February 18, 2008

The Dungeon of Fallujah

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2008 12:48 AM
Comments
Michael -
Great report. Believe it or not, the Fallujah PD's 6-room jail isn't just progress from the Saddam-era, it's progress from 8 months ago.
The one and only time I saw prisoners, it was a tiny two-room jail with these bathroom facilities:
http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/bathjail.jpg
At the time I saw the prisoners, it was like you describe - a bunch of mats on the floor - but it wasn't too crowded. After that, I heard they rolled up a bunch of folks and it became the type of standing room only nightmare you heard about. Then they expanded to the facility you saw, and even that became overcrowded.
One thing that your report captures but needs to be stressed; the separation of the detainees. The PD separates out the hard-core guys from casual insurgents and criminals. The regular prisoners have sort of a curious dorm atmosphere. Their accommodations are bad, but they don't seem to mind as much as you might think they would, and they almost seem friendly with the guards.
I think this is because of the relativity of everything in Fallujah. Compare where you slept while visiting the police to where you're sleeping now. The jail has a similar degree of awfulness.
And as you well describe, the AQ types are a lot different, and treated as such.
Posted by: Bill from INDC at February 18, 2008 9:06 am
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at February 18, 2008 9:14 am
"It seems somehow inadequate, tone-deaf, and perhaps even wrong to say Fallujah
Posted by: ElMondo at February 18, 2008 9:44 am
Good stuff Michael. My hair is standing on end!
Posted by: The Historian at February 18, 2008 9:47 am
"I wished I had a gun of my own."
Is that not the first time you have ever stated that ? A cell full of Lectors. I personally would have wanted a tank.
Thanks for the report.
How long do the Iraqis usually hold these Al-Queda 'things' before they do the World a service by permanently eliminating the problem ? Does the Iraqi 'justice system' work to move these cases along, or does everyone just get jailed for just about forever? I would have thought that they would be eager to deal with the Al-Queda types as soon as humanely possible. They can't be popular.
I guess the jails don't move any faster than other parts of the State system.
Posted by: dougf at February 18, 2008 9:57 am
Those of us who supported the Iraq war from the beginning never had any trouble convincing those who were against it that Saddam was a bad guy who deserved to be eliminated. They just didn't think that the US needed to be the ones who would do it. Whenever I would answer with "well, if WE aren't going to do it, who else is?" no one ever responded with a second option.
There's an article by William Langewiesche in the March 2005 issue of the Atlantic -The Accuser- which chronicles the work of one Hania Mufti, a member of the Human Rights Watch staff who had been gathering the evidence against Saddam for decades. The history of Saddams abuse of his own countrymen and women will go down as easily one of the most sadistic and unimaginably horrific stories in modern times.
Say what you want about the geopolitical effects of removing Saddam, or the WMD argument, or the effects on the "Arab Streets", removing Saddam was the LEAST that we in the world community needed to do.
As more of the horror of his regime gets uncovered, the more that the decision to go to war to remove him gets redeemed.
Thanks as always Mr. Totten for yet another eye opening report. And jeebus man, bring a gun next time you go to an Al-Qaeda lock up. You made ME nervous just reading it.
Posted by: Tman at February 18, 2008 10:55 am
Dougf,
They move along. At one time there were 900 people in that jail. Then just over 300. Assuming there were no new arrests in the meantime for the sake of argument, two thirds had been processed.
But there had been lots of recent arrests, so well over two thirds were processed.
I couldn't tell you exactly how long it takes, though. It's Iraq, so it's slow.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 18, 2008 10:59 am
How long do the Iraqis usually hold these Al-Queda 'things' before they do the World a service by permanently eliminating the problem ? Does the Iraqi 'justice system' work to move these cases along, or does everyone just get jailed for just about forever?
Their case gets reviewed by an investigative judge, who decides whether they are released, held for further investigation or forwarded on to the Anbar Criminal Court in Ramadi, where they will more than likely be sent to prison, if they make it to that stage. They used to get held for quite a while in the jail, but now the process is moving, so it shouldn't be more than a few weeks for the guys they have enough evidence on to put in that room in the first place.
But in addition to not having western standards of incarceration, the standards of evidence gathering are fairly primitive as well.
Posted by: Bill from INDC at February 18, 2008 11:12 am
Yes, hair on end. I think if you wrote a novelization mix of your experiences, you could get an NYT Bestseller out of it -- where the plot is mostly country development, altho I'd be VERY interested in any revenge stories by the new Iraqi police.
You haven't mentioned your Arabic training recently. Can you talk w/o an interpreter over tea/ coffee?
Processing of AQ seems likely to require different capabilities than just the usual crime.
Thanks for the reminder of the Red Building.
Thanks for the progress report.
Thanks, most sincerely.
Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 18, 2008 11:18 am
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 18, 2008 11:48 am
DPU: Which big popular war did this small unpopular war prevent?
Hopefully we'll never know the precise answer to that question.
But we can guess.
Maybe a full-scale war with Iran and Syria over some sort of mass-terror attack we don't know the origin of.
Perhaps getting directly involved in an Arab-Israeli war.
There are many "what ifs"...
Posted by: Edgar at February 18, 2008 1:16 pm
"Which big popular war did this small unpopular war prevent?"
I wonder if this very question could've been asked say in early 1930s if there were similar circumstances in Europe?
If I recall, nobody wanted to fight then. Did not help much.
Posted by: leo at February 18, 2008 1:26 pm
Edgar: Maybe a full-scale war with Iran and Syria over some sort of mass-terror attack we don't know the origin of.
I can't think of any possible political benefit to an attack of that sort from Iran and Syria. But if we assume that their leaders are either suicidal, crazy, or very sneaky, I'm not sure how the invasion of Iraq might have changed that. If anything, relations with both those nations is now worse than it was before the invasion, and Iran is certainly in a much stronger political position now.
Edgar: Perhaps getting directly involved in an Arab-Israeli war.
Ditto. I don't see the connection.
Leo: I wonder if this very question could've been asked say in early 1930s if there were similar circumstances in Europe?
Sure, but one could apply the same logic to attacking many countries.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 18, 2008 1:33 pm
Great post, MIchael.
And I too agree with the Sergeant; I have said for four years that I grudgingly support this war because I felt the choice was that we could have a little war now or a big war later. There was no escaping a war emanating from somewhere in the ME.
Posted by: PJ at February 18, 2008 1:35 pm
DPU: I can't think of any possible political benefit to an attack of that sort from Iran and Syria.
I didn't say an attack would come from Iran or Syria. What I was hinting at was that if the U.S. was less engaged in the mideast and had poor intelligence, bad decisions might be made in haste.
As for getting involved in an Arab-Israeli war, I say that because Iraq was a powerful enemy of Israel under Saddam. He might have invaded Jordan at some point and threatened Israel, or cooperated with Syria in an attack on Israel. In those cases, direct American involvement might have resulted. It would be an ugly mess.
Posted by: Edgar at February 18, 2008 2:21 pm
I didn't say an attack would come from Iran or Syria. What I was hinting at was that if the U.S. was less engaged in the mideast and had poor intelligence, bad decisions might be made in haste.
Ah, sorry, I misinterpreted what you said. But I'm still not sure I understand how invading Iraq has improved Middle East intelligence. If anything, has it not occupied intelligence resources on Iraq that could have been used elsewhere? I don't think that the US would have had less intelligence resources had Iraq not been invaded.
As for getting involved in an Arab-Israeli war, I say that because Iraq was a powerful enemy of Israel under Saddam. He might have invaded Jordan at some point and threatened Israel, or cooperated with Syria in an attack on Israel.
Extremely unlikely, given Hussein's past behavior. His chief enemies in the region were Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Also, I don't think Hussein was foolhardy enough to try and invade Israel.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 18, 2008 2:29 pm
DPU: But I'm still not sure I understand how invading Iraq has improved Middle East intelligence. If anything, has it not occupied intelligence resources on Iraq that could have been used elsewhere?
To be honest, I don't know exactly how intelligence agencies operate. I would think being intimately engaged in a major Arab country would help in recruiting spies, making connections in the Arab world, flying drones over neighboring countries, etc. But in truth, I don't know if it would. Just my guess.
Extremely unlikely, given Hussein's past behavior. His chief enemies in the region were Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
Well, he did get involved in some very costly wars. I'm not sure if I buy the whole "Saddam was a pragmatist" school of thought. He did some pretty reckless things while he was in power.
But yeah, not crazy enough to invade Israel. But who knows what might have happened in Jordan? Another uprising like in the early 1970s could always come out of nowhere. And who knows if he might have intervened? Syria tried to do so the first time.
Posted by: Edgar at February 18, 2008 4:07 pm
Well, he did get involved in some very costly wars.
Sure, with Iran directly, and with Syria and Saudi Arabia indirectly. He had oil revenue that he was happy to pump into a massive military, wanted more oil revenue and access to the Gulf, and had the ambition of a megalomaniac.
But that all pretty much ended in '91. He was relatively toothless as far as his neighbors were concerned by the time he was re-invaded. And after his misadventure in Kuwait, is it really likely that he would try and invade Jordan?
I just don't think this particular war is preventing any others. It's a thought, and I would agree that small unpopular wars are acceptable if they prevent big popular ones, but I don't see the mechanism at work.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 18, 2008 4:34 pm
DPU,
It's a thought, and I would agree that small unpopular wars are acceptable if they prevent big popular ones, but I don't see the mechanism at work.
It is sort of the point that the war is unpopular with you because you won't see it performing desirable results. You are pre-disposed to ignore and dismiss the good things that happen and the bad things that don't happen.
Your prejudice is performing a closed loop.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at February 18, 2008 5:00 pm
I've wondered what the prisons are like in New Iraq. I confess to a feeling of relief that they are such an improvement over the old, where the children were executed. The humane treatment of kids known to be related to terrorists could be an indication that the new political regime has led to real moral improvements. Question is, will those advances vanish if Americans depart?
Posted by: Solomon2 at February 18, 2008 7:14 pm
Solomon2: Question is, will those advances vanish if Americans depart?
Answer: yes.
We need to stay for another 20 years.
Posted by: Edgar at February 18, 2008 7:34 pm
You are pre-disposed to ignore and dismiss the good things that happen and the bad things that don't happen.
I still await the day, dear Patrick, when you are able to post a thought that actually deals with the issue at hand instead of attempting to rely on the imagined thought processes of those you find yourself in logical opposition to.
For example, if you disagree with what I say, rather than publicly fumble your way through a pop-psychology theory about what I'm thinking, why not join the conversation and identify the popular big war that this unpopular small one is helping prevent, and how it's doing that?
Or is that a tedious and difficult process for you?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 18, 2008 7:37 pm
The humane treatment of kids known to be related to terrorists could be an indication that the new political regime has led to real moral improvements.
Holding children in prison (especially as hostages) isn't what I would call humane. Perhaps in comparison to the thought of torturing them or killing them it might be considered more humane, but that's a pretty low bar.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 18, 2008 7:40 pm
DPU,
Ok, I'll put it another way. Can you think of any times in history when a small, unpopular war might have prevented a larger one?
Let's take the Korean War for example. I'm sure someone could have argued at the time that intervention would be costly and useless because the Koreans weren't a threat to anyone. Getting involved in their civil war would be a stupid idea.
But imagine we hadn't gotten involved. A unified Korea under Stalinist rule would have become a major regional power and would have certainly threatened their neighbors.
I'm not directly comparing Iraq to Korea. What I'm saying is that it's very difficult to predict what will happen in 20, 30, or 50 years. If a US-Korean War had broken out in, say, the 1970s, with the communist regime firmly in the saddle, it would have been a bloodbath.
Posted by: Edgar at February 18, 2008 7:50 pm
Rich Crawford, a civilian Law Enforcement Professional who works with the Marines and helps them train the Iraqi Police.

Sounds like one of those eeevil mercenaries that so many of my fellow Americans love to hate.
Posted by: Cannoneer No4 at February 18, 2008 8:18 pm
For example, if you disagree with what I say, rather than publicly fumble your way through a pop-psychology theory about what I'm thinking, why not join the conversation and identify the popular big war that this unpopular small one is helping prevent, and how it's doing that?
Let me take a crack at it. After Saddam was overthrown, leftists throughout the world demanded that the coalition leave immediately and not fight this "small" unpopular war.
Had we taken that path, Shiite terrorists backed by Iran would battle Sunni terrorists back by Al Qaeda and/or various Arab states. Terrorists would pour in from throughout the Middle East and escalation to neighboring countries would be a near certainty. A religious, sectarian war would take place on a massive scale with Middle East oil as the prize. Sound big to you?
The only nation willing to fight would have left the area. Who would come in and fight the good big war? You and me? No, that is a job for real men.
Of course leftists would not take responsibility for this. They still don't think they had anything to do with Stalin and Mao. They're good at telling our military about all their mistakes but they never make mistakes that cost people their lives. They're for peace!
Posted by: SAuslander at February 18, 2008 8:32 pm
I refused to say that to them. Politeness has its limits.
Thank you for that Michael... and the post. People need to be reminded again and again what murderous thugs AQ are. They are not petty thieves or shop lifters... they find validation and release in killing as many people as they can. It is not about ideology or territory or government: it is about TORTURE, CRUELTY, BARBARITY AND MURDER. It's also good to remind the world that so was Saddam.
Posted by: Some Soldier's Mom at February 18, 2008 9:48 pm
They are not petty thieves or shop lifters
Posted by: James at February 18, 2008 11:08 pm
"because Iraq was a powerful enemy of Israel under Saddam. He might have invaded Jordan at some point and threatened Israel, or cooperated with Syria in an attack on Israel"
I think you are stretching it a bit.
If Iraq invades Jordan, Iraq gets hit by Israel. If Iraq moves its forces into Syria, Syria (including Iraqi forces) gets hit by Israel. Assad and Saddam would not even need to be very smart to predict this reaction from Israelis.
BTW, Saddam's invading urges were calmed for good in 1991. His only option would be to resort to clandestine operations (could still be very dangerous) and financial support for Israel/US enemies of all sorts. And Assad most likely would not risk his position at home. He and his Alawites might not be able to survive one more failure.
Posted by: leo at February 19, 2008 5:37 am
What I'm saying is that it's very difficult to predict what will happen in 20, 30, or 50 years.
Yes, I know. I'm sure there are dozens of places in the world right now that a judicious use of military force might avert a political situation later that would result in a major war. However, as you say, those are difficult or impossible to predict.
So why claim this one does that? For all we know, it may cause a huge war later, which I think more likely.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 7:34 am
So why claim this one does that? For all we know, it may cause a huge war later, which I think more likely.
Unpopular small wars are usually unpopular in America because the objective of these wars is not to defend the American people. Sure, the politicians can claim that these wars are being fought to protect us, but as Lincoln said, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
The Bush administration sold the war in Iraq as a part of the war against terrorism, and as a way of protecting the world from Saddams proto-nuclear arsenal. Bush, Cheney and the rest of the world did, for the most part, agree that Saddam probably was planning to build up a nuclear arsenal. The rest of the world also agreed that, if Saddam did posess any WMDs, he'd be likely to use them, since he'd used them in the past. Saddam could also use the threat of these weapons to intimidate every other nation in the region, much in the same way as Saudi Prince Bandar uses al Qaeda to intimidate the west. The effectiveness of the weapon sometimes takes a backseat to its effectiveness as a threat. Since the State Department has never abandoned the domino theory or the Carter Doctrine, our government saw Saddams ability to threaten his neighbors as a problem that would imbalance the 'stability' of the region, something leading to a larger war.
Bush and Rumsfeld's idea didn't work out as planned, and our tendency to be intimidated by threats of nukes is still a weak point, but, conversely, American actions in Iraq may prevent a larger war. Not due to Rumsfeld's efforts, but due to Petraeus' efforts and the work that the troops have been doing to support the Anbar Awakening.
We have shown the world that, when people refuse to cooperate with terrorism, when they actively fight against it (with the help of the state or army), terrorist militias become the weak horse. We are, slowly but surely, developing effective counterterrorism measures. As we do so, we eliminate the usefulness of terrorism as a weapon of war.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at February 19, 2008 8:23 am
We are, slowly but surely, developing effective counterterrorism measures. As we do so, we eliminate the usefulness of terrorism as a weapon of war.
A simple and obvious test of this hypothesis would be to measure the incidence of terrorism and see if it has decreased over the last five years.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 9:17 am
According to Bill's Long War Journal, Sheik Abdul Sattar Al-Rishawi and his allies among the tribes and anti al Qaeda insurgent groups only began forming alliances in the spring and summer of 2006.
John Nagl didn't write his counter-insurgency manual 'till 2005. Before that, the army didn't do counterinsurgency. Apparently they were burned by Vietnam, so they decided to avoid those kind of wars. I can't begin to fathom the logic there, but the attitude is finally changing.
We're only beginning to learn how to deal with terrorism. It will be another few years before we can expect to see any real change, given the intractable nature of our foreign policy and the state department. However, we are finally beginning to move in a positive direction.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at February 19, 2008 9:33 am
DPU, you fail to suggest what the realistic scenario of non-invasion looks like:
Feb, 2003, Blix reports to the UN that he hasn't found WMDs, but that Saddam has NOT complied with the requirements to 1) document what has been in the past with his programs, and 2) open, complete, unannounced inspections.
Thus, US is in Afghanistan, is waiting around Iraq, is waiting for the UN inspectors.
Who "never" find WMDs (in the next 5 years), but can never show Saddam has gotten rid of them.
At some point France & Russia push for a "clean" bill of health, and an end to sanctions.
Remember sanctions? Those UN/ US led sanctions that the anti-Americans were claiming were killing hundreds of thousands of kids in Iraq while actually it was corrupt aid skimming by Saddam -- such corruption to continue.
The Red Building rape rooms continue. Supporting non-invasion means supporting Saddam's torture over the US 99%+ humane treatment.
If Bush doesn't invade in 2003, when the Army (that we have) is as ready as it's going to get, then he's not going to invade until the UN inspectors find evidence of WMDs, which they won't find. So no invasion. So the US "loses", because Saddam claims: "I have no WMDs (wink wink)" and everybody thinks he fooled the silly UN keystone kop inspectors.
Sanctions are lifted. The secret WMD program, which is more advanced in planning but not in realization, goes further.
When does Saddam get a nuke? or a bio-weapon? In 5 years (um, 2003+5=2008)? or 10, 2013?
Without invading Iraq, both Libya and Iran continue their nuke production programs.
Somebody of the terrorists, perhaps directly from the secret Pakistani network but with Iraq or Iran gov't support, some terrorists get a nuke.
And Tel Aviv goes mushroom.
Or maybe Moscow, or Mumbai, or Miami.
Personally, I see the Iraq invasion as the ONLY realistic hope to avoid terrorists getting and using a nuke -- which is the "major" war that is being avoided.
Nuke terror is still somewhat likely with Iran on track to have a nuke by 2010-2012.
Had Bush been successful at creating democracy in Iraq with less than 2500 US soldier deaths, I'd be giving him an "A", pretty much my criteria since 2003. I challenge you to show a metric where you say what a "good job" would look like. With less than 5000 deaths, he still gets a B.
When I compare the success of the 2006 Anbar Awakening of Iraqis against the AQ with the LBJ failed 500 000 boots on the ground in Vietnam, it's not at all clear to me that Rumsfeld's light footprint was worse. (Yes, I disagree a bit with McCain here, while still supporting his desire for victory.)
It was Iraqis murdering Iraqis, or foreign jihadists supported by local Iraqis murdering Iraqis -- it mostly wasn't the US. Without the surge, but with cooperation between the Coalition forces and the Iraqis, the anti-AQ Iraqis would still be winning against AQ, but more slowly. Bush should have been talking more about Iraqi responsibility to stop the killing.
Michael, are any Sunni Iraqis talking about punishing the Iranians for the Iranian support for terrorists?
Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 19, 2008 9:33 am
It will be another few years before we can expect to see any real change, given the intractable nature of our foreign policy and the state department.
If the results can't be measured yet, you may be premature in saying that there are results.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 9:44 am
Jeez, Tom, if you're going to write speculative alternative history that ends with Tel Aviv getting nuked, why stop at that? Have Hussein becoming a Sith, starting the clone wars, and taking over the empire.
I could just as easily postulate that after a further year of sanctions, a US-sponsored military coup overthrows Hussein, and that Iraqi democracy is peacefully implemented two years after that.
Sheesh.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 9:48 am
I challenge you to show a metric where you say what a
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 9:51 am
If the results can't be measured yet, you may be premature in saying that there are results.
I guess the glass is half full or half empty right now.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at February 19, 2008 9:51 am
I guess the glass is half full or half empty right now.
If you can't see the glass, why say that you know how full it is?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 9:58 am
maryatexitzero,
The glass is always empty. We support the troops by knocking the glass out of their hands. Anybody found with a glass will be tried for war crimes. Glasses are used in waterboarding!
Sorry, but the losing hand of the virulently anti-war is just too much not to ridicule.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at February 19, 2008 10:06 am
DPU,
I just got a new camera with a great lens. I can capture great images now that I couldn't before, but it was expensive. But I can't take pictures of things that are out of my line of sight. I have to go places to see things and record them.
Michael has been taking his really great camera (that's almost as good as my new one) to Iraq for a year and a half. He has been showing you pictures of improvement all during that time. You have been denying that improvement all that time.
If you want to see, go and look. Otherwise, stop protesting that everybody is blind. Michael and I will happily help you arrange the trip.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at February 19, 2008 10:23 am
You have been denying that improvement all that time.
Really? Then it really shouldn't be that hard to point me to a single instance of me doing so.
Otherwise, stop protesting that everybody is blind.
Where did I say that anyone is blind? And, as I suggested earlier, why not participate in the discussion instead of doing all the meta-handwaving? If you find it possible, that is.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 10:49 am
Huh. From this article on trolls:
The third cause of trolling is incompetence. If you disagree with something, it's easier to say "you suck" than to figure out and explain exactly what you disagree with. You're also safe that way from refutation. In this respect trolling is a lot like graffiti. Graffiti happens at the intersection of ambition and incompetence: people want to make their mark on the world, but have no other way to do it than literally making a mark on the world.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 11:04 am
Nice to see that the war about the WAR continues unabated. At this rate the real WAR will be long over before the armchair skirmishes fade away.
I stand by my comment that the WAR itself was won in late 2007, but that we will not know the final shape of the 'Victory' until as DPU says, about a decade later when the political/social picture of Iraq is more finalized.
While it would be nice if Iraq was then appreciably 'better' than its dysfunctional neighbors, and there is still ample hope for that result, one very positive result seen already, has been the collapse of Al-Queda and its fellow-travelers, both militarily and ideologically. Frankly there is a pretty decent argument to be made that by 'allowing' everyone to see exactly what the Al-Queda value systems invariably lead to, the Iraq WAR has indeed possibly prevented a much larger conflagration.
Afghanistan was a good example of the madness of this death cult but Afghanistan is almost another world. Iraq is a central player in the Arab World. It's lessons are therefore very salutary indeed. So in a sense, DPU's initial question was both tendentiously unanswerable and central.
"Which big popular war did this small unpopular war prevent?"---- DPU
We DON'T know. But we also DON'T know that it did not serve as a bracing dose of 'reality'. As I said previously the Iraq WAR has been more a window upon the sickness within, rather than the cause of the sickness itself. As more than one result has indicated, more and more of the 'target' populations appear to have taken a look through the window and recoiled in horror from the view.
Frankly that is not at all a bad thing.
Until the final picture becomes clear we won't be able to do a cost/benefit study but even at this early stage, it is grossly inaccurate to say that it has been anything like a 'disaster'. It would have been a disaster had the US LOST. But it did not lose,and that fact alone changes everything.
Everything.
Posted by: dougf at February 19, 2008 11:47 am
We DON'T know. But we also DON'T know that it did not serve as a bracing dose of 'reality'.
Which is my point, actually.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 11:55 am
DPU: "Which is my point, actually."
I think you will have difficulty finding anybody who would disagree with you. But it also does not answer the question whether war was necessary or not.
It will always be hope for many (including myself) that this smaller war prevented bigger one. It will also give reason to many (including you, I presume) to say that war was not needed.
I do not know who is right, neither do you.
Posted by: leo at February 19, 2008 12:47 pm
I do not know who is right, neither do you.
Again, this is my point. It's one thing to hope this war contributes in some way to the greater good of preventing another bigger war. It's quite another to factually say that it does or does not.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 1:00 pm
If you can't see the glass, why say that you know how full it is?
I used the glass half-full as a rhetorical device to say that one could be optimistic or pessimistic. The 'glass' wasn't meant to represent a place, an event or an ideology.
You seem to be interpreting the phrase in a different way. What do you think the glass represents and how would one "see" it?
Posted by: maryatexitzero at February 19, 2008 1:31 pm
Two cowboys are riding along side.
Suddenly one sees pile of dung and goes: "Hey man, I bet you a hundred bucks I can eat it all."
The other one agrees, first one wins the bet.
They keep riding.
The the other fella feels he needs to get even some how.
He sees another pile of dung and goes: "I bet you a hundred bucks I can eat it all."
First one agrees, the other one wins the bet.
They keep riding.
In time, after much thinking and analyzing one of them goes: "Hey John, don't you think each of us just ate pile of shit for nothing?"
"Again, this is my point. It's one thing to hope this war contributes in some way to the greater good of preventing another bigger war. It's quite another to factually say that it does or does not."
Then what the hell were we arguing about?
Posted by: leo at February 19, 2008 1:46 pm
DPU,
I don't think many nations that were seriously cowed by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 directed their foreign ministers to release a public statement describing the cleanliness of their shorts. In fact, the most frightened nations did their best to pretend as hard as they could that the event had no effect on them, while assuring the US as hard as they could that there was no reason to invade them next.
Right about the time of the ill-advised "Mission Accomplished" speech, when George W. Bush was pictured on a flight deck in pilot's garb looking like something too macho for a Bruckheimer production, there had to be a realization that one of the ten largest armed forces in the world was rolled over in a matter of weeks.
If you believe that the most overwhelming conventional military victory in history had no measurable effect on the behavior of nations, you have a lot to prove. I can accept that a lot of optimists might have chosen to believe that the insurgency would drive out the US, or the 2004 election would show Americans ready to quit.
How many times do the optimistic haters of the US get disappointed before they change to avoid the risk of getting ground to paste?
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at February 19, 2008 1:54 pm
Then what the hell were we arguing about?
Well, if you look up above a bit, you'll see I just asked if anyone could tell me which large war the Iraq war was preventing, which was followed by "I don't know for sure, but...". Then we all chowed down on some dung. Oh, and Patrick hopped off his horse and tried to kick me in the groin.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 1:54 pm
Got it. Thank you.
I am off for now. Go wash my dung down.
Posted by: leo at February 19, 2008 2:01 pm
If you believe that the most overwhelming conventional military victory in history had no measurable effect on the behavior of nations, you have a lot to prove.
I don't think there has been any doubt anywhere, especially including Middle Eastern countries, that the nation with the world's largest military can defeat anyone it chooses to take on. And while the crushing of Iraq might be an object lesson to those nations nearby who are hostile to the US, there's also the paradoxical effect that the US military is now less effective as a credible deterrent to other nations than it was prior to the invasion. Iran, for example, and Syria were far friendlier toward the US earlier in the decade. Now they seem to enjoy thumbing their noses at the US on a weekly basis, and there's not much that can be done about it.
Or are those not the nations that you were referred to? Which ones, and which measurable effect?
How many times do the optimistic haters of the US get disappointed before they change to avoid the risk of getting ground to paste?
I'm not really sure what that means. Who are you referring to?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 2:04 pm
DPU,
Oh, and Patrick hopped off his horse and tried to kick me in the groin.
You'll be safe as long a you stay a small target.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at February 19, 2008 3:37 pm
You'll be safe as long a you stay a small target.
Then I'm in serious trouble.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 3:38 pm
I'm gonna try and take a swing at DPU's question.
Before I do though, I'm sure that DPU will at the very least admit that the removal of Saddam is a measurable improvement for the lives of Iraq's. Right? I mean, at least now they put the kids in jails instead of having them eaten by dogs in front of their parents, so yes, a measurable improvement.
But to answer the question of what "larger War" was avoided can be easily answered by simply applying the metrics of the US response to 9/11. After that fateful day, the US declared that anyone who directly aided, trained and supported the various Islamic terrorist groups that had sworn "death to America" were now viable targets that the US would be actively pursuing. The Taliban most certainly fit the bill as they refused to hand over what many consider to be the main accomplice of the attacks, OBL. The question of Saddam Husseins regime was also a no brainer considering the extensive support Saddam had given and was continuing to give to various Islamic terrorist groups both in and out of Iraq (see www.husseinandterror.com).
These were both the "smaller ambiguous wars" that Sergeant Dehaan was referring to.
Now imagine that Saddam was still in power, and still able to avoid the consequences for his support given to the various Islamic terrorist networks. Not only that, but lets observe where a large percentage of Islamic terrorists scurried to once their safehaven in Afghanistan was obliterated. I don't find it at all a coincidence that terrorist leaders such as Zarqawi were able to easily slip in to Iraq and immediately find support and shelter, considering Saddams shelter and aid of other Islamic terrorists WHO WERE STILL LIVING IN IRAQ ON 9/11 (see Abu Nidal). Given the opportunity to plan bigger and more devastating attacks, and now with direct support from a state sponsor who actually had an army and trillions in oil revenue, not to mention a history of deveolping and using WMD's, it would also be a fair estimation that a larger attack against either the US or its allies would have been carried out.
I can tell you that had there been a follow up attack against the US on a scale that was exponentially larger than 9/11, the US response would be more along the lines of the "unambiguous black and white war" of which Sargeant Dehaan was referring to.
I believe that this was what the Sargeant was getting at in his comment.
Posted by: Tman at February 19, 2008 3:42 pm
"You'll be safe as long a you stay a small target. -----
Then I'm in serious trouble.
" ---DPU
LOL.
If more people had a sense of humor(humour) all this Intertube nastiness could be put in perspective.
Me likes funny.
Posted by: dougf at February 19, 2008 3:48 pm
DPU,
I always treat you with respect, so don't interpret this the wrong way.
You usually question things rather than offer an opinion of your own.
I know it amounts to essentially the same thing. If you ask what "big war" the Iraq war prevented, obviously you don't think it did anything of the sort.
But why don't you say: "I personally don't think the Iraq war prevented a bigger war because of X, Y, and Z." If you did, the resultant discussion might be more interesting.
You've presented everyone with an impossible challenge: predict what might happen many years in the future, but you don't offer any predictions of your own.
So if you had to guess, what would have happened if Saddam stayed in power? And what would the mideast look like in 20 years if the U.S. had been much more wary of armed intervention?
Posted by: Edgar at February 19, 2008 5:27 pm
But why don't you say:
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 19, 2008 7:36 pm
DPU: I see a lot of problems on the horizon, despite the successes of the surge. Should I go into those?
By all means. But please:
1) Phrase it in a way that won't draw any horse manure, full/empty water glass, or hangnail analogies from any of the commenters. They're killing me.
2) Avoid any language that will result in ad hominems directed towards you and therefore make the overall discussion boring for me.
Let me know if you have any difficulty.
Posted by: Edgar at February 19, 2008 8:24 pm
"1) Phrase it in a way that won't draw any horse manure, full/empty water glass, or hangnail analogies from any of the commenters. They're killing me.
2) Avoid any language that will result in ad hominems directed towards you and therefore make the overall discussion boring for me."
--Edgar
It's always all about you.
What about we fans of the well fashioned, and time tested, ad hominem ? Not to mention the assorted devotees of 'horse manure, full/empty water glass, or hangnail analogies'?
Don't we count ?
Posted by: dougf at February 19, 2008 9:05 pm
dougf: What about we fans of the well fashioned, and time tested, ad hominem ?
All of you are idiots or assholes.
Posted by: Edgar at February 19, 2008 9:14 pm
Then what the hell were we arguing about?
Allow me to explain how this works.
1) Someone posts a comment along the lines of 'hey, the situation in Iraq sucks, but it sucks somewhat less than it used to'.
2) DPU posts something vaguely negative that can be interpreted as being tangentally related to the comment.
3) Someone tries to debate the point with DPU.
4) DPU responds with another vaguely negative comment tangentially related to the previous one.
5) goto 3)
...and eventually, the debater realizes that DPU has rope-a-dope'd them into trying to prove a negative.
Posted by: rosignol at February 20, 2008 1:39 am
The comments section had markedly improved since the advent of TypeKey, though DPU is doing his best to take it back to the "good old days".
Posted by: rsnyder at February 20, 2008 3:01 am
...though DPU is doing his best to take it back to the
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 6:54 am
By all means.
Okay.
First, the surge has made a positive impact on the sectarian violence in some portions of Iraq. This is good news, but I'm not sure that I see any signs that it will make a long-term difference without the presence of US military policing the situation. This posting from Michael reinforces that view in my mind. Overcrowded jails, children being held hostage, and lack of due process are not positive signs that things are progressing, and I fear that were the surge to end, we'd quickly see the return of corrupt administration and sectarian violence. So it's no longer a surge, it's a long-term escalation.
The militias have not been disbanded, and the conditions that spawned them in the first place are still there. From the sounds of things, parts of the country are being administrated by the equivalent of the mafia. This kind of thing generally ends with a dictatorship.
It seems to me likely that a very long term occupation by the US will be required to make the significant changes in to the political culture of Iraq that would allow liberal democracy. That long-term occupation is unlikely to occur for three reasons.
First, the point of having a US military presence in the Gulf is to safeguard US influence there and to ensure access to an important commodity. That military presence is useless if it's tied up keeping the country together instead of doing its other job.
Secondly, continued US presence in Iraq is extremely expensive, and is being funded in part through massive loans from China and other parties. The US economy is currently at serious risk of meltdown, partly due to massive borrowing of this sort. Any major financial speed bump in the economy will render continued activity in Iraq unaffordable.
Thirdly, whatever the reasons for the Iraq war, it was presented to the US public as a war to either safeguard the US population against WMDs, or to all the Iraqis to implement a secular democracy. Five years later, the patience of the electorate is waning, and it's unlikely that a number of US administrations will be able to maintain the steady presence of US troops in order to implement the latter of the two causi belli (the first is long gone).
Add to the whole mix things like Islamic fundamentalism on the rise, political instability in nearby nations, a local nuclear arms race, at least one other neighboring nation preparing to invade, and ethnic divisions being fueled by a squabble over oil resources, and you've got a lot of negative issues lined up against very few positives.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 7:19 am
Hi MJT;
Sorry for being off topic, but I'm curious whether in your travels in Iraq you ever heard about the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI)? They are a paramilitary organization fighting against the current regime in Iran, and are based at Camp Ashraf some sixty kilometers north of Baghdad, near the Iranian border. Now they're being held in some sort of limbo of the Geneva Convention, under the protection of coalition forces.
I won't go into details, but their's is a bizarre story, with the sort of moral contradictions one expects from a John le Carre novel. Just curious whether you'd heard anything.
Posted by: MarkC at February 20, 2008 7:20 am
Michael, once again, thanks for an excellent post. (I've linked.) Keep up the good work. Oh, and watch your mailbox.
Posted by: Asher Abrams at February 20, 2008 8:34 am
They are a paramilitary organization fighting against the current regime in Iran, and are based at Camp Ashraf some sixty kilometers north of Baghdad, near the Iranian border.
More of a terrorist cult than a paramilitary group, aren't they? Their ideology is a blend of Marxism and Islamism, they assassinated Americans in Iran in the 1970s, and they aided the Iraqi Republican Guard suppress Shiite and Kurdish and uprisings.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 9:27 am
MarkC: I'm curious whether in your travels in Iraq you ever heard about the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI)?
Yeah, I know a little about them, but not a lot. They are the strangest armed group in the Middle East, for sure.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 20, 2008 9:37 am
They are the strangest armed group in the Middle East, for sure.
Bet that took some special effort!
Posted by: Dogwood at February 20, 2008 1:23 pm
You have no idea.
From their wikipedia entry-
In more recent years under the guidance of Maryam Rajavi the organization has adopted strong principles in favor of women. Women have now assumed the most senior positions of responsibility within the ranks of the PMOI and although women make up only a third of fighters, two-thirds of its commanders are women. Rajavi ultimately believes that women should enjoy equal rights with men.
That is a bit of a divergence from the middle eastern norm.
Posted by: rosignol at February 20, 2008 3:17 pm
That is a bit of a divergence from the middle eastern norm.
But is in line with Marxist ideology.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 3:30 pm
"A number of things. As it turns out, Hussein was more weakened by sanctions than we thought - he may well have fallen within a few years to internal forces, whether to competitors for the position of dictator, or to Shiite or Kurdish separatists." - DPU
Really, where did you get the intelligence report to assume this outcome? Saddam made sure the sanction didn't apply to him and his cronies. Did you have selectively forget about the "Oil for Food Program" or you do you have a medical condition that I don't know about? The UN, Russians, Chinese and Clinton Administration did nothing to make sure the money was used for the Iraqi people. Funny, that nobody is curious what happened to the $30 billion that Saddam used to grease officials to look the other way. The fall of Saddam's regime was about as imminent as Michael Moore becoming a Republican.
"But let's assume that he didn't, that he would still be in power. But it's unlikely that Iran would be on the rise, that it would be on the path to nuclear weaponry." -DPU
It's no wonder you like baiting people with your empty negativism. I wouldn't want people scrutinizing my incorrect assumptions, either. The latest National Intelligence report stated that Iran suspended its WMD program because of the Iraq invasion. They were unsure how far President Bush would go in taking out the Axis of Evil. Thanks to the Democrats cutting the legs out from under Bush they are now currently pursuing their Nuclear Program.
Posted by: PeteDawg at February 20, 2008 4:58 pm
PeteDawg: Funny, that nobody is curious what happened to the $30 billion that Saddam used to grease officials to look the other way.
I don't blame them. Man, forget about looking the other way. For $30 billion, I would have become Saddam's personal assistant and official propagandist.
Posted by: Edgar at February 20, 2008 9:58 pm
It's no wonder you like baiting people with your empty negativism.
I'm so sorry that I don't have your positive outlook, Pete. I am, however, usually able to disagree with people without being a dick about it.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 10:46 pm
For $30 billion, I would have become Saddam's personal assistant and official propagandist.
I sometimes wonder what Hussein would have been willing to do for ten percent of the total sum spent on Iraq so far.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 10:48 pm
DPU;
"there was no certainty ..." is the essence of the core cop-out you employ. Even implying that certainty is necessary and/or available before these momentous decisions is either inanely foolish or deliberately manipulative. Your "long stick" analogy doesn't make it clear which applies in your case. Probably both.
Posted by: Brian H at February 21, 2008 12:51 am
Patrick;
About the "Mission Accomplished" meme: the sign was hung by the ship's crew bragging about their own performance. So it wasn't "advised" at all, "ill-" or otherwise, as far as Bush goes. The MSM impression created by photo angle chosen and the usual cut-and-paste Mighty Selective Mediating of information did the rest.
IIRC, the closest he came to using related terminology came when he announced the end of "major combat", meaning field military operations against other military forces, like the RG. Which was literally and precisely accurate.
Posted by: Brian H at February 21, 2008 12:59 am
This thread, approximately 78 posts, 27 of which are by DPU. Not sure what the appropriate term is; not trolling, perhaps blog-hogging. THAT is what I was referring to by "good old days" DPU.
Read one post from you, which are essentially the same ones you have posted for years, and one gets what your agenda is.
Most gracious of you to "not hold my post against me". Guess that must because you are not relatively new here? If I wanted to be DPU'ized, I would read your blog, and not Mr. Tottens.
Posted by: rsnyder at February 21, 2008 5:50 am
"This thread, approximately 78 posts, 27 of which are by DPU."
So happens that most of the posts on this thread were addressed to DPU. I think it is only natural for DPU to reply. If there were more people here sharing DPU's point of view situation could be different.
Posted by: leo at February 21, 2008 6:43 am
If I wanted to be DPU'ized, I would read your blog, and not Mr. Tottens.
Ah, I see. You think that Michael alone should post in his comment section? Or just people whom you agree with?
Why not provide Michael a list of those that you approve of commenting here? I'm sure he'll appreciate it.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2008 9:16 am
So happens that most of the posts on this thread were addressed to DPU. I think it is only natural for DPU to reply.
Appreciate it, Leo. I think I've been generally quiet on MJT for a while now, but sometimes I just shoot my big mouth off in a thread like this one. Newcomers may get a mistaken impression, especially those who disagree with me and feel that they aren't able to effectively debate.
Thankfully, there are many here on the opposite side of the political fence who can.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2008 9:24 am
I don't blame them. Man, forget about looking the other way. For $30 billion, I would have become Saddam's personal assistant and official propagandist.
Posted by: Edgar at February 20, 2008 9:58 PM
Hell, you would've done a helluva better job than Baghdad Bob. It would have been money well spent. ;p
I'm so sorry that I don't have your positive outlook, Pete. I am, however, usually able to disagree with people without being a dick about it.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 20, 2008 10:46 PM
Sorry, that I hit a nerve with you, but Rosignol had you pegged. That flow chart he made on your arguement style was hilarious. I didn't know other people felt the same way I did, but it's good to know that I'm not alone.
Posted by: PeteDawg at February 21, 2008 11:57 am
Sorry, that I hit a nerve with you...
Don't be silly. Why would anyone be offended by someone saying that their arguments were empty negativism? Especially so when the counterarguments were so weak. You obviously felt that personal remarks were obviously needed to bolster your position.
In return, I doubt that you would be offended by me saying that your own arguments were just an empty-headed mantra designed to support an errorneous preconception, that you were simply motivated by a horror that others might perceive you as having made an error in judgment or logic, and that they amounted to little more than purely partisan babbling?
If I were inclined to make the discussion about personal issues, that is, instead of actual content.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2008 12:36 pm
Sorry, that I hit a nerve with you
Posted by: PeteDawg at February 21, 2008 2:59 pm
I noticed though that you decided to accuse me of having a
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2008 6:20 pm
By the way, Pete, it's a common procedure to italicize the portions of other people's comments that you include with your own. Do you know how to do that?
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 21, 2008 6:22 pm
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