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Operation Bug Out
July 27, 2005 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Operation Bug Out. As predicted in a leaked document from Britain's Defense Ministry earlier this month, the US is planning to start withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as Spring 2006, despite President Bush's statement that there's not going to be any timetables because "if you give a timetable, you're -- you're conceding too much to the enemy." (Sometimes he thinks it's important for the president to lay out a timetable, sometimes he doesn't.) Is the withdrawal happening because we're running out of troops or because of midterm elections? Or has another mission been accomplished?
posted by kirkaracha (48 comments total)

 
As anticipated by Billmon in 2003, although his dates were a little off.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM on July 27, 2005


Whose making book on whether Iraq will then fall either into chaos or into the hands of some brutal Taliban-like regime, and thus be worse off than they were under Saddam.
posted by orange swan at 12:28 PM on July 27, 2005


Is someone implying that the White House's strategies have not so much to do with Iraq as with the American elections cycle? I'm shocked, SHOCKED!
posted by clevershark at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2005


As anticipated by Billmon in 2003, although his dates were a little off.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM PST on July 27


So his prediction that Bush was going to pull out in time for the 2004 election for political reasons was correct, despite the fact that Bush didn't and it was 2 whole years off?
posted by dios at 12:33 PM on July 27, 2005


Operation Iraqi Fuq'up.

Mission accomplished, Mr. Crassus.
posted by rdone at 12:44 PM on July 27, 2005


The irony is that in the long run Iraq will become closer to Iran, and eventually get nukes.
posted by mullingitover at 12:48 PM on July 27, 2005


Bring them home. All of them. The Iraqis were screwed before we arrived and they will be screwed after we leave. Less dead Americans is an improvement.
posted by wrapper at 12:50 PM on July 27, 2005


People weren't happy that the troops were sent in. Now they aren't happy that they may be pulled out?

Iraq's transitional prime minister called Wednesday for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops

Hmmm

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.


He goes on:

"We do not want to be surprised by a withdrawal that is not in connection with our Iraqi timing,"' he said.


So, I think he is saying, as time goes by and the Iraqi government and military take things over, they would like to see less of a US presence. Sounds feasible to me.

Nothing esle to whine about today or what?
posted by a3matrix at 12:54 PM on July 27, 2005


Mid-term elections. Bush's popularity polls are down again, which hurts the GOP. Our national security is now guided by the needs of one political party.
posted by Rothko at 12:55 PM on July 27, 2005


The New York Review of Books has an excellent essay Iraq's progression towards an Islamic state (the draft constitution enshrines Islamic Law), and their increasingly close ties with fellow Axis of Evil alum Iran.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:56 PM on July 27, 2005


The Iraqis were screwed before we arrived and they will be screwed after we leave.

Except right now the After would be a hell of a lot worse than the Before.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2005


What the heck is wrong with the British government and all these leaked documents? Solution?


posted by cleverusername at 1:06 PM on July 27, 2005


I forget...who was it during Vietnam that suggested "declare your victory and get out"?
posted by alumshubby at 1:12 PM on July 27, 2005


I still wanna know why calling this a war for oil is wrongheaded. It's like scolding someone for calling the sky blue.
posted by wakko at 1:14 PM on July 27, 2005


People weren't happy that the troops were sent in. Now they aren't happy that they may be pulled out?

Who's unhappy? This sounds like good news to me.

I don't see any reason to give the administration a free pass on yet more dishonesty and dissembling, though.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:16 PM on July 27, 2005


kirkaracha writes "The New York Review of Books has an excellent essay Iraq's progression towards an Islamic state"

The essay was linked in an excelent Mefi thread. The new Iraq Constitution draft was also discussed here.
posted by nkyad at 1:16 PM on July 27, 2005


I still wanna know why calling this a war for oil is wrongheaded.

It's not wrongheaded so much as illogical. The war was quite expensive, and would have been regardless of whether it had gone well or not. There are many other largely untapped sources of oil in the region that would have been far cheaper than waging war in Iraq. It's more accurate to say that the war was about corrupt reconstruction contracts and US domestic politics.
posted by unreason at 1:18 PM on July 27, 2005


People weren't happy that the troops were sent in. Now they aren't happy that they may be pulled out?

First you said you oppose a war of aggression, now you say you don't want the government to abandon responsibility for it's decision?

Must have nothing else to whine about.

ONLY THE STRONG CAN REMAIN FREE!

SLOGAN SLOGAN SLOGAN!

etc.

If you attempt to understand the situation (without dogma) the terrorists win.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:18 PM on July 27, 2005


Why shouldn't I be perfectly happy to see that billions of American dollars, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, tens of thousands of maimed American military personnel, almost two thousand dead American soldiers and marines, wholesale public mendacity, and the destruction of America's national honor have resulted in an Islamic Republic of Iraq closely aligned with Iran?

Yee hah! Bring it on! We're doing it for the children!
posted by rdone at 1:19 PM on July 27, 2005


There are many other largely untapped sources of oil in the region that would have been far cheaper than waging war in Iraq.

But none of them have nearly as much oil as Iraq does. Second largest reserves in the region behind the Saudis. If it only costs a few hundred billion dollars to secure a few trillion dollars' worth of oil, I'd consider that a great investment, if I had no morals.
posted by wakko at 1:28 PM on July 27, 2005


Western Infidel
I don't see any reason to give the administration a free pass on yet more dishonesty and dissembling, though

Sir, I believe you misspelled disassemble
posted by kcds at 1:29 PM on July 27, 2005


If it only costs a few hundred billion dollars to secure a few trillion dollars' worth of oil, I'd consider that a great investment, if I had no morals.

True, but the oil isn't secured. And even if the war had gone well, it wouldn't have been secured. The US would never have been able to hold on to control of the oil fields eventually. Even in the best of cases, Iraq would have become another Saudi Arabia. They certainly would not have simply given the US free oil.
posted by unreason at 1:31 PM on July 27, 2005


Thank you, president flip-flop.

What's the matter dios, didn't have your wheaties this morning? "Bush didn't and it was 2 whole years off"
The prediction was accurate in substance, inaccurate in timing. Bush DID, and it was 2 years off. Of course, 2 whole years is just 1 little election cycle.
posted by modernerd at 1:32 PM on July 27, 2005


No disassemble! No disassemble!!

/Johnny 5
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:33 PM on July 27, 2005


It's not wrongheaded so much as illogical. The war was quite expen

OPM.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:42 PM on July 27, 2005


One of the most striking aspects of the evolving Sunni insurgency has been its almost complete failure to spark serious sectarian conflict. This I'd say is the main reason why the US is willing to considering withdrawal. The violence is very destructive but it doesn't appear to be having any wider political impact.

The process of drawing up a constitution is still going ahead, the expansion of security forces goes on (see the daily reports on suicide bomb attacks on recruitment queues) and the US domestic political situation is not yet at the stage where the desire for immediate withdrawal is likely to dominate electoral events. In short, there is no historical tendency which favours victory for the terrorists in Iraq. They are a religious and political minority which will never gain power in Iraq again. Distressing as the violence is, it will not change anything on the grand scale.

I don't think US and the UK plans for withdrawal necessarily undermine the goal of an independent sovereign Iraq with a representative government.
posted by pots at 1:45 PM on July 27, 2005


And even if the war had gone well, it wouldn't have been secured. The US would never have been able to hold on to control of the oil fields eventually.

Well, the PNAC crowd either believed their bullshit or knew they personally and politically profit from the instability.

FWIW, IMV a central war aim was to put a weasel like Chalabi in charge of the oil (admittedly that is much better for the US, and worse for France, Russia, and Germany, than Saddam). AFAIK Chalabi is is presently in charge of the oil.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:48 PM on July 27, 2005


Well, the PNAC crowd either believed their bullshit or knew they personally and politically profit from the instability.

Did anything ever come of the documents from Cheney's 2001 energy meetings that were released under FOIA and lawsuit that, "contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and 'Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.'" There were also oil field maps from UAE and Saudi Arabia.
posted by jperkins at 2:02 PM on July 27, 2005


kirkaracha : why didn't you include that link in the original post? It provides a far more insightful analysis of why the US might consider withdrawing than the supposed shortage of troops or domestic political considerations. The reason being that the 'Sunni insurgency has no political future and cannot be defeated, so why risk US lives?'

*but thanks for the link. You're right, it is a good article.
posted by pots at 2:07 PM on July 27, 2005


I don't think the energy policy meeting docs were ever made completely public.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:08 PM on July 27, 2005


i stand corrected.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:09 PM on July 27, 2005


i stand corrected.

No, no. I think that you're right that not all of the documents have been released. And if that's the case, then those that have been released and the fact that the administration is still fighting the release of the rest of the documents make me very curious as to what's still there.

The 'suitor' part is what raised my eyebrows of that linked to bunch of documents. I also should've specified that those released documents were from March 2001.
posted by jperkins at 2:17 PM on July 27, 2005


kirkaracha : why didn't you include that link in the original post?

Because I didn't remember the essay until I was prompted to look up some commentary on Iraq's Islamic future by mullingitover's comment.

Also, I'm trying to take the president at his word. He's said there won't be a timetable, and that we'll only stay until "the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave," but we're exaggerating the number of trained Iraqi forces. The president says Iraq is building "the institutions of a free society, a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and equal justice under law." Since the draft constitution could sharply curb women's rights, it doesn't seem to meet those criteria, it isn't final, and elections haven't been held yet, but we're planning our withdrawal.

Since I don't believe the president is going to say we've accomplished our mission of replacing a secular Iraq with an Islamic republic that's buddies with Iran, I don't think we can count that as a reason for leaving.

Also, the president said that Iraq is a central front in the Global War on Terror Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Did we win, or are we surrendering?

FWIW, IMV a central war aim was to put a weasel like Chalabi in charge of the oil

Ahmad Chalabi emerges, once again, as powerful leader
posted by kirkaracha at 3:29 PM on July 27, 2005


I think the main goal was to establish bases in Iraq, was it not? It gave the US a stronghold in the middle east (other than in Saudi Arabia which is hugely problematic). Now that that has been done, the Americans have nothing to gain by fighting the insurgency, and understandably want to de-escalate the violence. Whether Iraq has a viable democracy is hardly important to the Americans as long as they continue to influence the region.
posted by jimmy76 at 4:02 PM on July 27, 2005


I think the main goal was to establish bases in Iraq,

debatable. With Global Hawk and Diego Garcia basing for B-2s, I really don't see a geopolitical necessity for putting tactical air in Iraq. Unless we we looking at intervening in Syria/Lebanon from the backside.

I think looking at the money angle is more elucidating. Saddam repudiating his USD-denominated UN fund, moving it to Euros, beginning to sell his oil in Euros, the beginning of the end of the sanctions regime and France and Russia champing at the bit to move back into their petroleum sector, not to mention the potentiality of actually installing a US-friendly Shiite (and the Kurds to some extent) administration (the Chalabi/Allawi axis) very willing to do bidness with us.

It was a beautiful play to make. Too bad we rolled a lot of 6s in the middle rounds of combat on the battleboard little A&A ref there.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:38 PM on July 27, 2005


jimmy76, um what? I have absolutely no idea if you are being serious or not. I'll assume that you are being serious.

Where did you get the idea that the main goal was to establish bases in Iraq? Do you have something to show that this was the understood goal going into the war or was your opinion formed in hindsight? Also, can you provide evidence that we will in fact have permanent bases in Iraq after we withdraw? It was my understanding that the Iraqis would not even consider that possibility.
posted by oddman at 4:45 PM on July 27, 2005


Oddman, at this point its makes as much sense as any reason. I still cant see why they did it, I suspect Jimmy is incorrect and the whole shambles was a get rich scheme by big oil hatched or at least finalized in Cheney's energy meeting.

But no one knows cause "NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT!"

The Iraq base idea has merit, but we could have sweettalked Turkey with a lot less fuss... and had the troops to protect us from a nuclear Iran or worse yet North Korea, but now, we are just "Ate Up vulnerable"

Well thats my $0.02 with.....
posted by Elim at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2005


Leaving Iraq will be hard work. The war the US started so lightly--like all wars--is a corrosive solvent that has broken untold bonds. The crowned heads of Europe had no idea in 1914 that most would be off their thrones in four years, or that fascism and communism would bring cataclysm in the vacuum of power left by the war they embraced. In his magisterial history of the USA, the great English historian Hugh Brogan wrote, apropos of the Seven Years War (1756-1763), which both secured North America for England and put the American Revolution into motion:

War, next only to technology, is the most certain solvent of modern society. Reforms miscarry, revolutions are prevented or perverted; war is always with us and seldom or never fails to bring sweeping change. So it was with the Seven Years War.

Even today, the irredentist Kurds, who were promised their own country in 1920 in the Anglo-French "settlement" that dismembered the Ottoman Empire, expect to have an independent, secular Kurdistan, not a federal dependency of a Shiite-controlled Islamic republic. It is far too early to expect that "our" Iraq, which is no more organic as a country than the British-created version of 1922, will work at all. let alone come close to fullfilling the neocon pipe dreams that inspired the post-conquest fiasco we have watched since April 2003.
posted by rdone at 6:13 PM on July 27, 2005


As for the bases in Iraq, a little history wrt Habbaniya is warranted.

This time, we can put bases like we do in Nevada, out in the BFE, only we don't need large military reservations, just a 2mi runway and a security perimeter. I don't think we'll be building them in the middle of the cities like we did in Vietnam.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:42 PM on July 27, 2005


Oddman says:Where did you get the idea that the main goal was to establish bases in Iraq? Do you have something to show that this was the understood goal going into the war or was your opinion formed in hindsight?

The theory was floating around New York academic circles in the months leading up to the war. The Pentagon was securing base deals with our friends in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and others, in recent years. It is reasonable to assume that the Pentagon would ask our grateful Iraqi friends for an equitable, if not greater, agreement. Such agreements are, as our other friends know, lucrative and easy to obfuscate.

Speculation it may have been, but foresighted, not hindsighted.
posted by solipse at 8:43 PM on July 27, 2005


Are we just going to leave the Iraqi policing forces the keys to all the F-14's and Blackhawks that have been the key to their dominance so far? Or will we just sell them the air support?
How many trained Iraqi Blackhawk pilots do they have?
posted by Balisong at 8:46 PM on July 27, 2005


Any thoughts on where the U.S. would base all the aircraft they currently have stationed around the Gulf if they lose Iraq? Diego Garcia will only take so many, I don't see the U.S. and Britain putting all it's eggs in one basket by stationing them in Israel, Turkey's out, Egypt's out, Saudi Arabia's out, UAE is getting touchier, Jordan's not an option. . . Where oh where can an air force base? And think of all the hardened structures that have been built in all these countries that will have to be left behind or destroyed and the money spent doing that.
Could it be that this country's worn out it's welcome all over the middle east at this point?
posted by mk1gti at 9:21 PM on July 27, 2005


Any thoughts on where the U.S. would base all the aircraft they currently have stationed around the Gulf if they lose Iraq?

uh, where they are now... Bahrain?

Diego Garcia is way too far for tactical air but fine for B-2s (assuming some permanent fixtures not the chintzy shelters we have there now, AFAIK). The only reason we would need tactical air in Iraq would be to refight the Iran-Iraq war, and I don't think the present government of Iraq would go for that for obvious reasons.

All that's left is keeping an eye on Syria/Lebanon, and we can do that without tactical air. Just don't let the USAF brass boss us around.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:00 PM on July 27, 2005


Well, I agree with those of you who think that certainly someone in the administration was thinking about bases in Iraq. In fact, I would be shocked if it didn't occur to anyone in the Pentagon or Whitehouse.

But the point made by Jimmy was the bases were the main reason for invading Iraq. This is what I'm having trouble with.
posted by oddman at 6:20 AM on July 28, 2005


Okay, to those saying "This war wasn't about oil, because we don't have control of the oil.":

That doesn't mean anything, because the simple answer is: The people running the war are incompetent.

Their motivations can be and likely are much different from the outcome, precisely because of their inability to realise their vision, either as a result of their own ineptitude, or the simple fact that their vision is unrealistic, and can never be attained.
posted by odinsdream at 6:47 AM on July 28, 2005


Timing of cuts in Iraq outlined [my emphasis]:
The commanders, speaking on condition of anonymity, outlined a plan that includes increasing the daily responsibilities of Iraqi defense forces while reducing the American presence in Iraq from dozens of outposts to four large regional bases.
Juan Cole has an interesting essay that says "US troops aren't coming home any time soon."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2005


The Washington Post wrote about the four bases in May:
U.S. military commanders have prepared plans to consolidate American troops in Iraq into four large air bases as they look ahead to giving up more than 100 other bases now occupied by international forces, officers said.

Several officers involved in drafting the consolidation plan said it entailed the construction of longer-lasting facilities at the sites, including barracks and office structures made of concrete block instead of the metal trailers and tin-sheathed buildings that have become the norm at bigger U.S. bases in Iraq.

The new, sturdier buildings will give the bases a more permanent character, the officers acknowledged. But they said the consolidation plan was not meant to establish a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Instead, they said, it is part of a withdrawal expected to occur in phases, with Iraqi forces gradually taking over many of the bases inhabited by U.S. and other foreign troops. Eventually, U.S. units would end up concentrated at the four heavily fortified, strategically located hubs, enabling them to provide continued logistical support and emergency combat assistance, the officers said.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:47 AM on July 28, 2005


bunkerbunkerbunkerbunkerbunker. Bunker

Stupid Turtles . . .
posted by mk1gti at 7:09 PM on July 28, 2005


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