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Operation Iraqi Freedom Has Ended
August 19, 2010 2:18 AM   Subscribe

The last combat troops have left Iraq. Civilian contractors are expected to continue the effort.
posted by mccarty.tim (165 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meanwhile, The Onion predicts McCain's response.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:21 AM on August 19, 2010 [32 favorites]


Civilian contractors...so basically we're still killing iraqis, huh?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:33 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


buttressed by a small army of contractors,

Not the best imagery to use in the circumstances?
posted by shinybaum at 2:35 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So if the combat troops have all gone, do the 50,000 other troops just hard pointy sticks and a few megaphones?
posted by public at 2:38 AM on August 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Surely, this!
posted by hypersloth at 2:45 AM on August 19, 2010


You'll know the war's over if and only if our massive expenses there drop back to somewhere close to pre-war levels. Until then, the looting of the Treasury continues.
posted by Malor at 2:59 AM on August 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


Mission accomplished!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:11 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]




In march officials on the Commission on Wartime Contracting said firms need U.S. guidance to reduce contractors in Iraq. Here is data re contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Is U.S. withdrawal from Iraq Ending or outsourcing the war?
Meanwhile Profits can be huge.
The fog of war spending.
Conclusion: the US government is no longer taking part in it's undeclared war in Iraq, just the business community?
posted by adamvasco at 3:14 AM on August 19, 2010


War-time leaves the peace-time to deal with the women and children - often with no infrastructure. That's when the opportunists step in and recruit them terrerists.. We saw it in Afghanistan when USSR left a big generation gap... we'll see a lot more if we're not careful.

Methinks the only decent way to get out of a country after wrecking it is to stay in it and do humanitarian stuff for about one generation.
posted by hypersloth at 3:24 AM on August 19, 2010


Wait, what? Really? I'm out of touch these days. So did we win or what?
posted by Shutter at 3:25 AM on August 19, 2010


I wanted to make a joke about how we don't use the term "win" with wars anymore, then it struck me that that's completely appropriate. Now I need a drink.
posted by Shutter at 3:26 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


adamvasco : Conclusion: the US government is no longer taking part in it's undeclared war in Iraq, just the business community?

But really, we didn't do it just for money or oil.

We liberated the oppressed population of... um... The most democratic, secular nation in the middle east (not that that say much). We restored the indigenous population (of tribal warlords) to power, and deprived a group of militaristic crooks the ability to make backroom deals with Diebold to steal elections.

Now if only someone could save us. ;)
posted by pla at 3:27 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't forget, pla, that it was a country in which no American had ever died, whose "warlord dictator" was a CIA implant.
posted by hypersloth at 3:30 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't worry, according to the Commission on Wartime Contracting, the US is spending in excess of $25B annually on contracts for "contingency support operations" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Going by worldwide military spending, that's roughly equivalent to a "top 10" military still being in the field. You can have your cake and eat it after all.
posted by Jakey at 3:40 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


From McCain's Twitter: "Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory."

Are you fucking serious? Is he fucking serious?
posted by disillusioned at 3:40 AM on August 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


Wait, what? Really? I'm out of touch these days. So did we win or what?

I had the same reaction. I was assuming it was some sort of pisstake. Why no hooplah?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:42 AM on August 19, 2010


Back to point, in case you missed it, here's metafilter's take on a Rolling Stone article from 2007 about Blackwater: The Great Iraq Swindle
posted by hypersloth at 3:43 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bush gets the credit alright.

4400 dead Americans and untold dead Iraqis for nothing but bullshit.

A massive war crime from historical perspective. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us on the pretext of a lie told to the American people.

Never forget it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:50 AM on August 19, 2010 [117 favorites]


Finally! I wondered when they'd pick up those WMDs.
posted by davemee at 3:50 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course, what continues to get an awful lot of otherwise "moderate, progressive" Muslims riled up (I'm sure other groups as well) is that, pace fourcheesemac, the casualties are always reported in fairly precise numbers of American lives lost and delightfully vague references to "others," when they're mentioned at all.
posted by bardophile at 3:55 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A massive war crime from historical perspective. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us on the pretext of a lie told to the American people.

Never forget it.


this
posted by hypersloth at 4:02 AM on August 19, 2010


always reported in fairly precise numbers of American lives lost and delightfully vague references to "others," when they're mentioned at all

Agreed. Also rarely mentioned, the more than 30,000 American wounded.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:06 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's fucking serious.
posted by nomadicink at 4:07 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]




2+2=5.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:18 AM on August 19, 2010


Finally Iraq has no WMDs.
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


We won. Saddam Hussein and his sons will never govern Iraq again. Al Qaeda tried to come into Iraq after Saddam was gone and we beat them.

We have accomplished the least shitty resolution for a terrible misadventure. That's all you can hope for in any endeavor.
posted by humanfont at 4:39 AM on August 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


We won. Saddam Hussein and his sons will never govern Iraq again.

And you know who else I don't like? Phil in accounting.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:59 AM on August 19, 2010 [31 favorites]


Here's to the people of Iraq. May peace, stability, safety, and normalcy be theirs sooner rather than later.
posted by jefficator at 5:02 AM on August 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


We have accomplished the least shitty resolution for a terrible misadventure. That's all you can hope for in any endeavor.

Yes, this is about as good as it gets regarding the U.S. in Iraq. We didn't totally fuck it up, are combat troops are leaving and the Iraqis are in charge. There's no grand parade or righteous speech about how awesome things are, nor should there be.
posted by nomadicink at 5:11 AM on August 19, 2010


I have begun to have this revisionist view that makes Bush II and Rumsfeld seem like military geniuses. This is not a position I have previously held.
1. Al Qaeda attacks America while hiding in Afghanistan (graveyard of empires).
2. Al Qaeda waits for us to invade/occupy Afghanistan full force ala the Soviets.
3. We say fuck you Al Qaeda, we're going to Iraq. We have unfinished business there and if we do it right we might turn the Muslim world against you for provoking us. Or we might get some cheap oil. Anyway, we wouldn't have bothered if you didn't knock down our buildings. American people won't buy this motovation so we'll make up the WMD thing.
4. Profit (just kidding).
posted by punkfloyd at 5:15 AM on August 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry to be so crude and inarticulate, but I can't manage more than 'Fucking Hell'.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 5:16 AM on August 19, 2010


4. Profit (just kidding).

Oh no, not kidding at all.

Plenty of profit.

Just not for the likes of us.
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:20 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bush's mess. Good god. It's very difficult to fathom the ruin and death GW and his pals brought upon that country. And they all walked away richer. Fuckers.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:28 AM on August 19, 2010


The most depressing part is that most of the people who thought the war was a good idea STILL think it was a good idea. Just like Vietnam. How many more will there be?
posted by callmejay at 5:38 AM on August 19, 2010


50,000 "peace-keepers", "an equal number of Washington-paid privateers", and the State Department's own army-for-hire.

It's not a massive war crime "from an historical perspective". It's a massive war crime taking place right this minute.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:41 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bush gets the credit alright.

4400 dead Americans and untold dead Iraqis for nothing but bullshit.

A massive war crime from historical perspective. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us on the pretext of a lie told to the American people.

Never forget it.


This times a fucking million, we should have this phrase automatically attached to the end of every comment, email, article, or voicemail from now on.
posted by Think_Long at 5:55 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


And let's not forget that Tony sodding Blair gave this hideous mess a smidgeon of international credibility, directly causing the London bombings and lining his already plush pockets.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 6:01 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, The Onion predicts McCain's response.

Um, so that's a verified account. Yikes. The real John McCain wants to give George Bush credit for victory in Iraq.

Will someone give me credit for inventing the hovercar? Because that really exists, too.
posted by sugarfish at 6:06 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


We won. Saddam Hussein and his sons will never govern Iraq again. Al Qaeda tried to come into Iraq after Saddam was gone and we beat them.

This is an astoundingly simplistic understanding of the situation that can only be improved by you spending a few months reading.
posted by odinsdream at 6:09 AM on August 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


I can't believe we outsourced the war.
posted by QIbHom at 6:14 AM on August 19, 2010


directly causing the London bombings

I don't know about 'directly.'
posted by shakespeherian at 6:27 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


lol @ "noncombat". Think those rooftop snipers and IED-planters are going to put the guns down just b/c Obama called these 50,000 guys have a different label from the other 90,000?
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:31 AM on August 19, 2010


Yeah, fair enough, shakespeherian. I just meant the London bombings were a direct result of our poodleism in Iraq.

I need sleep. And some way to forget that I voted for a secret borderline religious maniac.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 6:32 AM on August 19, 2010


Don't believe it. "Combat troops" is redundant.

4400 dead Americans and untold dead Iraqis for nothing but bullshit. A massive war crime from historical perspective. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us on the pretext of a lie told to the American people.

That seems like a rather limited, not to mention ahistorical, view.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:33 AM on August 19, 2010


USA? USA? USA?
posted by chunking express at 6:34 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


lol @ 'noncombat'. Think those rooftop snipers and IED-planters are going to put the guns down just b/c Obama called these 50,000 guys have a different label from the other 90,000?

Operation Iraqi Freedom ends as last combat soldiers leave Baghdad: "By the end of this month, the United States will have six brigades in Iraq, by far its smallest footprint since the 2003 invasion. Those that remain are conventional combat brigades reconfigured slightly and rebranded 'advise and assist brigades.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 6:38 AM on August 19, 2010


Bush's mess. Good god.

A common line, but just not true. It's not like Bush just decided the US would invade Iraq all by himself. There was a debate. A rather long one. All sides were weighed up. Congress voted. This is the way democracies work and, if they are working correctly, this is the way they go to war.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:43 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Congress did vote, but a lot of the information they had to weigh was trumped-up propaganda and disinformation created by the Bush Administration.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:59 AM on August 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


*sings*

Hail, Hail Freedonia, land of the braaaave and free!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:00 AM on August 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's not like Bush just decided the US would invade Iraq all by himself.

As he so often did, Bush arrived at a decision and worked backwards to match the facts to it. The worst of the lies and misinformation fed to Congress and to the American people came from him or his lap dogs. So actually, between him and his like-minded cabinet members, it's really just like that.
posted by rollbiz at 7:05 AM on August 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


From McCain's Twitter: "Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory."


"Some" is not ALL. It's still bullshit (victory????), but all least he made an attempt to not claim ALL the credit.
posted by spicynuts at 7:14 AM on August 19, 2010


The Onion on the same thing in 2005. Worth it for the hilarious image, and gut-wrenching article text.
posted by schmod at 7:19 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]



That seems like a rather limited, not to mention ahistorical, view.


Please, do educate us.
posted by spicynuts at 7:21 AM on August 19, 2010


As he so often did, Bush arrived at a decision and worked backwards to match the facts to it. The worst of the lies and misinformation fed to Congress and to the American people came from him or his lap dogs. So actually, between him and his like-minded cabinet members, it's really just like that.

Conspiracy theory is great. You just have to assert that there was one, and that stands as proof. I was working as a journalist in DC during the run-up to the war. I can assure you that the debate was real. There was evidence. It was ambiguous. It was carefully reviewed by all sides, including everyone in congress. (BTW, reps aren't as stupid or as pliant as your statement implies.) Having looked it all over, they voted. Live with it.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:22 AM on August 19, 2010


It's not like Bush just decided the US would invade Iraq all by himself.

Well... Bush did get nudged a bit by Prince Bandar.
In his travels, Bandar, who has always prided himself on his realism, delivered a similar message: War was coming. Nothing could be done to stop it. Their national interests coincided with those of the United States. "It's a very simple equation" if you live in the region, Bandar told me. "If you cannot stop it, then it is almost an abdication of responsibility for you not to say, 'O.K., I don't want the war, but the war is going to happen. What is it that I can do to maximize my national interest? What is it that I need to do to have the day after more positive than now?' "
What did the Saudis have to gain from war in Iraq?

From the mid-1980s to September 2003, the inflation-adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil on NYMEX was generally under $25/barrel. During 2003, the price rose above $30, reached $60 by August 11, 2005, and peaked at $147.30 in July 2008.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:24 AM on August 19, 2010


Oh wow, there are no more combat troops in Iraq? That'll be surprising news to the thousands of infantrymen, cavalrymen, etc., who are now going on ... "advise and assist" missions.
posted by lullaby at 7:26 AM on August 19, 2010


nomadicink: "Yes, this is about as good as it gets regarding the U.S. in Iraq. We didn't totally fuck it up, are combat troops are leaving and the Iraqis are in charge. "

America! Fuck yeah! We didn't totally fuck it up!
posted by brundlefly at 7:27 AM on August 19, 2010


I promise I am not trolling and I am not Bush fan or a neo-con, but can somebody shoot holes in the revisionist view I posted above. I see lots of tactical criticisms, but nothing that changes my mind about this:

I have begun to have this revisionist view that makes Bush II and Rumsfeld seem like military geniuses. This is not a position I have previously held.
1. Al Qaeda attacks America while hiding in Afghanistan (graveyard of empires).
2. Al Qaeda waits for us to invade/occupy Afghanistan full force ala the Soviets.
3. We say fuck you Al Qaeda, we're going to Iraq. We have unfinished business there and if we do it right we might turn the Muslim world against you for provoking us. Or we might get some cheap oil. Anyway, we wouldn't have bothered if you didn't knock down our buildings. American people won't buy this motovation so we'll make up the WMD thing.
4. Profit (just kidding).

posted by punkfloyd at 7:30 AM on August 19, 2010


Hey, so I am not a big history guy. Has there ever been an instance when an empire that began to rely more on a mercenary force than its domestic military did not wind up hamstrung by the mercenaries?
posted by gilrain at 7:32 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was evidence. It was ambiguous.

It was trumped up. This has all been fairly well documented.

Throughout late 2001, 2002, and early 2003, the Bush Administration worked to build a case for invading Iraq, culminating in then Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 2003 address to the Security Council. Shortly after the invasion, the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies largely discredited evidence related to Iraqi weapons and, as well as links to Al Qaeda, and at this point the Bush and Blair Administrations began to shift to secondary rationales for the war, such as the Hussein government's human rights record and promoting democracy in Iraq. --from here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:32 AM on August 19, 2010


Operation Iraqi Freedom ends as last combat soldiers leave Baghdad: "By the end of this month, the United States will have six brigades in Iraq, by far its smallest footprint since the 2003 invasion. Those that remain are conventional combat brigades reconfigured slightly and rebranded 'advise and assist brigades.'"

Before this gets too cynical, I'd just like to point out that ALL US troops are scheduled to be pulled out of Iraq by December 2011.

So, like it or not, this isn't just for show or a sleight of hand to substitute private mercenaries for the military. The last of the contractors will be gone then, too.

We're actually finally going to be getting out of that country we destroyed completely soon. Can't wait to see how the Republicans manage to credit Bush for finally getting us out then. I'm sure Dick Armey's already working out an angle.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:33 AM on August 19, 2010


Please, do educate us.

Okay.

A massive war crime from historical perspective. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us on the pretext of a lie told to the American people

A. A massive war crime... False. Not a war crime by any accepted definition or by the lights of historical comparison.

B. from historical perspective. False. See A.

C. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us... True, but said nation was a criminal despotism in clear contravention of international accords, made repeated threatening statements, and those threatening statements were credible in light of previous aggressive actions (e.g., the invasion of Kuwait, attack on Israel).

D. on the pretext of a lie told to the American people.
False. There was no "lie." There was ambiguous evidence. It was analyzed by "the American people" and their representatives (whom you seem to think are awfully stupid...). Then, in accord with American democratic ideals, there was a vote to go to war.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:35 AM on August 19, 2010


Conspiracy theory is great. You just have to assert that there was one, and that stands as proof.

Did you ever hear the one about the dude who was sent to find out if Iraq was getting uranium yellowcake from Niger? He said they weren't and that the administration knew it, the administration still reported that they were, he wrote an op-ed exposing the administration, and suddenly someone outed his wife as a covert CIA operative?

Crazy tinfoil hat stuff, eh?
posted by rollbiz at 7:35 AM on August 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


And remember, the whole thing was easily paid for by Iraqi oil revenues!
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:39 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was analyzed by "the American people" and their representatives (whom you seem to think are awfully stupid...)

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck.
posted by chunking express at 7:41 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I promise I am not trolling and I am not Bush fan or a neo-con, but can somebody shoot holes in the revisionist view I posted above. I see lots of tactical criticisms, but nothing that changes my mind about this:

The problem with that revisionist view is that we did invade and occupy Afghanistan, graveyard of empires. So your revisionist view requires pretending that the basic facts of history be different than reality.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:41 AM on August 19, 2010


My comments in bold

A. A massive war crime... False. Not a war crime by any accepted definition or by the lights of historical comparison.

B. from historical perspective. False. See A.
Seems to me "history" has yet to speak on this. Also, by the definition of the Geneva Convention, war crimes were in fact committed during the execution of this operation, which crimes were in fact documented in photographic evidence. So, true, the declaration of war itself is not a war crime, but you cannot separate the subsequent behavior from that simple instance.

C. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us... True, but said nation was a criminal despotism in clear contravention of international accords, made repeated threatening statements, and those threatening statements were credible in light of previous aggressive actions (e.g., the invasion of Kuwait, attack on Israel).
There is no but. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us and which was under sanction by the international community as per that community's decision (U.N.)


D. on the pretext of a lie told to the American people.
False. There was no "lie." There was ambiguous evidence. It was analyzed by "the American people" and their representatives (whom you seem to think are awfully stupid...). Then, in accord with American democratic ideals, there was a vote to go to war.

You have a lawyer's knack for nitpicking. Would you let your children or significant other get away with such nitpicking?
posted by spicynuts at 7:43 AM on August 19, 2010


The problem with that revisionist view is that we did invade and occupy Afghanistan, graveyard of empires.

Valid point. But we did not go into Afghanistan with the same intensity as Iraq (as far as I can tell). Maybe will will now that we made our point.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:44 AM on August 19, 2010


I was working as a journalist in DC during the run-up to the war.
I don't doubt it.

Bush and his close advisors do indeed bear responsibility for the disinformation campaign they waged. If our government wasn't run by a hypocritical kleptocracy that has immunized itself from the law, they'd all see major prison time for war crimes. That said, the lies that Bush and his advisors told never justified an invasion, even if you believed them. The politicians who ceded their constitutional responsibility to declare war by authorizing invasion also bear responsibility ---dem and repub alike.
posted by Humanzee at 7:45 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


There was ambiguous evidence. It was analyzed by "the American people" and their representatives (whom you seem to think are awfully stupid...). Then, in accord with American democratic ideals, there was a vote to go to war.

The administration provided Congress with a giant massive report filled with details of how sketchy the evidence was, and then said 'You don't need to read that! It's really big! Read this summary instead, it has all the same information!', which summary included only the trumped-up evidence with no indication of why it was believed to be false by every credible authority.

So shut up.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:46 AM on August 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


America! Fuck yeah! We didn't totally fuck it up!

I imagine we're talking about the American perspective here and the perspective of some "Foreign Policy" stratego, given as I don't think things could be that much more fucked up for the average Iraqi. But then you run smack into typical America CEO thinking: if you hollow out your company, generate some quick returns for your stockholders and then jump in your golden parachute before the company crashes and burns, then you are a great success, write self-congratulatory books, go on the lecture circuit, etc. The failure is the one who get's left holding the bag.

Bush just kicked the US strategic disaster down the road. The US adventure in Iraq will almost certainly be featured in Zombie Barbara Tuchman's March of Folly II, The Empire Strikes Out.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:49 AM on August 19, 2010


MarshallPoe: Then, in accord with American democratic ideals, there was a vote to go to war.

So it's all ok then. Weeeeeeee!
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 7:50 AM on August 19, 2010


said nation was a criminal despotism in clear contravention of international accords

Name the accords. And tell us why the US was not held responsible for installing the bastard in the first place. Or backing many, many other "criminal despots".

There was no "lie." There was ambiguous evidence.

If you make a declaration based on ambiguous evidence and you don't know what's really going on, then you are lying. That makes it a lie.
posted by grubi at 7:51 AM on August 19, 2010


False. There was no "lie." There was ambiguous evidence.

You seem to be dead set on this formulation. Probably nothing will change your mind, but on the off chance you want to learn more about the lies leading up to the Iraq War, I recommend you watch the Bill Moyers PBS documentary "Buying The War." You can read about it here, and you can watch it here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:55 AM on August 19, 2010


Conspiracy theory is great. You just have to assert that there was one, and that stands as proof. I was working as a journalist in DC during the run-up to the war. I can assure you that the debate was real. There was evidence. It was ambiguous. It was carefully reviewed by all sides, including everyone in congress. (BTW, reps aren't as stupid or as pliant as your statement implies.) Having looked it all over, they voted. Live with it.

What? Plenty of people were pointing out the so-called "evidence" was scanty if not fake at the time (e.g. they showed us drawings of chemical weapons trucks; Colin Powell's televised career suicide; Hans Blix: "no evidence of proscribed activities").

Further, it is a well-documented fact, not a "conspiracy theory", that Bush's cabinet - Cheney/Rumsfeld et al. had wanted to invade Iraq and topple Saddam practically since the end of Gulf War I. Hell(PDF) they put it right out in public.

Frankly, I don't know how you (esp. as a journalist) could make such a statement with a straight face. It was only 9 years ago that this stuff happened and the information is all freely out there and available to anyone who can access Google.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:56 AM on August 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm having flashbacks to John Ringo's The Last Centurion.
Bandit Six, the protagonist, discusses his adventures following a withdrawal from the Middle East by US Forces in a time of chaos and disease. He commands a Stryker company that is left behind in Iran to guard a U.S. military equipment depot after a worldwide outbreak of mutated bird flu. He and his company repeat the journey of the Ten Thousand to return home.
The main character is in charge of a massive supply depot left after all the combat troops have withdrawn, gets basically abandoned by the US Government after bigger problems happen at home, and the story goes from there. I don't agree with all the politics in the book, but it's a great read (and sounding closer and closer to a true story..)
posted by mrbill at 7:56 AM on August 19, 2010


Oh and not to pile on but reps/sens are either woefully stupid, criminals, or cowards, with few exceptions. You are not the only person who has worked in or with government.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 8:05 AM on August 19, 2010


Frankly, I don't know how you (esp. as a journalist) could make such a statement with a straight face.

Think less "straight face" and more "saving face", and I think it might become clearer to you.
posted by rollbiz at 8:15 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Those silly, silly conspiracy theories.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 8:24 AM on August 19, 2010


It was analyzed by "the American people" and their representatives (whom you seem to think are awfully stupid...)

Yep! I never bought it for even a nanosecond. Obama was one rare politician who refused to play the game, actually called for level-headedness, and secured my vote years before running for president.
posted by hypersloth at 8:27 AM on August 19, 2010


Also, it's been 165 days since the Iraqi elections in March, and they still don't have a government.
posted by lullaby at 8:34 AM on August 19, 2010


We didn't totally fuck it up... That remains to be seen.
...our combat troops are leaving... That remains to be seen.
...and the Iraqis are in charge. That, well, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, if you care to visit Iraq, there are still plenty of remains to be seen.
posted by rusty at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


The occupation of Iraq continues. Nothing has really changed.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 AM on August 19, 2010


Yeah, I agree, five fresh fish, but I do feel like it's major that at least the public military has left. Also, I really wanted to post the Onion-McCain thing, but there wasn't an existing thread on this development.

Also, I feel like we need at least some sort of intervention in Iraq to help develop it, or else we're going to have a generation of people who hate us and want revenge for bombing their cities.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:06 AM on August 19, 2010


Anyway, since Operation Iraqi Freedom is technically over, we need to come up with a name for whatever those contractors are doing.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:08 AM on August 19, 2010


It wasn't the first time Rummy was involved in developing a fantasy.

"Despite Kissinger's condemnation of Team B's assessment, Rumsfeld was effusive in promoting it as a credible study--and thereby undermining arms control efforts for the next four years. Two days before Jimmy Carter's inauguration, Rumsfeld fired parting shots at Kissinger and other disarmament advocates, saying that "no doubt exists about the capabilities of the Soviet armed forces" and that those capabilities "indicate a tendency toward war fighting ... rather than the more modish Western models of deterrence through mutual vulnerability."

Team B.
posted by PHINC at 9:10 AM on August 19, 2010


The only major difference, Tim, is that the vast majority of US citizens will think it means the US is out of there, and they will care even less about Iraqis.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 AM on August 19, 2010


Also, I feel like we need at least some sort of intervention in Iraq to help develop it

Intervention? Intervening with what? The interventions I've seen are because someone is doing bad things to themselves and others, and the intervention is to change that path. Iraq is fucked up (moreso) because of the first "US intervention." Oil companies have been moving back in for a while, and may be well set up already. And a quick bit of Googling turns up that the US Government is already trying to bolster the Iraq on a number of fronts. Well, at least political and economic.

In short, I think you're looking for a different word than "intervention."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 AM on August 19, 2010


3. We say fuck you Al Qaeda, we're going to Iraq. We have unfinished business there and if we do it right we might turn the Muslim world against you for provoking us. Or we might get some cheap oil.

You're forgetting that a) we did occupy Afghanistan, b) we didn't turn the Muslim world against Al-Qaeda, and c) we didn't get cheap oil.

And oh yeah, Osama is still alive. Marginalized, living in a cave, but still out there serving in role as a walking, talking propaganda instrument.

If Bush hadn't invaded Iraq, had we supported Hans Blix's work instead ... then yes, we'd likely be fitting the "genius" tag on Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Moreover, either Colin Powell or Condi Rice would be your first black President, not Obama.

And, oh yeah, tens of thousands of people would still be alive and uninjured.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:17 AM on August 19, 2010




Finally Iraq has no WMDs.

Just you wait.

I was working as a journalist in DC during the run-up to the war.

Hey, can I be the first to give you a congratulatory smack on the ass next MeFi meetup on a JOB WELL DONE? Pretty-please? Really, no kidding around… that was some NICE WORK Mr. I-Was-There.

There was evidence. It was ambiguous.

Only to the idiots that relied on the emasculated media for their truth. Did I mention GOOD JOB yet?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:20 AM on August 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Anyway, since Operation Iraqi Freedom is technically over, we need to come up with a name for whatever those contractors are doing.

Yeah, they thought of that already. Operation New Dawn.
posted by lullaby at 9:20 AM on August 19, 2010


Did I mention GOOD JOB yet?

I believe the preferred term is "Heckuva job."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:22 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The only major difference, Tim, is that the vast majority of US citizens will think it means the US is out of there, and they will care even less about Iraqis.

Bullshit. We once had over 162,000 troops in Iraq, in addition to 100,000 contractors. We now have only around 50,000 troops--or only around 30% of those troops--remaining. Obama promised us a phased but complete withdrawal and he hasn't reneged on his word. There's no reason not to expect that in another year's time, as promised, we will be out of Iraq completely--and there aren't even plans to maintain permanent bases in the country.

That's the difference. So far, we're actually leaving on schedule. Why the hell is it we have to discount every last bit of measurable progress at every fucking step? Granted, the situation in Iraq will never not have been a human tragedy of epic proportions, but this is what finally really starting to get out looks like. We really are getting out. Thank God we didn't end up with McCain in office or we'd probably be on surge number two by now.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:34 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]






There was evidence. It was ambiguous.

You just have to keep asserting this without evidence, and that stands as proof.
posted by ook at 9:37 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


My opinion is that Bush made a mess, had no plans to clean it up, and now it's this (and maybe even the future) administration's job to clean it up. If we just drop everything, think of all the animosity that will form towards us.

I only hope that these contractors provide the same quality of service that our soldiers gave. Aren't a good number of military contractors former strongmen's soldiers from South America and that sort of thing?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:37 AM on August 19, 2010


Also, aren't private military contractors essentially just mercenaries? I know it sounds like a less desirable thing, but let's not mince words.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:38 AM on August 19, 2010


Civilian contractors are expected to continue the effort.

"I am troubled by the use of private contractors when it comes to potential armed engagement. If you start building a military premised on the use of private contractors [...] you are privatizing something that is what essentially sets a nation-state apart, which is the monopoly on violence." - Barack Obama (video)
posted by thescientificmethhead at 9:47 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, at least we're starting to cut contractor use finally, despite what DOD insider's apparently view as the best efforts of some of the very defense officials the media mainly credits with making the cuts.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:52 AM on August 19, 2010


Also, aren't private military contractors essentially just mercenaries?

Well ... kind of ... most of them are cooks, drivers and security guards with automatic weapons. You don't see squads of contractors, say, "out on patrol" alone, meeting with village elders, hunting for IEDs, just for the heck of it. They're not out there "flying the flag," so to speak.

IMO, a mercenary is someone you pay to fight for you.

Mercenary: "Attack that village, kill that guy and take that house."
Contractor: "Guard this house. Shoot anyone that comes near it."

I'm splitting hairs a bit. But it's useful, in that I think many people with moderate viewpoints get driven the other way when they see one side using loaded words like "mercenary."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:05 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman Do you have a source on the mercenaries being withdrawn by 4Q 2011? I ask because so far everything I've read says the State Department intends to continue the occupation indefinitely with mercenary forces.

Cool Papa Bell I do think its splitting hairs. When you pay someone to carry a gun in a foreign nation to further the policy of your nation they're mercenaries.
posted by sotonohito at 10:18 AM on August 19, 2010


I don't think we can consider the war over until the USA is no longer hemorrhaging money into military (whether official or mercenary) operations over there.
posted by sotonohito at 10:19 AM on August 19, 2010


"A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict, who is not a national or a party to the conflict, and is 'motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party' "

Based on this definition, I think that it is quite fair to label the contractors as mercenaries.
posted by rollbiz at 10:23 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe this would be better suited for AskMe, but I've been wondering this for a bit -

We've spent years training and supplying the Iraqi military, and now we have declared that our combat mission in Iraq is over. Will America be paying the contractors to stay? If so, why isn't Iraq paying? (I mean, I know there's the let's-continue-funneling-money-to-chosen-companies side of things, but is there another reason? Is it still one of those you break it, you bought it scenarios?)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2010


A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict

Is guarding a warehouse "taking part in an armed conflict?" How about a State Department official?

That's where I disagree about how the label of "mercenary" gets used incorrectly to the antiwar movement's own detriment. It's too broad a brush.

"Mercenaries?"
"Yep!"
"You mean like the Hessians? Washington crossing the Delaware kind of Hessians?"
"Exactly!"
"You mean like those psychos in Rhodesia?"
"Yes!"
"No."
"Huh?"
"My uncle Dave is just driving a truck for KBR."
"Well, maybe he's not a ..."
"Your entire argument is invalid. I'm not listening to anything more you have to say. Hippy."

And that's how you lose in a red state.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:37 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


By the way, want to know how to win in a red state?

"Uncle Dave left the Army."
"Why."
"He said he could make more money driving a truck with KBR."
"Wow."
"Yeah."
"You mean the U.S. Government is paying contractors more money for doing the same job a soldier could do?"
"Yep."
"And the soldier could do it better?"
"Yep."
"And if a soldier gets blown up, he doesn't get good healthcare?"
"Yep."
"Fucking idiots in Washington D.C."
"Yep."
"Who decided that?"
"Republicans."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:42 AM on August 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


The administration provided Congress with a giant massive report filled with details of how sketchy the evidence was, and then said 'You don't need to read that! It's really big! Read this summary instead, it has all the same information!', which summary included only the trumped-up evidence with no indication of why it was believed to be false by every credible authority.

Several government agencies provided Congress with reports (e.g., the State Department, which cast doubt on the WMD line). So did many independent agencies/persons (e.g., Scott Ritter, a frmr weapons inspector who said there were no WMDs ). So far as I'm aware, the administration never said "You don't need to read this..." or anything of the sort. On the contrary, everyone was encouraged to look at the evidence (remember that visit to the UN?) and I think most everyone did. And then, after looking at all the evidence, the folks who were elected by the people of the United States voted to go to war. Voted.

So shut up.

Hmm.... I'm not quite sure that's in the spirit of open dialogue. Or maybe I'm doing Metafilter wrong.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2010


fifty thou is about fifteen more thou than we have in S. Korea and closer to what we have in Japn. Why have we found but yet one more country to station occupying troops on? Sure they "approve." Had to. We are the Roman Empire of our century. The good news? if we brought them all home we would have no jobs for them anyway.
posted by Postroad at 10:45 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll be damned. I was going to post some snark about the "bitching mobile biowarfare laboratories that Colin Powell delivered illustrations of to the U.N." but it looks like they actually found one. Of course, it could just be a mobile brewery. Every beer is a local beer here, dude!

I am curious to know if these contractors will be subject to Iraqi law.

I am also curious to see how public relations fare in the next few years. Seems to me there is a lot less public outrage over the deaths of obscenely well compensated professionals. Future administrations take note: the exorbitant amount paid to these contractors may be easily justifiable as it helps you deflect public criticism and to keep you in office!

That being said, I think the security contractor thing isn't as large a component of our DoD program as it sounds. However, it is likely a large portion of the budget for contracts that are given out for in-theater construction projects, since Halliburton, KBR, and the like bear significant force protection costs. I mean this seriously; I have a very good friend who is a (non-security) contractor in Iraq. He has lost several of his friends and coworkers to IEDs.

Don't forget that "combat troops" are just weasel words. We now have lots of "non-combat troops" there - who require force protection, of course. And some force protection measures may, of necessity, be pre-emptive or offensive in nature.

/sigh
posted by Xoebe at 10:51 AM on August 19, 2010


saulgoodman Do you have a source on the mercenaries being withdrawn by 4Q 2011? I ask because so far everything I've read says the State Department intends to continue the occupation indefinitely with mercenary forces.

Despite an endless stream of speculative articles suggesting otherwise, backed by various credulous accounts of Gates making comments that pundits read as indicating a possible continued presence beyond 2011, the administration's pledge from the beginning--and the terms of the Iraqi law that mandate a US withdrawal by the start of 2012--has been that we would no longer have any military troops in Iraq by the end of 2011. The contractors that are there now are there in a support role for the remaining US military, providing security services for convoys, guarding military facilities, etc., so it's hard to see what justification there would be for keeping them in place when there's no further troop presence, although there will no doubt still be some contractors in the country to provide security for US diplomats, but that's true all over the world.

I've seen lots of articles claiming with a lot of bluffing certitude that the situation must be otherwise--that we're guaranteed to see the date slip, that the military presence in some form will persist, etc.--but there's been just as much ink wasted on the claim that the current scheduled reductions would never materialize, much less that they would happen on schedule. The official position seems pretty clear: we won't be in Iraq. We'll likely have some residual presence nearby, but that's nothing new.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:51 AM on August 19, 2010


Oh, and pick your source. Read the administration's pledge. Read the Iraqi law. Literally all the rest is people in the media making shit up.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2010


My opinion is that Bush made a mess, had no plans to clean it up

The sad thing is, the vast majority of Americans will have completely forgotten this part in ten years time. My evidence? Look how fondly Americans look back on the Reagan years.

the folks who were elected by the people of the United States voted to go to war. Voted.

Oh come on. Your selective memory is so remarkable you should run for office. Our elected officials Voted to go to war. Voted. (duh duh DUUUUN!) because 9/11 terrorists 9/11 terrorists 9/11 3000 people died 9/11 heroes firefighters 9/11 we have to do something 9/11 terrorists.

No way was someone going to vote against an ass-whooping in the Land of the Brave. The administration could have picked Sister Mary Pat my 3rd grade home room teacher and Congress would have green-lighted it just to look like Big Tough Guys that are Doing Something!

Now some might say it was the responsibility of our journalists & media to hold the fire to their feet, but then others might say they either didn't know because they were too fucking stupid and/or high at the time, or did know but didn't care because war makes great press and sells lots of papers and they didn't want to get blacklisted from their coveted front-row seat at the Bush press conferences talking point summaries.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:58 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a homebrewer, I would love a mobile brewery, but I am concerned about the movement agitating and oxidizing the brew during the fermentation stage.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2010


I wrote a poem on the eve we went to war. Maybe I shouldn't call it a poem; I don't consider myself a poet, but an author of doggerel. I've always like the tradition of writing little rhymed verses about current events, usually satiric, and sending them to newspapers and whatnot, and have always been a bit sad that this tradition seems to have waned. But I was feeling disgusted by the whole war thing, especially as, even then, there was plentiful evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and that Saddam had nothing to do with 911. So I wrote this, in disgust, and I revisited it today, and my disgust is replaced by remorse.

It's War, Boys, It's War

there's fighting that needs fighting
and I'm just the man to do it
my mother wept to hear this
but my father o he knew it
I made a kitsack full lentils
and a pocket full of flask
and I kissed me girly's cheeks
and I set out on me task
I enlisted as a doughboy
and they put a rifle in me hands
and promised me three square and
shipped me off to foreign lands
there's fighting that needs fighting
and after fighting then there's more
and that is why we're fighting
o it's war, boys, it's war

they put me in an office
and put files in me hands
to send to other offices
in other foreign lands
I route mess kits through to Turkey
and route munitions through Kabul
and I ship trucks from Mexico
to a Kuwaiti motor pool
I'd never left me home town
and I'd never seen Paree
but on paper I'm well-traveled
o the places that I see!
there's paper's that need filing
and when they're filed then there's more
and that is why we're filing
o it's war, boys, its war

for every fighting soldier
there are a hundred just like me
in a hundred little offices
from Cairo to Hungary
it costs a million for each platoon
and a million for each enlist
and a million for each kill they make
and a million for each they miss
its an expensive thing we do
when we send our men to fight
we spent three hundred million this morning
we'll spend three hundred more tonight
but there's money that needs spending
and when its spent there's more
and that is why we're spending
o it's war, boys, it's war

I type official letters
to parents and to kin
that are shipped home with the fallen
letters of comfort, letters thin
and printed on onion paper
with an official military sigil
some fight, they say, and die
and are honored, and keep vigil
over those who have yet to die
who have a vigil of their own
to watch and fight and fight
and die far from their native home
but there's dying that needs doing
and when we're dead there's more
and that is why we're dying
o it's war, boys, it's war.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


AskMefi I posted on the mercenary vs. contractor question, something I've been wondering myself for a while.
posted by Ndwright at 11:10 AM on August 19, 2010


Our long national nightmare... shit, forgot about Afghanistan.
posted by crapmatic at 11:25 AM on August 19, 2010


I'll be damned. I was going to post some snark about the "bitching mobile biowarfare laboratories that Colin Powell delivered illustrations of to the U.N." but it looks like they actually found one. Of course, it could just be a mobile brewery. Every beer is a local beer here, dude!

Zombie lies...
posted by ennui.bz at 11:27 AM on August 19, 2010


That's where I disagree about how the label of "mercenary" gets used incorrectly to the antiwar movement's own detriment. It's too broad a brush.

I'm not disagreeing with you about whether or not it is the most effective term to use in a political discussion. I'm just pointing out that it doesn't appear to me to be an incorrect usage of the term.
posted by rollbiz at 11:28 AM on August 19, 2010


.
posted by swift at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2010


some specific sources for you, sotonhito, on the admin's commitment to fully withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:34 AM on August 19, 2010


A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict

Is guarding a warehouse "taking part in an armed conflict?" How about a State Department official?

That's where I disagree about how the label of "mercenary" gets used incorrectly to the antiwar movement's own detriment. It's too broad a brush.


Nuance is one of the preferred suicide weapons of the left in the U.S. No one likes mercenaries. No one thinks a truck driver is a mercenary ergo anyone who responds to claims about mercenaries by talking about their Uncle Dave working for KBR is trolling.

The right (and the media) went ape-shit over the word 'mercenary' at DailyKos precisely because it put on a label (and a correct label) on something very ugly going on in Iraq in a way that people could instantly understand what was going on.

The term private contractor has been used precisely to muddy this issue. Why should mercenaries private contractors guard State Dept. officials and not soldiers/marines? I don't think that's popular policy anywhere in the US really. And what happens when the mercenaries private contractors guarding a 'warehouse' or convoy with machine guns, grenades and mortars 'respond' to an attack by shooting up an entire neighborhood? If you are a private citizen getting paid to carry a weapon in a warzone you are a mercenary... it's really pretty simple.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh come on. Your selective memory is so remarkable you should run for office. Our elected officials Voted to go to war. Voted. (duh duh DUUUUN!) because 9/11 terrorists 9/11 terrorists 9/11 3000 people died 9/11 heroes firefighters 9/11 we have to do something 9/11 terrorists.

Actually, as I remember, our elected officials voted to give the president every tool possible i.e. use of force to negotiate/force Sadam to give up his (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction. Of course this was bullshit and they knew it, and it didn't help Kerry at all in 2004.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2010


Now some might say it was the responsibility of our journalists & media to hold the fire to their feet, but then others might say they either didn't know because they were too fucking stupid and/or high at the time, or did know but didn't care because war makes great press and sells lots of papers and they didn't want to get blacklisted from their coveted front-row seat at the Bush press conferences talking point summaries.

There were plenty of journalists who questioned the evidence. Just look at any article mentioning Scott Ritter. As for being "too fucking stupid," well, things look really clear in hindsight. Some got it right, others wrong. As for "war makes great press and sells lots of papers," it does, but I can't seriously believe this tainted reporting (it didn't where I worked). As for "blacklisted (etc.)," maybe, but that would apply to about 1% of the folks covering the run-up to the war.

It's comforting to think that journalists let you down, and perhaps some did. But not all of them. Ditto with congress. Some got it right, but most got it wrong. Now I ask you, is the best explanation of that record: a) everyone is stupid?; b) everyone is craven?; c) everyone is under the spell of a lying, Svengali-like mastermind named Dick Cheney?; or d) it was a confusing situation?
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2010


Why should mercenaries private contractors guard State Dept. officials and not soldiers/marines?

So that the soldiers and Marines are available to go kick down doors. Aside from lining private sector pockets, that's the whole point.

If you are a private citizen getting paid to carry a weapon in a warzone you are a mercenary... it's really pretty simple.

Not all contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan carry weapons, because not all of them guard diplomats. The KBR cooks don't carry weapons, nor do the contractors who wash clothes or repair buildings and so forth. "Mercenary" might be a technically correct term for them, but doesn't really bring an accurate picture to mind.
posted by lullaby at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2010


People people, I'm sure all of us on the Left can get past all this bickering over minor details and agree on the major point: we need to blame Obama for his Iraq war.

Obama also needs to be punished for Iraq, by letting the Republicans take over Congress this fall. When Congress is busy doing Senate investigations into his nationality, and beginning impeachment proceedings for um, something, then and only then will Obama regret making us mad.

Remember! -10 is better than +2!
posted by happyroach at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2010


No one thinks a truck driver is a mercenary ergo anyone who responds to claims about mercenaries by talking about their Uncle Dave working for KBR is trolling.

The point ... it has been missed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:21 PM on August 19, 2010


So that the soldiers and Marines are available to go kick down doors. Aside from lining private sector pockets, that's the whole point.

I don't know. If the government paid soldiers and Marines as much as they did private contractors, perhaps we'd have enough of them to do both jobs.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2010


We won. Saddam Hussein and his sons will never govern Iraq again.

And you know who else I don't like? Phil in accounting.


Well then you need to storm on down to accounting and unilaterally punch him in his squinty little eyes. Seriously, go all shock and awe on his ass.

Because that's how grown-ups solve problems, right?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:30 PM on August 19, 2010


Congress did vote, but a lot of the information they had to weigh was trumped-up propaganda and disinformation created by the Bush Administration.

No literate person should have believed a word of the disinformation, and I don't believe for a second that a single member of Congress did, either. They voted as they did because it was popular, and doing popular things means more votes, more power, and more money.

This is why I couldn't in a million years have voted for Hillary, Kerry, McCain, or anyone else who voted to give up their Constitutional war powers.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:32 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the government paid soldiers and Marines as much as they did private contractors, perhaps we'd have enough of them to do both jobs.

Soldiers come with other costs too. Training, housing, food, families/dependents, health care, GI bill, VA loans, whatever.

Though I honestly don't know how the costs align with the prices we pay for KBR, DynCorp, etc.
posted by lullaby at 12:32 PM on August 19, 2010


Ergo not all contractors are mercenaries.

It does not follow that all contractors are not mercenaries, which is the crux of the problem.

Is there a source for whether there are armed "civilian" contractors currently in Iraq and what sorts of things they are doing?
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:54 PM on August 19, 2010


> or else we're going to have a generation of people who hate us and want revenge for bombing their cities.
I think that generation already hates the USA and maybe the next one too.
Civilian Casualties up to 1,000,000 and 4.7 million displaced people and still counting. Quite a legacy.
posted by adamvasco at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2010


I agree, Adamvasco, but at this point it's damage control. If we get remembered as the people who lead a disorganized, bloody war and tried to loot the country for oil but built schools and infrastructure, that's at least better than the people who lead a disorganized, bloody war, tried to take the oil, and then left.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:07 PM on August 19, 2010


The Bush Administration lied us into invading Iraq. The claim that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger was debunked by Joseph Wilson in 2002, but Bush repeated the claim in his 2003 State of the Union Address. Condoleezza Rice said that the aluminum tubes Iraq imported "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," which was a lie and was disputed before the invasion. The administration cited defector Hussein Kamel's former position as head of WMD development as proof they still had WMD without mentioning that he said in 1995 that "Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction." That was also known before the invasion. "Curveball" was cited as evidence of mobile biological weapon labs even though German Intelligence said he was a crazy, lying drunk and his claims had been debunked before the invasion. Caveats and dissents in the classified version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq were edited out of the declassified version.

In each and every case the Bush Administration picked the extreme interpretation of the available intelligence and presented it as absolute, undisputed fact. Cheney said, "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." That was a lie. Rumsfeld said, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." That was a lie. They lied, they lied, they lied.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:11 PM on August 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Conspiracy theory is great. You just have to assert that there was one, and that stands as proof. I was working as a journalist in DC during the run-up to the war. I can assure you that the debate was real. There was evidence. It was ambiguous. It was carefully reviewed by all sides, including everyone in congress. (BTW, reps aren't as stupid or as pliant as your statement implies.) Having looked it all over, they voted. Live with it.

Really? Well I was working as a poorly paid lifestyle journalist in flyover country during the run-up to the war, and it was transparently obvious to me that the "evidence" being presented was nothing but a pack of lies and that the "journalists" who were supposed to call bullshit on this bullshit were going out of their way not to do their job. I called my Senators and Congressmen to beg them not to vote for this colossal mistake. All three did, and now all but one of them is out of office. I wrote letters to the editor, argued in online forums, and publicly protested against the war. I told everyone who would listen, and quite a few that wouldn't, that it was all a pack of lies and that we would all live to regret this biggest as the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history. Turns out, I was right! Perhaps I should have been doing your job and you mine. 'Cause it sure would be nice to have a decent paying job right now. Or, indeed, ever again in my lifetime.

But hey, let's not let a few broken eggs spoil the delicious omelet, right? What's a trillion vanished bucks between countrymen? That money wouldn't have made any difference at all in the current economy. After all, it was nobody's fault, really. Spreading lies to mobilizie a population for a war of conquest is just something that kind of happens. Nobody was in control of it. Nobody abetted it. Nobody had to ignore the glaringly obvious truth that was sitting right there in front of their eyes in order to keep their jobs and maybe have a chance to get ahead or work for that sexy, and well-paying Fox News one day. It's nobody's fault, so everyone should just shut about it. Especially the anti-war liberals, because they're not serious thinkers in the know, they just got lucky this one time, and I hear they hate America.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:11 PM on August 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


as I remember

Funny, as I remember, Saddam Hussein wasn't doing fuck-all in 2001. He was a complete non-entity, badly beaten after Gulf War I, allowed to rule only with the understanding by anyone with half a fucking brain (including this dude) that it was better to have a castrated secular megalomaniac behind the wheel in the Land of the Prophet than… well, than precisely what you see going on now. Thanks to Bush Jr., Iraq went from a quiet, controlled $200 trivia question on Jeopardy to a religious militarist's wet dream. Nobody gave two shits about Saddam in 2001, and for good reason: he wasn't doing jack-shit. People forget, after the first Gulf War, Iraq was ancient history in most people's minds.

but I can't seriously believe this tainted reporting (it didn't where I worked).

It's not that they lied, but that they never called out the lies. Appearing unbiased became more important than having (and following) a moral compass. It's like they forgot what their jobs were.

It's comforting to think that journalists let you down, and perhaps some did. But not all of them. Ditto with congress. Some got it right, but most got it wrong.

Yeah, that's why you wait before invading a sovereign nation. This didn't used to be a country that just went and invaded other countries when there was still some doubt to the legitimacy of the cause. The rules are practically ingrained in every red-blooded American's brain: the good guy doesn't throw the first punch.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:59 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


…the good guy uses the CIA. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:02 PM on August 19, 2010


That seems like a rather limited, not to mention ahistorical, view.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:33 AM on August 19 [+] [!]


It's a lot of things -- angry, mostly. But one damn thing it is not is "ahistorical," and I'll thank you not to condescend and patronize me on that subject.

The judgment of history is what I am talking about. Many of America's misguided military adventures seemed like justified good ideas at the time, and only appear as "war crimes" (I dispute your authority to decide what is or isn't such as well) in retrospect. From Wounded Knee to Cambodia to Iraq, history has judged the perpetrators a lot more harshly than their contemporaries.

Invading Iraq on a pretext -- call it a lie to be honest, or pretend it was "confusion" if you insist on pretending you're as stupid as the Americans who believed any of this honestly -- was a war crime. International law, and not just American principle, prohibits aggression against a country that has not threatened you. We helped make that international law after a little fiasco that began in the Sudetanland a few decades back.

The subsequent misadventure was filled with hundreds or thousands of other war crimes, from Abu Ghraib to the use of white phosphor on civilians at Fallujah, but make no mistake: the invasion itself was predicated on a conscious, knowing falsehood propagated by the Bush administration (no one is saying Cheney did it all by himself) and a shameful crew of media lackeys. To this fucking day, many Americans still think Iraq was behind 9/11. That was a lie. One of many.

So I yield not an inch. This was a war crime based on a lie and it will come to seem so very definitively in historical perspective, and not that long from now. It's an empirical point, so we'll have to wait a couple of decades to find out who's right.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:23 PM on August 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the memories, Saddam.
posted by homunculus at 5:15 PM on August 19, 2010


In my strongly-held opinion, only abysmally stupid people believed the obvious and desperate lies of the Bush administration in the run-up to the war. Truly. Fucking. Stupid. And I really wish it were the stupid people that paid the price, instead of Iraqi citizens who had previously just been trying to get on with their lives.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on August 19, 2010


Taddy says everything I need to on the subject.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:47 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So things are far from perfect in Iraq, but once again, I have to give credit to Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, for doing what he said he'd do, when he said he'd do it. It was a terrible situation to inherit, and the President told us what he planned to do about it, and look at that! He's doing it. It's too early to start trumpeting peace dividends and all that, but this is a real reduction in US involvement in Iraq.

The pre-emptive criticism in this thread typifies the naivete of some progressives who seem to prefer the idea of the beautiful loser, the starry idealist, to the pragmatism of a goal-oriented President. Let's give the President 12 months, let's see if gets done what he's promised to do in terms of force reduction in Iraq. If he doesn't, fire away. In the meantime, I am cautiously optimistic that the President's foreign and domestic agendas will pay real dividends over the next few years. And I am certain that we are far better off than we would have been under McCain/Palin.

But I still want to kick the crap out of that sniveling coward Reid.
posted by Mister_A at 6:56 PM on August 19, 2010


technically speaking, the promise was under 50,000. There are still 56,000.

Hardly. it will be now left to the quiet professionals, Special Forces and Special Operations. there'll be 4500 of them there. This is not an insignificant proportion of the Special Operations forces available to the military. I really don't keep up with this stuff anymore, but when I was in, the common figure touted was around 10,000 Army Special Forces. of course there are others from other branches and there are the mixed units. and I know things have been ramped up, and the standards were lowered to increase the number of SF. But still, this is not an insignificant amount. Just like in Vietnam, our advisors, will be out on patrol with the local forces at some point. Do you think they will just sit back and not engage?
posted by chinabound at 9:41 PM on August 19, 2010


A truck driver, a carpenter, a cook, a welder, etc... those are contractors. If you are playing soldier without being in the national armed forces you are a mercenary.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:24 PM on August 19, 2010


Anyway, since Operation Iraqi Freedom is technically over, we need to come up with a name for whatever those contractors are doing.

It's needs a snappy name. I vote for “Nation-Building Funtime Bonanza 2011!”
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2010


This is the second (third?) fake end of this war of aggression.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:47 AM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's the question that's been burning on my mind for the last X years:

I like the conspiracy-theory version of why wars are started. It makes more sense to me that we invaded Afghanistan to build that Unocal pipeline (which we did very quickly) than that we did so because we got bored waiting for the Afghan government to extradite Bin Laden.

But why did we go to war in Iraq? To me, it is obvious that all that WMD stuff was just made up because the government wanted desperately to go to war, and they just made up that flimsy excuse to get people to go along with it. But, why did they come up with this plan in the first place? Why did they want to convince people to go to war? What were they hoping to accomplish?

I haven't heard any plausible - or even coherent - explanations from conspiracy theorists. Everybody just treats it as axiomatic that the Bush administration wanted very badly to invade Iraq. People say "oil", in explanation, but nobody can come up with - like - a subject or a predicate. Just "oil".

Surely, it ended up being the case that we transferred huge sums of money to Halliburton. But to me, that seemed like bonus points, not the actual reason to go to war in the first place.

Anybody got any elegant-sounding conspiracy theories?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 10:56 AM on August 20, 2010


Galaxor Nebulon: follow the money. Not the millions made by Halliburton but the billions made by the oil industry. As I quoted above, From the mid-1980s to September 2003, the inflation-adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil on NYMEX was generally under $25/barrel. During 2003, the price rose above $30, reached $60 by August 11, 2005, and peaked at $147.30 in July 2008.

The son (George W.) of an oil family with close personal ties to Saudi Arabia (ruled by an oil family) started a war with an oil-producing nation that caused the price of oil to shoot from $25 to $147 in five years.

Bush has received the most campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry of any politician since 1998 (1.7 million dollars) says the Center's report. Contributors included Enron, Halliburton and Koch.

That total is more than three times the amount given to the next largest recipient of the industry's campaign contributions.
-- from here

The oil and gas industry's chosen candidate started a war that pumped billions of dollars into the oil and gas industry.

So, from the oil and gas industry's point of view: Mission Accomplished.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:02 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The greatest mystery to me is why we never "found" any WMDs. Before the war, I had no idea whether or not any WMDs existed, but I was absolutely positively certain that should we invade, we would definitely "find" them. I still don't understand why this never happened.
posted by marsha56 at 3:23 PM on August 22, 2010


The greatest mystery to me is why we never "found" any WMDs. Before the war, I had no idea whether or not any WMDs existed, but I was absolutely positively certain that should we invade, we would definitely "find" them. I still don't understand why this never happened.

It never happened because they weren't there, probably gone in the mid-90s, and Bush and his boys fucking knew it too.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:18 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, it's pretty hard to fake massive stockpiles of chem/bio weapons, especially if the whole world is looking for them.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:20 AM on August 24, 2010


Iraq: Next stop, Lebanon?
posted by homunculus at 1:19 PM on August 24, 2010












Whitewashing the failure in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 4:24 PM on August 31, 2010








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