Political-military affairs

Given the choice between winning the war in Iraq and winning re-election, the Bush Administration didn’t hesitate.

From today’s LA Times:

Major Assaults on Hold Until After U.S. Vote

Attacks on Iraq’s rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer

The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi — where the insurgents’ grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest — until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

“When this election’s over, you’ll see us move very vigorously,” said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Once you’re past the election, it changes the political ramifications” of a large-scale offensive, the official said. “We’re not on hold right now. We’re just not as aggressive.”

Any delay in pacifying Iraq’s most troublesome cities, however, could alter the dynamics of a different election — the one in January, when Iraqis are to elect members of a national assembly.

With less than four months remaining, U.S. commanders are scrambling to enable voting in as many Iraqi cities as possible to shore up the poll’s legitimacy.

U.S. officials point out that there have been no direct orders to commanders to halt operations in the weeks before the November 2 U.S. election. Top administration officials in Washington are simply reluctant to sign off on a major offensive in Iraq at the height of the political season.

Surely there must be an explanation other than the shrill, partisan one offered by Atrios:

George W. Bush believes his re-election is more important than the lives of our soldiers and the situation in Iraq.

How unfortunate, then, that I find myself completely unable to imagine what that interpretation might be.

Commentary seems superfluous, except for this comment Kevin Drum recalls from George W. Bush:

“I don’t see how you can lead this country in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty, if you change your mind because of politics.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

11 thoughts on “Political-military affairs”

  1. LAT: Bush Administration Will Delay Major Assaults Until After The Election

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  2. LAT: Bush Administration Will Delay Major Assaults Until After The Election

    Did I read the L.A. Times right? Is the administration REALLY planning to delay major assaults in Iraq until after the election due to fears about how it will impact the Presidential race? Please tell me when you read either

  3. LAT: Bush Administration Will Delay Major Assaults Until After The Election

    Did I read the L.A. Times right? Is the administration REALLY planning to delay major assaults in Iraq until after the election due to fears about how it will impact the Presidential race? Please tell me when you read either

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  7. Iraq: So Much for That Pre-Election Lull

    Mark Kleiman reported that major operations in Iraq were on hold until after the U.S. election. Our readers said they doubted the report. It looks like our readers were right, based on what’s up in Falluja.

  8. WAR/POLITICS: Showdown in Fallujah

    The Big One is on in Iraq, as US forces are finally doing what, at least in retrospect, they should have done back in April, cordoning off Fallujah and opening a major offensive against the heart of the insurgency. I…

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