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General William Odom on why pullout.

Inuyasha

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Looking over the opinions of those in favor of pulling our troops most are really not saying "Give up" or "Let's leave by the end of the month." They are really talking about a gradual withdrawal and many of those are saying only from Iraq but keep a strong strike force on the perimeter meaning very close by. Here is what General Odom thinks. I agree on some of the points but others trouble me. Anyway here it is with the link. It's a rather long article.

Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already, says retired Gen. William E. Odom, the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration. So why stay?

By William E. Odom

diane@hudson.org



If I were a journalist, I would list all the arguments that you hear against pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, the horrible things that people say would happen, and then ask: Aren’t they happening already? Would a pullout really make things worse? Maybe it would make things better.



Here are some of the arguments against pulling out:




1) We would leave behind a civil war.

2) We would lose credibility on the world stage.

3) It would embolden the insurgency and cripple the move toward democracy.

4) Iraq would become a haven for terrorists.

5) Iranian influence in Iraq would increase.

6) Unrest might spread in the region and/or draw in Iraq's neighbors.

7) Shiite-Sunni clashes would worsen.

8) We haven’t fully trained the Iraqi military and police forces yet.

9) Talk of deadlines would undercut the morale of our troops.



But consider this:http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=129
 

aps

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Hi Inuyasha. I saw Odom on Chris Matthews last night. He is really impressive and insightful. I appreciated his take on this war (particularly when I agree with it ;)). But the fact that he was the director of the National Security Agency under Reagan AND a retired Lieutenant General gave him even more credibility. This is a man who has gone through the ranks in the service and understands the intricacies of war.

Here is the transcript form last night's show. Odom was the first guest on it.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10348418/
 

oldreliable67

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I have a lot of respect for Gen Odom and his accomplishments, but he said a couple of things on Hardball last nite that I disagreed with and indeed, was disappointed to hear him say them...

"We can build a Democratic government. They have one in Iran. And we‘re going to have one very similar to that in Iraq. I don‘t think that‘s really what he wants.

He wants a constitutional government where there is a law-based state.

That is not going to happen in that country in a decade or three decades. There is just no tradition of constitutional order in any Arab political culture.


...This from a guy that was Director of the NSA? First, the govt of Iran is a sham democracy. The mullahs 'own' the democracy, to the point of approving any and all that are on any ballot.

Second, the assertion that 'there is just no tradition of constitutional order in any Arab culture' and consequently this precludes a representative form of government is a huge assumption. I understand his eagerness to extrapolate from recent history, but that is naive and certainly doesn't mean that it can't happen. Japan and South Korea are both countries that successfully transitioned from a fragmented country (S. Korea) or lack of history of constitutional government (Japan). Given the problems with the current 'owners' of governments in the Arab Middle East, shouldn't we be willingly to encourage them to try representative forms? In at least a couple of cases (e.g., Syria), can it get any worse?

Later, he said if he were Bush, he

would try to arrange a meeting with key European countries under some kind of cover and privately I would tell them, “I made a strategic decision to get out. You‘re going to be worse off to this than we are. I admit that this was a strategic error, I‘m sorry. I know I don‘t have much credibility with you, but I‘m saying if you want to do something jointly with me, I‘m open to your suggestions.”
Odom, a retired Lt. Gen., says Iraq was an error. Ok, he is entitled to his opinion. But frankly, the rest of his statement confuses me: "...if you want to do something jointly with me, I'm open to your suggestions"? What the heck does that mean? At least he is not suggesting going back to the UN. Or is he not, de facto, saying that?

Looking to rebuild relationships with allies is one thing, but pulling out and saying 'oops, lets start over' doesn't seem to make any logical sense. There are no 'do overs' in wars.

Odom, according to his bio, here, was a signals and intelligence officer, predominately specializing in European politics and military issues. He has impressive credentials (look out, here comes the ad hominem attack!), but he is distinctly lacking in Middle Eastern experience and the combat arms branches of the military.

Just my impression (and YMMV), but his remarks reflect his background. A thinker, yes, but his 'warfare' experience is in other areas (signals); he has little or no 'on the ground' experience in the combat arms.
 

Inuyasha

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Here's Wes Clark's views. Nothing sensational, but also pretty sensible. Thanks for the link aps. I also like a lot of what Odom says.



WHILE the Bush administration and its critics escalated the debate last week over how long our troops should stay in Iraq, I was able to see the issue through the eyes of America's friends in the Persian Gulf region. The Arab states agree on one thing: Iran is emerging as the big winner of the American invasion, and both President Bush's new strategy and the Democratic responses to it dangerously miss the point. It's a devastating critique. And, unfortunately, it is correct.

While American troops have been fighting, and dying, against the Sunni rebels and foreign jihadists, the Shiite clerics in Iraq have achieved fundamental political goals: capturing oil revenues, strengthening the role of Islam in the state, and building up formidable militias that will defend their gains and advance their causes as the Americans draw down and leave. Iraq's neighbors, then, see it evolving into a Shiite-dominated, Iranian buffer state that will strengthen Tehran's power in the Persian Gulf just as it is seeks nuclear weapons and intensifies its rhetoric against Israel.

The American approach shows little sense of Middle Eastern history and politics. As one prominent Kuwaiti academic explained to me, in the Muslim world the best way to deal with your enemies has always been to assimilate them - you never succeed in killing them all, and by trying to do so you just make more enemies. Instead, you must woo them to rejoin society and the government. Military pressure should be used in a calibrated way, to help in the wooing.

If this critique is correct - and it is difficult to argue against it - then we must face its implications. "Staying the course" risks a slow and costly departure of American forces with Iraq increasingly factionalized and aligned with Iran. Yet a more rapid departure of American troops along a timeline, as some Democrats are calling for, simply reduces our ability to affect the outcome and risks broader regional conflict.

We need to keep our troops in Iraq, but we need to modify the strategy far more drastically than anything President Bush called for last week.

On the military side, American and Iraqi forces must take greater control of the country's borders, not only on the Syrian side but also in the east, on the Iranian side. The current strategy of clearing areas near Syria of insurgents and then posting Iraqi troops, backed up by mobile American units, has had success. But it needs to be expanded, especially in the heavily Shiite regions in the southeast, where there has been continuing cross-border traffic from Iran and where the loyalties of the Iraqi troops will be especially tested.

We need to deploy three or four American brigades, some 20,000 troops, with adequate aerial reconnaissance, to provide training, supervision and backup along Iraq's several thousand miles of vulnerable border. And even then, the borders won't be "sealed"; they'll just be more challenging to penetrate.

We must also continue military efforts against insurgent strongholds and bases in the Sunni areas, in conjunction with Iraqi forces. Over the next year or so, this will probably require four to six brigade combat teams, plus an operational reserve, maybe 30,000 troops.

But these efforts must go hand-in-glove with intensified outreach to Iraqi insurgents, to seek their reassimilation into society and their assistance in wiping out residual foreign jihadists. Iraqi and American officials have had sporadic communications with insurgent leaders, but these must lead to deeper discussions on issues like amnesty for insurgents who lay down their arms and opportunities for their further participation in public and private life.

Iraq, for its part, must begin to enforce the ban on armed militias that was enshrined in the new Constitution, especially in the south. Ideally, this should be achieved voluntarily, through political means. But American muscle will have to be made available as a last resort. The Iraqi government should request that for the next two years, six to eight American brigades serve as a backup, available as a last resort if there is trouble in cities with large militia factions like Baghdad, Basra and Najaf. And it is vital that the Pentagon provide our forces with better crowd-control training and many more translators than they have now.

As important as these military changes are, they won't matter at all unless our political strategy is rethought. First, the Iraqis must change the Constitution as quickly as possible after next week's parliamentary elections. Most important, oil revenues should be declared the property of the central government, not the provinces. And the federal concept must be modified to preclude the creation of a Shiite autonomous region in the south.

Also, a broad initiative to reduce sectarian influence within government institutions is long overdue. The elections, in which Sunnis will participate, will help; but the government must do more to ensure that all ethnic and religious groups are represented within ministries, police forces, the army, the judiciary and other overarching federal institutions.

And we must start using America's diplomatic strength with Syria and Iran. The political weakness of Bashar al-Assad opens the door for significant Syrian concessions on controlling the border and cutting support for the jihadists. We also have to stop ignoring Tehran's meddling and begin a public dialogue on respecting Iraqi independence, which will make it far easier to get international support against the Iranians if (and when) they break their word.

Yes, our military forces are dangerously overstretched. Recruiting and retention are suffering; among retired officers, there is deep concern that the Bush administration's attitude on the treatment of detainees has jeopardized not only the safety of our troops but the moral purpose of our effort.

Still, none of this necessitates a pullout until the job is done. After the elections, we should be able to draw down by 30,000 troops from the 160,000 now there. Don't bet against our troops.

What a disaster it would be if the real winner in Iraq turned out to be Iran, a country that supports terrorism and opposes most of what we stand for. Surely, we can summon the wisdom, resources and bipartisan leadership to change the American course before it is too late.
 

oldreliable67

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Inuyasha,

Here is a link for your Clark article, here.

Quiet a contrast between Clark's position and Odom's comments. Clark was also a multi-star General (4 stars), as was Odom (3 stars). One difference is that Clark was a 'combat arms' General, while Odom was in Signals. Thats not to denigrate Odom, but his experience was not in commanding manuever battalions. On the other hand, Odom is/was a thinker, probably more so than Clark.
 

Inuyasha

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oldreliable67 said:
Inuyasha,

Here is a link for your Clark article, here.

Quiet a contrast between Clark's position and Odom's comments. Clark was also a multi-star General (4 stars), as was Odom (3 stars). One difference is that Clark was a 'combat arms' General, while Odom was in Signals. Thats not to denigrate Odom, but his experience was not in commanding manuever battalions. On the other hand, Odom is/was a thinker, probably more so than Clark.
Yes 67 I see what you mean and after reading the Clark statements I agree. But Odom does give "some" things that are valuable so i am not going to write him off totally. Clark, on the other hand, is a lot more realistic. Which is what we need in assessing this war. This administration is going to have to give up some of its ego and admit that mistakes have been made (Rice did make a move in that direction this morning) and why they were made. The inability or lack of desire to do this has cause the public to doubt the administration's ability to handle the situation.
 
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