Is this the Iraqi Tet?

The standard description of Tet is that we won tactically but somehow this didn’t get through to the American people. Unfortunately this misses the main point.

It’s true that tactically we and our South Vietnamese allies won. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese were pushed out of all the areas they had captured and suffered enormous losses. But the lesson of Tet must be understood in its influence on the American psyche.

In 1967 the Johnson administration had launched a “Success Offensive” to convince the American people that the war was going well and that we could now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Westmoreland had been brought back to the States in November 1967 and had publicly stated that the enemy was no longer capable of mounting a major offensive.

Then out of the blue the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched what certainly was a “major offensive.” Although it cost them dearly, it took all the military force that the United States could muster nearly seven months to suppress the offensive. The political fallout was more immediate: One month after the start of the offensive McNamara resigned and a month after that, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

The differences with Tet are clear — here it’s the government and militias allied (at least temporarily) with it that began the offensive. The grand strategic risk, however, is the same. The president and senior American commanders are all making positive statements about the course of the war,

“If you reflect back on those five years, I think it’s been a difficult, challenging, but nonetheless successful endeavor,” he [Vice President Dick Cheney] said in Baghdad, adding that “it’s been well worth the effort.”

and then all of a sudden, American TV screens show that this may not be correct.

In fact, it may be even worse. Reports indicate that Iraqi forces are doing so poorly that they are calling in US air strikes and, at least in Baghdad, US armor to bail them out:

Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the Sadr City fighting, as U.S. troops took the lead.

Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of U.S. weapons, along with the Mahdi Army’s AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead. …

In all, U.S. troops killed 42 in Thursday’s Baghdad fighting, a sign of their growing engagement in the Iraqi-designed offensive.

Maj. Mark Cheadle, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said … If an Iraqi unit was about to be overwhelmed by an enemy, “of course we are going to assist.”

So what we see is stark evidence that Iraqi forces are not ready, willing, or able to conduct large scale operations against other forces in the country, this after five years of Coalition operations and more than three years of efforts to train and supply the Iraqi government forces.

I have no doubt that American commanders in Iraq were under no delusion about the capabilities of Iraqi forces. So how did this happen? Several possibilities:

  1. They might not have known what al-Malaki intended. I find this difficult to believe.
  2. They might have known, but felt that for whatever reason they could not interfere.
  3. They might have underestimated the capabilities of the al-Mahdi militia(s). This is possible, but we have capable intel folks in Iraq who can assess the Mahdi army’s readiness and willingness to fight.
  4. They may have ignored or downplayed their intelligence analysis. Again, this is possible, esp. if the team position is that our guys are ready to go.
  5. They may believe that it was time to give the Iraqis a go, and if they got into serious trouble, Coalition airpower and armor could always ride to the rescue. We can always blame the Iranians, implying that our support just evens the balance.

This last is the most troubling because it puts the United States into a dilemma. On the one hand we can’t afford to let government forces fail too badly because it will call into question our training and commitment. On the other hand, if we rescue them whenever they get into trouble, or worse, do the job for them, how are they ever going to develop as a capable military force?

And the message it sends to the rest of Iraq is that the Iraqi army is a ward of the occupation. Every time a US aircraft engages the Mahdi militia, it puts the government’s legitimacy — the holy grail of our counterinsurgency theory and a major justification for the surge — even further out of reach. If the Mahdi Army, which doesn’t seem to have much of an air force of its own, can just survive, it will give them enormous new popularity, much like Hezbollah’s reputation in the Muslim world soared after the July-August 2006 war with Israel.

The big question, though, is whether the disconnect between administration claims of success and the actual performance of Iraqi troops will have Tet-like implications for the US elections. So far, there don’t seem to be any — McCain’s popularity is holding up, no senior administration officials have resigned, and as of yet, the Democrat candidates appear to be focused on attacking each other.

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Filed in Uncategorized | 36 responses so far

36 Responses to “Is this the Iraqi Tet?”

  1. Mycophagiston 29 Mar 2008 at 8:04 am 1

    We could still be in Vietnam today if we had so chosen.

    The effects of Tet was the realization that in order to win the war, we would have to fight a total war. That in fact the Vietnamese Were fighting a total war. Why not? It was their country.

    The press finally realised that, and passed this message on. Is the press doing so today? Well the Times had one front page story. The Daily News, more typical of the US, did not. They have a Reuters story on page 20…

    Unlike Vietnam, this defining moment is a battle between Warlords, all of whom can be considered our enemies. After all, the Green Zone is mortared every day. Who cares that the middle of Bagdad is mortared every day?

    The defining moment of this war passed quietly years ago.

    It’s interesting that the Times of London, a Rupert Murdoch paper, had a story about Iraqi army personal stripping off their uniforms and changing sides. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3635838.ece

    My emotions pound away going from tears to laughter. Vietnam, according to Barabara Tuchman was “folly.”

    Iraq is farce.

    Dave

  2. Cheton 29 Mar 2008 at 9:06 am 2

    Dave —

    We could still be in Vietnam today if we had so chosen.

    No doubt. And Tet was perhaps the biggest reason why we chose not to stay, even though in the military sense, Tet was a huge victory for the allies.

    The situation in Iraq hasn’t reached that stage, but the potential is there, which makes our acquiescence in Malaki’s risky strategy all the more puzzling.

  3. Duncan Kinderon 29 Mar 2008 at 9:12 am 3

    we have capable intel folks in Iraq who can assess the Mahdi army’s readiness and willingness to fight.

    Really? Given current events, I would like to see some evidence of this.

    Note that Juan Cole reports:

    The Iraqi minister of defense, Abdul Qadir Jasim, admitted in a news conference in Basra that the militiamen had taken the Iraqi security forces off guard. He added that the Iraqi government had expected this operation to be routine, but was surprised at the level of resistance, and was forced to change its plans and tactics.

    So, apparently either US intelligence was likewise surprised; it is not communicating with Maliki; or Maliki is not communicating with it.

    Any one of which conclusions might suggest that it is better fit for surveilling the sex habits of Eliot Spitzer than of keeping tabs on events in Iraq.

  4. dnion 29 Mar 2008 at 10:01 am 4

    Duncan —

    I wasn’t aware that we had tasked US intelligence assets in Iraq to gather information on Elliot Spitzer. Most interesting!

    And as you note, Juan Cole was talking about the Iraqi government, not US intel. What we told the Iraqis, and what they chose to believe, are of course unknown.

    A good try. But as a person with a fair amount of Middle East intel in my background, I stick with my statement.

    Chet

  5. maximilliangcon 29 Mar 2008 at 10:06 am 5

    Yeah’p.

    Otherwize refered to by anyone with rudimentry
    economics training as ” the sunk cost falicy.”

    MaXimillian

    http://www.takimag.com/site/article/the_surge_is_it_soup_yet/

    “perhaps we should ask, “is the Surge working—really?”

    “Sure, it’s working fine, just like my sister’s car. I had to drop her off at the garage where they were looking over her Ford Probe. It’d been overheating since she bought it, and there was something wrong with the alternator, too. But she didn’t have the money to fix it, so she asked the mechanic, “Can’t I just keep leaving the heater on and adding water and using my battery charger?”

    The mechanic blinked a couple times and said, “Yeah, you could do that….” Meaning, “You could, if you want to drive around sweating, wait for the charger to power up when you’re late for work, and generally ruin your life for the sake of a hopeless junker.”

    That’s the best answer I can give on the Surge: if you’re willing to go on throwing away men and money—about $3 trillion according to that Nobel Prize hotshot Stiglitz—to prop up a lost cause, then yeah, it’s working great! Just like my sister’s dumb techniques; they kept the car on the road all right, but she’d have been way better off just junking it, which she ended up doing anyway.”

  6. Mycophagiston 29 Mar 2008 at 10:35 am 6

    Chet wrote:

    “The situation in Iraq hasn’t reached that stage (Tet – db), but the potential is there, which makes our acquiescence in Malaki’s risky strategy all the more puzzling.”

    What happens when Warlords, with no particular ideological gulf, fight? When the realise that neither can win, they accomodate. I believe this will be the case here.

    Who’s going to get the blame? We will We will get the blame no matter what the outcome. Sadr has been described as an Islamic fanatic, responsible statesmen, and now back to Islamic fanatic.

    What Tet taught Americans is that it if we wanted to win it would require the total mobilization of our resources. It was page one news. It was page one news for weeks. The press, if belatedly, did it’s job.

    Are they doing their job today? Try to picture Vietnam with the press downplaying the whole incident. No page one stories, little blips of news about continuing fighting.

    It’s difficult to imagine. But then again look at todays coverage of Iraq. If you can find it. Fabius will tell us that the information is out there – And so it is.

    Dave

  7. Fabius Maximuson 29 Mar 2008 at 10:53 am 7

    A few stary comments on this fascinating post.

    1. The two views of Tet are seen in this, perhaps apocryphal story (I’ve seen it in several versions) of an American Army colonel talking with his North Vietnamese counterpart as we withdrew from Indochina.

    “You never beat us in battle,” the American said. The Vietnamese reflected for a moment and said, “That is true, but irrelevant.”

    2. On the other hand, I doubt that either their military defeat or political victory were part of the N.V. battle plan. Of course, that is also irrelevant (victory unintentional is a commonplace in history).

    3. I think this sentence from the post can be re-written for greater accuracy:

    “We see stark evidence that Iraqi forces are not ready, willing, or able to conduct large scale operations against other forces in the country”.

    Becomes…

    “We see stark evidence that the largely Shiite Arab forces of the government are not ready, willing, or able to conduct large scale operations against other Shiite Arab forces in the country”

    4. A possible lesson learned from last week’s events is that despite hundreds of blogs seemingly reporting every jot in the war, large things can escape their vision. Like the clear pre-announcements of the battle:

    “Iraqi Troops May Move to Reclaim Basra’s Port”, New York Times (13 March 2008)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/world/middleeast/13basra.htm?_r=1&oref=slogin

    “The final battle for Basra is near, says Iraqi general”, The Independent (20 March 2008
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-final-battle-for-basra-is-near-says-iraqi-general-798409.html

  8. maximilliangcon 29 Mar 2008 at 1:45 pm 8

    ” escape their vision. Like the clear pre-announcements of the battle:”

    Good point, it makes no sense militarily to warn the opposition in
    such grandstanding way.

    “Grandstanding” good word, you’ll be using and hearing
    more of.

    MaX

  9. catranchon 29 Mar 2008 at 8:38 pm 9

    I think the PM was pushed into kicking off the offensive, or perhaps ‘cleared to proceed’ in such a manner as to leave no doubt of the command. It just fits with how we’ve done everything else over there. Now another planned power consolidation becomes public vulnerability, and all the puppet masters go nuts again (can’t those idiots do anything right!).

    But I would not make the Tet comparison yet, because there are not suicide bombers in the Green Zone in mass. For some reason I have this fixation on tunnelers into the zone, and a mass hostage taking or just wholesale destruction as a result.

    THAT will mark a change in perception for the public, and certainly something so massive that they could not suppress, or classify it away from the public like the shelling of that ammo dump a while back.

  10. MickeyPvXon 29 Mar 2008 at 9:36 pm 10

    Fabius-
    “victory unintentional is a commonplace in history”

    Is that what a “reconnaissance pull” is all about? You’d have your original focus point, but if for some unforeseen reason some other operation going on ends up working better, you’d also need the flexibility to transfer your focus/support to that instead. Would you qualify that as victory unintentional?

    Better yet, do our military minds at work have that capability to quickly switch to whatever might be more pragmatic? What’s stopping them from being able to do that if not?

    Here to learn guys, being the young blood and all :)

  11. kenlockeon 29 Mar 2008 at 10:35 pm 11

    Instead of Tet, consider Lam Son 719, trumpeted by the Pentagon as a mission initiated, planned and commanded by the ARVN. On Jan 30, 1971, ARVN crossed into Laos to interdict and destroy NVA networks. Despite B52 and air support, the ARVN were out-manoevered, out-fought and collapsed into a bloody rout. Throughout and even afterward, the Pentagon and Nixon Administration kept up a positive spin on this humiliating failure of their ‘Vietnamization’ of the war, which was to have allowed us to pull down our troop levels. Sound familiar?

  12. Duncan Kinderon 29 Mar 2008 at 10:49 pm 12

    The Washington Post provides more information about US intelligence capabilities in Basra:

    Although the Bush administration has tried to monitor the growing conflict in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, “our intelligence in that area is far less than we would like. We don’t have any forces there,” the senior official said, adding that “we are operating with a good dose of opaqueness.”

  13. Sven Ortmannon 30 Mar 2008 at 5:22 am 13

    I’m not sure that this small uprising is what will eventually cause the withdrawal. We have seen several such phases, and they eroded the will to continue the occupation marginally.

    I believe that a British withdrawal (signaling that the U.S. is finally alone as the other partners are abysmal) would be far more influential.

    The news network ownership in the US seems to be more influential than some fighting in Basra and Baghdad as well.

    And finally, we will see the election.
    My guess is that the U.S. will withdraw slowly – and the time will be optimized for the 2012 elections – depending on expectations about what happens after withdrawal and on political tactics.

    “This last is the most troubling because it puts the United States into a dilemma. On the one hand we can’t afford to let government forces fail too badly because it will call into question our training and commitment. On the other hand, if we rescue them whenever they get into trouble, or worse, do the job for them, how are they ever going to develop as a capable military force?”

    Simple. Replace their forces elsewhere to free them up for this fight, add air support and heavy tanks with minimal US infantry security elements to signal hopelessness to the enemy.

  14. Cheton 30 Mar 2008 at 6:26 am 14

    Dear Duncan,

    I read that. Obviously we have no idea who the “senior official” is, but statements like “We don’t have any forces there, …” make you wonder how involved he/she really is in Iraqi intel. The whole idea of intel, after all, is to give you insight into what’s going on in areas where you don’t have forces.

    But it’s not rocket science from an intel standpoint. You might proceed something like this:

    • How well did the Mahdi Army fight the last time we engaged them? Answer: Pretty damn well.
    • Have they improved since then? Answer: You’d have to do some collections, but even open sources suggest that they’ve used the last couple of years, and particularly the last seven months to strengthen their organization.
    • Open sources also suggest that they’ve received some sort of assistance from Hezbollah.

    Now, given just that much, would they fight? So you go talk to the Brits (who aren’t huddled out on their airbase because they didn’t like the food downtown), you make the rounds, drink a lot of tea, read a lot of stuff, and you fill in the blanks. We have people capable of doing this. Whether the senior military leadership or politicians back in DC pay any attention to them is another issue.

    This has the earmarks of another “we didn’t know there was going to be an insurgency” statement from senior administration officials. All the analysts that I knew predicted an insurgency, and this is about on that same level.

  15. Cheton 30 Mar 2008 at 6:35 am 15

    Sven,

    That assumes that when the Iraq forces get there, they fight. Your scenario plays right into the hands of the Mahdi Army — it certainly does “signal hopelessness to the enemy” — unfortunately, it’s the hopelessness of the Iraqi Army.

    It would be better, as Lawrence pointed out in what has become a COIN cliche, to let them do it badly on their own than for us to do it for them.

  16. Cheton 30 Mar 2008 at 6:36 am 16

    Dear Kenlocke,

    Great point – thanks.

  17. Mycophagiston 30 Mar 2008 at 10:47 am 17

    The Warlords, facing stalemate, are making the preliminary moves for a ceace fire…
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=4552139

    Now then, will Mr. Bush allow Maliki to make a reasonable choice? Mr. Maliki has more to lose then we do, although of course I’m sure he can move to Califorrnia if all else fails. Al Sadr to Iran perhaps?

    Both of these men essentially have the same views. Both can be viewed as Iraninan partisans. Why should they fight to the death? Isn’t the pie big enough, at least as long as we’re there to pay the bills?

    Dave

  18. Sven Ortmannon 30 Mar 2008 at 11:43 am 18

    Well, if you assume that the Iraqi army will fail after five years of training (about as long as the U.S. Army needed to mobilize to 90 divisions and demobilize in ’41-’46) despite some support, then focus on how to pull out asap instead of how to wage the war less terrible.

    Otherwise – wasn’t a lot of DNI talk about lacking legitimacy of the Maliki government? Even if it hasn’t much legitimacy, it has now a chance to demonstrate that it has power.
    To wait another five years till they are considered to be fit is no option.

    Btw, when is the next general election in Iraq? That date might become pretty important.

  19. Cheton 30 Mar 2008 at 12:52 pm 19

    Sven —

    I was trying not to assume anything about the Iraqi Army — just going by their demonstrated performance. I was assuming that American commanders over there understood their capabilities, and on this I may have been wrong.

    I’m also not sure that training is the issue. As you said, five years is plenty of time. The question (and I don’t have the answer, just raising the question) is more of motivation and primary loyalties.

    Your point about letting them demonstrate their power is a good one, but for that we have to be willing to let them fail, if necessary, and learn from the experience.

    As I recall, provincial elections are scheduled for October 1.

  20. Cheton 30 Mar 2008 at 1:00 pm 20

    Dear Mycophagist,

    I’m not sure that it’s accurate to view al-Malaki, al-Hakim (head of ISCI) or al-Sadr as “Iranian partisans.” The Iraqis fought the Iranians for some eight years and a lot of the fighting and dying was done by Shi’ites. Certainly they’re willing to take assistance today where they can get it (what choice do they have?) but that doesn’t make them “Iranian partisans” any more than it made Ho Chi Minh a Chinese partisan.

    This is a complex issue and I don’t claim to understand it very well. Obviously Iran is going to try to make hay while the sun shines, but in the end, Iraq is Iraq and Iran is Iran.

  21. Mycophagiston 30 Mar 2008 at 2:57 pm 21

    Chet wrote:

    “I’m not sure that it’s accurate to view al-Malaki…as Iranian partisans”

    Yes, you’re right in the sense that both men see themselves as Iraqis. Poor phrasing…

    On the other hand, is there a deep animosity against Iran? Was it their war?

    Maliki welcomed the Iranian president, made statements that he would never allow Iraq to be used to attack Iran, went to Iran himself – Sadr has expressed similar statements. For that matter, Maliki lived in Iran, before moving to Syria.

    This question underlines the nature of my previous statement on other threads, that “no matter what happens, we’ve already lost.”

    It is true that Malaki, at the moment, is cooperating with us. But he’s playing a tricky game. On the one hand, we supply the arms and cash, on the other his constituents obviously don’t have their hearts in this present fiasco.

    NB. What is the Iraqi State? It’s simply the particular warlord who has our support. Unless the US puts its foot down, these guys will declare a ceace fire.

    Can you imagine a real State doing this?

    Dave

  22. Cheton 30 Mar 2008 at 3:24 pm 22

    Mycophagist,

    Seems to me like they’re playing us off against the Iranians. Take what they can get from us now, but in the end, we’re going to leave. The Iranians will still be there.

    There doesn’t have to be a functional Iraqi state for one to be an Iraqi nationalist, which is sort of how I read al-Sadr. It’s probably also what a lot of Ba’athists have in mind.

  23. […] of insights from off the beaten path, Chet Richards of Defense in the National Interest offers some views on what the events of the past week might mean for the war itself as well as USA politics under the title “Is This the Iraqi Tet?”. […]

  24. Sven Ortmannon 30 Mar 2008 at 5:41 pm 24

    “Your point about letting them demonstrate their power is a good one, but for that we have to be willing to let them fail, if necessary, and learn from the experience.”

    And that’s the key. Whoever is in charge there (assuming that he’s not a modern Hindenburg I’d say that’s likely Petraeus) needs to take a risk as the consequences are uncertain.

    Welcome to war- to take risks and to acting in uncertainty is the soldier’s job.

    Maybe the gamble fails and the Iraqi central state collapses. Well, shit happens. It’s more likely to lose a war (to hurt yourself more by waging war than to benefit from it) than to win (due to) it anyway.

    The noted dilemma should be no surprise at all because uncertainty is so prevalent in warfare – and therefore warfare is full of dilemmas.

  25. maximilliangcon 31 Mar 2008 at 7:57 am 25

    “we have to be willing to let them fail, if necessary, and learn from the experience.”

    Nice one, while the US tax payer shells out what ?! $ 3 billion
    a month, for the last 5 years, and if a leading presidential candidate gets his way, for another 100 years.
    While our domestic infrastructure crumbles, with gasoline
    poised to hit $ 4 per-gallon for this summers peak vacation season.

    MaX

  26. maximilliangcon 31 Mar 2008 at 8:32 am 26

    High Quality Critical Analysis On The Current Iraq “Situation.”
    MC

    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/80580/?page=2

    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/80580/?page=3

    “Propaganda and the surge”

    “The Maliki regime has set an ultimatum demanding that the militias — the nationalist militias — lay down their arms within the next two days or face “more serious consequences.” Al-Sadr has also issued an ultimatum: The government must cease its attacks on his followers, or his followers will escalate. ”

    (Now, what Lind is talking about.)MC

    “It is an extremely dangerous situation, especially given the fact that the main U.S. resupply routes stretch from Baghdad through the Shia-dominated southern provinces.”

    “But the precariousness of the situation appears to be of little concern to the military command, which issued a statement saying that the violence was a result of the success of the U.S. troop “surge” (Bush called the “crackdown” a “bold decision” that shows the country’s security forces are capable of combating terrorists). It’s yet another example of the administration putting U.S. geostrategic (and economic) interests ahead of Iraqi reconciliation and democratic governance.”

    “The much-touted troop “surge” had little to do with the drop in violence in recent months — it didn’t even correlate with the lull chronologically and was certainly a minor causal factor at best. A number of factors led to the reduced violence, but Sadr’s cease-fire had the greatest impact. Nonetheless, the Maliki regime, backed by the United States, continued a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Sadr’s followers, denied them space to peacefully resist the occupation and forced his hand.”

    “Given the degree to which the coalition has continued to stir a hornets’ nest, we may be seeing a perfect illustration of the dangers of believing one’s own propaganda play out as Iraq is once again set aflame.”

  27. Mycophagiston 31 Mar 2008 at 10:03 am 27

    To sum up my previous statements…

    Mr. Bush has called this the defining moment for the Iraq government. Mr. Maliki has called this a make or break battle.

    As I said the defining moment of the war passed quietly a number of years ago.

    This is a struggle of warlords. Both sides are represented in the government. Both sides, to one degree or the other, see Iran as a friend. Maliki less so, Sadr more so. Maliki gets his bread and butter from us, Sadr from the oil that goes out of Basra.

    However the press bills this “titanic struggle,” (better, SNL skit with live ammo) we don’t win. Perhaps Mr. Bush gets a breather in propaganda? I’m sure he will announce another victory – And the press will back him on this, if by no other means, then by ignoring it.

    Meanwhile the Warlords on the ground are accomodating.

    Finally, my using the term “warlord” is not necessarily pejorative in the sense of saying that they are phonies. Warlordism arises for a reason. In certain situations, what else can someone do? After all the SNL skit is strictly for US consumption. It’s deadly serious to them.

    (Yeah, this is driving me bi-polar)

    Dave

  28. Dr_Vomacton 31 Mar 2008 at 1:16 pm 28

    I’d say that before we can draw parallels to Tet, the situation in Basra would have to morph into an American defeat–or Pyrrhic victory; the American public doesn’t get exercised about Iraqi deaths or failures. A massive defeat of the Iraqi Army will make no impression whatever on the American public, or on the “opposition” in Congress. Most everyone either believes the official fairly tales, or cynically accepts government by illusion as a given. In either case, evidence against the Washingtonian consensual reality is without effect.

    Indeed, one hypothesis I’ve entertained is that Maliki has decided to emulate the American method: if he just wishes really, really, hard, then he will be the ruler of an actual state, commanding an actual army. Hence, his taking “personal command” of the Basra offensive, and his demand to “surrender your weapons within 72 hours, or face the consequences!”. Sheer theatre. Why not–it works for Washington!

  29. Sven Ortmannon 31 Mar 2008 at 5:05 pm 29

    German gasoline prices are still twice as high (1.4 €/litre, that’s about 8 USD/gallon) …
    Dump the GM/Ford/Chrysler junk cars and high volume engines (even some European cars get inefficient, crude, high-volume engines for sales on the U.S. market to better fit consumer demand) – buy better cars.

    You will become accustomed to the price level.

  30. maximilliangcon 01 Apr 2008 at 9:14 am 30

    “You will become accustomed to the price level.”

    Sven,

    Good commentary from a European perspective.

    You might underestimate the US dependency on affordable
    feul, and the indigenous automotive industry.

    You’ve got to realise as well, that many Americans depend
    on and routinely commute distances in thier cars,
    of over 200km per-day.

    In general, driving distances on the N. American continent can shock
    Europeans.

    The Canadian provence of Quebec for example is physicaly
    larger than continental western Europe combined.

    I myself, routinely drive 1200km+ round trip, at a frequency
    of once per-month, or so.

    Having said that I do agree that a widespread cultural
    and economc change is long overdue, including perhaps
    the deveopment of high speed rail.

    Here’s some interesting information.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

    Canada is the #1 supplier of crude oil to the USA.

    Irronicaly Canadians pay more (mostly in taxes) for
    gasoline than Americans. $ 1.35CND per litre (current)
    US price is around $ 3.30 per Gallon (>3.5L)

    Saudi Arabia is the 2nd.
    Mexico is third.

    GWB’s “I-Rack” is way down at 7th.

    Maximillian

  31. Mycophagiston 01 Apr 2008 at 12:02 pm 31

    Sven Ortmann Wrote

    “German gasoline prices are still twice as high (1.4 ?/litre, that’s about 8 USD/gallon) …”

    I’ve seen many graphs illustrating this. Actually the rise that Europeans pay is far less then this. Europeans pay for their gas in Euro’s not dollars…

    Last time I checked the Euro was worth 1.5 dollars… :(

    Why so many sites have these pretty multi-colored graphs is beyond me. Must be a leftover of the time when the dollar was supreme.

    Dave

  32. Sven Ortmannon 01 Apr 2008 at 6:19 pm 32

    Well, I am living 60 km away from my workplace as well…

    Our gasoline price is about half taxes (oil tax, VAT) – we finance our entire traffic policy with our gasoline purchases.

    The rise is indeed not as steep as for Americans because of the parallel increase in EUR value. That hints just once more at the fact that our economy, our car designs – everything had the correct incentives to become fit and not waste gasoline.
    A German who lives 200km away from his work would get a significant payback from the state – there’s a tax-deductible amount for this distance. But that’s not enough, and very few Germans accept such distances – we simply move closer or get another job.

    If Americans live in average far away from their job, then that’s just one facet of unsustainable behavior that needs to be corrected sometime anyway. Wrong incentives hurt in the long run.

  33. Mycophagiston 02 Apr 2008 at 3:45 pm 33

    Sven Ortmann Wrote:

    “The rise is indeed not as steep as for Americans because of the parallel increase in EUR value.”

    Who knows? Maybe the whole Iraq war is our “Tet.” Certainly our economy is tanking because of it. Or as I would call it, a cultural takeover from the top; a war on everything we have stood for, for over two hundred years.

    It is refreshing to read that the various torture memos produced by this administration were opposed by men with unimpeachable Neocon credentials. They resigned. A shame they didn’t also go public.

    Dave

  34. maximilliangcon 08 Apr 2008 at 7:53 pm 34

    Here’s a further unexpected “bonus”
    of the GWOT to the American pepole.

    As if 9-11 itself just wasn’t enough.

    Maximillian

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2007-11-22-braininjuries_N.htm

    More than 150,000 troops may have suffered head injuries in combat, says Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

    “I am wary that the number of brain-injured troops far exceeds the total number reported injured,” he says.

    About 1.5 million troops have served in Iraq, where traumatic brain injury can occur despite heavy body armor worn by troops.

  35. […] LWJ describes the operations as a success, contrast with analysts’ reports that this – based on what little we know – appears to be at best a tie, and more likely a win for al Sadr.  See Marc Lynch’s reports here and here, and Chet Richard’s analysis here. […]

  36. […] The war-bloggers described the operations as a success; the experts reported this was at best a tie, and more likely a win for al Sadr.  (as seen in the many comparisons of Basra with TET, like this). […]