.

Bush's plan for Iraq
1. Remove Saddam
2. ?
3. Democracy!

The question mark potentially being appoint someone on the basis of their lack of experience in Iraq to handle the transition.

It took a lot to make the right call to finally remove Saddam. I'd say it is a big enough right that it overshadows Bush's many mistakes. I'd also say Bush's handling of most things suggests it may have been blind dumb luck, rather than any manner of perceptive insight, that led him to that right choice.



I suppose I am putting too much blame on Bremmer, but if not for that incredible stupidity on his part, the media wouldn't have been able to stir the propaganda pot concerning the war. Had the conflict ACTUALLY ceased in summer of 2003, then the war spending would have declined, the body count would have declined, the Republicans would not have been so inclined to spend freely, and we could have then made a better argument for attacking Iran. ( which I think we should have done already.)

Yes, Bush deserves a fair share for creating the conditions that made Nancy Pelosi 2 heartbeats away from the Presidency, and likewise the silly man-child now playing make believe in the White House, possible. I have often secretly thought that Bremer would never have made such a move without the acquiescence of George W. Bush, and if that is the case, then George Bush ultimately deserves credit for the entire fiasco.

I know this. I am sick to death of the political droppings of Rino Republican Families like the Bushes, and I hope to never hear the Name "Bush" in politics ever again. I didn't like his father either, but when you have a choice between a Weeny and an Idiot, you end up having to pick the weeny.

Diogenes
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Postby Diogenes » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:50 pm

CaptainBeowulf wrote:
Bush's plan for Iraq
1. Remove Saddam
2. ?
3. Democracy!


LOL! That is one of the best summaries on this topic I've seen. Removing Saddam was the right thing to do, but having no transition plan was extremely bad. Yes, there would have been some chaos and a few deaths no matter what you did... but hundreds of thousands of people didn't need to die.

It goes beyond Bremer. As pointed out in this thread already, key decision-makers had little idea of the importance of the Sunni-Shia divide and other ethnic/regional/tribal enmities. The U.S. Army had people who did. The Army had done studies of this stuff. Shinseki and others wanted to send in between 300,000-500,000 troops, not 120,000 or so.

Rumsfeld figured that the "transformed" Army based on the "revolution in military affairs" didn't need such large numbers. The Army knew that it didn't need much more than 100,000 to defeat the Iraqi regular army. It wanted those extra troops to prevent an insurgency from starting. With Rumsfeld, that argument fell on deaf hears.

Having, say, double the number of "boots on the ground" would have been a good way to start an effective transition plan. All those other sites - like weapons depots and government offices - could have been guarded against looters and would-be insurgents.

From there, I suspect that keeping the Iraqi army intact and then, over a period of several months, removing the worst Ba'athist officers (ones who could be proven to have participated in war crimes etc., not guys who were just members of the party because that was the only way to get ahead) would have been the most effective approach. It would have stopped most of those young guys from becoming unemployed and deciding to join a Shia or Sunni militia.

You can't completely remake a country into a model democracy in a few years. You have to either be in and out quickly, in no more than a year, or else you have to stay for a very long time. In Iraq there were still the rudiments of a functioning state. They could have been used to transition quickly. In Afghanistan there really is no state, so there could be no quick transition.

With a quick transition, you can hedge against a return to tyranny this way: you point out to the new government that gets elected just before you leave how easily you were able to take out Saddam. You tell them that if they start to act like Saddam - ie. terrorize their own people, massacre Kurds, suspend democracy and rule as tyrants, etc.- then you'll come back and remove them as well. Then let them work out the rest of their path to democracy on their own.

And as for reconstruction, offer them reconstruction help. However, don't just hand out contracts on your own initiative to U.S. companies to come in and start building oil facilities and other infrastructure. The optics of that make you look like a colonialist. You have to get an elected government in the country in question to issue whatever contracts, and you have to get the maximum number of local workers employed.

Unfortunately the Bush admin played into many of the stereotypes/caricatures of the right that the left creates. I think someone like McCain would've done better.[/code]



I agree. Well said.

bcglorf
Posts: 436
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:58 pm

The Elephant in the room

Postby bcglorf » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:16 pm

It's just too bad nobody in Bush and Cheney's offices had the foresight and knowledge to understand the kind of complex quagmire that Saddam's removal would create. People like the guy in this video here predicting exactly that back right after the first gulf war.

Not to imply anything sinister about Cheney. Perhaps one of his greatest sins was the failure to remove Saddam the first time around, and I'm not sure finally doing so a decade later earns him forgiveness. The gross incompetence displayed by all those around him in 2003 contrasts very badly with his clear understanding of the enormity of the task back in the 90's. I really hate politics.

MSimon
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Re: The Elephant in the room

Postby MSimon » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:55 pm

bcglorf wrote:It's just too bad nobody in Bush and Cheney's offices had the foresight and knowledge to understand the kind of complex quagmire that Saddam's removal would create. People like the guy in this video here predicting exactly that back right after the first gulf war.

Not to imply anything sinister about Cheney. Perhaps one of his greatest sins was the failure to remove Saddam the first time around, and I'm not sure finally doing so a decade later earns him forgiveness. The gross incompetence displayed by all those around him in 2003 contrasts very badly with his clear understanding of the enormity of the task back in the 90's. I really hate politics.


Ah. But the sweet thing is: not that I can fall down but that I'm able to get back up.

BTW my argument (such as it is) rests on the foundation of the fact that de-Nazifying Germany caused chaos in that country for about 5 years after the war was over. New cadre had to be trained. New politicians had to be found. Everyone with experience was considered tainted. (except in a few "important" cases - like Gehlen)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhard_Gehlen

My guess is that no administrator could have done the job much better than what was done. A political problem became a military problem. It was solved militarily.

It also had the effect of making the population adverse to the goals of the jihadists. A lesson only learned the hard way.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.
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THE OPEN POLYWELL FUSION CONSORTIUM


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