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Losing In Iraq?
Posted by: Dale Franks on Sunday, February 26, 2006

William F. Buckley Jr. writes that the American effort in Iraq has failed. We may not acknowledge it immediately, but, in essence, he believes that the recent attack on the Shiite mosque in Iraq shows that sectarian violence cannot be stopped. He believes that postulates we've operated under—that the Iraqi people's desire for freedom will overcome their interest in killing their fellow Iraqis who belong to different groups—simply do not apply.

Now, what follows is entirely my own opinion. Jon and McQ are free to deplore it. Maybe they'll decide it's better if I blog elsewhere. I don’t care. This is how I see it.

Certainly, the fallout from the attack on the al-Askariya mosque has been widespread and intense.
In the wake of the dawn attack on a famous Shiite shrine in Samarra, there have been widespread protests around Iraq despite calls for calm and peaceful protests from political and religious leaders. A Sunni cleric in Baghdad was reported killed as he entered a mosque in Baghdad and some 29 Sunni mosques have been attacked in retaliation, sources of the Islamic Dawa party alleged. They added that the Basra headquarters of the party, headed by prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, had also been attacked.
As we've all written here repeatedly over the last few years, the ultimate decision about whether a reconstructed Iraq can survive is up to the Iraqi people. It is their country. They have to live there. We don't. The endgame in Iraq, in terms of what kind of Iraqi government ends up in control of the country after our departure, was never in our hands, a point all of us here at QandO have stressed repeatedly over the last few years. As I wrote in 2004:
Whether a democratic Iraq flourishes or not is, in the end, going to be decided by the people of Iraq, and we, if we are serious in our talk about Iraqi sovereignty, are going to have abide by the decisions the Iraqi people make, even if we don't like them much.

So, if Iraq devolves in to Civil war, is it a failure? I mean, since the final resolution of the situation in Iraq was never really in our hands, have we failed if we don't create a more or less liberal, more or less democratic Iraq when we leave?

Honestly? Yes. The Bush Administration—and by extension, the United States of America—has bet the farm on the premise that the Iraqis want freedom, and want to have a unified, democratic state. Of that doesn't happen, it's certainly a failure of policy. It's not a complete failure, of course. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. Iraq's WMD programs—such as they were—are at a complete standstill. And an Iraq that is engaged in a civil war, or split into three separate countries, is not an immediate threat in that area. But the endgame, a free, democratic Iraq, may not be in the cards, and if that's not a failure, it's certainly not a complete success. But, maybe a fragmented, disorganized, Iraq that is, for the time being, impotent, is a good enough outcome.

After four years of warfare, Germany and Japan had been reduced to smoking ruins. Their defeat was total, and unmistakable, and the citizens of those countries knew itIt's not what we wanted though. And if what we wanted doesn't happen, then the bottom line is that we've failed to accomplish our goals in Iraq. There's no sugar-coating it. It’s a failure. Insofar as I've criticized the Bush Administration for its policy in Iraq, it has been that the Bushies haven't gone far enough in killing people who need to be killed, and in showing the Iraqis that opposing the US means death.

For instance, let's take the whole Muqtada al-Sadr deal. I've said repeatedly that, if I was running the show, the Sadr Militia guys—those very, very few left alive—would've spent the last three years talking about what a great guy Muqtada al-Sadr was before he was blown to bits in The Unfortunate Daisy-Cutter Incident.

Still, that doesn't mean it was wrong to try to build a civil society in Iraq. And it doesn’t mean that the postulates are wrong in general, even though it does mean that they aren’t universally applicable in every specific case.

I'm about to make a wide digression here. Bear with me. I do have a point.

In 1945, we occupied Germany and Japan. In Germany, a plurality of the German people supported the Nazi regime. In Japan, a majority of the people—probably a quite substantial one—had supported the Emperor and his government. Indeed, in the case of Japan, most people believed the Emperor was literally a divine personage. Yet, we were able to build lasting democratic states in both countries.

There was a difference, of course. After four years of warfare, Germany and Japan had been reduced to smoking ruins. Their defeat was total, and unmistakable, and the citizens of those countries knew it. Whatever illusions, religious or political, they might have held prior to the war, they were smashed. That didn't happen in Iraq. The war was brief, the Iraqi army disintegrated on contact, and most of the country never really felt the reality of what it was like to be completely and totally crushed by a superior enemy.

Maybe that's a necessary precursor to be successfully reconstructed by an occupying force. Maybe you can't accept that there's a superior way of doing business unless you've had your face ground into the reality of what a superior military force—and the society behind it—can actually do.

As we've all written here repeatedly over the last few years, the ultimate decision about whether a reconstructed Iraq can survive is up to the Iraqi peopleAnd then there's the Yugoslav example. Croats, Slavs, Muslims, they're all defined by some obscure battles that happened in 1380 or thereabouts, that everyone but them have forgotten. They have blood feuds that have existed for a millennium, and, after the collapse of Yugoslavia, and the Warsaw Pact, it exploded into an incomprehensible orgy of violence and death. There are obviously some peoples for whom historical grievances overshadow all other considerations. Humans are, after all, completely whacked out sometimes, and their freakish grievances are more important than anything else in the world. Maybe Iraq is one of those places.

Divider

So, to get back to Iraq, maybe there are two concurrent themes that are important to remember: a) the Iraqis were never made to face what defeat really means; and b) some historical and/or religious grievances are too intractable to be solved without abject, recognized defeat.

Does that mean that the postulate that people want to be free is generally inapplicable? Probably not. It seems to work fairly well in Latin America, Europe, and most of Asia. It may not be applicable to the Mideast, though, or any place where deep-seated religious and ethnic conflicts take precedence. That implies that, while the drive for freedom is usually present, there are specific cases where it is not, in fact, the dominant impetus for human action.

Unfortunately, Iraq may be one of those places.

There are a lot of things we should've done differently. We should've shot looters on sight. We should've razed Fallujah to the ground. We should've rounded up the Ba'athists and stood them up in front of firing squads. We decided not to do that, so we could look like the good guys.

But, really, so what? We overthrew the Saddamite regime. Good riddance. The answer to the "so what", though, is that we don't try to rebuild Iraq, or any other society that we destroy through military action. But if we don't do that, then what do we do?

Well, the answer to that is that we do what the colonial powers of the 19th century used to do, which is to embark on punitive expeditions. If some third-world dictator threatens us, we simply invade the country, destroy the current regime, set up a temporary puppet government, and then withdraw. Then, repeat as necessary. Maybe the problem is the whole "you broke it, you bought it" mindset. Maybe the whole point is simply to assess threats, destroy them, then bring our troops home, and let the natives draw the appropriate conclusions, repeating as necessary, until the natives draw the conclusions we want them to draw. Which, after all, are pretty simple: a) Don't f*ck with us, and b) if you do, we'll bomb you back into the Stone Age, or, at least, the Age of Reason.

We always have to try to keep the moral high ground, reduce civilian casualties, and try to be publicly acknowledged as the good guys. That mitigates against just going in, shooting everyone who needs to be shot, then bringing our troops home.In the modern era, I'm not sure we have the guts to operate that way. Never mind that punitive expeditions serve a useful purpose. Never mind that a quart of blood shed now saves a gallon later. We always have to try to keep the moral high ground, reduce civilian casualties, and try to be publicly acknowledged as the good guys. That mitigates against just going in, shooting everyone who needs to be shot, then bringing our troops home.

But, at the end of the day, warfare—pleasant illusions to the contrary—is not about who's right, or who can muster the best moral arguments. Warfare is about who's left standing when the smoke clears. If we're not willing to turn enemy cities into smoking piles of rubble and their armies into piles of corpses, then maybe we shouldn't engage in military operations at all. And when we do engage in military operations, maybe we should simply kill everyone who needs to be killed, pour encourager les autres, then bring our boys and girls home.

Still, aren't we obligated to at least try to give the survivors a chance to build a free, or moderately so—society before we leave?

Yeah, probably. But giving them a chance is as much as we are obligated to do. If they decide not to grasp that chance, then, well, f*ck 'em. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Similarly, if the Iraqi people would rather kill each other than create a unified, democratic government, well, that's their choice. As long as they don't threaten us...well, then...screw 'em. They have to live there. We don't. Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Let's be sure he gets shuffled off this mortal coil. Once that's done, let's bring the boys home. If the Iraqis can't build a functioning government out of the rubble of their society, well, then, who cares?

I don't.

In the post-9/11 world, all I care about is that we hunt down our enemies and kill them. Anything beyond that is just gravy.

We tried to build a moderate, more-or-less democratic Iraq. Maybe Buckley is right and we failed. That doesn’t mean the attempt wasn't worth the candle. But, if he is right, and we did fail, then the lesson to learn isn't that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, but rather that it was wrong to expect that we could build a decent, multicultural society in its wake. That, in the future, what we should do is eliminate the immediate threat, then let the natives try to rebuild as best they can on their own, knowing that, if they screw that up, we'll raze their society to the ground again, then let them start from scratch until they get it right.

We won't do that though. We're more interested in looking like the good guys than we are about eliminating threats to the United States. At the end of the day, the Islamofascists are more confident in their vision of the future than we are in ours. They're willing to kill anyone who stands in the way of their vision of the world. We aren't.

That doesn't bode well for our ultimate victory over Islamic terror.
 
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How long before the Bush spinners(Fox News et al) begin to say how the civil war and continuing collapse in Iraq is really a victory for US policy? It’s a difficult one for them, even for Condoleeza Rice with her best rose-tinted spectacles on. How does the spiralling carnage indicate a success for the fantasies about ’freedom and democracy’? I suspect they will portray it as a sectarian conflagration which really had nothing to do with the US occupation and subsequent incompetence/brutality. Not our fault - they wouldn’t be helped. Winston Churchill described Iraq as ’an ungrateful volcano’ in an attempt to wash his hands of it long ago.

Mission Accomplished? Sorry, George, you’ve already done that one.
 
Written By: Tony
URL: http://
Now, what follows is entirely my own opinion. Jon and McQ are free to deplore it. Maybe they’ll decide it’s better if I blog elsewhere. I don’t care. This is how I see it.
Settle down, Beavis. I agree with you more than I disagree. I’ve been agnostic about the ultimate utility of the Iraq war for quite a while now.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
What are you doing up so early on a Sunday morning? Even m ore importantly, what am I doing up so late on Saturday night?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Hear, Hear,

I loved this column.It’s says what I have been thinking for a while now.

War is war. You go in to kill or you don’t go.

Also, we are training thier army and building thier power supply and water supply for a people that we very well may have to go take out again. That sucks.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
On the subject of failure in Iraq and how it is presented, read this:

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2006/021806.html
 
Written By: Tony
URL: http://
What are you doing up so early on a Sunday morning?
I have a kid. I get up when he decides it’s time for me to be up.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Howard Dean, February 17, 2003:
I believe it is my patriotic duty to urge a different path to protecting America’s security: To focus on al Qaeda, which is an imminent threat, and to use our resources to improve and strengthen the security and safety of our home front and our people while working with the other nations of the world to contain Saddam Hussein. . . .
Dale, today:
In the post-9/11 world, all I care about is that we hunt down our enemies and kill them. Anything beyond that is just gravy.
Howard Dean, February 17, 2003:
Had I been a member of the Senate, I would have voted against the resolution that authorized the President to use unilateral force against Iraq - unlike others in that body now seeking the presidency.

That the President was given open-ended authority to go to war in Iraq resulted from a failure of too many in my party in Washington who were worried about political positioning for the presidential election.

The stakes are so high, this is not a time for holding back or sheepishly going along with the herd.

To this day, the President has not made a case that war against Iraq, now, is necessary to defend American territory, our citizens, our allies, or our essential interests.

The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled.

I, for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.

As a doctor, I was trained to treat illness, and to examine a variety of options before deciding which to prescribe. I worried about side effects and took the time to see what else might work before proceeding to high-risk measures. . . .

We have been told over and over again what the risks will be if we do not go to war.

We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.

If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration’s assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.

I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic.

I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.

It is possible, however, that events could go differently, . . . .

Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.

Anti-American feelings will surely be inflamed among the misguided who choose to see an assault on Iraq as an attack on Islam, or as a means of controlling Iraqi oil.
And last week’s tape by Osama bin Laden tells us that our enemies will seek relentlessly to transform a war into a tool for inspiring and recruiting more terrorists.

There are other risks. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.
Dale, today:
So, to get back to Iraq, maybe there are two concurrent themes that are important to remember: a) the Iraqis were never made to face what defeat really means; and b) some historical and/or religious grievances are too intractable to be solved without abject, recognized defeat.

Does that mean that the postulate that people want to be free is generally inapplicable? Probably not. It seems to work fairly well in Latin America, Europe, and most of Asia. It may not be applicable to the Mideast, though, or any place where deep-seated religious and ethnic conflicts take precedence. That implies that, while the drive for freedom is usually present, there are specific cases where it is not, in fact, the dominant impetus for human action.

Unfortunately, Iraq may be one of those places.
If abject defeat really means a complete disarming of the local population, which common sense says it does, then, Dale, Howard Dean had you beat by 3 years and 9 days. For as much sh** as the doctor takes on this site, can anyone look back and say that he - without the benefit of hindsight - was far more correct than the Bush administration on the nature of our task in Iraq?

From a television interview on Britain’s Channel 4, that aired on 11/21/05:
Oborne: I traveled to Boston to meet a former U.S. diplomat who had been a leading authority on Iraq for over a decade. A chance remark made just two months before the war, hinted at how the complexities of Iraq had bewildered Americans at the highest levels.
Peter Galbraith - former U.S. diplomat: January 2003 the President invited three members of the Iraqi opposition to join him to watch the Super Bowl. In the course of the conversation the Iraqis realized that the President was not aware that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. He looked at them and said, "You mean...they’re not, you know, there, there’s this difference. What is it about?"
This is less than 2 months before the invasion.

Although not explcitly stated in your post, the implicit message is that the Commander in Chief was aware of the risks, but took it anyway. What is perhaps most tragic of all is that Bush didn’t even understand the risks. Had he understood them, perhaps things might have gone better. Perhaps the post-war planning would have been better. Perhaps we would have made different decisions during the immediate invasion.

Those of us who were against the war - including Dean - knew that this would be probably be the result - exactly where we are today. I personally did not believe it would be this bad. But I was not far off. And we knew that Bush was exactly the wrong person to be in charge.

What should we do now? Does it really matter? If we stay, things will be bad. If we leave, things will be bad. We are now merely spectators.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Analysis, MK-style:

Person A
I like apples, especially Golden Delicious.
Person B, several years ago
Oranges make your house smell nice.


MK:

See! They think exactly the same way! It’s all about fruit!!
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
If I had it to do over again, I’d support the Dean candidacy. The situation in Iraq is a disaster, and it is not just Buckley on the right saying so. This morning George Will told Stephanopoulos that civil war is now going on in Iraq. A few days ago Bill O’Reilly said on his radio show that we needed to get out because the Iraqis have too many "crazies" and we "underestimated" that factor. This morning, Bill Kristol on Fox conceded there is a civil war, and actually, his assessment as to why is not unlike Dale’s — Kristol thinks we didn’t fight "seriously" enough. Honestly, that doesn’t play with me, but Dale knows a lot more about military matters than I do, so I’m not going to disagree with him on that.

My own view, really, is that I’m not entitled to a view, given how wrong I was in trusting George Bush to competently prosecute the war (or do much of anything competently). Howard Dean predicted that what has happened would happen, and it seems possible that it was always nearly inevitable.

One thing I do know, tho: I want the Bush populists and neocons out.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
That implies that, while the drive for freedom is usually present, there are specific cases where it is not, in fact, the dominant impetus for human action.

Unfortunately, Iraq may be one of those places.
It may be. Maybe freedom isn’t the dominant impetus. Which makes your crticism of the Bush administration all the more curious.
It’s a failure. Insofar as I’ve criticized the Bush Administration for its policy in Iraq, it has been that the Bushies haven’t gone far enough in killing people who need to be killed, and in showing the Iraqis that opposing the US means death.
This criticism is curious because if the drive for freedom was not there in the first place, what good would killing more people do?

The notion that a nation or a group of people for whom the drive for freedom is not the dominant impetus can be somehow have that impetus instilled in them through the use of brute force is perhaps the most misguided notion of all on which the invason was based. On one level, it simply does not make sense. One nation cannot physically force another nation to desire freedom above all else. On a gut level it does not make sense.

Here is how one blogger put it today:
When I wrote this article and several related ones almost three years ago, I still thought it might be possible to reach those alleged "libertarians" who support Bush to one degree or another, and who are defenders of his foreign policy in particular. I considered it unlikely that they would alter their views, but I thought it worthwhile at least to try. In the time that has elapsed, I’ve given up any hope on that score. Nowadays, if these people criticize Bush’s foreign policy at all, it is only to say that Bush is not brutal enough, and that he should wage war still more widely. I do not know whether it is ignorance or intellectual dishonesty that makes these "libertarians" cling to the now conclusively discredited Wilsonian delusion of world transformation by means of military force. Whatever factors may be involved in an individual case, it has been indisputably clear for some time that no amount of contrary evidence will cause these people to change their minds.

At one time, libertarianism represented a serious and vital intellectual tradition, one that included thinkers and writers of great significance such as Hayek and von Mises. The faux "libertarians" of today, who are especially and annoyingly numerous among bloggers, have rendered genuine libertarianism unrecognizable. For the moment, libertarianism’s reputation has been almost entirely destroyed and deservedly so, if one considers only its loudest contemporary advocates. These phony libertarians have no understanding at all of the principles they claim to be defending, and genuine liberty can find no place in their world view.

Since they have repeatedly demonstrated their unswerving refusal to change their minds even in the face of incontrovertible and overwhelming evidence, they might at least reconsider the manner in which they describe themselves. I would suggest "cheap propagandists" or "fourth-rate hacks" as much more accurate with regard to their approach and methodology. Such terms still fail to capture the depth of their betrayal, but they would be vastly preferable. And at least unsuspecting readers would be warned about the degree of attention that ought to be paid to such people — which is to say, precisely none at all.
Now I agree the author is a bit shrill, and his focus is more on libertarianism, but I think he represents where the debate clearly is now.

If you haven’t read Fukuyama’s piece from last week’s NYT, do so. It hits on many of these same issues from a different perspective.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Indeed, the Fukuyama supports your argument perhaps better than you have defended it yourself. His argument is that democracies arise as a result of a desire for modernization, i.e., the desire to participate in a technologically advanced, prosperous society. Of course, such socities require security, which requires force.

Which is why the Bush invasion was doomed from the start, because it did not understand there would be an overwhelming need for security. This failure of understanding was a product of both idealism about freedom and igorance about Iraq and Arab cultures more generally.

Brute force at this point in time is to little too late.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
If abject defeat really means a complete disarming of the local population, which common sense says it does...
Abject deafeat means pawing through the smoking pile of rubble that used to be your city, in search of a dead rat to gnaw on.

That is abject defeat.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Maybe the whole point is simply to assess threats, destroy them, then bring our troops home, and let the natives draw the appropriate conclusions, repeating as necessary, until the natives draw the conclusions we want them to draw.

Yee-haa - total support from me.
As we’ve all written here repeatedly over the last few years, the ultimate decision about whether a reconstructed Iraq can survive is up to the Iraqi people
But you are sort of wrong. The Iraqis have tried to make a go of a united Iraq with a democratic government. They have voted, constructed inclusive government and basically given indication that they want this to happen. The Iraqis want democracy and freedom and peace and (with the exceptions of the Kurds) they want a united Iraq.

But the decision is not theirs to make. Thousands of Shia have been killed by Al Qaeda, this mosque was destroyed by Al Qaeda. Iraq is being used as battleground of choice (flypaper) between Al Qaeda and Britain/America without Iraqi permission and Iraqis are paying the price. Iraqs future is at the whim of Al Qaeda and America/Britain.
The war was brief, the Iraqi army disintegrated on contact, and most of the country never really felt the reality of what it was like to be completely and totally crushed by a superior enemy.
Wrong, the US won the war and then occupied the whole country. When someoneelses tanks are driving down your street you are defeated, the Iraqis realised this.

What the US does not do is defeat the terrorists, the US has pretty much decided that the Iraqis shall be the ones to defeat the terrorists. For the moral restraint reasons you outline America backed away from attacking the terrorists no matter where they reside. This is the big mistake.

The Iraqis are not physically able to defeat the terrorists. Iraq is a small-medium sized country whose army has been slaughtered in its last 3 major engagements to the cost of millions dead. To defeat the terrorists requires hunting down enemies and "killing" them and Iraq cannot do this. The Iraqis deal with the terrorists in the only way they can - bond into a defensible position with enemies outside and friends inside by seperating into clans and religious groups.




MK - your blogger friend is mistaken in saying that military forced transformation is discredited. Cold War, WW2, Israeli/Arab, Cyprus conflicts were all post Wilson and relied extensively on forced military transformation. It is a method of last resort and can be argued against as being unneeded, but when employed it can work. Alternatives such as collective negotiation, sanctions, cultural exchange and wilfull disengagement also have disadvantages.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
For the libertarians here — and this is a libertarian blog, after all — I offer a quote from one of our patron saints, F. A. Hayek, written many decades ago:

Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
George, Dick, Paul and Donald must be sitting in the white house, sipping champaigne and patting themselves on a job well done. Indeed, they are more than happy to sit back and let Iraq tear itself to shreds-so long as the oil installations are not touched. America does not care which mosque is blown up, but i guarentee it that when this conflict starts spilling over into the refineries, American action will be swift. The fact that any educated individual still whole heartedly believes that the Iraq war was about bringing democracy to the people intrigues me.

If democracy was what it was about, why does the US ambassador give threats that the american aid(which I may point out is going strait back into American contractors anyway) will be cut off if people they do not like are voted in.

I agree with Tony, the media is billing the recent escalation in violence as Iraq’s own internal religous strife. They fail to mention that the religous strife is being propagated by people who mainly want to see an end to the US occupation.

In response to the main article, you seem to be pretty fond of the school of thought which states that america should simply destroy any country that refuses to subvert to its authority. I would like to remind you that much of the simmering hatred directed towards america today is a direct result of this policy in the past (Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran).
Additionally, the notion that america has tried to appear as the good guys and avoid civilian deaths is complete rubbish. America has not hesitated to bomb the hell out of any area in Iraq, which leads some think tanks to put the cost of Iraqi lives at somewhere around 100 000. 100 000 people!
 
Written By: amol
URL: http://
Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom.
As we’ve always said here, democracy is a process, not an endstate.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I knew this would be a fiasco the moment Rumsfeld gave his "Stuff happens" comment after the post-invasion looting. An occupying power that cannot, and will not, impose order is sending precisely the wrong message.

If Bush had any common sense, he would have fired Rumsfeld on the spot. At a minimum, he should have given him a strong, and public, rebuke.

The general lack of postwar planning borders on the criminally negligent. Bush bears responsibility for allowing such incompetence to continue for so long.

 
Written By: cllam
URL: http://
Civil war going on in Iraq? Hardly. How many people have died in violence since Thursday? About 200. And this comes after an especially egregious attack on an important shrine. Anyone care to guess how many people were killed in massacres in Karbala and Baghdad in March 2004? 185.

I heard griping this weekend that although the body count is low, it’s not due to the government having control but it was because the clerics called for calm. WTF? Isn’t this what we want - for the various sects to cooperate.

It’s begining to seem like many Americans will be not happy until the whole country of Iraq is a wasteland of rotting bodies and burning buildings. Then everyone can all say it it loud and clear: "Bush was wrong!"

In the meantime, they are indeed human beings who are having good days and many bad days in Iraq. Babies are born, young men entertain thoughts of marrying, moms try to protect their children - even when they are grown, shopkeepers try to make a living.

We could be pitching in to help these folks with something as simple as prayer or perhaps a word of encouragement, but most of us have thrown in the towel, disgusted that it didn’t go quite the way we had planned.


 
Written By: Sharon
URL: http://
Thanks, Sharon. I wanted to compose a post such as yours, but I think you did it better.

I simply don’t understand the importance people put on this episode. It’s as if we rated our progress in highway safety mostly by focusing on the latest bus wreck. Sure, it’s tragic when a number of people are killed. But it’s the longer term trends that count.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I simply don’t understand the importance people put on this episode. It’s as if we rated our progress in highway safety mostly by focusing on the latest bus wreck. Sure, it’s tragic when a number of people are killed. But it’s the longer term trends that count.
Well, what "counts" is subject to debate. So what are those longer term trends? And, more importantly, what evidence do you have to muster to support your conclusions concerning those long term trends?

It’s all well and good to contend that a couple of hundred of deaths - of human beings with loved ones - means little with respect to long term trends. But that is hardly proof that long term trends are favorable. Yet that tends to be the defense.

It could be worse,

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Wow .. Just as a fluke went to this blog... My thoughts — So you are saying kill the indians and ..F%$& em if they don’t like it ??

Amazing !
No wonder the USA has a public relations problem.

Maybe we can give the people of Iraq some small-pox infested blankets huh...

Jim
 
Written By: Jim
URL: http://
I think Democracy in Iraq is doing a bit of a Mark Twain right now - ’... the report of my death was an exaggeration.’

Since you chose Germancy... there were something like 2,500 murder and manslauther crimes in Germany in 2003, according to this report: http://www.bka.de/pks/pks2003ev/pcs_2003.pdf
Yet I don’t hear people blaming the US for those crimes, or saying that if we pull our troops out that Democracy will fail in Germany because we aren’t sure if the Germans who lived in a loose union of monarchial city states for hundreds of years can’t really support representative government.

To be honest I know of one major factor that you can honestly point to related to the difference and it has nothing to do with how much people ’want’ freedom: that’s Time. Because we’ve seen the Germans as a democratic state for decades we accept that they want a democratic state... how many decades before we say the same for the Iraqis? Claims that they don’t want freedom are a joke... what is a real question is can they manage to maintain a democratic government when all of their neighbors are less then helpful in that endeavor?

It’s also true to say that it can be difficult to maintain as we see what happens in Venezuala and potentially in Nigeria. Democracies aren’t guaranteed - and they aren’t based on technology considering ours was founded when the US was considered a backwater by most of Europe. Representative governments require participation and a solid base - which is it’s own discussion and which fortunately the US has had. My hope is that the Iraqis continue to progress and perhaps in 20 years the fact that there are murders or bombings or other sad events won’t cause people to doubt and entire society’s desire to live in a republic.
 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
So what are those longer term trends? And, more importantly, what evidence do you have to muster to support your conclusions concerning those long term trends?
Well, MK, no doubt there is no such evidence that will make any impact on you, because you don’t want to be convinced. In general, the data that is there is not that good. But there’s a fair amount of evidence that things are not as bad as often portrayed, and that casualty rates are not going up. Certainly there is no decent evidence that things are "spiraling out of control" or other such nonsense.

First, US military casualties: After spiking when we turned over sovereignty to an Iraqi government, they have since decreased slowly but steadily in rate, according to the numbers on this page. But I don’t think anyone is seriously maintaining that our casualties are some kind of a spiralling-out-of-control disaster, because even the most partisan leftists know that the numbers just are not there to support such an assertion.

Now, Iraqi civilians. First, discount the Lancet study, which was discredited by several sources. Otherwise, the majority of the counts I can find are in the general neighborhood of 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths since the war began. Iraq Body Count has a min estimate of about 28,500 and a max of about 32,000 right now (the numbers change over time of course. This is a lot, but that’s for the period that begins with the invasion and runs through today - almost three years. For comparison, estimated civilian deaths from the Hussein regime are estimated at 600,000, according to this page, which says:
Along with other human rights organizations, The Documental Centre for Human Rights in Iraq has compiled documentation on over 600,000 civilian executions in Iraq.


(That’s just civilian deaths. There were another estimated 500,000 Iraqi deaths in the military during the Iran-Iraq war.)

Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, that says there were about 25,000 Iraqis killed per year by Saddam (his regime was 24 years). So at worst, we’re less than half his death rate.

That concurs with this analysis:
...the death rate is running at the rate of about 45 dead per 100,000 population per year. This is far higher than the usual rate in Middle Eastern countries (under 10). Well, most of the time. During civil wars and insurrections, the rate has spiked to over a hundred per 100,000, sometimes for several years in a row. During Saddam’s long reign, the Iraqi death rate from democide (the government killing its own people) averaged over 100 per 100,000 a year.
Put another way, the invasion of Iraq has saved over 25,000 Iraqi lives, if you presume that Saddam would have kept up his historical averages.

But the real question is whether, like US casualties, Iraqi civilian casualties are trending downward, or at least not getting any worse. I can’t find any reliable data of any sort for that. Since anything that makes us look bad gets plenty of play in the press, my first cut hypothesis is that the data must not look too bad. Otherwise, we’d be seeing it trumpeted in the NYT, etc. I realize you won’t be convinced by that, but if you can find any reliable and relatively recent month-by-month counts to look at, I’m sure we’d all love to see them.

No one disputes that people are dying there, or that it’s tragic that there are so many deaths. But simply looking at people dying and throwing up one’s hands over the whole thing is not a mature form of decision making. Weighing whether things are better than before we went in, and whether there’s significant prospect for things getting even better in the future, is a far more reasonable way of assessing the situation. That’s done with numbers and trends, not with hysteria or partisan boilerplate.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
These 8,000 deserters are the intelligent American soldiers. The rest, 85% of whom think they are paying back Saddaam for 9/11, are in Iraq and Afghanistan

http://www.usatoday.com/news/
washington/2006-03-07-deserters_x.htm
 
Written By: Tony
URL: http://

 
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