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Out of Iraq
November 8, 2006 5:36 PM   Subscribe

A detailed plan for withdrawing from Iraq, by George McGovern and William Polk. Chip Pitts provides a similar suggestion in the National Interest. And William Lind describes a nightmare scenario in case of war with Iran: encirclement. Previously.
posted by russilwvong (42 comments total)

 
Wait a minute.

The number of civilians killed or wounded during the invasion and occupation, particularly in the sieges of Fallujah, Tal Afar, and Najaf, is unknown. Estimates run from 30,000 to well over 100,000 killed, with many more wounded or incapacitated. Assuming the number of unjustified deaths to be 50,000, and the compensation per person to be $10,000, our outlay would run to only $500 million, or two days' cost of the war. The number seriously wounded or incapacitated might easily be 100,000. Taking the same figure as for death benefits, the total cost would be $1 billion, or four days' cost of the war.

What about the 650,000 killed number? We gonna just forget all that?

Essentially it would have been cheaper to offer a couple million dollars to every Iraqi to sell us the entire country BEFORE the war.
posted by tkchrist at 6:16 PM on November 8, 2006


What about the 650,000 killed number? We gonna just forget all that?

There's more than a little controversy about that study's methods. There was a pretty good summary of the potential problems with the methods in a recent issue of Science... Something to do with how they didn't record the exact location of the people surveyed, to protect their identity, meaning that the data is unverifiable and unauditable.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:28 PM on November 8, 2006


I got to maybe the third paragraph of the first link before I realized this is ridiculous.

This reminds me of when Sam Kinneson told the people living in third world countries who are starving to death to get in U-Hauls and MOVE TO WHERE THE FOOD IS!

Easier said than done? Bull. This ain't rocket science.

Here's your plan for withdrawing from Iraq. You convince the president to make a phone call. That's it. If you can't get Bush to make that call, you impeach his ass, and tell Cheney to do it. If he won't, you impeach his ass, and by then Pelosi will be Speaker and she can do it.

We get our boys and girls home. The way they came. The sooner the better. This is not our fight. We were wrong to think we could fix the middle east. In Bush's arrogance, and the arrogance of our country, we thought we could just take Saddam out of the equation and everything would just magically fall into place.

If we don't leave it be, it sure as hell will fix us.

The real problem? The hornet's nest has been kicked. It ain't like you can just put the hornets back in there. What Bush has done will have ramifications that reverberate worldwide today, and will echo into the future, adversely affecting people generations from now. Whether we exit or not now, the damage has already been done. At this point, pulling out of Iraq will simply keep things from being worse. Make no mistake, it's already very very bad.

This ain't rocket science. That's easier.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:28 PM on November 8, 2006


What about the 650,000 killed

That's "well over 100,000" isn't it?
posted by pompomtom at 6:28 PM on November 8, 2006


The real problem? The hornet's nest has been kicked. It ain't like you can just put the hornets back in there. What Bush has done will have ramifications that reverberate worldwide today, and will echo into the future, adversely affecting people generations from now. Whether we exit or not now, the damage has already been done. At this point, pulling out of Iraq will simply keep things from being worse. Make no mistake, it's already very very bad.
posted by ZachsMind


Yeah...there is that...issue...
posted by taosbat at 6:41 PM on November 8, 2006


And while you're at it scroll down and buy Support The Troops Hershey Bars A Sweet Way To Show Your Support!
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:54 PM on November 8, 2006


There was a pretty good summary of the potential problems with the methods in a recent issue of Science.

Whoever reads that horribly weak "summary" will learn it is more of an unsubstantiated attack on the integrity of the original researchers, going so far as to insinuate they falsified their data. There is no analysis of the raw data itself whatsoever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:20 PM on November 8, 2006


There's more than a little controversy about that study's methods. There was a pretty good summary of the potential problems with the methods in a recent issue of Science... Something to do with how they didn't record the exact location of the people surveyed, to protect their identity, meaning that the data is unverifiable and unauditable.

Given that the only other data available are based on news reports, collected by embedded journalists more concerned with covering overall trends and important events than tallying every single dead body, I'd say that 650,000 is the best estimate we have.
posted by spazzm at 7:33 PM on November 8, 2006


I just like saying the name Chip Pitts.
posted by zardoz at 7:46 PM on November 8, 2006


I just wrote about 10 paragraphs on the subject, but deleted them, because I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

The U.S. had no reason to invade Iraq. Everything after the invasion was/is just a clean-up act which will now be done efficiently and willfully by the Dems. Oh, good job Dems!

Please delete this comment, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about and, I'm frothing at the mouth for some reason.
posted by snsranch at 7:57 PM on November 8, 2006


"HEY EVERYBODY WATCH OUT WE'RE ABOUT TO START WORLD WAR III JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT AND EVERYBODY WILL DIE."

William Lind is a paranoid psycho.
posted by stemlot at 8:29 PM on November 8, 2006


"William Lind is a paranoid psycho."

I don't think his thesis is really that we're going to have WWIII, but rather that we might simply lose in a way that we've never lost before. If we really lost according to his scenario, I think we don't end up starting WWIII, but rather like Britain, a once-empire slowly fading away.

Consider feelings in Persia in 480BC. They might have been something like "You're a paranoid psycho to even think that Themistocles can defeat us. We've sacked Athens and his navy is outnumbered more than 3 to 1. Let's put a throne on this hill here and watch their humiliating defeat."

Oops.

That's all I got out of it anyway.
posted by muppetboy at 8:46 PM on November 8, 2006


Yay Themistocles!

I'm going to have to second everything ZachsMind said. And add what we already all know, which is that everything we're doing right now isn't working. So let's do something else.
posted by geekhorde at 8:51 PM on November 8, 2006


"Yay Themistocles!"

Well, yeah. Unless you happened to be the Lind or Chomsky of Persia. Being right can be the of ugliest businesses.
posted by muppetboy at 8:54 PM on November 8, 2006


It's not the fallen-empire scenario that's paranoid, just the part about starting a war with Iran in the next few months. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say there is a 0% chance of that happening, assuming Iran does not attack anyone (and I'll go out on another limb and guess they won't).
posted by stemlot at 8:59 PM on November 8, 2006


Previous discussion about the 650,000 deaths.

The Christian Science Monitor summarizes the controversy. The bottom line is that even antiwar groups are suspicious of the numbers, and would prefer to stick with audited figures as opposed to estimates of excess deaths derived through polling a sample of the country. Iraq Body Count issued an extensive rebuttal. There are a number of good reasons to question the study's methods and conclusions, no matter one's position on the conflict.

I don't think we'd "lose an army" should Lind's scenario come to pass (in part, I think that Gates is a step toward our not attacking Iran in the first place, an idea which seems to have everyone but the Air Force swallowing hard). At worst, we'd abandon hella Humvees during a withdrawal by C-130, much the way we dumped choppers off the decks of aircraft carriers during our pullout from Vietnam. Nor would an Iranian invasion simply join two forces against ours, because the Sunnis would then most assuredly be fighting the Iranians as well.

The basic point remains: an extended occupation is not helping us with our objective of stabilizing Iraq, and it is sapping the materiel and morale of our armed forces.
posted by dhartung at 9:06 PM on November 8, 2006


I think Stratfor is on the ball in saying that because the Dem's don't really have any coherent solution [as a party] and it's obvious that quickly withdrawing will be as disastrous as anything else yet done, the policy life raft everyone is going to cling onto will be the Iraq Study Group [ISG] recommendations from our very own American Council of Foreign Policy Elders [Sandra Day O'Conner, James Baker III, Lee Hamilton, et al] report due very soon.

That Bush picked Gates, a member of the group, as Rummies replacement really validates this.

Wouldn't it be interesting if there was a bipartisan majority, headed by Bush, to seriously reform Iraq policy while Über-hawks and those advocating immediate withdrawal sat on the margins.
posted by trinarian at 9:08 PM on November 8, 2006


Nobody is going to fix shit. Superglue couldn't put this mess back together. The democrats have said it themselves. Pull out and the region goes to iran, stay there and soldiers die for nothing. Except maybe keeping the whole clusterfuck out of iran's hands. This is the type of thing the "damned if you do and damned if you don't" phrase was coined for.
posted by IronLizard at 9:11 PM on November 8, 2006


51st state: S. Mesopotamia
52nd state: El Anbar
53rd state: Bushistan
54th state: Baghdad Satellite Capital District

boom, problem solved.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:10 PM on November 8, 2006


In the cold war, the term for 1 million killed (in the event of nuclear war) was the "megadeath".
What would be the equivalent unit for 600,000 deaths?
One deci-hitler?
posted by spazzm at 10:50 PM on November 8, 2006


'our-bad'?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:15 PM on November 8, 2006


The Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad, has a miniature golf course, 2 PXs, a Pizza Hut, a Burger King, and a jail.

I just hope for our soldiers that the BK drive-through is linked to a trustworthy call center. I would hate for our boys to have their order fouled up by some no-speaky-English-Iraqi.


At last count, some seventeen years ago Iraq possessed an impressive health-care infrastructure:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Enough of that commie stuff...
If its good enough for U.S., its good enough for them...

Sheeesh. They must think we are made of money.
posted by pwedza at 11:45 PM on November 8, 2006


hey pwedza, just because you lot can't figure out how health should be provided (here's a clue: it's cheaper and more effective to have one non-profit organisation give quality healthcare for all), doesn't mean you should destroy other people's hospitals to bring them down to your level.

Wait, you were joking.
posted by imperium at 1:33 AM on November 9, 2006


Essentially it would have been cheaper to offer a couple million dollars to every Iraqi to sell us the entire country BEFORE the war.

Eh, not quite. Iraq has a population of around 24 million. At a million dollars each, that's around 24 trillion dollars, which is more than what the US is going to spend on this war. On the other hand, we probably could have bought off the decision-makers (Saddam and his cronies) for less than the war's cost.
posted by moonbiter at 1:40 AM on November 9, 2006


the Dem's don't really have any coherent solution [as a party]

I don't really believe that. I think they'll get behind any sensible plan. What we have now is the GOP operating with a coherent non-solution ... which everyone recognizes is a complete and utter cock-up that is an insult to the term cock-up. In other words, a coherent beam of light is useless if it's pointing in the wrong place.

In any case, trinarian, the ISG has been keeping its recommendations under a hat, so you're shadow-boxing here. Hard to argue with positions that haven't substantially been taken by anyone. Let's look at what they have.

Baker essentially defined their report as "between the two extremes" of cut-and-run and stay-the-course. I'd like your reading on what those options could possibly be. Other hints are that they are looking for the "least-worst" of options, and has apparently agreed on two broad principles: stability first and redeploy and contain.

My reading of the former is that the whole purple-finger experiment is over -- they are going to back any government that can "stabilize" the country. Democracy is a luxury, etc. A key part of the stability side of thigns is rumored to be the tripartite solution, though others say not.

My reading of the latter is that the US will be doing less and less security and more and more counterinsurgency, with operations gradually more centralized at the big concrete airbases and probably major over-the-horizon operations based out of Kuwait. (Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, the coward Jack Murtha.) It's probably going to look a lot like the Strategic Redeployment plan floated by Korb and CSIS as far back as 2004-2005.

The only thing really certain, though, is that
victory is off the table. In other words, Bush is looking for his "peace with honor".

I think anyone hoping that a new SECDEF and a new strategy will miraculously pull victory out of the fire is deluded. Almost all the things that would likely really work are impossible for various reasons (e.g. total war, or 400,000 troops, or a real international coalition supported by Arab and Muslim nations).
posted by dhartung at 1:58 AM on November 9, 2006


Whoever reads that horribly weak "summary" will learn it is more of an unsubstantiated attack on the integrity of the original researchers, going so far as to insinuate they falsified their data. There is no analysis of the raw data itself whatsoever.

If one claims to be using the scientific method and submits unauditable data, one subjects one's self to suspicion of innacuracy. I'm OK with that being the way peer review works. If a couple more groups go out with similar methods and produce a couple more (unauditable) data sets with similar results, then I'd be a bit more credulous. As it is, when you don't have the exact methods used and can't verify/reproduce individual measurements, all you have is trust in a person (or small group of people). I don't think that's good enough.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:27 AM on November 9, 2006


Whatever plan to leave is chosen, America should give up any thought of saving money by ending the war and should be ready to pay lots of money directly to Iraqis to try to make up for wrecking the country and killing so many people. Pay 100 percent of the cost of maintaining any UN security force there for as long as it takes to settle down. Pay 100 percent of physical reconstruction costs -- no trying to take it out of Iraq's own oil money, and no handing the money from one American hand to another by using American construction firms, tools, or materials. And don't stop paying until the country is actually rebuilt.
posted by pracowity at 4:41 AM on November 9, 2006


This is idiotic. For example:

An attack on Iran will not be an invasion with ground troops. We don't have enough of those left to invade Ruritania.

The united states has about 1.4 million active duty troops and another 1.3 million reserves and national guard. The notion that the US, with a population of 300,000,000 would exhaust its military in a war involving 125,000 troops is mind bogglingly stupid.

The criticism of the war planners was that generals were saying they needed 400,000 to do the job right. They wouldn't have recommended 400,000 if there were that many available.

And the stupid blog post proceeds downhill from there.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2006


I hear Reid and Pelosi are going to be issued shovels instead of gavels.

Bushco shit the bed, now someone else has to clean it up.

The people have spoken.
It's a mandate.

Rove is no longer a genuis and Bush ain't someone we would want to have a beer with.
There is no longer a "dream team" at the White House. (remember that one?)
And no, hiring "smart people" to surround Bush won't help.

God, this list could go on and on!
posted by nofundy at 6:50 AM on November 9, 2006


I think Stratfor is on the ball in saying that because the Dem's don't really have any coherent solution [as a party]

Gee, where have I heard that lie (and it's variations) before?
posted by nofundy at 6:53 AM on November 9, 2006


I read and reviewed Out of Iraq about 2 months ago, and found it to actually be a pretty cogent analysis of not only the run-up to the war but of the way it is affecting both the US and Iraq (from casualties to economic issues).

I think one of the more interesting bits in the book was the incredibly concise history of Iraq, which provided some context for them to present their argument in.

Polk and McGovern managed not only to outline how the US got into the war , but offered some realistic solutions to ending it. Of course, their suggestions aren't flawless, but they do present ideas that actually seem like they may have some legs, which is more than many others can say.

Also, the book is definitely short enough to read in one sitting.
posted by dead_ at 7:39 AM on November 9, 2006


Also, about the 650,000 estimate...

I think the book was written before that research came out, and although that post is dated October 31st, I think the actual text on that page was written long before.
posted by dead_ at 7:42 AM on November 9, 2006


I'm OK with that being the way peer review works.

Peer review is what got the original research published in the first place. But the "summary" piece in Science was poor, sensationalist journalism at best. For example:

The method may be sound, but several critics question the way it was carried out in this study. Madelyn Hicks, a psychiatrist and public health researcher at King's College London in the U.K., says she "simply cannot believe" the paper's claim that 40 consecutive houses were surveyed in a single day.

I'll leave finding the logical fallacy in this statement as an exercise for the reader. Nonetheless, this statement is reprinted by Science as a factual criticism of the Hopkins study — no matter that this insinuates that the researchers falsified their data!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:56 AM on November 9, 2006


1. Claimed method seems unreasonable
2. Claimed method is not verifiable
3. It is reasonable to hold the conclusion's veracity in question.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:35 AM on November 9, 2006


I have yet to see anyone show that either the "Claimed method seems unreasonable" or that the "Claimed method is not verifiable." Can you show me that?

And, "she 'simply cannot believe' the paper's claim" isn't a refutation so that sort of thing won't do.
posted by taosbat at 9:44 AM on November 9, 2006


taosbat, the Science news article is behind a paywall and I don't have access to the online version so I can't paste it here- maybe Blazecock can post the whole thing. And no, the "this person can't believe the conclusion" is not being held as some kind of refutation by anybody.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2006


OK, this is strange... This page has an interview with the last author, who claims that the first author's claims (as published in Science) that the raw data were destroyed are untrue.

I'm gonna revise my opinion to "this is too damn confusing."
posted by rxrfrx at 4:52 PM on November 9, 2006


I've been holding at, "no real refutation..." for awhile, rxrfrx. When I see it, I'll believe it.

I suspect the study may be pretty good since there is no clear refutation yet.

Still, the numbers are mind-blowers, even if one takes the lowest estimate...which is something more than twice today's guess...which itself is three times, or more, the previously 'accepted' estimates...including Iraq Body Count's...and numbers that are mind-blowers are hard to take.

I wonder if Iraq Body Count will slam Iraq's Health Minister, Ali al-Shemari, too?
posted by taosbat at 6:50 PM on November 9, 2006


Ummm...in the 'today's guess' link, I meant to include a link title, "Insurgents have killed 150,000 Iraqis in 3 years," to point up the fact that today's guess doesn't include the full scope of the Lancet study; but, I forgot.
posted by taosbat at 7:06 PM on November 9, 2006


Most of our military is non-soldiers. If we do have a lot of extra soldiers why are our troops tours getting extended over and over? Phonies like McCain say we need to increase the size of our military but give no specifics on how to do that without a draft. It is well documented that the standards for recruits have been getting lower.

And with Iraq turning out so badly, why would anyone even consider Iran? Premptive war as an idea is completely discredited.
posted by joseppi7 at 8:29 PM on November 9, 2006


1. Claimed method seems unreasonable

No one has suggested that the method was unreasonable, although lots have people have said that the result was unreasonable. It is hard to believe that 650,000 people have died. But that doesn't mean it isn't true.

As far as the method is concerned, it's the same method that is used to estimate all mass casualties. From the Tsunami to Darfur to every other catastrophe for decades.

In science, the way to verify a claim is to perform the experiment again. Too much of a pussy to canvas the middle of a war zone? Then shut the fuck up.

There has never been any credible refutation beyond "I just don't believe it" or "I think they're lying." These are respected scientists. Hell, renown scientists.

The IBC "refutation" read like a time-cube level rant, it's incoherent garbage, complete with "LOGIC!" that supposedly proves the claims wrong (not only are their premises idiotic, they even screw up the inference)
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:12 PM on November 12, 2006


There has never been any credible refutation beyond "I just don't believe it" or "I think they're lying."

If the claim that the data were destroyed were true (which I can't tell if it is nor not), then it is entirely reasonable to hold the study in doubt. There have been enough examples in the last year of faked or otherwise irreproducible data that it would be foolish to trust a claim in the face of secret/destroyed data. Again, this is based on a disputed claim about the nature of the study.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:38 AM on November 13, 2006


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