September 24, 2007

“Al Qaeda Lost”

RAMADI, IRAQ – I met and interviewed dozens of Army officers in Baghdad and Ramadi, but none who were as admired and respected by the men who serve under them as much as 3rd Infantry Division Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman from Midway, Georgia. Junior officers and enlisted men nicknamed him “the forty pound brainer,” and admire him for his guts as well as his head. “He went out and spent 12 hours a day in his hot tank,” during the battle of Ramadi one soldier said. “He risked getting blown up just like everyone else.” “I had served with him before,” said another. “When he told me he needed me in Ramadi, that was all I needed to hear. I mean, I didn’t have any choice because the Army gave me my orders, but that didn’t matter once I knew Colonel Silverman was out here.” “I’d do anything for that man,” said a third, “and I don’t like officers.”

Colonel Mike Silverman.jpg
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman

I had dinner with him at the dining facility and interviewed him afterwards in his office at the Blue Diamond base in northern Ramadi.

“How long have you been in Ramadi?” I said.

“Since the last week of January, 2007,” he said. “When I first got here my area of operations was the southern half of downtown. It was ugly then, especially for the civilians. We found more than 50 dead in just one grave in the desert. 50,000 – 70,000 people have returned so far since the war ended in April.”

“Describe the progress you’ve seen so far,” I said.

“Sure,” he said, “let’s look at the Abu Bali area for example. 6,000 or so people live there. When I first arrived there were 10 attacks every day just in that small area alone. Since May 1, 2007, we’ve had only one attack total in that area. The people went from having two to three hours of electricity a day to having twelve hours a day. Insurgents kept blowing up the power lines, but now that they’ve been cleared out the government has put them back up. Commerce has really taken off.”

“What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve seen here?” I said.

“On the second or third day the PSF [Provincial Security Forces] took over a checkpoint on a highway.”

The Provincial Security Forces are a “national guard” of sorts controlled by the tribal authorities in addition to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police in the area. They resemble a militia in some ways, but they’re a legal branch of the Iraqi security forces, authorized and paid by the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad.

“An ice truck dropped off its ice at a checkpoint,” he continued. “The truck behind it in line exploded. Everybody was killed. For a five or six hour period we weren’t sure the PSF would go back to work. But eight hours later they were back in business. They are 100 percent committed to anti-terrorism and anti-sectarianism.”

“What’s the worst thing you’ve seen here?” I said.

He wasn’t sure what to say and had to think about his answer for a few moments.

“The worst thing I’ve seen, I think, is the aftermath of a VBIED,” he said.

A VBIED is a vehicle-born improvised explosive device. In other words, a car bomb.

“I’ve seen that about ten times,” he continued. “Some people are turned, literally, into red blotches. Some are just vaporized. Their families will never see them again, not even their bodies. And the smell…there’s this awful car bomb smell, the acrid stench of homemade explosives and diesel fuel. Nothing else in the world has that smell. Most of the VBIEDs were intended for civilians, but the Iraqi Police usually stopped them first at the checkpoints. So they were the ones who usually got blown up. The driver of the VBIED would panic because he was caught and then kill everyone at the checkpoint. Nevertheless, the Iraqi Police kept bravely manning the checkpoints and replacing the police who were murdered. I’m telling you, they aren’t doing that for the 310 dollars a month.”

“What were the battles in the city like?” I said.

“It would only be a mild exaggeration,” he said, “if I compared it to the battle of Stalingrad. We engaged in kinetic firefights that lasted for hours. Every single day they attacked us with AK-47s, sniper rifles, RPGs, IEDs, and car bombs.”

“How many fighters were there?” I said.

“Around 150 hard core fighters,” he said.

What?” I said. “Only 150?”

How could 150 fighters possibly transform a city of 450,000 people into a second Stalingrad?

“I expected you to say there were thousands,” I added.

“It felt like thousands,” he said. “Anyway, I’m only talking about the number of hard core fighters. The 150 doesn’t include the larger number of people planting IEDs. The population couldn’t do anything about these people. They were terribly intimidated. If Americans even handed someone a bag of sugar, his entire family would be killed. There are graves all over Abu Bali. People were taken there, decapitated, and shot in the head.”

He doesn’t really know how many hard-core fighters there were in the city. No one does. I asked Colonel John Charlton the same question – how many were there? – and his answer was very different even as his description of the fighting was identical.

“It looked like Stalingrad a few months ago,” he said. “There were around 750 fighters in the city proper. It could be less. I don’t know, it’s really hard to say. You have to understand, they worked in five- to ten-man cells. And it only takes one guy to fire an RPG or a sniper rifle. They used mosques, schools, and safe houses. We found an auto shop that had been converted into a car bomb factory. Because they had such small cells it was very difficult to go in there and clear them out.”

“Do you think your friendship with the locals is genuine?” I asked Lieutenant Colonel Silverman. Ramadi is in the heart of Iraq’s Sunni Triangle, the most anti-American region in all of Iraq. I had seen what appeared to be genuine friendship and warmth from the Iraqis I’d met, but it was impossible to tell from anecdotal experience if that sentiment was typical in Anbar Province or even real.

“I do,” he said. “Don’t just assume Iraqis are faking their friendship. The first time I was here in 2003 I made friends with locals in Salah a Din Province. They still email and call me to talk even though they know there is nothing I can do for them now that I’m out here in Ramadi. Some of the people we work with just want to make money. For them it’s all business and has nothing to do with their private opinions of us. But most really do want to make Iraq better. You can tell when you interact with people one-on-one if they’re sincere. You can see right through people who are insincere. Many of these guys have been in fire fights with us, so I know they’re on our side.”

“Do you ever meet anyone you suspect was an insurgent?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “I think some of the guys in the 2nd PSF battalion were insurgents, mostly nationalists who got tired of Al Qaeda. Some were Baathists or belonged to the 1920s Brigade. Al Qaeda started killing them off so they switched sides. One PSF guy in particular knows a little too much about taking IEDs apart. He knows exactly how to dismantle these things, as if he built them himself. I asked him how he knows so much and he said he used to be a TV repair man.” He laughed and shrugged. “But, hey, he’s on our side now. We call him the TV Repair Man and don’t worry too much about it.”

“Did the average Iraqi here switch sides or were most of them always against Al Qaeda?” I said.

“The average Iraqi post-Fallujah was not very happy with us being here,” he said. “If the insurgency only attacked Americans, the people of Ramadi would not have been very upset. But Al Qaeda infiltrated and took over the insurgency. They massively overplayed their hand. They cut off citizens’ heads with kitchen knives. The locals slowly learned that the propaganda about us were lies, and that Al Qaeda was their real enemy. They figured out by having dinner and tea with us that we really are, honest to God, here to help them.”

Anbar Province as a whole isn’t completely secured yet. But most areas have been cleared, and it’s increasingly difficult for terrorists and insurgents to even show up in the province let alone find refuge there.

“Anbar Province all along the Euphrates used to be one huge rat line for getting terrorists into Baghdad from Syria,” he said. A rat line, in military speak, is an enemy logistics route. “That’s over.”

“Do you think what happened here can happen in Baghdad?” I said.

He sat motionless for a time and considered carefully what I had asked him. It was obvious by the look on his face that he wasn’t particularly optimistic about it.

“I don’t know,” he finally said. “One advantage we had here was that the tribes are like small communities, like in rural America. The sheikhs are politically powerful. If we turn them, we turn the people. Urban areas erode tribal affiliation. It’s still there in Baghdad, but it’s weaker. So I don’t know. It did work in the urban parts of Ramadi, though. If we can get it to work in all the provinces in Iraq – and it is working in Diyala Province right now, I know it is – then maybe it can work in Baghdad. It’s hard to say.”

He’s right that the formula works in Diyala Province, and in Salah a Din Province as well. Both provinces, like Anbar, are made up mostly of Sunni Arabs and have had similar troubles with Al Qaeda in Iraq. Even some tribes in the Shia South are beginning to emulate the Anbar model and work with the Americans against Shia militias.

The South, though, is very different from the Sunni Triangle. The Shia insurgents are “moderate” compared with Al Qaeda, and not so likely to be rejected by the entire society. On the other hand, the Shias of Iraq have never been as staunchly anti-American as the Sunnis have been and still mostly are. Saddam Hussein oppressed them almost as severely as he oppressed the Kurds in the North. The trouble for the Americans with the Shias is that so many prefer Iranian assistance, which they deem more reliable after President George H. W. Bush abandoned them to Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War.

What may make the Anbar model most difficult to implement in Baghdad, even beyond the erosion of tribal authority as Lieutenant Colonel Silverman noted, is that the Sunni and Shia communities each fear the militias and the death squads from the other community much more than they fear those from their own. Ending the insurgency in Baghdad may not be possible without first resolving the ongoing slow-motion civil war.

“What will it take for Anbar Province to stand on its own,” I said, “so American troops can leave?”

“The people here need a more direct and trusting link with the central government,” he said. “It’s tough for Baghdad to get things out here. They need to send more equipment for the police, and it’s not happening. People out here see a conspiracy in all this, even though that might not be the case. Baghdad needs to go out of its way to build trust, as we did.”

I had heard from several American officers that the Sunnis of Anbar see a conspiracy against them in Baghdad. Some even blamed the government for assassinating Anbar Awakening movement leader Sheikh Sattar Abu Risha. Anbar Province is almost exclusively Sunni, and the government is Baghdad is predominantly Shia. It doesn’t help that most Sunnis in Anbar boycotted the last election and have little representation in the capital. (They vow a massive turnout in the next Iraqi election, however.)

“Are you optimistic or pessimistic about Iraq as a whole?” I said.

“I am guardedly optimistic about Anbar, Diyala, and Salah a Din,” he said. “This model works there. If we can control these areas, Al Qaeda has nowhere. The reason my optimism is guarded, though, is because the people out here feel like they are second class citizens. If Baghdad doesn’t do what needs to be done, they will have a very tense relationship.”

“What’s the most important thing you have learned in your time here?” I said.

He wasn’t sure how to answer and had to think for a while.

“Well,” he finally said thoughtfully. “I learned something here that I had heard but never believed. I expected a huge kinetic fight, and that’s what we got. I was told that you win that kind of fight not by focusing on the enemy, but by focusing on the civilians. But I didn’t believe it. It’s true, though. I know because I have seen it.”

Earlier I published the somewhat counterintuitive excerpt from the counterinsurgency manual he was referring to, but here it is again:
Sometimes, the More You Protect Your Force, the Less Secure You May Be

1-149. Ultimate success in COIN [Counter-insurgency] is gained by protecting the populace, not the COIN force. If military forces remain in their compounds, they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared, and cede the initiative to the insurgents. Aggressive saturation patrolling, ambushes, and listening post operations must be conducted, risk shared with the populace, and contact maintained. . . . These practices ensure access to the intelligence needed to drive operations. Following them reinforces the connections with the populace that help establish real legitimacy.

From “Counterinsurgency/FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5
“What do you think about the media coverage of the Anbar Awakening?” I said.

“I think it’s pretty accurate, actually,” he said, in contrast to the complaints I usually heard about the media from the military. Most soldiers and Marines who grouse about the media, though, are thinking of the war coverage in general rather than reports from Anbar Province specifically. “I think the media accurately describes the reality on the ground here. The only real complaint I have is that every article I’ve read seems to ask when the other shoe is going to drop. I doubt that’s going to happen. Reporters might want to accept the changes in Anbar a little more at face value.”

For a few days it felt to me like the “other shoe” had dropped when Sheikh Sattar was assassinated, but his killers failed to transform the politics and culture of Anbar in their favor. No one can say whether or not another insurgency will erupt, but the odds are vanishingly close to zero that Al Qaeda – the most destructive “insurgents” by far in Iraq – will ever be able to operate again there with impunity.

“Oh, and another thing, too, I suppose,” he continued. “There’s a bit too much suspicion about the Provincial Security Forces. The PSF is actually the least tribal institution in the province. They can go anywhere in any neighborhood and not be rejected as out of bounds. The Iraqi Police have to stay in their areas or the locals will say what are you doing here? The media seems to think they’re some backwards and tribal force, but they’re actually the most progressive and patriotic force in the province.”

“What do you think about media coverage of the Iraq war in general?” I said.

“Most of what they report is accurate,” he said, “and I’m not going to take the same negative line on it like most officers. It’s true that the media doesn’t have the same agenda in Iraq that we do, but I’m not sure it’s the media’s job to have the same agenda in Iraq that we do.”

“What’s the most important thing Americans need to know about Iraq that they don’t currently know?” I said.

“That we’re fighting Al Qaeda,” he said without hesitation. “[Abu Musab al] Zarqawi invented Al Qaeda in Iraq. The top leadership outside Iraq squawked and thought it was a bad idea. Then he blew up the Samarra mosque, triggered a civil war, and got the whole world’s attention. Then the Al Qaeda leadership outside dumped huge amounts of money and people and arms into Anbar Province. They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.”

Post-script: Please support independent journalism. Traveling to and working in Iraq is expensive. I can’t publish dispatches on this Web site for free without substantial reader donations, so I'll appreciate it if you pitch in what you can. Blog Patron allows you to make recurring monthly payments, and even small donations will be extraordinarily helpful so I can continue this project.

Blog Patron Button.gif

If you prefer to use Pay Pal, that is still an option.

If you would like to donate for travel and equipment expenses and you don't want to send money over the Internet, please consider sending a check or money order to:

Michael Totten
P.O. Box 312
Portland, OR 97207-0312

Many thanks in advance.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 24, 2007 12:32 AM
Comments

"They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.

Damn, but your stuff is refreshing.

Thank you.

Posted by: Greg at September 24, 2007 01:05 AM

3rd Infantry Division. Rock of the Marne. Toughest soldiers in the Army, IMHO. 10% of the war's ~3800 casualties have come from 3rd ID soldiers. God Bless them.

Posted by: Ed G. at September 24, 2007 05:25 AM

Once again, thank you for your "disproportionate response" to the MSM's agenda-driven coverage.

Unfortunately, Counterinsurgency/FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5, paragraph 1-149 has limited usefulness. Blood may be thicker than water, but ideology is even thicker. That's the reasoning behind Al Qaeda's savagery against its own people.

Even so, a non-muslim occupying force in muslim lands will always be a cancer. The locals are living a paradox because the lesser of two present evils is America, so he shouldn't be surprised when his troops have outlived their usefulness to the natives. The most Lieutenant Colonel Silverman can hope for is to be the best of enemies.

Posted by: CCC at September 24, 2007 07:59 AM

Michael,

Thank you very much for another very interesting article.

Posted by: leo at September 24, 2007 08:11 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/24/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at September 24, 2007 08:14 AM

Edgar,

You were correct when you mentioned my "boy kisses girl" example.

I was wrong denying writing it.

Now I remembered writing it, which makes my previous response to you incorrect and improper.

I offer my sincere apologies.

Posted by: leo at September 24, 2007 08:15 AM

a superb piece of journalism and analysis...

...this article sets a standard that i can only hope the new york times, wall street journal and washington post can match...i wold not be shocked it this piece was widely circulated among congressional staffs as it raises precisely the questions of military accountability and effectiveness in iraq that their bosses should be asking (instead of preening before cameras...)

Posted by: michael schrage at September 24, 2007 10:45 AM

If popular support for (I'm not going to say Al-Quieda, because I'm not convinced that that's not a simplification) whoever is blowing us up in all areas north of baghdad is really as minimal as described in these accounts- if the insurgency acted or is acting as stupidly and indiscriminately as AQI in Ramadi everywhere - and if we really have the resources neccesary to cover all battle territory as quickly as needed-
then within six months, there should be virtually no attacks on US forces in Sunni-dominated areas.

Right? The insurgency is Al-Quieda, the locals universally hate it, overwhelming US tactical combat advantages, sufficient resources to saturate all of Sunni Iraq with rapid responders -
Ramadi went from full to empty in a few months. Did it not? So, six more months, right?

if that's not true, then someone has to explain why, and that will call into question some of the assumptions in this model.

----

This is not a knock against Mike's excellent reporting. Just more effort to line this stuff up against other data.

As for me, AQI sucks and won't be missed, but a less strategically suicidal group will be along soon, as long as the government of Syria and the populations of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey loathe us. And we're not even talking about Baghdad and Iran. That's the optimist version. For my version, replace "be along soon" with "are already here and will be less susceptible to these tactics".

And, as long as US forces are operating in hostile territory amongst civilians and continue to inevitably kill them for bad reasons on occasion - see blackwater and today's news about 'sniper bait'.

Posted by: glasnost at September 24, 2007 11:06 AM

Al Qaeda Lost.

That should be headline news in every US paper and on every US News broadcast.

Posted by: Cecil T at September 24, 2007 11:16 AM

Oh, and as a gift to everyone who thinks me a bastion of pessimism, I expect attacks and US deaths to stabilize at around 2005 levels through the end of the year, which might include another decline in October. But that will be about the limit of the low-hanging fruit, i.e., AQI.

Until and unless the Sadrites, Iranians and anti-American Sunni politicians stop demanding our withdrawal plan and/ simultaneously settle their differences, I doubt it will go much further down than that.

Suppression vs. solution...

Posted by: glasnost at September 24, 2007 11:22 AM

“I’d do anything for that man,” said a third, “and I don’t like officers.”

That's going to become a classic.

Posted by: Solomon2 at September 24, 2007 11:30 AM

glasnost,

Until and unless the Sadrites, Iranians and anti-American Sunni politicians stop demanding our withdrawal plan and/ simultaneously settle their differences, I doubt it will go much further down than that.

I'm fairly sure there is no meaningful distinction between the Sadrists and the Islamic Republic, but you should not call them Iranians because there are different imperial cultures at work there. The ancient imperialism of Iran is much more civilized and manageable than the recent intolerant imperialism of the Islamic Republic.

Please be aware that the Islamic Republic is deeply repugnant to most Iranians. Although the Mullahs of the Islamic Republic probably poll better than our own Congress, they have the advantage of imprisoning anybody who posts bad popularity results. Nevertheless, the theocratic despots of the Islamic Republic do not express the ancient imperialism of the Persians with any finesse or culture. In many ways, the Mullahs are deeply un-Iranian in their despicable manner.

It is incorrect to describe the Islamic Republic's current interference in Iraq as Iranian.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 24, 2007 11:34 AM

Glasnost: then within six months, there should be virtually no attacks on US forces in Sunni-dominated areas.

From AQI? Very possibly. They have lost and/or are losing everywhere.

No attacks from anyone at all? I'd say that's less likely for the reasons you stated, but I don't know. I haven't been to the other Sunni provinces.

The 1920s Brigades are kidna sorta "on our side" now, so we'll have to wait and see what happens with the other groups in the meantime.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 24, 2007 11:45 AM

Excellent story, although I hate the term it is "fair and balanced", especially the officers' opinion regarding the Al-anbar strategy working in Baghdad.

I just wanted to let Mr. Totten know that I incredibly respect his work and I have made my first contribution to a blog because of his reporting. His reporting deserves a Pulitzer prize (esp. the Libya travels), but all I can give him is $5 as I am between jobs.

Thanks for everything.

Posted by: R. Zachary Glazar at September 24, 2007 12:03 PM

They poured everything [AQI] had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.

I believe the above is accurate. The problem is, back home in the USA not many people seem ready to believe that, certainly not democrats, and they might represent over half of all Americans. I say this as an independent, by the way.

And even if it's true, as MJT pointed out, there are still the Shiite militia to contend with. I'm not one who fears the Shiites of Iraq will fall into the pockets of the Iranians, however. Iraqi Shiites are still Arabs, and Iranians are primarily Persian and Azeri. But I get the feeling--based off the bahavior of the Maliki government--that the Shiites aren't in the mood to haggle and power share with Sunnis. They think they are on top and have the advantage--and they are.

Iraq is frustrating. It's so close, yet so far. It could be a success if the Arabs of Iraq--Shiite and Sunni--could cooperate. But will they? And even if they do, will the U.S. have the wherewithall to see it through? Maybe I rub shoulders with too many left-leaning dems because I get the feeling they don't even want it to work (because that would prove their political opponents were right).

Posted by: Zak at September 24, 2007 12:05 PM

Mr. Totten: Don't know if you've seen it, but there was an op-ed piece in today's NYSun that was very critical of the consequences of "tribalism" in Iraq.

Posted by: Altrisk at September 24, 2007 12:18 PM

Altrisk,

The risk of tribalism is fairly great in the long term, but just right now, we need the structural support to establish civilized governance. Also, tribalism is likely to atrophy in the long term when it is no longer critical to survival.

The most important thing is that Iraqi's have made a decision to succeed, and that action gets fairly addictive when there are rewards for doing so. As long as the US is present to facilitate rewards for sanity, there is a good chance that sanity will prevail.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 24, 2007 12:30 PM

...because I get the feeling they(left-leaning dems) don't even want it to work (because that would prove their political opponents were right).---zak

No !!!

Tell me it ain't so. My illusions are shattered. And here I thought the opposition was all about differing geo-political conclusions, and that all those posts reflecting advanced cases of BDS, were merely the exception to the rule.

ps--- I think that glasnost has a point about the nature of the 'conflict' in that there are actors other than AQI, and that the potential for Sunni led 'problems' still certainly exists even when AQI is buried.

But the simple fact of the matter is this----

The Sunnis have LOST , and every day that goes by from this point on, their objective position becomes worse. They can make peace with the Shia -led government or be swept away. As for the 'support' for their cause by the neighbouring Sunni States--- not going to happen. There will be no Arab forces coming to the rescue, Saudi Arabian bravado to the contrary.

In addition to the communal hostility to AQI so adeptly described by MJT and others, I wonder if the foundation of the Sunni 'changes' also lies in the fact of a Sunni perception of irreversible LOSS.

They have in effect lost Baghdad. The battle there is OVER. The 'cleansing' brought on by themselves and their support for the terrorists has in truth brought home to them the REALITY of their position. The tribal experience may not be repeatable in Baghdad, but the Sunnis better hope that it is. Otherwise they will be in the position of the French in Algiers near the end of the War in Algeria. Still able to cause death and destruction but doomed to lose everything in the end.

Perhaps part of the recent 'improvement' is that many Sunnis have seen the writing on the wall and it clearly spells ---- SOS.

Whatever now happens in Iraq, anything short of some sincere 'accommodation' with the new State, will be catastrophic for the Sunnis. Even slow learners may now have got the message.

Posted by: dougf at September 24, 2007 12:38 PM

MJT,

Congratulations on an amazing piece! Are you allowed to discuss the 7th IAD a bit more (perhaps in comparison to the more experienced 1st IAD)? If not, no problems.

My sense is that the GoI wants to redeploy some 7th and 1st IA brigades to other trouble spots as soon as the situation in Al Anbar allows.

The quality of the 7th and 1st IADs is of great importance . . . as you know better than anybody. Bill Roggio talks about the severe shortage of IA in Baghdad province:
http://www.longwarjournal.org/cgi-bin/mt-comments.r639.cgi?entry_id=9766

7th and 1st IA are thought to be especially attractive for deployment in mixed communities because they are relatively non-sectarian.

Posted by: anand at September 24, 2007 02:37 PM

Anand,

I don't really know any more about this than I have already written, sorry.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 24, 2007 02:51 PM

Patrick, nice of you to be an apologist for Iran. So, what Iran does is not Iranian if the religious rulers do it? Or if it is a "bad" thing that Iran does, it is not Iranian, but if it is a "good" thing that Iran does, then that would be Iranian?

Iranians have had almost thirty years of religious zealots as rulers. Either those multitudes of Iranians that find the Mullahs "deeply repugnant" (and it is also nice to know that you are aware of what most Iranians think), or I vote we take the current leadership out by force, and destroy their ability to develop nukes. Well, at least postpone that ability.

"Most" Iranians can think what they want, it is only what they do that I care about.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 24, 2007 03:49 PM

Patrick, nice of you to be an apologist for Iran.

I'm starting a fund to buy Patrick a "I ♥ Mullahs" t-shirt.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 24, 2007 04:05 PM

Patrick & Altrisk -

The tribes are not the problem, the tribes are EVERYTHING in Iraq. This whole thing is not a Sunni vs Shia war it is the tribes who will determine the outcome of the conflict. The 1920's are tribal and al Queda killed the WRONG tribal sheik - he was the tribe tribe as the 1920's BTW. That galvanized them to join with US ONLY because we are less evil in their eyes. Now that they are fighting on our side, they see we are honorable and do not commit unnecessary violence. (But the corollary is TRUE, when we must be violent we are overwhelmingly so, I believe.)

JMHO is all. Oh yeah, check the other Michael for a pretty good run down of what I am talking about. He can say it better than I.

The Hobo

Posted by: Robohobo at September 24, 2007 05:56 PM

It looks like the Middle East will have peace after it has been drenched in blood, as Europe is after the WW's. Knock out all the nukes and let them have at each other.
ED

Posted by: Edward at September 24, 2007 06:04 PM

Great article, Michael.

To add my own opinion of the situation as I see it: I do not see the Sunnis that have turned for help from the U.S. forces to immediately stab them in the back. Primarily, they fear the Shia in power more than our troops and see our troops as more or less as a fair arbiter when dealing with the government in Baghdad. As such, we likely will require some presence in the Sunni area at least until the next Iraqi national elections are held just to assure fairness for all sides involved until then.

The Shia is going to be easier and tougher at the same time, as others have alluded to. Easier - they aren't vehemently anti-American like the Sunnis were. Harder - their militias are not as crazy as AQI and will likely not alienate themselves from their own populations. The trick, IMHO, will be to split the patriotic JAM members that want what is best for Iraq and their own people from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah type JAM members.

But, there is still AQI which could blind-side us again with something that no one is expecting: like they stoked the firestorm of civil war with the Samarra mosque bombing.

Of course, this is just me rambling, and I really don’t know anything more than the next guy stateside.

Posted by: Eric W, Texas at September 24, 2007 07:06 PM

I was stationed at AR Ramadi from September 2006 til April 2007, my MOS in The Marine Corps is field Artillery, we transitioned into Provisional Military Police. Im from Fox Battery 2nd Battalion 11th Marine Regiment out of Camp Pendleton, CA.

We help build Combat Out posts with other Marines and Army personal. We also provided security for the 321st army engineers.

so yes i was a part of bringing the insugency down in Ramadi.

Posted by: CPL. Holbrook at September 24, 2007 07:28 PM

Ron Snyder,

Iranians have had almost thirty years of religious zealots as rulers. Either those multitudes of Iranians that find the Mullahs "deeply repugnant" (and it is also nice to know that you are aware of what most Iranians think), or I vote we take the current leadership out by force, and destroy their ability to develop nukes. Well, at least postpone that ability.

When I converse with Iranians, they are often embarrassed by the excesses of the Safavid Dynasty that has been out of power since the 18th Century. Iran is an empire that has existed for thousands of years. Your willingness to condemn that culture on the basis of the last thirty years of lousy leadership indicates a substantial failure of your imagination. This is like basing your understanding of the US South East on the basis of David Duke's latest pronouncement.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 24, 2007 08:04 PM

DPU,

"I'm starting a fund to buy Patrick a "I ♥ Mullahs" t-shirt."

I already have plenty of rags at home. Since you already have enough money for glue, why don't you just save up for clean needles, instead?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 24, 2007 08:12 PM

Since you already have enough money for glue, why don't you just save up for clean needles, instead?

We get clean needles for free here thanks to our one-party system of government :)

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 24, 2007 08:45 PM

DPU,

We get clean needles for free here thanks to our one-party system of government :)

Now if you would just stop leaving them in the alley.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 24, 2007 10:38 PM

While it is unquestionable that Military forces in Anbar have done superb work it is surprising that your article fails to mention the development efforts that have been undertaken in Ramadi in cooperation with the military forces.

Posted by: David B. Smale at September 25, 2007 12:50 AM

Please support Michael Trotten's work, the alternative is to purchase a case of MSM STDs; hardly a choice if you are permanently infected with the Good News is somehow always the Bad News like some of the commenters here are infected with.

Can't wait till the next report Michael...

Posted by: Rubin at September 25, 2007 06:45 AM

Let me tell a joke here. I think the politicians who are after atomic bombs, or testing them, making them, politically they are backward, retarded.

Posted by: Edgar at September 25, 2007 06:52 AM

please let me know how to print a clear copy of this article without the print and pictures on top of the text.

thanks,
Larry

Posted by: Larry at September 25, 2007 08:06 AM

Great Job! Thanks for your great reporting.

Colonel Silverman's answer to your question about the media's coverage was confusing. I understand that a free press does not have the same mission or duty as the military in Iraq, but don't they have an obligation on reporting the whole truth. It might be he's a positive guy, but his answer left me with more questions. Maybe, in the future you could ask him for a clarification?

Michael Yon made a claim he wouldn't be scared if he was accidently left behind in Kurdish terrority. I know this is totally anectdotal (because we know some Poll might say something else), but I'm just wondering how do feel about your personal safety when you walk around the local people?

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 25, 2007 08:14 AM

Pete,

From what I read, Michael had very good experiences with the Kurds.

But when I polled them afterwards, the results were interesting:

- 81% agreed with the statement: "MJT is an American spy"

-only 13% believed MJT was there for his stated journalistic purpose, while many (88%) thought his report would be "propaganda" or exhibit "Kurdophobia" (76%)

- 75% supported vandalism of MJT's hotel room, and a whopping 91% thought stealing his luggage was justified

-However, 96% of all Kurds polled said their overall impression of MJT was "very positive"

Posted by: Edgar at September 25, 2007 08:33 AM

Edgar-

Thank you, again. You never disappoint. And I thought my morning was going to suck. That $hit was funny. LOL

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 25, 2007 08:53 AM

Patrick, I do not believe I made any comment about the Iranian/Persian culture. Again, my concern is what actions they engage in.

David Duke; nope, on balance I do not care what he says. Now, if he, oh, lynched someone, then yep, I would care and want action taken against him. Perhaps if only I had your imagination (and an active one it is indeed).

A lot of us have been in the service, a lot of us have served overseas, and a lot of us have a reasonable knowledge of world history (though we differ somewhat in what meanings we derive from historical events).

The American culture is only about 250 years old, the culture that has currently named Iran at its center may be about 4,000 years old. And this matters why?

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 25, 2007 09:10 AM

"The American culture is only about 250 years old"

A Myth. American culture goes back a lot further than the declaration of independence. It is a product of many streams, flowing down through time. We have a "Senate" because that's what the Roman Republic had- that is our culture. Look at the architecture of our public buildings- columns and cornices and pediments that would not have been out of place in the Acropolis. That is our culture. Beowulf and the Eddas- our culture too. We did not cross the Styx or the Lethe and lose our memory, we only crossed the Atlantic. Age of a particular political entity is irrelevant. Would anyone think Jewish culture only goes back to the founding of Israel?

Ben

Posted by: Ben at September 25, 2007 09:42 AM

Ben,

Agreed. It's like saying that the game Twister dates back only to the 1960s, while Mahjong is ancient and more sophisticated game.

In fact, there's a rich cultural heritage behind Twister that stretches back centuries, if not millenia.

Anyway, Iran does have an interesting past. But in the present, let's bomb them. And in the near future, let's invade.

Posted by: Edgar at September 25, 2007 09:55 AM

Very good article. FM3-24 good effort. FMFM-1A (Posted on D-N-I.net) may be better. Check out FMFM-1A-3A Tactical Decision Games as well. FMFM-1A has been out there for quite some time. USMC has been best customer of D-N-I material and John Boyd's as well. It is good to see US Army becoming consitent end user too!

May Allah bless you American Muhajideen!

Salaam eleikum!

Posted by: Marzouq at September 25, 2007 10:14 AM

Larry,

When I print copies I copy and paste the text into Microsoft Word and print it from there. I wish there was an easier way, but the software I use doesn't provide that functionality. I'm thinking of upgrading soon...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 25, 2007 11:09 AM

^ What the heck is that? Piss on you and your douchebaggery you backwards troglodyte.

Posted by: Johndakota at September 25, 2007 11:10 AM

Pete Dawg: Michael Yon made a claim he wouldn't be scared if he was accidently left behind in Kurdish terrority.

I spent two months in Kurdish territory with no protection. It is safer than Iowa, seriously. There is no war, no insurgency, no kidnapping, and less terrorism than in Israel (which is full of tourists).

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 25, 2007 11:11 AM

I'm fairly sure there is no meaningful distinction between the Sadrists and the Islamic Republic, but you should not call them Iranians because there are different imperial cultures at work there.

In order to believe this, you have to believe that Sadr's six-month ceasefire in July, and his prior consistent attempts to avoid confrontation with US forces, (as documented in, for example, Mike's article!) is an Iranian idea.

But that would seem to require repealing all the rhetoric about Iran being our indefatigable enemy in Iraq.

I'm sure you have a way to resolve this contradiction, Pat, but I'm skeptical that it's a realistic one. As for me, although Sadr is inspired by some Iranian client models, he clearly has his own, distinctly separate agenda.

Posted by: glasnost at September 25, 2007 11:12 AM

Sorry Michael,

That wasn't meant for you. It was meant for the gibberish posted by the Islamic militant lover.

Posted by: Johndakota at September 25, 2007 11:13 AM

glasnost: In order to believe this, you have to believe that Sadr's six-month ceasefire in July, and his prior consistent attempts to avoid confrontation with US forces... is an Iranian idea.

But that would seem to require repealing all the rhetoric about Iran being our indefatigable enemy in Iraq.

Well, if you remember, Hamas wanted a "long-term truce" with Israel. Doesn't mean they've given up the idea of killing the Jews that live there.

Iran doesn't want confrontation with U.S. forces any more than Sadr does. They want to wear them down gradually.

Posted by: Edgar at September 25, 2007 11:29 AM

glasnost,

I'm sure you have a way to resolve this contradiction, Pat, but I'm skeptical that it's a realistic one. As for me, although Sadr is inspired by some Iranian client models, he clearly has his own, distinctly separate agenda.

I'm sure that Iran would like to have greater control over Sadr, but he has a much stronger position than Hezbollah does in Lebanon. He has people sitting on top of oil wells, and although that is not the same as real wealth, the people of Iraq don't know that. As far as he is concerned, he can push back at Iran for his own survival. (Although I do think he's overplayed his hand on the basis of Anbar developments.)

Somewhat off topic but an important background item: Iraqi's think they should be rich because they have natural resources. Using ancient models of wealth, they are, but we are using modern criteria. The KRG's economists understand why South Korea and Singapore are rich even though they have no significant natural resources, and they are trying to get the message across, but it takes a lot of time.

Modern wealth is primarily created through repeated successful trades and the production of necessary goods, but most Iraqi's I've talked to about economics don't get this. Although a deeply cultured and intelligent people, decades of oppression have created an atmosphere of naivety in Iraq. Regrettably the most widespread group of successful independent educated economists are the smugglers, and their view is necessarily skewed.

One of our biggest problems in Iraq is the lack of economic understanding amongst the populace. This is not something that is easily remedied and can't be fixed overnight. Something that the "leave as quickly as possible" advocates simply fail to address is that without better understanding of economics, the people of Iraq are going to be vulnerable to vile opportunists of every stripe.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 25, 2007 11:55 AM

He has people sitting on top of oil wells, and although that is not the same as real wealth...

In what way is the control of oil not "real wealth"?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 12:35 PM

Well, if you remember, Hamas wanted a "long-term truce" with Israel. Doesn't mean they've given up the idea of killing the Jews that live there.

I think, to the extent that they did, in fact, want a long-term truce, that sort of implies, in fact, giving up.

Did the Soviet Union have a long-term plan to exterminate the United States in 1976? Really? Why did they keep putting off the implementation?

Similarly, Iran doesn't want confrontation with U.S. forces any more than Sadr does.

I think Iran wants a confrontation more than Sadr. That's why Iranian-paid Shiite cells apparently continue to attack the US while Sadr stops. You're entitled to your opinion, but I think that's a very logical conclusion to draw.

Posted by: glasnost at September 25, 2007 12:58 PM

I think Iran wants a confrontation more than Sadr. That's why Iranian-paid Shiite cells apparently continue to attack the US while Sadr stops.

The faction within Iraq that is closest to Iran is working somewhat closely with the Americans at the moment. Which Shiite cells are attacking US forces at the moment?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 01:06 PM

Ron-

Ben was getting at the correct point, but I think he fumbled it a bit (no offense, Ben).
"American" culture is indeed 250 years old. But that's to claim America is somehow detached from the larger Western culture as a whole (particularly Western Republicanism).
If you narrow the culture of America to just America's life, you must also narrow the culture of Persians to Iran's life (or even Persia's, which would date farther back).
In other words, you can't just set the criteria one way for one culture, and another way for the other, to make a point of "this culture is older and therefore correct." (And I'm not too sure why "older is correct" thinking is pervading with so many people. Just because something has been done for a long period of time doesn't negate that it is severely flawed and is worth changing. History is in part a story of learning through trial and error that sometimes long-term practices prove to not be working, are immoral, or have lost their usefulness or become abusive).
Referring to the Persians as a culture of only a few hundred or even couple thousand years would be a disservice to them. It is an equal disservice to claim America's culture is only 250 years old.
This is not the young-punk, fiery Americans coming to some age-old civilization and turning it on its head suddenly. Both Western and Persian cultures are thousands of years old and have been at odds for nearly that entire length of time (as they have, for so long, stood as an antithesis to each other). I believe Victor Hanson put it best:

"If a no-nonsense Greek infantryman holding the pass at Thermopylae were to be told that, 2,500 years in the future, Western constitutional states would still be facing an apocalyptic struggle with a totalitarian government in Persia, he would hardly be surprised."

Posted by: Joe at September 25, 2007 01:23 PM

In what way is the control of oil not "real wealth"?

Patrick ansered that question at length in the rest of his comment.

Posted by: Yehudit at September 25, 2007 02:14 PM

Did the Soviet Union have a long-term plan to exterminate the United States in 1976? Really? Why did they keep putting off the implementation?
-Glasnost

Who said the Soviet Union was putting off it's plan for the desruction of the United States and world domination. (reminds of Dr Evil). What were all those proxy wars around the globe? Vietnam, Angola, Nicaragua and the Philippines. These places were fronts that the Soviet Union were trying to exploit. But let's not forget the propaganda front that the KGB waged against the west and the US. It was the KGB that fueled a majority of the unilateral disarmament crowd in western Europe and the US.

The problem was Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II came on the world scene. Both were determined to defeat communism. Plus the fact that communism was an utterly stupid form of government. So, the Soviet Union had always been following the plan they were just the first ones to blink.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 25, 2007 03:14 PM

Yehudit,

I suspect that DPU is a proponent of the "Scrooge McDuck Lite" school of economics. The basic theory of this school is that rich people are rich because they have a giant vault full of money that they take treasure baths in and that well meaning redistributionists wearing striped clothes and masks are repeatedly thwarted in their efforts to properly channel wealth to the general populace.

It is worth noting that this differs from the mainstream Scrooge McDuck school of economics because that acknowledges supply and demand as a force in commerce.

Oil is a cyclical commodity that varies in price in a boom and bust pattern. It is not real wealth because it cannot change its primary nature over time. There is no way to increase the value of oil during the bust time, and there is no ready way of changing the product. This differs from real national wealth because it does not depend on the people of the country to generate.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 25, 2007 03:20 PM

Patrick ansered that question at length in the rest of his comment.

No he didn't. He made several proclamations that restated that he didn't think that resources or commodities equaled wealth, but not why he thought that. And while he presented Singapore and South Korea as examples of wealthy nations that were resource poor, he seemed to ignore the fact that they too would be poor if they were not able to add value to or to skim wealth from resource-based .commodities and industries.

Controlling a valuable commodity is traditionally easy way to gain wealth. It's odd to see it proposed that it isn't in this case without further explanation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 03:31 PM

I suspect that DPU is a proponent of the "Scrooge McDuck Lite" school of economics.

Then you would be a fool. As we all know that you aren't, then you must be mistaken in this regard.

Oil is a cyclical commodity that varies in price in a boom and bust pattern. It is not real wealth because it cannot change its primary nature over time.

If only there were a way to convert the commodity into some form of easily-exchanged item of economic value that could be used to purchase other items that are indicitive of wealth. I wonder if has occurred to them that this oil could be sold for cash?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 03:37 PM

Patrick, you may need to edit the Wikipedia entry on John D. Rockefeller. They mistakenly state that he was wealthy.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 03:41 PM

I'll boldly go where I probably shouldn't.

Patrick's discussion of wealth is similar to discussions I have with my friends regarding the difference between financial wealth and economic wealth.

Countries dependent on oil sales would fall into the financial wealth category. They have a lot of cash, but not much of anything else.

Economic wealth, however, entails taking natural resources, such as oil or iron ore, and then turning them into value-added products that people will want to buy.

Unless financially wealthy countries use their money to develop economic wealth, then their economies will stagnate or collapse once the source of the financial wealth runs out.

Granted, economists may not agree with our terminology, but I think it helps explain the point Patrick was trying to make. Maybe.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 25, 2007 04:00 PM

Granted, economists may not agree with our terminology, but I think it helps explain the point Patrick was trying to make.

You mean that he has confused the terms "wealth" and "sustainable wealth"?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 04:10 PM

During WWII, housewives in the US made aircraft and other material. Most importantly, people from Alabama made aircraft in Los Angeles, California. That degree of economic and cultural flexibility was unheard of in history and does a lot to explain why the US is the richest country in the world. The adaptability of citizens allows us to change rapidly and effectively to meet new challenges.

This has nothing to do with sustainable wealth.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 25, 2007 04:57 PM

During WWII, housewives in the US made aircraft and other material. Most importantly, people from Alabama made aircraft in Los Angeles, California. That degree of economic and cultural flexibility was unheard of in history and does a lot to explain why the US is the richest country in the world. The adaptability of citizens allows us to change rapidly and effectively to meet new challenges.

Did a duck come up with this theory?

Seriously, that's a little vague on economic theory and quite strong on, well, I'm not sure what that is. Have you taken any economics courses?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 05:02 PM

No, I don't think he was confused at all, I just don't think he was using terms that you could relate to.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 25, 2007 05:05 PM

I just don't think he was using terms that you could relate to.

I'm open to other terms. I initially asked the question in good faith as I wasn't sure what he was getting at, but all I've seen back so far is snark and the apparent teachings from the economic school of gobbledygook.

To get back to the original point, those who control oil are likely doing so because they are controlling a source of revenue. I'm open to discussions around why that might not be the case.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 05:13 PM

They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.”

AQ's most important fight in the world is now for the hearts and minds of the American Left. That'll be a far FAR tougher battle for us to win, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Carlos at September 25, 2007 06:00 PM

I don't think anyone is disputing oil is a source of revenue, rather the point Patrick is making is that Iraqis and others in the Middle East confuse revenue with economic wealth.

Until Iraqi leaders learn the difference and begin working to develop a diversified economy capable of creating value added products and services, then Iraq will be a fragile nation.

As will every country in the Middle East.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 25, 2007 06:07 PM

d-p-ungood,

Please..."Did a duck come up with this theory?"???

The statement by Mr. Lasswell:

"During WWII, housewives in the US made aircraft and other material. Most importantly, people from Alabama made aircraft in Los Angeles, California. That degree of economic and cultural flexibility was unheard of in history and does a lot to explain why the US is the richest country in the world. The adaptability of citizens allows us to change rapidly and effectively to meet new challenges.

This has nothing to do with sustainable wealth."

I consider that a very clear testamonial to the nature of the American spirit. I believe there are some Canucks who understand and share that spirit. Perhaps you are one of them. If not, you might as well give in. Reacting in a deliberately obtuse fashion only makes you look like a poor loser.

Posted by: John at September 25, 2007 06:21 PM

AQ's most important fight in the world is now for the hearts and minds of the American Left. That'll be a far FAR tougher battle for us to win, I'm afraid.
-Carlos

Very, very good point. If only the American Left would help us defeat the enemy instead of giving them a bunch of talking points.

Yesterdays, propaganda coup by that madman from Iran President Imadinnerplate or whatever is a perfect example of the Left's delusional belief that Iran's leadership isn't the problem. The lefties in the audience didn't know how to react to President Imadinnerplate statement that we don't have HOMOSEXUALS in Iran like America does. At first the audience laughed, but later some booed. Yeah they don't have openly HOMOSEXUALS because they either get arrested or stoned to death.

Columbia University a place of HIGHER EDUCATION... Yeah, my A$$ it is.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 25, 2007 06:27 PM

I just want to make sure that the Marines of 1/6 get recognized for what they did in Ramadi. These Marines were in the city, at the checkpoints,and working side by side with the IP and IA from 9/06 - 5/07. They came into a city where the insurgents had control and when they left the people of Ramadi could walk out on the streets.

Posted by: Loren at September 25, 2007 06:28 PM

HOMOSEXUALS

Yeah, notice how that's the only part that got a rise out of those Lefties. LOLOLOL! Wipe Israel off the map? Ho hum. Killing Americans in Iraq? Yaaaawn. Nukes? Big deal. But you mention gays, and hoooooboy! LOL. That's the stuff of parody.

Posted by: Carlos at September 25, 2007 06:34 PM

We interrupt your regularly scheduled leftie-bashing to bring you a breaking non-story from the no-news-is-good-news department.

Indeed, the enormous car and truck bombs that plagued Baghdad for so long have been absent in recent weeks.
Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 25, 2007 06:47 PM

Now back to your regularly scheduled and righteous leftie-bashing.

Posted by: John at September 25, 2007 07:34 PM

The lefties in the audience didn't know how to react to President Imadinnerplate statement that we don't have HOMOSEXUALS in Iran like America does. At first the audience laughed, but later some booed.

Achmadenijad's squirming denial of reality got the derision it deserved. As others have observed, it was like watching a real-life Borat in action.

"You telling me the man who try to put rubber fist in my anus was a homosexual?"

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 25, 2007 07:36 PM

CG: Kind-a took that non-story line out of context?

The actual article was about a nasty series of attacks (hopefully a weak Tet).

The governor of Diyala Province, who was injured in the attack, was saved from death by his bodyguards, who saw the bomber making for the governor and threw themselves on top of him. All five of his bodyguards died and the governor had to be dragged from underneath them, said a provincial official in Diyala who rushed to the scene to help with the rescue. He requested anonymity for fear of becoming a target.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 25, 2007 07:50 PM

Kind-a took that non-story line out of context?

Of course. It's not the kind of thing that sells newspapers. But it's important, and the longer it continues, the more important it becomes.

The surge troops in Baghdad are presumably contributing to the dropoff. But my hunch and my hope is that there's another, bigger factor at work: now that the Sunnis have rejected Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, perhaps a scarcity of safe havens has made it difficult to coordinate and stage such attacks. If that's the case, the change may be more durable.

At least until the Sunnis lose all faith in the central government and civil war starts in earnest.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 25, 2007 08:14 PM

Aww, c'mon guys it's regularly scheduled Left Bashing... It's more like opportunistic bashing. You got to admit everyday brings new talking for Osama and Imadinnerplate.

Personally, I feel so much better that Osama Bin Laden cares that the Democrats haven't kept their promise on pulling out of Iraq. Or that Global Warming and the US housing market is such a concern in his cave. ;p

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 25, 2007 08:25 PM

"breaking non-story from the no-news-is-good-news department"

You might find it strange but I see it as good news.

"The latest outbreak of violence follows closely on the concerted efforts of President Bush and Gen. David H. Petraeus to portray
the American troop "surge" as having succeeded in bringing more stability to Iraq. Iraqi officials said Tuesday that the attacks
might well have been intended to blunt that message."

If surge has no effect why would AQ care what Gen. Petraeus "lies" about to Congress?
What's with all this change of targets? Out of spite?

"The militants announced on an audiotape that they would ... focus their efforts on rival tribal figures and collaborators.
Sunni Arab militant groups have a history of using such high-profile killings to sow fear in the public and to discourage people
from working with the government."

I hope this one will backfire much stronger than so called Anbar awakening.
It is one thing when AQ kills poor fellah nobody cares about and it is another when your whole tribal structure is in danger.
I also think this one will actually allow our military to clear the area of selves and move on with the rest of Iraq.
Some units will definitely get chance to come home sooner rather then later.

Posted by: leo at September 26, 2007 06:24 AM

I consider that a very clear testamonial to the nature of the American spirit.

Because no other nation on Earth has ever had women work in factories, or thought that people from one part of the country could work in another?

You really think this is the basis of either bragging rights or national economic character?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 06:26 AM

I don't think anyone is disputing oil is a source of revenue, rather the point Patrick is making is that Iraqis and others in the Middle East confuse revenue with economic wealth.

I'd have no trouble with that statement, although possibly debatable regarding one or two nations. But that isn't what he said, and when I proposed exactly what you've just said, that he is confusing the terms "wealth" with "sustainable wealth", I was told by him that this wasn't the case.

That, along with being told by Patrick that I subscribe to a cartoon theory of economics when he apparently has little understanding of economics himself, is yet another reminder that on the internet, having a opinion about something makes you an expert in that field.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 06:38 AM

The lefties in the audience didn't know how to react to President Imadinnerplate statement that we don't have HOMOSEXUALS in Iran like America does. At first the audience laughed, but later some booed.

It actually sounds as though some righties don't know how to react to lefties booing or laughing at Ahmadinejad. I think that they expected lefties to respond with cheers and carrying Ahmadinejad around the room.

So I suspect that the best response they can can come up with on short notice is that the lefties were confused. Pretty lame spin though.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 07:13 AM

Double-

No, having Imadinnerplate their as a speaker was pretty lame. Bollinger was claiming it was free speech, bullshit. The lefties have more respect for Imadinnerplate than the ROTC or the Minute Men.

It actually sounds as though some righties don't know how to react to lefties booing or laughing at Ahmadinejad. I think that they expected lefties to respond with cheers and carrying Ahmadinejad around the room. - Double

No, you idiot I'd know how to react I'd boo him for the terrorist he is. Even though I'm on the Right I don't believe that HOMOSEXUALS should be arrested or stoned to death becuase of their persuasion. If the idiots in the audience had a brain cell they would have booed him off the stage. As far as the Lefties carrying Imadinnerpate around the room they didn't have to; the Islamic media around the world just had to show the STANDING OVATION the lamebrains gave this wannabe Hitler.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 26, 2007 07:41 AM

Pete Dawg - stellar stuff. Class A raving, right down to the all-caps "homosexuals". Bravo.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 07:43 AM

Pete Dawg: The lefties in the audience didn't know how to react to President Imadinnerplate statement that we don't have HOMOSEXUALS in Iran like America does.

I'm not sure if I'll have an audience of lefties (and I have no idea how they'd react), but Ahmadinejad sure as hell won't know how to react when I put him in a powerful crucifix hold.

Nobody gets out of it. Even a slippery weasel like him.

I'm still trying to find the appropriate time to pull it off. His security is pretty damn tight at the moment, unfortunately.

Posted by: Edgar at September 26, 2007 07:44 AM

The problem with mainstream media:

" “Most of what they report is accurate,” he said..."

And the rest is what?

Posted by: Kevin China at September 26, 2007 07:49 AM

I'm still trying to find the appropriate time to pull it off. His security is pretty damn tight at the moment, unfortunately.

Maybe you can invite him to participate in some "performance art". By the time he figures out what you are actually up to, it'll be too late.

And don't forget the photographic evidence. No evidence, no $50.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 26, 2007 07:50 AM

His security is pretty damn tight at the moment, unfortunately.

"Hey, you guys. Yeah, you, the Ahmadinejad security dudes. Look, over there, homos."

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 07:50 AM

Never mind, I think DPU has the better plan. LOL!

Posted by: Dogwood at September 26, 2007 07:53 AM

Edgar- You could've invited to try a game of Twister. And when he would've spun a red right hand; you could've put the Smack Down on him. ;p

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 26, 2007 07:59 AM

It actually sounds as though some righties don't know how to react to lefties booing or laughing at Ahmadinejad

Such confusion is not widespread. Check out this LGF comment thread --nearly all of the contributors interpret the students' jeering correctly.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 26, 2007 08:00 AM

Maybe one of Ahmadinejad's aides will gently inform him that there are, in fact, some gays left in Iran.

Hugely embarrassed, he'll have the rest of them executed as quickly as possible.

Some people will then lament how our deep-seated prejudices prevented us from giving him the benefit of the doubt and scold us for mocking him in the first place.

Posted by: Edgar at September 26, 2007 08:07 AM

Check out this LGF comment thread --nearly all of the contributors interpret the students' jeering correctly.

Ugh. I looked as far as the commenter who thought that the translator was on Ahmadinejad's side before I had to give up.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 08:09 AM

DPU: Ugh. I looked as far as the commenter who thought that the translator was on Ahmadinejad's side before I had to give up.

Yeah, that's ridiculous. I speak Farsi, and from what I understood, he talked at length about the important of separating mosque and state, legalizing abortion and tolerating gay marriage in Iran.

The interpreter mashed it up badly. After it went through her neo-con filter, it ended up sounding like a boring religious sermon sprinkled with comments praising holocaust denial and doubting the very existence of gays.

But what can we expect from interpreters who translated the friendly desire to "erase Israel from the pages of time" into "wipe them off the map"?

Money talks. And Ahmadinejad talks. The way Bush wants him to, that is.

Posted by: Edgar at September 26, 2007 08:17 AM

Maybe one of Ahmadinejad's aides will gently inform him that there are, in fact, some gays left in Iran.

An Iranian reporter today informed him that she personally knew several homosexuals in Iran. Ahmadinejad asked her for their addresses.

Seriously.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 08:23 AM

The interpreter mashed it up badly. After it went through her neo-con filter, it ended up sounding like a boring religious sermon sprinkled with comments praising holocaust denial and doubting the very existence of gays. - Edgar

Thanks, Ed It's like I just had my morning coffee ;p

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 26, 2007 08:35 AM

DPU: Ugh. I looked as far as the commenter who thought that the translator was on Ahmadinejad's side before I had to give up.

Wuss. Take my word for it then. I quite enjoyed it.

The American right is usually on the defensive about gay rights, but Achmadenijad provided a common enemy to unite us. It was a rare chance for people who normally spend a lot of time fighting to keep gays out of the military and the wedding chapel to celebrate our relative tolerance.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 26, 2007 08:44 AM

Iran has shut down a leading moderate daily for the second time in less than a year after it published an interview with a woman accused of being a homosexual activist, staff members said on Monday.
The ban on Shargh (East), the favourite newspaper of Iranian liberals, comes amid growing pressure on the press in Iran and follows the closure of fellow moderate daily Ham Mihan last month.
Aug 6th 2007

DPU - You really can't be that naive? Can you?

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 26, 2007 08:49 AM

You really can't be that naive?

What are you going on about now? I read and reread that statement above to try and understand what you think I'm being naive about, but you didn't mention it.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 09:20 AM

An Iranian reporter today informed him that she personally knew several homosexuals in Iran. Ahmadinejad asked her for their addresses.

Seriously.

Posted by double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 08:23 AM

I was responding to this post you put up. When you put up the word "Seriously." I interpret you meaning "Aw, c'mon he really isn't going to get the addresses of these homosexuals (see small caps). If that isn't what you meant, please feel free to explain what you really meant to say.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 26, 2007 09:27 AM

I interpret you meaning...

I put that there in case anyone thought it was a joke, as there were a number of jokes being made at the time.

Damn, never a strawman so looney that they won't take a grab at it. Buy a clue, PD, you seriously need one.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 09:30 AM

From the LGF comments, I personally liked:

dead man rambling

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 26, 2007 09:49 AM

The Lebanon Daily Star has published a translation of an article originally from the September 2007 Arab Reform Bulletin, entitled Deconstructing Iraq's Sunni armed groups.

As militants sense that a US withdrawal is approaching, defeating the occupation has lost primacy as a goal in favor of maneuvering to fill the power vacuum in the post-occupation stage.

The article describes a bewildering array of factions. I wonder to what extent the impenetrability is attributable to plain old lack of familiarity with Iraqi Sunni culture, and to what extent it is due to the fact that these factions square off outside a political context, so the media never get a good chance to size them up.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 26, 2007 09:54 AM

DPU,

Because no other nation on Earth has ever had women work in factories, or thought that people from one part of the country could work in another?

Pretty much. It had never been done before by free people, freely. The Soviet Union did that in a way, but their methods were inferior. Instead of offering better wages for people who transferred, they herded populations into trains at gunpoint. Patriotic duty is better performed voluntarily instead of with death threats.

Americans also identified themselves more strongly as Americans than they did Welsh, Hessian, Neapolitan, or Galwegian. The less fractious integration of workers from differing cultures and races is a massive turning point in the history of free people.

While you accuse me of not having much economics education, your own descriptions of history are depressingly shallow. It is like you never seriously studied war or the United States. Or perhaps you never studied them without the intention to demean...

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 26, 2007 10:35 AM

"Or perhaps you never studied them without the intention to demean..."

Not gonna lie. That thought had crossed my mind as I observed DPU's comments in the past. Maybe it just comes off that way? I hope so.

Posted by: Joe at September 26, 2007 11:21 AM

Or perhaps you never studied them without the intention to demean...

Wow, lots of projection, as usual. Find a post or a comment from me that demeans the US or its history, Patrick. For that matter, what do you know of anything that I've said about US history?

Pretty much. It had never been done before by free people, freely

Women in Britain were herded at gunpoint into factories as well? News to me, and both my parents were in Britain during the war.

Americans also identified themselves more strongly as Americans than they did Welsh, Hessian, Neapolitan, or Galwegian.

Galwegian? You mean from Galloway?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 12:10 PM

During WWII, housewives in the US made aircraft and other material. Most importantly, people from Alabama made aircraft in Los Angeles, California. That degree of economic and cultural flexibility was unheard of in history and does a lot to explain why the US is the richest country in the world. The adaptability of citizens allows us to change rapidly and effectively to meet new challenges.

This is one of the silliest posts I've ever read in the comments. Quite amusing.

What do you think Canadian women were doing during WWII? Right, the exact same thing that the US women were.

Also, on a GNP per capita basis, the US is not the richest country in the world - the US falls in about 4th. Norway is number 2 somewhat because they are sitting on a huge reservoir of oil (about 30% of their GDP is oil).

And if the dollar continues to fall like it has . . .

Posted by: markytom at September 26, 2007 12:11 PM

Not gonna lie. That thought had crossed my mind as I observed DPU's comments in the past.

Okay, time to put up or admit that you're full of shit. What comments? Just one.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 12:12 PM

Gotta weigh on in DPU's side here. I've been reading his comments for years and never put him in the anti-American column.

Some of you need to chill out a bit.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 26, 2007 12:19 PM

Some of you need to chill out a bit.

Or at least back up accusations like that. But thanks, I appreciate the vote of confidence.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 12:31 PM

Michael,
Is it me, or does the assassination of Sattar and the latest bombing in Baqouba seem like a act of desperation? What does AQI think it's accomplishing? All this does, in my opinion, is motivate the "tribal" leaders to action. And with the precedence in the Anwar area being extremely positive, what are they thinking????? So long have I heard about how we are losing the propaganda war, heck with actions like this and the shift in US strategy, don't need to do much anymore. AQI is giving it to us. Desperation or calculated? Maybe calculated desperation.
What are your thoughts?

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 26, 2007 01:28 PM

Kevin,

Looks like straight-up desperation to me. They are losing, and hard.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 26, 2007 01:34 PM

DPU-

Easy now. For starters I wasn't endorsing Patrick's argument regarding labor and history (not that you accused me of such). On the contrary, I disagree with his statement and would even question the depth of his world history knowledge to at least some degree (and I don't believe you were being demeaning, or were really even too off-base/incorrect, in that particular instance).
As for that thought crossing my mind of you studying history with the aims to demean, that thought crossed my mind due to your usual negative outlook regarding history and current events. And I don't mean that just at America (not sure if MJT felt it was others or myself ridiculously putting you in the "anti-American column" as you are quite the opposite: usually having a good amount of passion in your arguments that contend what's best for America). It seems you tend to use what knowledge of history you present in a demeaning fashion towards the optimistic idea of doing something great where before there was only cynicism. While I agree there are plenty of examples in history to make one act in this way, there are also plenty of examples to provide reason to know there are principles worth taking a stand for despite the inevitable cost.
I guess what I'm essentially trying to say is that you're a Negative Nancy, and you cherry pick historic examples that are also sometimes taken out of context to support your view.
However, I do not know you at all, and as such (if you read the end of my comment regarding you maybe only "coming off that way") I find it more than fair to give you the benefit of the doubt. You aren't on here trashing America (at least not those from the Center to the Left ;-), merely being a contrarian. But I have many friends who are wonderful contrarians, as well, so no hard feelings (besides, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about..but please don't force me to tediously go back through all your posts like some loser to pull up examples in defense, as I was looking forward to a relaxing night with a beer....)
Just wanted to add my 2 cents, but unfortunately it appears there's enough people doing that to make a dollar so maybe I'll just continue to watch and skim over the DPU-Patrick-related battles...

Posted by: Joe at September 26, 2007 02:00 PM

DPU,

You don't regularly offer much beyond criticism. I'm more than a little tired of offering new ideas and insights only to be crapped on by you when you risk so little of yourself. I have not done an actual count, but it does not look like more than 1/5 of your posts contain more than three lines of disparagement.

You can probably do a lot more and a lot better. But you don't. I don't feel tremendously constrained to offer you better in exchange for so little.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at September 26, 2007 04:14 PM

I'm more than a little tired of offering new ideas and insights only to be crapped on by you when you risk so little of yourself.

I asked you a simple question about why you thought something a little upstream in this thread, and you responded by loudly speculating about my belief in Scrooge McDuck economics based on that simple question, and then proceeded to berate me as though those were my actual beliefs.

You're being crapped on?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 04:27 PM

I guess what I'm essentially trying to say is that you're a Negative Nancy, and you cherry pick historic examples that are also sometimes taken out of context to support your view.

(a) examples?

(b) If my views on Iraq here seem negative, it is likely because there is a class of commenter here who eagerly grasps every factoid they can to support a belief that things will be fine, no matter how slim a reed. If I point that out, I may be seen as negative or a contrarian. But I think that if you visit the archives, you'll find that it has so far been a more realistic view than that of the reed-graspers.

Regarding recent discussions about Iran, I think it's foolish to risk so much on the slim and debatable hope that bombing parts of the country will result in a popular uprising against the Iranian regime. I'm not sure what's negative about that, other than me disagreeing with a minority position here. Is that it?

In terms of my current views on Iraq, I say escalation and occupation until the problems of sectarianism are fixed. Do you see that as a negative standpoint?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 04:36 PM

DPU: There is a class of commenter here who eagerly grasps every factoid they can to support a belief that things will be fine, no matter how slim a reed.

Yeah, speaking of which, I recently found out that Ahmadinejad has a wife and kids. Can you believe it? Ahmadinejad is a loving family man.

Just reading that filled me hope. It really did. He's not quite the monster we thought, is he?

Posted by: Edgar at September 26, 2007 05:36 PM

Edgar: Ahmadinejad has a wife...

Yeah, but does he still beat her?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 26, 2007 06:00 PM

Yeah, speaking of which, I recently found out that Ahmadinejad has a wife and kids.

Yeah, well so did Hitler.

Oh, wait, no he didn't. Well, Stalin did.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 26, 2007 07:02 PM

Yeah, but even in pictures Stalin looks like a complete asshole.

Mahmoud seems friendly. That's gotta mean something.

Posted by: Edgar at September 26, 2007 07:30 PM

Edgar,

Ya, that dark unibrow thing with the scruffy facial hair and turned up collar has really caught on with certain crowds. The same crowds that dig Chavez, Assad, Castro, Ahmadinnerjacket for sticking it to the Devil, George W. Bushitlerburton and Co.

Posted by: John at September 26, 2007 08:23 PM

The trouble for the Americans with the Shias is that so many prefer Iranian assistance, which they deem more reliable after President George H. W. Bush abandoned them to Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War.

This is interesting - we hear about Iran supplying IEDs, but I doubt that this is the sort of 'assistance' Silverman is talking about. Al Sadr and other Shi'ite militias have scaled back their attacks. In fact, if we ignored most of the anti-Iran and anti-Ahmadinejad rhetoric out there, we might even think that Iran was, in it's own clumsy way, trying to pacify Iraq, just as we are. That would make sense, since they share a border with Iraq and their economy isn't doing well.

Of course, we don't know how long this will last, but for now most of the trouble seems to be coming from al Qaeda. So why are Americans (including the media) ranting and raving about al Sadr's sponsors while ignoring al Qaeda's sponsors?

There will be no Arab forces coming to the rescue, Saudi Arabian bravado to the contrary.

Al Qaeda and their car bombers are the Saudi Cavalry, and they were sent in years ago. From what I see here, it seems that most of the problems in Iraq started with the Saudi cavalry. The Shi'ites turned to al Sadr, the only thug that could defend them from the Saudi cavalry. The Iraqi Sunnis welcomed them at first, then decided that they've had enough of AQ's Saudi charm. Their famous charm has worked so well in other places, from Britain to Afghanistan to Southeast Asia - they must have been surprised when the 'tribal' Iraqi sunnis got mad.

I'm glad we're learning to fight this cavalry, but long term, I don't think we benefit in any way by calling their sponsors allies.

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2007 07:22 AM

Joe/Ben, thanks for your comments. I think that there is a unique "American" culture, and since America is roughly 250 years old, that was why I chose to use that specific time frame. Western Culture is thousands of years old, American Culture is not.

Would be a bit of a stretch to read into my comments that I said American Culture (or ANY culture/country/region/...) is independent of historical influences. Some to a greater degree, some to a lesser degree. Of course I know that we (U.S.) developed our culture primarily from the larger Western Civilization subset.

Why would it be a disservice to state that Persian history is 4,000 years old? It is certainly less than 6,000 years old, and more than 2,000 years old; so pick a number you are comfortable with. At some point in time it becomes very muddled and tenuous.

My post was in response to one of Mr. Lasswell's more banal, self-righteous and judgemental comments.

Agree with you about VDH, he is great; whenever I know of an interview being done with him I make sure to listen/watch it. Kind of like John Burns of the NYT, or Mike Yon (or MJT ).

Regards

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 27, 2007 08:04 AM

In fact, if we ignored most of the anti-Iran and anti-Ahmadinejad rhetoric out there, we might even think that Iran was, in it's own clumsy way, trying to pacify Iraq, just as we are.

As has been pointed out quite a few times here, the current Iraqi government and the Badr Brigade, who essentially run the Ministry of the Interior, are very close to Iran, much closer than al Sadr is. However, it's politically inconvenient to think about a supposed ally as an ally of an enemy, so al Sadr is the focus for much of the Iran-bashing.

It's also been said that if Iran had wanted to, they could have made things far, far worse for the US in Iraq.

So, again, I'm in the odd position of agreeing with you, at least with that bit. Regarding the rest, well, I think you always confuse the support of Saudis for al Qaeda with Saudi government support for al Qaeda.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 09:39 AM

Ron-

I have no doubt you understand the correlation between American and Western culture. And I don't feel that it's a disservice for you to state the Iranian or Persian culture is over 4,000 years old. Because that would be an accurate statement. What I think is a disservice is referring to American culture as only 250 years old. The United States is around 250 years old. American culture is thousands of years old given it is essentially Western culture (more specifically, Western Constitutionalism and Republicanism).
Where I was nitpicking (and yes, I am nitpicking, but I'll explain why in a second) was that if you are going to judge America's culture to be only the length of the country in which it resides, then you could only call Iranian culture slightly older (or even younger!) than 250 years, given that it wasn't until then that the modern form of their country was established. This is of course not accurate, but neither is the idea our own culture is only 250 years old.
The reason I am nitpicking is because of the impression I got that you were advancing an idea along the lines of "who are we, with a 250 year culture, to go to a 4,000 year old culture and tell it to change." I've been hearing way too much of this type of b.s. Not only do I not agree with that assessment (those same people would certainly not defend slavery based on how long it had existed or been a part of a culture or cultures), I believe the numbers are produced by two different formulas.
Having said that, it appears, upon reading the post you were replying to, that you were not advocating the "longer makes right" idea at all. In fact on second look, it looks like you were actually contesting it (am I right?). And so for that I apologize profusely, honest mistake in not reading the post by Patrick you were responding to. Although I still nit-pick your methods in comparing length of cultural histories ;-)
I agree, I'm on Hanson's website everyday reading his and Thornton's articles (Ibrahim's as well). Sensible, logical, reasonable, and wonderful writings (in my humble opinion). I just learned that he swung through the Midwest and was a guest professor for a class or two (he does this on occasion). Hoping when I start on a Master's next year he'll be somewhere nearby where I can take a class or two from him. Would be much more enjoyable than the two classes I had to take under this douche-bag:
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID={E62D4699-ECD9-4303-AA07-5439FCDAA969}

Posted by: Joe at September 27, 2007 10:15 AM

AQ's most important fight in the world is now for the hearts and minds of the American Left

I don't intend to make a habit of refuting this civilly. Just this once.

A lot of people against this war in fact see this war, - large numbers of troops in Iraq as a net benefit to Al-Quieda.

And we see this as fully independent of whether we snuff out their AQI affiliate.

Now, having large numbers of US troops in Iraq and having a viable AQI affiliate might be even better than just having large numbers of US troops in Iraq. But with or without AQI, regardless of the variation of that affiliate's local strength, AQ as a global movement benefits from our heavy presence in Iraq.

So, when we want out of this war, that's part of our strategy for ultimately defeating Al-Quieda. Through, in my model, a heavy intelligence net, and as many surgical operations as neccesary against internationally active cells. Plus intensive pressure on our allies to democratize.

So, AQ is not competing for the hearts and minds of the American left. We hate AQ.

I hope this serves as a clarification. If you get a lot of "f*ck you" in response, some version of this is usually behind that. That's certainly my instinct. Insulting reference to your mother omitted here.

You're welcome.

Posted by: glasnost at September 27, 2007 12:29 PM

DPU, you obviously love to argue; you delight in nothing so much as catching another commenter in a non-sequitur, error of fact, fantasy or lie. I for one don't always find much to argue with about the substantive points you make, but your tone and manner get all-too-quickly under the skin of most people, and you obviously annoy a lot of people because of all the back-and-forth sniping you get involved in. There may even be an innate biological human reaction to your tone and style that explains the rising blood pressure of your opponents. My suggestion? Keep on doing what you're doing, but mix in a compliment now and then, or perhaps even an enthusiastic agreement when you read something you like! Honey and vinegar and all that.

Posted by: Gene at September 27, 2007 12:42 PM

Glasnost,
Isn't there's a large part of the American left that, while not "fans" of AQ, is in fact merely indifferent to it? When I was young and leftier, I was indifferent to totalitarians too. Now that's not as bad as supporting AQ, but it ain't ideal either.

Posted by: Gene at September 27, 2007 12:47 PM

I don't intend to make a habit of refuting this civilly. Just this once.

Glasnost, this confused me for a few minutes, because I could not figure out who had written the comment that you are refuting. Then I turned off the script that tells my browser to ignore a select few commenters here, and noticed that it was from Carlos.

If I were you, I wouldn't bother. Refutation makes no difference in this case. It's a waste of time.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 12:49 PM

"AQ's most important fight in the world is now for the hearts and minds of the American Left"

I do not think it was implied in initial message that AQ actually fights for love of American Left.

You are correct. American Left hates AQ no less than American Rest.

Posted by: leo at September 27, 2007 12:49 PM

My suggestion? Keep on doing what you're doing, but mix in a compliment now and then, or perhaps even an enthusiastic agreement when you read something you like!

I suspect that you haven't been reading here for long enough to get an accurate sense of the personalities involved, but thank you for the advice.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 12:51 PM

It really ought to go without saying that hardly anyone in the US likes AQ, left-wing or not.

Maybe this is that Carlos was getting at?
Understand this about insurgencies: They are meant to force political change. Any military actions are secondary and a means to that end. You are the true targets of the attacks on our forces overseas. You are in the crosshairs just beyond the soldiers on patrol in Iraq. The attacks are meant to erode your political will, so you will force our leaders to order soldiers home before they can complete their mission. You must consider that you, personally, have a part in this war whether you like it or not.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 12:54 PM

So, again, I'm in the odd position of agreeing with you, at least with that bit. Regarding the rest, well, I think you always confuse the support of Saudis for al Qaeda with Saudi government support for al Qaeda.

The US government and the UN acknowledge that the Saudi charity, Al haramain, pays al Qaeda's bills. Although the 'charity' has been outlawed by the US government and the United Nations, the Saudi government has stated, through the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawa and Guidance that there are no plans to stop the activities of the charity inside and outside the kingdom.

They have, however, made a great effort to change the name of the charity wherever it's based.

Sheik Saleh Al Luhaidan, a close friend of King Abdullah's and chief justice of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council was caught on tape telling young Sauds that it was their duty to go to Iraq to kill American soldiers. He did this while Abdullah was skipping through the tulips holding Bush's hand. Al Luhaidan is still Abdullah's friend and he's still cheif justice. In fact, I think he was promoted.

We know that Saudis, government employees or not, paid for the 9/11 attacks. How many have been tried or convicted for their involvement? That's our 'closest ally on the war against terrorism'

Despite that facts like this are well known, most people will still choose to believe that the Saudi government can be considered an ally. People continue to believe that you can lose weight without eating less or exercising more. Who knows why?

Posted by: mary at September 27, 2007 12:55 PM

The US government and the UN acknowledge that the Saudi charity, Al haramain, pays al Qaeda's bills.

As I said, there's a difference between Saudi citizens contributing financially to al Qaeda and the Saudi government doing the same thing. You don't make much of that distinction, and so we differ.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 01:11 PM

joe,

In an earlier post you mentioned Hanson, Thornton and Ibrahim(?) Could you give me the names of the other two, already found Hanson. Thanks.

Kevin Schurig

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 01:18 PM

Maybe this is that Carlos was getting at?

As al Qaeda seems to want the US to stay in Iraq for quite a while, I doubt that is the case. Their immediate focus seems less on the American liberal and more on local issues and recruits.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 01:18 PM

DPU,

AQ is getting their asses handed to them by the US and the Iraqis. I doubt very much they want that to continue for another year.

They're pretty much toast at this point.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 01:20 PM

Sorry I'm late for the party. Busy life and all.

This is an interesting interview, Michael. I'm particularly interested in why the good Lieutenant Colonel said this as his answer to your last question:

“What’s the most important thing Americans need to know about Iraq that they don’t currently know?” I said. “That we’re fighting Al Qaeda,” he said without hesitation.

He said earlier that media reports were generally accurate about Iraq as a whole, but then when asked your final question he says that what Americans need to know about Iraq that they don't know is that we're fighting Al-Qaeda. Huh?

The media has been playing Bush's propaganda through and through that this war is about Al-Qaeda. Maybe most Americans don't agree with that because they don't understand how such few fighters that came to Iraq AFTER we invaded it could be the bane of our mission there, and that our generals and politicians overhype their actual and theoretical threat. But maybe I am misreading "most Americans."

I have a question for all those who support our continued actions in Iraq. Why would anyone think that a few more years of plugging through with thousands more Americans dead and trillions more dollars spent will bring an outcome worthy of the cost?

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 01:25 PM

AQ is getting their asses handed to them by the US and the Iraqis. I doubt very much they want that to continue for another year.

It seems to me that as long as AQ is seen fighting the US in Iraq, it gains credibility in many eyes and benefits by receiving funding and recruits. AQI internal communications indicate that it was in their best interest to keep the US in Iraq as a target, their own flypaper strategy, if you will.

Conditions seem to be against them at the moment, but the traditional behavior of AQ in response to that is to go quite for a while. We'll have to see what else occurs down the road.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 01:28 PM

"quite" == "quiet" above

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 01:29 PM

Michael,

AQ is getting their asses handed to them by the US and the Iraqis. I doubt very much they want that to continue for another year.

Hasn't this been the talking point these past four years though? Wasn't it Rumsfeld who called them "dead-enders" four years ago? Didn't Cheney say they were in their "last throes" two years ago?

The violence this August was the worst yet, despite what General Petraeus stated in his testimony

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 01:38 PM

Dan: our generals and politicians overhype their actual and theoretical threat

Ground troops who vote for Democrats say the same thing about AQ in Iraq. I think it's time for you to get over the "Bush propaganda" thing, seriously. You saw my pictures of Ramadi. I only published photos of, at most, one half of one percent of the damage in that city from a full-blown war against AQI.

Does this lieutenant colonel sound like a Bush propagandist to you? If he were, why would he stick up for the media?

Do you really think that everyone in Iraq, including registered Democrats, all the way down to the rank of private and private first class, is told by the White House what to say to me in interviews and when we're patrolling the streets?

Americans in Iraq don't think in Republican/Democrat terms. They're in a completely different world and have no time for that kind of crap. And it is crap. It makes people stupid. Politics doesn't mean jack in a war zone. If you ever end up in a war zone yourself one day you will fully understand why.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 01:40 PM

Dan: Hasn't this been the talking point these past four years though?

Who cares? Did you read my reports from Ramadi?

I didn't go all the way to Iraq to report "talking points." I reported what I saw, heard, and experienced. If you went to Ramadi instead of me and wrote what you saw, heard, and experienced, you would have written the same reports.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 01:42 PM

Michael,

We had this sort of conversation before and one who was in Iraq answered (I forget his name), that the term "Al-Qaeda" is used by both the military and by Iraqis to reference "the bad guys," whoever they may be, whether they are actual members of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or some other group, or just individuals who are angry and lash out violently.

We did NOT go into Iraq to fight Al-Qaeda. President Bush doesn't have to order anyone to believe that. This is a contagious virus, Michael, that far too many people have caught and accepted into their system. 9/11 really affected Americans in a very negative way, man. So many have lost so much sense of reality. There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before we invaded it. The main problem in Iraq is NOT Al-Qaeda, but we keep talking, Al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda as if it is reality. Out of all the "insurgents" that America is holding captive in Iraq only 8% of them identified themselves as "Al-Qaeda." Out of all insurgents. Those that kill Americans. Only 8% are Al-Qaeda. Who are the other NINETY-TWO PERCENT? Why do we not talk about them at the same proportional level as we do Al-Qaeda, Michael? The Lieutenant Colonel you interviewed said so himself, that he fought against only maybe 150 Al-Qaeda hardcore fighters.

Because we're not looking at this realistically, and acting realistically to what really is going on, we keep failing to stop the violence. According to a report in the New York Times, 2300 civilians were killed in August, more than in July. We won't get an accurate body count, because the Pentagon is so scared of letting Americans know exactly how good or how bad we are doing there. They obscure and obfuscate because they fear Americans turning on their profit-making little war.

And the worst part of it is that this Lieutenant Colonel says we're in Iraq to fight Al-Qaeda, meanwhile the REAL Al-Qaeda threatens to take over Pakistan! Why is the good Lieutenant Colonel not pressing his superiors to go after the real Al-Qaeda if that is really our fight? Seriously!

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 01:52 PM

Dan,
This is an idealogical war. If the US pulls out before Iraq is able to handle its own internal issues, we lose. If we lose Al Queda claims victory like they did in Soviet-Afghan war, never mind they played an incredibly small to no role in the victory. If that happens Al Qaeda becomes amazingly emboldened much as they did after the first attempt on the Towers, our embassies, and the Cole. I don't contend that if we are victorious we will be loved, we don't need to be loved, just respected. And there will be respect, even if it is begrudgingly given. It will cause the terrorist nations to think. About what, your guess is as a good as mine. It will by no means stop terrorism but it will prove that the US is willing to do what it takes, and that is important. It's important when talking with nations like Iran and Syria, etc. Iraq is not an isolated issue. What happens there will have much larger implications for the near future and beyond. Who knows, it may even give confidence to the moderate Muslims (if any are left) to speak out against their more fanatical bretheren. No one can say what will definitely happen, but better to be in a position of strength than weakness.

A quick, or long, word on Moderate Muslims. I believe they need to come to terms of what is printed in the Koran and be willing to debate the meanings. After all there would have been no Protesant Reformation if the Bible had been seen as strictly forbiden to discussion and debate. The Koran needs such debate, even if it created a major schism. While we are at it, throw in sharia as well.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 01:53 PM

Michael,

If you went to Ramadi instead of me and wrote what you saw, heard, and experienced, you would have written the same reports.

I think our reports would have been different, because I would have asked different questions. And I really would have tried to talk to Iraqis WITHOUT the presence of an American soldier next to me. Yeah, I would have probably been killed, but that would have made the point right there about how things have "improved" in Iraq.

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 01:53 PM

Kevin,

I don't contend that if we are victorious we will be loved, we don't need to be loved, just respected.

We're not respected. I don't know why you think aggressive irresponsible actions somehow bring respect in the world, but they don't. Look, for example at the Pope recently refusing Condi Rice an audience over her stance on the Middle East. That's not a sign of respect, even grudging. That's a sign of utter disdain, that the Pope would rather vacation than meet with the Secretary of State of the United States.

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 01:56 PM

The pope is a non-player. John Paul II temporarily gave the post some prestige, but it died with him. I am referring to regional respect. Respect that our words have some weight. We leave we could say anything we want, no one will even pause to listen. Victory will cause other leaders to at least pause. Invading Iraq did cause the area dictators to reflect. It may not have caused them to institute policy change but it did force them to think about that it can possibly be them one day. And that is a form of respect, a very simple form of respect, but respect none the less. Dictatorial leaders only under stand power, military power. The question has often been posed, if England and France stood up to Hitler prior to 1939, does he start WWII?

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 02:22 PM

Invading Iraq did cause the area dictators to reflect. It may not have caused them to institute policy change but it did force them to think about that it can possibly be them one day.

Which is why nearly everyone in the region that can afford one has embarked on a nuclear program.

Possibly not the desired outcome.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 02:38 PM

The region was working for nukes long before we invaded Iraq. Their quest for nukes has more to do with region power. They fear a strong US presence precisely because we possess incredibly vast amounts of nukes. And the means to deliver them anywhere we wish. They have gotten into the game too late. A democratic Iraq frightens nations such as Iran and Syria. Whether we are allowed to base troops in Iraq would be irrelevant because we do have a world reach. It could very well be MAD all over again, but they would be checked and afraid to use any nukes they might be able to produce. And since we have shown we are willing to invade a country that harbors terrorists that attack us, Afghanistan, this is something they would have to consider. I don't fear their programs, just whether or not they are willing to use them. They have assumed for decades that because of Vietnam we are a paper tiger, hence one reason they pursue nuke programs. They have to see that this paper tiger has fangs and will use them when pressed. Hence the importance of victory in Iraq. Oh, lets not forget Isreal has nukes. Building nukes is one thing, using something else. Kinda hard to justify using them if you know you are going to be air pollution.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 02:55 PM

Dan: We did NOT go into Iraq to fight Al-Qaeda. President Bush doesn't have to order anyone to believe that. This is a contagious virus, Michael, that far too many people have caught and accepted into their system.

So what? We're fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq now. The first war in Iraq, against Saddam, is over. It has been over for a long time now. This is a separate war in the same geographic location.

Only 8% are Al-Qaeda.

A lot more than 8 percent of the destruction in Iraq was caused by Al Qaeda. You saw the pictures of Ramadi. Multiply those photographs by 500 and you'll have an idea how much damage they caused.

Anyway, one reason their percentage is low is because they are losing. If they were, say, 92 percent of the insurgency they would be winning.

It doesn't matter, Dan, whether Al Qaeda was there five years ago or not. (Zarqawi was in Iraq before we were, but I'll pretend that isn't true to make you happy.) And it doesn't matter that there are other insurgents who are less extreme than Al Qaeda.

AQ exists, they exist in Iraq, we're fighting them, and they're losing. These are facts, and they're true no matter what Bush and Cheney said years ago. What Bush and Cheney said years ago has nothing whatsoever to do with any of it.

Obviously Cheney was wrong two years ago, but this is 2007 and I'm not Dick Cheney. You write about the what happened in Anbar as though it were a Bush/Cheney moon landing hoax or something, and you're implicitly accusing me or being a part of it whether you intend to or not.

Your monomania will prevent you from seeing that the sky is blue if Bush happens to say so and you don't learn to check yourself.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 02:59 PM

Dan: Why do we not talk about them at the same proportional level as we do Al-Qaeda, Michael?

Because Al Qaeda is guilty of the worst attack on America, ever. The Mahdi Army is no threat to us here, and defeating them is far less important.

I really shouldn't have to explain that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 03:01 PM

Dan: I really would have tried to talk to Iraqis WITHOUT the presence of an American soldier next to me.

That isn't allowed while embedding. Only if you go solo.

Yeah, I would have probably been killed, but that would have made the point right there about how things have "improved" in Iraq.

No you wouldn't. I know journalists who have working in Iraq without military protection for years.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 03:02 PM

The region was working for nukes long before we invaded Iraq.

Some were, but I was referring to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and some of the Gulf States. Iran has had an obvious incentive to develop nukes now, for quite some time, and was dabbling prior to 2003, but it kicked into high gear after the invasion next door.

They have gotten into the game too late.</i.

It's never to late for nukes. If Hussein had nukes, he'd still be running Iraq. How popular would the invasion had been in the US if there were the chance of 100,000 casualties on the first day? Consider also that another Hussein in the region, Musharraf, is still in power. Difference between him and Saddam? Nukes.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 03:35 PM

Dan-

Your claim that August was the worst month for civilian casualties in Iraq is total bunk.

The chart in this CFR report clearly shows this to be the case. AP, Icasualties.org, Petreaus, WaPo, and Reuters all agree that May was deadlier for Iraqi civilains than August.

http://www.cfr.org/publication/14295/

September will probably have the fewest Iraqi civilians killed in any month since the Samarra mosque bombing a year and a half ago, according to www.icasualties.org. Coalition forces will probably suffer their fewest monthly casualties since August 2006. ISF casualties are up over last month, but still will be the second or third lowest in almost three years.

It's clear that the trend of violence in Iraq is down from levels earlier in the year. We've got six months to put the pieces in place to continue this trend before the surge troops are all rotated out. My guess is that casualties will trend slowly down over the next six months, when all of the surge troops will have been withdrawn. That's the next hurdle Petreaus will ahve to overcome-maintaining order post surge, with many more Iraqi elements in the lead.

Posted by: MartyH at September 27, 2007 04:49 PM

DPU,
Hussein wasn't allowed to develop nukes. Israel saw to that. Nukes alone don't keep one in power. The communist leaders who tried to overthrow Yeltsin had access, they lost. Hussein stayed in power because he was willing to use gas on his own populace and he had control over the military. Not to mention he had rivals, real or not, assassinated. Musharraf hasn't gassed his own. His power is derived from control of the military.(And I'm not saying he's a benevolent ruler, I just don't know) The nukes are a counter to India. That's a whole 'nother can of worms. And if I recall right, Pakistan had nukes before Musharraf came into power. What I am referring to when I say respect is not necessarily respect of the US as a nation, although that would be best, but at least respect for our military capabilities. And I know some will attempt nuke programs regardless and hopefully negotiations will work in other cases, but negotiation without military backing is just "whistling in the wind."
But whether or not Hussein would still be in power if he had nukes, we'll never know. Just like we will never know if WWII would have happened if England and France stood up to Hitler before 1939.
And yes it can be too late for nukes. Provided others are willing to act when a "rogue" nation tries to build nukes. The US/Soviet arsenals weren't built in one day. That kind of construction is the perview of God.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 04:53 PM

Nukes alone don't keep one in power.

Never said they did. They do, however, act as a deterrent to foreign policy exercises of the type we saw in Iraq.

Musharraf hasn't gassed his own.

He's been pretty savage with some of the more restless tribal groups in Pakistan, poison gas or not.

But whether or not Hussein would still be in power if he had nukes, we'll never know.

Do you think there is a possibility that the US would have invaded Iraq if Hussein had tactical nuclear weapons? Really?

Provided others are willing to act when a "rogue" nation tries to build nukes.

And how is that going?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 05:23 PM

DPU
The whole Hussein and nukes issue is navel-gazing. Fact is he didn't. Fact is we need to prevent Iran from developing nukes. Fact is the whole world failed when Pakistan then India developed them. And North Korea, well the US, UN and Europe twiddled their thumbs and talked the issue to death. By the time we had the will, it was too late. And since we don't know just how far North Korea is willing to go, we have no choice but negotiate. Iran, doesn't have them and we should not let it get that far. The only question is "when" are we going to do something about it. Only the President and Congress will know that answer.
And please, don't try to put words into my mouth. I stated that because he didn't have nukes we will never know if we would have still invaded Iraq. Don't be presumptuous and assume we would have not. Nukes would have added to the equation in 1991, but then maybe the Arab nations and the UN would have been more willing to remove Saddam. But of course we won't know, will we?
Nukes are a political weapon, not military. Only Truman had the power in the US to order the use of the a-bombs. No matter how much his commanders (MacArthur and LeMay) thought otherwise. One can't say if Hussein would have had the political will to use them. Would we have if the Soviets had decided to invade Western Europe? Don't know.
And can't know.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 06:02 PM

Say folks, did everyone see all those headlines about how even the WORST of the SERIOUS Democratic candidates ( cough,cough, Edwards, cough, cough has now refused to promise that US troops will be out of Iraq in 2012 ?

Not even in 2012.

Golly that's gotta hurt if you have a certain 'monomanical' mindset. And coming as it does just after it was revealed that GWB is quietly 'advising' the Democratic candidates on the 'realities' in Iraq so that they can 'reposition' for the longhaul, it must really leave a mark.

Hillary ---- GWB 2.0.

Posted by: dougf at September 27, 2007 06:07 PM

Well considering Hill and Obama both have backpeddled, maybe they should go out for the NFL. Certain a few teams need DB's.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 06:10 PM

Dougf: Golly that's gotta hurt if you have a certain 'monomanical' mindset.

Iraq sucks, reality sucks, we all need to suck it up.

I can't wait until Bush is gone so we can have an adult conversation about this. Moveon.org will not participate in any such thing, obviously, but they'll wither on the vine if they treat Hillary as Bush 2.0.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 06:16 PM

Micheal,

I certainly hope so. But I have a feeling we will all be very old people before feelings have subsided enough to talk about this subject like adults. Or something else causes such dramatic decisiveness that we forget.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 06:28 PM

I can't wait until Bush is gone so we can have an adult conversation about this. Moveon.org will not participate in any such thing, obviously, but they'll wither on the vine if they treat Hillary as Bush 2.0.---MJT

Well I wish you luck on that 'intelligent conversation' doohickey. Might be amusing if only for a change of pace, but were I you, I would not be holding my breath waiting for the glorious day.

And as to Move-On and its fellow travellers --- it is in EVERYONE ELSE'S interest to cast Hillary as GWB 2.0 just to drive them into paroxysms of pique. The sooner that collection of (blank, ready for filling here) is cast into the wilderness, the better for ALL.

I stand ready to do my part.

Self sacrificing soul that I am.

Posted by: dougf at September 27, 2007 06:33 PM

Some people will be hysterical about this subject until they day they die, of course. But if Hillary actually becomes "Bush 2.0" the rest of us can get by just fine without them.

I mean, if President Clinton says we should stick around in Iraq for a while, sane liberals like my mother will pay attention and take the idea seriously even if they still don't like the idea. Bush has no political capital left, and no one wants to hear it from him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 06:37 PM

Good point Michael.

I'm just waiting for the "real" election season to start. Seems to me that right now, it's strictly posturing. The back-peddling is proof that everyone started too soon. And yes, the primaries and election are both nothing but posturing, but it seems even more so right now. Maybe it's because they did start campaigning so early. I just hope people in general don't get burned out before the general election.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 06:43 PM

I think it's a sad commentary on the state of affairs that both Congress and Bush seem to be competing on who can piss-off the people the most. Last poll I saw was that both had APPROVAL ratings around 32-35%. Sad.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 06:47 PM

MJT, quoting a passage by John Alderman:

"The attacks are meant to erode your political will, so you will force our leaders to order soldiers home before they can complete their mission. You must consider that you, personally, have a part in this war whether you like it or not."

Defending the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics, MJT?

The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower.

That's disappointing.

The "willpower" line of reasoning has exactly zero effect upon my vote. Because it is so often slung about by thick-headed partisan attack dogs out for domestic blood, my instictive reaction to it is to discard anything that precedes or follows — but the matter is serious enough that I force myself to keep an open mind and consider its proponents' other arguments.

Our armed forces are incredibly brave, disciplined, well-trained, smart, and lethal. Stand 'em up toe-to-toe with anyone and they'll roll 'em. I have tremendous faith in their abilities, and humility before their willingness to risk so much and sacrifice so much... However, the present fight in Iraq is not our fight to win. That fight can only be won by Iraqis, and my faith in the ability of Iraqis to win it waxes and wanes.

The thing has kept me from bolting the pro-war camp is the Anbar Awakening. Primary credit for that goes to AQI, for overplaying its hand, and to the Anbaris for standing up to them. A crucial supporting role was played by our troops, and they played it very very well. But without AQI miscalculation and Anbari bravery, nothing happens. For events to play out as they did, American willpower was necessary but not sufficient.

Another challenge looms with the stalling of national reconciliation, and again, we are stuck in a supporting role. If things continue to go badly there, it's possible that I'll throw my support to the anti-war camp. Will that constitute a failure of "willpower"? Hmm, maybe that's not strong enough to properly characterize such treachery. How about calling it a "stab in the back"?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 27, 2007 06:58 PM

Kevin,

The question has often been posed, if England and France stood up to Hitler prior to 1939, does he start WWII?

You're stuck on WWII too, eh? You do know that today is 2007, not 1939...

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 07:03 PM

Creamy: Defending the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics, MJT?

No, I was putting Carlos's comments under a more reaonable microscope.

Military force and willpower cannot accomplish everything and anything. This is obvious, at least to me. Matthew Yglesias does not need to resort to comic book analogies to make that point with me.

I have seen the application of military force succeed, I have seen it fail, and I have seen both in person.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 07:06 PM

Dan,
It's still valid. It deals with "what if". And the obvious is, don't know. i.e. "What if Hussein had nukes? Would we still have attacked in 1991?" "What if he had nukes in 2003? Would we have still attack?" It doesn't matter what year or who the question is about, just plug in the appropriate time and participants and it means the same. "What if.." Of course the answer will always be, "don't know." But the WWII question had been bandied about for 60+ years now. Soon Iraq will be plugged into the question.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 07:12 PM

Dan,
Sorry, didn't read your post closely enough. No offense meant. The kids are with mom and I'm still in "fast" reading mode.lol

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 07:14 PM

The down side to internet discussions. Can't hear the nuances of one's typing.lol

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 07:16 PM

Michael,

It doesn't matter, Dan, whether Al Qaeda was there five years ago or not. (Zarqawi was in Iraq before we were, but I'll pretend that isn't true to make you happy.)

You don't have to do that to make me happy. I know full well that Zarqawi was in Iraq before we invaded it. I also know full well that we had the capability to take him out several times, but Bush nixed those plans. Why? Because he can't sell a war in Iraq if there is no Al-Qaeda there. Also, I know full well that Zarqawi could not reside where Saddam had influence. He had to hide out up in autonomous Kurdish country, where our no-fly-zone policy was protecting the likes of Zarqawi from Saddam. It makes no difference though. Bush wanted to go into Iraq no matter what, and he's not paying the price for that. By any righteous account, he should be impeached and tried for treason.

So what? We're fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq now

and now we come to the inherent contradiction in the conservative rationale regarding Iraq. We're supposedly fighting them now in Iraq, now that we brought them in Iraq. Okay, but war supporters have two completely contradictory points regarding Al-Qaeda in Iraq. On the one hand they argue that if we leave Iraq, Al-Qaeda will follow us home. On the other they argue that if we leave Iraq, Al-Qaeda will turn Iraq into their personal playground. Isn't that a nice, well-rounded fully closed and complete argument! The only option is to stay. Wow.

But again this argument does not fit the facts. Al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq is miniscule in comparison to the real powers in Iraq: Sunni tribes and Shi'ite tribes, (and of course Kurds in the north). What would really happen with Al-Qaeda if we leave Iraq? Do you really think they would stand a chance against the Sunnis, the secular Sunnis? Or the Shi'ites, their fundamental and mortal religious enemies? Puhlease! Al-Qaeda's continued strength in Iraq (after all they've been going at it now for four years with no let up in the violence) is OUR PRESENCE THERE! That's their strength! It will ALWAYS be their strength. You can claim this or that about them losing, but the violence continues and continues. It will continue to continue as long as we stay there.

So will Al-Qaeda follow us when we leave? If that really is the case, then why don't we take the fight to where they REALLY ARE? Let's let them follow us to THEIR home! Their home was never Iraq, and never will be Iraq. They are simply in Iraq BECAUSE WE'RE THERE!

What Bush and Cheney said years ago has nothing whatsoever to do with any of it.

Actually it does. As long as they hold the reins of both the military and the executive branch, what they say matters a great deal.

Your monomania will prevent you from seeing that the sky is blue if Bush happens to say so and you don't learn to check yourself.

I'm not deranged, Michael. If Bush says the sky is blue then he is correct. But to this point he continues to say the sky is green and hoping we all agree with him. Can you see the difference?

Because Al Qaeda is guilty of the worst attack on America, ever. The Mahdi Army is no threat to us here, and defeating them is far less important.

Fine. Then tell me where in Iraq is Bin Laden? Where in Iraq is Zawahiri? Those are the planners of the worst attack on our soil, right? Why are we not doing our damnest to find them and kill them? What did any Iraqi have to do with 9/11?

No you wouldn't. I know journalists who have working in Iraq without military protection for years.

That's why I said "probably", not "assuredly" :)

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 07:16 PM

Michael,

I mean, if President Clinton says we should stick around in Iraq for a while, sane liberals like my mother will pay attention and take the idea seriously even if they still don't like the idea.

No, if President Bill Clinton says we should hang out in Iraq for a while, that means he is wrong too. He is a regular man, last I checked. He's not a god. He does actually make mistakes. Ask Hillary about some girl named Monica, after all...

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 07:18 PM
The thing has kept me from bolting the pro-war camp is the Anbar Awakening. Primary credit for that goes to AQI, for overplaying its hand, and to the Anbaris for standing up to them. A crucial supporting role was played by our troops, and they played it very very well. But without AQI miscalculation and Anbari bravery, nothing happens. For events to play out as they did, American willpower was necessary but not sufficient.

That's probably the best analysis I've read yet about what really happened in Anbar.

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 07:19 PM

Kevin,

It's still valid. It deals with "what if". And the obvious is, don't know

It isn't a sound reasoning to base your current policies, though. You don't play around with the what-ifs. You play the game with the what-is. Who really cares about "what if" France stood up to the Germans? It doesn't make one damn bit of difference what we do now vis a vis Iraq and Iran, and any other future "enemy of the week."

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 07:22 PM
The down side to internet discussions. Can't hear the nuances of one's typing.lol

Tell me about it. If only nuance and comedy could accurately be portrayed through the written word on the internet...I think we'd find that all of us are much closer than it seems.

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2007 07:23 PM

Not even in 2012.

Is that a surprised sound, Doug? Why? I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're still there in 2027.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 07:30 PM

"I can't wait until Bush is gone so we can have an adult conversation about this."---MJT

"No, if President Bill Clinton says we should hang out in Iraq for a while, that means he is wrong too. He is a regular man, last I checked. He's not a god. He does actually make mistakes. Ask Hillary about some girl named Monica, after all..."---Dan

Ah the sweet sound of all that new and improved conversation.

Plus ca change ; plus c'est la meme chose.---dougf

ps --- Dan, now normally in my new and improved que sera, sera, mode, I might let this obvious mistook go, but -------- NO.

MJT meant the possibly INCOMING Clinton not the long out-of-office and completely irrelevant Clinton. Try to keep up. Just FYI.

Posted by: dougf at September 27, 2007 07:32 PM

Dan,
True. True. But I was trying to point out in another conversation that dealing in "What if's" are best left to the historians long after we are all pushing up daisies and our war in Iraq is but a distant glow in the universe. Obviously I did not do good enough job in explaining myself, and for that I apologize. Personally, I don't care what if Hussein had nukes, etc. What I am concerned about is what are we going to do about Iran, North Korea, etc. and Iraq. And in that I believe you and I agree. To quote a great Jedi master: "Keep your mind in the here and now....":-)

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 27, 2007 07:32 PM

Is that a surprised sound, Doug?--DPU

Hey listen you, I have been scanning this thread and you are already on the 'list' for 'annoying people' just to be argumentative.

Don't start on me. I know what province you live in. ------ :-)

And I would not be surprised if many were there in 2027 as well. And that could be a 'good' thing or a 'bad' thing. Time will tell.

Take care,

Posted by: dougf at September 27, 2007 07:38 PM

And that could be a 'good' thing or a 'bad' thing. Time will tell.

Well, a very expensive thing at the very least. And with the way the dollar is tailspinning, I have to wonder how much longer this can go on for.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 27, 2007 08:16 PM

Phew! I come back after what seemed like a short time and there seems to be a big conversation going, including the recently absent and notorious Dan ;-)

Kevin-
Answering your question, they are Bruce Thornton and Raymond Ibrahim.

Posted by: Joe at September 27, 2007 10:12 PM

Dan-

"You don't play around with the what-ifs. You play the game with the what-is."
That's the exact point Kevin was making to DPU. He was engaging in what-if's, and Kevin made the point you could play that game all day with no worthwhile outcome.

"You're stuck on WWII too, eh? You do know that today is 2007, not 1939..."
And there it is. The lack of recognition that history is so important to learning lessons to be used on the present. So disappointing, even from a Lefty like Dan.

Posted by: Joe at September 27, 2007 10:52 PM

I think Lieutenant Silverman meant "I’m telling you, they aren’t doing that for the 310 dollars a month," not "I’m telling you, they aren’t doing that for 310 dollars a month."

The first is a tribute the the dedication of Iraqi police who risk their lives, the second implies that they're demanding high pay.

Perhaps you should fix the quote to what he meant, whether he skipped the word or not.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at September 27, 2007 11:45 PM

Josh, good point, thanks. That's an edit for clarity, not for content, so I went ahead and changed it as you suggested.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 27, 2007 11:51 PM

"I also know full well that we had the capability to take him [Zarqawi] out several times, but Bush nixed those plans. Why? Because he can't sell a war in Iraq if there is no Al-Qaeda there."

How the fuck do you "know" any of this, full well or otherwise?

Posted by: Gary Rosen at September 28, 2007 12:01 AM

Dan,

Actually, Abu Musab al Zarqawi left Biara and moved to Baghdad before the US arrived in Iraq. His old group Ansar Al Islam -- which has changed its name to Al Qaeda in Kurdistan -- was then pushed out of Iraqi Kurdistan and into Iran by US Special Forces and the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 28, 2007 01:17 AM

Apparently Dan has inside knowledge that us mere mortals do not. Even if he doesn't really know anything (just saying), the intensity and emotion of his argument should convince you. C'mon, just try the Kool-Aid :)

Joe, you are correct; the length of time that a culture/civilization has existed has no bearing on its validity, nor does it make it "better or wiser" than a younger one. Were it otherwise, we should be looking at some tribes/cultures in the jungles of New Guinea or the Amazon rain forests for guidance. Hmm, on the other hand.....

Regards,

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 28, 2007 03:50 AM

Dan,

"
It isn't a sound reasoning to base your current policies, though.
You don't play around with the what-ifs. You play the game with the what-is.
Who really cares about "what if" France stood up to the Germans?
It doesn't make one damn bit of difference what we do now vis a vis Iraq and Iran, and any other future "enemy of the week."
"

Actually, I disagree.

"What-ifs" are all you've got if you are trying to evaluate possible outcomes.

Posted by: leo at September 28, 2007 06:03 AM

Michael,

Actually, Abu Musab al Zarqawi left Biara and moved to Baghdad before the US arrived in Iraq.

Then add to the list of things Colin Powell got wrong at his UN presentation in February 2003. in his speech, Mr. Powell says:

But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi an associate and collaborator of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants.

Zarqawi, Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan war more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialties, and one of the specialties of this camp, is poisons.

When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp, and this camp is located in northeastern Iraq. You see a picture of this camp.

The network is teaching its operatives how to produce ricin and other poisons. Let me remind you how ricin works. Less than a pinch -- imagine a pinch of salt -- less than a pinch of ricin, eating just this amount in your food, would cause shock, followed by circulatory failure. Death comes within 72 hours and there is no antidote. There is no cure. It is fatal.

Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq. But Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al-Islam that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000, this agent offered al-Qaida safe haven in the region.

This camp, according to Colin Powell, was outside of Saddam's control. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2004 that the Bush administration could have taken him out before the war began but willfully chose not to.

As the toll of mayhem inspired by terrorist leader Abu Musab al- Zarqawi mounts in Iraq, some former officials and military officers increasingly wonder whether the Bush administration made a mistake months before the start of the war by stopping the military from attacking his camp in the northeastern part of that country.

The Pentagon drew up detailed plans in June 2002, giving the administration a series of options for a military strike on the camp Mr. Zarqawi was running then in remote northeastern Iraq, according to generals who were involved directly in planning the attack and several former White House staffers. They said the camp, near the town of Khurmal, was known to contain Mr. Zarqawi and his supporters as well as al Qaeda fighters, all of whom had fled from Afghanistan. Intelligence indicated the camp was training recruits and making poisons for attacks against the West.

Senior Pentagon officials who were involved in planning the attack said that even by spring 2002 Mr. Zarqawi had been identified as a significant terrorist target, based in part on intelligence that the camp he earlier ran in Afghanistan had been attempting to make chemical weapons, and because he was known as the head of a group that was plotting, and training for, attacks against the West. He already was identified as the ringleader in several failed terrorist plots against Israeli and European targets. In addition, by late 2002, while the White House still was deliberating over attacking the camp, Mr. Zarqawi was known to have been behind the October 2002 assassination of a senior American diplomat in Amman, Jordan.

But the raid on Mr. Zarqawi didn't take place. Months passed with no approval of the plan from the White House, until word came down just weeks before the March 19, 2003, start of the Iraq war that Mr. Bush had rejected any strike on the camp until after an official outbreak of hostilities with Iraq. Ultimately, the camp was hit just after the invasion of Iraq began.

So they had opportunities. And it wasn't like Zarqawi didn't kill Americans before the war in Iraq began.

Seriously, Michael, why do you defend Bush on Zarqawi? Bush has the blood on his hands of the innocent men Zarqawi killed because Bush waited, let Zarqawi fester and take full advantage of the chaos that Bush brought to Iraq. A lot of innocent people's lives could have been saved if we took out Zarqawi in 2002. But...well...then we might not have as strong of a reason to go to war, eh? If there is no Al-Qaeda in Iraq, even in Kurdish controlled region, where Saddam has no influence, how could you sell a war to the American public?

This is another example of how war supporters don't have as their top priority getting those bastards who attacked us, but instead using the fear of an attack by them as justification for wars that have nothing to do with them. If indeed we wish to go after those who attacked us, then all our forces must at this moment in time all be gathered in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. THAT'S where our real enemy is.

Posted by: Dan at September 28, 2007 06:32 AM

Ron,

Apparently Dan has inside knowledge that us mere mortals do not.

No, I'm just not a regular short-attention span American, and remember very well the words of our "leaders". There's no secret here.

Posted by: Dan at September 28, 2007 06:34 AM

"Kevin-
Answering your question, they are Bruce Thornton and Raymond Ibrahim."

Thank you Joe

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 28, 2007 06:57 AM

Joe: That's the exact point Kevin was making to DPU. He was engaging in what-if's, and Kevin made the point you could play that game all day with no worthwhile outcome.

Kevin: The question has often been posed, if England and France stood up to Hitler prior to 1939, does he start WWII?

Why is it that the what-if game is fine when played by one person, yet not by another?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 28, 2007 07:15 AM

DPU-

Give it a rest. We've covered this.

Posted by: Joe at September 28, 2007 07:20 AM

Give it a rest. We've covered this.

Where? Your comment that I am responding to is about ten comments up. If you're going to make remarks about the good and bad points of other people's commenting style, at least have the decency to either stand by those remarks, or to explain them.

Either that, or don't make them in the first place if you don't feel confident enough to defend them.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 28, 2007 07:27 AM

Dan,

What Powell said about Zarqawi is also correct, and does not contradict what I wrote above.

Zarqawi himself was in Baghdad at the time. His "lieutenants" were in Biara, as Powell said. I visited Biara myself and interviewed the locals.

I'm not "defending Bush" on Zarqawi. I research this stuff independently and pay almost no attention to what Bush himself says on the subject. My sources are Americans and Iraqis in Iraq. If Bush is right he's right, if he's wrong he's wrong. I don't actually know what Bush has been saying about Zarqawi, and I don't really care. It doesn't affect my research because I don't use him or his statements as sources.

I don't care about partisan politics, which is why I stopped writing about it a long time ago.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 28, 2007 10:31 AM

Oh, and by the way Dan, the US did take out Zarqawi's Ansar al Islam "camp" in Iraqi Kurdistan. I agree we should have done it earlier, but I also think Saddam should have been taken out earlier. 12 years earlier.

One reason we should have taken out Zarqawi's camp earlier because we knew he was there. He had not yet left for Baghdad.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 28, 2007 10:38 AM

Did Dan take us back thru a time warp? We're back to Bush/Cheney are dangerous they should be tried for treason. Bush lied... People died... blah, blah, blah... I'm surprised you didn't throw in "Bush knew about 9/11 and let it happen."

Bush made many mistakes. Keeping that idiot CIA Director Tenet on was a big one. Actually hiring and listening to that back stabber Colin Powell was another one. Letting the UN Security Council lead the US by the "nose" for a year was big monumental one. Especially, after finding out how corrupt the "Oil for Food Program" was. No wonder Saddam thought wrongly that the US wouldn't invade. China, Russia and France were promising they wouldn't allow it. Who knows how much of his WMD program was moved to the Bekkah Valley in Syria because of a delayed invasion?

And I could list some more mistakes, but invading Iraq is NOT among them. We had the original cease fire agreement that said hostilities would begin again if Saddam didn't live up to his end of the agreement. President Clinton used that same logic to bomb Iraq in 1998. It was because of Saddam's action that the US government adopted the policy of regime change in Iraq.

After 9/11 no leader of the US couldn't take the chance of a unchecked Saddam giving a dirty bomb to some terrorists. And if there was a President Gore and he did the same things I'd support him to, because it would be the right thing to do. Every respectable intelligence agency around the world had thought that Saddam had reconstituted is WMD programs. I'm still waiting for the people that have Bush Derangement Sysndrome to come up with some "evidence" that President Bush manipulated everybody's intelligence on Saddam's WMD.

If someone came up to me before March, 2003 and said "Well, we still don't know if he has WMD's, but we do know that there isn't any Al Qeada in Iraq." I would still say invade, having Al Qeada there or not wasn't the tipping point. Saddam having the Nuclear bomb was.

We've disarmed Saddam's regime. Since the invasion Al Qeada has proclaimed Iraq is the place to fight America and threw everything into the fight even the water well and they've lost. To abandoned what our soldiers fought hard for would be a disgrace and dishonorable.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 28, 2007 10:48 AM

Pete,

Since the invasion Al Qeada has proclaimed Iraq is the place to fight America and threw everything into the fight even the water well and they've lost.

really? Thrown everything, including the water well? Then why are they doing so well over in Pakistan?

Why do war supporters completely avoid talking about the elephant in the room?

Posted by: Dan at September 28, 2007 12:36 PM

Why do war supporters completely avoid talking about the elephant in the room?

That's a complex question.

Some don't avoid talking about it.

Others see Iraq as more important than many other potential candidates for democratization because with all the potential oil revenue, it stood a decent chance of both developing a decent economy, which is one of the precursors to democracy, and provides a strong financial incentive for various ethnic and political groupings to compromise, which is another precursor. At least in that regard, it was a good candidate.

Still others see Iraq as a festering sore in the Middle East that needed cauterization, and that this had a higher priority than many other festering sores.

And some are just dumb.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 28, 2007 12:47 PM

Oh, wait, misunderstood your question, Dan. Sorry, thought you were referring to why people don't talk about democratization of Pakistan.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 28, 2007 01:01 PM

Dan,
"Why do war supporters completely avoid talking about the elephant in the room?"

I don't pretend to speak for others, so this is my view of the issue.
It's not so much avoiding, just can't decide the best way to deal with Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The problem is Pakistan is currently an ally and we are not about to unilaterally go in without Pakistan's approval. With the problems Musharraf is facing we are not likely to receive his OK. I have no idea what it'll take to get his OK or for us to say the hell with it and go in.
I wish I did, I could then run the speech circuit and make some money.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 28, 2007 01:12 PM

Dan- Who's afraid of talking about Afghanistan or Pakistan? The second you have evidence or proof that Musharraf is or actively undermining us in Afghanistan/Whazirastan let's bomb and invade. Or if the radicals are about take over Pakistan, then war it is. Other wise Dan you are pissing in the wind.

Here's some useful things you liberals could do to help Al Qeada:

1. Stop trying to close Guantanamo Bay.
2. Actually condemn lawyers that help and pass information between terrorist suspects.
3. Stop trying to defang the Patriot Act; which has saved America from terrorist attacks hundreds of times over.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 28, 2007 02:04 PM

Sorry I meant to say "has or actively" and

"Here's some useful things you liberals could do to help defeat Al Qeada"

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 28, 2007 02:06 PM

Stop trying to defang the Patriot Act; which has saved America from terrorist attacks hundreds of times over.

Where can I get a list of these attempted attacks?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 28, 2007 03:59 PM

MILES O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the success of the Patriot Act. How has it helped us? Can you give me some examples of how the Patriot Act is making me safer?

GONZALES: Well, one thing that I can say without question, it allows the law enforcement community to share information with the intelligence community. We've seen from the reports, the WMD Commission, the 9/11 Commission, everyone seems to understand and have concluded that we simply were not in a position to share information between the federal government, between the federal government and state and local officials, between our government, and governments of other countries and state and local officials, between our government and governments of other countries, and now the Patriot Act has put us in a better position to share information.

MILES O'BRIEN: But can you -- is there any way you can be more specific for me and give me a sense of something that has changed or a plot that has been thwarted without giving away secrets that the Patriot Act has been useful in?

GONZALES: Well, there are a number of plots that have been thwarted in Buffalo, New York, in California, and in Washington. Based upon the fact that we are able to now share information at the law enforcement level with the intelligence community. And so I can't get into much more detail without getting into classified information. But both Porter Goss, who is the director of the CIA, and Bob Mueller, the director of the FBI, have both said, you know, this is a very, very valuable tool that is absolutely essential in fighting the war on terror.

AMERICAN MORNING CNN TRANSCRIPT
Patriot Act Modifications; Getting The Message?; Minding Your Business; SAT Failure
Aired March 9, 2006 - 07:30 ET

Posted by: Pete Dawg at September 28, 2007 05:05 PM

Well, that's least three. But weren't a couple of those extremely lame? I seem to recall one group that was recruited for jihadist terrorism by FBI agents, they asked for money for bombs, and then bought shoes with the money provided instead.

But where did you get the hundreds figure from?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 28, 2007 07:49 PM

Creamy Goodness: Primary credit for that goes to AQI, for overplaying its hand, and to the Anbaris for standing up to them. A crucial supporting role was played by our troops, and they played it very very well.

AQI has no alternative but to "overplay their hand". It's what they do. I think anybody who has to live under their yoke is going to wish to escape it, before long.

That's why it is necessary to allow populations such as Anbar to experience AQ up close and personal. The anti-US rhetoric only works for so long, before the assassinations, rapes, destruction of commerce and other daily indignities take their toll on the people.

It is sad but necessary, but I think our commanders have come to understand this. The Muslim population has to be given some time to experience that which they were brainwashed to think was best for them. Many had to die in the process.

Posted by: randall g at September 28, 2007 09:13 PM

Dan, you are so goddamn full of horseshit it's shooting out your ears in jet streams. You have NO fucking idea why Bush chose not to attack the camps before the war.

You are thoroughly dishonest. You say "Bush has the blood on his hands of the innocent men Zarqawi killed because Bush waited..." but in fact a successful raid would have increased support for the war. You highlight the fact that Zarqawi was supposedly in "northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's control ..." as if it were a big "gotcha", but you are quoting the Bush administration itself speaking through Powell. As for "some" (the great weasel word) wondering whether Bush "made a mistake" by not bombing the camps, well everyone's got great 20-20 hindsight, especially when they're leaking anonymously to the press.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at September 28, 2007 10:41 PM

Dan, you are dishonestly selective in the quotes & sources you use to support your agenda, you are almost rabid in your comments and if people do not agree with you it is because THEY are stupid and/or have an agenda.

At least your bias is clear.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 29, 2007 04:02 AM

randall_g: It is sad but necessary, but I think our commanders have come to understand this. The Muslim population has to be given some time to experience that which they were brainwashed to think was best for them.

That's not a practical military strategy, though. It's not like we can deploy AQI units at will and instruct them to start beheading children.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 29, 2007 04:20 AM

Dan, I appreciate the compliment you paid me earlier, but I have to pile on with everybody else.

There's a major flaw in the "Bush lied" theory. There were a lot of unknowns before the invasion, but here's one thing that was completely predictable: going to war and then failing to find the WMD that were the primary justification for going to war would be a political disaster. And so it has.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 29, 2007 04:44 AM

going to war and then failing to find the WMD that were the primary justification for going to war would be a political disaster.

According to journalist and author Tim Weiner, Bush was mighty pissed at the CIA afterwards.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 29, 2007 06:45 AM

DPU= I'm not going to be goaded into a post fight. I mistyped; I meant to say the Patriot Act has been useful many times and saved hundreds to thousands of lives.

The Heath Row hijackings were tharted with the help of American Intelligence from the Patriot Act. And it also helped capture those terrorist planning attacks in Germany.

Either, the Patriot Act is working or it isn't. Judging by what they've been able to stop it's not only working but effective.

Like I said before I made a short list on what Liberals could do to help defeat Al Aqeada:

Stop trying to defang or reverse the Patriot Act.

Here's another codemn and prosecute the New York Times for publishing effective top secret programs that stop terrorist financing. It would help on the war on terror if they would stop doing this.

Just a thought...

Posted by: Petd Dawg at September 29, 2007 08:07 AM

Like a lot of tactics used in the GWOT, we won't know the full extent of the Patriot Act's effectiveness or ineffectiveness until documents are declassified 50 years from now.

It is the nature of the beast.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 29, 2007 10:34 AM

I'm not going to be goaded into a post fight.

Right, by asking a couple of questions about your comment I was goading you.

Lordy, there are some delicate flowers in the mosh pit today.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 29, 2007 11:43 AM

Michael - a few questions:

When you speak with the Iraqis are they interested in what is going on in other parts of Iraq (Kurdistan, Basra, etc.) or do they tend to be more interested with their own tribal concerns?

How good is the information flow in Iraq for the Iraqi's? How do they get their info - from the US military? Or elsewhere?

Where do you recommend finding out more about the reconstruction/humanitarian projects going on in Iraq?

One item that I think could be stressed more in your report with Ramadi is that even if only a couple hundred Al Qaeda fighters were killed, that's a big deal. It's not like Al Qaeda has hundreds of thousands of fighters - more likely to be in the low thousands and a few hundred is a significant percentage. One advantage that does seem to be playing out is "moths to the flame" - attracting the foriegn fighters to go against well armed, well trained US military forces.

Your posts are very informative and unique. Thanks.

Posted by: markytom at September 29, 2007 04:23 PM

Looks like you can't go anywhere anymore. A bomb was set off in the Maldives. The Maldives? The powerhouse of all powers? The oppressor of the universe? The group of islands in the Indian Ocean that makes the US tremor in fear? I guess I'll have to throw a little sand and the tub, get the sun lamp out, and get a CD of beach sounds for vacation.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,298603,00.html

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at September 29, 2007 06:40 PM

DNG;
Fer yer edumication:
Look up/Google the following terms:
"rentier economy"
"Devil's Excrement".

Then contemplate why virtually every oil-based economy has massive ongoing problems, very poor governance, and low levels of public education and participation.

Posted by: Brian H at September 30, 2007 01:39 PM

Please note all, also:
as far as distribution of oil wealth in Iraq goes, the Sunni deprivation syndrome is dead. Seismic surveys suppressed by SH have been analysed, and estimates are now that Anbar has ~100 bn bbl of reserves, which makes every Sunni about 3X as oily as other Iraqis.

Posted by: Brian H at September 30, 2007 01:44 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn