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April 16, 2006 3:11 PM   Subscribe

the "Second Liberation of Baghdad" --coming soon, in which we act as "enforcers", providing "protection" --...American and Iraqi troops would move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, leaving behind Sweat teams — an acronym for “sewage, water, electricity and trash” — to improve living conditions by upgrading clinics, schools, rubbish collection, water and electricity supplies. Sunni insurgent strongholds are almost certain to be the first targets, although the Shi’ite militias such as the Mahdi army of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric, and the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade would need to be contained. ... Will we be greeted with candy and flowers again as well?
posted by amberglow (65 comments total)

 
Eh. We might as well do something as long as we're there, rather then just sit around getting shot at. I'm not going to quibble over tactical choices at this point.
posted by delmoi at 3:16 PM on April 16, 2006


A day late and a dollar short.

OK, three years late and 10 Billion dollars short.
posted by caddis at 3:22 PM on April 16, 2006


U.S. Building Massive Embassy in Baghdad
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on April 16, 2006


So far we've seen nothing to suggest that this wouldn't be a total disaster. If you notice the article has a lot of detail about precisely which types of weapons and tactics will be used, but very little detail on the supposed upgrades of power, water, sewage, and schools.

Let's hope this is a total reversal of every other thing that has gone on there so far.
posted by cell divide at 3:33 PM on April 16, 2006


The liberation of Iraq's oil from the Iraqis requires big bases, homunculus. Do you expect the Exxon guys to sleep in tents?
posted by digaman at 3:33 PM on April 16, 2006


This is how America Iraq will accomplish its mission. You know, the mission that needs to be accomplished. If you're not accomplishing the mission, then you're an accomplice of unaccomplishment.
posted by furtive at 3:37 PM on April 16, 2006


FTA: when a new government is installed

There's the (perpetual) rub. There've been three elections now. There is no agreed-upon Iraqi government. The popular choice for PM is not approved by Bush, and so we won't have one any time soon.

I mean, as an American, am I supposed to applaud or something? The "hearts and minds" thing requires, at least, security and basic needs like water and electricity. And it took three years for these geniuses to figure this out?

And no, this won't work--any plumber or electrician can tell you that *grids* don't work block by block. Sure, you can do maintenance, but if blocks Y and Z are cowboy country, you can't necessarily turn the water and lights on in block X. And given the nature of insurgencies, by the time Y and Z are ready to play ball, X might very well be under the control of Sadr's men or ex-Baathists. And car bombs have a funny way of not respecting the boundaries imposed by the occupation forces.

Honestly, I should get paid millions by USAID, because I obviously know more than the morans running the so-called reconstruction effort.
posted by bardic at 3:40 PM on April 16, 2006


Sure, you can do maintenance, but if blocks Y and Z are cowboy country, you can't necessarily turn the water and lights on in block X.
Maybe that's part of it? We'll install switches that do allow targeted turning off if there's violence? We're not leaving there til the oil's gone.

Altho i have no clue how either our soldiers nor theirs are electricians or sewer workers or plumbers or school construction workers or ... Has Halliburton bought Roto-Rooter and ConEd?
posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on April 16, 2006


Also, we're taking sides in the civil war for the first time, no? Going after Sunni places first? Won't that just inflame everything more?
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on April 16, 2006


Its amazing that Bush still has a 38% following. Any government that`s established in Iraq will have to be propped up from now on. We should cut our losses and get out now. I`m more concerned about Katrina victims, immigration and gas prices than Iraq. Besdes,one disgruntled general said Iraq was costing us 8 to 9 BILIION dollars a month!
posted by stinkfinger at 3:49 PM on April 16, 2006


We'll install switches that do allow targeted turning off if there's violence?

It wouldn't surprise me if that's the plan on paper, but a) given the fact that the Bagdahians (sp?) have gone without decent 'lectric and H2O ever since the Americans showed up, this ain't much leverage and b) Baghdad is an ancient, ancient city. I'm no expert, but I'd imagine a plumber from Terra Haute would be *way* out of her league trying to deal with the layers upon layers of tunnels, vaults, pipes, and lines involved in this city. Thing NYC multiplied by about 5000 years of comparable existence.

But I'm sure the Sudanese Halliburton is paying 50 cents/hour will figure it out no problem (nothing against the Sudanese either--I don't know who would be capable of doing this. The US has had three years--now things will be different?)
posted by bardic at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2006


Also, we're taking sides in the civil war for the first time, no? Going after Sunni places first? Won't that just inflame everything more?

That would make some sense : keep them hating each other, that's the Julius Caesar "divide et impera" strategy ; see woman vs man, white vs black , us vs they, workers vs union

It also doesn't require a massive presence and there's a lot of experience in maintaining misery in other countries using "freedom fighters"

I hope they fail
posted by elpapacito at 3:58 PM on April 16, 2006


What we have here is a FUBAR situation -- F'd Up Beyond All Recognition.

I'm with stickfinger. Get the hell out NOW. Bush has bungled every job he's ever had in his life and Iraq is no exception. He's like the Cheryl Wheeler song "Seldom Right But Never in Doubt."
posted by bim at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2006


I don`t want to offend any Republicans out there...and I know you`re there, but apparently the "good" things the present administration is doing are being lost in the fray or aren`t being publicized. Next time you watch a political discussion, notice that the Republican`s main focus is maintaining power and not the betterment of the U.S.
posted by stinkfinger at 4:03 PM on April 16, 2006


Thanks for being with me bim...I`m a newby-first-time blogger.
posted by stinkfinger at 4:04 PM on April 16, 2006


Just be sure and keep your flackjacket and helmet on, stickfinger! :) Welcome.
posted by bim at 4:07 PM on April 16, 2006


Thanks bim... gotta go now.
posted by stinkfinger at 4:14 PM on April 16, 2006


Welcome, stinkfinger.
posted by digaman at 4:17 PM on April 16, 2006


Eh. We might as well do something as long as we're there,
posted by delmoi at 3:16 PM PST on April 16 [!]


Yes. Like find them WMDs.

Otherwise ya look foolish for spending all that money claiming that there ARE WMDs.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2006


I always figured that electricity, sewage systems and satellite TV would fix Iraq. The goal is to make them fat and lazy - like us Americans. They aren't going to be going out setting up IEDs or ambushing troops if the new episode of Iraqi Idol is on tonight.
posted by SirOmega at 4:46 PM on April 16, 2006


That's why the fact that there's not reliable electricity (or even the amount of electricity during Saddam's reign) or sewage systems (i've read that all sewage is now being dumped into the Tigris, but that's where the drinking water comes from) after 3 years of occupation is so appalling. This sounds like none of that will really change at all, and there have been articles about us moving away from reconstruction, and reallocating those funds towards the bases.
posted by amberglow at 4:48 PM on April 16, 2006


I think it would be nice if the US pre-emptively minded its own fucking business for a change.

(Omnes: "Weee saaaveeed yooour aaaasssesss in the waaaar", etc.)
posted by Decani at 5:31 PM on April 16, 2006


OK. Here's an idea. Probably not the first guy to think of it, but still, given the fact that "soldiers" are trained to kill, not rebuild a country they've destroyed -- sorry, I mean liberated.

What if the UN and NGO's rebuilt the electric, water, sewage, and oil systems (for starters) and the soldiers do what they were trained to do. Kill people who do bad things. Like get in the way of the good things.

I have heard many stories (contrary to what Rumsfeld would have us believe) of U.S. soldiers rebuilding cities and mending alliances despite their near total ignorance of the language and culture going in.

God bless them; God curse their commanders. (Thought I'd throw the Almighty in here, it being Easter and all.)
posted by kozad at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2006


OMG this is HORRIBLE ... the US now has the unbelievable audacity to plan to provide sewage, water, electricity and trash to the the Iraqi people! Will our evil never cease?
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:43 PM on April 16, 2006


Fuck you MidasMulligan. Pay some goddamn attention and you might not be so quick to snap when thousands upon thousands of civilians in that country have died at the hands of our soldiers.
posted by odinsdream at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2006


OMG this is HORRIBLE ... the US now has the unbelievable audacity to plan to provide sewage, water, electricity and trash to the the Iraqi people! Will our evil never cease?
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:43 PM PST on April 16 [!]


And I'm sure they will do just as fine a job as the military does in managing the money of the war.

2.3 trillion or so 'unaccounted' for?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2006


If Red Sox fans were as rabid as modern Republican zealots, there would be a statue honoring Bill Buckner's heroic game 6 error.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:13 PM on April 16, 2006


bardic: And no, this won't work--any plumber or electrician can tell you that *grids* don't work block by block. Sure, you can do maintenance, but if blocks Y and Z are cowboy country, you can't necessarily turn the water and lights on in block X... Honestly, I should get paid millions by USAID, because I obviously know more than the morans running the so-called reconstruction effort.

From the embassy article: "It will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility, systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities." Which probably means that when services are available from the city, those will be used, but the compound is self-sustainable and can cut itself off from outside dependence. As amberglow said, electricity would be a matter of flipping off the incoming power lines and twisting off the incoming water & sewer pipes.
posted by SenshiNeko at 8:03 PM on April 16, 2006


OK. Here's an idea. Probably not the first guy to think of it, but still, given the fact that "soldiers" are trained to kill, not rebuild a country they've destroyed -- sorry, I mean liberated.

It irritates me when people say this. It's so simplistic. What do you actually know about their training? Isn't it possible that they're also trained to do all that humanitarian stuff? I think they are, or at least given rudimentary training.

I'm sure they would do a good job if it weren't for the insurgency. Look at Kosovo or other places like that. The problem is that people keep blowing up the stuff we do and the people doing it. It's not like they'd just stop if it was the UN doing the buildng.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 PM on April 16, 2006


Thanks for the interesting post, amberglow. It's been quite a conversation starter! :)
posted by bim at 8:14 PM on April 16, 2006


MidasMulligan: Why are you suddenly showing up after so many months absent?

You've not been missed.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:18 PM on April 16, 2006


If Red Sox fans were as rabid as modern Republican zealots, there would be a statue honoring Bill Buckner's heroic game 6 error.

Republican zealots on MeFi pale in comparison to liberal zealots.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:19 PM on April 16, 2006


yeah, I was wondering the same thing.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:21 PM on April 16, 2006


I am sincerely hopeful that the Sweat teams will affect real change in Iraq; really, infrastructure restoration should have been top priority after the first liberation, but having it done at all will still be a step up.

However, I do wonder how effective it will be:

Vines’s replacement as commander of ground forces is Lieutenant-General Peter Chiarelli, who pioneered the use of force with Sweat to subdue Sadr city, a working-class Shi’ite district of Baghdad, in 2004.

Er, you mean this Sadr City?

Not to say that Sadr City isn't, in some respects, a success story; the truce between U.S. and Mahdi forces lasted through much of 2005, and it sounds like there was quite a bit of rebuilding in that time. But since then the Americans have largely left Sadr City to the Mahdi militias, and the Iraqi forces that were supposed to take over control are powerless. Obviously it's in everyone's best interests for the United States to turn over control to the Iraqi government, but if Sadr City is to be the blueprint for this turnover, the U.S. may want to rethink its strategy.
posted by chrominance at 8:27 PM on April 16, 2006


yeah, Midas, you're right---of course it takes 3+ years to provide clean water, and reliable electricity to the people whose country we've been occupying. How could any of us have been so silly and zealous? It's because our founding fathers didn't have electricity either, right? Really, we all feel so foolish for not realizing.
posted by amberglow at 8:33 PM on April 16, 2006




Dyke meet finger. Finger meet dyke. Oh there's more holes, you say? Reeeealy?
posted by lalochezia at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2006


We're really not going to be fixing or helping with any of those things--they're just cover so we can go house-to-house and either poke around or capture people.
posted by amberglow at 8:37 PM on April 16, 2006


and plant surveillance things too, i bet. After all, if it's ok to spy on all of us, why not them, especially if the area is identified as a stronghold of one side or another?
posted by amberglow at 8:38 PM on April 16, 2006


Bush has bungled every job he's ever had in his life and Iraq is no exception. He's like the Cheryl Wheeler song "Seldom Right But Never in Doubt."

He's the Anti-Midas. Instead of gold, everything he touches turns to shit.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 8:48 PM on April 16, 2006


OMG this is HORRIBLE ... the US now has the unbelievable audacity to plan to provide sewage, water, electricity and trash to the the Iraqi people! Will our evil never cease?

Really, this is a job for Iraqis. Organized by Iraqis, work done by Iraqis, for Iraqis, paid for in Dinars. Anything we stamp as brought-to-you-by-your-friendly-occupying-forces will, and probably should be torn and ground back down to gravel.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 8:57 PM on April 16, 2006


Maybe we're just taking a mulligan on the whole war. Clearly President Bush has decided the best way to deal with Iraq is to pretend the last three years didn't happen and start over. Mission reaccomplished.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:16 PM on April 16, 2006



posted by ericb at 10:02 PM on April 16, 2006


Thanks for posting this, amberglow. I'd already used up my post for the day when I saw this.

As others have pointed out, this is the kind of plan that looks great on paper but rarely works as planned. It's basically Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld going all-in with a plan that gives them everything they need (if it works) - Iraqi forces take the lead on security in the capitol, giving US forces the cover they need to finally stage a withdrawl, saving Rumsfeld's reputation, Bush's ratings & giving the Republicans a much-needed boost right before the 2006 election, removing 100,000+ troops from easy retaliation reach by Iran & freeing them up to support an air assault on Iranian nuclear bunkers & other strategic targets next Spring.

That's if it all works. And if it doesn't, we'll just pretend it did & keep running the program anyway.
posted by scalefree at 10:17 PM on April 16, 2006


This administration can't even rebuild a city where they speak the same language (Nola). Please don't believe that the US can install a hydro pump and electric generator every few blocks in Baghdad. Unbelievable.
posted by bardic at 10:25 PM on April 16, 2006


Republican zealots on MeFi pale in comparison to liberal zealots.

Thank you for your further evidence that the modern Republican zealot is incapable of self-examination.

Instead standard Republican tactic #3 is employed: when attacked, do not defend. Instead, attack something else.

This tactic is used near constantly in Republican debates, campaign strategies, and national defense policies. It's fucking pathetic.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:45 PM on April 16, 2006


As much as I have little faith, it's good to see some sort of acknowledgement (even if it's obfuscated) that the current strategy isn't fucking working.

This might fail miserably too, but we tried "more of the same" for three years, and proved quite thoroughly that it was a horrible fucking idea.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:20 PM on April 16, 2006


ILT: the problem is, this is going to be the ultimate "have our cake & eat it too" move. Legitimize the Iraqi government, withdraw the troops, win the election, rehabilitate Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld, prepare the way for Iran, all in one fell swoop. And never ever have to say they're sorry. The ultimate vindication of Bush, just in time to turn over the reins to his (Republican) successor.
posted by scalefree at 11:49 PM on April 16, 2006


I Love Tacos:
Instead standard Republican tactic #3 is employed: when attacked, do not defend. Instead, attack something else.
This tactic is used near constantly in Republican debates, campaign strategies, and national defense policies.


There are other groups that uses this tactic to great effect. Scientology. North Korea.
All cults of personality use similar tactics, and the modern Republican party has degenerated into one.

It's fucking pathetic.

Yes, but it unfortunately it works. It doesn't actually solve any problems, but it keeps you in power.
posted by PsychoKick at 3:31 AM on April 17, 2006


I can't find where, but you know, this plan sounds like something I myself posted to these very blue pages. Except I said they should have done this in the first place.

Anyone left supporting Bush today is aiding treason.
posted by Goofyy at 5:30 AM on April 17, 2006


Claims of this administration's sanity have been greatly exaggerated.
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:54 AM on April 17, 2006


scalefree: as much as I hate the hijacking of the Republican party, the primary concern here has to be the Iraqi people.

I'm assuming that the reality will involve some sort of massive fuckup, instantiated by the civilians who head the military. But in theory, anything that can return Iraq to a normal, peaceful life would be good.

This horrible war caused at least 35,000 civilian deaths and an order of magnitude more injuries. We've lost more than 2500 soldiers (including non-US soldiers. they're people too.) More than 70 journalists are dead as well.

As much as I despise the politics, I have to hope it works.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:09 AM on April 17, 2006


I wonder if this is the plan of future Defense Secretary Richard Meyers?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:21 AM on April 17, 2006


Y'know why this keeps going on, don'tcha -

It's cause America hasn't said it's safeword yet. "Impeachment." Ignore the screaming - they really like it. Take it, beeach.
posted by Perigee at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2006


As much as I despise the politics, I have to hope it works.

Hoping this will work is insane, unless you define "work" as us completely withdrawing from the country and spending the next few decades paying for this complete mistake, and not just monetarily.

There is no mission to accomplish - there was never a mission to begin with. Complete withdrawal is the only sensible route at this point.
posted by odinsdream at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2006


I Love Tacos: as much as I hate the hijacking of the Republican party, the primary concern here has to be the Iraqi people.

And the Iranian people. An exit from Iraq that leaves Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld with enough political capital to attack Iran would visit the same horrors on the people of Iran that we've given to Iraqis over the past 15 years. They must be humbled & brought to heel lest we find ourselves taking the world on the same insane ride all over again. There is no "good" ending anymore, we passed that exit some time ago.
posted by scalefree at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2006


Retired colonel claims U.S. military operations are already 'underway' in Iran
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on April 17, 2006


Khaaan!
posted by homunculus at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2006


This’ll only work if Rumsfeld REALLY takes charge this time. I mean down to the squad level.

“What do you actually know about their training? Isn't it possible that they're also trained to do all that humanitarian stuff? I think they are, or at least given rudimentary training.”

Training? Lots. There is a difference between what is ingrained and what you are taught. I still kill by reflex. I have to second guess myself to not. It’s more than just training, it’s what the world feels like to you. People’s hands still drive me crazy. I tend to keep my eyes on the floor because it gets me nuts. I still have to tune out about 80% of the world and I’m fat, old, slow and happy.

Y’know, there’s a fair article in Rolling Stone about Army infantry training: The Killing Factory by Jeff Tietz
Excerpt:
“The Army now spends nearly $2 billion annually on basic training. It employs thousands of people: to invent virtual-reality environments, to calculate the maximum volume of information a recruit can absorb in fourteen weeks, to determine the emotional state in which recruits will most freely shoot at the human form, to discover how much punishment their bodies can take, to build mock urban battlefields that replicate mosque spires and the sound of a muezzin's call to prayer.

The Army's infantry schools graduate nearly 20,000 soldiers a year. No institution in history has come close to training so many people to kill so effectively in such a short time. Almost every element of today's basic training, from the bewildering intake process to the witchy initiation ceremony, contributes to lethality.”

American soldiers would eat Spartans for breakfast and crap out hopelite armor. And that’s basic.
That’s not Marine AIT or special forces anything.

You don’t use a razor sharp blade to pound nails. There are specialized units to deal with civilians. They’re not the executioners. We should be building the crap out of our MP units - and we seem to be trying to (remember the military jobs for police to go to Iraq and work?)

We’re made to break things and kill people - very, very, very, very well.
Apparently some folks don’t have the strength of character to deal with having that kind of power *coughBushcough* without using it.
Force of arms is not enough and it certainly isn’t proper policy.

I’ll tell you - the one problem I have with the way this post is framed is that the mafia isn’t that stupid.
Loan sharks don’t kill people who owe them money - period. They very, very rarely hurt someone (the guy has to work to pay them off, right?)
The use of force is not a self-justifying proposition. I can kill a horse rather easily. Rifle, gun, etc - there are many options.
That I am better trained in the use of those weapons, that I have more destruction at my fingertips than any other individual, does not mean I can make the horse win the Kentucky Derby.

I very much suspect the only reason there hasn’t been a military coup (because I’m damn sure the generals know what monsters are currently in charge) is that in addition to killing - following the directives of the civilian leadership and never allowing military considerations to overcome them is also ingrained. It is soaked into the bone of American troops at all levels, most particularly in command.

And hell, thank God for that.

But we still have to suffer with Rumsfeld playing war and disregarding common sense much less elementary military doctrine.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:17 PM on April 17, 2006


/So we’re improving living conditions in Iraq and rebuilding their infrastructure. Swell. Say what’s happening with those Katrina victims? Anything? Bueuller?

More and more I’m under the impression we’re not doing a damn thing - overall - except providing cover for the theft and funnelling of public money to private concerns.

Do the English spell ‘defense’ differently? Or does the times just spell it ‘defence’?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:29 PM on April 17, 2006


they do, Smedley--they swap a bunch of ...se and ...ce and ...ze words.

We need to watch the news to see how and what they're doing under this program. Last i heard we were losing more Iraqi soldiers faster than we were making them, and those that were staying with us were doing so to get arms and pass them out to their buddys/militias/etc.
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on April 17, 2006


"We might as well do something as long as we're there...." delmoi

Yeah - that's what most of your righty's said after 9/11.

We have to do something.

We have to bomb something.

Aggression for the sake of aggression.

You make me sick
posted by rougy at 8:41 PM on April 17, 2006


Baghdad street battle smacks of open civil war
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on April 18, 2006


Do the English spell ‘defense’ differently? Or does the times just spell it ‘defence’?

Yes. We spell it "defence". It isn't just The Times.
posted by Decani at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2006


Sunni District in Baghdad Is Sealed Off (NY Times today): American and Iraqi troops sealed off one of Baghdad's most prominent Sunni Arab neighborhoods on Monday after a night of raging gun battles that left homes and storefronts riddled with bullets and at least one civilian dead, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.

The closing of Adhamiya, in northern Baghdad, seemed to signal deteriorating security in a neighborhood where attacks on American and Iraqi forces had ebbed in recent months. The area is home to hard-line Sunni Arabs who remain hostile to the Shiite-led government and the American presence. At its center is the well-known Abu Hanifa Mosque, where Saddam Hussein made his final public appearance in April 2003 before fleeing Baghdad and the American invasion force. ...


posted by amberglow at 4:38 PM on April 20, 2006


(no mention of the SWEAT teams at all, by the way)
posted by amberglow at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2006


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