October 17, 2007

The Shia Awakening

I have a short piece up at Commentary about Iraq's Shia Awakening.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2007 12:49 PM
Comments

Iraq has a long way to go before they have a smoothly functioning democracy that looks to the interests of the people with integrity and vision, but that journey will be a lot easier once various sides stop shooting at each other.

Once they do get that democracy with integrity thing working, maybe they can come over here and show our congress how.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at October 17, 2007 01:39 PM

I don't want to get overly optimistic because we have been down that road before, but cautiously optimistic? With the string of good news we are seeing, I think I can can go there.

Posted by: joefrommass at October 17, 2007 03:58 PM

I don't want to get overly optimistic because we have been down that road before

Yes. I've been down that road before, too. But I don't want to be stupidly defeatist either.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2007 04:00 PM

Perhaps we should simply be realistically optimistic. Except for DPU - he and Dan can continue to be defeatist.

Posted by: Kenneth at October 17, 2007 04:07 PM

Except for DPU - he and Dan can continue to be defeatist.

Which comment of mine do you consider defeatist, Kenneth?

I'll wait while you go look.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 17, 2007 04:24 PM

What I hear you saying is, the radical Sunnis are vicious and the extremist Shias are just ruthless, but the sheikhs cozy up to the lesser of two evils. That aptly typifies the old arab adage, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Posted by: CCC at October 17, 2007 04:34 PM

A big mistake of Bremer was the failure to have all gov't tenders fully available on the web, with open bidding and a clear bidding selection process to minimize corruption.

On the other hand, making some kind of deal, WITH corruption, is almost always better than making no deal.

The corruption issue is relevant to the power of sheiks, because American based centralized democratic power is a threat to the sheik's power. A more decentralized, local democracy, allowing sheik's supporters to vote for their sheik, would have resulted in a much better bottom up development of local democracy first.

It might be great if the Shia Sheiks turn against the Shia death squads, and in favor of Kurd-style development. Peaceful opportunities for making money is the kind of freedom that I'm sure most people, all over the world, really do want.

Something between 29-81 violent deaths per 100 000 are the last two decade statistics for Wash. DC. At 1 per 1,000 or 25,000 per 25 million (per year), Iraq could approach Wash DC levels of violent death -- it might be there already in some 2,000 per month.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 17, 2007 05:58 PM

Thanks for the report and the good news, Mr. Totten. Would you say that the American policy of trying to be seen as friends coming in to purge a disease, so to speak, rather than occupiers coming in simply to take over the country, is finally bearing fruit? (Or am I completely off base somewhere? :P )

Posted by: math_mage at October 17, 2007 07:53 PM

Patrick-

If the Iraqi Paliament had any sense of humor, they'd pass arbirtary ridiculous reconcilation benchmarks that the American government must meet. For example, declare that Nancy Pelosi must kiss George Bush on the cheek, and Hillary give Dick Cheney a hug by June. Make Maliki issue progress reports every three months. When Maliki reports that Cheney and Hillary shook hands and that's a sign of progress, declare that his report is politicized and not believable. Declare that Democrats and Republicans have hatreds going back hundreds of years and cannot be reconciled, etc. I think tweaking Congress like that could be hilarious.

Posted by: MartyH at October 17, 2007 10:01 PM

Math Mage: Would you say that the American policy of trying to be seen as friends coming in to purge a disease, so to speak, rather than occupiers coming in simply to take over the country, is finally bearing fruit?

With some Iraqis, yes, I know it is. With the majority? Probably not, at least not yet.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2007 11:03 PM

MartyH: If the Iraqi Paliament had any sense of humor, they'd pass arbirtary ridiculous reconcilation benchmarks that the American government must meet.

That would be damn funny.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2007 11:05 PM

I don't buy this. It's not impossible, but I doubt its extent and relevance at this time, in this place. The security situation really isn't improved enough, for one thing. There have been several multiple-fatality bombings in Baghdad this week.

One should be careful not to confuse the virtual inevitability of some local power brokers resisting the Sadr camp - to better further their own desire for control - with a genuine bottom-up popular movement for some sort of alternative.

Now, re-reading the article - their will probably be a pushback against internal gangsterism against Shiites, but Sadr doesn't appear to side with the gangsters, so there's no real reason to believe he'd be swept away along with them.

If anyone really disagrees, I suggest that they ought to also believe that Sadr wouldn't collect the largest bloc of Shiite votes in the next election, if there ever is another election.

Posted by: glasnost at October 18, 2007 03:03 AM

Michael

Our Congress should be seen as Uniters, not Dividers. Some recent Congressional action has resulted in uniting disparate Iraqi interests - Against our Congress!

Posted by: Doc at October 18, 2007 05:13 AM

For all the congress bashers on this blog, you have to admit that the election of a democratic congress has led to improvement on the ground in Iraq.
The USA now has a competent sec. of def. Petreaus strategy was implemented, a much needed surge to give patreus's plan at least a chance to suceed etc. The republicans turned a blind eye to incompetance and engaged in base demagoguery of war critics.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at October 18, 2007 09:28 AM

Frydek-Mistek

You are being sarcastic, aren't you?

Posted by: joefrommass at October 18, 2007 09:35 AM

I'm not being sarcastic. Bush's leadership under a bolshevikesque republican central committee(congress) shamefully defended what was a criminally incompetent post invasion plan, ignored war profiteering, turned a blind eye to unarmored soldiers, and immorally attacked antiwar critics in ways that would have made any two bit populist dictator proud.
Is anybody truly unhappy that Rumsfield, bremer etc. are gone and gates and patreus are in. This happened after the election, because of, or in spite of the democrats is irrelevant, the changes have been positive.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at October 18, 2007 09:48 AM

Are you saying that the surge would not have happened if the Republicans had remained in power? I recall most Dems as being opposed to the surge.

Posted by: joefrommass at October 18, 2007 09:55 AM

Democrtats said they were against the surge, but it went forward, in fact several voted for it.

Your point is irrelevant, the reason for the surge was because Rumsfiled's plan that was endorsed by the administration didn't put in enough troops to begin with, while purging generals who opposed his plan. once again, all of this happened under a Bush white house and an ideologivcally insane republican congress.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at October 18, 2007 10:14 AM

Interesting article. I hope your analysis is correct. The sooner things calm down to a reasonable level over there, the sooner we can pack up and go home. This war has been an enormous drain on this country (See: Soviet Union in Afghanistan). It is also the ultimate recruiting tool for bin Laden.
Anyway, I thought I read somewhere that Sadr had ordered his militia to draw down so that he could weed out the thugs and retool. Is that true, and if so, what implications does it hold for the future stability of Iraq?

Posted by: waka waka at October 18, 2007 10:37 AM

Frydek-Mistek at least has a point. Rumsfeld was let go the instant the Republicans lost the last election. And that's a good thing.

I don't know if the surge is as clearly related to that election or not, but the election of Democrats to Congress did seem to give Bush a much-needed reality check on Iraq whether they support the surge themselves or not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2007 11:15 AM
This is interesting:
BAGHDAD, Oct. 17 — Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday. Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities at a time of heightened tension with Iran.

The Iraqi electricity minister, Karim Wahid, said that the Iranian project would be built in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad that is controlled by followers of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr. He added that Iran had also agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 18, 2007 11:21 AM

Obviously Rumsfelds approach did not work in hindsight. I'm not sure how we could have known for sure at the time that it was the wrong strategy, as these things take time to succceed or fail as may be the case. I just have trouble with the proposition that the Democratic congress deserves any credit for the current success.

Posted by: joefrommass at October 18, 2007 11:41 AM

The American public sent a message of change in the 2006 election. The Democratic leadership's vision of that change was withdrawal from Iraq; Bush's response was the surge. Bush won, because the electorate as whole is not sufficiently opposed to the war to defund it-those freshmen Democrats from swing districts vote largely to continue the war.

Bush is often referred to as "imperial" by his critics, but Congress' benchmarking of the Iraqi government is arguably much more imperial an act than anything Bush has done since the government of Iraq was formed. It's imperial because they are setting priorities for another sovereign legislature; because meeting all of the benchmarks is a very, very high hurdle to set; and that future support is tied to meeting these benchmarks. Congress is treating Iraq like a state, not a country.

Posted by: MartyH at October 18, 2007 11:45 AM

I also think Frydek-Mistek has a very valid point. I can't join him in his comments on GWB and Republicans, but I can say that the Democrats were yelling for a new Secretary of Defense, a new strategy, and a new general to lead it. After the election, they got all of those things.
Now, why they then were stupid enough to turn on all that, when they could have claimed responsibility for the changes (and therefore quite possibly be able to claim responsibility for victory later down the road), is beyond me.

Posted by: Joe at October 18, 2007 12:29 PM

Joe-

History does not have to be rewritten until after it has occurred. Victory is not assured yet, so there is no reason for the Democrats to claim ownership yet. If Iraq is clearly on the path to peace and prosperity in a year's time, before the 2008 election, then Democrats will be claiming credit for victory. The Yellow Dogs will have an honest stake in that claim; the leadership and those who voted to defund the war repeatedly will not.

Posted by: MartyH at October 18, 2007 12:42 PM

Marty-

"Victory is not assured yet"

Which would be why I said "quite possibly" able to claim victory "later down the road." Having said that, having known it would be an incredibly rough road, I have had an optimistic view to our chances of a meaningful victory from the start. I have every bit as much now.

"If Iraq is clearly on the path to peace and prosperity in a year's time, before the 2008 election, then Democrats will be claiming credit for victory."

With all due respect to the fact that this involves a large degree of uncertainty, I believe that ship has sailed. The door was open before, but they didn't take it. Now they've painted themselves into a corner where there aren't many ways out but defeat in Iraq (mind you, I am speaking expansively about the party as a whole, with recognition that there are obvious exceptions). I don't completely count them out (hard to do that with any politician or party), but it will be very hard indeed to escape that corner.

Posted by: Joe at October 18, 2007 12:59 PM

Joe

I see your point, the Dems were pushing for a change in strategy as well as Rumsfelds head and they did approve Gen Petreaus, unanimously I believe. However the minute Bush was in favor of the new strategy the Dems were opposed to it with the exception of Joe Lieberman. I think the leadership proclaimed it a failure before it even started. If this war comes to a sucessful conclusion I really don't think they can claim credit for it

Posted by: joefrommass at October 18, 2007 01:10 PM

Joe: the Democrats were yelling for a new Secretary of Defense, a new strategy, and a new general to lead it. After the election, they got all of those things.

Yes, it's true. I remember many of them saying we need more troops, etc., and I agreed with them about that.

Now, why they then were stupid enough to turn on all that, when they could have claimed responsibility for the changes (and therefore quite possibly be able to claim responsibility for victory later down the road), is beyond me.

It's because their base hates the surge and never wanted more troops. They're in a tough spot. I think Hillary Clinton is handling it as well as any of them possibly could, especially since she manages to be so far ahead in the polls while she's doing it. She may end up saving them from the base once she locks in the nomination and is free to move even farther away from the left-wing of the party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2007 01:11 PM

Joe-

It will be so easy for the Democrats to claim victory.

"We got rid of Rumsfeld."

"We instituted the benchmarks that guided the Iraq parliament and people."

"We showed the Iraqis that the US support was not unconditional and thus motivated them to succeed."

"We won Bush's war for him."

Posted by: MartyH at October 18, 2007 01:18 PM

I agree with you, my fellow Joe. Which (from a Democrat's perspective) is too bad. Because the things they were demanding proved to make a positive difference. But they turned right around and gave away that right to claim credit by turning on their own suggestions! Sheesh, and I hear some folks talking about how GWB snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

Posted by: Joe at October 18, 2007 01:20 PM

Marty-

As soon as they say those things, do you honestly believe that everyone will not remember all else they have said deriding the surge as a failure, the war as lost, the refusal to distance from Gen. "Betray Us", etc.?
I believe that the only group who will immediately be granted the credit for victory (and in this case, much deservedly so) is the military. History will eventually judge which party deserves what amount of credit, but that will be many many years down the road.

Posted by: Joe at October 18, 2007 01:35 PM

MJT-

"It's because their base hates the surge and never wanted more troops. They're in a tough spot. I think Hillary Clinton is handling it as well as any of them possibly could, especially since she manages to be so far ahead in the polls while she's doing it. She may end up saving them from the base once she locks in the nomination and is free to move even farther away from the left-wing of the party."

I find myself nodding in agreement, especially regarding Hillary.

Posted by: Joe at October 18, 2007 01:40 PM

Despite this being 4-straight, and me risking trying to dominate this blog, I have to add that I also find the idea of the Iraqi Parliament passing tongue-in-cheek benchmarks for the U.S. Congress quite funny (and deserving!).

Posted by: Joe at October 18, 2007 01:48 PM

As soon as they say those things, do you honestly believe that everyone will not remember all else they have said deriding the surge as a failure, the war as lost, the refusal to distance from Gen. "Betray Us", etc.?

joe,

I wish that were true. Unfortunately the people have a bad habit of forgetting a lot. When I have talked to people who were adults during Nixon's admin they tend to not remember his move at price controls. The people have also forgotten the connections between the first Twin Tower attack, the USS Cole, the embassy bombing and the 9/11. Its a sad commentary on our society. As a society we seem to confuse with not dwelling on the past with forgetting the past. Hence the continuous mistakes we make. And I hope I am wrong, because as a society we can't afford to be so forgetful.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 18, 2007 02:03 PM

Obviously Rumsfelds approach did not work in hindsight. I'm not sure how we could have known for sure at the time that it was the wrong strategy, as these things take time to succceed or fail as may be the case.

Well, the wargames that had been performed a year earlier (playing out an invasion of Iraq) ended with a report that seemed pretty sure that a strategy like Rumsfeld's would win temporary control of Baghdad and lose control of the overall nation. The wargames report also indicated that there was a very strong likelihood for Insurgents that perceived us as invaders, fighting between Shia and Sunni and a strong opportunity for foreign fighters.

Further, it predicted several years of war.

Rumsfeld's plan won, based perhaps less on "could it work" and more on "could it sell".

We never know beforehand how something will go. However, there's strong evidence that indicates a competent SecDef would not have gone with the plan that Rumsfeld used.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2007 02:04 PM

Error, not one year before... the wargames had been played out in 1999, not 2002.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2007 02:05 PM

Ratatosk,

Don't know about the war games so I defer to you. I think the two schools of thought were the light footprint approach (Rumsfeld, Bush) and the heavy footprint (McCain, Powell). I think it was thought to be more politically acceptable at the time for a lighter presence, fewer casualties and so forth. Either way I think the way we fought this war would need to evolve and adapt to not only the enemy but also to the Iraqi culture which we are finally beginning to understand.

I don't recall that anybody predicted that the primary target for the insurgency would be civilians and AlQaida would provoke a civil war by mass murdering Iraqis and that this would be their stragety to force an American withdraw. Even if someone had correctly predicted these senarios how does one select the correct stragey based on one of a hundred opinions?

Posted by: joefrommass at October 18, 2007 02:31 PM

joefrommass,

Do some googling on Desert Crossing... I think one of the universities still has copies of all of the public information.

The wargames ended up with a recommendation of 400,000+ in order to secure all of the towns/villages immediately after the invasion. Gen Franks came in slightly below that with 380,000 minimum. It was Rumsfeld and his theory on "new military" that got us where we are now.

As for Al Queda, they didn't name them specifically, but the wargames were pretty clear that without enough boots on the ground (enough to have a presence in all of Iraq) that security would break down, militias would come up and civilian causalities would be immense.

Rumsfeld should have known better in 2002, he should have listened to the Generals recommendations and we "may" have ended up better off... no guarantees, but at least we would have been making use of the information on hand, rather than ignoring the information and recommendations of Gen. Zinni, and Gen. Franks.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2007 02:58 PM

Generals always fight the last war, and this Iraq is no exception. The last war, in this case, was Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces combined with local Northern Alliance forces to drive the Taliban from power. Rumsfeld's light and agile ideas proved correct in that case. It's no wonder he won the argument-he had just proved his ideas in the "Graveyard of Empires."

Posted by: MartyH at October 18, 2007 03:15 PM

The last war, in this case, was Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces combined with local Northern Alliance forces to drive the Taliban from power.

Driving from power is one thing, but keeping them from regaining power is quite another. The last war was not really concluded before embarking on the second. It still isn't.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 18, 2007 03:48 PM

The wargames ended up with a recommendation of 400,000+ in order to secure all of the towns/villages immediately after the invasion. Gen Franks came in slightly below that with 380,000 minimum.

I'm not surprised that the wargames predicted that insurgencies would develop. That's how wars are fought in the Middle East, and in places like India, Pakistan, Chechnya and Afghanistan. Insurgents are what the jihad hatcheries are hatching..

I understand that prediction, but what I don't understand is - why did the army not want to learn how to fight insurgencies?

During an interview, Army LTC John Nagl, author of the recently published "Counterinsurgency Field Manual" said:

"We last had a counterguerrilla manual in 1987 but as an army we really avoided counterinsurgency in the wake of Vietnam because we didn't want to fight that kind of war again."

They didn't want to learn about counterinsurgency because they didn't want to fight that kind of war? That's like an investment banker that avoids dealing with bonds because they don't want to do that kind of investment. Or a cook that never learns to fry because they don't want to do that kind of thing..

Insurgencies are a tactic of war - how could the army just say that they wanted to avoid them?

If that was their attitude, the number of troops wouldn't matter all that much.

Posted by: mary at October 18, 2007 03:50 PM

"Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday. Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities at a time of heightened tension with Iran."---dpu

Well color me as not very concerned about this. In fact I think it is excellent news. Iran hardly needs commercial investments to 'mask military activities' in Iraq. And frankly I don't believe that the Americans on the scene are running around possessed by 'serious concerns'. Sure they might be a little wary as they should be, but BIG POWER PLANTS are BIG POWER PLANTS. If they can find Al-Quds people who are actually HIDING, i 'm sure they can keep track of people actually working out in the open. And the BIGGEST Plant is evidently to be a Chinese Project.

Bring it on. Soon would be good. Sooner would be better.

And that 'freebie' plant between Najaf and Kerbala, and the 'low-cost' link to Iranian Power Distribution are nifty little bonuses. I don't know how much these Power plants would cost if a Euro or American company were to build them, but my guess is LOTS MORE even if the weaselly companies would agree to build in a 'difficult' context.

Mr. Wahid said the new power plants were part of a sweeping plan to increase electricity production on the grid, whose output has been creeping upward in recent weeks. ---NYT

Creeping upward in recent weeks. And the good news just keeps on coming. One of the first things Iraqis say in interviews (after the security problems are mentioned)is the lack of reliable electricity and the total lack of electricity for most of the day.

All in all a 'fair & balanced' NYT report on this sector of Iraq, including a pretty positive view of Mr. Walid who seems to be a competent and 'honest' Minister in one of the MOST IMPORTANT Ministries.

Thanks to DPU for the link.

Posted by: dougf at October 18, 2007 05:20 PM

Hey guys don't forget those little backstabbers Colin Powell and his pet monkey Armitage sabotaging the initial invasion of Iraq. I don't think Powell had the same zeal with Turkey as he did dealing with Pakistan. I've always wondered on how the war could have gone differently if Turkey allowed us to invade from the north. Instead, Powells limpwristed attempt to get permission extended the invasion by 3 or 4 weeks and it allowed Saddams Army to disentgrate right before our eyes. A semi-intact Iraqi Army would've been advantageous for us all. But as with all plans; not everything goes as planned. I do think it is funny that Bush took the Democrats advice and put more troops in Iraq, but their Bush Derangement Syndrome keeps them from taking credit.

Posted by: Pete Dawg at October 18, 2007 06:04 PM

Ratatosk,

Who knows what would have happened if a different strategy were tried, probably better results but we will never know. Were 400,000 even available? I kept hearing from guys like Barry McCaffrey that the armed forces were streched too thin.

I guess I don't do a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking but then again, here in New Engand we have Tom Brady...so there is never any need to.

Posted by: joefrommass at October 18, 2007 07:41 PM

Frydek-Mistek,

You sir, are out of your mind. The Dems have been and still are against the surge. Dems claim daily that the tactics in Iraq have not changed although the Patraeus plan is completely different than Casey's plan and Sanchez's plan before him. Dems called Petraeus a liar to his face during his Congressional report in September(specifically, her thighness, Hillary and the Democrats minions at that website that I refuse to type the name). Furthermore the vast majority of Dems couldn't even bring themselves to condemn that website's ad in the New York Slimes newspaper that slandered the General. Furthermore, the condemnation was not about the right to have the ad (free speech), it was about the content of what the ad stated as fact and the fallicy of it. So, if you really believe that the progress in Iraq is at all related to a Democrat lead Congress or any Democrat at all, you are totally delusional.

Viper out.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 07:52 PM

Hey CPLViper: I second your motion. The guy needs his meds.

For an interesting Berkeley rally, check out:

http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/DailyFile/showdown_in_berkeley_first_pictures_october_17/

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at October 18, 2007 08:39 PM

Viper out.

Viper out?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 18, 2007 08:49 PM

Yes DPU. Do you have a problem with that? If so, too bad.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 09:00 PM

Yes DPU. Do you have a problem with that?

Hell no. I might give it a try myself.

DPU out.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 18, 2007 09:13 PM

Tom,

I saw that too. I believe that the silent majority have been silent too long and I hope that is a sign of good things to come. The most interesting thing about the last few weeks is that when I noticed that there is even less reporting of the war from the MSM and the political debate is not as hot as it was a few months ago ...

Ya know why? The Dems have stopped talking about it. Proves to me who made the war a political battle in first place.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 09:15 PM

DPU,

I commend you on a fine closing.

An alternative would be as such;

-Out

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 09:17 PM

Creeping upward in recent weeks. And the good news just keeps on coming.

Yeah, although I get it as a bit of mix of good and bad. On the good side, foreign development, signs of an improving security situation, and more electricity. On the bad said, foreign development by Iran and China, signs of an improving security situation in al Sadr's stronghold, and electricity likely controlled by militias.

Double-plus-ungood out.

By the way, that sign-off is cool, very manly. We should all do it.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 18, 2007 09:18 PM

Hey guys don't forget those little backstabbers Colin Powell and his pet monkey Armitage sabotaging the initial invasion of Iraq.

The fact that you can suggest this suggests something between carelessness and the indifference of the demagogue to honest accountings. Turkey's refusal to host troops had very little to do with Colin Powell and a lot to do with 90% of the Turkish population being against the war. That's why your pals find democracy so inconvenient unless they need to use it as an excuse to knock someone off.

I've always wondered on how the war could have gone differently if Turkey allowed us to invade from the north.

Yes. Saddamn's army disintegrated not because it was hopelessly overmatched bunch of unmotivated conscripts (Army) or as part of a deliberate plan by the Baathists (Republican Guard) but because we failed to invade from Turkey.

Seriously, Colin Powell swallowed his pride and good judgement and cheerled the war as hard as anyone. The reward he gets for his loyalty, and the accuracy of his misgivings, is to be savaged by idiots yourself when Rush Limbaugh needs someone to blame.

It's enough to make you wonder why we volunteer for government service at all some days, eh? If I worked for CIA or State and had to be blamed all day for mistakes I was arm-twisted into by people who then went on to blame me for covering their a**es under orders, I'd be tempted to start a movement to shut the whole f*cking department down and let the pimps go without.

Posted by: glasnost at October 18, 2007 09:28 PM

She may end up saving them from the base once she locks in the nomination and is free to move even farther away from the left-wing of the party.

Why do the Democrats need to be saved from a political position, namely withdrawal, that sixty percent of the country, conservatively, supports?

Why does America need to be saved attempts to stop spending several hundred billion dollars a year attempting pacify one third-world country among many?

Now, if you said that Iraq needs to be saved, you'd at least have a debatable argument. Instead, what you have is a talking point, inherited from the gut, a product of your personal preference that American troops stay in Iraq. Nothing to do with what's politically viable and what isn't.

Posted by: glasnost at October 18, 2007 09:33 PM

DPU,

I agree with that there is a problem with the Iraqi electricity minister awarding the building of a power plant to Iran (and in Sadr City no less). Iran is also going to supply free electricity to Karbala and Najaf but that kind of reminds me how some of our own countrymen would take free (or lower priced heating oil) from a dictator like Hugo Chavez. Although it seems to me that Iraqis REALLY want (and need) electricity. It is more probable that the segment of Iraqi society that is not happy with the US being there would less likely bomb a project not being built by us (or one of our vendors).

On the other hand, it does let Iran (and the Quds) in the back door but to be forthright, the US will be dealing with Iran one way or another so I consider this problem to be slight.

There is another perspective though to Iraqis having more electricity. They love to watch television. When electricity is limited to a hour or two a day most of them only get to see news from the likes of Al Jazera (sp). When they have more electricty, they often 'surf' other news outlets and get more truthful news (unless, of course, they watch MSLSD or the Commie News Network).

Viper Out

BTW, I am glad you like my closing but if everyone used it, I would no longer be an individual ... how dare you take my individuality away. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 09:44 PM

I'd have voted for John McCain in 2000 (admittedly, didn't know much about economics back then), or still, maybe for a Republican with two ounces of compassion in his body (Mike Huckabee?) to rub together, but in 2008 I have to consider myself part of that base. If it wasn't for that base, there would be no pushback against warrantless wiretapping, the incarceration without trial of American citizens, the trading of prostitutes for defense contracts, the firing of US attorneys for the crime of investigating Republicans, or the other 101 ways in which this Adminstration has pushed the fabric of functional and non-partisan government to the brink of annihilation. Hey, or the search and destroy tactics that screwed up our belatedly "humanitarian intervention" in the first place.

All the human rights fans who like actual human rights in their own actual country out to thank a Democrat. This week we passed a law that protects journalists from being thrown in jail for not revealing their sources - which if had ever been done systematically, would have shut the only door that led us to find out about everything from Abu Ghirab to the ghost prisons in Romania in the first place. Which sounds great until they put you in one because you have the wrong phone number.

Posted by: glasnost at October 18, 2007 09:49 PM

Glasnost:Why do the Democrats need to be saved from a political position, namely withdrawal, that sixty percent of the country, conservatively, supports?

First of all, I have never seen a poll where 60 percent say we should withdraw right now. Maybe they're out there, I'm not saying they aren't. Do you have a link to one?

Also, I know that at least some of the pro-withdrawal folks think everything will be fine in Iraq if we withdraw now. I think they're wrong. Your mileage may vary.

But if I'm right and we withdraw prematurely, those who pushed for it at the government level will suffer severely in the credibility department if, say, Iraq becomes an insurgent-led terrorist state and we later have to invade again because we didn't finish the job.

I can come up with additional bad possible scenarios if you feel like reading them. I don't know what would happen if we started leaving tomorrow, but I would be even more pessimistic about Iraq's prospects than I am now. And right now I think the odds of a decent outcome are somewhere south of 50 percent. I don't think the odds are zero percent like maybe you do, but I wouldn't bet my house on a happy ending even if we stick around for five more years.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2007 09:55 PM

glasnost,

Where do you get this "60% of the nation supports withdrawl" from? If you think that a poll conducted by telephone is any indication of what people think, you would be mistaken. Too many variables to control. The wording of the questions, the geographic location of the pollie and the accuracy (and honestly for the matter) of the person taking the poll. I can see some guy that staunchly opposes the war marking a Democrat pollie as a Republican to make the numbers sway to what he/she personally believes.

Hell, if I believed every poll I read, according to the internet Ru (I mean Ron) Paul is going to be the Republican candidate in 2008.

Here, I can make some numbers up too. A poll taken a couple of weeks ago stated that 20% of Democrats believe the US would be better off if we lost the war. Since withdrawl means defeat, 80% of Democrats do not support withdrawl. Since there are about 50% Republicans and 50% Democrats in the US (and we all know that ALL Republicans don't support withdrawing from Iraq), that would mean 90% of the US population says "FIGHT ON!"

Gee, that was easy.

Viper Out.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 10:01 PM

Why does America need to be saved (from) attempts to stop spending several hundred billion dollars a year attempting pacify one third-world country among many?

Short answer:
Take a look at a map. Building large air bases inside Iraq that can be leased indefinately by the US government would be a good start to keeping the dictators in Iran, Syria or any other unfriendly ME country from developing a nuclear weapon. If that mission fails, whichever ME country gets the bomb will hold all the other ME countries hostage. Meaning, they will keep those countries from selling oil to the western world and causing a complete and total global economic disaster.

I don't know how you feel about the early 19th century but I REALLY prefer to live in early 21st century and if it takes several hundred billion dollars to do it, so be it.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 18, 2007 10:47 PM

glasnost-

"If it wasn't for that base, there would be no pushback against warrantless wiretapping,"

This seems to insinuate that folks are just running around willy-nilly tapping into any and everything without a warrant. Can you provide specific examples of someone's civil rights being violated by a warrantless wiretap (aka: wasn't talking to terrorists and/or suffered an injustice because of it)?

"the incarceration without trial of American citizens,"

Examples & proof, please.

"the trading of prostitutes for defense contracts,"

Proof in the form of convictions, please.

"the firing of US attorneys for the crime of investigating Republicans,"

Now this one is just silly. It is not only precedent, but the President's right to hire and fire US attorneys. Your wonderful Democrat Bill "The Cheap Thrill" Clinton did the exact same thing. As in any workplace, if you're too adamantly opposed to your boss's direction with regards to your actions and performance, then you are fired. This is even more so with Presidents and US Attorneys.

"or the other 101 ways in which this Adminstration has pushed the fabric of functional and non-partisan government to the brink of annihilation."

For starters I'm wondering what those other 101 ways are. And are you about 17 or 18? I don't ask to belittle you, I ask because I don't think any of us who were old enough to even mildly understand politics would call what came before GWB a "functional and non-partisan" government. It's been just as partisan, and it's been no more dysfunctional than it currently is for quite some time now.

If you want to just regurgitate propaganda you hear someone from the far Left say, so be it. Just expect to be sat at the back of the room and not taken seriously. This is far and away your most ridiculous post (as I've seen you make valid points before).

Posted by: Joe at October 19, 2007 06:15 AM

joefrommass,

Who knows what would have happened if a different strategy were tried, probably better results but we will never know. Were 400,000 even available? I kept hearing from guys like Barry McCaffrey that the armed forces were streched too thin.

According to Gen Franks, we could have gone in with a large force and according to most of the reports I've heard from the actual military commanders (rather than the folks that find any reason at all to be anti-war) in 2003 we weren't all that stretched. At the end of the day, we can't say for sure what would have been better, but we can look at predictions and outcomes. Just as with a scientific theory, the value lies in its predictive power. Rumsfeld's theory predicted a fast war, a cheap war and Iraqis welcoming us with open arms. Gen Zinni and Gen Franks felt that without enough boots on the ground we would see a long slow and deadly insurgency. Indeed, the wargame also predicted 5+ years before any sort of real stability would be reached. My guess is that by mid-2008, we'll see some real stability, based on the current situation (which exists only because we put more troops in... and because some Iraqis finally started standing up for their own damn lives).

In all honesty, a competent SecDef would have relied on his experts, rather than his own pet theories. A competent Commander In Chief would have asked for the resignation of an incompetent SecDef... and a competent Congress would have demanded it. Instead, because Red vs. Blue was more important than actually fighting the war correctly, we are now probably years behind where we should be.

mary,
Insurgencies are a tactic of war - how could the army just say that they wanted to avoid them?

Have you read "The Sling and The Stone" by Marine Colonel, Thomas Hammes? Hammes was one of the few people studying insurgency during the 80's and 90's in the military and the book is an awesome look at the evolution of Fourth Generation Warfare.

Joe,
"the incarceration without trial of American citizens,"

Examples & proof, please.

Are you serious?

Yaser Esam Hamdi, American citizen held without trial.
Jose Padilla, American citizen held without trial.

Both of them are probably bad people and deserved to go to jail... however, they also deserved a trial under the US Constitution.

I think he was referencing the Duke Cunningham scandal with the prostitutes bit, which (as far as I know) the prostitute charge was never substantiated... however the trading of defense contracts for a yacht and other fun toys was... though I would blame crooked politicians rather than Bush for that.

The larger problem is that this sort of stuff was happening and Congress refused to act as a check/balance to the President's plans. The President should push the envelope when faced with hard problems, but Congress should make sure he stays in the envelope... the first 6 years of this Administration were not well handled by the Congress and that, I think, led to the Republican losses in '06.

Bush would probably have a lot less real problems if Congress had been more opposing. They're supposed to act as a sanity check... instead they simply reinforced bad decisions in some sort of shared hallucination.

Anytime a single party gains full control this sort of thing happens. You'd think we Americans would learn...

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 07:14 AM

Frydek-Mistek,

"For all the congress bashers on this blog, you have to admit that the election of a democratic congress has led to improvement ..."

Ratatosk,

"Bush would probably have a lot less real problems if (Republican) Congress had been more opposing. They're supposed to act as a sanity check..."

That is why once I decided who I want to be my president it is much easier to decide who I want to be my congressman. Pick opposing party if possible.

Posted by: leo at October 19, 2007 07:46 AM

If I worked for CIA or State and had to be blamed all day for mistakes I was arm-twisted into by people who then went on to blame me for covering their a**es under orders, I'd be tempted to start a movement to shut the whole f*cking department down and let the pimps go without.--glasnost

Well I can't speak for the utility of closing down the State Department as despite some reservations on their structural 'agendas', at least they are in the end just 'diplomats'.

But as to a CIA disbandment --- What a wonderful idea.
Could that self-closure perhaps start today ?

After all now much more in the dark would everyone possibly be, given that Organization's sterling track record of prediction and information provision, and at the least all the accursed 'leaks' would stop.

Re-building from the ground up seems the only really effective solution to the CIA's ingrained problems. Better sooner than later.

Posted by: dougf at October 19, 2007 08:38 AM

I tell you what: I'm not sure that any I've seen a poll that suggests that sixty percent of the country is looking for an immediate withdrawal. Not in those exact words.

But by all means, look at these numbers here and then try to logically suggests how the Democratic Party needs to be 'saved' from the consequences of withdrawal.

http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm

Some highlights:

"Thinking ahead to the next presidential election, do you think a Democratic or a Republican president would do a better job resolving the situation in Iraq?"
Approve/Dissaprove

51 31

"The Bush Administration has requested nearly 190 billion dollars to fund the wars and related U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year. This is about 40 billion dollars more than first estimated. Do you think Congress should approve all of this funding request, or reduce it?"

Approve All/Reduce It
9/27-30/07
27 67 3 3

"Do you think Democrats in Congress have gone too far or not far enough in opposing the war in Iraq?"
Too Far/Not Far Enough/RightAmount
9/27-30/07
35 55 5 5

8/25-28/05
37 53 4 6

From what you know about the U.S. involvement in Iraq, how much longer would you be willing to have large numbers of U.S. troops remain in Iraq: less than a year, one to two years, two to five years or longer than five years?"

Less Than A Year/One to Two Years/Two to Five
Years/ Longer Than Five Years Other/Unsure
%
45 27 12 5 11
49 23 12 5 11

When you add A and B - B, by the way, means pulling out troops the day after the next president is inaugurated, which is about two years from now, a little more - 70 percent of America wants those troops gone the day after President Hilary takes office.

But, oh, by all means, don't forget to "save" the Democratic Party, not to mention the American people, from doing what they want to be done.

Viper:

Where do you get this "60% of the nation supports withdrawl" from? If you think that a poll conducted by telephone is any indication of what people think, you would be mistaken. Too many variables to control. The wording of the questions, the geographic location of the pollie and the accuracy (and honestly for the matter) of the person taking the poll. I can see some guy that staunchly opposes the war marking a Democrat pollie as a Republican to make the numbers sway to what he/she personally believes.

Ah. I see your point. And an eminently reasonable one at that. So, all polling everywhere is useless because of the factors you mention? Or is it only the ones on Iraq that tell us nothing about public opinion? Is that sort of convenient?

The Iraq opinions aren't coming from a single poll. They're fairly consistent across different companies and intervals. I think you're grasping at straws.

But if I'm right and we withdraw prematurely, those who pushed for it at the government level will suffer severely in the credibility department if, say, Iraq becomes an insurgent-led terrorist state and we later have to invade again because we didn't finish the job.

Since I don't think we had to invade in the first place, to justify invasion we'd need someone worse than Saddamn. I don't see it in the cards. Hasn't your website established that AQI in Iraq is wildly unpopular? Haven't other sources established their fairly small numbers? How are they going to "take over" Iraq?

Besides, I differ from, I suppose, some elements of the base in that I have no objection to leaving a couple of thousand troops in Kurdistan who can penetrate the country, kill anyone seriously dangerous to the US, and leave again.

Posted by: glasnost at October 19, 2007 09:02 AM

Have you read "The Sling and The Stone" by Marine Colonel, Thomas Hammes?

Read this recently. It's okay. But a significantly better book is "How to eat Soup with a Knife" by Nagl. Less broad, but much more academically rigorous.

Posted by: glasnost at October 19, 2007 09:04 AM

glasnost: But a significantly better book is "How to eat Soup with a Knife" by Nagl.

It seems that people are stealing my ideas again.

Posted by: Edgar at October 19, 2007 09:17 AM

This seems to insinuate that folks are just running around willy-nilly tapping into any and everything without a warrant.

A) I genuinely can't be bothered to hand feed this to you, but you can start here: and B) We still don't know what's been done. The lawsuits underway could force exactly what's been done to be revealed, if Congress holds out on passing "retroactive immunity" for ATT/Verizon.

Do you know what "retroactive immunity" means? It means penalties are waived for breaking the law.
The fact that the White House is so heavily invested in that demand speaks volumes about the legality of their conduct. It's as plain as the nose on their face. "Retroactive immunity" isn't something that should even be in the power of Congress to grant: it's the sort of maneuver you'd expect from Pervez Musharraf or Servio Berlusconi. It's sickening.

Posted by: glasnost at October 19, 2007 09:19 AM

Ratatosk,
Playing devils advocate, I find it hard to believe that 400,000 troops were available for any sustained period. Numbers like that are certainly not available today. The surge will end somtime in 2008 primarily because the armed forces cannot sustain the 130,000 we have in Iraq now.

Posted by: joefrommass at October 19, 2007 09:23 AM

If I worked for CIA or State and had to be blamed all day for mistakes I was arm-twisted into by people who then went on to blame me for covering their a**es under orders, I'd be tempted to start a movement to shut the whole f*cking department down and let the pimps go without.

The CIA and State bureaucracies are there to give briefings and recommendations. Therefore they are responsible for the info given and deserve criticism when they supply faulty info. The problem with the State Dept is that is has been "Euro-centrist" and Bush is most definitely not a "euro-centrist". The problem in the CIA is that it has become too "bureaucracized". Maybe it's time to strip away civil service protection from all government positions. Or at least make it easier to fire. Now admittedly I don't know if the CIA has civil service protection, and if not please say so, but it is not a leap of faith to believe they do.
"Euro-centrist" = WWED

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 19, 2007 09:31 AM

Glasnost: But by all means, look at these numbers here and then try to logically suggests how the Democratic Party needs to be 'saved' from the consequences of withdrawal.

It doesn't matter how many people think withdrawal might be a good idea today. Most of them think our problems in Iraq will end after withdrawal. I do not agree. And the politicians who force the withdrawal will suffer consequences regardless of what the polls say if I'm right, just as Bush is suffering in the polls because Iraq is a mess regardless of the fact that the majority supported the war when we went in.

If we do withdraw soon, I hope you're right. I would rather be wrong than watch a million people get killed if insurgents take over the country and rip the place to pieces. Almost everyone I talked to in Iraq thinks that's exactly what would happen. Maybe they're wrong, but I trust their judgement more than yours. Nothing personal.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2007 10:26 AM

And the politicians who force the withdrawal will suffer consequences regardless of what the polls say if I'm right, just as Bush is suffering in the polls because Iraq is a mess regardless of the fact that the majority supported the war when we went in.

I have to disagree with you Mike. Right now Bush is suffering because the US is in Iraq and US reporters are covering Iraq. Once we pull out, the media will find a new story, our soldiers won't be dying and the US will cease to care. Meanwhile (if we withdraw), its entirely likely that Iraq will implode and end up worse than it was in 2002 (or 1990).

Bush gets bad marks because his bad decisions have immediate and ongoing effects. Pulling out won't have the same consequences because by the time the decision bites us in the ass, the politicians will be long gone or their votes will be ancient history. After all, how many politicians lost their seat for failing to demand we support the Kurds after Desert Storm?

While the decision would likely end up with as many deaths (if not more) than Bush's poorly-planned war, I think it would have a lot less political backlash on the individuals.

Of course, occasionally Americans surprise me... not often but occasionally ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 10:44 AM

joefrommass,

I myself doubt that 400,000 would be available in a short term scenario. I think that the recommendation from the Wargame basically pointed out that invading Iraq would require that many and may require raising the level of military readiness and actual troops. That falls in line with Gen Franks request for 350,000 which is lower (I don't think that the active general in charge would request more soldiers than could be filled). At any rate, the main point is that Rumsfeld ignored the data, ignored the research and ignored the generals in favor of his own theories. That, in and of itself, indicates potential incompetence... the fact that his plan of opposites failed so badly makes it true incompetence.

I thought invading Iraq was a bad idea (I would prefer to see Bin Laden in jail, Afghanistan under control and Al Queda smashed into little bits) . But if we were going to do it, we should have done it based on all the best information we could gather. It's obvious now that we didn't do that... hell its obvious now that we didn't even do that with the information about Saddam's capabilities.

sigh

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 10:55 AM

Most of them think our problems in Iraq will end after withdrawal. I do not agree. And the politicians who force the withdrawal will suffer consequences regardless of what the polls say if I'm right, just as Bush is suffering in the polls because Iraq is a mess regardless of the fact that the majority supported the war when we went in.

I totally agree with this, except I would take it a little further and say that if there is a regional bloodbath, the international repercussions will be severe, and the US will have an even bigger black eye than it did when this ill-considered adventure began.

But I'm pessimistic that there will be any other outcome, simply because I don't see any path to success at the moment, the Awakening notwithstanding. There are too many players in the game with a vested interest in seeing US failure in Iraq, and every success so far has been fragile.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 19, 2007 10:56 AM

glasnot:

You think I am grasping at straws because I don't trust polls and you are accusing me of using the reasons I outlined for not believing in polls for me to re-make the world to fit into my perspective of it.

First, I never have quoted a poll and I never will because they are too easily squewed as I outlined. Some polls seem to work (like asking 10 kids their favorite flavor of ice cream) but others have been so far off the mark it is almost silly (2004 US Presidential exit polls). The problem is not that several polls from different organizations match but the ideology of those who run those organizations seem to me to be all the same. Since I, personally, cannot verify their data, I cannot trust them. You should be able to tell enough about me that the quote "Trust but verify" was made by someone I truely admire and he was 100% correct.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 19, 2007 11:12 AM

Since I, personally, cannot verify their data, I cannot trust them.

Are you a statistician? If you were, you would likely be able to verify them. If you are not, then how would you do so?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 19, 2007 11:19 AM

There are too many players in the game with a vested interest in seeing US failure in Iraq, and every success so far has been fragile.--dpu

And the future is always like the past ? Those' successes' of the past were merely 'surface' changes. An 'imposed and temporary reality'. For example, it is possible to 'pacify' an area for a while by dint of a strong security presence, but if the area is still 'hostile' it is only a matter of time before it slides again into violence. It is very difficult to have enough forces available to keep the problems from flaring up. As indeed is precisely what happened. Repeatedly.

The current 'successes' are CLEARLY the result of 'community involvement'. More people taking up arms to protect their homes, more people dropping dimes on the bad elements. More people who are tired of being on the pointy end of the stick. This strikes me as a real ground up movement to move-on. And whatever its flaws the Iraqi Security Apparatus is CLEARLY better in 2007 than it was in 2005. The 'trend lines' are favorable. Not great but favorable.

Now everything could fall apart tomorrow but it is at least equally true that it might move forward and get appreciably better than today.

I think you overestimate the influence of some of those who have a " vested interest in seeing US failure in Iraq". They might have the will but perhaps they don't have the way.

Do you agree that we should have a very clear idea of what is likely by say June 2008 ?

Posted by: dougf at October 19, 2007 11:28 AM

Ratatosk: I have to disagree with you Mike. Right now Bush is suffering because the US is in Iraq and US reporters are covering Iraq. Once we pull out, the media will find a new story, our soldiers won't be dying and the US will cease to care.

You're right if Iraq doesn't threaten otehr countries, including the US, afterward.

Remember when the jihadis took over Fallujah a few years ago? If that happens in Baghdad because the Army and Marines walked away, we will probably have to go back in there.

See Israel and Gaza. Look, I supported the Israeli withdrawal, but Israel is going to have to go back in there. You just watch.

Beginning a military intervention in the Middle East triggers all sort of trouble, but so does withdrawal if it isn't done right.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 19, 2007 11:41 AM

MJT,

I'm not disagreeing with your view of the consequences to the world, only your thought that the consequences would reach the politicians currently wanting to vote us out of there. Besides, if we leave and all hell breaks loose... going back in will quite possibly depend on who's in charge come 08. Someone would have to go in, but I would guess that if the Dems are in charge that someone will be NATO or the UN, not the US and a coalition of the willing. (Not that I think the UN would do a better or even good job).

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 11:50 AM

Someone would have to go in, but I would guess that if the Dems are in charge that someone will be NATO or the UN, not the US and a coalition of the willing. (Not that I think the UN would do a better or even good job).

The U.N. has proven itself rather incompetent. The only time it can even be considered they've done any good is when they've had strong military backing by the U.S. Otherwise the U.N. is just a bunch of spectators wearing blue berets and helmets. They haven't done squat in the Darfur, nothing in Rwanda, and nada in the former Yugoslavia during it's civil war.
And I can't see where the other members of NATO would be willing to go into Iraq. The Europeans would prefer to hide their heads in the sand and wish away all problems. Quite frankly NATO is no longer relevant as a group. The only other NATO nation that has the cajones to act is Britian. But even then they only do so when the US acts. If we pull out and Iraq falls into utter chaos, it won't matter who's prez, no one is going to go back in with us. So, it's now or never. I predict if we pull out now the problems the military has meeting recruiting goals will escalate and it will end up being the "70's" all over again, for Americans don't like losing.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 19, 2007 12:36 PM

Someone would have to go in, but I would guess that if the Dems are in charge that someone will be NATO or the UN, not the US and a coalition of the willing. (Not that I think the UN would do a better or even good job'---Tosk

So you're really saying that no-one will go 'back in'. Just in sort of a, nuanced, backhand, non-blameable manner. Are you auditioning for a job on Hillary's campaign ?

Because if you believe that the UN will do ANYTHING EVER IN IRAQ, you should really start sharing whatever is elevating you to your present state of consciousness. Must be excellent stuff and I'm flexible in this particular area. The UN has no troops,but those they can beg from member States,(please name one that would volunteer for a mission in Iraq) and as a body the UN has a proven 'political' record in Iraq. And not a good record at that. 'Run away' would pretty much sum that up.

As to NATO, I think as a Canadian I have an inside view of how reliable NATO is at putting anyone in harm's way. In Afghanistan, Canadians, Australians, the Brits, and the US are doing the fighting there. There are also some brave countries such as Denmark, and Romania that are stepping up and doing what they can.

The rest of NATO are either not there at all or are hiding out in Kabul, Mazar, and Herat. These brave souls have REFUSED to send their forces to the South where the fighting actually is because it is too 'dangerous' and their pacifist voting pulic would not like it. This spinelessness of the other NATO countries is a BIG issue here in Canada. They don't want to 'get involved' if that means more than 'peace-keeping'. Peace-making--- not so much. In fact, not at all.

Posted by: dougf at October 19, 2007 12:39 PM

Heya dougf, who are you talking to?

I think that the UN is pathetic and NATO is out to lunch. But, if we leave and if the Dems win in '08... then any emergency in Iraq will go through all the formal channels and we'll buddy up with the UN and we'll partner with NATO and it will be 99.9% bullshit. Sorry if my disgust with that option wasn't clear before.

I think we were dumb going in, we were dumb for the first several years of the War and now we're stuck there... a lone finger in a well cracked dike. If we leave prematurely, then I have little doubt as to the outcome. My first difference with MJT was that he thinks it will bite the politicans and I think they'll get off scott-free (barring history books in 100 years). My second was that he still seems to believe that We (the US) would go back in alone to deal with the resulting horrors... I disagree, I think the Dems would make it an issue for the International Community, just like Darfur. I think it would probably receive the same attention as well....

The only hope for Iraq, appears to be the Iraqi people. If they really get behind an awakening, if they quell the most extreme elements and start trying to cooperate in a government... then maybe they have a shot. If not, we can be there for the next 20 years and once we leave I think that dike will come crashing down.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 01:16 PM

that someone will be NATO or the UN

When it comes to military action by either of these organizations, what you're really saying is send in the Marines.

Let's face facts, the United States is and always has been the military arm of those organizations. No one else could or would go back into Baghdad. We're it today, tomorrow, and for decades to come.

No disrespect intended for those few nations that do join us, but they just don't have the resources, manpower, will or plain ability to fight full-scale wars on their own. At most, they can play supporting roles but they can't or won't take the lead. Hell, we had to intervene in Bosnia because they couldn't or wouldn't handle that little affair on their own.

So, we might as well stay in Iraq and finish the job. No sense moving out only to move back in a few years from now.

Posted by: Dogwood at October 19, 2007 01:25 PM

Now everything could fall apart tomorrow but it is at least equally true that it might move forward and get appreciably better than today.

Why would it equally true? In order for things to improve, a lot of disparate things need to all go right, whereas even one or two things going wrong could upset the apple cart. That doesn't map to equal chances in my books.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 19, 2007 01:29 PM

When it comes to military action by either of these organizations, what you're really saying is send in the Marines.

With the very big difference that politicians can spin it as "supporting an International Force" as part of a humanitarian effort, caused by the blunders of the Bush administration... not a continuation of the existing conflict.

So, we might as well stay in Iraq and finish the job. No sense moving out only to move back in a few years from now.

I agree. Though "finishing the job" may not be all that great either... depends entirely on the Iraqi people.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 01:36 PM

The only hope for Iraq, appears to be the Iraqi people. If they really get behind an awakening, if they quell the most extreme elements and start trying to cooperate in a government... then maybe they have a shot. If not, we can be there for the next 20 years and once we leave I think that dike will come crashing down.--Tosk

I agree but I am far more sanguine than you about the prospects of 'success'. It won't take another 20 years either. Not to get it to a level that 'functions' anyway.

As I said to dpu, let's see how things are next June. Then everything will be clear to all. I predict there will be kite flying and candies for all. Ummm, well maybe not the kite flying so much. And now that I think of it, maybe not the candies either. :-)

ps--- I was talking to YOU, my good man.

Your 'clarification' did indeed illuminate your position. But I think that the scenario you outline is not '99.9% bullshit'. More like 99-99/100ths bullshit. And not likely to fool anyone except those who want to be fooled. And I don't see it happening. Not at all. Once gone-- gone.

It's now or never as they say. I got my money on the 'now'. DPU seemingly has the never option. Guess you can sort of split the difference with the proferred 99.9% bullshit option.

Another issue solved. You know running the World is tiring work, don't you find ? :-)

Posted by: dougf at October 19, 2007 01:39 PM

As I said to dpu, let's see how things are next June. Then everything will be clear to all.

Well, no, you see I was already waiting to see how things would be in October of '07. Because things would be clear to all by then.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 19, 2007 01:51 PM

"Well, no, you see I was already waiting to see how things would be in October of '07. Because things would be clear to all by then.-

Did I say October 07 at some point ? Golly how time does fly.

Well then since Oct 07 is what you were waiting for, things are presently going swimmingly (in context) so I declare TOTAL VICTORY and ask that you henceforth refrain from any further nay-saying. Nattering nabob of negativism that you are.

Compared to June 07, October 07 IS a day at the beach. And June 08 will be a week in Paris. All expenses paid. But as I did say previously no kites and the candies look doubtfull as well. Maybe in 09.

Posted by: dougf at October 19, 2007 02:10 PM

Well then since Oct 07 is what you were waiting for, things are presently going swimmingly (in context) so I declare TOTAL VICTORY and ask that you henceforth refrain from any further nay-saying.

Well, that is good news.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 19, 2007 02:31 PM

Have any of you considered how much stress our enemies are under?

Iran is suffering the effects of their economic isolation, and Merkel mentioned expanding the blockade.

Pakistan is apparently getting ready to invade Waziristan.

Israel just proved that it can bomb anything in Syria that it chooses.

The Armenian Genocide resolution is halted, so maybe the situation with Turkey will ease;

Iraq's violence levels are dropping to pre-Samarra mosque bombing levels. ISF are much more numerous and better trained than a year ago.

We cetainly have not won, but our enemies are straining under the load that we are bringing to bear on them. Don't forget that.

Posted by: MartyH at October 19, 2007 02:49 PM

And now bin Laden has to choose: send his most capable lieutenants to try to reheat the insurgency in Iraq; or cede the battlefield to the Americans and the majority of Iraqis who have no interest either in blowing people up or embracing the al Qaeda way of life.

The first course risks losing combatants who could otherwise be promoting al Qaeda’s agenda in Hamburg or New Jersey. As for the second course, bin Laden has said that the “world war” raging in Iraq will end in “either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation.”

Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent Oct. 18, 2007

I like it too much.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at October 19, 2007 03:42 PM

With the very big difference that politicians can spin it as "supporting an International Force" as part of a humanitarian effort, caused by the blunders of the Bush administration... not a continuation of the existing conflict.

Except there is no such thing as an International Force. Afterall, there are several countries helping the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet dissenters keep rambling on about unilateral U.S. military action, blah, blah, blah.

Also, no spin is necessary at all if we simply do what we believe is in the long term best interests of the United States. Spin only becomes necessary if you actually give a flying leap about public opinion around the world.

At the end of the day, every country's leadership will do what they believe is in their best interests, which is why Russia and France did everything they could to undermine the sanctions regime. Their fixation on keeping bribes and business relationships alive and thriving undermined the effectiveness of sanctions and any threats made by the west, thus encouraging Saddam to believe he could simply wait us out.

I just find it ironic that you would put any faith or support behind military action for humanitarian efforts sanctioned by some of the same countries whose self-serving thievery helped create the very events we're currently discussing.

Posted by: Dogwood at October 19, 2007 04:49 PM

DPU,

Am I statistician? No but I do have my masters in software engineering. Can I compute statistics? I sure can. It is not the math that is the problem, it is the source of the numbers that would be used to compute the results. Nice try, though, changing the the topic of the problem with polls to my ability or inability to compute basic math.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 19, 2007 05:55 PM

I sure can. It is not the math that is the problem, it is the source of the numbers that would be used to compute the results.

Most polls publish their methodologies, so then I'm not sure what the problem would be. Are you suggesting that all opinion sampling is so badly flawed as to be irrelevant?

Nice try, though, changing the the topic of the problem with polls to my ability or inability to compute basic math.

No. I was asking if you were a statistician because you were saying that you could not confirm the poll results. Regardless of your math abilities, your reading skills seem to need work. Your mind reading skills too.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 19, 2007 06:48 PM

I understand that prediction, but what I don't understand is - why did the army not want to learn how to fight insurgencies?
-Mary

Because counterinsurgency is hard, ugly work. It takes a long time to defeat an insurgency, and atrocities are certain to occur, committed by the insurgents against the local population and any captured soldiers, and by soldiers who want revenge for buddies who were tortured to death. And when such events are publicized, which they eventually are, it hurts support for war on the home front. The pro-war crowd tends to think the soldiers should be allowed to 'take the gloves off' and retaliate in kind, and gets mad at the politicians for not letting them, while the anti-war crowd tends to think the locals are engaging in justifiable resistance to an occupying force and blames the politicans for putting the troops in a bad situation.

In comparison, taking on an organized, uniformed opposing force with an identifiable chain of command on a battlefield is relatively clean, and is easy to persuade the public to support.

The strange thing is, what became the USA began as an insurgency- colonial militias- fighting against the British army, and our military used to be good at counterinsurgency. But somewhere in the latter half of the 20th C the institutional memory of how to fight insurgencies was lost. Now we have to re-learn it.

ps to Frydek-Mistek: I suggest finding alternative sources of information on this issue. The ones you are currently relying on do not seem to be of good quality.

pps to Glasnost: Why do the Democrats need to be saved from a political position, namely withdrawal, that sixty percent of the country, conservatively, supports?

Because it may seem like a good idea to some people in the short term, it would be very bad for the US in the long term. The serious candidates know this. But this is not well understood among those who are going to vote in the Democratic primaries, so the Democratic candidates are trying to straddle the issue and sound sufficiently anti-war to get the nomination, but not so much so that they will be compelled to make decisions they know will have bad long-term consequences if they win the election.

ppps: RE: "the incarceration without trial of American citizens,"

That would be Jose Padilla (who was held without trial until January 2006, when he was charged and a trial was scheduled. Padilla was convicted last August), and Yaser Esam Hamdi, who was captured in Afghanistan by Northern Alliance forces. He has since renounced his US citizenship and been deported to Saudi Arabia.

While I am unhappy with how these men's cases were dealt with, I do not think this is something to be particularly alarmed about, so long as Congress passes something that establishes a procedure to follow for dealing with that kind of situation.

Posted by: rosignol at October 19, 2007 07:46 PM

DPU,

Let's say the surge was the beginning of an American success in Iraq. Let's pretend that we're already in June 2008 or January 2009, and Iraq is stable and on the road to democracy.

Would you say the sacrifice (in terms of people killed, money spent, etc.) was worth it?

(I'm not trying to prove a point here. I'm honestly curious what you think.)

Posted by: Edgar at October 19, 2007 07:48 PM

Edgar: That's a question everyone should ponder.

Frydek: At one time I thought the Demos were playing bad cop to Bush's good cop, a conspiracy to pressure the Iraq Government into doing something.
(a) It didn't work
(b) I think I must have been delusional to think our 2 parties could work together.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at October 19, 2007 08:46 PM

Dogwood,

I just find it ironic that you would put any faith or support behind military action for humanitarian efforts sanctioned by some of the same countries whose self-serving thievery helped create the very events we're currently discussing.

Err, no I put no faith in the UN or NATO. My argument was that IF politicans pull out now and the situation collapses, THEN it seems likely that the Dems in control would turn to the UN so they could spin it as a humanitarian effort, rather than a continuation of the existing conflict. This was in response to MJT's post where he thought that politicans might pay if we left and things fell apart in Iraq (whereas I think they'll "partner" with the UN and not pay so much in the polls). Perhaps I'm just more pessimistic.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 11:22 PM

dougf,

Your 'clarification' did indeed illuminate your position. But I think that the scenario you outline is not '99.9% bullshit'. More like 99-99/100ths bullshit. And not likely to fool anyone except those who want to be fooled. And I don't see it happening. Not at all. Once gone-- gone.

I find that most of the public likes being fooled ;-) Besides, my opinion is usually guaranteed to be at least 99% Bullshit.

After all, bullshit makes the flowers grow, and that is beautiful.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2007 11:30 PM

Ratatosk, thanks for the clarification.

I'm not so sure specific politicians would be held responsible if Iraq imploded after an American withdrawal under Dem leadership. However, I do think the Dem party as a whole would pay a price, especially if we had to go back in later under the NATO or UN flag.

The Dems could spin it anyway they wanted, but forcing a withdrawal and then requiring another invasion would destroy the Dem party's credibility on issues of national defense, which has been its achilles heel since the late 1960s.

The Dems controlled Congress for 40+ years, but they rarely won the presidency because the American people didn't trust them to protect the country from Soviet aggression.

So yeah, there would be a price to pay, just not sure what generation of Dem politicians would pay it.

Posted by: Dogwood at October 20, 2007 06:44 AM

Would you say the sacrifice (in terms of people killed, money spent, etc.) was worth it?

I'm surprised that you have to ask this, as I advocated a much larger surge.

Which I feel odd doing, BTW, as it's not my people's blood and treasure.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 20, 2007 10:47 AM

Rosignol, my info is fine, but thank you for patronising me.
Viper, you're comment leads to me believe ypu should emigrate and join the unrefomred communist party in my country. The ability to spew mindless talking points is highly in their cadres.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at October 20, 2007 04:22 PM

Viper, sorry, the ability to spew mindless talking points is highly valued amongst their cadres.
Frydek-Mistek

Posted by: Frydek-Mistek at October 20, 2007 04:28 PM

Huge Explosive Cache Discovered north of Baghdad.

No Big Booms For You !!

Love the smell of ammonium nitrate in the morning. Smells like ------- .

Posted by: dougf at October 20, 2007 05:21 PM

I love the smell of fair-trade coffee in the morning.

Posted by: Edgar at October 20, 2007 05:54 PM

I love the smell of fair-trade coffee in the morning.---Edgar

Inquiring minds want to know.
Can your sensitive and politically correct nose discriminate between the fair scent of 'fair-trade' coffee, and the foul aroma produced by the dastardly products of capitalist exploitation ?

And how do you feel in the morning when the fumes of the latter rather than the former waft gently around you as you arise ?

Posted by: dougf@unitz.ca at October 20, 2007 06:12 PM

There are quite a few unwise assumptions here layered on top of each other.

First: Mike's that Iraqi will sharply deteriorate if we leave. I admit that I don't agree and further admit that I'm in the minority. I know that organized political forces who depend on your help always want you to stay in these situations, but that their perspective and the perspective of ordinary citizens tend to differ. I also know that in quite a few cases, foreign armies make civil wars worse - and we are a foreign army. How much of the Iraq war today is US-Iranian competition? I don't at all believe that Saudi-Iranian competition would be worse. It defies both Saudi history and the economies of scale involved.

However, even if Iraq does deteriorate,

first, when I say "withdrawal", as I've said, I'm not including a small residual force that should be plenty sufficient to avoid Iraq being a threat to the US homeland again.

It's very unlikely that we would ever draw up again once we draw down. It would take a 9/11 event - and we don't need 160K troops to keep a lid on that. (We'd better not need 160K troops to suppress 9/11 events, because it could come from one of 100 countries..)

So I think the supposed political price that Democrats might pay sometime in the future is quite unlikely. (whereas the possible that Iraq might go down hill is at least plausible, though I think not at all a certainty or even a dominant possibility)

Posted by: glasnost at October 20, 2007 06:28 PM

I don't think Hilary Clinton is hedging because there's a real prospect of paying a serious price. I think she hedges because she's a triangulator by nature and training, and can be counted on to avoid sharply disagreeing with Republicans, sadly. Charles Krauthammer makes a similar argument in his sort-of-semi-one-quarter endorsement of HRC over her peers. He says, basically, that she can be bullied.

Posted by: glasnost at October 20, 2007 06:31 PM

Because it may seem like a good idea to some people in the short term, it would be very bad for the US in the long term.

Just like the withdrawal from 'Nam, right? We really paid for that one. Think how much farther ahead of everyone else we'd be if we'd hung around there. Compared to our current fourth-rate status and all.

Posted by: glasnost at October 20, 2007 06:35 PM

Just like the withdrawal from 'Nam, right?

There is no direct correlation between the war in Vietnam and Iraq. The communist Vietnamese were not interested in sending units to kill American citizens and westerners in general across the world. We leave Iraq, it will just embolden the terrorist forces to "up the ante." The reasons for going into Iraq are moot. The reasons for staying are far more critical. You can't show weakness to the Islamic nuts that think nothing of strapping bombs to their chest and blowing up shopping malls and peaceful gatherings.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 20, 2007 11:17 PM

"Just like the withdrawal from 'Nam, right? We really paid for that one."

No, the Cambodians did. But fuck 'em, they're just a bunch of gooks.

PS - if anyone tries to claim my above use of "gooks" is anything but ironic, fuck them too but this time I mean it.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 20, 2007 11:48 PM

Gary Rosen: No, the Cambodians did. But fuck 'em, they're just a bunch of gooks.

Are you implying, by extension, that people who were on the other side, i.e. opposed to a Vietnam withdrawal back then took that position out of concern for the fate of Vietnamese/Cambodian civilians afterwards?

It's the same thing with the Iraq war. (Here I go again with "mind reading," but trust me, I'm qualified for it.)

People who want to stay in Iraq want to be right about the war. Their concern for Iraqi civilians is secondary at best.

I'll put it to you this way. If the U.S. could ramp up the surge and win the war decisively in 6 months, but this would mean 80,000 dead Iraqis, mostly civilians, would you support it?

Probably. And so would a lot of other war supporters.

Concern for Iraqi lives has never been part of this equation.

Posted by: Edgar at October 21, 2007 06:05 AM

Occupations always bring out the best in humanity.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2195924,00.html

Posted by: neo-neocon lies at October 21, 2007 11:39 AM

Edgar,
I seriously doubt you are qualified to read minds. You are apparently not even qualified to comment on a serious blog judging by your last post. Your logic is tired,one-dimensional, and offensive. Take it and shove it up your arse.

Love,
Eduard

Posted by: Eduard at October 21, 2007 03:20 PM

Well, how about this, Eduard?

You're a fucking pussy. :-)

Posted by: Edgar at October 21, 2007 05:34 PM

I also continue to find Edgar's comments without merit and offensive.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at October 21, 2007 05:51 PM

Ron,

You have two online personae. One is a raving lunatic, and the other is an annoying, whiny bitch.

Can you please come up with a new one?

Thank you.

Posted by: Edgar at October 21, 2007 06:11 PM

"Are you implying, by extension, that people who were on the other side, i.e. opposed to a Vietnam withdrawal back then took that position out of concern for the fate of Vietnamese/Cambodian civilians afterwards?"

No. I am pointing it out as an object lesson that when the US leaves a power vacuum it is likely to be filled by far more malevolent forces, the unspeakable horrors of Abu Ghraib notwithstanding (more irony, obviously).

"I'll put it to you this way. If the U.S. could ramp up the surge and win the war decisively in 6 months, but this would mean 80,000 dead Iraqis, mostly civilians, would you support it?"

You mean less than the toll at Hiroshima, or

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 21, 2007 08:00 PM

Sorry, my last comment somehow got cut off. I intended:

"You mean less than the toll at Hiroshima, or

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 21, 2007 08:03 PM

There must be some problem with me using the "less than" wedge symbol. One more try:

"You mean less than the toll at Hiroshima, or less than 5 percent of the Cambodian genocide? And are you implying the 80,000 would be killed by American soldiers? Not sure how that helps the surge."

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 21, 2007 08:05 PM

Edgar is right. As Matt Yglesias said today,

"Heaven forbid we would show the sort of cruel indifference to the fate of the Iraqi people that might prevent us from continuing a military operation in which air strikes accidentally kill Iraqi toddlers and other civilians who "were people sleeping on roofs to seek relief from the heat and lack of electricity."

And referenced this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq.html?hp

Exhibit A - and there's a B and C and D and E and F and G and H and I and J and K and L and M and N and O and P and Q and R and S and T and U and V and so on - why counterinsurgencies are fundamentally not humanitarian actions.

Gary, the question is not, "can we paint our impact on a civilian populace as moral by comparison to what we imagine that someone else would be doing to them anyway, or instead." That's a very low bar to set, and you have only your imagination to stop you. We could be firebombing entire Iraqi cities and you could still be spouting rhetoric about how it's preferable to a life of slavery under Saddamn. I think it's all very convenient for your worldview.

The Khmer Rouge were caused by the war. You can take their million victims, add them on to the million victims of the Vietnam War, and recite another verse of G*d Bless America. And even if you subtract them from each other, as you've attempted to do here, you get a big frickin' zero.

Posted by: glasnost at October 22, 2007 03:50 AM

And while I'm here,

You can't show weakness to the Islamic nuts that think nothing of strapping bombs to their chest and blowing up shopping malls and peaceful gatherings.

This is stupid. Osama Bin Laden doesn't care how tough you think you are, how tough you talk, or how tough you act. He especially doesn't care how many people you wantonly kill in areas you are unlikely to ever fully control. He's a psycho. He will interpret you as weak because of facets of your fundamental attributes. He will interpret you as weak when it suits him, and people will believe it because they feel like believing it. You wouldn't make your foreign policy to make him like you: You shouldn't make your policy to make him fear you, because it can't be done. And if it could be done, it would be done by threatening the physical person of Osama Bin Laden, not by trashing Iraq to make a symbolic point.

Take a lesson from the thousands of revolts against hundreds of brutal, totalitarian countries everywhere: nobody cares how tough you act: people can't be kept afraid through example and history. Courage and the fear of showing weakness are 180 degrees opposite from each other. The second one is the number one cause of national self-destruction.

Posted by: glasnost at October 22, 2007 03:59 AM

Glasnost: "..wantonly kill..", no bias from you is there?

OSL most certainly cares about our actions, if we are able to continue to kill his senior staff, and hopefully him one day.

Edgar, I do find your comments offensive and without merit/substance; so sorry if you find that "whiney". "Concern for Iraqi lives has never been part of this equation." -What an inaccurate, arrogant statement of yours.

Care to provide an example of my posts that you would characterize as "raving lunatic"?

Posted by: Ron Snyder at October 22, 2007 04:28 AM

OSL most certainly cares about our actions, if we are able to continue to kill his senior staff, and hopefully him one day

This really betrays a lack of understanding about Jihad, martyrdom and insurgencies.

OBL cares about our actions.
Every accidental death in Iraq he cares deeply about because every member of that persons family just got a bit more "Hate America" food.

Every vitrol laced comment by Americans aimed at other Americans, forcing a deeper split between people that, in a sane world, wouldn't be that far apart.

Every idiotic law passed because of "post-9/11" bullshit.

Terrorism is not about winning a war (no matter who's selling you that line), terrorism isn't about killing the enemy, its not about body counts, its not about taking over the nation. Terrorism is about causing terror. Terrorism is about scaring the bejezzus out of the citizens. Terrorism is about making people change their way of life because of the terrorists actions.

OBL does care about what we do... and currently, I bet he's giggling like a schoolboy, while watching useful idiots spew primary colors out of their mouth, rather than intelligent political commentary.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 22, 2007 10:07 AM

Glasnost: The Khmer Rouge were caused by the war.

They were "caused" by communism, if anything. I'm not saying the Vietnam War had no role in it, but communists should be blamed for what communists do first and foremost.

It makes at least as much sense to chalk up the Khmer Rouge to the domino theory as it does to the war.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 22, 2007 10:28 AM

Ratatosk: OBL does care about what we do... and currently, I bet he's giggling like a schoolboy

AQ lost Anbar and are violently detested by Iraqis after initially being welcomed. I very much doubt they are giggling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 22, 2007 10:32 AM

This is stupid. Osama Bin Laden doesn't care how tough you think you are, how tough you talk, or how tough you act.

It's only stupid when taken in the context that this is chest thumping. This isn't about chest thumping, this is about a nation's right to exist and to defend it's right. We could kill OSL today and it will not stop the fanatics. I have no illusions otherwise. But neither can we just sit there and "take it" anymore. Make no mistake, they want one world united under their view of Islam and they will kill everyone and destroy anything in their way. My "Polly-Annis" side hopes they will one day have an epiphany and think that they are wrong and therefore be willing to open true dialogue. But my realistic side says "snow ball's chance in hell." My personal belief is if you are going to say you will do something, better be ready to do it. We as a nation have far too long spoken without acting.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 22, 2007 11:00 AM

MJT,

AQ lost Anbar and are violently detested by Iraqis after initially being welcomed. I very much doubt they are giggling.

Oh come on, AQ's position in Iraq is opportunistic. If they can gain there, they gain... if they lose Iraq... Well they didn't have it to begin with. 9/11 was aimed at the US, not Iraq. We made Iraq a place for AQ to poke its head in... their losses there are secondary to their aims. Their aim with 9/11 was to terrorize Americans. And in that they seem to have done quite well.

I don't want to lessen the potency of what has happened in Anbar, people taking responsibility for themselves and refusing to be terrorized is to be commended. But, those people weren't OBL's for the taking when Saddam was in power, losing them changes nothing for AQ (rather it changes a lot for "AQ in Iraq" and the good people of Anbar Province).

Now, OBL might get concerned if the Pakistani people were to elect Bhutto as she's explicitly stated that she would let the US come in and hunt him down. Losing his base of people (the extremist sort in Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc) would be a huge hit to OBL and his power... Anbar wasn't a support base in 2001... it wasn't a support base ever, it just got overrun by AQ In Iraq militants for awhile.

The Sunni in Iraq, as far as I've been able to tell have never been fans of OBL (Mike, please correct me if I'm wrong!!!!). They're not a big loss... and I think he's probably less concerned about them than he is about how his actions have changed us (which would seem to have been his goal on 9/11).

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 22, 2007 11:08 AM

Most polls publish their methodologies, so then I'm not sure what the problem would be. Are you suggesting that all opinion sampling is so badly flawed as to be irrelevant?

I am simply stating that some polls have problems and I do not put all that much faith into any of them. Basically, I treat them as being as accurate as, say, a statement by you. Does it mean you lie, distort facts or always make mistakes? No. It simply means that what you, anyone or, more specifically, polling organizations state as fact has the possibility of not being so. Also, published methodologies do not and cannot lend any credibility to the validity of sampling. The raw numbers used to create the results of the polls can be easily manipulated. I am not saying all polls are manipulated but some are and if you know a way to tell the difference, please by all means, inform me of your methods of attaining clairvoyance.

...your reading skills seem to need work. Your mind reading skills too.

Your last statement seems a little confrontational to me. Actually, if I somehow misinterpreted your initial question I do have a rebuttal. It is difficult to attain the tone and disposition of someone simply by the words they type. That said, I do not have any doubt of my reading ability. The interpretation of the written word is another story. As far as my mind reading skills go, I don't have any mind reading skills but, as I responded above, if you have clairvoyance, please reveal your methods.

Posted by: CPLViper at October 22, 2007 11:10 AM

Your last statement seems a little confrontational to me.

As opposed to your statement that attributed malicious intent to my question?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 22, 2007 11:26 AM

Ratatosk:

You are right in stating the with Iraq they are being opportunistic. However I believe you have read the situation wrong when you allude that AQ could care less if they lose in Iraq. This would be a major blow to their psyche.(And yes I do believe they will recover from it) Don't forget according to OSL THEY were the reason that the Soviets were defeated. The Soviet defeat had nothing to do with the weapon and monetary support from the US, or even the citizens of Afghanistan, according to their line of thought. They were seriously "injured" when we tossed out the Taliban with so few forces, relying instead of providing support to the Northern Alliance. When we went into Iraq it was also seen as a way to save face, in my opinion. They still hold out that we will lose in Afghanistan and Iraq, and if that happens they will take the credit regardless of the facts. They have by no means given up, but don't think that the perception of winning or losing isn't critical to OSL and AQ.

Now I totally agree with you that OSL will have kittens if Bhutto is able to carry out what she has said. It would definitely benefit her if we are aloud to fight on the Pakistani side of the border as that would allow her to have the Pakistani military repositioned to face other internal strife.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at October 22, 2007 11:39 AM

They were "caused" by communism, if anything.

Every third world nation at the time had communist insurgencies of some type. Most failed to gain any traction. The Khymer Rouge came to power primarily due to the political instability caused by the Vietnamese War next door.

It's a bit like smacking the umbrella out of someone's hand, and then saying that the reason they're getting wet is because of the rain.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 22, 2007 12:04 PM

Ratatosk,

I would agree with what you're saying except for one thing. You're severely discounting what it means to lose face in the Arab world, and you're severely discounting the Arab tendency to side with the winner, whoever the winner may be.

If AQI can beat the US in Iraq, that will be an incredible boost for them that will seriously upgrade their recruiting capabilities. Being beaten by Americans and violently rejected by conservative Sunni Arabs is a tremendous blow against them in general, not just in Anbar Province.

Conservative Sunni Arabs forming an alliance with Zionist-Crusader-Imperialists in Iraq is not something Al Qaeda thinks is funny.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 22, 2007 01:15 PM

If the election of Bhutto would be an even bigger disaster for them, great. Go Bhutto.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 22, 2007 01:16 PM

You're severely discounting what it means to lose face in the Arab world, and you're severely discounting the Arab tendency to side with the winner, whoever the winner may be.

I hope you're right :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 22, 2007 04:46 PM

"The Khmer Rouge were caused by the war."

BullSHIT! Communists were active in Cambodia long before the war escalated, and communists were trying to take over all Indochina from the early '60s if not before - that's why we got into Vietnam in the first place. If we hadn't gone into 'Nam, Vietnam would have gone communist that much sooner and Cambodia, bordered by communist Laos and Vietnam, would have followed suit. The savagery of the Khmer Rouge had nothing to do with the US, rather it was the extension of the already-brutal policies of Mao's "Cultural Revolution"

"You can take their million victims, add them on to the million victims of the Vietnam War, and recite another verse of G*d Bless America."

YOU are the one with the twisted worldview, where the bloody crimes of America's enemies always somehow get blamed on the US (and/or Israel, if they take place anywhere between India and Morocco).

"And even if you subtract them from each other, as you've attempted to do here, you get a big frickin' zero."

If I got a zero, it would still be way higher than both your IQ and your honesty.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 22, 2007 09:06 PM

Communists were active in Cambodia long before the war escalated, and communists were trying to take over all Indochina from the early '60s if not before...

Yes they were, and if you'll carefully read my comment, you'll see that I point out that there were also communist insurgencies in many other countries in the area. Why were the Khymer Rouge successful?

The savagery of the Khmer Rouge had nothing to do with the US, rather it was the extension of the already-brutal policies of Mao's "Cultural Revolution"

I didn't say they were caused by the US. Did you even read the comment?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 23, 2007 06:18 AM

...and if you'll carefully read my comment,...

Ah, you're referring to someone else's comment. Apologies.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 23, 2007 06:20 AM

"The Khmer Rouge were caused by the war."

Where the hell do people get these insane ideas. KR had so many moving parts that led to its success that the US in Vietnam very likely had little to do with its success. Yet, somehow people get these ideas with little to know actual knowledge.

Khmer Rouge was a terrible party, but the roots of KR exist in pre-WWII communistic movements, not post-vietnam. It was successful because Pol Pot studied Mao's How To on gaining power and implemented it well. In short, he found the group of people that were being treated harshly by the current government, mostly tribal minorities, and converted them to the Communist Cause. It was the terrible treatment of those people by the ruling government at the time, that led to Pol Pot gaining a foothold, not the US in Vietnam. Hell, those minorities were already being treated terribly and died often.. while we were IN Vietnam. Hell, Pol Pot's revolution really got underway in 1968, seven years before we left Vietnam. The Communists had control of most of Cambodia by 1973, still before the final withdraw of American Troops.

Further (if you actually want to use real data, rather than Bullshit Political spin) take a look at the correlation between villages bombed by the US in the late sixties and early seventies and recruitment to the Communist revolutionaries. Converts are particularly high in the areas bombed by Americans. Did we cause the horrors? Of course not. But to think that the cause of such horror was due to us not 'sticking it out' in Vietnam betrays a lack of any understanding of history in the area or even current events while the war was happening.

Read books people, its not evil, I promise!!!

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 23, 2007 09:55 AM

But to think that the cause of such horror was due to us not 'sticking it out' in Vietnam betrays a lack of any understanding of history in the area or even current events while the war was happening.

And it seems also little known that the horrors of the Khymer Rouge were ended by ... drumroll ... communist Vietnam.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 23, 2007 10:57 AM

And it seems also little known that the horrors of the Khymer Rouge were ended by ... drumroll ... communist Vietnam.

True enough. While they initially supported the regime, they realized that it had gone from communist system to Crazy Insane Mass-Murdering Government... and they stopped it.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 23, 2007 12:45 PM

...they realized that it had gone from communist system to Crazy Insane Mass-Murdering Government...

Cue knee-jerk "what's the difference" comments.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 23, 2007 01:01 PM

You are the one with the twisted worldview, where the bloody crimes of America's enemies always somehow get blamed on the US

Gary, the US personally killed many thousands of innocent people in the Vietnam War. There's not a serious historian alive who would stand up and say that was false.

I don't disagree with Mike: the primary cause of the Khmer Rouge was the Khmer Rouge, in terms of moral responsibility anyhow. But the fact is, Cambodia had a stable government in 1967. Then we strated bombing them, the neutralist monarch was forced out by crazy, arrogant, stupid, corrupt ultra-rightists, became dependent on American support, then collapsed when it was cut off. That's kind of a similar pattern to some other places, isn't it?

Anyone who can't won't admit that the US War in Vietnam completely changed the political fate of Cambodia is either ignorant or foolish.

It makes at least as much sense to chalk up the Khmer Rouge to the domino theory as it does to the war.

In some ways, these arguments are two sides of the same coin. The domino theory was a self-fulfilling prophecy that became more likely after we antagonised and bombed most of the region. Our intervention was the biggest booster around of what we were fighting to prevent.

In other ways, though, the domino theory is total baloney and always will be - at least if the domino theory is the assertion that one communist victory (or any other political victory) in one country will inevitably lead to it in others. That theory of inevitability has quite clearly failed to come true. If and when a political victory in Country A helps the some force in Country B, it's a result of concrete actions in support of Country B, not the nebulous psychological boost of the mere fact of Country A's victory.

I am universally atheist on the reliability of all forms of pyschological or symbolic interaction in world affairs.

That's why this argument is wrong too:

Conservative Sunni Arabs forming an alliance with Zionist-Crusader-Imperialists in Iraq is not something Al Qaeda thinks is funny.

I'm sure they're not thrilled, but cooperation with America works great for Al-Quieda in Egypt, Jordan, and a few other countries. Just watch as the people we support in Anbar become, or continue to be, corrupt, dictatorial, abusive thugs.

Al-Quieda failed in Anbar because it's a toxic brew of that isn't capable of anything other than failure as a governance institution. It can only survive as an antagonist of a current dysfunction - liberals and conservatives can agree on that, if not how to fix it.

I think that regardless of how fares AQI the spawn cell in Anbar, specifically, AQ the world organization has made large gains from the Iraq War. I think AQ would be less popular in Pakistan and the US more popular without Iraq. Without Iraq, our general CT efforts after 2002 might have permanently finished it off.

Posted by: glasnost at October 23, 2007 02:19 PM

If AQI can beat the US in Iraq, that will be an incredible boost for them that will seriously upgrade their recruiting capabilities. Being beaten by Americans and violently rejected by conservative Sunni Arabs is a tremendous blow against them in general, not just in Anbar Province.

Nah. That's not how it works. Other Islamist insurgencies are not going to become depopularized because of AQI in Anbar. The best you can say about Anbar is that it has limited the value of Anbar, specifically, to AQI. I dunno, maybe if we stay there for another year, the Pakistani leaders will give up and turn themselves in, but I doubt it. I also doubt that you'll see any measurable change in any possible metric - recruiting, fundraising, popular support in polls, anything - in third-party countries - that can be tied to anything the US does in Iraq.

Generalizations about "how Arabs think" are going to generally be wrong. I'm sure you know that already, Mike.

Posted by: glasnost at October 23, 2007 02:24 PM

"Gary, the US personally killed many thousands of innocent people in the Vietnam War. There's not a serious historian alive who would stand up and say that was false."

I didn't know the US was a "person". Anyway, the US also "personally" killed even more civilians in WWII. What's your point?

"Nah. That's not how it works."

Only "glasnost" knows how it works.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 24, 2007 01:29 AM

"And it seems also little known that the horrors of the Khymer Rouge were ended by ... drumroll ... communist Vietnam."

After the Khmer Rouge was brought to power by ... drumroll ... communist Vietnam.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 24, 2007 01:31 AM

"I'm sure they're not thrilled, but cooperation with America works great for Al-Quieda in Egypt, Jordan, and a few other countries. Just watch as the people we support in Anbar become, or continue to be, corrupt, dictatorial, abusive thugs."

It's unfair, of course, to link "glasnost" with the blame-it-all-on-America crowd.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at October 24, 2007 01:32 AM

After the Khmer Rouge was brought to power by ... drumroll ... communist Vietnam.

They were no more brought to power by communist Vietnam than they were by the US, unless you're reading some really creative history books. They were definitely taken out of power by Vietnam though. Over the protests of the US, by the way.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 24, 2007 06:53 AM

But the fact is, Cambodia had a stable government in 1967.

Err, no. Cambodia had a crazy abusive dictator in 1967 which had already been subject to an attempted revolution in 1964(? don't remember the exact date). He was hated by most of the villagers in the countryside because of his mistreatment and Pol Pot already had a large number of them on his side before the revolution in 1967. Cambodia was anything but stable.

They were no more brought to power by communist Vietnam than they were by the US, unless you're reading some really creative history books.

DPU, actually N Vietnam gave material support to Pol Pot's revolution. They thought another communist neighbor would be good. Instead they got the horror of KR and decided that it needed to go. Without N Vietnam's support it would have been more difficult (not impossible) for Pol Pot to come to power. Of course, the US bombing Pol Pot's potential converts didn't help matters either.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 24, 2007 08:09 AM

DPU, actually N Vietnam gave material support to Pol Pot's revolution.

Huh. On reading up on this, I stand corrected. My recollection was that the Khymer Rouge was a PRC proxy while the North Vietnamese were Soviet proxies, so I had thought there was less than cordial relationships. Wikipedia has a good background on their histories that illustrates otherwise.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 24, 2007 08:48 AM

Wikipedia has a good background on their histories that illustrates otherwise.

Gags slightly... Wikipedia?!?!

;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 24, 2007 08:52 AM

Gags slightly... Wikipedia

Humanity's greatest achievement so far, I think. For example, I doubt most traditional encyclopedias would have this entry.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 24, 2007 10:50 AM

Humanity's greatest achievement so far, I think. For example, I doubt most traditional encyclopedias would have this entry.

Ach! Hoisted on my own petard! LOL ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 25, 2007 08:15 AM

Tosk:

Your are wrong on two counts on this thread.
1. North Vietnam became opposed to Pol Pot when he began challenging their interests by contesting the border with Vietnam and seeking the military backing of China against the North Vietnamese. Thus, the primary motive for N.V. intervention wasn't to stop the KR's killing of Cambodians, but I am sure that it factored somewhere into the decision to oust Pol Pot from power. See the following link: http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990823/pol_pot1.html

2. OBL is not giggling. This is because the goal of terrorism is not to cause "terror" as you assert. While that may be a tactical goal, almost all terrorists (unless truly unhinged) have strategic political goals, which they hope to achieve, in part, through the terror they create.

AQ's strategic goal is to restore the Caliphate, one bloody patch of ground at a time. To reach this goal, it needs to control far more territory and resources. As late as last year, it looked as if they had a reasonably good chance at controlling Anbar. This would have been an enormous political and logistical triumph. Unfortunately for them, they were in the process of creating the wrong enemies amongst the Anabar's tribal power structure. Had AQI played their hand more skillfully (less brutality, more appearance of power and spoils sharing with tribal leaders), they just might have pulled it off. Bottom line is OBL is currently fuming that his incomptent franshisees (AQI) wasted the resources the parent company (AQ) poured into controlling prime real estate (Anbar) in the heart of the middle east.

Posted by: Mark-In-Chi-Town at October 25, 2007 12:49 PM

Michael:
So,to cleanse Baghdad from a few rotten radicals we implemented an policy of ethnic cleansing purging Baghdad from Sunnis. This is at the heart of genocide. Basically, we have committed genocide.

The Aemrican policy seems to be talking about the danger of Shia Crescent while actively creating it. I am not just talking about intentionally and knowingly handing over Iraq to Iran( I do not mean the Shia Arabs but the Iranian supported and created parties in Iraq).
What do you call going to Iraq when we knew that Iran was attacking us for 30 years and that they coveted Iraq?

Take for example also the USA's support of the Kleptocrat Bhutto. She is a Shia in a majority Sunni country, getting active support from no other than Dick Cheney.

The USA has effectively surrendered to Iran, the fountainhead of terrorism. UBL had struck a strategic partnership with Iran since the early ninties. 500 or so Al-Qaida memebers are in Iran. Iran had a hand in 9/11. the only terrorist country that the USA tolerated fo so long and still does is Iran. UBL has read that carefully and struck a deal with the Iranians. That is why every time Al-qaida strikes, the Iranian imprint is there. Al-Qaida never struck in Iran!!!!!! the World is a funny place indeed!!!
Let us stop pretending. the USA and Iran have had the best realtions for 30 years. UBL is a tool to achieve the Iranian designs, and we simply cover that up because we need our Frankenstein in the ME, i.e., Iran.

Posted by: adam poorshed at November 3, 2007 03:12 PM

runescape money <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/runescape-

c-599.html">runescape gold runescape money <a

href="http://www.runescape2store.com">runescape gold wow power leveling <a

href="http://www.vgoldsupply.com">wow powerleveling Warcraft Power Leveling <a

href="http://www.vgoldsupply.com">Warcraft PowerLeveling buy

runescape gold buy runescape money <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/runescape-c-599.html">runescape items <a href="http://www.runescapemoney-

runescapegold.cn">runescape gold runescape money <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/runescape-runescape-accounts-c-599_988.html">runescape accounts <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/runescape-c-599.html">runescape gp <a href="http://www.vgoldsupply.com/dofus-c-

1054.html">dofus kamas buy dofus kamas <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/guild-wars-c-389.html">Guild Wars Gold <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/guild-wars-c

-389.html">buy Guild Wars Gold lotro gold <a

href="http://www.buylotrogold.org">buy lotro gold lotro gold <a

href="http://www.buy-lotro-gold.cn">buy lotro gold <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/lord-rings-onlineus-c-

975.html">lotro gold buy lotro gold <a

href="http://www.800millions.com">runescape money runescape power leveling <a

href="http://www.runescape2vip.cn">runescape money runescape gold <a

href="http://www.buydofuskamas.com">dofus kamas cheap runescape money <a

href="http://www.runescape4money.net">cheap runescape gold <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/hellgate-london-c-

1102.html">Hellgate Palladium Hellgate London

Palladium Hellgate money <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/tabula-rasa-c-1107.html">Tabula Rasa gold <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/tabula-

rasa-c-1107.html">tabula rasa money lotro gold

buy lotro gold <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/tabula-rasa-c-1107.html">Tabula Rasa Credit <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/tabula-

rasa-c-1107.html">Tabula Rasa Credits Hellgate gold

Hellgate London gold <a

href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/dofus-c-891.html">dofus kamas buy

dofus kamas 血管瘤 肝血管瘤 <a

href=http://www.nncbroadway.com>音乐剧 北京富码电视 富码

电视 富码电视台 7天酒店 <a

href=http://www.innhot.com/7daysinn>7天连锁酒店 7天连锁 <a

href=http://www.filt.cn>自清洗过滤器 过滤器 压力开关 <a

href=http://www.bf-rae.cn>压力传感器 流量开关 流量计 <a

href=http://www.bf-rae.cn>液位计 液位开关 温湿度记录仪

风速仪 可燃气体检测仪 <a href="http://www.wow-power-

leveling.net">wow power leveling wow powerleveling <a

href=http://"www.wow-power-leveling.net">Warcraft PowerLeveling Warcraft

Power Leveling World of Warcraft PowerLeveling <a href=http://"www.wow-

power-leveling.net">World of Warcraft Power Leveling runescape

power leveling runescape powerleveling
runescape money <a href="http://www.vgoldseller.com/runescape-

c-599.html">runescape gold wow power leveling 棕榈树


eve isk
eve online isk
eve isk
eve online isk

Posted by: runescape money at November 30, 2007 07:27 PM
Post a comment













Remember personal info?






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