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Imperial Overreach: The Iraq War Is Lost
July 18, 2007 9:12 AM   Subscribe

The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the president nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning -- a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes -- but by the consequences of defeat. As President Bush put it, "The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America." Tellingly, the Iraq war's intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign the blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people...
The Iraq War Is Lost by Peter Galbraith July 18, 2007
See also Imperial Overreach: Washington’s Dubious Strategy to Overthrow Saddam Hussein by David Isenberg November 17, 1999 (PDF)
posted by y2karl (143 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Film at 11.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on July 18, 2007


Bush May Make Petraeus His ‘Fall Guy.’
President Bush has mentioned Gen. David Petraeus “at least 150 times this year in his speeches, interviews and news conferences.” But some in the military worry that “the general is being set up by the Bush administration as a scapegoat if conditions in Iraq fail to improve. ‘The danger is that Petraeus will now be painted as failing to live up to expectations and become the fall guy for the administration,’ one retired four-star officer said.”
Bush Leans On Petraeus as War Dissent Deepens.
posted by ericb at 9:16 AM on July 18, 2007


So Saddam and the Baath Party will be back in power in a dictatorship that now includes the United States whom they defeated?
posted by dios at 9:20 AM on July 18, 2007


Yeah, everyone (I mean republicans) talks about Petraeus. It's so ridiculous, like he's supposed to be a god or something, infallible and beyond criticism. Who even listens to war cheer-leaders these days anyway?
posted by delmoi at 9:21 AM on July 18, 2007


So Saddam and the Baath Party will be back in power in a dictatorship that now includes the United States whom they defeated?

Yes, that's exactly correct. Congratulations.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 AM on July 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wasn't there an "Irakkake" (rhymes with 'bukkake') tag for just this purpose?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2007


Well, now the US has a bunch of permanent military installations in Iraq, so what's really lost? The publicly stated (albeit ever shifting) moral reasons for going to war? Investors in the Carlyle group are indeed feeling very bad about that as they receive their quarterly disbursements.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:24 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So Saddam and the Baath Party will be back in power...

And we'll have their WMDs pointed back at us.
posted by DU at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2007


The American people deserve the blame, not for losing the war, but for picking such an obvious bunch of liars to run the country, then repeating the error. I can almost understand people being so blind as to believe the crap Bush fed them in 2000, but to swallow it all again four years later, they'd have to have their heads up their asses.

The sad part is that those of us who told you so get the pay the price along with the buttheads.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2007 [7 favorites]


Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH): Bush Has ‘Fucked’ Up The War...:
"Voinovich added that other Republicans are close to speaking out against the President’s current strategy. 'I won’t mention anyone’s name. But I have every reason to believe that the fur is going to start to fly, perhaps sooner than what they may have wanted.'

In private, Voinovich is more blunt, using a profanity to describe the White House’s handling of Iraq by charging the administration 'fucked up' the war.

...A White House spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that Rove, who speaks with Voinovich frequently, had the phone conversation with the senator last week and they did discuss the President’s legacy. But the spokeswoman declined to provide further details, citing Rove’s desire to keep phone conversations with senators private."*
Watch CNN's report here.
posted by ericb at 9:26 AM on July 18, 2007


Wednesday is politics day on Metafilter.
posted by humblepigeon at 9:33 AM on July 18, 2007


The publicly stated (albeit ever shifting) moral reasons for going to war?

Yes. Thank you, President Bush. Nearly 70% of Americans disapprove of the way you are handling the war in Iraq. 64% feel the surge in troops has been a failure*. Can you tell us, please, why we are fighting in Iraq?

The Ever Changing Definition of ‘Mission’ In Iraq
In June 2005, ThinkProgress noted the Bush was constantly revising the definition of our “mission” in Iraq.

Reporting on his escalation strategy this week, President Bush claimed “satisfactory” progress in many areas of the “new mission” in Iraq. Bush has changed the definition of our “mission” in Iraq so many times, he has made it impossible for the American public, U.S. forces, and the Iraqi population to have any confidence that the mission will be ever completed.

THE PRE-WAR MISSION WAS TO RID IRAQ OF WMD

Bush: “Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.” [3/6/03]

AFTER THE WAR BEGAN, THE MISSION EXPANDED

Bush: “Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” [3/22/03]

Bush: “Our forces have been given a clear mission: to end a regime that threatened its neighbors and the world with weapons of mass destruction and to free a people that had suffered far too long.” [4/14/03]

THEN THE MISSION WAS COMPLETE

Bush: “On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: Their mission is complete, and major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” [5/3/03]

BUT THEN IT CONTINUED AGAIN

Bush: “The United States and our allies will complete our mission in Iraq.” [7/30/03]

THEN THE MISSION WAS TO DEVELOP A FREE IRAQ

Bush: “That has been our mission all along, to develop the conditions such that a free Iraq will emerge, run by the Iraqi citizens.” [11/4/03]

Bush: “We will see that Iraq is free and self-governing and democratic. We will accomplish our mission.” [5/4/04]

AND TO TRAIN THE IRAQI TROOPS

Bush: “And our mission is clear there, as well, and that is to train the Iraqis so they can do the fighting; make sure they can stand up to defend their freedoms, which they want to do.” [6/2/05]

Bush: “We’re making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq, and on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves. And we will — we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace.” [6/20/05]

THEN IT SHIFTED TO ADVANCING DEMOCRACY

Bush: “We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. … Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation — and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans.” [11/30/05]

AND PROTECTING AMERICA FROM TERRORISTS

Bush: “In the coming days, there will be considerable reflection on the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and our remaining mission in Iraq…By helping the Iraqi people build a free and representative government, we will deny the terrorists a safe haven to plan attacks against America.” [3/11/06]

Bush: “We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.” [3/18/06]

THEN THE MISSION WAS PROVIDING SECURITY FOR THE IRAQI POPULATION

Bush: “In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.” [1/13/07]

Bush: “[I]t’s the combination of providing security in neighborhoods through these joint security stations, and training that is the current mission we’re going through, with a heavy emphasis on security in Baghdad.” [4/10/07]

AND NOW?

Bush: “It’s a new mission. And David Petraeus is in Iraq carrying it out. Its goal is to help the Iraqis make progress toward reconciliation — to build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and is an ally against the extremists in this war.” [6/28/07]
Yes, I'm reposting a comment I made this past weekend. I think it's appropriate here, as well.
posted by ericb at 9:33 AM on July 18, 2007 [29 favorites]


I blame myself.
posted by mattbucher at 9:35 AM on July 18, 2007


Wasn't there an "Irakkake" (rhymes with 'bukkake') tag for just this purpose?

I thought that was for when the angry mob gets their hands on Ira Glass.
posted by COBRA! at 9:36 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


dios - he was right back in 2005, too, oddly enough. Just cos we are still there doesn't mean we still have a chance.
posted by absalom at 9:37 AM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


The right to bear arms also includes that pesky responsibility to take the blame.
posted by pantsonfire at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2007


If it wasn't so sad and horrible it would be comical (and thankfully we can still laugh at the absurdity of it all, despite how horrible it is.)

I am continually perplexed at how such absurdities can continue however.

It really is straight out of 1984/Brazil. And then we have dios come in and brilliantly emulate said comedy by playing the village idiot and once again pretending to be utterly dense.
posted by juiceCake at 9:45 AM on July 18, 2007


Dios, if you need to complain about a thread, here is Metatalk. Use it or leave.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 AM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


...thankfully we can still laugh at the absurdity of it all, despite how horrible it is.

The flip side of this is that 50 years from now people will look back and laugh at all of us for being so stupid. Like how we laugh at the 1950s. It makes me embarrassed to be alive now.
posted by DU at 9:52 AM on July 18, 2007


If you thought Saddam was ruthless before, wait till you see him as a zombie!
posted by The Deej at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


dios isn't dense. He's fully aware that breaking with The Party would be death for The Party. Since The Party trumps all, he doesn't do it, facts be damned.
posted by DU at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2007 [3 favorites]




Never name yourself after God, unless it's a lesser diety like Pan or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:03 AM on July 18, 2007


To get back to the article, it's on the money but I personally didn't find it very insightful. The words "war" and "lost" don't seem quite right. There were a series of wars, beginning in 1991. In them we achieved some of our objectives, and others we didn't. I like to reserve strong words like "lost" for what happened to the Japanese, Germans and Italians in WWII. We certainly aren't "winning," but if we leave I don't think we've "lost" in that sense. I don't generally care for newspeak like "strategic withdrawal," but it seems to fit. Or maybe just "retreat?" In any case, we've shown that we're not willing to do what it would take to "win," whatever that might be. I think that's good--who needs winning at all cost? We should probably say "farewell" at this point, but that's just my opinion. Sobering stuff.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2007


The American People's fault?

U! S! A!

U! S! A!

U! S! A!

Aw crap.
posted by chillmost at 10:16 AM on July 18, 2007




Never name yourself after God, unless it's a lesser diety like Pan or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:03 PM on July 18


Better to name yourself after things that are delicious and can be covered in butter.

The problem here is that as bad as it is now, you sort of have to take it as the starting point, and determine whether it can get worse, or whether you can improve things from here.

I'm not sure if things in Iraq can be improved at all by anyone in the next couple of years. But things can get a hell of a lot worse for troops over there. A few thousands armed insurgents breaching the green zone walls would be a start.

It's over, we blew it. Set up bases in the desert near the oil fields. Withdraw from the cities back to those bases, but send most of the troops home, and let the Iraqis settle it amongst themselves.

In the cold hard calculation of it, it's too much money and no possible return from here on out, so let's get out.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:33 AM on July 18, 2007


The Iraq war is lost.

But on the plus side, oil companies sure have made tons of money!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:53 AM on July 18, 2007


Wednesday is politics day on Metafilter.
posted by humblepigeon at 9:33 AM on July 18


Fark, I'm on the other side of the international dateline... missed it.
posted by infini at 11:15 AM on July 18, 2007


The war was lost the moment we pulled troops from a valid and justified conflict in Afghanistan, to go and invade a sovereign country.

I don't mean that flippantly, like 'the war was lost the moment it began...', but the fact is, that because the war was started with a lie, for reasons that are clearly at odds with what we've been told (oil, no-bid-contacts), and then completely under-reported in terms of cost and casualty, the average American has nothing more vested in this than a yellow sticker on their car. And that lack of caring will ensure that we can't win.

We have alienated the people we had hoped to help. Our soldiers didn't do this, our policies did. We failed. We failed in 2003, and we continue failing today. The only real difference is the amount of pointless blood that has been spilled in the meantime.

I don't have an answer to the mess that we find ourselves in, but a good start would be to take every single person responsible for the shift from Afghanistan to Iraq and put them on trial for war crimes.
posted by quin at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Whether the war is "won" or "lost" is in the eye of the beholder.

The leaders of the "war" (which is really an occupation) want permanent military bases in Iraq and are willing to sacrifice X,000 (U.S., X00,000 Iraqi) lives a year to do so. It seems simple. The objective has not changed since the beginning, despite the foofaraw about "benchmarks." Baloney.

If the U.S. government was concerned at all with Iraqi security and safety, U.S. troops would be out of the country now. In fact, they would have never entered.

Meanwhile, as the Salon article notes, some politicians are already blaming lack of public support for the war *as if* that were the reason for "failure" (which is just as vague as "winning"), *as if* the occupation wasn't completely doomed from the start, and *as if* shifting blame isn't just a ploy to allow U.S. troops to continue the charade.

BAH!

on preview: Set up bases in the desert near the oil fields ... it's too much money and no possible return from here on out, so let's get out.

You don't think there's a contradiction there? As soon as we retreat to the oil fields, we're sitting ducks. Without central command (and control of the arterial roads/airports), we would be screwed (imo).
posted by mrgrimm at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2007


[removed stupid snark and follow-up "fuck you" snarks. YOU ALL KNOW WHERE METATALK IS I AM SURE OF IT]
posted by jessamyn at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2007


It's so ridiculous, like he's supposed to be a god or something

God did go to Princeton.
posted by oaf at 11:24 AM on July 18, 2007


...Petraeus will now be painted as failing to live up to expectations and become the fall guy for the administration...

The fact that his rear guard (Patraeus's fellow generals) is bringing up the possibility of that suggests they're laying the groundwork to make sure that doesn't happen.

The failure in Iraq will lie squarely on the shoulders of Bush and Cheney and sadly a majority of the American people for being so deaf, dumb and blind and stupid.

You know, I'd actually like to see Bush try and lay this on Patraeus, just so the floodgates open completely and the mass exodus of support in the armed forces, the GOP erodes completely. The common expectation is that Patraeus is going to say, in the Sept. report, the surge had "mixed results" and that will be enough wiggle room for the White House to get the spin machine in high gear. Expect a televised speech from Chimp boy and the announcement of a new initiative whose incompetence I can't even begin to fathom (hopefully it's not bombing Iran), but might be enough to assuage the GOP defections.

How sick is it that there's got to be days when Bush, Cheney and Rove are just praying for another attack so that they can whip the country back in line...get the poll numbers up and get back to demonizing anyone who questions their policies as "Unamerican"..."Unpatriotic"...the good old days etc...
posted by Skygazer at 11:25 AM on July 18, 2007


I really wish we could just get the terminology right.

A war was fought between two sovereign nations. One invaded the other with the intent of defeating the military and ousting the sitting government. That happened. The war has been over for quite some time. The US won, and it won quickly.

What has been happening since then is called an occupation. There is no army to defeat or sitting government to overthrow. What is happening now is no more a "war" than the War on Drugs, War on Poverty, etc. are wars.

Calling what is happening right now a "war" brings with it flag-waving, patriotism, and nobility. Great. But it is not a war. It was a war, and it is over.

Was Germany not defeated in WWII because the eastern portion became part of the Soviet bloc? Of course not. Germany lost the war, but the Allies didn't gain all of Germany. In this case, Iraq lost the war, but the US didn't gain all of Iraq.

The President should define what a war is to the public, announce that the US absolutely won the war, and now it is time to get the fuck out of there.
posted by flarbuse at 11:43 AM on July 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure if things in Iraq can be improved at all by anyone in the next couple of years....A few thousands armed insurgents breaching the green zone walls would be a start.

Yeah -- despite Sen. Joe Lieberman's "excursion into fantasy" about "We are winning....we've got the enemy on the run," conditions in the Green Zone are dicey. Just last week:

Green Zone Is Hit By Barrage of Shells -- "American Killed; Attacks Becoming Frequent, Accurate."

U.S. Lawmakers Prevented from Leaving Green Zone
A six-member congressional delegation recently returned from a seven-day trip that included stops in Ireland, Germany, Pakistan, Kuwait and Iraq. While in Iraq, security conditions prevented them “from meeting any Iraqis, leaving the Green Zone or staying in Iraq overnight.” Additionally, the “congressional members were required to wear full body armor, including Kevlar helmets, during the entire trip.”
posted by ericb at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2007


Where's the War Czar? He's not doing a very good job.

There were reports in 2003 and 2004 that before the invasion Saddam planned post-invasion guerrilla warfare (discussed previously). The US News and World Report story is based on "a trove of secret intelligence reports."

Those reports were contradicted by a US military study in 2006.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:10 PM on July 18, 2007


Remember the old days when there were military coups? And pride?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 12:30 PM on July 18, 2007


So Saddam and the Baath Party will be back in power in a dictatorship that now includes the United States whom they defeated?

Human Rights Watch estimated Saddam had killed 100, 000 Iraqis over 25 years. And that was a guess.
I personally read through about 30,000 separate reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and put together a picture over a very long period of time, of the situation around Baghdad as far as what they call SECMAK now, which is sectarian murders and killings. After a month of reading through these reports, we started to get a picture of what was going on. Unfortunately, it was pretty much ignored by the chain of command... At the time we had concluded that there were close to 3/4 of a million civilian deaths over the course of the Iraq war. Now I would guess it is probably upwards of a million.
Specialist Evan Knappenberger

And here is 975,610 Iraqi Deaths Due To The U.S. Invasion is what Just Foreign Policy's Iraq Civilian Death Estimator reads as of right now, based upon a conservative extrapolation of the figures 0f 655,000 civilian deaths as of July 2006 as given by the John Hopkins Survey--the only scientific study released thus far.

More Iraqis killed than died in the Rwandan genocide.
Add to that 1.9 million refugees.
Add to that one trillion dollars spent.
Now we have a Kurdish Iraq and an Arab Iraq in the midst of civil war.
Iran is by all accounts the clear winner in Iraq.

But, hey, Saddam was overthrown and it only took killing in five years nearly ten times the number of people he may have killed in 25, mean while driving out nearly two million refugees out of the country.
And the power in Baghdad is on anywhere for 4 to 5 whole hours a day.

But we got that bad ol' Saddam. The guy with no WMDs. And it only took those lives, that treasure, our national honor and the Constitution to do it. And Osama's still kickin' it live in Waziristan.

It sure was worth it, huh ?
posted by y2karl at 12:46 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


You don't think there's a contradiction there? As soon as we retreat to the oil fields, we're sitting ducks. Without central command (and control of the arterial roads/airports), we would be screwed (imo).
posted by mrgrimm at 2:19 PM on July 18



I'm assuming the bases in the desert would include an airfield, like the one in Saudi Arabia. And in the desert, you see everyone coming from miles away. In the city, the next bread delivery could be a bomb. Furthermore, in the city you are outnumbered, and when things get ugly, you won't be able to use those roads to get out.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2007


So Saddam and the Baath Party will be back in power in a dictatorship that now includes the United States whom they defeated?

No, actually, it'll be al-Qaeda or a group sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, which is exponentially worse that the Baath party dictatorship, which of course you know is true but doesn't fit in with your clever attempt to suggest that not wanting to go to war meant you approved of the Hussein regime, you cock.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:06 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


pdf: Congressional Research Services
"Although not beyond debate, such a restriction appears to be within Congress's authority to allocate resources for military operations," the report stated. See "Congressional Authority To Limit U.S. Military Operations in Iraq," updated July 11, 2007
posted by acro at 1:06 PM on July 18, 2007


What our dumb-as-fuck leadership has never learned, even though there is plenty of history to demonstrate its truthfulness, is this: The victors don't decide when the war is over, the losers do.

As long as there is armed insurrection, staying in Iraq is a never-ending proposition. I'm sure that gives Halliburton and Blackwater and DarthCheney all boners, but anyone with any brains will not stomach it.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2007


Well, they're probably right that the American people are to blame. I mean, I've been telling everyone the Iraq war would fail since before it started.

I definitely jinxed it. My bad!
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2007


But that would mean that we were . . . losers!
posted by spitbull at 1:58 PM on July 18, 2007


But that would mean that we were . . . losers!

That's what happens when you put losers in charge. (And I am absolutely, positively not referring to the military and troops with that statement.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:06 PM on July 18, 2007


XQUZYPHYR writes "No, actually, it'll be al-Qaeda or a group sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, which is exponentially worse that the Baath party dictatorship, which of course you know is true but doesn't fit in with your clever attempt to suggest that not wanting to go to war meant you approved of the Hussein regime, you cock."

Well not really. "Al-Qaeda" is rooted in Wahabism, and given that the vast majority of the people in Iraq aren't Sunni, it's going to be difficult to convince them to be governed by Saudis and their ilk. More likely, Shias would slaughter the Saudi fighters, anyone who helped them, and a few other random people just for good measure.

Southern Iraq would end up as a Shia-goverened proxy state for Iran, and northern Iraq would descend into chaos as Kurdistan gets into a war with the Turks. The administration's unwillingness to pull troops from Iraq demonstrates that we effectively have a tiger by the tail: as soon as we leave, Iraq will be a worse enemy of the US than it ever was under Saddam. So our choices are A) NEVER LEAVE. This is obviously the intention of the adminstration, given that they're building a palace embassy the size of Vatican City. The second choice B) STOP NEEDLESSLY SLAUGHTERING OUR TROOPS is a non-starter. Bush doesn't give two shits about the troops. It's safe to say he has contempt for them, given that he was able to avoid service and probably considers anyone who didn't to be a moron.
posted by mullingitover at 2:18 PM on July 18, 2007


There is absolutely no way to win this war.

If we stay permanently, we are occupiers.

If we leave, Iraq gets torn apart between three warring factions.

And if, by some magical happening, we succeed in fostering a democratic government that stands up and allows us to leave - a huge swath of the world would view that government as illegitimate and continue on the same path. We would remain the Great Satan for installing said government.

We're fucked. We've been fucked since Day One. Bushie and his handlers neglected to think anything through before stepping on our collective dicks.

(And as bad off as we are, the Iraqis in general get it many, many times worse.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:38 PM on July 18, 2007


Ya know, among the many stupidities to come out of this administration's attempt to spin utter failure into victory is this fact -- Petraeus has been in Iraq since 2003. Here's a piece he wrote in 2004. About how important it is to "train up" Iraqi troops.

Yeah, he's going to take the fall, just like Rumsfeld did earlier. What a sucker.
posted by bardic at 3:18 PM on July 18, 2007


I blame Ralph Nader.
posted by A189Nut at 3:23 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


See we are fighting in Iraq because we are too chicken shit to fight out battles at home (bear with me here). OK, so it is clear beyond all reason that 1) there where no WMDs, 2) Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and 3) Al-qaeda was not in Iraq to any extent before the US became the occupiers. Now Al-qaeda IS in Iraq and the reason du jour to fight in Iraq is so we don't fight them here, at home. Before Saddam, no Al-qaeda, after Saddam, Al-qaeda. The US essentially created the conditions to let them in, now we are fighting them there. The Iraqi people have no say in this, this is a war between two entities on the ground on a third party. IF we where moral we would fight them at home and where they lived, not where others live.
But, the truly major reason we have lost Iraq, something I have been saying for some time now, is that we are not fighting one conflict, or even two, but multiple conflicts. We are fighting Al-qaeda, we are fighting in sectarian clashes (civil war), we are fighting a power vacuum, we are fighting because you can't take a culture that have lived under one type of brutal rule and customs for a long time and expect it to transform into what we want governmentally overnight, or in one step. You kind of saw that with Hamas recently. "You must have elections!" we mandate. So they have elections, "no, that's not right, you did it wrong you must invalidate those elections and only who we want can be a valid choice".

Oil sharing and partitioning is about the only thing that will bring most of the violence down. Then we have to deal with what makes Al-qaeda so effective and strong, and I suspect a thousand thousand rifles, planes, tanks and war ships is not going to be the right thing.
posted by edgeways at 3:38 PM on July 18, 2007




In related news -- Bush Aides See Failure in Fight With Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
posted by ericb at 4:23 PM on July 18, 2007


Al-qaeda was not in Iraq to any extent before the US became the occupiers.

Today in an interview with NPR, Homeland Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend: "'I Don’t Know' If Al Qaeda Was In Iraq Before The War"

Huh? And your title/role is what?
posted by ericb at 4:28 PM on July 18, 2007


60 percent: Number of Military.com readers (the nation’s largest military and veteran membership organization) who “believe the US should withdraw troops from Iraq now or by the end of 2008. … More than 40 percent of the respondents agreed the pullout should begin immediately because ‘we’re wasting lives and resources there.’” The results “stand in sharp contrast” to a June 26 poll in which 60 percent of respondents “agreed the surge should be given more time.”
posted by ericb at 4:30 PM on July 18, 2007


"We have alienated the people we had hoped to help. Our soldiers didn't do this, our policies did." [Emphasis mine.]

I'm not so sure your soldiers' actions played no role in the alienation of Iraqis and failure of the occupation.
posted by docgonzo at 4:45 PM on July 18, 2007


The war was lost the moment we pulled troops from a valid and justified conflict in Afghanistan, to go and invade a sovereign country.

Iraq has not been a soverign country since Saddam killed his way into power.
posted by rockhopper at 4:51 PM on July 18, 2007


Iraq has not been a soverign country since Saddam killed his way into power.

If killing ones way into power is your qualifier... I got some bad news for you neither are we. And neither are a large portion of the worlds nations.
posted by tkchrist at 4:54 PM on July 18, 2007


tkchrist,

Are you saying the American revolution = Saddam's coup?
posted by rockhopper at 4:56 PM on July 18, 2007


Our soldiers are responsible for increasing the postal rate and causing the Nation to need contributions?

:)

I'm assuming you were linking to one of the many atrocities which have been documented, where American soldiers are doing things that make you ashamed to be a part of the same country?

I have a theory about that: Many of these problems are the direct result of the administration using the military in an incorrect fashon. Specifically as a peacekeeping force.

They just aren't made for that. They are built and trained to kill people; when we ask them to act as police, they are going to do it wrong. Add to that fatigue after too many months in-country and too little oversight and you have the perfect recipe for terrible things to happen.

I'm not defending the solders, they are responsible for their actions. But we should also be looking at the policies and strategies that put these men and women into places and positions where they would have the opportunity to do these things. These are the things that both the soldier and their leaders need to be accountable for.
posted by quin at 5:02 PM on July 18, 2007


Many of these problems are the direct result of the administration using the military in an incorrect fashon. Specifically as a peacekeeping force. They just aren't made for that. They are built and trained to kill people

Funny that other countries soldiers are perfectly capable of acting as peacekeepers: look at Sierra Leone, Kosovo, East Timor, you know the list - but when it comes to Americans, the US public fully expects them to kill kill kill without mercy on local populations. because they are trained for that, you know.

Brutal and idiotic to the bone.
posted by dydecker at 5:18 PM on July 18, 2007


Are you saying the American revolution = Saddam's coup?

No. No, of course not. Saddam's coup was bought and paid for by the CIA.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:20 PM on July 18, 2007


Wow John! What year did that happen?
posted by rockhopper at 5:25 PM on July 18, 2007


*John's furiously Googling*
posted by rockhopper at 5:28 PM on July 18, 2007


Regime Change: How the CIA put Saddam's Party in Power

A silly little flash movie.

An entry by everyone's favorite liberal boogeyman, Juan Cole.

Just a start, rockhopper.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:29 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]




dydecker : Funny that other countries soldiers are perfectly capable of acting as peacekeepers:

I know this isn't true in all cases, but most of the time, peacekeeping soldiers have received additional training. A lot of police-type stuff involving de-escalation and negotiations.

Now, a good argument could be made that American troops should also be going through this kind of training if they are going to be made to do the job, but I think it's a stretch to suggest that you could take the general infantry of any country, make them act like cops, and expect them to do it perfectly.
posted by quin at 5:33 PM on July 18, 2007


*John's furiously Googling*

Oh, yeah, I had to find those links for you. Some people, who apparently can't be bothered to think for themselves, have to ask others to do the work for them.

Are those three links enough, or shall I find some more for you?
posted by John of Michigan at 5:33 PM on July 18, 2007


Oh John, those three are enough! But if your google offer still stands, lets try to see if we can decide if American revolution = Saddam's rise to power
posted by rockhopper at 5:40 PM on July 18, 2007


Iraq has not been a soverign country since Saddam killed his way into power.

Regardless of your opinion, Iraq was recognized as a sovereign nation. Your point is not a counter-argument to the comment you quoted, and it seems that you are now just baiting tk into an argument with your obtuse question.
posted by effwerd at 5:48 PM on July 18, 2007


Rockhopper, how old are you? Just curious if you're eligible to be in Iraq actively doing your part to support what you believe in.
posted by maxwelton at 5:48 PM on July 18, 2007


Cool. Just out of curiousity, what are your thoughts about those links? About the US giving birth to our archnemesis, Saddam? Whaddyathink? I've often thought that given the American ability to constantly back the wrong horse (we funded Osama, after all, AND backed the Shah, and Pinochet, and various South Vietnamese dictators, and the South Africans, and the Guatemalans, and so on), Americans should really sit out trying to dictate how the world works. We've really not done such a great job of it, y'know?

Now, your argument with tkchrist is, of course, between you and him, because I'm not 100% sure what he meant. However, American history isn't all Yorktown and Philadelphia and Iwo Jima flag-raising. This country was built on mass murder of 500 Indian nations IN ADDITION TO many, many years of slave labor. Given all of that, jeez, I don't think we're in much of a position to tell anyone what to do.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:48 PM on July 18, 2007


Are you saying the American revolution = Saddam's coup?

No. YOU are.
posted by tkchrist at 5:49 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm not 100% sure what he meant.

I meant claiming that a country isn't "sovereign" becuase it's leadership "killed their way into power" is simplistic and trite.

Initially he didn't say "coup." He said "killed his way into power."

The Continental Congress "Killed their way into power." And we have maintained dominance through killing in one form or another since. I maintain that we are sovereign.

We recognize many, many, states as sovereign who HAVE seized power via coup. Pervez Musharraf or Pakistan for one.

And there have been many occasions where we have BACKED coups in order to "recognize" the sovereignty of nation "realigned" with our interests. The 1953 Iranian coup d'état which removed the democratically elected nationalist cabinet of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh from power comes to mind.

Most recently our soft backing of an attempted coup of the democratically elected current president Hugo Chávez is yet another example.

You want to claim Iraq isn't sovereign becuase it's leadership wasn't elected and maintained power via force? Well... we got plenty of "allies" in the War on Terror who were not duly elected and maintain power via force. Yet we maintain relationships with them as "sovereign states."

So why the distinction with Iraq. Because Saddam was SUCH a bad man? If that is one's argument, and I suspect it is, then one needs grow the fuck up.
posted by tkchrist at 6:08 PM on July 18, 2007


Well, to be frank, the idea that an unstable Middle East drowning in blood and bitterly divided is not in America's interest is just wrong. When America supported Israel's bombing of Lebanon the hidden subtext was that destroying an entire Arab nation and murdering thousands of Muslims is a little scary but overall a good thing hence the infamous "birth pangs" comment. What we certainly don't want is a strong Middle Eastern power center, the kind of independent entity that might wield its influence and oil power to play American interests off those of China or Russia or Europe. What we don't want is Iran.

Yes, it sucks a little bit to lose ~100 soldiers a month and the rest of the world is disgusted with us and there's a billion Muslims who hate us (though they never really liked us much in the first place) but overall this is just the cost of doing business and it's not an especially big cost to pay. Really it's a steal.

It's just so very unfortunate that Bush invested so much in the idealistic notion of democracy. Talk about overly high expectations! If he had stuck to the rhetoric of national security then nobody could complain about us leaving Iraq and moving on to Iran after murdering Saddam. Things were so much better when the entire venture could be summed up with the line Don't mess with Texas. It worked in Afghanistan and it would've worked in Iraq too. But the fucking neocons got their hooks into him and now we're trapped in this frame where America is supposed to actually help the Arabs, the very people who caused 9/11, to be civilized instead of just bombing them into oblivion.

The entire venture could be saved if Bush could just admit the whole democracy thing wasn't a great idea and then we could return to our previous policies of destabilizing, bombing, and otherwise raping the Middle East. This worked great in the past and it can work again in the future.
posted by nixerman at 6:09 PM on July 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


maxwelton,

I'm old enough to sleep by myself.

Well, John, I agree with much of what you say. Sure, we could argue the details, but I'm all about liberty and freedom for everyone. And we have a lot to make up for in the world. Do I think we should isolate ourselves? No, I don't. Do I think everything we've ever done was wrong or bad. No, I don't.

If killing ones way into power is your qualifier... I got some bad news for you neither are we. And neither are a large portion of the worlds nations.
posted by tkchrist at 6:54 PM on July 18 [+] [!]


I'm sorry, tkchrist, what were you saying?
posted by rockhopper at 6:11 PM on July 18, 2007


Hey, tkchrist, cool. I got it, man. I couldn't agree more. Hell, legitimate violence (read some Primo Levi) has gottena bad rap. Power is never given, it's only taken, said Fredrick Douglass, and he's still right. Also, ask the Stern gang. Victors get to write history, so . . . .

Anyway, being a lazy, lazy man, I didn't want to scroll up through a couple dozen comments to see what set off rockhopper. That's why I wasn't sure what you meant. But now that you articulate it, I see that you're right.

Speaking of rockhopper, where is he?
posted by John of Michigan at 6:14 PM on July 18, 2007


This worked great in the past and it can work again in the future.

No it's a losing game.

It only worked in a cold-war world where each of the two spheres of power could hold the rabble at bay or set them on each other and take the leavings.

Warfare is now hopelessly asymmetrical and there is no reason for the nonaligned rabble to hold anything back even when it is decidedly against their own self interest.

The fact is in a Peak Oil world with teetering currency problems an unstable middle east is now bad for everybody but the most unscrupulous looking for the short term gain.
posted by tkchrist at 6:18 PM on July 18, 2007


Speaking of rockhopper, where is he?

Back under a rock. I hope.
posted by tkchrist at 6:21 PM on July 18, 2007


(oh my god, they can't see my posts! jessamyn, halp!)

...the most unscrupulous looking for the short term gain.

Cool, you can see what Russia and France are up to!
posted by rockhopper at 6:24 PM on July 18, 2007


There's rockhopper. I'm not advocating isolationism, far from it. The US is, for the time being, the lone superpower. China's day will come. India's too. The EU won't be far behind them.

We have to work as a team. Why do we have to act as the world's superpoliceman, backing a lot of regressive, repressive regimes in order to keep the status quo, and then act surprised when people don't like us?

I've never understood the animus heaped upon the United Nations. "It doesn't work!" the John Birchers say. "It'll usher in New World Order and make all good Christian Americans wear the Number of the Beast on their foreheads!" John Bolton said. Of course it doesn't work! The United States (and, of course, the USSR) never gave it a chance to work! (South Africa and Israel flouted more resolutions than did Iraq, IIRC.)

So, what I'm trying to say, the United States has to stop being a bully. We're not the only ones in the world.

(Yeah, yeah, I feel like I should cue up "Give Peace a Chance," but I'm no damn hippy. Just someone who wished the United States would live up to its potential.)
posted by John of Michigan at 6:25 PM on July 18, 2007


And with that, dear friends, I must go. Go easy on rockhopper. It's nice to have a conservative voice on MetaFilter. Though I hate the conservative mindset the same way I hate sunburns, contemporary country music, and hippies, it's good to have someone actually arguing instead of fapfapping here on Metafilter.

Take it light, amigos. I'm off to Applebee's. Common Food for Common Folks. (With any luck, I'll be back at midnight to drunkpost, and won't that be fun!)
posted by John of Michigan at 6:30 PM on July 18, 2007


Thanks, John, and good evening!
posted by rockhopper at 6:31 PM on July 18, 2007


Warfare is now hopelessly asymmetrical and there is no reason for the nonaligned rabble to hold anything back even when it is decidedly against their own self interest.

So what? If the rabble are killing other rabble, well, that can hardly be considered a loss. And if they're killing Americans as in the case of 9/11 well Ceasar Augustus had a point when he said "you have to break a few eggs to rule the known world." It's a messy process but ultimately it's very, very lucrative. The idea that Osama Bin Laden constitutes any kind of real existential threat (aside from PR) to America is laughable. Yes, it's always dangerous to underestimate the barbarians but these days we have stealth bombers and global finance while the barbarians have pickup trucks filled with horny young men and gasoline. There's just no there there. 9/11 didn't have to "change everything," it didn't have to change much of anything except perhaps confirming the superiority complex of Manhattanites, but, alas, Americans threw their vaunted pragmatism out the window and bought whole-hog into ideology. At this point I think we should all agree that it's time to return to business as usual and put this whole unfortunate episode behind us.
posted by nixerman at 6:42 PM on July 18, 2007


Nixerman. The danger is not Bin Laden can do. Which is indeed laughable. unless he acquires a nuke. And even then - quite survivable. No. The danger is not what Bin Laden can do to us. But rather what we do to ourselves.

With the reckless application of Realpolitik out of the context of competing and controlling superpower forces like you now espouse leads inevitably to domestic despotism. Or have you not been paying attention? The desire to circumvent treaties, engage in naked aggression and militarize all detrimentally effect our republic. Unless you are one of the ruling elite.

When we breed chaos abroad it DOES come home to roost one way or another. It is reflected in here. One way or another.

Now perhaps YOUR ivory tower is built high and fortified well, but most of ours are not. We need to be a part of the world. To travel and do business in it.
posted by tkchrist at 7:01 PM on July 18, 2007


There is that. And that wanton killing is, for the most part, wrong.
posted by tkchrist at 7:02 PM on July 18, 2007


Our soldiers are responsible for increasing the postal rate and causing the Nation to need contributions?

Damn you, interstitial ads!

/shakes fist at sky, gnashes teeth

I'm assuming you were linking to one of the many atrocities which have been documented, where American soldiers are doing things that make you ashamed to be a part of the same country?

I'm not American.

I'm not defending the solders, they are responsible for their actions. But we should also be looking at the policies and strategies that put these men and women into places and positions where they would have the opportunity to do these things. These are the things that both the soldier and their leaders need to be accountable for.

Sure. I'm all for a comprehensive inquiry into the causes of the epic fuck-up-edness of the occupation. But saying Iraqi resistance and rejection of the US occupation is just a result of "policies" -- without a recognition the military strategy and tactics have been brutal, incompetent and deadly -- is bollocks.
posted by docgonzo at 7:33 PM on July 18, 2007


Iraq has been a member of the United Nations since December 1945.

Homeland Security Advisor

Jesus Christ, could we Nazi that up a little? How 'bou Heimatsicherheitsberater?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:59 PM on July 18, 2007


Sure. I'm all for a comprehensive inquiry into the causes of the epic fuck-up-edness of the occupation. But saying Iraqi resistance and rejection of the US occupation is just a result of "policies" -- without a recognition the military strategy and tactics have been brutal, incompetent and deadly -- is bollocks.
posted by docgonzo at 9:33 PM on July 18 [+] [!]


See doc, the U.S., Canada, British, Austalian militaries are the most professional, disciplined, and competent the world has ever known. But don't believe me, check out Michael Yon, who is actually there, embedded with the troops. And no, he is not a wing-nut.
posted by rockhopper at 8:06 PM on July 18, 2007


Nothing is over until we decide it is.

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

















No!
And it ain't over now. Because when the going gets tough...
*looks expectantly*

The tough get going!
Now c'mon! Who's with me?!
LET'S GOOOOOOOOOO!!!!



*charges out of metafilter*
posted by Smedleyman at 8:15 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


See doc, the U.S., Canada, British, Austalian militaries are the most professional, disciplined, and competent the world has ever known.

True, but completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. Similarly, my father is also an awesome, awesome thoracic/vascular surgeon. Nevertheless, if I end up in the hospital with severe head trauma, I don't want him doing brain surgery on me, because he has not business doing that kind of work, and he'd likely screw it up pretty severely.

In addition, the Maginot line was probably one of the best possible defenses to protect against German incursions across the French-German border.
posted by deanc at 8:31 PM on July 18, 2007


*charges back in*

whuth'fu does troop quality have to do with being handed a lousy strategic plan? German troops in WWII were outstanding and mostly well seasoned because of the first world war. Meanwhile their civilian leadership was steeped in occult b.s. and fixated on some dream world they tried to kick and steal into existence.
The problems in Iraq stem from a serious lack of plan. And there have been abuses. And would be with any military in the world; that's recognizing the practical realities of combat and warfare on anyone trained to it.
The policies themselves did not cause the abuses, no, but they led to them. And indeed, in some cases abuse was the policy - and still is. All this quite apart from the serious lack of leadership and accountability up the chain. Hand someone a firearm, have him mill around all day getting shot at for years on end with no backup, shitty equipment, force them back again and again, hose their families, and continue to shift whatever threadbare political goal there was in the first place - doesn't matter if you're a Ghurka or a Habsburg piker (lost to the Ottomans, Prussians, the French, the Russians (with the French - Napoleon), the Italians, the Germans, etc. etc.) there might be a bit of a stress level.
Doesn't excuse any actions, but it does create the environment.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:41 PM on July 18, 2007


...Ali, whom I knew from a previous trip, had traded in his BMW because it was too conspicuous - residents of Baghdad have to consider how every detail of life could impact on their very survival. They assume as low a profile as they can, then wait fatalistically for the day that "something happens."

"The only sure thing here is that we have lost our trust. Can you believe that we are terrorized in our own homes?" Ali, 32, chose to remain in Baghdad while the majority of his friends and relatives joined the hoards of refugees in Syria and Jordan (for the less fortunate) or Sweden (for the others).

"I am Shiite," Ali said. "My uncles and cousins were murdered by Saddam's regime. I wanted desperately to get rid of him. But today, if Saddam's feet appeared in front of me, I would fall to my knees and kiss them!"
Life in the 'red zone'

Ali is there, not only actually embedded with the Iraqis, but actually an Iraqi. And, no, he is not a Baathist.

But today, if Saddam's feet appeared in front of me, I would fall to my knees and kiss them!
posted by y2karl at 9:02 PM on July 18, 2007


Wow, is that the Anne Nivat, Moscow correspondent for a French Newspaper?
posted by rockhopper at 9:09 PM on July 18, 2007


Germans?

Forget it. He's rolling.
posted by quin at 9:22 PM on July 18, 2007


Woooooohooo. I'm back, liquoured up, and pissed off.

Wow, is that the Anne Nivat, Moscow correspondent for a French Newspaper?


Okay, okay, so let's say, for the sake of arguing, that Anne Nivat, a Russian correspondent for a French newspaper, interviewed an Iraqi, who, in a moment of desperation, missed the normalcy of Saddam Hussein (hey, he killed 100,000 in 25 years. We've equalled that in five. That's some yankee ingenuity, yes?)

So the fuck what, where she's from and for whom she's writing? WHAT SHE'S REPORTING DOESN'T CHANGE, regardless of the country of origin or the country where the newspaper she's writing from buys its newsprint and ink!!!?!!ii111i!

Are you trying, using freeper shorthand, to question her motives? O dear sweet jesus in heaven. She's Russian. And gasp, splat, wheeze! her newspaper is published in France!

I know that to the right-wing crowd, Russia and France are seen as symbols that, to the lazy mind, equal decadent anti-americanism.

To the rest of us, here on Planet Pragmatic, the Russians and French (along with *ahem* us liberals) were pretty much right about the whole invasion/occupation. And y'know what, the next time you have a question about world or domestic policy, ask a Russian, a Frenchmen, or a liberal. Everyone else (I'm looking at you, Wolfowitz) is trying to sell you something!

(Woooh. Never EVER say yes to $1.25 Brewteses, okay? And GOD BLESS designated drivers!)
posted by John of Michigan at 9:39 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Look. Enough with the French bashing. The French invented the blow job... or was that the Greeks? Oh. Who cares. In any case some French chick gave me the best one I ever had and for that the entire country gets a buy on what ever they do. That and Duc de Guise Sauvignon Blanc. Which is almost as good.
posted by tkchrist at 9:49 PM on July 18, 2007


IMHO the war started when Saddam read about Richard Secord's misadventures selling missiles to Iran,in a Jordanian paper that broke the story, this was before the Stark incident and The USA was backing Iraq in it's war with Iran. This was when Saddam refused to use bio/chem weapons that we had provided via Rumsfield. faulty memories no links
posted by hortense at 9:50 PM on July 18, 2007


Heh, vive le France! I lost it to a French chick in Spain way back when, so I'm pretty partial to them.

Still, in sitting out and resisting President Asshole's charge to invade, they DID prove themselves to be pretty prescient.

And Cointreau? C'est magnifique!
posted by John of Michigan at 10:11 PM on July 18, 2007


How much more do readers need to know about Russia's war in Chechnya? The unending suffering of distant innocents, the gutted cities and towns, the swollen refugee camps, and the daily outcroppings of terror and revenge all make it regularly into Western newspapers. But there is more, and Nivat -- a young French journalist who is fluent in Russian and was baptized in the first Chechen war -- provides it. As the conflict was beginning in fall 1999, she slipped into the war zone, clad herself as a Chechen woman, and for the next six months moved among the protagonists and those caught between.
Chienne de Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya

Anne Nivat is not without credentials, it would appear.
posted by y2karl at 10:34 PM on July 18, 2007


the Russians and French

had BIG-ASS pre-existing economic arrangements they were looking forward to unfreezing once the sanctions regime got taken down.

IMV, 20-30% of the war just was about displacing those trade axes with American-cum-Republican power centers, eg. the CDMA vs. GSM brouhaha early in the Occupation.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2007


Also
Many times, President Bush has said that we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here. It is an absurd argument in many ways. But the NIE reveals that the opposite is the case—that because we're fighting them in Iraq, we are more likely to face them here.

Does this mean that we should stop fighting AQI or negotiate some separate peace? No, the organization's presence in Iraq—however exaggerated by some officials—is genuinely dangerous, and there is no negotiating with any al-Qaida affiliate in any event.

But it does mean we should do more to co-opt the Sunnis—even some of the Sunni extremists—that serve as AQI's base of support. (We have started to do just that, with some success, in Anbar province.)

And it also means—for yet one more reason, beyond the many others—that we should start to get out of Iraq. (The question, as always, remains how to do so without unleashing catastrophic chaos. One reasonable inference of the NIE is that we should seek a regional resolution of the crisis as a matter of great urgency to the security not only of the Middle East but also of the United States.)
Read It and Weep
posted by y2karl at 10:47 PM on July 18, 2007


See doc, the U.S., Canada, British, Austalian militaries are the most professional, disciplined, and competent the world has ever known.

actually, no, the german and japanese military of ww2 were

logistics were what did them in ... logistics is what usually does armed forces in

clue 1 - whose food, ammo and equipment has to travel halfway across the world before it can be used - mr iraqi insurgent or mr american soldier?

they have a great advantage over us already, just due to geography ... add fanaticism, home support and utter ruthlessness on their side ... and incompetent strategy on ours ... and it's clear why we're having problems

they have more will than we do ... it's a life or death struggle for their country ... it's NOT for ours, no matter how it's spun by those who want to continue on

they have the political belief of many of the people over there ... our government can't even get that from our OWN people, much less the iraqis

logistics, will and political belief ... they have more of each of those than we do and are willing to use them with a fantaticism and ruthlessness that no western nation could stomach unless it was a true life or death struggle

we are beat
posted by pyramid termite at 1:42 AM on July 19, 2007


Yes, it sucks a little bit to lose ~100 soldiers a month and the rest of the world is disgusted with us and there's a billion Muslims who hate us (though they never really liked us much in the first place) but overall this is just the cost of doing business and it's not an especially big cost to pay. Really it's a steal.

People who casually dismiss the killing of thousands of other human beings as "not an especially big cost to pay" for some ideological goal are . . . oh, I'm sure there's a word for that. Anyone?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:43 AM on July 19, 2007


inhumanity?
posted by infini at 4:53 AM on July 19, 2007


oops read the grammar

"inhumane"
posted by infini at 4:54 AM on July 19, 2007


We (The Coalition of the Incompetent) can't leave. We broke it, we have to pay for it and stay there until it works. We (i.e. Britain) stayed in Ireland for 30+ years until the peace process took hold - in Iraq it's going to take a lot longer because whilst there was sectarian violence in N.I. they still had TV, running water and electricity. Never underestimate the power of TV to appease the populace. Being able to wash regularly and have light makes a big difference too (as per my askme...)

The only option is for us to put our hands up and say "by god we fucked this all up", get the UN involved, the US needs to take a back seat as far as what they want and we can then throw as much firepower or policing as is required to suppress the militias whilst rebuilding. I'd predict it will take between 40-50 years before Iraq is a functioning state, and we may not even like the form that takes, but the only other alternative is to back away from the mess and watch it collapse.

I never bought this as a good idea. We should have invested the money we pissed away in Iraq sorting out Afghanistan. I'd have been happy dragging that fucked up place out of the mire and setting it up as a place that Muslims could look to as a shining beacon of what could be acheived by cooperating with the Western world. As is we blew it. Yeah, you didn't vote for it - neither did I but if you walk away now then you are shortchanging millions of Iraqis because you don't want to take responsibility.

If gas prices go up to $10 a gallon you should shrug and say - yeah well - at least I have a home to go to. None of your family and friends get rousted out of bed at 3am by soldiers who don't speak your language and have all your shit strewn around the place because some guy down the street said you were a member of the resistance and had bomb making equipment in your sock drawer.

There is a solution. It means saying "fuck what they say on the Right, fuck what they say on the Left - lets just do what is Just". Just means we have to take it on the chin. The investment, the time, the responsibility. Many, many dead soldiers will be the result but the alternative is cutting and running (much as you may dislike the term). Cutting and running means you are surrendering a country to a bunch of assholes who will happily slaughter one another because they have a couple more AK47s than another bunch of guys.

If, as so many of us protest, we believe in justice, helping our fellow man etc then we'll shoulder that responsibility and do what we can to fix a situation that got out of hand. Sure you can take Cheney out back; pop a couple of rounds into the back of his head and string his rotting corpse up outside the White House for all to see if it makes you happy - the guy is clearly a cunt with nothing positive to his name but stringing up the wankers who started it won't help the people of Iraq forgive us.
posted by longbaugh at 6:05 AM on July 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


The UN, a failure?

They did pretty damn well at doing what they were set up to do, beating Hitler and the Axis countries.

They didn't do so badly in Korea (later events certainly did show that the NK government was even crazier than anyone thought) or Cypress. Considering how late they came in, they didn't even do that badly in Bosnia.

These are wars -- as we can see, wars have a tendency to be really bad. Anything less than a fuckup is a success, I'm afraid.

If the US spent half the effort they spend impeding the UN on keeping it honest and efficient, the world would be a far better place!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:30 AM on July 19, 2007


Sure you can take Cheney out back; pop a couple of rounds into the back of his head and string his rotting corpse up outside the White House for all to see if it makes you happy - the guy is clearly a cunt with nothing positive to his name but stringing up the wankers who started it won't help the people of Iraq forgive us.
If we executed Cheney for war crimes against Iraq, I think it would go a long way to getting forgiveness from Iraqis. If we strung Bush up along side him, it'd go even further.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:34 AM on July 19, 2007


Generation Chickenhawk: the Unauthorized College Republican Convention Tour

Max Blumenthal visits the College Republican National Convention and discovers that hypocrisy starts at an early age:
"In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about 'fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.' Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called 'war on terror' as nothing less than the cause of their time. Yet when I asked these College Repulicans why they were not participating in this historical cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. 'Medical reasons.' 'It's not for me.' These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them 'over there.' Like the current Republican leaders who skipped out on Vietnam, the GOP's next generation would rather cheerlead from the sidelines for the war in Iraq while other, less privileged young men and women fight and die."
Video.
posted by ericb at 7:24 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


fighting them fixing it over there so we don't have to fight them over here.

That's better.
posted by longbaugh at 7:36 AM on July 19, 2007


If, as so many of us protest, we believe in justice, helping our fellow man etc then we'll shoulder that responsibility and do what we can to fix a situation that got out of hand.

Yep -- Cheney and fellow stakeholders in U.S. energy companies (i.e. oil, gas, etc.) should take some of the obscene profits they have collectively and individually made over the past few years and offer to "fix the situation" anyway they can.
posted by ericb at 7:46 AM on July 19, 2007


Oh yeah, about Young Republicans. Give them an REMF job. Fuckit - they don't want to hump a pack and M4 in the 130 degree heat they don't have to. They can clean up the porta-potties for everyone. They can take responsibility like the rest of us have to or they can be put in prison for a year. One more reason that everyone in the first world should be conscripted to the Army, Peace Corps or what have you. Serve your goddamn country and the people in it. Kennedy might have been a twat but he was right when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for it".

Get involved in helping other people regardless of your dad's connections or political affiliation. Maybe once you've seen dying kids in the streets you won't be quite so blase about about bombing some country and making foam fingers with "We're Number #1!" Made in China pasted on them.

Sometimes I think "damn this world to hell". Then I remember there are people in it who for all intents and purposes are going through that already. No matter what happens to me in my life I know I'm never going to have to cradle my sons head in my arms as he breathes his last because some dipshit soldier lit up a street with a machinegun.

So yeah, don't give up no matter what you have to deal with - help your brother man out whenever you can and damn the consequences. Maybe one day he'll outstretch a hand to you.

on preview - And don't forget to steal Cheney's PIN number to take his money from the ATM Machine. After you've whacked him.
posted by longbaugh at 8:01 AM on July 19, 2007


Ha--I just noticed something:

IMPerial overrEACH!

Way to get all subliminal and stuff, y2karl (you're all up in our brains' cracks and crevices).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:10 AM on July 19, 2007


We (The Coalition of the Incompetent) can't leave.

yes, we can

The only option is for us to put our hands up and say "by god we fucked this all up", get the UN involved,

they won't bother as long as we're running the show ... and they'll keep us running the show as a means of punishing us

Yeah, you didn't vote for it - neither did I but if you walk away now then you are shortchanging millions of Iraqis because you don't want to take responsibility.

i didn't vote for it and i'm not obligated to take responsibility ... and if the iraqi people can't stop their low level civil war, they're shortchanging themselves

it's my belief that after a couple of years of ugliness and interference by iraq's neighbors that a solution will happen without us ... our continued presence will NOT prevent the ugliness, but it may well prevent the solution

if we had followed your logic, we'd still be fighting the vietnam war
posted by pyramid termite at 8:55 AM on July 19, 2007


Following the logic I have espoused has made it possible for the people of Northern Ireland to be able to deal with their differences. If the British government had walked away from Ireland 30 years ago there would still be a sectarian nightmare with weekly bombings, shootings and beatings. I am neither Catholic nor Protestant and the shit started before I was born but I'd do what I could to stop people killing each other. That's just part of being a good person.

Running away from helping someone is a bad thing. If you saw someone being mugged would you walk on by? I sometimes forget some people don't have the same morality as I do. No disrespect intended there btw - I could be totally and utterly wrong but I will never walk away from helping someone out, no matter the circumstances.

Vietnam could have been a victory if you'd have stayed friends with little Ho Chi Minh. As is, military victories are easy for the USA's armed forces. It's insurgencies that you have no experience in defeating.
posted by longbaugh at 9:09 AM on July 19, 2007


If you saw someone being mugged would you walk on by?

Some people would. Earlier this month:
Police: Shoppers Stepped Over Victim
"Wichita, Kan., Store Video Shows Shoppers Stepping Over Dying Stabbing Victim, Police Say."
And Kitty Genovese in 1964.
posted by ericb at 9:21 AM on July 19, 2007


Following the logic I have espoused has made it possible for the people of Northern Ireland to be able to deal with their differences.

yes, your country finally got the fighting to stop (maybe) and it only took you from 1171 to do it

is that what you're suggesting our country do with iraq?

are you seriously suggesting we use britain's shameful history of involvement in ireland as an example for my country to follow?

Running away from helping someone is a bad thing.

we're not helping them

if you saw someone being mugged would you walk on by?

we're mugging them

I sometimes forget some people don't have the same morality as I do.

or the same ancestry
posted by pyramid termite at 9:23 AM on July 19, 2007


IMPerial overrEACH!

Way to get all subliminal and stuff


erialoverr? I don't get it.

Eria love RR? Who is this Eria and why does she love railroads?
posted by quin at 9:32 AM on July 19, 2007


Eria love RR? Who is this Eria and why does she love railroads?

Well, obviously, "Eria" is a variant spelling for the goddess "Eris", and since Eris is widely known to be the unofficial protector deity of rail-riding hobos, this is clearly a cleverly encoded call-to-action directed at the hobo community.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:49 AM on July 19, 2007




I hate arguing on the internet like this but it does make it easier to follow and so...

yes, your country finally got the fighting to stop (maybe) and it only took you from 1171 to do it. Is that what you're suggesting our country do with iraq?

No, and you know that. The fact is that the most recent troubles began in '69 and we opted to negotiate with the less extreme people whilst simultaneously working to reduce the effect of terrorism on day to day people's lives via law enforcement and counter-insurgency. This was successful. With no popular or political support the violence fizzled out. It works.

are you seriously suggesting we use britain's shameful history of involvement in ireland as an example for my country to follow?

Not to point out the obvious, but the Tudors aren't in control of England any more. Nor are the Stuarts nor any other King or Queen wishing to battle against the "evils of catholicism" or wage war with France and Spain via proxies. Not even Oliver Cromwell influences our parliament these days. Nowadays we are slightly more civil towards people and nations as a general rule (present circumstances to the contrary). I think, again, that you know this and are simply pointing out things like this to rubbish the idea I have put forth without actually relying on an alternative theory other than running away and letting millions suffer and hundreds of thousands die because, well, it's easier to run than offer assistance.

we're not helping them

Not right now we're not. Hence my suggestion that maybe we begin to do so, and sooner rather than later.

we're mugging them

Let's be specific - right now we are mugging them. By "we" I mean the Coalition and private enterprise. UN involvement with the US taking a backseat in negotiations and directing would go someway towards reducing this mugging. This would in turn show the people of Iraq that we are interested in helping them resolve their differences and not just there to steal their money and kill or maim them for little to no jutifiable reason.

or the same ancestry

What would that be then? You don't know do you? I'll tell you then - it's half-German, half-French and Jewish. How does that relate to my desire to help people regardless of their background? Surely as an evil Jew I should be laughing about how much money I have? WTFSTEREOTYPE.
posted by longbaugh at 10:08 AM on July 19, 2007


IMPerial overrEACH!

Impeach each imp.
posted by Skygazer at 10:13 AM on July 19, 2007


What would that be then? You don't know do you?

i was pretty sure it wasn't irish ... i was right

I think, again, that you know this and are simply pointing out things like this to rubbish the idea I have put forth without actually relying on an alternative theory other than running away and letting millions suffer and hundreds of thousands die because, well, it's easier to run than offer assistance.

you were self-righteously using your country's actions as an example for us to follow when those actions are morally questionable ... and no, you don't get to pretend that none of the stuff that happened before 1969 counts

by the way, what country was responsible for creating the country of iraq and its unstable collection of ethnic and religious groups that are falling apart?

why, it was YOUR country, wasn't it?

now what was that you were saying about "you break it, you bought it"?

and you have the nerve to use your country as a shining example for us to follow

I think, again, that you know this and are simply pointing out things like this to rubbish the idea I have put forth without actually relying on an alternative theory other than running away and letting millions suffer and hundreds of thousands die because, well, it's easier to run than offer assistance.

then you should propose a peace corps/military police force of millions of soldiers to occupy all the world's trouble spots and, seeing as not many besides you are going to volunteer for it ... (you are going to volunteer for it, aren't you?) ... we'll have to pass a draft and draft millions of people to serve in it ... oh, and raise taxes ... and tell the people it's a war against injustice or mugging or whatever you would like

and make sure that the british contingent gets sent to iraq, seeing as they're the ones who created the mess in the first place

drop us a line from basra when you get there, ok?

what's that? ... you don't agree? ... well then you're just the liberal equivalent of a neocon chickenhawk, then

say what you like about my morality of, "let's just get the hell out and let them sort it out" but at least my ACTIONS are consistent with it

are yours?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:38 AM on July 19, 2007


one more point

but the Tudors aren't in control of England any more. Nor are the Stuarts nor any other King or Queen wishing to battle against the "evils of catholicism" or wage war with France and Spain via proxies. Not even Oliver Cromwell influences our parliament these days.

ah, so you're no longer obligated to follow their policies, then? ... fair enough

in 2009 bush will no longer be our president and we won't be obligated to follow his, either
posted by pyramid termite at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2007


And Kitty Genovese in 1964.

Not to derail, but weren't there questions about whether people really watched and did nothing?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:05 AM on July 19, 2007


i was pretty sure it wasn't irish ... i was right

How is it even important what my heritage is? I just don't understand how it relates to anything unless you are holding me personally responsible for things that English people have done over 800 years. Is that reasonable behaviour? Should I dislike the English because of their treatment of the Jewish people from time immemorial all the way up to the creation of Israel as a state this century?

you were self-righteously using your country's actions as an example for us to follow when those actions are morally questionable ... and no, you don't get to pretend that none of the stuff that happened before 1969 counts

I was pointing out that "we" need to fix it. I apologise if I wasn't clear enough when I said it that I was indicating that means the UK as well. I am not pretending it didn't happen - hence my mentioning of Cromwell et al. We fucked up for a long time but since we've had the reformation, the industrial revolution, the creation of the UN and all sorts of other things since then I'd think maybe you'd find it fair to accept that international relations have moved on somewhat. The days of the British Empire are mostly gone and we have a responsibility to those nations who we abused for so long. Again, apologies if I was not clear about this.

by the way, what country was responsible for creating the country of iraq and its unstable collection of ethnic and religious groups that are falling apart?

why, it was YOUR country, wasn't it?


Yep, which I've raised as a criticism of my nation's history previously. What's your point? That we can't move beyond the past? Surely that's wrong? Do you not agree that we should learn from history? Please don't get all worried that I hate the USA, I don't. I'll never understand love for one's country because it's not inculcated in us from birth with prayers, flag waving etc. barring football hooligans and the BNP of course...

now what was that you were saying about "you break it, you bought it"?

Failing to see your point here. I was saying we're as a nation and as a coalition responsible for what's happened. We owe the Iraqi people for what we've done. You can choose to disagree if you wish. There is no onus on you to capitulate to my argument (such as it is).

and you have the nerve to use your country as a shining example for us to follow

Nope. Didn't, haven't, wouldn't. Where did I say that? My country of birth has committed atrocious sins. I couldn't name one that hasn't. I think that we should aim to do better.

then you should propose a peace corps/military police force of millions of soldiers to occupy all the world's trouble spots

One at a time please. As I mentioned above - it would have been great to fix Afghanistan first.

and, seeing as not many besides you are going to volunteer for it...we'll have to pass a draft and draft millions of people to serve in it ... oh, and raise taxes ... and tell the people it's a war against injustice or mugging or whatever you would like

That's what the UN and charity groups are for. There are already hundreds of thousands of volunteers in the world who would love to help the people of Iraq - with proper security provided by UN sanctioned forces they could do some good.

(you are going to volunteer for it, aren't you?)

Already did thanks. Joined the Army aged 21 and got bought out of contract because I bust my knees up. The 16th Air Assault Brigade that I would have served in has been to both Afghanistan & Basra in the past 6 years.

and make sure that the british contingent gets sent to iraq, seeing as they're the ones who created the mess in the first place

Please stop being wilfully obtuse. Why don't we send the Babylonian contingent? The Hittites? How about we send in the Akkadians? They have history there as well don't they? Regardless of the previous history, the current events are what matters. Whilst there are clues in the past as to what to avoid we need to deal now with what we've done recently.

drop us a line from basra when you get there, ok?

I have friends serving in Basra - they need more men. We drew down the forces because we can't afford to fight on two fronts. It's a shame that I can't do something to help the people directly. I have no excuses for that other than an inability to serve within the armed forces due to injury.

what's that? ... you don't agree? ... well then you're just the liberal equivalent of a neocon chickenhawk, then

Eh? Where are you getting this from? Chickenhawk implies I refuse to serve yet encourage others to do so. I haven't suggested anything of the sort. I think you are misreading my intentions. Whether that is deliberate or not I can't say - only you know that. I'd like to offer the benefit of the doubt to you on this front.

say what you like about my morality of, "let's just get the hell out and let them sort it out" but at least my ACTIONS are consistent with it

I haven't said anything about your actions other than questioning what your suggestion actually was. I'm terribly sorry you feel the need to respond in such a rude fashion. So we should all run away and let lots of people die because the alternative is that we, citizens of the western powers, might have to put up with what exactly? Some dead soldiers? Higher taxes? Petrolium product price rises? Downer. Still, it's considerably better than having your family dead in a bombing isn't it?

are yours?

I'd be happy to say yes to that. If drafted I would serve in whatever capacity I could.
posted by longbaugh at 11:46 AM on July 19, 2007


Well, obviously, "Eria" is a variant spelling for the goddess "Eris", and since Eris is widely known to be the unofficial protector deity of rail-riding hobos, this is clearly a cleverly encoded call-to-action directed at the hobo community.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:49 AM on July 19 [+] [!]


taking word association further [on this total derail], this mention of Eris wouldnt happen to mean you are related to Linda would it?
posted by infini at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2007




(infini: you mean the new age poet? no, leider nicht. saulgoodman's just a mefi nom de plume--but i am a poet.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:56 PM on July 19, 2007


“How about we send in the Akkadians? They have history there as well don't they?”

Whoa, whoa, whoa...getting a little too real in here. Let’s not bust up on the Akkadians. (not that you haven’t been generous)
Too much synchronicity in this thread already what with the curse of Akkad and Eris n’such.
infini - given it’s saulgoodman, et.al. I’d suspect relations closer to Stella Maris than Linda.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:59 PM on July 19, 2007


(saulgoodman: I had to buy two of her poetry books after the scouring hte net since they've been out of print or not easily found. have you read any? and are yours anywhere to read?)

smedleyman: the only thing that pops into this empty head of mine when I hear of Stella Maris is the excellent women's college in Chennai, hmmm
posted by infini at 3:20 PM on July 19, 2007




*Looks at the smoking remains of thread after derailment*

Now you know why Eria loves RailRoads.

[Hail Eris]
posted by quin at 4:48 PM on July 19, 2007




Surprise! Now We Won't Know How the Surge Is Doing until November.
U.S. Officials Say Iraq Gripped by Fear :
"Iraq is a nation gripped by fear and struggling to meet security and political goals by September, U.S. officials said Thursday from Baghdad, dashing hopes in Congress that the country might turn a corner this summer. One general said not to expect a solid judgment on the U.S. troop buildup until November.

‘If there is one word, I would use to sum up the atmosphere in Iraq — on the streets, in the countryside, in the neighborhoods and at the national level — that word would be 'fear,'‘ Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

‘For Iraq to move forward at any level, that fear is going to have to be replaced with some level of trust and confidence and that is what the effort at the national level is about,’ he said by video link from the Iraqi capital.

In briefings to the news media as well as members of Congress, officials warned that making those strides could take more time than first thought.

Most lawmakers have hoped Iraq would show more signs of stability this summer, long before the 2008 U.S. elections.

For months, Republicans in particular have regarded September as pivotal. If substantial gains could not be found by then, they say President Bush would have to rethink his military strategy, which relies on 158,000 U.S. troops.

‘I'm not optimistic,’ Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said of the September assessment. She spoke after attending a classified briefing at the Pentagon by Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq.

While bruised by the Iraq debate, Bush has thwarted repeated attempts by Democrats to force the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Despite wide opposition to the war, the administration appears confident that congressional Republicans will continue to stick by the White House to prevent a pullout.

The administration also tries to minimize the importance of the September report, trying to make clear it is not the final judgment. Beyond that, the administration is saying U.S. forces will play a role in Iraq through the end of Bush's presidency, in January 2009."
posted by ericb at 8:20 PM on July 19, 2007


I just don't understand how it relates to anything unless you are holding me personally responsible for things that English people have done over 800 years.

you're the one who's holding them up as an example to be followed ... it's your insensitivity and willful ignorance of history that is the point here

I was pointing out that "we" need to fix it.

we aren't capable of fixing it ... all we've done is fuck it up and that's all we're going to do

nothing that's happened in iraq proves any different

Yep, which I've raised as a criticism of my nation's history previously. What's your point?

that you have no business being self-righteous about it

Please stop being wilfully obtuse.

you're the one who's insisting that we can't leave ... we can ... our countries, the iraqis and the world will all get over it ... mostly because we'll be better off for it

One at a time please.

history doesn't always allow one that option

Whilst there are clues in the past as to what to avoid

vietnam ... algeria ... napoleon's campaign in spain and the soviet experience in afghanistan are all clues you should pay attention to

I'm terribly sorry you feel the need to respond in such a rude fashion.

your insistence that you are more moral didn't help with that ... however, i will grant you that at least you've practiced what you preach

So we should all run away and let lots of people die because the alternative is that we, citizens of the western powers, might have to put up with what exactly?

the western man's burden? ... yes, that kind of paternalistic thinking worked out real well for the british empire, didn't it?

no, the real alternative is to piss off even more people against us ... which will result in many, many more people dying than anything that could happen in iraq

in fact, i say this insistently - it's my belief that the level of violence will taper off if we leave, but increase if we stay ... all sides are using our soldiers to hide behind or to mess with their enemies

we are being hoodwinked and used ... when we leave, they will have to come to an understanding or attempt to annihilate each other ... and i do not believe the iraqi people wish to annihilate each other

in fact, they will not be allowed to ... the arab countries, turkey and iran will dictate a solution

Some dead soldiers?

as a soldier yourself, do you find that to be such an insignificant thing? ... i don't

Higher taxes?

democracy lasts until the military figures out they can loot the public treasury at will

Petrolium product price rises?

that's inevitable, anyway

Still, it's considerably better than having your family dead in a bombing isn't it?

i don't know of too many american or british families who have been killed in bombings lately

i'm sure you could find some iraqi ones who could answer that question for you
posted by pyramid termite at 9:03 PM on July 19, 2007


you're the one who's holding them up as an example to be followed ... it's your insensitivity and willful ignorance of history that is the point here

I don't believe that the UK has a bad record relating to counterinsurgency over the past 60 odd years (Malaya, Aden, N.I. etc). Whilst sometimes the tactics may have been suspect the end results speak for themselves. When the US military have used these same tactics they have done better that at any other time. It's when they revert to the firebase theory (which is being done again) that everything goes to pot. Current UK tactics in Basra are of the Fire Base style as well and thus about as much use as a soap submarine in defeating the insurgency. This is related to the draw down I mentioned earlier.

I don't see how it's insensitive to mention a factual methodology for dealing with terrorism. Perhaps you identify with the Irish. Good for you. I do as well - lovely people, some of the nicest on earth. Willful ignorance how? Where did I state something that is definitively not true? Where have I mislead you or anyone else? Willful ignorance implies that despite my actual knowledge of circumstances I have feigned a lack of knowledge or similar. I can't see where I've done that. I would be grateful if you point it out and I will address the matter.

we aren't capable of fixing it ... all we've done is fuck it up and that's all we're going to do

The UK and US alone can't fix it. I think the UN with the assistance of nearby countries could certainly try.

nothing that's happened in iraq proves any different

Well not so far, because we haven't actually tried anything new in 4 years except a badly planned surge.

that you have no business being self-righteous about it

I haven't been self-righteous. Well, at least not to my knowledge. Please point it out - if you are correct then I'll apologise for it.

you're the one who's insisting that we can't leave ... we can ... our countries, the iraqis and the world will all get over it ... mostly because we'll be better off for it

Western nations will certainly be better off for not wasting money, soldiers and time dealing with the hornets nest we poked a stick into. The Iraqi people (i.e. who just want to get on with their lives) will be stuck in between 3-5 different sub groups fighting for years upon years until either a) a local, national force walks in and takes control (i.e. Iran) or b) they settle down into minor warlord states for a few years with uneasy peace until a) happens.

history doesn't always allow one that option

I know that, but whilst we can learn from history we're not tied to it. Again, I'd love it if we could have sorted Afghanistan first but we didn't. We messed up Iraq, and there are more people there likely to get screwed over. Think of it in a Mr Spock style - needs of the many etc.

vietnam ... algeria ... napoleon's campaign in spain and the soviet experience in afghanistan are all clues you should pay attention to

That's an awfully selective bundle but also a good selection as to what we should avoid. The techniques used in each of those instances were terrible. The Russians in Afghanistan weren't exactly the most subtle bunch. The French in Algeria also used terrorist tactics against the people. When people use terror against civilians they lose the battle for hearts & minds. It's perhaps too late for the US and UK to say "lets start the hearts and minds now" it doesn't mean that in internationally directed effort via the UN can't begin that process.

your insistence that you are more moral didn't help with that ... however, i will grant you that at least you've practiced what you preach

My apologies - upon re-reading that I see it can be read as a slur on your morals. It was not meant as such. I am unable to walk past violent altercations in the streets of my home town without trying to stop them. It's not in my nature. A lot of people I know walk on by, head down and ignore it. My moral standpoint is the same whether it be local or national or international. I don't like people getting hurt and I don't like violence (I'd really have been a great soldier though...)

the western man's burden? ... yes, that kind of paternalistic thinking worked out real well for the british empire, didn't it?

Not at all no. We definitely need to avoid appearing as if we are the great white colonial chiefs come to stop the bad children from making a mess of their futures. The only option here of course is an international one with locals put in positions of responsibility with thorough vetting to reduce corruption where possible. This would of course be a lot easier had the UN not been ignored or villified in certain circles prior to the invasion. It would also have helped if the UN wasn't quite so open to corruption charges itself.

no, the real alternative is to piss off even more people against us ... which will result in many, many more people dying than anything that could happen in iraq

I still disagree with this point. I think that the vast majority of violence in Iraq right now, probably 95%+, has little or nothing to do with terror groups. It's sectarian, criminal etc and whilst they are currently almost united against the invader they will attack inwards if we go. The Sadr Army is not going to sail across the Atlantic to attack Chicago, they are only interested in gaining toeholds on power in Iraq. The same goes for most of the other violence organised groups in Iraq.

You'll find it far more likely that the people likely to attack the UK or USA are going to Pakistan and crossing the borders into Afghanistan. They're learning terrorist, not military skills - they'd have no chance against an average infantry unit so all the talk of Al-Q people in Iraq is mostly bunk.

in fact, i say this insistently - it's my belief that the level of violence will taper off if we leave, but increase if we stay ... all sides are using our soldiers to hide behind or to mess with their enemies

I don't think it's likely. Civil wars are always the most bloody. Look at the percentage killed/wounded vs. population totals in the English and American Civil Wars. When there is nobody else to kill, every casualty is an Iraqi.

I'll agree that poor intelligence choices means Iraqi people are using UK and US military units to settle scores etc. But as the bombing of the mosques recently showed - if we're not there then it will get worse. The Baghdad area has been particularly bad for violence between Sunni and Shi'ite and it's not going to stop when we go.

we are being hoodwinked and used

Hell, that's been the case since god knows when. That's not even a doubt in my mind.

when we leave, they will have to come to an understanding or attempt to annihilate each other ... and i do not believe the iraqi people wish to annihilate each other

It's rare for people to want to annihilate each other but if one family member is killed by another group then it starts a tit-for-tat shooting campaign that just escalates. It needs someone to step in and cut that shit out. Better that they be Blue Helmets (preferably with actual sensible ROE that get followed).

in fact, they will not be allowed to ... the arab countries, turkey and iran will dictate a solution

Turkey won't have anything to do with either of the Kurdish parties. Iran will only care about one side of the religious dispute. The other countries (barring Israel, Saudi Arabia and maybe Syria) will do as they are told. We do need local influence to ensure that the people are treated fairly. Whilst there are nations closer to the action than we are, they would each love a piece of the pie whilst simultaneously fucking over a select group of people.

as a soldier yourself, do you find that to be such an insignificant thing? ... i don't

No soldier wants to think they'll die or lose a limb. Losing a friend and comrade can induce shock or PTSD. Most soldiers I knew and know accept that it's a risk however. The training is good and the men they can rely on are around them and that goes someway towards mitigating that risk but yeah. Everyone knows someone who got shot, blown up or killed and it comes as a shock every time but again, they don't sign up thinking it's all running, jumping, climbing trees "found you", "flag". We don't do it to get an education here, we do it 'cos a) we're nuts b) we want to serve c) never met any other type of guys.

democracy lasts until the military figures out they can loot the public treasury at will

Certainly that's been the case in many African and South American nations. Mostly with our surreptitious backing too I might add. With UN peacekeepers in place we can ensure the democratic process is working before we leave them. Who says they need an army anyway? Armies are for fighting wars. Iraq is not going to be in any position to fight a war for at least 50 years. We can make a deal like we've made with Israel. If they can form a secure secular government that works then we'll step in if the shit hits the fan.

that's inevitable, anyway

I'd hope that it's not. I don't know. I have my suspicions based on the current players and circumstances. I'd love to be wrong.

i don't know of too many american or british families who have been killed in bombings lately...i'm sure you could find some iraqi ones who could answer that question for you

That was my point. They're being killed now. It'll get a lot worse if we go.

p.s. glad we're being a lot more polite now p_t
posted by longbaugh at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2007




...the first component of a strategy to win in Iraq is to establish a rapprochement with Iran. That is, a general settlement of differences. The Iranians have offered us such a settlement—including a compromise on the nuclear issue—on generous terms. But the Bush administration, true to its hubris, refused to consider it, going so far as to upbraid the Swiss for daring to forward the overture to us. It seems, however, to remain on the table...

At present, the United States works to suppress any elements that challenge the al-Maliki government. We teeter on the verge of open war with the most prominent of those elements, Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. On the ground, al-Sadr is the leader most likely to restore an Iraqi state, and thanks to his steadfast opposition to the American occupation, he has legitimacy. While he may not have the support of a majority of Iraq’s Shi’ites, majorities do not make history. He is the leader of the Shi’ites who count, which is to say the young men willing to fight...

The third and final element of a strategy for winning in Iraq is to withdraw all American forces as rapidly as possible, which means within 12-18 months. That is the only way we can create the space necessary for al-Sadr or someone else to re-create an Iraqi state. If we remain and work against him, a dicey task becomes that much harder, undermining both him and our strategic goal. And if we work for him, he loses legitimacy, the sine qua non for re-creating a state in Iraq.

In this strategy, our withdrawal is not that of a defeated army. It is a strategic withdrawal—a necessary part of our strategy. That distinction is a critical for our prestige in the world, for the future health of America’s Armed Forces, and for our domestic politics, which could be roiled beyond what any conservative would desire by a vast military defeat.

If our new strategy works and our withdrawal is followed by the restoration of a real Iraqi state, we will have learned our lesson about wars of choice, but avoided a catastrophe. If it fails and Mesopotamia remains a stateless region, Iraq is no worse off than it is now, and our troops will be safely out of the mess.

There is no chance the Bush administration, locked in a Totentanz with its dreams of world empire, will adopt this strategy. But... a bevy of candidates in both parties are looking around for something, anything that might get us out of the Iraqi morass without accepting defeat. If just one of them picks up on it, those yawningly dull debates might get a lot more interesting.
William S. Lind: How to Win in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 11:50 PM on July 24, 2007


Lind's article was interesting, until he started bullshitting:
The first is the lesson of Nixon’s trip to China.

That brilliant diplomatic move of establishing a rapprochement with China in effect won the Vietnam War for the United States. The threat that drew us into a major war was not North Vietnam, a power of purely local significance. Rather, it was Mao’s doctrine of exporting wars of national liberation. (The phrase at the time was “Two, three, many Vietnams.”) The new relationship Nixon established with China ended that threat, rendering our defeat on the ground in Vietnam irrelevant.
China did not "export" the Vietnamese liberation movement, it was home-grown. The U.S. jumped into it because of a profoundly stupid idea of what would further its interests in the region. The problem with the 'brilliant' rapprochement with China is that we didn't make it a uniform policy. Where's the benefit to the U.S. of the embargo on Cuba, for instance? This "we're a superpower - we must play power games!" notion causes more grief inside and outside our borders than anyone can possibly justify.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:32 AM on July 25, 2007


I would agree on that one--but then consider the source. 4th generation warfare aside, Lind is quite the paleoconservative. What was interesting in the article is his emphasis on dealing with Iran and Moqtada al-Sadr, onr someone like him.

Compare and contrast that to this piece of prescience from days of yore:
...al-Sadr is still alive, and he's still loose in Iraq. It would certainly be nice if he were behind bars (or six feet under), but what's mainly important is that his power is shattered. Iraq did not rise in revolt. What looked in March like a potential catastrophe won't end up being even a footnote in most history books. (Or at least, most honest history books.)

A few days ago al-Sadr sounded his defiance and tried to look strong:

"We pledge to the Iraqi people and the world to continue resisting oppression and occupation to our last drop of blood," al-Sadr said in a statement distributed Sunday by his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where his al-Mahdi militia battled American troops until a cease-fire last month.

"Resistance is a legitimate right and not a crime to be punished," he said.


But his minders almost immediately "clarified" that to make clear that we're talking peaceful resistance here, guys, not armed rebellion, and please don't send 1st Armored after us again, OK?

Al-Sadr issued a statement Sunday from his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf calling the new interim Iraqi government "illegitimate" and pledging "to continue resisting oppression and occupation to our last drop of blood."

But Sadr's spokesman in Baghdad, Mahmoud al-Soudani, called a news conference Monday to clarify that the statement was not a call to arms. He said that many of al-Sadr's supporters in Baghdad had begun taking up arms again and he needed to correct their misperceptions.

"We are still committed to the cease-fire," al-Soudani said.


Nope, no armed rebellion here. We're just another political party, OK?

The week before, the Coalition Provisional Authority handed over power to an Iraqi government, two days ahead of schedule.

The military response to his uprising ultimately has to be considered a victory by the only standard that really counts: achievement of political goals. al-Sadr hoped to inspire a general uprising and to prevent us from transferring power to an Iraqi government. We hoped to avoid a general uprising, and to transfer power to said government on schedule, without the transfer being seen as us cutting and running.

Whose hopes were fulfilled?

You have to keep your eyes on the true goal, and you have to be willing to be patient. Sometimes slow-and-steady wins the race, even though it looks as if you are falling behind at the beginning.

al-Sadr rallied his forces to Shiite holy cities mainly because of their symbolic value. He hoped that the devout would rally to defend those holy sites against the infidels. He also hoped that the Americans could be provoked into actions which would be seen as desecration by devout Shiites.

From a military point of view, however, they were dreadful places to try to defend against American soldiers, as the Mehdi Army ultimately discovered. He rallied the most violent amongst the discontented to his flag, and gave 1st Armored a concentrated target and a legitimate excuse to reduce it.

It isn't just al-Sadr who is now discredited. Any other Shiite firebrand who tries the same thing will have little luck. A lot of the Mehdi Army eventually got away, but how many of them are still dedicated to the cause? How many of them will rally the next time?

The twin uprisings this spring resulted in a lot of negative headlines (for the US), the now-traditional wildly inflated predictions of gloom and doom, and a lot of combat. But both threats were decisively defeated. The militants in Falluja have been reduced to use of car bombs, and most of their victims have been Iraqis, making them increasingly hated.

Al-Sadr is still loose, and he still has some supporters. But he took his best shot, failed utterly, and he won't get a second chance. He is now marginalized, little more than a leader of a criminal gang which once again rules over a couple of slums on the outskirts of Baghdad, a minor but tolerable pain waiting to be eliminated when the time is right.
USS Clueless - Moqtada al-Moore

Not even a footnote in the pages of history...

Perhaps such dead on accuracy in prognostication deserves its own eponysterical appellation--something akin to the Friedman unit...

Or just maybe the three minute horse laugh.
posted by y2karl at 6:07 AM on July 25, 2007


Well, at least a note that sometimes slow and steady is a complete waste of time, especially if you're going the wrong way.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:26 AM on July 25, 2007


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