TCS Daily


Blame the Iraqis First

By Arnold Kling - November 10, 2006 12:00 AM


"I don't know whether such pessimism [about Iraq] is true or not, but I am interested in the frequent analysis that it is somehow the fault of the United States or its allies, not the Islamists themselves.
-- Victor Davis Hanson

I think that American troops should stay to protect the oil fields in Iraq. They should also seal the Kurdish region. On the other hand, I'd be happy to see our soldiers walk out of Baghdad, not with their tails between their legs but with their middle fingers in the air. From my observation post, which admittedly is nowhere near Iraq and has me shrouded in media fog, it appears that the Iraqis have botched their liberation. We gave them an opportunity to experience freedom and democracy, and they responded by shooting one another and blowing people up.

I know the Iraqis didn't ask to be invaded. But they do not seem upset by it, either. And to the extent that they are upset, they are not exactly expressing it in a way that leads anywhere. They are just blowing people up.

Since the statue of Saddam came down, most of the casualties have not occurred because of Americans fighting against Iraqis. They have been due to Muslims trying to become media celebrities through acts of brutality. It's like "American Idol," but instead of singing or dancing they use beheadings and car bombs. In Iraq, stardom means blowing people up.

I think that Vietnam was bad, because the foreign government we were fighting for was weak and artificial. In Iraq, it may be worse. Once again, the foreign government seems weak and artificial, but so does the militant opposition. In Vietnam, when we left, at least we knew the other side had a plan for running the country. In Iraq, the various Islamist groups have no capability of governing. They just know how to blow people up.

I know that there are people who predicted that Iraq would be chaotic once Saddam was deposed. They were right. But even these told-you-soers have to be a bit surprised. In 2001, I would have predicted that Afghanistan, with its difficult terrain, history of civil war, and seemingly ungovernable population, would prove harder to stabilize than Iraq. But today much of Afghanistan is peaceful, with the violence limited to a region near Pakistan, where the coalition troops and the Taliban are engaged in something resembling old-fashioned combat. In Iraq, the killing seems widespread, and the violence consists mostly of just blowing people up.

Half a Million Troops?

A soldier recently wrote that we can still pacify Iraq. His approach is

"Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population."

With all due respect to this soldier, whose view of Iraq is close up and unobstructed by the media fog, I do not see how this would work. For one thing, where would we get the troops? My sense is that the mission in Iraq requires more skills, training, and experience than even "ordinary combat" (if there is such a thing any more). I cannot imagine that we can increase the numbers to half a million without seriously degrading the average quality of the forces serving in Iraq.

The other issue with a massive American presence in Iraq would be the impact on the dynamics within that country. Assuming that we succeeded in protecting the Iraqi government, it is hard to see how we would go about weaning the government from its dependence on our forces.

Botched Occupation?

Pundits all over tell us that the occupation was "botched." This is a wonderfully self-serving position to take. Regardless of whether you supported the war to begin with, you can dissociate yourself from the present turmoil by complaining that the occupation was botched. You can put all your sins on Donald Rumsfeld and cast him into the wilderness.

What the self-serving pundits are suggesting is that if we had superbly executed some mythical plan, we could have achieved stability in Iraq by now. This is a completely non-testable hypothesis, but my bet is that it is false. My guess is that once the Iraqi regime was toppled, the flames of violence, fanned by an Iranian government that thrives on such circumstances, were bound to break out. Muslims in that part of the world are really into blowing people up.

The "botched occupation" story smacks too much of hubris. Americans spent much of the 1950's asking "Who lost China," when China was not ours to lose in the first place. Similarly, I feel that the "botched occupation" story attributes too much control to Americans and overlooks the role of the Iraqis. Instead, I suspect that the only way to avoid the "botched occupation" was to forego the invasion altogether.

Other Views

In closing, let me give voice to a couple of columnists who are not as ready as I am to give up on the Iraqis. John Podhoretz wrote recently,

"Iraqis have held up their end of the bargain. They have done everything possible to demonstrate their willingness - indeed, their eagerness, to seize control of their own futures and build a new kind of society in the Arab world."

Or consider Ralph Peters. True, he is pessimistic. He wrote in late October

"I lost faith in our engagement in Iraq last week. I can pinpoint the moment. It came when I heard that Maliki had demanded - successfully - that our military release a just-captured deputy of Muqtada al-Sadr who was running death squads.

"As a former intelligence officer, that told me two things: First, Iraq's prime minister is betting on Muqtada to prevail, not us. Second, Muqtada, not the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is now the most powerful man in Iraq."

In another column, Peters said,

"Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country's prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he's betting that we won't last. The police are less accountable than they were under Saddam. Our extensive investment in Iraqi law enforcement only produced death squads. Government ministers loot the country to strengthen their own factions. Even Iraq's elections — a worthy experiment — further divided Iraq along confessional and ethnic lines. Iraq still exists on the maps, but in reality it's gone. Only a military coup — which might come in the next few years — could hold the artificial country together."

Yet he went on to say

"Iraq still deserves one last chance — as long as we don't confuse deadly stubbornness and perseverance. If, at this late hour, Iraqis in decisive numbers prove willing to fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should be willing to remain for a generation. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave.

"And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn't be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that. Iraq was never our Vietnam. It's al-Qaeda's Vietnam. They're the ones who can't leave and who can't win."

They're the ones who really know how to blow people up.

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290 Comments

The domestic problem with the occupation
Biggest problem is that it's tying our hands right now. Putting 400,000 troops there would just tie our hands more. What if North Korea attacks or invades a neighbor in desperation? What if Israel and Iran or Syria get into a shooting war? What if there is a coup in Columbia or Venezuela gets more belligerent in our own hemisphere? What about Pakistan and India? What if Castro dies tomorrow and Cuba falls into disarray? Having troops tied up in Iraq limits our military flexibility.

Politically, though, if this goes on much longer, no Administration will stand a chance of convincing the people a war is worth fighting for 20 years. Few are willing to take the facts that we're good at regime change and bad at nation building and make that the corner stone of post 9/11 foreign policy. "You breaky, you fixey" is like a tire filled with gasoline hanging around our neck.

We've accomplished a lot in Iraq. But now, the Saudis or the Iranians could probably be better baby sitters if the Iraqis won't leave the stroller.

there were two choices, blame the Iraqis now, kill them en mass earlier
Without the horrible grinding down degradation of losing a long term war that the Germans, Japanese and Koreans had prior to our nation building exercises in those countries, we would have had the same raw results there too. We ground down the Germens & Japanese, the Japanese ground down the Koreans.

And its not a universal level of degradation that works, it's relative to the former levels of civil life and services. Thus in Iraq we would have had to bomb them worse then we did the Serbs in order to pacify them efficiently.
We should have bombed the republican guards 100% to hell while we were officially still at war with them, doing so retroactively, while tempting, is considered foul play.

Possibly turning saddam into a wind-chime will reduce some if the Sunnis actions. If not we should not just walk out of Baghdad with our finger in the air but for every US citizen killed after that, one daisy cutter should land in either Tikrit or sadr city, apropos.
Instead of hitting the proxy in sadr city, we could actually do better by hitting the dirtbags in Qom, the ones giving sadr his marching orders.

I'm starting to think "Carthage" in relation to Baghdad.
The Iraqi people could live without Baghdad, but it would send a nice signal to the next nation we start to rebuild.

Failed Plan?
Mr Kling writes: "Pundits all over tell us that the occupation was "botched." This is a wonderfully self-serving position to take. Regardless of whether you supported the war to begin with, you can dissociate yourself from the present turmoil by complaining that the occupation was botched. You can put all your sins on Donald Rumsfeld and cast him into the wilderness."

He has it partly right and partly wrong. The occupation was botched and badly. But Rumsfeld is not to blame, though he shares it. It was botched by the entire bureaucracy that chose turf over conherence and cooperation. Treasury got the new currency out but didn't have the slightest clue (nor care) what it meant for jobs, business development or any other social or economic matter that others who were in the "game" were responsible for. Can't we just get along?

here they go again.
Kill enough americans and they'll leave", will be proven again I suppose now that the democrats are in. I hate to say I told you so, but I've always been saying that the west, including americans no longer have the stomach to really fight to win; last time was against the germans and japs. After that they went soft, decadent, weak. Imagine the humiliation too. The Greeks had no trouble taking and holding iraq, nor did ghengis Khan, nor did those soldiers in shorts the Brits. But now the the americans will probably give up(again, like not taking out the bolsheviks after WW11, and korea and vietnam). This will then prove the terrorists right.

Little different take
If you consider the occupation in Japan, you can see some differences. That occupation was led, not managed. A battle tested general gave orders, not a cadre of DOD lawyers immersed in international law. The Japanese were crushed into submission and only slowly given their independence. It still wasn't smooth and neither was post war Germany, where the threat of Soviet activity existed.

Japan was already an advanced industrial nation with a coherent populace and the Japanese were disabused of the cult that caused the problem. (oh by the way, guys, Hirohito can be emporer but isn't a god ). The Japanese quickly became an advanced economy after the war, with a little help from Deming and a few others. They wanted to move into the then present century, not the 8th.

Once that was over-There was no chance of external "insurgents" coming in to advance the cult., as Japanese emporer worship was peculiar to Japan.

Iraq is afflicted with rivalrous versions of Islam, which are global, not national and the administration conceded an Islamic post-saddam Iraq to avoid the charge "crusader".

We are pretty impatient. We get agravated at traffic lights, the "hourglass" on a computer screen. Its pretty cler that the terorists carry millenium old grudges and we have a minute long attention span.

War is costly in ways you can't always imagine-my great uncle was a marine @ Hiroshima, and his only child was born with a very pronounced birth defect. It could have been from something else, because that particular condition can occur with a nutritional deficiency-but radiation exposure could very well have been the problem too. I don't take soldiers mortality or morbidity lightly.

Most of all, a population where a significant plurality of people think having to wear skivvies on your head is torture isn't grounded in reality. Truman didn't have a McCainchurian Senator to deal with or the current MSM, which sees its role as shaping public opinion to its whims, rather than restraiing itself to support swift victory.

On the other hand, Uday and Qusay are no longer raping and pillaging and Saddam is gone.

Of course, it would've been so much better under the dhimmiecrats. Uday & Qusay could have been about the important business of raping and pillaging, Saddam could've been amassing a huge fortune from oil for food, stocking up to gas those pesky Kurds once they became a problem again.

President Gore could've demanded "the international community" act through the UN "Security Council" to issue a "strong condemnation" of Iraq and sent Madeline Albright to charm Saddam with her fawning schoolgirl diplomacy. He could've offered Saddam the opportunity to obtain "peaceful nuclear technology", if he would (say the right things) accept the "will of the international community". The MSM would have told us how resolute President Gore was and how he earned the respect of the all-important double dealers from France, profiting from their deals with Saddam and the praise of Kofe Anon, who'd have been spared the public disclosure of his son's corruption.









A agree that we didn't go in full heartable.
But there is SOME level of cost when you give up. I 100k died the cost is surly to much.

You do have to draw a line. Its important to have principles, but there must be a pragmatic side too. The benifits just are not worth the cost.

If they can keep it
"At the close of the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government the Constitution was bringing into existence. Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

http://www.fff.org/comment/ed1101j.asp

So it IS all about the oil
After all this disinformational horsing around, Arnold finally says it: "I think that American troops should stay to protect the oil fields in Iraq."

Protect them from whom, exactly? Under their old constitution it was the Iraqi people who owned their oil. Now under the new one, ghost written for them by arch-neocon Zalmay Khalilzad, it belongs to anyone who can manage to wrest control of it from their competitors. Which group's rights would we be defending?

One casualty of the blowback from this imperial conquest will be American military credibility. Prior to our invasion it was generally conceded among nations that our moral authority was backed by the most awesome military force the world had ever known. Now, of course, that moral authority has sunk to such levels that we have a prisoner who can never be tried in any court, because he is the possessor of national security secrets. The nature of those secrets> It's the methods by which he has been tortured.

So much for our moral authority.

Now to the military force. Initially, resistance to our dominance of iraq was thought to be only from a hard core of 15,000 "dead enders", armed so lightly that their weapon of choice was the IED. Yet they have so stalemated the inept dinosaur that we have no viable means of prevailing, and so in time must leave with the mission unaccomplished.

I believe the world has been watching this development closely. Here's the way it has been reported in Asia Times:

" The most recent international survey of opinion - in Britain, Canada, Israel and Mexico - found that Bush's United States is viewed as "a threat to world peace by its closest neighbors and allies". In Britain, the land of the "special relationship", only Osama bin Laden outranks the US president as a global "danger to peace". While he comes in a dozen points behind bin Laden, he does manage to best Kim Jong-il, North Korea's grim leader, as well as those shining stars of the diplomatic firmament, the president of Iran and the leader of Hezbollah. And these are the countries most likely to have positive views of the US."

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/HK10Aa03.html

So it would appear the D's have some mending to do on the American image. If you ask me, we should go back to the hearts and minds approach, and inspire world leadership by our moral stature-- not our iron fist.

Then when we buy their oil, the proceeds could go toward rebuilding their shattered country. Not to members of our energy leadership.

About oil?--Totally dishonest
Of all the comments that I have ever read on a TCS column, this is the most totally dishonest. It is propaganda of Goebbels-like character.

You are suggesting that what the U.S. wanted all along was to take the oil.

In fact, what we wanted all along was a stable, democratic Iraq, where they owned the oil.

My reasoning for protecting the oil fields is to keep them from being blown up or captured by terrorists.

As to moral authority, we've shown plenty of it. The nihilistic bombers have zero moral authority. And you have less.

The War on Terriers
Before we rush to blame the military or the Iraqis, let's re-examine our original thoughts about what would transpire after we ended Saddam's regime. I'll give you mine, you're on the honor system to not revert to the "if I knew then what I know now" revisionist history.

- How long did you think it would take to have a fully functioning democracy in Iraq?
- me: 20 years; really ugly for the first 5, moderately ugly for the next 5, starting to see what might be a tunnel for the next 5, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the next 5

- What reaction did you expect from the surrounding countries?
- me: I expected Syria and Iran (and the puppet Palestinians) to actively work against democracy; Saudi Arabia and Egypt to passively work against democracy

- What reaction did you expect from the UN?
- me: I expected the UN to continue supporting thugs and to actively work against freedom in all parts of the world

- What reaction did you expect from the major powers in the "civilized" world?
- me: I expected Australia and Great Britain to openly and actively support freedom; I expected Japan and India to passively support freedom; I expected Russia and France to say they support freedom but to actively work to undermine it for their own geopolitical reasons; I expected China to neither hinder nor help our efforts; sad to say but I had no expectations for Canada or Germany

Bonus Question:
- What is your view of the federal response to hurricane Katrina?
- me: the response exceeded my expectations (I mean that in a positive way)

My perspective is that bringing democracy to Iraq was always going to be a very long and difficult task. I also think the task is well worth the effort but then I've always supported freedom and opposed thuggery. In my view, the Bush administration has done a horrible job in explaining the effort required, the importance of the effort, and in pushing progress forward. Some major mistakes:
- not crushing the PLO early in the WOT thus giving the message that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists
- allowing Syria and Iran to continually meddle in Iraq without consequences
- allowing the thug promoting UN to continue to promote thuggery
- allowing the continual leaks of classified info to the press
- allowing the discussion of the Iraq invasion to evolve to one of simply WMDs
- not openly supporting Israel against Hezbollah and Hamas
- abandoning the Bush Doctrine
- not stopping the genocide in Sudan (how can genocide not be terrorism?)
- uttering the phrase "root causes"

So finally the War on Terror has become the War on Terriers. What terrorists are we fighting and why are they terrorists? Are they animal rights terrorists (ALF), environmental terrorists (ELF) or some other groups? If we aren't willing to openly discuss the issues then we'll never win. If we can't explain why we should win, why we need to win, and why the other side needs to lose then we can't win. Heck, if we can't even identify the other side then we can't win.

Watch those Scottish Terriers, I hear they're the mean ones...

Blame The Irakis First
Finally, A voice from the wilderness speaking some common sense.
I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person in America who recognized the total unwillingness of the Irakis to step up and take control of their own destiny.
We have seen no indication of a desire for peace on their part other than the hollow rhetoric emanating from of a few selfserving Iraki politicians.
Where are all those open arms we were told would embrace the opportunity for freedom and democracy?
They are embracing the very thugs who are blowing them up.
Will we ever learn that the concept of freedom and democracy can only come from within?

The problems were accurately predicted pre-invasion.
Why is Arnold only figuring this out now??

Before the invasion, a whole raft of experts on Iraq were warning about exactly the problems that have presented themselves.The Atlantic ran a special issue, "The 51st State," that detailed what we were looking at.

All these voices were ignored in favor of bogus intelligence about WMDs and false suspicions about Al Qaeda collaboration. The result is what we see.

As far as "blaming the Iraqis" -- this is another word for "blame the enemy when you lose: "We had a great plan but those nasty enemies just wouldn't do what we wanted them to do."

I blame the enemy! They are not doing what our leaders said they would
We should demand that they follow our war plan!!

Bush's biggest problem
In my opinion it’s not the war that's the problem, its’ the strategy. Actually it’s the communication of the strategy. I think we have the right approach in Iraq and should continue to work on democracy, but we should talk honestly about why we are there and our goals. Bush should tell the American people that we are making great strides by framing it this way:

1) We went into Iraq first and foremost to draw in large amounts of anti-American forces into a war theater. Instead of letting them band together in small groups and snipe at us on our own soil, we took the fight closer to them. Was this ethical? Who cares, it is an effective war strategy. We killed thousands of anti-American forces in Iraq that came over from Iran, Syria, Saudi and all over the middle east.

2) When our research department posted the Iraq nuclear plans online last month the world cringed. The advances that the Iraqi’s had made were so far along that it was feared that they would help the Iranians and others develop nuclear technology. This is the weapon of mass destruction that we stopped in Iraq. So we can put this all to rest. They were well on their way to creating the bomb or else their research wouldn't be valuable and no one would have cared if it was posted. Should we have waited until the bomb was built before going in? Remember Sadam launched missiles at Israel when attacked.

3) Now that we are done killing the anti-American forces and stopping the bomb lab, we can move onto phase two which is setting up democracy in Iraq. And if the Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurds can't live under one roof then split it up into three democracies. Who cares as long as a democracy controls the oil fields and the military. Traditionally democracies spend so much time legislating and trying to get elected they have little time left over to oppress their people and start wars. So more democracy is good and hopefully it will spread to other countries.

3) We are going to build a huge Guantanmo type base there to make sure we are close enough to strike any and all targets that appear to be anti-American. This launching pad will allow us to kill Bin Laden when he takes one step out of Pakistan and any of his cronies without having to occupy anyone. This will also be a deterrent for any countries that think they are going to attack these new democracies while they are still young.

Those are all reasonable goals and I think they can be accomplished without cutting and running or getting bogged down with infighting. Lets talk frankly about this war being in the best interest of the US and why we needed to fight it and need to complete the mission.

what enemy? what loss?
I don't think that it's right to frame the situation in Iraq now as the U.S. vs. "the enemy." If that were the case, then we could win. Instead, it's Muslims killing Muslims, and it's hard to work up the motivation to sacrifice more American lives to stop it.

D'uh
Except that's not what we've been told by the Bush administration. We were told this was part of the war on terror.

Wrong on the bomb stuff
The stuff that was published was about activity that went on way back before the first gulf war, back even to when Saddam was our friend, and we were helping him target iranian forces for nerve gas attacks. When we invade in 2003, we found - Duelfer and Kay investigated the hell out of this -- no WMD programs.

And as for the jihadis attacking us there being a victory -- at a cost of $10 billion a month and keeping our army pinned down and unable to respond to threats anywhere else, another victory like this and we're in real trouble.

No Subject
"1) We went into Iraq first and foremost to draw in large amounts of anti-American forces into a war theater. Instead of letting them band together in small groups and snipe at us on our own soil, we took the fight closer to them."

Unfortunately, this is pure garbage. America went to war with Iraq primarily so that Bush Junior could finish the war that daddy started in 1991.

"2) When our research department posted the Iraq nuclear plans online last month the world cringed. The advances that the Iraqi’s had made were so far along that it was feared that they would help the Iranians and others develop nuclear technology."

See above.

"3) We are going to build a huge Guantanmo type base there to make sure we are close enough to strike any and all targets that appear to be anti-American."

Really? Might as well kiss good-bye to all remaining allies in the Middle-East and Central Asia.

This is all really naive. Are you Donald Rumsfeld in disguise?

No Subject
"Japan was already an advanced industrial nation." Not really. Pre-war Japan was a lot like the Soviet Union. Elite scientists and industrial firms building Zeros or sending people into space but the populace living in filth and poverty and ingorance. I read somewhere (maybe here) that half of Japan's citizens were peasant farmers and half of them were tenants, not owners. A bit different from Germany where the surfs were freed and titles granted in 1805 and elections in 1850.

Asserted with gusto!
Hi Arnold. I've heard it said that when one starts comparing one's opponent to Hitler, the intellectual thrust of his argument is lost.

Be that as it may, let me proffer some points of evidence that favor my argument:

A. The original Baathist constitution stated that all national assets, including the oil, were the inalienable property of the Iraqi people. We can look that up if we like.

B. The new constitution, as virtually dictated to them by our regent, Zalmay Khalilzad, states that all assets are to be opened up to foreign investment-- i.e., that the conditions of post-Soviet Russia, a la 1991, are to be replicated in Iraq. And I believe oil is specifically named as being subject to purchase by non-Iraqis, without even the requirement that they retain Iraqi partners. Most damning, it specifically states that proceeds from such investment may be repatriated to the investor's country of origin.

C. Mr Khalilzad is a long term associate of our energy interests, specifically as a troubleshooter for Unocal and Chevron. He has deployed his talents freely across the now-invisible line between government and corporate energy, and serves interests that can be deduced from his curriculum vitae.

I know it seems as natural as rain in the springtime to believe that opening up control of Iraqi oil to such interests will result in a gain for everyone-- but tell that, for instance, to the good people of Myanmar. They are currently enjoying the fruits of their government's association with the likes of Unocal.

So you may make of my facts what you will. I see in them a conscious plan to subjugate a hand picked and hopefully pliant Iraqi government to the will of energy consortium interests. Any other interpretation would, I believe, be naive in the extreme.

Not that we will see the execution of such a plan. Given the current facts on the ground it would be political suicide for the Maliki government to accede to any plans that do not leave national assets firmly in the hands of the Iraqi people. We will see more violent struggle over the division of these assets-- but one thing we will not likely see is their giveaway to Western investment interests.

The principle result of our display of moral authority has been the total and deliberate destruction-- a true Year Zero-- of the Iraqi economy, conjoined with a civilian death rate higher than that enjoyed by this long-suffering people during the 25 years of Saddam's time.

"Nihilistic bombers", of course, by definition display no moral authority. Although I will note in passing that if you accept the interpretation of their actions commonly understood by many Iraqis, people sabotaging oil pipelines and pumping stations to prevent their oil from flowing into the hands of the Americans are acting under the same moral authority the people of Boston conferred upon themselves when they chucked a load of British tea into the harbor. That is, in the popular mind they are seen as patriots.

Do I have even less moral authority than the Iraqis or the Americans? Let's see now. In my personal life I practise nonviolence and a respect for all life. And I can't remember a time in all my years when I deliberately wrecked someone else's possessions. No, I think I can demonstrate to the contrary.

Refuting conspiracy theories
Roy, you are a nut job until you prove otherwise. "We can look that up" is not proof of any assertion. Iron clad references please. Now. Your theory and is a zero until you present us with said evidence. No inuendo. Hard evidence only. Until then, you're assertion reads like an 8th grade C- term paper. Your alma matre should be proud. I hope they don't revoke GEDs.

Isn't it funny that these well-planned perfectly executed conspiracies never end up actually working? You think the grand conspirators would eventually (like after say 500 years) get the hint that it's not worth the effort?

Forget dishonest... I won't even give you credit for that in your post. It's plain paranoid and stupid.

Who's talking conspiracy?
Roy just brought forward verifiable facts — about the Baathist constitution, about the changes in it. It was Arnold who brought up oil as the only thing we really worried about protecting. If you want to take issue, why not set an example, "present us with said evidence. No inuendo. Hard evidence only."

Naive
Actually thinking that the President of the United States would drag the entire coountry into a coflict halfway around the globe just to settle a grudge his father had is very naive.

And our allies would welcome a US presence in the middle east if they were truely our allies.

What allies are you talking about?
>And our allies would welcome a US presence in the middle east if they were truely our allies.

What "allies" are you talking about? The Saudis asked us to close our base there. So who? The Egyptians? We already have lots of people in Kuwait - do they count? How about Qatar? Or maybe you mean the Pakistanis, who just made a deal with the border tribes not to bug the Taliban.

Bomb Stuff
I appreciate the information about the bombs, I'll look into it closer.

As for the strategy to fight them over there instead of over here I think it is worth the cost. Think about how much it would be to rebuild some of our major infrastructure if those terrorists were able to regroup and attack our cities again? Add to it the loss of innocent lives and the strategy seems sound to me.

Bombs here stuff
We went through decades without attacks on the US, we had one, now we've gone for more years without another. The idea that the only reason we got through this period without an attack was becasue we attacked Iraq is hard to figure out.

>As for the strategy to fight them over there instead of over here I think it is worth the cost.

This really assumes monumental stupidity on the part of the jihadis. "My borthers! We can either fight the highly sophisticated armed forces of the Crusaders in Iraq, or we can attack their undefended cities in the US and cause them great harm and damage. Obviously we must attack their army!!"

Maybe you can clear this up.

Short memory
"Unfortunately, this is pure garbage. America went to war with Iraq primarily so that Bush Junior could finish the war that daddy started in 1991."

You DO remember that it was Iraq that invaded Kuwait, right? And you DO remember that it was Kuwait that went to the U.N. to ask for assistance, right? And you DO remember that the U.S. took up leadership of an international coalition - which was almost universally supported - only after the U.N. "authorized" it, right?

So how in ANY WAY AT ALL was that a "war that daddy started"?

Clearing
Let me make you an analogy.

Lets say that your back yard has become infested with bees. And since your son is allergic to them you are very concerned. They keep stinging your family on your porch as they look for food.

A simple and effective strategy would be to lure them AWAY from your house and kill them in mass. Maybe you can find the hive and kill them there or put bait somewhere near the hive. That way you can eliminate them while they are not threatening your family.

The stupid strategy would be to hit each bee with a swatter when they come onto your porch. With that plan you can almost guarantee that your son will need a trip to the emergency room.

--

We 'threw down' in Iraq and drew in every kook with an AK47 that has a beef with the US. We kept the borders porus during the battle for this purpose. We engaged them with our combat troupes and won. That is a good strategy, much better than letting them plan, acumulate $$ and find a way to hurt our citizens here on our soil.

I think a lot of people out there are cofused about our purpose in Iraq. It is a COMBAT MISSION first, everything else like democracy and WMD is all secondary.

What a Maroon
TO: Clown Kling
RE: Yeah?

"On the other hand, I'd be happy to see our soldiers walk out of Baghdad, not with their tails between their legs but with their middle fingers in the air." -- Clown Kling

The question is which way would those middle fingers be gesturing?

Regards,

Chuck(le)

False analogy
Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. If we wanted to 'lure the bees away,' we had (and have) a perfect place to do so: Afghanistan, where the bees are enthusiastically coming back, since we don't have enough forces to hold downboth places.

> Maybe you can find the hive and kill them there or put bait somewhere near the hive. That way you can eliminate them while they are not threatening your family.

The hive isn't and never was anywhere near Iraq. This isn't an issue.

>We engaged them with our combat troupes and won.

No, we haven't won, because they haven't lost. They're still there, and will be endlessly at this level. Again, with victories like these, we don't need defeat.

>That is a good strategy, much better than letting them plan, acumulate $$ and find a way to hurt our citizens here on our soil.

If there were a particle of evidence that what we are doing in Iraq had any effect of terrorism elsewhere (other than to motivate them) you might hav a point.

>I think a lot of people out there are cofused about our purpose in Iraq. It is a COMBAT MISSION first, everything else like democracy and WMD is all secondary.

Combat against whom? Our guys run around and never find units who fight. Instead they find booby traps, IEDs and snipers. Why not just pin targets on their backs?

Spare me.
Bullshittake. Roy needs to provide direct quotes and references to show that these are indeed verifiable facts. We can then evaluate the factuality of them before leaping to a grand conspiracy where Chevron tricked the United States into invading Iraq so it could own the oil. I'll say it again. It's a paranoid and stupid theory.

And frankly, I'm tired of giving proponents of such garbage explanations credit for being dishonest when they're just paranoid and stupid.

You've been spared
I mean, Roy made three specific assertions, below. If you think any of these is inaccurate, by all means bring your rebutting data. An no "conspiracy" is asserted, just a chain of events.

One specific:
>where Chevron tricked the United States into invading Iraq so it could own the oil.

Roy never said anything of the kind. He's just pointed out the way things shook out, and suggests you draw your own conclusions. My conclusion wasn't conspiracy.

Here again are Roy's ponts:

A. The original Baathist constitution stated that all national assets, including the oil, were the inalienable property of the Iraqi people. We can look that up if we like.

B. The new constitution, as virtually dictated to them by our regent, Zalmay Khalilzad, states that all assets are to be opened up to foreign investment-- i.e., that the conditions of post-Soviet Russia, a la 1991, are to be replicated in Iraq. And I believe oil is specifically named as being subject to purchase by non-Iraqis, without even the requirement that they retain Iraqi partners. Most damning, it specifically states that proceeds from such investment may be repatriated to the investor's country of origin.

C. Mr Khalilzad is a long term associate of our energy interests, specifically as a troubleshooter for Unocal and Chevron. He has deployed his talents freely across the now-invisible line between government and corporate energy, and serves interests that can be deduced from his curriculum vitae.

What a blowhard peice
Any military can be thwarted when they are stagnanted, their hands are tied by bureaucrats and politicians and three-quarters of their weapons capability is taken away from them. The U.S. could totally destroy and pacify Iraq in a week (without nuclear weapons); but the American people and world leaders would throw a living fit if did it. We are suppose to be trying to let the Iraqis take control of their own country.

The U.S. Military is still very capable of taking on big chunk of the world (in a conventional war) and holding it, as long as we aren't also asked to occupy and gently pacify each territory as we go. We've held Iraq for a long time with less than 3,000 killed; the number would be less than that if we would have truely pacified the place during the invasion phase.

There is no way the Ds can mend anything. The U.S. has to realize that we can only take out a country and government with force; no one has ever been able to "win the hearts and minds" during an occupation so there is no sense in trying.

Funny, only in Vietnam and Iraq did the U.S. use this "soft war" tactic. Funny because they will possibly go donw as the only wars the U.S. has lost. But that claim (about Vietnam now ans about Both if we pull out of Iraq) is bogus. In both cases the U.S. never lost the war, they lost the occupation after winning all the major combat opperations.

Militarily Iraq and Vietnam were both more successful than any WWII campaign, or any other American campaign. Politically, they were disasters.

P.S.
I expect that next year, military recruitment goals will be hard to meet.

True
TO: Pauled
RE: As Niven & Pournelle Put It....

"Any military can be thwarted when they are stagnanted, their hands are tied by bureaucrats and politicians and three-quarters of their weapons capability is taken away from them." -- Pauled

...in their novel, The Burning City, "Fight no half-wars."

But I guess Bush et al didn't read that book. Let alone understand the meaning of war or how Americans fight wars.

Regards,

Chuck(le)

Just like Kennedy/Johnson in Vietnam
Once the dogs of war are unleashed it is best to stay out of their way and let them complete the assigned task. Said task should mainly be to break things and kill people. All other tasks are secondary to the primary until a stated goal is reached.

Break things and kill people
Do you really think we didn't break enough things and kill enough people in Vietnam?

No Subject
>The hive isn't and never was anywhere near Iraq. This isn't an issue.

Oh, the old Iraq isn't Osama argument. That is very tired. Look, Iraq is central to all of these places and was convienent. That is a good enough reason for me. Like my analogy says 'near the hive.'

>No, we haven't won, because they haven't lost. They're still there, and will be endlessly at this level. Again, with victories like these, we don't need defeat.

We killed a good number of anti-american forces. That part is over, now we are bulding a democracy. Phase one is complete.

> If there were a particle of evidence that what we are doing in Iraq had any effect of terrorism elsewhere (other than to motivate them) you might hav a point.

What would be good evidence that this strategy is working? I say the evidence is in the fact that we haven't been attacked even though they are madder than ever.

> Combat against whom? Our guys run around and never find units who fight. Instead they find booby traps, IEDs and snipers. Why not just pin targets on their backs?

You are confusing the original objective with the curent task. Yes we are no longer killing anti-American forces. We are now engaged in democracy building.

Seems like you're recommending stumbling around the dark
It may be tired but it's absolutely true

>h, the old Iraq isn't Osama argument. That is very tired. Look, Iraq is central to all of these places and was convienent.

So's Saudi Arabia, which was tied to Osama. So are all kinds of places.

>We killed a good number of anti-american forces. That part is over, now we are bulding a democracy. Phase one is complete.

Except there are still a large and apparently (judging by action reports) growing number of anti-american forces in the field, so phase one is far from complete.

>What would be good evidence that this strategy is working? I say the evidence is in the fact that we haven't been attacked even though they are madder than ever.

This is like saying that singing the Star Spangled Banner at football games prevents terrorism: we've been singing it , and they haven't attacked.

>You are confusing the original objective with the curent task. Yes we are no longer killing anti-American forces. We are now engaged in democracy building.

You really should talk to the troops on the scene, and their commanders. They have a completely different idea.


You're using the wrong metric for success
Paul-- You know full well that none of those are the reasons we are losing Iraq. The reason is that they still don't want us there. We have failed to convince them that our way of life would be the superior choice for them. And the more we allow their society to remain mired in a chaos of our making, and the more Iraqis we destroy, the less we convince them of the advisability of choosing our way of life.

We had best give it up. The contest was never (or never should have been) about military superiority, and our killing capability. It is about conversion. And we have failed that task.

How many more Vietnams will your party require before you begin to understand this basic point?

Nope
We had to take the North and destroy their military completely; we didn't have to hold it long. That is just one of a long list of mistakes.

That is the point
We are not losing in a competitive sense. We are losing on the political front. It was stupid to stay after we had the brothers Grim (Uday and Kusay) and Big Daddy; It was time to get out then.

But we knew the power vacuum we were leaving if we did. Being the compassionate sort we decided to stay. The cost has been more than 2,000 American lives. But it is hard to say if the Iraqis are better or worse off; my guess is better considering the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence we are seeing; but who knows for sure.

BTW, it isn't my party; and it was your party (the democrats) that started the major combat operations in Vietnam, escallated it and turned it into a fiasco.

Where we have failed
Ok, Iraq is not going well, as mhoward says what should be have expected? Iraq has never been a democracy. Just look at Russia.

Yet there is a subtle and fundamental point in the original article. Why are (were) things so different in Afghanistan versus in Iraq? [Note after this election and how it will be interpreted don't expect Afghanistan to remain even as quite as it is for long.]

Sure both Iraq and Afghanistan are Muslim, but Iraq is Arab, "traditional" Arab land. That is indeed a big deal in their culture. Just having infidels on Arab land is a horror to the Islamists and probably not liked very much by the average Muslim on the street.

Don't expect me to now say that is why we should leave Iraq.

Nope, sorry but our problem as a country is that we don't fight insurgent or guerilla war very well. We are in a world wide guerilla war. Our enemy is patient, thinking in generations while we are in a two year election cycle. They are well funded. The USA alone sends the Middle East half a billion a year for oil. Most of all this enemy has gone to school on our weaknesses, our previous losses in battles and wars. They indeed learned the real lessons of Vietnam.

While I don't think the war in Iraq affected anybody in this election besides the Democratic base still because of the election results we are at a critical point. If we fail to take the right path now, our children and grandchildren many easily face an awful future. And the Democrats will never take any of the blame for failure.

Last
This thread is getting a little long and I am not sure I'm gaining any ground here. I appreciate your hanging with this so long. Here is my final comment.

I truly believe that we have made progress in the war on terror in Iraq. I think that from a military strategy standpoint we achieved our primary objective, which was to kill a lot of anti-American forces that were hiding in Iraq and neighboring countries. I disagree with the current administration for not being forthcoming about this goal from the start. But it seems self-evident to me.

I think we have a lot of work to do over there if we want to complete our secondary goals. But building a nation and establishing a permanent base in the area are going to be very hard, expensive and time consuming. I don't think the public has the stomach for it and the D's will probably gain power and cut, run and leave a mess.

Oh and the Star Spangled Banner argument is a classic logical fallacy.

Thanks for your patience and courtesy
You've exprressed yourself clearly. I do think that the evidence that our adventure in Iraq has made us any more secure in the United States is very, very thin - I think in fact it's the reverse; it's made us less secure. But that's my opinion, and I respect your disagreement.

How would that have helped??
We invade the North and take it over. Lots of the army goes over the border into China. Do we invade China? They come back. Materiel was never a problem for them.

Note that Ho beat the French without having a country. Why couldn't he do the same if we did invade?

> we didn't have to hold it long.

You mean, longer than we held the part of Cambodia we went into?

It's enough to convict
There'll always be people like you, who no amount of evidence can sway. But here we have the means, the motive and the opportunity. The reasons profferred for the war were hoaxes perpetrated by people from within the oil industry, in an administration that is in itself from within the oil industry. All the reasons they gave turned out to be lies. And you have the damning evidence of those changes in the constitution facilitating an oil takeover. This was all about the benjamins.

I think you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, read what PNAC has been saying since the 1990's about the need to occupy Iraq. (PS-- if you're looking for them to put it in print that they want to make money on the deal, you won't find it. Yet they are currently making a LOT of money on the deal.)

BTW I never claimed the invasion was particularly well planned or executed. This was a job bungled by incompetents.

Remember Ronald Reagan
A piece of history... RR, ridiculed, called amiable dunce, warmonger -- and his strategy had worked! I was still living in Prague/Czech, when he called Russia "evil empire". We secretly relished these words, they bestowed us immense power; the commies became extremely infuriated. And this simple notion: there is someone living outside who isn´t an appeaser like Carter -- and who didn´t forget the captive countries;
I think in the middle/long run it will work in Iraq - I know Iraqis living here in Vienna/Austria loving America and understanding the war on terror. But you never read anything in the MMS about them; they assert that in Iraq live millions of such people...

Speaking of Qusay
Paul, I've noticed this about you for a while now. You seem to be inordinately fond of killing. How about reading your Bible, and settling down a bit. This is unseemly.

The days of crushing nations under foot by brute force are pretty well over. It doesn't work. People won't put up with it any more, the way they did when it was the Assyrians swooping down to flay thousands alive in order to achieve their purposes.

We are in a market economy. If you have a product in the marketplace that people prefer to the other products available-- say, the neoliberal development model-- people will flock to you of their own accord.

If they prefer not to purchase the product, there's not much you can do. To take the neoliberal development example, it was forced down the throats of every South American nation in the 1980's. All suffered extreme adverse reactions from it. Now virtually every one of those nations is going in the other direction.

What can we do about it? Zippo. That's how they feel, and no matter how many bombs we drop or cities we shoot up it won't change the facts on the ground. The fact that we've made them dislike us is quite enough.

You often seem intelligent. Why then can't you even begin to understand that nowadays, it's you who are the enemy of peace and progress?

When you've forgotten what is required to win a war
The nation isn't willing to fight let alone win a war. If it were it would take the leakers, the staff of the NY Times, the jihaddies and their allies at the ACLU and string them all up. It would take our "patriotic dissenters" who would sell out this nation in an instant and allow them to reside in a socialist paradise for the rest of their unatural lives.

It would allow the military to do what it needs to do to win and the white wine and brie crowd be damned. It would use field telephones on jihaddies and then use them on people like Ramsay Clark and Amb. Wilson who have proven they never met a dictator they didn't love. We should take Murtha, Durban, Pelosi, Kerry and all the other chickens who paint the US military as barbarians and deliver them into the hands of Al Queda so we all can enjoy some Saturday recreational viewing. And wait to hear what these clowns think of their hospitality at the hands of the "enlightened." Oops, somehow I doubt we'll be getting any feed back.

Finally lets take out the morons who allowed the Iraqis to remain armed; who said mosques were off limits; who attacked US troops for taking care of business while letting people like Lynn Stewart walk away from a treason charge with a sentence that will probably end up less than a year.

Lets stop the whinning and crying and win. If you didn't intend to win you were criminal. If you don't want to win you're worse. And if you wish to blame the Iraqis you are deluded.

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