Iraq Civil War News: Iraqi Civilian Death Toll Rises Above 100 Per Day
July 19, 2006 9:19 AM   Subscribe

And the possibility of a nightmare scenario coming to fruition --

Turkey Signals It's Prepared to Enter Iraq
"Turkish officials signaled Tuesday they are prepared to send the army into northern Iraq if U.S. and Iraqi forces do not take steps to combat Turkish Kurdish guerrillas there - a move that could put Turkey on a collision course with the United States.....[A Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject] said the Turkish military long has had plans for fighting guerrillas in northern Iraq. These range from limited artillery and airstrikes on guerrilla bases, to attacks by commando forces and a broader ground offensive.

[Associated Press | July 19, 2006]
posted by ericb at 9:26 AM on July 19, 2006

Progress indeed.
posted by caddis at 9:30 AM on July 19, 2006

Freedom Marches On ...
"Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled, the report said. Evidence suggests militants also have begun to target homosexuals, it said. of Iraq have seen 'collusion between criminal gangs, militias and sectarian "hit groups," alleged death squads, vigilante groups and religious extremists.'

It also details the rise in kidnappings, particularly of large groups of people.

...Women report that their rights have been rolled back by extremist Muslim groups — both Shiite and Sunni. While under Saddam Hussein's largely secular regime, women faced few social restrictions, they say they are now barred from going to market alone, wearing pants or driving cars.

And children are frequently victims, perishing in large crowds or sometimes even targeted themselves, the report said.

'Violence, corruption, inefficiency of state organs to exert control over security, establish the rule of law and protect individual and collective rights all lead to inability of both the state and the family to meet the needs of children,' it said."

[Associated Press | July 19, 2006]
posted by ericb at 9:32 AM on July 19, 2006

posted by eriko at 9:33 AM on July 19, 2006

END TIMES, BABY! george noory told me so
posted by keswick at 9:39 AM on July 19, 2006


Gingrich was babbling on about this being a world war... and you know, but year's end it just might be. Can someone say POWER VACUUM?

what a cluster fuck
posted by edgeways at 9:41 AM on July 19, 2006

Mission Accomplished.
posted by spirit72 at 9:44 AM on July 19, 2006

If we keep this up we won't have anyone left to kill.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:44 AM on July 19, 2006

posted by pax digita at 9:45 AM on July 19, 2006


Silver Linings and a Cross of Gold
"It turns out there's an upside to the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah—if you're waiting for the second coming of Christ.

Here's a selection of excited messages spotted over the last few days on the Rapture Ready/End Times Chat online bulletin board.
'Praise God! We are chosen to be in these times and also watch and spread the word. Something inside me is exploding to get out, and I don't know what it is. Its kind of like I want to do cartwheels around the neighborhood.'

'In another thread, someone brought up the fact that the kidnapping of the first Israeli soldier that started this whole thing was on June 25th and if you count from that day to August is *EXACTLY 40 days!!!!!*

I find that to be a HUGE coincidence.'"
[Harper's | July 18, 2006]

more quotes...
posted by ericb at 9:50 AM on July 19, 2006

At least those Iraqis are dying as free people, not under the yoke of a tyrant. I'm sure they feel a lot better about that.
posted by adamrice at 9:51 AM on July 19, 2006

I think the middle east is in need of some gerrymandering, anyway. Let's give Lebanon to Syria, split Iraq into pieces for Iran, Turkey, and a pseudo sovereign nation formerly known as Iraq.
posted by shoepal at 9:54 AM on July 19, 2006

But since they're not Americans, the deaths don't count as much. Does anybody know the the conversion rate? Like, will a thousand Iraqis have to die a day before it's important enough to makes the average person in America pay attention? Ten thousand? Help me out here.
posted by Gamblor at 9:58 AM on July 19, 2006

Damn, beaten to the "mission accomplished" snark.

*grabs popcorn, watches WWIII unfold*
posted by craven_morhead at 10:00 AM on July 19, 2006

that Rapture Ready site is really whack.
posted by edgeways at 10:00 AM on July 19, 2006

I'll never understand why Iraqis or anyone else give a crap whether someone is Shiite or Sunni, let alone how this would be enough to justify killing someone. Iraqis' ID cards even say whether they are Shiite or Sunni.

There is no way we can pull out of Iraq at this point. It will deteriorate to Rwanda status; only with Sunnis and Shiites butchering one another rather than Tutsis and Hutus (or whatever they were).
posted by b_thinky at 10:04 AM on July 19, 2006

I get this sick feeling in my gut when I suspect that Saddam Hussein was right, and that he really is the only person who can turn the nightmare around.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:05 AM on July 19, 2006

Well, maybe the dead iraqis will fertilize the flowers that the survivors will eventually lay at our feet as they greet us as liberators.

Oh, and clearly, this is the fault of the minority party in the house, the senate, and liberal bloggers everywhere. Clearly they are so powerful they can cause such a massive clusterfuck of the masterfully laid plans of intellectual and strategic giants like Bush.
posted by Freen at 10:07 AM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

i really can't believe we got ourselves into this mess, and i can't believe those that brought us here, thought what they were doing was wise, or even marginally, a good idea.

every day i wake up thankful that the violence my country perpetrates has not spread back home.

and every day i get up read the paper and am ashamed.

how did we come to this?
posted by nola at 10:10 AM on July 19, 2006

Iraqis' ID cards even say whether they are Shiite or Sunni.

Iraq: A Deadly Name Game
"In Iraq these days, the wrong name can get you killed. By law, all Iraqis carry jinsiyas, or national ID cards. But in a country where your ethnicity can make you a target, a jinsiya can become a death warrant. If your name is Omar you're likely a Sunni Muslim, named after a seventh-century imam despised by Shiites. If you're Amar or Aamer, pronounced almost the same, you could be from either sect. If you're Ali, you're probably Shiite. As a result, many Iraqis have started carrying two jinsiyas—a real one, and a fake one linking them to the rival sect. (Iraqis typically know which to present, depending on whether the checkpoint is in a Sunni or Shiite neighborhood.) 'I still like the old name, but it's wise now to abandon it,' says Omar Y., who carries a second jinsiya with the neutral name Aamer and who declined to give his last name out of concern for his safety."

[Newsweek | July 17, 2006 issue]
posted by ericb at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2006

Saddam Hussein was an evil S.O.B, but he held the country togeather. The only way this is going to work is if there is massive deployment by outside countries willing to stick it out another 10 years or so.

We piddled around and have just about reached the point of failure, took out a major player in the arena didn't replace it with anything and expected everyone else to say "oh good". What is going on is ballance of power shifting in the area.
posted by edgeways at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2006

A hideous, bloody civil war in Iraq is inevitable at this point. The only question is how many American soldiers are going to die before we go home and let the carnage begin. It's going to be horrible, it's going to be hellish, and it's going to be our fault.
posted by EarBucket at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2006

Actually, I worry most about Israel attacking Iran, which Iran has publicly state would consider equivalent to an American attack. We'll be the Kaiser Wilhelm to Israel's Austria-Hungary. Entangling alliances with smaller nations that have pesky neighbors, they just can't seem to shake, well, that just leads to trouble.
posted by Freen at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2006

You Rapture people are mis-informed (what a shock).

The Israeli soldier kidnapping did NOT start this whole thing.
So, that 40 days theory - whatever it is- has already expired.

The average person in America doesn't pay attention to Iraq because the corporate news media here makes it seem like it's almost not worth paying attention to.

I have to go. Nancy Grace is on.
posted by wfc123 at 10:13 AM on July 19, 2006

"Just wait!"

-- President George W. Bush
posted by briank at 10:15 AM on July 19, 2006

Costs, quotes and other things addendum:
Destabilization is being portrayed by many as being an unintended side effect, a negative result which we are urged to work to limit. Those saying this are either naive or disingenuous, because it's the primary reason for fighting in Iraq and always was. The goal is to bring about reform in a large number of nations in that region which have been mired in incompetent and brutal autocratic rule for decades. Conquering Iraq, and giving Iraq a liberalized government and a successful mercantile society will help bring that about.

This is truly a war of liberation. We are fighting, out of narrow self interest, to liberate the Arab people from the chains of tribalism and religious extremism and authoritarianism which bind them. We intend to liberate, and liberalize, the entire region over a generation, because if we do not they will keep attacking us and trying to kill us...

In the mean time, we have won a great victory in Iraq, and an even greater one in the world. The next time we say to someone, "Don't make us come over there", they won't. America's already-great diplomatic power has now been massively enhanced, through a clear demonstration that any explicit or implicit threats of military operations we might make are not empty. Paradoxically, that will significantly reduce the likelihood of us having to fight again.
Iraq is no Afghanistan
posted by y2karl at 10:16 AM on July 19, 2006

But since they're not Americans, the deaths don't count as much. Does anybody know the the conversion rate?

OH PLEASE! The only thing that matters is how this affects what I pay at the pump.

And Freen, you forgot, it's also the media's fault.
And Valerie Plame.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2006

A hideous, bloody civil war in Iraq is inevitable at this point.

Colin Powell last week: "We are [going to get out of Iraq], but we're not going to leave behind anything we like because we are in the middle of a civil war."

In Iraq, Civil War All but Declared

Civil War in Iraq?

Civil War Spreads Across Iraq

U.S. & U.K. Refuse to Admit That Civil War Is On In Iraq
posted by ericb at 10:19 AM on July 19, 2006

Incompetence is messy.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:20 AM on July 19, 2006

There is no way we can pull out of Iraq at this point. It will deteriorate to Rwanda status; only with Sunnis and Shiites butchering one another rather than Tutsis and Hutus (or whatever they were).

Sounds like the U.S. isn't doing a whole hell of a lot now to prevent the daily bloodshed.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:20 AM on July 19, 2006

President Bush isn't very good at predicting the future:
Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world...A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions...Today they live in scarcity and fear, under a dictator who has brought them nothing but war, and misery, and torture...after defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies...we established an atmosphere of safety...Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state...
p.s. How's that Road Map for Peace coming? (Which, by the way, was announced five days before the invasion of Iraq.) "It is the commitment of our government -- and my personal commitment -- to implement the road map and to reach that goal."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:30 AM on July 19, 2006

The next time we say to someone, "Don't make us come over there", they won't.

wow, you make it all so clear to me now. before i saw this as i growing threat of all encompassing, all knowing , all consuming, horde , in the shape of my country.

now i understand it's a kid's size story that "is truly a war of liberation"

i can almost see richard the lion heart leading the charge of brave clean young bright eyed blonde boys into the fray of dirty tolken-esk monster men.

Take up the White Man's burden —
Send forth the best ye breed —
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild —
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

posted by nola at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2006

At least those Iraqis are dying as free people, not under the yoke of a tyrant. I'm sure they feel a lot better about that.

You say this sarcastically, but I, for one, would much rather die free than live under the yoke of a tyrant. That's pretty much how the U.S. got started...
posted by tadellin at 10:34 AM on July 19, 2006

The next time we say to someone, "Don't make us come over there", they won't.

Sounds like a rationale for beating your kids.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:35 AM on July 19, 2006

I'll never understand why Iraqis or anyone else give a crap whether someone is Shiite or Sunni, let alone how this would be enough to justify killing someone.

Why do Americans give a crap whether someone is American or German? Nationalism is a novel aberration in the great swath of human history. The nations of the Middle East are arbitrary European impostions. Extremely few Iraqis care about "Iraq." Their primary loyalties are tribal and sectarian--those are the divisions that matter to them.
posted by jefgodesky at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2006

The USS Clueless was aptly named.
posted by maryh at 10:42 AM on July 19, 2006

In the mean time, we have won a great victory in Iraq, and an even greater one in the world. The next time we say to someone, "Don't make us come over there", they won't. America's already-great diplomatic power has now been massively enhanced, through a clear demonstration that any explicit or implicit threats of military operations we might make are not empty. Paradoxically, that will significantly reduce the likelihood of us having to fight again.

I actually read this ironically at first; as in, don't make us come over there, because look how badly we fucked up the last place we went.

Too bad the author wasn't being ironic.
posted by jennaratrix at 10:43 AM on July 19, 2006

It turns out there's an upside to the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah—if you're waiting for the second coming of Christ.

If it means that all the Rapture folks will be vanished and taken to some other plane of existence, I'd say it's win-win for everyone.
posted by clevershark at 10:43 AM on July 19, 2006

Dispatches:Iraq The women (video) have a good look at your tax dollars (and your childrens) at work (hard work)
posted by hortense at 10:43 AM on July 19, 2006

You say this sarcastically, but I, for one, would much rather die free than live under the yoke of a tyrant. That's pretty much how the U.S. got started...

Who invaded the U.S. to free them from the British?
posted by maryh at 10:44 AM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

If we gave Wyoming to them Jew-fellas and gave Israel to the sheeeites would all be over in a gol-danged month.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:45 AM on July 19, 2006

Bring 'em on. Heck of a job.

posted by jokeefe at 10:48 AM on July 19, 2006

posted by ericb at 10:48 AM on July 19, 2006

Colin Powell last week: "We are [going to get out of Iraq], but we're not going to leave behind anything we like because we are in the middle of a civil war."

I assume this means they are going to destroy everything that they have to leave behind.
posted by Flashman at 10:49 AM on July 19, 2006

I get this sick feeling in my gut when I suspect that Saddam Hussein was right, and that he really is the only person who can turn the nightmare around.

Err, no chance of handing the place back with a nice apology letter? Damn.
posted by IronLizard at 10:50 AM on July 19, 2006

Who invaded the U.S. to free them from the British?

posted by sonofsamiam at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2006

y2karl writes "The next time we say to someone, 'Don't make us come over there', they won't."

That's a pretty interesting quote though I'm not sure I see the conclusion flowing from the premise. More likely the next time the US says that the target will respond with "With what?"
posted by Mitheral at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2006

It was a dig at Denbeste
posted by caddis at 11:01 AM on July 19, 2006

Gutknecht Gives Grim Assessment
"Congressman Gil Gutknecht [R - Minnesota] found the situation in Iraq more bleak than he anticipated during a weekend visit to the war zone, and said a partial withdrawal of some American troops might be wise.

Gutknecht, a strong supporter of the war since it began in March of 2003, told reporters in a telephone conference call Tuesday that American forces appear to have no operational control of much of Baghdad.

'The condition there is worse than I expected,' he said. '... I have to be perfectly candid: Baghdad is a serious problem.'"

[Mantako Free Press | July 19, 2006]
posted by ericb at 11:04 AM on July 19, 2006

Reverse domino theory: what the dominos are restacking themselves? The domino theory is silly in the current climate.
posted by edgeways at 11:07 AM on July 19, 2006

As for the civil war in Iraq there's not much to be done. Waiting out the bloodshed while continuing to maintain the facade of control is probably the best strategy. Perhaps after the civil war has claimed 50 or 60 thousand lives, so say the end of 2007, then the sectarian violence will simply exhaust itself. The American presence prevents any one faction from seizing power and delivering a knockout blow so all you've got is a waiting game, a war of attrition where you just have to wait for the other side to blink. Both Al Qaeda and the various sects can only just keep killing until something happens that changes the strategic landscape. But I suspect many people will be surprised by the extraordinary patience of the American people. Americans only care about American lives. If American casualties can be contained, the thousands of Iraqis dying each month and even the increasing price of oil are little more than "unfortunate" events. And unlike the Soviets in Afghanistan, the American economy is strong enough to sustain the occupation forever.

Plus the occupation is a great thing for a lot of people. The constant, low-level violence can energize politcal rhetoric and act as a radicalizing catalyst. More importantly it isolates America from her traditional allies and prevents her from responding to new crises in a nuanced, flexible manner. The one thing Bush really has convinced most Americans of is that Diplomacy Doesn't Work. There's something to be said for the Israelification of America.
posted by nixerman at 11:10 AM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

And unlike the Soviets in Afghanistan, the American economy is strong enough to sustain the occupation forever.

Financially? Perhaps (though I'm skeptical).
Militarily? Not without a draft.
posted by Chrischris at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2006

100 a day? Man, good thing major combat operations are over.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2006

nixerman writes "And unlike the Soviets in Afghanistan, the American economy is strong enough to sustain the occupation forever. "

posted by mullingitover at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2006

The 'Reverse Domino' article is cute but the premise is a bit strange. Why do people assume that Cheney and co. want peace in the Middle East? American interests would not necessarily be served by a stable, peaceful ME. Sure, we might reduce the chance of another 9/11, but so what? How badly did 9/11 really hurt the country? Would it really be so bad if another 9/11 occured? Especially since the American public has already been desensitized to the event of a major terrorist attack?

That's really the great thing about terrorism. Al Qaeda isn't the USSR. There are no tank batallions, no air forces, and no massive nuclear weapon stockpiles. It's just a bunch of fanatics running around in caves, coming out occasionally to try to blow something up. But the psychological effect of terrorism totally invites a madly disproportionate response. The US has probably directly killed on the order of 150 thousand people since 3,000 people died on 9/11. And nobody has batted an eye. This number could quadruple and people will still think nothing of it. Because of the unique unpredictability of terrorism, people are willing to buy whatever the politicans have the nerve to sell, even a pre-emptive invasion. (Which just goes to show how silly the people who expect America to condemn Israel's disproportionate response really are.)

Taken together, the basically non-threat of terrorism combined with the extraordinary lucrative pay-off of an ongoing, significant military presence in the ME, then an unstable ME could be a good thing for America. As long as it doesn't disrupt the flow of oil too much (though really, the oil isn't going anywhere), it's not such a bad place to be. There's a significant political risk--if another attack does occur Americans might insist on change--but even in the event of Democratic resurgence, the problem has gotten so bad that there's not much else you can do. There's enough bad-will in the bank to last another decade, easy. On the long term, increasing violence in the ME that invites constant American (military) intervention might be just the ticket to (1) ensure the violence doesn't spread to American shores (2) ensure continued access to oil (3) maintain the WoT paradigm that invites increasing governmental power. Really, if you're in DC, it's a win-win situation.
posted by nixerman at 11:34 AM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sounds like the U.S. isn't doing a whole hell of a lot now to prevent the daily bloodshed.

In yesterday's New York Times:
As sectarian violence soars, many Sunni Arab political and religious leaders once staunchly opposed to the American presence here are now saying they need American troops to protect them from the rampages of Shiite militias and Shiite-run government forces.


In Adhamiya, a neighborhood in north Baghdad, Sunni insurgents once fought street to street with American troops. Now, mortars fired by Shiite militias rain down several times a week, and armed watch groups have set up barricades to stop drive-by attacks by black-clad Shiite fighters. So when an American convoy rolled in recently, a remarkable message rang out from the loudspeakers of the Abu Hanifa Mosque, where Saddam Hussein made his last public appearance before the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

“The American Army is coming with the Iraqi Army — do not shoot,” the voice said, echoing through streets still filled with supporters of Mr. Hussein. “They are here to help you.”

Sheik Abdul Wahab al-Adhami, an imam at the mosque, said later in an interview: “Look at what the militias are doing even while we have the American forces here. Imagine what would happen if they left.”

Even in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, where insurgents are carrying out a vicious guerrilla war against foreign troops, a handful of leaders are asking American commanders to rein in Iraqi paramilitary units. Sheiks in Falluja often complain to American officers there of harassment, raids or indiscriminate shooting by Iraqi forces.
He talked about this turn of events on NPR yesterday. It's an interesting interview.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:38 AM on July 19, 2006

On the other hand, that is less than 120 deaths per day.
posted by Flashman at 11:48 AM on July 19, 2006

At least it turned out Bush was right about the weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's link to 911.

I'm so bitter about this I could spit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:51 AM on July 19, 2006

Astro: It's because you are so bitter that people are dying. If you only had a better attitude about the war in Iraq, you just wouldn't notice that people are dying.
posted by Freen at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

nixerman: violence in the middle east doesn't really benefit the country at all. Because of unrest in Iraq, Iran and the political situation in Israel, oil is overpriced by about $15. This is a tax that weighs heavily on the economy. The fact that we're maintaining growth with oil this high is amazing, but it can't continue forever.
posted by b_thinky at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2006

bthinky: It definitely doesn't benefit the country at all. I wonder who benefits from the instability tax on oil?
posted by Freen at 12:00 PM on July 19, 2006

Americo-Israeli policy in the Middle East was always rather messed up; this Administration was only mucked things up further and much more deeply.

One good example is the Americo-Israeli policy toward Iran and its aim to develop nuclear energy. Going after Iran now is just lunatic, because, in order to keep an Americo-Israeli invasion at bay, it is in their (Iran) interest to de-stabilize Iraq further [Seymour Hersh has written an illuminating piece in the New Yorker, revealing that this Administration is still pushing for an Iran invasion, but the U.S. military has (finally) put its foot down] And the Iranians have the unique power to do that. While Iran is predominantly Shi'a, they have good relations with all Iraqi groups that were exiled by Saddam (both Sunni and Shi'a), because they were one of the few countries that gave such exiles shelter. By all credible intelligence estimates, Iran is about 8-12 years from building a nuclear weapon. I don't see why the Occident is overreacting so prematurely ... it makes little sense, when American and British troops are in Iraq. It is in every country's interest (with the exception of the countries that are oil-rich) to have a stable Iraq and Iran so that the price of oil stops increasing and begins to deflate. But everything happening out there is ensuring the reverse.

Secondarily, the Occidental discriminatory approach to Iran, say, in contrast to Israel with respect to both countries nuclear ambitions, has served only to strengthen the mullahs in Iran, and also Ahmadinejad.

As it was in the 20th century, the Occident's policy in the Moyen-Orient to me continues to be: to support the autocrats and tinsel-monarchs and keep making decisions that will strengthen them. Then let's wage a war against one of the autocrats and really mess things up further.

The fact that this Administration has unleashed a pandora's box in Iraq (a fact of which it had fair and ample warning) rises to a level of obscene criminality. Even under the rather emasculated international law norms, the U.S and British are in serious violation of their legal obligations as occupiers. An occupying entity is liable for the safety of the people it has occupied. The callow American and British GI's out there are on the whole very poorly equipped to deal with the situation at hand and focus most of their energies on keeping their own bodycount low, so as to not embarass the leaders that sent them out there.

And now we have Israel invading Lebanon and menacing Iran; and the Occidental states which bankroll Israel and protect it are barely saying a thing to control its bombers and missiles ... have these leaders not read history? What goes around comes around ... the US is much weaker today than it was a decade ago. The rising powers, China and India (and Russia) don't give two hoots about preserving the Israeli state's Jewish nature ... what is the Americo-Israeli long-term strategy? To incur the further hatred of all the people in the Moyen-Orient, both Christian and Muslim, Maronite and Coptic, Shia and Sunni? To ensure that anyone out there who is not already virulently anti-American and anti-semitic will surely be one soon enough? I don't get it.

Furthermore, how come no one is concerned from the American and Israeli right about the racism that underlies the Christian right's belief (see the Rapture link above) that the land from Egypt to the Euphrates must go to the people of Abraham? It seems that the Christian right, the Jewish right, and the likes of Ahmadinejad are flip-sides of the same ugly coin and deserve each other. I wish their God would 'rapture' them away, and let the Godless inherit this earth. At least then we could focus our fights on real issues, rather than who controls a small, rather unproductive sliver of rocky, unremarkable land.
posted by Azaadistani at 12:28 PM on July 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Few lies have wound up injuring Americans more—in everything from automobile gas tanks and winter heating bills to diminished U.S. global standing—than a rarely revisited three-year-old fib-fest involving George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Tony Blair. Since World War I, history is clear: the British and Americans have been pre-occupied with only one thing in Iraq—oil. Yet in 2003, as their troops again disembarked, the pretense was all about good and evil, democracy and freedom. The disastrous outcome of the unacknowledged Middle Eastern mission, the struggle for petroleum, has rarely been discussed.

In part, that’s because a credulous press has swallowed an extraordinary fraud. Speaking on behalf of George W. Bush, then White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer insisted in February 2003, “If this had anything to do with oil, the position of the United States would be to lift the sanctions so the oil could flow. This is not about that. This is about saving lives by protecting the American people.” In November 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had likewise declared, “it has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.” On the other side of the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Parliament in early 2003, “Let me deal with the conspiracy theory that this has something to do with oil. There is no way whatever that if oil were the issue, it wouldn’t be simpler to cut a deal with Saddam Hussein.”

Horse manure...

Besides, if oil had nothing to do with the invasion, why did top officials of the Bush administration mention it in predicting how well the invasion would work out? Cheney opined that by the end of 2003, Iraqi oil output would hit 3 million barrels a day, and Lawrence Lindsey, the White House economic adviser, talked about 3-5 million, saying in September 2002, “the key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil” so as to drive down prices. Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy in the Pentagon, enthused that increased Iraqi oil revenues could pay for the war. And White House speechwriter David Frum wrote in his 2003 book on Bush that the war on terror was designed to “bring new stability to the most vicious and violent quadrant of the earth—and new prosperity to us all, by securing the world’s largest pool of oil.”...

The administration’s hope that a quick and overwhelming victory in Iraq would unleash enough new oil production to flood the markets and undercut OPEC, however absurd in retrospect, tantalized traders during the invasion weeks. On March 21, 2003, the Financial Times noted, “futures prices suggest that when it is over, OPEC will shower the world with crude and the price will fall out of its $22-28 band late next year.”...

In sum, the energy-related price of the administration’s dishonesty and massive miscalculation in Iraq ought to be a central discussion point in this election year and again in 2008. The citizenry has to comprehend just how much is at stake and how the nation’s future has been jeopardized.
American Petrocracy
posted by y2karl at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

This administration has pointedly turned its back on diplomacy, and filled its diplomatic service with ideologues and sycophants. We lack influence in the Middle East, because we lack both diplomats and effective policy. I watched last week's testimony to Congress by our Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, on CSPAN [Real Media link] with quiet disgust that mounted through most of his unbelievable appearance. He sat there, smiling and being cordial to the Senators questioning him, as he talked about the "progress being made in Iraq" until finally, Barbara Boxer quoted from a cable sent by his own staff, over his (Khalilzad's) name, that questioned what plans were being made for evacuating our embassy's Iraqi staff, when our American diplomatic staff left Iraq.

I thought to myself how much it sounded like cables between Washington and Saigon in April, 1975, but Boxer's implied point seemed entirely lost on Khalilzad, while she asked him to provide to her in writing whatever responses he might have got to that. Like she'll ever see anything.

Then, this week we're treated to video of the Chief Idiot chomping out his view of an effective Mid-East diplomatic crisis strategy centered on that linchpin of world peace, Kofi Annan, around a mouthful of G8 lunch, and today we have news of Cupcake Condi gearing up to head to New York, where she hopes to say something meaningful at the U.N., maybe, or at least get in some killer shoe shopping.

There is no bottom to this pit, and no course for us but down. We've succeeded as brilliantly in Iraq as we did in Mogadishu.
posted by paulsc at 1:07 PM on July 19, 2006

It was wrong, of course, to have invaded Iraq. But that said, just about all the cvomments belittle Bush or Americ an policy. That is fine, but what proposals, suggestions for dealing with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, bad and brutal leadership in Arab regimes and/or Islamic rule in countries. Do we simply ignore all things in the region, tend our own business, and assume all will be well?
Comments do not have faith in the UN, but they suggest we work along with other countries--Russia dn China however, seem to be going their own way. What would YOU do? Why/
posted by Postroad at 1:14 PM on July 19, 2006


I'd turn it around and blame the liberals/Democrats for not having the foresight to have a plan to dig the Republicans out of the hole they created.
posted by lyam at 1:16 PM on July 19, 2006

What the fuck is wrong with people, really. It's crystal clear apparent that removing Hussein at this point is the functional equivalent of having thrown a few dozen mongooses into a pit with a bunch of snakes.

The level of hatred that Shia and Sunni have for each other (and Palestinians/Hizbollah v Israel) is just so foreign and unfathomable as to defy description. Feels like time for the US to withdraw out of everything and stop futzing around with people that have millenia of blood hatred for each other.

No amount of talk is going to make a Shiite and a Sunni love each other.
posted by fet at 1:16 PM on July 19, 2006

No, we need music to make them love each other. A concert for peace, in Baghdad, featuring all of today's top acts.
posted by Flashman at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2006

Anybody see this little gem?
This morning on Fox, Bill Kristol continued to escalate his calls for war against Iran, stating, “We can try diplomacy. I’m not very hopeful about that. We have to be ready to use force.” Kristol claimed the people of Iran would embrace “the right use of targeted military force.” He added that military force could “trigger changes in Iran,” causing them to embrace regime change. Watch it (go to page for video - z).

Kristol’s argument is a regurgitation of what he argued would result from the Iraq war. This is what wrote on the pages of the Weekly Standard in the days leading up to the Iraq war:

We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime. … History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Fox MiniPopEnProp is stepping it up again...

I wasn't sure this warranted an FPP, so this thread seemed appropriate.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:32 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Y2Karl, if you're trying to represent me as someone who claimed we could win fast and get out, you're badly misrepresenting my position. I have always said that I expected the US to have a substantial military presence in Iraq for decades:
In a year or two or five, whenever enough progress has been made to permit it, a new constitution will be put into place and the Iraqis will elect their own government, and we'll turn power over to them. But we will need to keep a substantial military force there afterwards for the foreseeable future, on the order of 30 years.
The likely form would be three large military bases or collections of bases: one near Mosul, one NW of Baghdad in the heart of the "Sunni Triangle", and one near Basra. Each of the three would house one or two armored or mech-infantry brigades, as well as having the facilities to support multiple USAF squadrons. (It's unlikely that the US Navy will have any large bases there unless our relations with Bahrain go sour.)
My SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess) is that the commitment would have to include an armored division and a mech-infantry division, and one USAF wing, as well as other units and auxiliaries, totaling somewhere in the range of fifty to seventy thousand troops. (I have a sneaking suspicion that Iraq will become the new official home for 1st Armored and 1st Infantry, who will never return to Germany.).
And you also know I'm trying to steer clear of these kinds of threads. It's not nice to deliberately bait me.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:50 PM on July 19, 2006

It's as those these idiots' perception of international relations is based on the end of some crappy movie, wherein a bunch of dirty foreign people holed up in cages somewhere cheer as their prison camp is bombed by the Americans. The foreigners make their way out of their cages and smile skyward, waving at the bombers as they fly away from the smoking ruins of their former prison.

"Thank you GI Joe! Thank you USA! USA #1!"

(roll credits)
posted by stinkycheese at 1:53 PM on July 19, 2006

The surge in violence has terrified residents of Baghdad and other mixed Sunni and Shiite areas. The Baghdad airport has been flooded with Iraqis of modest means seeking to escape even temporarily the country's upswing in sectarian slayings.

According to a U.N. study based on Health Ministry statistics, 2,669 Iraqi civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. And this month, the violence appears to be accelerating, particularly in the Baghdad area that is the target of a sweeping security crackdown aimed at quelling the violence. U.S. and Iraqi troops launched the sweep, to great fanfare, after a visit in mid-June by President Bush.

"Things are getting worse," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish lawmaker.

Even those who hesitate to call Iraq's sectarian violence a civil war have begun saying that defusing the situation will require the international mechanisms used to mediate previous ethnic, religious and political conflicts in Central America, the former Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka.

"I start to feel the need to say that there is a civil war," said Salim Abdullah Jabouri, a Sunni politician, "in order to borrow the tools and solutions of past civil wars to apply them here, and to call upon the international community to deal with Iraq's problems on this basis."
In Iraq, Civil War All but Declared
posted by y2karl at 1:59 PM on July 19, 2006

stinkycheese, don't those films actually end after the credits when from the smoking, charred rubble of the prison camp the previously-thought-to-be-dead mastermind's hand twitches?
posted by NationalKato at 2:00 PM on July 19, 2006


To answer your question adequately, I'd have to write a book, which I am in the process of doing, but it'll take a while to complete.

In short, however, I think that American policy in the Middle East and elsewhere needs to encourage democracy. To do that, the U.S., needs to stop sponsoring its ALLIES who are autocratic (get rid of Mubarak, Abdullah, the Sauds first, before invading an adverse country to get rid of its leaders, i.e., Iraq (now a moot point), Syria, Iran). The same applies to American policy in Israel. Israel is only democratic with respect to the Jewish majority. It is fundamentally racist and a virulently anti-Muslim and anti-Christian and anti-Arab state. For peace in the Middle East, Israel cannot retain its Jewish nature forever ... demographic realities will overtake it ... so, it may as well start integrating Christian and Muslim Palestinians into the country, just as it has Ethiopian and Russian Jews (who are far more alien to that land than the Semitic and Hebrew-understanding Palestinians).

The younger generation in the Middle East is fairly Westernized because of the media ... wants the freedom to express itself ... wants progress. They are continuously thwarted by their leaders, their leaders' puppeteers (many who sit in other capitals, including D.C.), their religion ... but they know that the West is morally hypocritical when it talks about peace and democracy and believes unequivocally that the so-called 'Judeo-Christian' civilization is superior to all and any other. So they're confused about which way to turn ... and a few go to either extreme, while the majority have a (toned down) love-hate relationship with the West.

Another solution would be for foreign powers to leave that area altogether (and that means stop supporting Israel and the other fulsome regimes) ... and see how things play out.

In Iran, it would be to not try and take it on (Iran, even if nuclearized, poses no threat to any European or North American country) ... but to engage with it, such that enough momentum is built internally to reverse the 'Islamic' Revolution. The best way to integrate a country into the democratic system is through economic and political engagement, not by isolation and war-mongering, b/c that only means a hardening of the population's support for its own autocratic leaders.


Shi'as and Sunnis have gotten along for centuries, intermarried and so forth ... even in Iraq. Families could be part Shi'a or part Sunni. To be sure, they have been at odds, e.g., during the height of the Safavid Empire in 16th century Iran ... but Sunni-Shi'a antagonisms in the late 20th century are a post-Wahhabi-discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia-phenomenon ... the Wahhabi notion of Islam is an austere, bigoted one, much like Orthodox Judaism and Middle-American Bible-thumping Christianity.

I come from a family where, in an earlier generation, the brothers were Sunni and the sisters Shi'a ... a city where both often marry each other. Of course, intra-religious differences do matter -- just as they do in New York (JDate anyone?) -- but it is false and irresponsible to say that they are so different that Sunnis and Shi'as can't get along.

posted by Azaadistani at 2:03 PM on July 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

And here is an insightful article from the Guardian, authored by David Clark, a former Labour special adviser at the British Foreign Office, on what needs to be done to resolve the present Levantine crisis.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:18 PM on July 19, 2006

Postroad, if I were suddenly in charge of U.S. foreign policy and military operations, I might begin my job with apologies to all parties in the region for the simplistic, cavalier attitude the U.S. has had about the region in the last 6 years. I'd stop demonizing people and states with whom I disagreed. Then, I might dig through the stacks of resumes and personnel files over at State, and see if I could quickly attract any Americans with personal standing or respect in the region, who could actually get their calls taken by all parties there. I would replace Condi Rice and Don Rumsfeld, as persons whose continued presence in office would be likely to prejudice progress. I'd appoint as special envoys any senior officials from previous administrations who would agree to serve in a non-partisan diplomatic task force, and see if we could come to short term agreements about a limited, yet useful role for the U.S. in the region, absent any kind of military intervention. I believe that we could, as many parties there recognize that without frameworks for aid and international cooperation and development supplied by the West, the entire region is sure to face a bleak future of sectarian violence. But the U.S. would be, in such a framework, no more than hosts and facilitators of a process that would have to be driven by the parties of the region.

I'd get the U.S. Army out of Iraq, and subcontract the Saudi and Jordanian Air Forces, such as they are, to provide air space security and support to Iraq, with operational support from the U.S. Air Force and intelligence services, through next year, after which time, what is now Iraqi airspace would be the responsibility of whomever was controlling the ground under it. I'd prepare for Iranian and Syrian intervention in Iraq by publicly conceding it was inevitable and should be internationally supervised and mediated, and see how our Saudi, Kuwaiti and other Arab friends are going to play that. I'd recognize that the situation inside Iraq is already that of a failed state, and that the U.S. led efforts at forming a consensus government and creating a democratic constitution have indeed failed, and that for the time being, the area needs the help and support of its neighbor states in creating an enforceable partition arrangement that will minimize further regional conflict. I'd stop expecting an end to terrorism in the Mid-East, and work to limit its scope and effectiveness by arms embargo and munitions sanctions. I'd publicly tell the Israelis to negotiate a 2 state solution with the Palestinians, including Hamas, and suspend military and foreign aid to them until they actually do. I'd release humanitarian aid money rightfully due Hamas, but held by the U.S., as former President Jimmy Carter has suggested.

And I'd do my damnedest to get that much done, at least, in the next 120 days, being that the U.S. Army is far from an agile, responsive organization, and that our current administration has signed us up for obligations of longer duration, which may be binding to legitimate parties of the region.

There is no guarantee that such a program would result in peace in the region, nor would I expect that it would. But it would go a long way towards bringing the political realities of the area into alignment with the economic, civil, and military realities of the region, and that is necessary to avoiding still greater problems in that troubled region, which is what will happen if we continue as we have been.
posted by paulsc at 2:24 PM on July 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

I, for one, would much rather die free than live under the yoke of a tyrant. That's pretty much how the U.S. got started...

the big difference is for the U.S. it was by process of of the big points made at the outset by opponents to the war is that while you can attempt to impose democracy on a people who don't have a historical/cultural basis for going in that direction, you are most likely to fail given that you cannot impose the values that lead to the emergence of democracy...people in the U.S. had values they were willing to die for, but they were neither imposed nor drawn out of thin air...

...i kinda think that for iraq, the will of the people to overthrow a tyrant and the growth of a movement strong enough to do so was a necessary prerequisite for their ability to change their government altogether...left to themselves, perhaps they might not have ever done this, or perhaps the interim steps would have been turmoil...but the result of trying to talk them into a system they did not create and did not have their own motivation for threatens a result just as tragic...basically, their values do not support it, and thus their heart is not in it...why would they die for it?
posted by troybob at 2:38 PM on July 19, 2006

bthinky: It definitely doesn't benefit the country at all. I wonder who benefits from the instability tax on oil?
posted by Freen at 12:00 PM PST on July 19 [+fave] [!]

Um... Iran? I'm pretty sure Ahmadenijad is not crazy, but crazy like a fox in jacking up oil prices. Chavez, Iran, Iraq, Saudi - does growing up with oil in the ground make people batshit insane or what?
posted by b_thinky at 3:01 PM on July 19, 2006

paulsc: if I were suddenly in charge of U.S. foreign policy and military operations, I might begin my job with apologies to all parties in the region for the simplistic, cavalier attitude the U.S. has had about the region in the last 6 years.

That you think problems in the middle east started and will end with George W Bush makes me glad you're not in charge. Dude, get a history book.
posted by b_thinky at 3:04 PM on July 19, 2006

b_thinky: Think. I bet someone who very recently had an oil supertanker named after her is happy as a clam about the inflated oil prices. Also, Exxon, Shell, and yes, the House of Saud, who happy to be buddy buddy with you-know-who.
posted by Freen at 3:07 PM on July 19, 2006

I appreciate b_thinky's presence as a bellwether of Republican talking points. Because just like shit, invading and occupying Iraq, inciting an unwinnable civil war, and empowering Iran as the new regional/Shia hegemon just happened. Bush had nothing to do with it.

Jesus, you guys are a joke.
posted by bardic at 3:16 PM on July 19, 2006

Azaadistani and paulsc: Brilliant comments.
posted by jaronson at 3:26 PM on July 19, 2006

Indeed troybob.

China 'is not ready for democracy' according to the party line.

They had massive demonstrations there 17 years ago as part of the pro-democracy movement.

Whether or not you accept the party line, for debatable reasons the democracy movement in China isn't currently burgeoning.
posted by asok at 4:25 PM on July 19, 2006

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.
posted by y2karl at 4:45 PM on July 19, 2006

But feel free to quote ironically.
posted by y2karl at 4:46 PM on July 19, 2006

See also:
As recognition of the defeat in Iraq spreads, so also does the process of sweeping up the debris. Both civilian observers and a few voices inside the military have begun the "lessons learned" business, trying to figure out what led to our defeat so that we do not repeat the same mistakes. That is the homage we owe to this war’s dead and wounded. To the degree we do learn important lessons, they will not have suffered in vain, even though we lost the war.

...Most of the analyses to date are of the "if only" variety. "If only" we had not sent the Iraqi army home, or overdone "de-Baathification," or installed an American satrap, or, or, or, we would have won. The best study I have thus far seen does not agree. "Revisions in Need of Revising: What Went Wrong in the Iraq War," by David C. Hendrickson and Robert W. Tucker, puts it plainly:

Though the critics have made a number of telling points against the conduct of the war and the occupation, the basic problems faced by the United States flowed from the enterprise itself, and not primarily from mistakes in execution along the way. The most serious problems facing Iraq and its American occupiers – "endemic violence, a shattered state, a nonfunctioning economy, and a decimated society" – were virtually inevitable consequences that flowed from the breakage of the Iraqi state.

It is of interest, and a hopeful sign, that this blunt assessment was published by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute...

Recognition that war is not dominated by technology but by human factors is an important counter to what will inevitably be claims by the U.S. military that it performed brilliantly; it was the politicians who lost the war (the Vietnam War claim repeated). As the authors note, this reflects an overly narrow definition of war:

Other lessons are that the military services must digest again that "war is an instrument of policy." The profound neglect given to re-establishing order in the military’s prewar planning and the facile assumption that operations critical to the overall success of the campaign were "somebody else’s business" reflect a shallow view of warfare. Military planners should consider the evidence that occupation duties were carried out in a fashion – with the imperatives of "force protection" overriding concern for Iraqi civilian casualties – that risked sacrificing the broader strategic mission of U.S. forces.

Nor could the Iraq war have been won if we had sent more troops. More troops would not have helped us deal with the problems of bad intelligence, lack of cultural awareness, and the insistence on using tactics that alienated the population. As the authors state, "The assumption that the United States would have won the hearts and minds of the population had it maintained occupying forces of 300,000 instead of 140,000 must seem dubious in the extreme."

The most important point in this excellent study is precisely the one that Washington will be most reluctant to learn: "Rather that ‘do it better next time,’ a better lesson is ‘don’t do it at all.’" What we require is a "national security strategy (I would say grand strategy) in which there is no imperative to fight the kind of war that the United States has fought in Iraq."
Sweeping Up by William S. Lind

And regarding nightmare scenarios:
With Hezbollah’s entry into the war between Israel and Hamas, Fourth Generation war has taken another developmental step forward. For the first time, a non-state entity has gone to war with a state not by waging an insurgency against a state invader, but across an international boundary. Again we see how those who define 4GW simply as insurgency are looking at only a small part of the picture.

I think the stakes in the Israel-Hezbollah-Hamas war are significantly higher than most observers understand. If Hezbollah and Hamas win—and winning just means surviving, given that Israel’s objective is to destroy both entities—a powerful state will have suffered a new kind of defeat, again, a defeat across at least one international boundary and maybe two, depending on how one defines Gaza’s border. The balance between states and 4GW forces will be altered world-wide, and not to a trivial degree...

What comes next? In the short run, the question may be which runs out first, Hezbollah’s supply of rockets or the world’s patience with Israel bombing the helpless state of Lebanon. If the latter continues much longer, the Lebanese government may collapse, undoing one of America’s few recent successes in the Islamic world.

The critical question is whether the current fighting spreads region-wide. It is possible that Hezbollah attacked Israel not only to relieve the siege of Hamas in Gaza but also to pre-empt an Israeli strike on Iran. The current Iranian government is not disposed to sit passively like Saddam and await an Israeli or American attack. It may have given Hezbollah a green light in order to bog Israel down locally to the point where it would not also want war with Iran.

However, Israel’s response may be exactly the opposite. Olmert also said, “Nothing will deter us, whatever far-reaching ramifications regarding our relations on the northern border and in the region there may be.” The phrase “in the region” could refer to Syria, Iran or both.

If Israel does attack Iran, the “summer of 1914” analogy may play itself out, catastrophically for the United States. As I have warned many times, war with Iran (Iran has publicly stated it would regard an Israeli attack as an attack by the U.S. also) could easily cost America the army it now has deployed in Iraq. It would almost certainly send shock waves through an already fragile world economy, potentially bringing that house of cards down. A Bush administration that has sneered at “stability” could find out just how high the price of instability can be.

It is clear what Washington needs to do to try to prevent such an outcome: publicly distance the U.S. from Israel while privately informing Mr. Olmert that it will not tolerate an Israeli strike on Iran. Unfortunately, Israel is to America what Serbia was to Russia in 1914. That may be the most disturbing aspect of the “summer of 1914” analogy.
The Summer of 1914 by William S. Lind

William S. Lind On War Archive
posted by y2karl at 5:33 PM on July 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Regarding the war in Iraq, things will only get worse, unimaginably worse.

As an accurate prediction, making that statement is and always has been shooting fish in a barrel.
posted by y2karl at 5:46 PM on July 19, 2006

I'll disagree with Lind's assertion, as I have since this mess started, that putting 400,000 troops in Iraq, from several directions, in the first week of the occupation, wouldn't have made a tremendous difference in the outcome. The problems with that approach were that we didn't ever have 400,000 troops to deploy, or the transport or logistics to do that kind of thing -- nobody does. But had we, much of the advantages the insurgents enjoyed from the outset would have been nullified, and we would have been able to deny them opportunities to concentrate in cities like Fallujah, which later became enormously expensive set piece battles.

We began to lose this conflict the same way we lost Viet Nam -- when we allowed the military to assume isolated and defensive base positions, from which they sallied forth in vain attempts to find and engage an elusive, determined enemy. Adding to this was a pattern also borrowed from Viet Nam of engaging massive efforts by civilian contractors to supply services and logistics in areas where they hitherto had no physical presence or practical experience. No question the U.S. Army lost again, as in, "failed to decisively implement national policy by use of force." The civilian political leadership was guilty of believing its own bullshit, but no question, the Army lost this conflict.
posted by paulsc at 6:03 PM on July 19, 2006

Specifically, greater numbers of troops available at early stages would have negated tactical decisions to race to Baghdad, and we could have secured ammunition dumps, cities, and towns we had to "bypass" on the initial invasion from Kuwait, in order to apply force pressure to Baghdad. Greater numbers of troops would also have meant far less time and energy needed for maneuver of forces while trying to cover large areas of Iraq, and reduced reliance on mechanized equipment and logistics for constant long distance transport.

And no question but that with greater numbers of troops, we would have been in a far better position to evaluate and train a revamped Iraqi army, without fear that rogue elements could become significant problems for our own limited forces. In short, we would have been in a completely different policy position with respect to disbanding the Iraqi army and de-Ba'athification.

Colin Powell was right. Don Rumsfeld was arrogantly wrong.
posted by paulsc at 6:12 PM on July 19, 2006

Greater numbers of troops would also have meant far less time and energy needed for maneuver of forces while trying to cover large areas of Iraq, and reduced reliance on mechanized equipment and logistics for constant long distance transport.

You make it sound so easy.

Of course, we wouldn't have needed anywhere's that many troops if we had X-men supermutant telepathic warbots with eyes in the backs of their heads for soldiers. That's in the end as believable a scenario as what we could have done with 400,00 troops we never had or could have had.
posted by y2karl at 7:36 PM on July 19, 2006

President Bush's father was able to put together approximately 540,000 troops for the Gulf War. That included combat troops from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, Oman, Syria, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

President Bush wasn't able to persuade any of those nearby countries that Iraq was enough of a threat to supply troops for his invasion. (Kuwait and Turkey are the only two of those countries to provide any support publicly.)
posted by kirkaracha at 8:01 PM on July 19, 2006

paulsc: The only point I would change in your 'plan for the Middle East' is that it seems more rational to grant hamas the aid money being held back, but suspended under the same conditions as aid to Israel (ie: successful negotiation). If you're going to use the aid money as a stick/carrot for one country, why not both?
posted by jacalata at 8:30 PM on July 19, 2006

You whingers have such short memories it's a wonder you can remember how to tie your own shoelaces. Don't you recall Bush stating that the US is not in the business of nation-building?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:59 PM on July 19, 2006

I'm sick of hearing about people dying.

*goes off to an uncomfortable sleep....
posted by Hicksu at 10:52 PM on July 19, 2006

You know, I nearly FPPed the fact that we were redeploying massive troops to Baghdad... the implication to my mind was that we were ceding control of the rest of the country to try to hold the capital.

We have like a hundred thousand extra troops there (American and Iraqi combined) and we STILL can't hold the city. I knew it was bad when they announced the redeployment, but I'd say we're in the process of getting our asses kicked very thoroughly.

I said at the time, and I will continue to say, that the war was lost at Abu Ghraib. The occupation was about hearts and minds. Bullets are a symptom of the problem, not a solution to it. When we showed that we're fundamentally no better than Saddam, we lost the goodwill of the Iraqis. A military loss was inevitable after that.

This was a war about police, not armies. We needed to convince the Iraqis to turn in crazy cousin Abdul. They'd have been wiling to do that if they knew we'd treat him well and give him a fair trial.

But given what we do to prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, no Iraqi of good heart would ever drop a dime on another Iraqi, no matter how much they hated him. So crazy cousin Abdul is still on the street, and combined with the OTHER crazy cousin Abduls.... they're winning.

The war is lost, and has been for years. It's just a matter of how many body bags we want to fill before coming home.
posted by Malor at 1:24 AM on July 20, 2006

But since they're not Americans, the deaths don't count as much. Does anybody know the the conversion rate?

Taking Israeli/Palestinian retaliations as a yard stick, it looks like you have to kill three arabs to get even killing a jew (at least the last time I checked.) So, I'd say about the same for an American.
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:41 AM on July 20, 2006

"... If you're going to use the aid money as a stick/carrot for one country, why not both?"
posted by jacalata at 11:30 PM EST on July 1

President Jimmy Carter's initial comments from February 20006 (shortly after the Palestinian elections) regarding U.S. foreign aid to Palestinians were met with objections, and he later expanded his discussion of funding he felt was due the Palestinian people in an NPR interview from March, 2006. In that latter discussion, he pointed out that even tax money due the Palestinians on customs duties on goods destined for and from Gaza, collected by the Israelis as a consequence of the Israeli control of all transport into Gaza, was being withheld by the Israeli government, which had no right to do so.

So what I'm talking about is not exactly "carrot and stick" manipulation of either the Israelis or the Palestinians, it's cutting elective U.S. funding to the Israelis where our funding is being used for purposes counter to our interests, while demanding that Israel give the Palestinians their own tax money.

But it would, IMHO, do American-Israeli relations a world of good, if American administrations occasionally stood up to the Israelis, on principle. The Israelis would, of course, remain the querulous pricks they've been since 1948, but at least we wouldn't be paying them to be jerks, for a change.
posted by paulsc at 4:41 AM on July 20, 2006

U.S. Says Attacks in Iraq Up 40 Percent
"Iraq's top Shiite cleric urged his followers Thursday to refrain from reprisal violence against Sunnis, his strongest call yet for an end to increasing sectarian bloodshed. The statement by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani came as U.S. military officials reported a 40 percent increase in the daily average of attacks in the Baghdad area.

U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said there has been an average of 34 attacks a day against U.S. and Iraqi forces in the capital over the past five days. The daily average for the period June 14 until July 13 was 24 a day, he said."

[Associated Press | July 20, 2006]
posted by ericb at 11:14 AM on July 20, 2006

It's not nice to deliberately bait me.

no he's not baiting, he's trying to hold a warblogger responsible for his propaganda, it's different. a warblogger who, by the way, mysteriously enjoyed 15 minutes of Internet fame thanks to 9-11.
it is only right to hold accountable the war cheerleaders who have been egging the administration on before Iraq Attaq, mocking in the process the more reasonable voices for their lack of, what else, patriotic cheerleading.

no WMDs, no Iraq-911 linkage, nothing. not even shifting the goalposts trying to sell the "democratic revolution" thing has worked. see the triumph of Hamas at the polls (ah, if only the infidel brown peoples read more warblogs before going to the polls...)

see, now that Iraq Attaq has proven to be a hundreds of billions of dollars mistake (nevermind the casualties, the enemy's are as always irrelevant and the American ones get buried away from the media's spotlight anyway do they don't really count I guess), well, now those who provided the administration with a comfy echo chamber have to be held responsible.

unpleasant as it may be for their sense of self-esteem as, ahem, "pundits". you have to be held responsible for your words, for providing an echo chamber. America is more hated in the muslim world now, thanks to your gameplan, not less. want to argue otherwise, instead of wrapping yourself in the flag on the Internet, hop on a plane and go to Iraq waving that same flag. ask the natives how much they like the Liberation from their relatives, friends, and from their own various body parts.

be ready to ask Scotty to beam you up, though, if the natives appear to be somewhat ungrateful

so much for the rotting corpse of the old domino theory, I guess -- all that neocon makeup has melted away. history does not play domino -- it plays chess. too bad somebody here was watching Star Trek when that lesson was broadcast all over the TV news in the 1970s
posted by matteo at 5:58 PM on July 20, 2006

Israel is the problem. Elephant, room, hello?
posted by cell divide at 7:00 PM on July 20, 2006

« Older Music is a-changin'   |   OpenDNS Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments