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March 18, 2006 7:47 PM   Subscribe

"The rationale for a free and democratic Iraq is as compelling today as it was three years ago.... Consider that if we retreat now, there is every reason to believe Saddamists and terrorists will fill the vacuum -- and the free world might not have the will to face them again. Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."

More wisdom from the man who said in 2002 "I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that."
posted by orthogonality (99 comments total)

 
If it's OK with you all I think I'll just go and cry now.
posted by donovan at 7:49 PM on March 18, 2006


I fail to believe there are still Saddamists anymore.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 7:50 PM on March 18, 2006


But then again, I fail to believe there are any more Bushists, either.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2006


Right, that guy is a moron.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 PM on March 18, 2006


"Who are they that have expressed these concerns? In fact, these are the exact words of terrorists discussing Iraq -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates -- who are describing their own situation and must be watching with fear the progress that Iraq has made over the past three years."
Ooh, nice subtext.... if you criticize the war, you're a terrorist!

Also note that this is complete fabrication, because the terrorists' position couldn't get any worse in Iraq than it was before the invasion... there weren't any there. This whole thing is a bonanza strike for them... they can fight American soldiers from the comfort of their own homes, blending into a population that fears us.
"Consider that if we retreat now, there is every reason to believe Saddamists and terrorists will fill the vacuum -- and the free world might not have the will to face them again."
Another nice one... he's equating Saddam with terrorism. There were no terrorists in Iraq until we invaded. Of course the terrorists will fill the vacuum... the vacuum that _we created_ through our misguided invasion and completely incompetent occupation. We created the terrorism, we created the vacuum. And the longer we stay, the more of both there will be.
"Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."
We can't leave Vietnam to the communists!
posted by Malor at 8:08 PM on March 18, 2006


"Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."

Sadly, att this juncture, I think a more apt analogy would be handing Paris back to the French Resistance and skedaddling back across the Rhine.
posted by stenseng at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2006


I wish someone would make a movie about someone defying someone like that. A movie would be good.
posted by sidereal at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2006


A movie would be good.

Even a biting comic strip.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 8:20 PM on March 18, 2006


*waters the elephant*
posted by quonsar at 8:25 PM on March 18, 2006


In Rumsfeldlandia, the elephant waters you.
posted by stirfry at 8:31 PM on March 18, 2006


There are Saddamists, yes, not many but some, mostly Sunni tribes. They fight not to restore Saddam (impossible) but to retain honor in the face of the US invaders. They fight us simply because we are there. Iraqi's are a proud people, and will always fight.

Let me tell you a story I read about an Iraqi man who collaborated with the Americans to point out "rebels" and someone and Iraqi recognized the finch and when the Americans left, according to tribal law, the finch had to be killed. But in order to avoid a blood libel, someone from the finch's own family had to do the killing (if someone outside the family killed him, it would result in a never ending series of counter-killings to retain honor). So the man's father took him outside and shot him dead and the family buried him. This is normal, everyday social custom in Iraq. Tribal law, tribal custom, instant justice. Americans have no clue what they are dealing with in Iraq.
posted by stbalbach at 9:07 PM on March 18, 2006


So, put simply, you all really do think that the people of Iraq would be better off if we completely pulled our troops out now?

This isn't a question of whether or not we should have gone there in the first place (many can make and have made really good arguments for that, so let's leave it alone, for the moment). Given the fact that we are there now and that we have removed what was a stable (albeit corrupt, vile, citizen-gassing, citizen-torturing, secrete police-employing and generally un-cool) government, you all are still saying that we need to leave and we need to leave Iraq now? And you're further saying that doing so would be best for the people of Iraq and for America long-term?

Just curious...
posted by incongruity at 9:16 PM on March 18, 2006


and by "for that" I meant arguments for why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq in the first place, but again, that's not the point of my question/post
posted by incongruity at 9:19 PM on March 18, 2006


Could it be worse?
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 9:28 PM on March 18, 2006


IF anyone actually cares about Iraq other than as a source of oil, then you shouldn't pull out your troops. Not now, and not for years to come.
Not until they don't need you anymore.

I am guessing that that's going to be too long for the US + allies to bear.
What a shame.
posted by Jelreyn at 9:30 PM on March 18, 2006


incongruity, your question assumes that the American occupation forces are the last stand between a bad situation and a worse one. I disagree--the American presence in itself inflames passions among all Iraqi factions. So yes, I believe that an immediate withdrawal would be best for the Iraqis. Honestly, I don't think it could get any worse. More practically, and realpolitiky, the American occupation is prolonging an inevitable bloodletting on the part of the Shia against the Sunni. There's a reason why Bush I didn't go to Baghdad, and we now have proof that he was absulutely right (although he managed to give false hope to thousands of Shia who were promptly slaughtered, which he shouldn't have done).

Short answer--Amercans are fooling themselves if they think the presence of an occupying force is stabilizing anything.
posted by bardic at 9:31 PM on March 18, 2006


we should have gone there in the first place (many can make and have made really good arguments for that, so let's leave it alone, for the moment

Argument by passive-aggression.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:32 PM on March 18, 2006



IF anyone actually cares about Iraq other than as a source of oil, then you shouldn't pull out your troops. Not now, and not for years to come.
Not until they don't need you anymore.


What if the Iraqi's just want Americans to stop shooting them?
Regardless of whether they wish to stop shooting at each other, not having Americans shooting at them would be welcomed. I'll bet $100 Iraqi Dinars.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 9:39 PM on March 18, 2006


incongruity, your question assumes that the American occupation forces are the last stand between a bad situation and a worse one. No. My question makes no such assumption. What you're reading into it may be another matter, but my question is pretty straight forward, though perhaps more so if broken into two parts: 1) Given the current situation, do you or do you not believe that the best interests of the Iraqi people would be best served by an immediate pull-out of foreign (primarily American) troops. and the closely parallel question: 2) Given the current situation, do you or do you not believe that the best interests of the American people would be best served by an immediate pull-out of foreign (primarily American) troops.

You, bardic, have answered for yourself, and I thank you...but don't read in assumptions where there are none.
posted by incongruity at 9:40 PM on March 18, 2006


I guess that depends on whether you think an American installed government (from, by and for) would be better than what the people would/could come up with by themselves (freedom).
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 9:44 PM on March 18, 2006


I agree with Rumsfeld. There are some excellent reasons for helping Iraq become free and democratic. And since US/British/etc. forces are currently the single largest impediment to this goal, they should be removed from Iraq as quickly as possible.
posted by Clay201 at 9:45 PM on March 18, 2006


Wow, a thread that was Godiwnned before any comments. I am impressed.
posted by ilsa at 9:58 PM on March 18, 2006


Pre-Godwinned for your convenience.
posted by papakwanz at 10:16 PM on March 18, 2006


incongruity: my take is this: We have already lost. We lost at Abu Ghraib. The Iraqis will _never_ accept any government we impose, or even appear to endorse.

Even if we actually DID have their best interests in mind, which, given the complete lack of human rights we're offering them, I question very strongly, and we set them up with a 'perfect' government... it would last exactly as long as we were there, and would then fall. No matter how good it actually was, their trust of it would be too low for it to ever sustain itself. They will demand the right to self-determination, and they will choose very bad governments for themselves, rather than accept our solutions... no matter how much better our solutions may actually be.

We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars we don't have, and driving our troops past human endurance in so doing. Because we have always refused to admit just how many boots on the ground we needed, we have crippled any chance to actually win. It was the wrong tool to begin with, and then we didn't even use THAT tool properly.

A truly massive troop presence, a draft at home, and a detailed reconstruction plan might have let us win this thing. What we ended up with, instead, is a civil war, a looted treasury, and a fucked-up bunch of GIs.

We CAN'T win. We tried to do it on the cheap, and it all went south. It is only a matter of how many body bags we want to fill. Our friends and allies in the region are going to be massively fucked up by us leaving. We will turn the entire Middle East into enemies by bailing... but we can either turn them quickly or slowly, with a lot of dead bodies on both sides.

There are no good solutions. Since we can't achieve our objectives, the least bad solution is the one that gets the fewest of our troops killed.

The ONLY winner in this thing is Halliburton.

Let me sum this up a different way: we can't keep a two-mile stretch of road from Baghdad to the airport safe. How the fuck do you think we're going to pacify the whole country?
posted by Malor at 10:19 PM on March 18, 2006


More impressive still, a thread that was Godwinned by its subject, before it was even posted.

What constantly amazes me is how far this moon-martian logic appeals to otherwise rational, well-educated people in the US...who then go on to suggest that the reason why those of us who work in the humanities are against the war is because we're filthy traitors, not because we see through the BS smoke-shifting that's going on.
posted by trigonometry at 10:20 PM on March 18, 2006


"The ONLY winner in this thing is Halliburton."

I don't want to be crude or over-simplistic or a troll or a jerk, but—

No shit, Sherlock.
posted by S.C. at 11:05 PM on March 18, 2006


1) Given the current situation, do you or do you not believe that the best interests of the Iraqi people would be best served by an immediate pull-out of foreign (primarily American) troops. and the closely parallel question: 2) Given the current situation, do you or do you not believe that the best interests of the American people would be best served by an immediate pull-out of foreign (primarily American) troops.

1.Yes.
2.Yes.
posted by c13 at 11:11 PM on March 18, 2006


One day the bull will leave the china shop.
posted by flabdablet at 11:21 PM on March 18, 2006


So, put simply, you all really do think that the people of Iraq would be better off if we completely pulled our troops out now?

Theoretically it might be possible for American troops to have a positive influence - under the command of a UN appointed Arab general perhaps? Want to be more realistic, then how about an Arabic speaking British general? Given knowledge of the incompetence (or malice) of the people in charge, there is only one reasonable answer.


Now, taking a much larger view, and adding a little artistic license..

You could argue that America really is 'a force for good' - like the Rebels in Star Wars or something - and that this implies whatever is in America's interest is in the interest of the human race as a whole. You could further argue that the world is in Deep ShitTM, and without the psuedo-devine influence of America we will all suffer terribly. With those assumptions you could make a weak, but not entirely comical, argument that a permanent American military presence in the middle east will benefit the world. Since instability in Iraq is one 'justifiable' way to maintain that presence, you can eventually form a fallacious but self-consistent argument that the American troops are good for Iraq.

But please, don't let Rumsfeld's jedi mind tricks fool you! When Obi-wan said "These aren't the droids you're looking for" it was reasonable - there are lots of droids around, we don't know these are the ones. Plausibility in the face of ignorance is the key to the mind trick's power. The force has been strong with Rumsfeld, as any viewing of his 2003 press conferences would attest, but his powers are weakening. This is your chance - this is our chance - to be free!
posted by Chuckles at 11:23 PM on March 18, 2006


Rumsfeld's using terms like "Saddamists and terrorists" is framing the situation in a way I disagree with. The US invaded Iraq under false pretenses. The people that fought against them are a resistance. If you believe the US-installed Iraqi government is legitimate, then the people fighting against it are an insurgency.

The government overstated the number of foreign fighters time and time again. The people fighting against the US and the "fully sovereign nation" of Iraq are Iraqis, and they're fighting because the US is there.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 PM on March 18, 2006


Damn, and all this time I've been calling them Saddamites? No wonder people won't talk Middle Eastern politics with me anymore.
posted by fenriq at 11:36 PM on March 18, 2006


Ooh, fenriq. Way to make an ass of yourself.

:)
posted by Malor at 11:59 PM on March 18, 2006


Vacapinta still has his eye on you, shnox-gobblin.
posted by duende at 12:02 AM on March 19, 2006


The US invaded Iraq under false pretenses.

That's a lie.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:05 AM on March 19, 2006


"So, put simply, you all really do think that the people of Iraq would be better off if we completely pulled our troops out now?"

For some, yes. For others, no. Overall, probably yes.

Those who collaborated with the US in particularly divisive ways might be vulnerable, but, truth be told, they're pretty damn vulnerable already. Insurgents have good intelligence as to who is working with the US, and they don't just go after them, they go after their entire family too.

If the US leaves, there will be civil war and ethnic cleansing. If they don't, there will be civil war and ethnic cleansing. Do you really think that bombing sortees are going to stop the neighborhood purges, and the masked people showing up on their neighbor's doorsteps at night, taking away all the men of the targeted minority, to be found later in a ditch somewhere? The US is pulling back from their FOB's to a few main bases and patrolling less often. While this reduces their vulnerability to IEDs, it leaves the inexperienced Iraqi military to run things... and the Iraqi soldiers aren't taking risks unless they have to. Most of the time when they do go out on patrol, the bad guys have already been tipped off. This explains why the newest offensive has been largely unable to find the enemy, even though they have photos of many of them.

Civil war is already happening, to the tune of about 100 dead Iraqis a day, and it has been happening for months. That's a big reason why so many Iraqis have fled the country and settled in Jordan, Syria, or any other place that will have them. The Kurdish peshmerga are forcing people out in Kirkuk, and it goes largely underreported. Likewise, Sunni and Shi'a are forcing each other out of their turf. Black and green flags have gone up over individual neighborhoods as a way of saying "This is our turf... keep out."

Christians have been forced out. Gypsies have been forced out. Palestinians have been forced out. It's pretty sad, really, and the US military presence is about as helpful as the British military presence in India when India and Pakistan started to tear itself apart.

There is a path to peace in Iraq, but it's not through some kind of unified government. That genie has already left the bottle, and such a "unified" government would only become a joke in the future when it plays out. Unity means that the Shi'ites try to enforce their will on the rest of Iraq while the Kurds say "Hasta... we didn't want to be a part of Iraq anyway."

The best path to peace, sadly, is for Iraq to tear itself apart.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:19 AM on March 19, 2006


Given the fact that we are there now and that we have removed what was a stable... government, you all are still saying that we need to leave and we need to leave Iraq now?

Yes. One hundred percent.

And you're further saying that doing so would be best for the people of Iraq and for America long-term?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

First of all, because it's a horrible thing to do, to invade and occupy a country. I mean, it's already led to something north of thirty or forty thousand deaths (possibly more than a hundred thousand; we can't be sure just now). Plus... I mean, do I even have to make this argument? I mean, isn't outright conquest always bad, no questions asked? When has it ever been a good thing?

Second, as everyone keeps saying, it could get worse. There could be a civil war. The US could invade Iran. Iran could invade Iraq. The Kurds may start making some sort of move and/or Turkey might make moves against them. There could be popular revolts in Saudi Arabia and/or Pakistan. If you think things are bad now, it's nothing compared to what the middle east will look like if the powder keg they're all sitting on explodes. Alan Moore had this line about Blackbeard, how, in order to convince his men he was a total nutcase or maybe just for fun, he'd lock himself up with them in the hull of the boat when it was loaded with gun powder and he'd walk around with a lit torch saying "This is what it's like where I live. This is what it's like in Hell." Well, Bush is Blackbeard and his torch is the most powerful military machine this world has ever seen. And Dubya's walking around with it in his hand, right on top of all that gun powder, talking about the will of God and assuring us that nothing could possibly go wrong. And every time you turn around, he's dropping the damn thing.

You say the situation in Iraq is degenerating? I say, you're damn skippy it is. Which is why we should immediately stop exacerbating it.

Third: Strategically, continuing the occupation doesn't make sense. I mean, I don't think the US has the right to control the flow of oil out of Iraq, but nothing short of a nuclear strike will prevent them from trying. And this is a task they could manage a lot more easily if they weren't occupying the country. We've managed to keep pretty tight leash on Pakistan, The UAE and even Saudi Arabia all without occupying them. There are plenty of ways to do the same with Iraq. We did it when Saddam ran the place, both before and after the Gulf War. I mean, we've had a lot of practice.

Fourth: The only "plan" that Bush's people will follow is so completely ludicrous that even a lot of his traditionally loyal subjects think he's lost his mind. See, the problem here is that he believes his own bullshit. Or anyway, he acts like he does. He actually thinks that he's going to install this pretend government and that the people will vote and that the human rights groups will give it their stamp of approval... and then, magically, somehow, this nice little government will, as Saddam did quite happily for many years, screw its own people blue and hand over control of the oil to the US. Oh, and they'll let the US have military bases there. And they'll "assist in the war on terror" which means, of course, selling out their fellow arabs, letting us torture prisoners there and run intelligence operations and so forth. Also, the Kurds won't try to form a homeland. And so forth. This sort of control over the population cannot happen unless Bush completely crushes the resistance. And here I'm not talking just about the armed guys running around in the streets. They're part of it, obviously. But there's also non-violent resistance in various forms. Bush will have to crush all of it and the only way to do that is with massive amounts of force. We're talking Viet Nam here. At the very least, some air power will have to be brought in and a few neighborhoods/towns will have to be made examples. This will mean a lot of civilian casualties. That is, a sharp increase over what we've already seen. (That's just the way it goes when you fight a guerilla army; civilians get toasted). But if he did that, then he couldn't continue to pretend that he's doing Iraq this huge favor. I mean, it's a very thin pretense now and most of the world sees right through it. But if the war against the general population escalates, what little support he has will probably evaporate. The Brits, for example, will probably just pack up and go home.

Fifth: The more we let any administration get away with... the more they'll get away with. I guarantee that right this minute there are guys in the DoD who are trying to talk Bush into attacking Venezuela. I don't think he'll do it because I think he, rightly, fears popular resistance on a massive, testicle-shrinking scale. But the point here is that people holding that kind of power will go as far as we let them. It is up to us to draw the line. If we don't draw it here, then where? When he decides to take Iran? Venezuela? North Korea? When the nukes start flying, then do we say "whoa, hey... it's time to stop?" And don't think that this ends in 08 when we get a democrat or a sane Republican in there. You write John Kerry or Hillary Clinton or John Mccain the kind of blank check we've written for Dubya and I promise you they will let slip the dogs.


I've probably got three or four more good reasons if you'd like to hear 'em.
posted by Clay201 at 12:41 AM on March 19, 2006


That's a lie.

Care to expand upon your point, techgnollogic? Did we discover weapons of mass destruction and nobody told any of us?

Reputable analysts knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. There is evidence that the intelligence concerning the WMDs was fixed as a prelude to war that Bush wanted anyway. Even if the argument for WMDs wasn't an out and out lie, it was based on a systematic bullying of the intelligence community to produce evidence that would justify a war, cherry picking intelligence that had not been properly vetted in order to make a case for war. Nonetheless, with evidence so flimsy that Colin Powell himself had said in 2001 that Hussein had no WMDs, he was sent before the UN to make the opposite case in 2003 to make the opposite case, an act that he know calls a "blot" on his record.

The war is either all a lie or the biggest cockup ever; I suspect it's both. Either way, we went to war under pretenses that are now known to be false. Therefore, we went to war under false pretenses.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 AM on March 19, 2006


Did I mention he made the opposite case?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 AM on March 19, 2006


"I mean, I don't think the US has the right to control the flow of oil out of Iraq, but nothing short of a nuclear strike will prevent them from trying. And this is a task they could manage a lot more easily if they weren't occupying the country."

Actually, the US essentially gave the rights for oil flowing out of Iraq primarily to US multinationals... and they locked in a huge (percieved...) longterm profit by basing their rates for the next 40 years or so on what Iraq is like today. If Iraq suddenly calms down and the multinationals can get in and work their claims, they'll make a killing -- a literally unprecidented profit margin for such work during a time of future peace.

The problem here is that the Iraqi government won't be happy about these Bremeresque, "locked-in" deals should stability ever be obtained. These deals would cost them a huge chunk of their national income during any theoretical peacetime, which they would be loathe to part with.

So, what happens next, in this theoretically peaceful (i.e. presumably divided) Iraq? "US out" popular protests, and politicians who want to nationalize the oil industry. And if the politicians don't do anything, expect more attacks upon the oil infrastructure, not by Sunni insurgents, but by hardline Shi'ites and/or militant Kurds.

Meanwhile, expect the Sunni to be pissed off at everyone still, as Shi'ite and Sunni close down existing wells and drill new ones where the revenue doesn't have to be shared equally, as indicated in the foul gutty works of the Iraqi constitution.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:13 AM on March 19, 2006


my question is pretty straight forward, though perhaps more so if broken into two parts: 1) Given the current situation, do you or do you not believe that the best interests of the Iraqi people would be best served by an immediate pull-out of foreign (primarily American) troops. and the closely parallel question: 2) Given the current situation, do you or do you not believe that the best interests of the American people would be best served by an immediate pull-out of foreign (primarily American) troops.

incongruity, there's a new sub rosa talking point going about on the right-wing blogs -- those that have pretense of being smarter than the administration, and the ability to go off message in terms of what the White House is peddling at any given moment. That talking point is that there is a civil war brewing, and the consequences of that civil war would be so horrible for the Iraqi people and American interests that we dare not leave.

So you may beg forgiveness if the appearance of your question suggests the same underlying assumptions. If we go from 100 civilian deaths a day to 1000, we can expect this talking point to be called into service as a primary.
posted by dhartung at 1:50 AM on March 19, 2006


In a healthy democratic republic, Donald Rumsfeld would have been run out of town a long time ago. This man's strategy has failed so badly and cost us so dearly, he should be immediately flung into prison on treason charges and strung up from the stoutest sycamore on the White House grounds at the earliest convenient time.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:09 AM on March 19, 2006


"We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more - if this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

Says Iyad Allawi, Former Iraq PM.
posted by darkstar at 3:16 AM on March 19, 2006


knettergek
posted by Substrata at 3:49 AM on March 19, 2006


"Saddamists?" Who are they, Saddam and his Mom?

Not that it matters. Here's the bottom line: it doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter who you vote for, and you can raise your tiny fists in protest (in the "free speech zones," of course) all you want, but nothing is going to change. People don't run the country anymore, businesses do. There's money to be made, and we the people don't matter. America will pull out of Iraq when Halliburton no longer finds the occupation profitable.

Reality sucks, doesn't it?
posted by Jatayu das at 3:52 AM on March 19, 2006


Iraq was an arbitrary creation. The natural division into three parts is already underway. It's time to give up the notion of a unified, peaceful Iraq and time to divide the country three ways. The only remaining question is then from whom will each side purchase its arms.
posted by caddis at 4:45 AM on March 19, 2006


NY Times Editorial today The Stuff That Happened--... The last three years have shown how little our national leaders understood Iraq, and have reminded us how badly attempts at liberation from the outside have gone in the past. Given where we are now, the question of whether a botched invasion created a lost opportunity might be moot, except for one thing. The man who did the botching, Donald Rumsfeld, is still the secretary of defense.
The generals on the ground understood what a disaster they were creating in the pell-mell race to Baghdad, which left in its wake an entire country full of places where Saddam Hussein's loyalists could regroup and prepare to carry on a permanent war against the Americans and their fellow Iraqis. As the new book "Cobra II" by Michael Gordon of The Times and Bernard Trainor underscores, the generals in the field were overruled by directives from Washington, where military decisions were being made by men who were guided not by reality, but by their own beloved myths about what Iraq was like and how the war was going to be won.
Chances are that at the time George W. Bush did not have an inkling of how badly he was being served by the decision makers at the Pentagon. But the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld continues to hold his job tells us that Mr. Bush doesn't care, that he prefers living in the same dream world that his secretary of defense inhabits....

posted by amberglow at 5:32 AM on March 19, 2006


If only the United States had invaded Iraq in a kinder, gentler and more effective way everything would be so much better.
posted by srboisvert at 5:33 AM on March 19, 2006


I encourage those of you with access to C-Span to watch the Book TV episode about Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. It's not online just yet. Between the authors discussing the book itself and the panelists expanding upon it, there are some very revealing comments about Rumsfeld, the war plan, and the reasons behind the current state of affairs in Iraq.

One interesting bit I took from the show was that Rumsfeld's plan (racing to Baghdad) was a good one, but that he was so married to it he was unwilling to modify it in response to the reality on the ground. In particular, the plan left thousands of loyal and well-armed Fedayeen (who, interestinly enough, were originally put in place to quell uprisings, not fight off invaders) untouched, and it was those fighters who kick-started the insurgency. Overall there wasn't much positive to be said for Rumsfeld, and it certainly appears he's been barely keeping his head above water for the past few years.

On preview: amberglow beats me to it, sort of.
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:37 AM on March 19, 2006


There are no good solutions. Since we can't achieve our objectives, the least bad solution is the one that gets the fewest of our troops killed.

No. The least bad situation is the one that gets the fewest Iraqi civilians killed. Even if it takes 5000 body bags more. The US started it, now it better has the balls to finnish it.
posted by uncle harold at 5:56 AM on March 19, 2006


speaking of iraqis killed: ... 120,000 is an estimate of the number of violent deaths. The total number of extra deaths as a result of the war is very roughly 200,000 once you include the increase in disease and accidents since the invasion. This number is more likely to be too low than too high since it comes from doubling the 100,000 estimate from the Lancet study (which just covered the first eighteen months) and violence has worsened since then. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:29 AM on March 19, 2006


If only the United States had invaded Iraq in a kinder, gentler and more effective way everything would be so much better.

yes. iraq would shine like a thousand points of light.
posted by quonsar at 7:11 AM on March 19, 2006


Uncle Harold, your fantasy of an America that'll tolerate more than 3,000 casualties. When the toll gets high enough, American politicians will have the balls to chance looking like cowards, and withdraw.

Rumsfeld and Cheney still being in power hamstrings any constructive options for this conflict.
posted by Busithoth at 7:25 AM on March 19, 2006


Rumsfeld and Cheney still being in power hamstrings any constructive options for this conflict.

My guess is they are just dragging it out so that whoever takes over can be accused of cutting and running.
posted by srboisvert at 7:39 AM on March 19, 2006


Let me tell you a story I read about an Iraqi man who collaborated with the Americans...
...After the raid, an Iraqi informer walked among detainees, pointing them out to U.S. troops. Despite being disguised with a bag over his head, the informer was recognized by his fellow villagers by his yellow sandals and his amputated thumb. His name was Sabah. ...The next day, his father and brother, carrying AK-47s, entered his room before dawn and took him behind the house. With trembling hands, the father fired twice...
You read it here on September 25, 2005: Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War

That's a lie.

In his own words:
>Seriously, can you people not differentiate between blind-animalistic-revenge-for-9/11 and a coherent strategy against the roots of terror, or are you just not trying? Saddam didn't have to plan 9/11 or know anything about it to be an obvious initial target in need of reform in the Middle East. What were we gonna do, replace the Princes in the Magic Kingdom with Hussein tying us up across the border?
posted by techgnollogic at 5:44 AM PST on June 28 [!]

...The Arab world was "pissed off" to begin with, hence "planes --> towers".

You see, the "give them money and don't stir up trouble and maybe they'll be nice to us" plan of 'attack' wasn't exactly working so well.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:55 AM PST on June 28 [!]

..."Are we safer now?"

What a dumb, pointless question. If you're in a burning house, in the last room to burn, with a flame-licked hallway between you and the exit, you're "safer" there than in the hallway. Some of us, however, would rather escape the burning building than run some muckity-muck utilitarian calculation on adjacent floorspace like doomed cellular automata.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:12 PM PST on June 28 [!]
All make sense now ? Just remember, Kids:
It's not all roses and daisies, and we're not done by a long shot, but we're not wasting our time, and we're making tons of progress.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:47 PM PST on April 26 [!]
posted by y2karl at 7:48 AM on March 19, 2006


Even if it takes 5000 body bags more.

"Body bags" is not the preferred nomenclature. "Transfer tubes," please.

It would have been nice for the New York Times to have "reminded us how badly attempts at liberation from the outside have gone in the past" three years ago, instead of cheerleading for the war then and complaining about it now.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:50 AM on March 19, 2006


From The Heartland: Americans Who Voted For Bush “Disgusted”, Iraq Is “Chaos”...
posted by ericb at 7:51 AM on March 19, 2006


And speaking further of Iraqis killed, Time reports an investigation into a disturbing incident from last November in a story titled "One Morning in Haditha." The story is about an incident in which a U.S. Marine company retaliated very violently against civilians near the scene of an IED explosion which killed one of the Marines, and then covered the incident up in post incident reports and damage assessments.

Whether or not any rules of engagement, or laws, or international norms were violated in the incident is still, and again now, under investigation, but the kind of violence described in this report, and the outcome of this incident for all sides, is clearly becoming commonplace, if not yet the norm, for coalition forces operations in much of Iraq. Wars inevitably brutalize those who fight them, but I think that the kind of fighting that is happening in Iraq now is likely to make ongoing problems for the U.S. Army that can't so easily be forgotten even if a rapid pullout were begun shortly. When a force of men acts beyond the scope of command control, even if in the heat of battle and under the strain of fear, it ceases to be an army, and yet it will remember this, collectively, with a shame that is not easily purged. That's the lesson of My Lai.

I heard an interview on an NPR program a few weeks ago, in which someone made the point that it took nearly 25 years for the U.S. Army to recover esprit after the Vietnam debacle, as nearly the entire officer corps and NCO leadership in place for that time had to digest and regurgitate the lessons learned there. I'm convinced that Iraq may be another instance where the greatest costs to America will not be measurable casualties or dollars.

What the hell is the point of being a superpower if your armed forces keep losing stupid fights? How much of a deterrent do our armed forces pose, to anyone with more resolve than a putz in Panama, or some loudmouths in Grenada? Regardless of what mistakes and missteps got us in this mess, there is now no denying on the part of our armed services that they've had 3 years to get the job done, or make the case for the resources they'd need to do so, and have failed to do either.

It's Tet, all over again, without the jungle and the tunnels. But at least back then, Westmoreland responded by asking for troops and B-52's, and for awhile thereafter the body counts were massively positive ratios on our sides. In 1969, it was militarily plausible for a while that we might succeed in propping up some kind of regime of our choosing in South Vietnam, even though we ultimately failed (there being, in the end, nothing of a government of South Vietnam to prop up). But who in Iraq would we possibly be propping up at this point? Who, anywhere, believes that there is anything in Iraq that comes anywhere near representing a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people?

Iraq is, simply, a disaster of our own creation, and anyone in a uniform there still talking about a "mission" is delusional. We broke it, we can't fix it, and we can't even seem to be honest about it. As a country, we don't even meet the standard of behavior most parents expect from a two year old.
posted by paulsc at 7:53 AM on March 19, 2006


What a shame. Bush (and cronies) ruined an entire country on the pretext of liberating it, and they'll never stand trial for their war crimes. The worst, the absolute worst, that can happen is they'll be voted out of office. If we're lucky.
posted by kaemaril at 8:11 AM on March 19, 2006


The Enemy We Hardly Know:
"On the third anniversary of the US invasion in Iraq, the United States is still fighting an enemy it barely knows. Washington relies on crude, broad-brush identifications -- Saddamists, Islamofascists, and the like. Rather than analyze the armed opposition's strategy and objectives, it assumes them. Rather than listen to what the insurgents say, it dismisses it. All of which is mystifying and, of far greater importance, self-defeating....That the insurgency has survived, even thrived, despite being vastly outnumbered and outgunned, suggests flaws and limitations of the current counterinsurgency campaign. The insurgents' discourse may be dismissed as rhetoric, but they appear to have effectively reached agreement on core operational matters, grown in self-assurance, and exhibited greater sensitivity to Sunni Arab opinion."
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on March 19, 2006


What a shame. Bush (and cronies) ruined an entire country on the pretext of liberating it

Worth repeating in this thread: the American people aren't buying the Administration's rationale:
Only 3% of Americans believe Bush decided to go to war to free the Iraqis or promote democracy. [CBS News Poll -- PDF | March 13, 2006]
posted by ericb at 8:20 AM on March 19, 2006


A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon
"During World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: 'It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies.'

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called 'old Europe' has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."

-- Major General Paul D. Eaton, US Army (Retired), commanding general of the Coalition Military Assistance and Training Team from 2003 to 2004.
posted by ericb at 8:24 AM on March 19, 2006


97%, eh? I wonder how many would still vote for him anyway?
posted by kaemaril at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2006


I wonder how many would still vote for him anyway?

"If the election were held today, would you vote for the Democrat or the Republican candidate?" -- those surveyed favored Democrats by one of the largest margins in decades, 52 percent to 37 percent. (That's a bigger margin than Republicans enjoyed just before they captured the House in 1994)." [NPR | March 12-14, 2006].
posted by ericb at 8:33 AM on March 19, 2006


Granted, the NPR poll pertains to congressional elections, but it is likely that there is a similar mood vis-a-vis the President, as of today.

Six-months ago a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that a majority -- "55 percent of the respondents said that they would vote for the Democratic candidate if Bush were again running for the presidency this year."
posted by ericb at 8:49 AM on March 19, 2006


The Dems in 1994 didn't have Diebold on their side.
2006 will be the year people all scratch their head and wonder aloud why every poll (phone and exit) is wrong. GOP for teh win!
posted by Busithoth at 9:08 AM on March 19, 2006


from now on, unless we get some national laws passed mandating a paper trail and transparency, that's how it'll be forever, not just in 06. When you put that shit together with all the shady redistricting, it spells continuing trouble for any kind of fair elections.
posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2006


thanks ericb.

on a side note (referencing Rumsfeld post war Germany comment) has anyone ever checked out everyone as Hitler?
posted by punkbitch at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2006


The ONLY winner in this thing is Halliburton.

And Iran.
posted by Skygazer at 10:19 AM on March 19, 2006


Why not just reinstall saddam?

At this point, I doubt we could even do that.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 AM on March 19, 2006


Why does Rumsfeld still have a job? Regardless of what the US does next, this man is an embarassment.
posted by cell divide at 10:57 AM on March 19, 2006


He still has a job because the only quality this administration values is loyalty.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:07 AM on March 19, 2006


War criminal.
posted by Decani at 11:16 AM on March 19, 2006


It's nice to see someone who knows a bit about statistics also went after Jim Krane's ludicrously ignorant article.

I went after that AP article too, not only because it was woefully ignorant not only of what was being counted -- killed civilians vs. increased morbidity for all of Iraq -- but also because it casually dismissed the Lancet report without a single scrap of evidence.

Critics of the Lancet report say it's flawed because too few Iraqis were surveyed. (About 1000 out of 30 million, or one in 30,000 Iraqis). But here's an AP poll of 1000 Americans, telling us how popular the president is. There are about ten times more Americans than there are Iraqis, so anyone want to guess which poll is more likely to be accurate?

The doctors who created the Lancet Report found huge pockets of Iraqis in areas like Fallujah which all reported having family and friends die... so many that it started throwing off their poll's bell curve. The sampling from Fallujah data made it appear that about 285,000 Iraqis died during the first 18 months of invasion as compared to the statistical norm, so they took the data they got from these high risk areas and they threw it out entirely.

"Please understand how extremely conservative we were: we did a survey estimating that ~285,000 people have died due to the first 18 months of invasion and occupation and we reported it as at least ~100,000." - Dr. Les Roberts

By my count, 185,000 Iraqis have died so far... and that's a very conservative estimate. Iraq Body Count says that Iraqi civilian deaths for the second year of the war nearly doubled. If we were to judge the war on that basis, we could easily be talking about excess mortality rates of 300,000 Iraqis above prewar levels.

A few words to any neocons that still exist... How medically safe would any of you feel living if you lived in a country with 120 degree weather, 4-5 hours of electricity a day, an unreliable and often unsafe water supply (due to lack of electricity), raw sewage and garbage in the streets, no reliable phone coverage, lack of medical supplies, doctors fleeing the country due to threats from both sides of the conflict, and roadblocks that effect those emergency services which still exist?

Would you eat the local food and drink the water? Would you be able to get an ambulance if you needed one? Would you be able to get emergency medical treatment, if needed? Do you think a lot of people might die needlessly? Would it be that outrageous to put their numbers in the tens of thousands a year?

And, oh, I hear there's a war going on too.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2006


Let's see..
* non democratic
* human rights abuses, in spades
* invasion of another country
* verified possession of WMD
.. so why hasn't America "finished the job" in China yet?
posted by zog at 1:20 PM on March 19, 2006


* non democratic
* human rights abuses, in spades
* invasion of another country
* verified possession of WMD

Increasingly, those criteria can be applied to the United States.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2006


Senator Chuck Hagel (R. - Neb.): "I think the former Prime Minister (Ayad Allawi) is correct. I think we've had a low grade civil war going on in Iraq for the last six months maybe the last year-our own generals have told me that privately...so that's a fact."

Rep. John Murtha (D. - PA): President Bush, "you should fire all the people who are responsible for [first of all, for the intelligence-gathering; second of all, for the characterization; and third of all, for the maintaining and running the war], which gives you international credibility....[Rumsfeld] should offer his resignation....[Cheney] [s]hould...offer his resignation....the vice president has been the primary force in running, running this war, and many of the mischaracterizations have come about."
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on March 19, 2006


Senator Chuck Hagel (R. - Neb.): "And this mindless kind of banter about, well, if we leave, the whole place falls apart; we can’t leave; we can’t even think about leaving. Wait a minute: You just showed on your screen the cost to the American people of the last three years.

It’s helping bankrupt this country, by the way. We didn’t think about any of that and not just the high cost of lives and the continuation of that but our standing in the world.

And I would define it this way. Are we better off today than we were three years ago? Is the Middle East more stable than it was three years ago? Absolutely not. It’s more unstable."
posted by ericb at 1:56 PM on March 19, 2006


One could make a case similar to Rummy for staying as an occupying force. I mean, what if 10 years from now, we're gone and a newly elected Iraqi government doesn't want to honor it's debts to the multinational oil co.'s for the U.S. freeing them?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:00 PM on March 19, 2006


For a second, smedleyman, I thought that first sentence was "One could make a case for Rummy staying as an occupying force."

For that split second, I was thinking HELL YEAH!
posted by darkstar at 5:07 PM on March 19, 2006


Hagel's like the only not-insane Republican left, i think.
posted by amberglow at 5:56 PM on March 19, 2006


I mean, what if 10 years from now, we're gone and a newly elected Iraqi government doesn't want to honor it's debts to the multinational oil co.'s for the U.S. freeing them?
Excuse me? Debts? DEBTS?!

We're expecting Iraqis to PAY for the manifestly illegal US invasion of Iraq? Fuck that. If anything, I'd be expecting the US to pay Iraq war reparations for ... oh, I dunno, the next FIFTY YEARS sounds good.
posted by kaemaril at 6:54 PM on March 19, 2006


meanwhile, they told us the oil revenue would pay for the entire thing, remember?

and regarding what used to be our free press: US OFFICIALS SAY
posted by amberglow at 6:59 PM on March 19, 2006


Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: “Well, the reconstruction costs remain a very -- an issue for the future. And Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a rather wealthy country. Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction.”

I fail to see why the Iraqi people should pay for the reconstruction of infrastructure that an illegally invading force has caused.

But, even if you disagree with the legality of the invasion, the invasion was to "liberate" Iraq from an oppressive tyrant. I.e, a humanitarian mission. Why is the US then coming along and charging them for the privilege?

Perhaps Mr. Bush should re-read his bible. I remember nothing from the parable of the Good Samaritan about the Samaritan asking for a valid credit card ...
posted by kaemaril at 8:22 PM on March 19, 2006


Iraqi diplomat gave U.S. prewar WMD details -- Saddam's foreign minister told CIA the truth, so why didn't agency listen?
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on March 20, 2006


Bush today in Ohio: People “wonder how I can remain so optimistic about... Iraq....They wonder what I see that they don't...”
posted by ericb at 3:58 PM on March 20, 2006


Bush today in Ohio:
"The people of Tal Afar have shown that Iraqis do want peace and freedom. And no one should underestimate them."
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:13 AM on March 21, 2006


Bush today in DC: At this morning’s press conference, President Bush said that U.S. troops would remain in Iraq through the end of his presidency. According to Bush, the question of whether U.S. troops will ever leave Iraq will be one for “future presidents.”
posted by amberglow at 9:19 AM on March 21, 2006


One hopes, Amberglow, that these same "future Presidents" will see fit to bring dubya, Cheney and Rummy up for charges of war crimes, gross manipulation of intelligence and flabbergasting incompetence.
posted by Skygazer at 12:51 PM on March 21, 2006


Nope. We will be in Iraq, in one capacity or another for decades, just as we were, and remain in Germany. And thank God.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:30 PM on March 21, 2006


Hey PP, that makes perfect sense, lord knows that ongoing insurgency in Germany is really taking a toll and that Bavarian on Prussian ethnic cleansing is completely out of control. Wisehheimer. ..

Hey have you heard that great joke about the hunter and the bear?
posted by Skygazer at 2:18 PM on March 21, 2006


ParisParamus writes "We will be in Iraq, in one capacity or another for decades.... And thank God."

Glad you're so gung-ho. When you putting on the uniform and heading over there, Paris?
posted by orthogonality at 2:41 PM on March 21, 2006


Never, probably. I can be much more valuable here, Stateside, advocating for a sane foreign policy.

Also, I'm not the soldier type. And only a sick individual would require military service as the sine qua non of foreign policy opinion, or favoring a military intervention.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:45 PM on March 21, 2006


I can be much more valuable here, Stateside, advocating for a sane foreign policy.
Great! Let us know when you start. Meantime, we'll be over in this corner ignoring you while you're advocating the current, insane, one.
posted by kaemaril at 7:03 PM on March 21, 2006


Skygazer : More likely doling out the presidential pardons like sweets.
posted by kaemaril at 7:05 PM on March 21, 2006


Fantasy and reality after three years in Iraq--...Americans are being led by a cadre of the delusional. ... Ultimately, it seems to me, America must lower its expectations and get out when it can. This means continuing to train Iraqi forces, contributing to the construction of a stable physical infrastructure, and providing support for the fledging Iraqi government. It will mean standing aside and allowing the Iraqis to seize their destiny as a nation. The fragile situation in Iraq may spiral out of control, but what other options are there? It is simply no longer realistic to speak of America's occupation as in any way conducive to the long-term success of Iraqi democracy.
For this, President Bush and his allies will no doubt take credit. If, that is, all goes well. Or, rather, if all can be spun to look good. They have so far refused to be held accountable, to take responsibility for the consequences of their preemptive war. Don't look for that to change. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on March 21, 2006


More likely doling out the presidential pardons like sweets.
posted by kaemaril at 10:05 PM EST on March 21 [!]


Well there goes my lunch...(glad it stayed in my stomach for an hour).
posted by Skygazer at 11:24 AM on March 22, 2006


Richard Engel / NBC Nightly News: "The situation on the ground is worse than the images we project on television."
posted by ericb at 9:11 PM on March 22, 2006


Breaking the Silence
"A prominent former insider is criticizing the administration’s handling of Iraq’s reconstruction. And there’s more to come."
posted by ericb at 9:20 PM on March 22, 2006


Ray Suarez [The Newshour (PBS)] speaks with New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman (rm file: "perilous Place":

JGThere really is a sense of hopelessness, I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to who say they want to leave, they don't think it's only going to get better, it's only going to get worse, before at least there was this hope that elections, the political process, these dates in the future might mean something to people, but now they've come and gone and things are just getting worse and I think this attack on the Samarra Mosque last month really lifted the lid on a lot of things that had been simmering under the surface.
.....

Actually this wasn't exactly what I wanted to reference. there was a story related by an Iraqi student to Gettleman about the level of ethnic targeted suicide bombers and the haunting line from the student "My country is lost". But it's been edited out of the rm file (unless I missed it). Maybe it was seen as anecdotal, but it was extremely powerful.
posted by Skygazer at 8:46 AM on March 23, 2006


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