Earlier today, WaPo reported on a letter from a U.S. general to an Iraqi Ministry of Defense official that sounded for all the world like U.S. military forces were preparing to get out of Iraq in compliance with the recent (nonbinding) parliament vote:
BREAKING: In a letter to the Iraqi military, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III says that U.S. forces will be relocated “to prepare for onward movement” and says that “we respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.” A U.S. military official confirmed the letter’s authenticity. This is an updating story.
That sure was weird, because here’s what Trump said about the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel U.S. forces just yesterday:
Trump on Sunday night also sounded a note of defiance over the news that Iraq’s Parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country. He said military personnel would not leave unless Iraq pays the U.S. back for an air base there.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time,” Trump said. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
The president went on to say that if Iraq forces the U.S. military out, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
“If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq,” Trump said.
But then Lil’ Marco Rubio started tweeting that the letter could be Iranian disinformation, and boy would The Post look dumb for falling for that!
Media should be very careful before reporting things like the breaking news headline from the @washingtonpost below#Iran has a long & known history of spreading misinformation
You are going to end up looking really dumb pic.twitter.com/Tu8TRY4YaR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 6, 2020
But THEN, U.S. military officials confirmed that it was their letter, only it was a DRAFT letter, and it shouldn’t have been delivered to the Iraqi PM, but it was:
Appears Iraqi PM's office leaked a copy of a letter that US officials now say was a draft. https://t.co/W0GW9sTaEm
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 6, 2020
WaPo Beirut bureau chief Liz Sly has a photo of the letter on her Twitter feed here. There are some odd references in it about helicopter traffic related to force movements, including the notation that activity will take place at night to “help alleviate any perception that we may be bringing more Coalition Forces into the IZ.” Come again? How would helicopter traffic at night alleviate those concerns?
In conclusion, what the actual FUCK?
You are looking for WTF-K, military parlance for What The Fuck-Over. We had it on our jeeps.
The administration is already looking dumb. We are going to continue saying some really stupid shit.
Also if Trump thinks that Iraq is going to pay back a military base that I’m pretty sure they didn’t agree to put on there because it was part of W’s plan – that said, a shit ton of money was given to Iraq I wouldn’t mind some of that coming back to us. Not that we are going ot use that money for good like helping our veterans.
I just posted this in the last thread:
I used to have a theory that K-Mart must train its checkers to be painfully slow, because no regular human could possibly be that slow naturally, and the chance that so many painfully slow people would all work at the same place seemed pretty close to zero.
I see the same concept at work in the Trump administration, only they have replaced “slow” with at least half a dozen other adjectives. We can all figure out what they are with little or not trouble.
Like begets like, I guess. But man, is it ever depressing. Why are we not all marching on the white house and demanding that these people be gone?
At this point I might settle for a single day that didn’t have me wanting to bang my head against the wall to make this all stop.
Iran should respond, “Come and get the money.”
What an embarrassment he is.
How on earth can republicans see this happening and still think My POTUS right or wrong? Or are they not reading Balloon Juice….
Just remember: It’s not your head that’s the problem.
Hmm. All is not well. Disorientation is not a good sign. My guess is that the military planners are trying to cope with the unpredictable Maximum Leader. Unsuccessfully.
This reminds me of an episode of Laverne and Shirley that I once saw.
Or was it Three’s Company?
Good, except it means he keeps fucking up in his current job:
I think Republicans’ internal polls must be horrendous.
Adam L Silverman
If this was a draft or pre-decisional, it would have markings that state draft and/or pre-decisional, as well as one that state not to distribute (outside of US staffing for the document). Either someone at the pointy end got way over the edge or someone over rotated the handle on the 5,000 mile screwdriver in DC and someone is now trying unscrew this mess.
Simply put: this document, based on the markings on the document, wasn’t a draft.
well, considering we’re only using THE BEST people and how the guy in office has stated that he’s WAAAAYYY smarter than our Generals and would absolutely positively know what is best for America, which happens to exactly coincide with what is best for Trump, I have no doubt that this is all 11th dimensional chess that is being employed to keep our enemies guessing as to what our true intent is… which is apparently to pour gasoline over 75 years of foreign policy and light it on fire.
Adam L Silverman
@Mary G: They are, but they were also trying to clear the field. Either Pompeo runs or Kobach. They didn’t want them running against each other in a long, ugly primary where they have to dirty each other up.
@Baud: The one where L&S were hanging from hooks on a wall?
I’m not sure that narrows it down.
At this point in the storyline, if Trump tweeted a dick pic to Khamenei the NYT would solemnly report: “President Appears To Issue Extremely Frank Personal Response to Iran PM”
@Baud: Trumpsters are getting into Baud 2020! level bumbling territory here. Not sure how you should respond.
A tweet thread linked in a previous thread included many quotes from lower level advisors (you know, career people who have actual competence) saying the entire decision making process is pure chaos. Nobody knows what’s going on, because nobody knows what Trump will say next, and Trump changes his mind every five minutes anyway. In an environment like that, screamingly stupid mistakes and also decisions that are immediately yanked with a pretense they were mistakes are inevitable.
Good to know this nonsense is well thought out and has been carefully planned and gamed out. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall would be proud. /snark
I’m torn between digging deeper and doubling down.
Adam L Silverman
@germy: Pete Hegseth, the President’s external advisor on the VA and pardoning service members convicted under the UCMJ of committing war crimes. It would be amazing that this guy made it to major, except that it happened during war time, so the standards for promotion are relaxed.
@Baud: Sue for royalties.
The comments responding to that tweet tell me this is Pete Hegsbeth who said something unbelievably stupid last week: that if there was a confrontation with Iran, the Kurds would help us out.
No one in this Administration knows wtf they are doing and Marco Rubio go pound sand.
@Baud: It was Lucy and Ethel at the candy factory
Sadly, there is a good chance that people are reading the memo wrong,
many of the US/NATO/Coelition forces in both the Training Missions and the SOF deployments, are in small units, scattered about Iraq, all of Iraq.
In the short term, pulling them all back to a large Base would be prudent, but even there, Green on Blue issues are possible.
I choose low quality hire. Or maybe both options? Whatever. This is the stupidest timeline.
@prostratedragon: Lucky for me, I am usually reading BJ in my “work” chair with the padded back, so at least I am banging my head against something cushy.
@Patricia Kayden: What’s the point of that???
Anyone spotted Susan and Jill at their local recruitment centers yet?
What a shitshow in a clusterfuck!
Makes me think of that old saying “if you can’t be good, be good at it”. They can’t seem to do the second part.
@WaterGirl: Fascism would be a good bet.
I spent 10 years in the Federal Government. I wrote many draft letters, although nothing this consequential.
You don’t fucking “accidentally” send out a draft letter like this. NOT EVER.
Draft letters are always circulated around in a folder with a signature sheet for sign-offs by everyone in the approval chain. The draft would not be on letterhead or anything like that.
when the final approval is made, the primary (Sec of State?)’s secretary would print the approved draft on letterhead and put it in front of him for signature. And then it would be sent on.
This narrative doesn’t even make any fucking sense. Someone probably leaked an early draft and the administration is too fucking incompetent to realize what was going on.
@mrmoshpotato: Fascism would be the cause, but what’s the point? Intimidation? Control?
FYI, we are aware of the site hiccup a bit ago, we are working on the problem.
@WaterGirl: You’ll spend that day thinking “Things are quiet, too quiet. What the fuck is this Soviet shitpile administration up to?” :)
@Jay: Thanks. I’ve heard news reports that the Pentagon has decided that they can’t safely have small forces in the field working against ISIS for the time being. So, the letter might be result of a confused process of getting that withdrawal done bumping into Trumpster chaos.
Looks like any further efforts against ISIS/ISIL whatever you want to call it are done. But Trump assured us that they are completely defeated, so surely there is no possible problem in letting the effort against them completely fall apart.
@Kent: I wondered if it was in preparation of trump saying you can’t kick me out, I’m outta here.
@WaterGirl: Yes and yes.
@Adam L Silverman:
I betcha the decision was made to leave and then the Doofus in Chief tweeted otherwise, because he either changed his mind or didn’t remember, and now they’re all trying to cover for him.
He’s worse than incompetent. He’s significantly cognitively impaired. It’s going to get worse and more erratic.
I bet his assassination was a gift to MBS as payback for the strike on Aramco’s refinery so he can get a hotel or something financed.
Any time Trump does something always ask, how does this benefit him financially.
@Kent: It only makes sense if the Trumpsters are rampaging through the Pentagon as if they were genius Masters of the Universe, treating civilian and military staff their like abject flunkies, and dictating every little thing to them.
@WaterGirl: Someone digs the Chinese panopticon.
@Adam L Silverman:
He seems to be a bit young to be the least senior of 3 surviving members of a confederate regiment.
@Kent: Is it more likely it wasn’t a draft letter, but they’re calling it one now (to cover their asses) after #45 threw a tantrum? I honestly don’t know what’s happening anymore.
Maybe I honestly don’t know what’s happening anymore should be a rotating tag.
And just what would Marco know about looking dumb, hmmm?
Chez MomSense we now call that FIIK Or Fuck If I Know. It’s getting a lot of use.
I agree. I made my comment earlier before reading yours. I think your theory makes the most sense.
Remember, though, this is the Trump Administration. It’s not like we’d be getting a more competent replacement if Pompeo left.
@Adam L Silverman: I’d rather have Kobach, who seems to have worn out his welcome in KS, no matter how much BS the Republicans spew.
@Adam L Silverman:
Can you recommend a short (maybe 30 pagers or less?) primer on current Iranian politics?
This looks good for politics but LONG(896 pages):
“Postrevolutionary Iran: A Political Handbook”, Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Kourosh Rahimkhani, 2018/6/5, Syracuse University Press
Recalling from years past, if we’re exiting bases from Iraq, we’re going to be responsible for cleaning them up (removing and disposing of landfills, burn pits, stray munitions and energetics, what-have-you). Who’s going to be responsible for protecting military engineers or contractors responsible for performing that work? Also, it’s going to require years to complete. Thoughts? Who’s going to perform that work. Doubt that the engineering firm I work for is going to pursue that market (we did years ago, but I’m not sure we’ll do that again).
@jlowe: MOAB the motherfucker.
Oh, ffs, Andrew Sullivan is fighting with Young Conor, Adam Serwer, and Nikole Hannah Jones of NYT’s 1619 on Twitter about whether or not black men have bigger dicks. His husband should stage an intervention.
Mike in NC
“The troops will be leaving Iraq and taking the oil with them.”
(That’s how he thinks that works)
Ha! We’re not responsible for dick around here, son.
@raven: too small. You’d need lots of them. Getting the needed permits might be a problem even with the Iraqi government.
Dorothy A. Winsor
Trump makes everyone around him look incompetent because you can’t function competently when a lunatic is in charge.
you’d think an actual draft doc would be marked that way but with this crew of fuckjob cretins anything’s possible.
Proportional response in America.
Kids, aged 12 and 13, shot by driver after throwing snowballs at passing cars
As best I can tell, our military is saying, “Our CiC is bug nuts crazy. We are doing the best we can to get the fuck out of this mess as soon as possible.”
@Martin: If the contracts are there, it’s going to get done. Whether it gets done properly or not is another matter. But, people make money off of this stuff, yo? I know I do.
Am I just being cynical when I wonder about the race of the kids and the driver?
I concur. Go for it, there’s a nominating form over there on the right somewhere.
They are. Draft letters are also not printed on letterhead and not signed by the primary official who’s name is on the letter.
@jlowe: Trump is threatening to sanction Iraq. It’ll be illegal for US corporations to go in there and do that work. He’ll do it out of spite, if nothing else.
if we’re exiting bases from Iraq, we’re going to be responsible for cleaning them up (removing and disposing of landfills, burn pits, stray munitions and energetics, what-have-you)
Nah, way too much trouble. Just let the Russians do it when they take over the joint. Worked pretty good in Syria.
It’s mourning in America.
@Bill Arnold: The Iran Primer is considerably longer than 30 pages, but it’s packaged in smaller pieces. Under “The Book,” check out the articles for what you want. I do not recommend the chapter on the nuclear program, because it is written by pro-war fanatics.
The snow was white, the lead rather grayish.
I suspect that Cheryl is right — there were so many contradictory orders flying back and forth across time zones that one got missed or didn’t get sent and the letter went out.
@WaterGirl: OK, I feel better now.
The actual letter as posted to Talking Points Memo doesn’t actually mention troop withdrawal. It is just talking about troop repositioning. But alludes to it sort of. Basically the whole story is just a cluster fuck
So, assuming we eventually do move out of Iraq. Anyone have a ballpark estimate of how much we have spent on military bases in that country? What kind of military infrastructure would we be just handing over?
@John Revolta: no problem, as long as someone is paying for it. Bets it’s us? It’s surprising there’s so little recognition that site cleanup is a market. There must not be a Superfund site in your community.
Formerly disgruntled in Oregon
Oh, we won’t be simply handing it over. T says the Iraqis will pay for it through the sanctions he’ll “charge” them.
@Kent: There’s the big base in Baghdad that was $750 million for starters and i recall the recommendation is to blow it to kingdom come to keep it out of the hands of ISIS or Russia / Hezbollah / Iran. But it seems worthwhile what could happen to the Kurds who would now be stuck between ISIS, Erdogan, Hezbollah, and indirectly Russia. Does this leave Israel more vulnerable? And if our military infrastructure gets occupied by any of these malign players does that significantly increase their power?
Who is best positioned to g try ab some significant assets and does this set off a fight between the Iraqi’s to keep them from falling into dangerous opponents? There are so many moving parts that any prediction is likely to be good for a few weeks or less.
We need a “no-confidence” fail-safe in our form of government, and force a complete reboot. This is insane, and apparently, a suicide pact. That I for one didn’t sign.
You’re picturing an orderly handover when you should be picturing something more like the fall of Saigon.
The Iranians and Iraqis will be doing that “cleanup.”
Not the fall of Saigon. More like the Soviet occupation of say Hungary as the Iranians just take over with the approval of the Shiite majority.
Spin those pictures, Fox.
(Who am I kidding, they’ll blame Obama.)
Except that, IIRC, there weren’t any foreign troops inside Hungary that had to be evacuated in a hurry. Hence the Saigon comparison.
@Bill Arnold: This isn’t what you asked for, but if anyone is interested in other reading, the International Institute for Strategic Studies put this out a few months ago, and have made the Intro and Chapters 1 and 4 free to read.
James E Powell
Maybe Gilligan’s Island?
James E Powell
And this, in case anyone wonders, is why the press/media absolutely love Trump and will work very hard to keep him where he is.
@WaterGirl: I’ll outsource this one to Orwell:
(O’Brien, Nineteen Eighty-Four)
Mr Blair wrote his most famous novel as a warning. Unfortunately, the modern GOP sees it as more of an instruction manual.
Ceterum censeo factionem Republicanam esse delendam.