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Tom Ricks Unloads


Remember Iraq?

Well, Tom Ricks does and he’s not happy about what’s going on there. Ricks has been doing an exhausted “unraveling” series, which is now in chapter XXIV. It’s been a jaw dropping read all along.

As everyone looks on towards Afghanistan, pretending we’re no longer involved or responsible for Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno and Iraq Amb. Christopher Hill have come to loggerheads.

What I am hearing is that Odierno is profoundly frustrated with Hill, who despite knowing almost nothing about Iraq has decided after a short time there that it is time to stand back and stop influencing the behavior of Iraqi officials on a daily basis. In addition, I am told, the ambassador believes the war is an Iraqi problem, not something that really concerns Americans anymore, despite the presence of 125,000 American soldiers. On the other hand, the diplomats respond, the military guys believe they have good relationships with Iraqi officials, but, the dips add, how would the soldiers really know? Because unlike Hill’s posse, they don’t speak Arabic. Which brings to mind my favorite saying of Warren Buffett, that if you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and you don’t know who the patsy at the table is, you’re the patsy.

But who’s paying attention to Iraq these days?

Tom Ricks:

(Calling Gen. Tony Zinni! Oh wait, the Obama administration screwed him early on about an Iraq post, and he isn’t taking their calls anymore.)

Having read Ricks’s books, when Iraq comes up I always revert back to his article, with Vernon Loeb, on preemption, circa 2002. It should be noted that Michele Flournoy, from CNAS and now Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for Obama, is quoted liberally on the notion of preemption. It’s interesting to re-read, especially looking at Iran.

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