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The reports of Iraq’s demise much exaggerated?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More fallout from William Buckley's article about losing Iraq. This time from Jack Kelly:
"Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans," Mr. Buckley wrote in National Review. "The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough."

Mr. Buckley is of the "realist" school of foreign policy, which believes, in essence, that "freedom and democracy are for me, but not for thee." The lesser breeds without the Law, like Iraq's Arabs, aren't ready for it now, and probably won't be ever. Buckley noted with apparent approval the view of an anonymous soldier quoted in the New York Times who said he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and Shiites from each other's throats.

Mr. Buckley's pessimism may be premature. Both Sunni and Shia religious leaders have called for calm. The Moqtada al Sadr, whose militia was in the forefront of the retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques, prayed publicly Saturday with the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars. Thousands of ordinary Sunnis and Shias joined together in half a dozen Iraqi cities to demonstrate for peace.

"We have much more evidence of a strong national unity movement in Iraq," said Iraqi Web logger Haider Ajina of the weekend demonstrations. "This attack was supposed to plunge Iraq into sectarian mayhem and senseless massive killing. This did not happen."
The one thing I'm beginning to appreciate is the resiliancy of the Iraqi people. It may indeed be premature to write them off at this point.

Often what is missing from many of the pronouncements of gloom and doom pertaining to Iraq is a particular context. That context includes the resiliance Iraqis have demonstrated over and over in the face of what many have considered fatal blows to their nascent democracy. The will of the Iraqi people, while demonstrated overwhelmingly in the numbers voting, has all but been ignored in the calculations of failure. Iraqis demonstrate their will daily through those who continue to join the army and security forces. It is further demonstrated by religious leaders such as al Sistani and others who have calm troubled waters and push for a government which represents all Iraqis.

As Kelly points out through Ajina's statement, the attempts at starting a civil war among Iraqis have been varied and have been almost daily occurrances for years. And they've all met with failure in that regard. Even with one of the most holy shrines of Shia Islam all but destroyed, Iraq still hasn't tipped into civil war.

That's not to say it can't or won't at some point. But I, like Kelly, think it is a little premature to claim that we've lost in Iraq.

MAJ Ben Conable notes:
"Nearly every Iraq story is inaccurate," wrote Ben Connable, a Marine major stationed in Fallujah, in an email to a friend. "The numbers are inflated, the damage exaggerated, the estimates are misleading, and the predictions are based on pure conjecture, often by people far removed from the problem."

"The Iraqi military and police forces have held together and they are doing their jobs," Maj. Connable said. "In 2004, the Iraqi military and police all but collapsed. The fact that Shia soldiers who make up the vast majority of the troops have stayed at their posts, held back the Shia militiamen, and prevented an increase in violence is remarkable. This should be one of the feature stories on the nightly news, but it barely received mention."
As I and others have noted many times, we've being ill served by the media in the case of Iraq. That includes Mr. Buckley. Given the overwhelming pessimism in news reports, analysis and opinon, it is fair to say that one could build a case such as Mr. Buckley has without so much as batting an eye. That, of course, doen't make it accurate or a reflection of reality. As Kelly says:
Those danged Iraqis. They continue to disappoint by failing to be disappointing. Could it be that most of them value freedom, democracy and peace as much as white Christians do?
Yes. And while it may not mean an American style democratic country, it does mean freedom and liberty as they define it.

So instead of joining the Buckley chorus, I'm going to sit back and let a difficult process (a process still in the beginning stages by the way) in Iraq continue on it's course before pronouncing it dead.

Sunnis have again rejoined the talks about forming a government, religious leaders are calming the population and security forces have stood their ground in the recent troubles. Yes, tensions remain high, but I have to believe that if there wasn't a will among the majority of the Iraqi people to see the new Iraq succeed , civil war would already be a reality instead of just a threat.
 
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Mr. Buckley better hope he’s wrong, because "spreading Democracy" is really the last chance many of us are giving here....the next stop on this train is "kill them all"
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I think this is more about what people think about Bush than it is about what is going on in Iraq. Lately I have heard a lot of this kind of talk from friends and families that were Bush supporters. They have lost faith in the White House, they dont believe what GWB tells them and now with an enemy offensive going on in Iraq, they are in despair over the war. I tell them it is not as bad as they think. This get lots of strange looks since I have never been a fan of GWB and for years I have been telling these same people that Iraq was not going as well as they thought. But just like their belief in Bush lead them to be overly optimistic before, their disillusionment with Bush is leading them to be too pessimistic today.

The pragmatic always trump ideology for the American people. Even if they are true believers in the ideology of spreading democracy, once they believe, rightly or wrongly, that the people running the war are incompetent, they will pull the plug on the war.
 
Written By: Lighthouse
URL: http://
I’m just curious at what point does the right begin to acknowledge that Iraq is not a bed of roses, to the point of now focusing fire on one of the con movement’s leaders, Buckley.
 
Written By: Oliver
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
Oliver, I don’t know when the "right" as some mythical composite being said it was a bed of roses, and I have no idea why you think that being true or not would add credibility to Buckley’s ridiculous statement. Buckley did make some comments to the effect that Iraqi’s simply aren’t capable—aren’t sophisticated enough as a people—to benefit from democracy and a statutory respect for human rights. It was a profoundly immoral and unconservative statement. It represented an obviously failed approach to foreign affairs, a mouldered branch best lopped off.

Why shouldn’t he be criticized?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I’m just curious at what point does the right begin to acknowledge that Iraq is not a bed of roses...
Good grief, Oliver ... who in the hell ever said it was a bed of roses?

I’m certainly not "focusing fire" on Buckley, I just happen to disagree with his conclusion. For us on the right of center, that’s allowed.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
As opposed to Oliver and the people on the left who seemed to be hoping a little TOO hard for a civil war to break out so they could finally have a "told you so" moment at Bush
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The Iraqis may be just as resilient as we were.

We lost half a million in our civil war between two sections of the country that hated and despised one another. You can still see the tail end of it almost a century and a half later by slurs like "redneck" and the northern stereotype of southerners as beer drinking, slow-witted, blowhards rather than as Southern gentlemen who are among the best and the brightest—as was Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee, for example. Sectional rivalry, and at times hatred, is still alive and well here.

If we managed to survive that kind of division and still deal with it, why can’t the Iraqis?

 
Written By: Terrance
URL: http://terrancethisisstupidstuff.blogspot.com/
"Nearly every Iraq story is inaccurate," wrote Ben Connable, a Marine major stationed in Fallujah, in an email to a friend. "The numbers are inflated, the damage exaggerated, the estimates are misleading, and the predictions are based on pure conjecture, often by people far removed from the problem."

"The Iraqi military and police forces have held together and they are doing their jobs," Maj. Connable said. "In 2004, the Iraqi military and police all but collapsed. The fact that Shia soldiers who make up the vast majority of the troops have stayed at their posts, held back the Shia militiamen, and prevented an increase in violence is remarkable. This should be one of the feature stories on the nightly news, but it barely received mention."
Why doesn’t the major go down to the morgue. He might learn something. From the WaPo:
BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 — Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week’s bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad’s main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday — blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound — and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
1300 dead. Hundreds of dead bodies at the morgue. Hundreds. Not stories about bodies, but actual bodies. Hows that for an exaggeration? Is that close enough to the problem for you, major?

Worse yet, the major is lying to protect the Iraqi police/Shia militias. They are not doing their jobs, contrary to his assertion. 1300 - in less than one week. When 1300 people die in less than one week due to sectarian violence, you have a civil war. When 1300 die in less than one week, you have a police force that is not doing its job. When the police stand idly by while armed gangs engage in ethnic cleansing, the police force is not doing its job.

Why haven’t we arrested Sadr? This is still a warrant out for his arrest. Why aren’t we disarming the militias? They are illegal, after all. Why are they allowed to kill with impunity? What the he** are we doing there? Why are we simply standing idly by while armed gangs roam the streets and kill civilians simply because of the religious faith they adhere to?
As opposed to Oliver and the people on the left who seemed to be hoping a little TOO hard for a civil war to break out so they could finally have a "told you so" moment at Bush
The civil war has broken out. 1300 dead. In less than one week. And we on the left did tell you so.

And what is Bush’s response? We’ll stand down as they stand up.

Whatever.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
As opposed to Oliver and the people on the left who seemed to be hoping a little TOO hard for a civil war to break out so they could finally have a "told you so" moment at Bush
Oh, shark. I think that “told you so” moment passed a long time ago.

We lost half a million in our civil war between two sections of the country that hated and despised one another.
Incorrect. They did not “hate and despise” one another.
You can still see the tail end of it almost a century and a half later by slurs like "redneck"…
And slurs like ni**er, cotton picker, and colored.
…and the northern stereotype of southerners as beer drinking, slow-witted, blowhards rather than as Southern gentlemen who are among the best and the brightest—
Get’r dun.

I see your point, though.
Damn Yankees.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Gasp the marine major’s name is CONNABLE. Karl Rove seems to have used up all his good ideas covering for the immoral rethuglikkans.

/future mkultra post
 
Written By: Jso
URL: http://
I’m just curious at what point does the right begin to acknowledge that Iraq is not a bed of roses...
Years ago, Oliver. If you need the point illustrated, I’ll find you something from our archive.
to the point of now focusing fire on one of the con movement’s leaders, Buckley.
"I disagree" = "focusing fire"? That’d certainly explain the general paucity of disagreement on the Left side of the sphere.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The paleocons (like Buckley) were against the invasion before it began, during major combat operations, and have been ever since. Why is it surprising now that Buckley thinks the whole thing is a terrible idea? He’s thought so all along.

If you read enough of the Iraqi bloggers (including the Ba’ath-supporting Sunnis), one thing that jumps out at you is that the Iraqis do have a national identity. That’s a force that opposes the inclination to sectarian civil war.

We don’t really know right this second how things will turn out. mkultra’s observation notwithstanding despite the 1,300 deaths things appear to have cooled down a little there and even the Ba’ath-supporting Sunni Iraqi bloggers are saying it’s not a civil war yet.

If the Iraqis say it isn’t, it probably isn’t. Yet.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Why doesn’t the major go down to the morgue. He might learn something. From the WaPo:
The number from the Washington Post is disputed by many sources. You can believe them if you wish, or you can believe the director of the morgue:
The acting director of the Baghdad morgue disputed the Washington Post’s report. Abdelrazzak al-Obeidi told Reuters that his unit alone had received 240 bodies since Wednesday, nearly all victims of violence.

He said the rate of such killings was 70% above average for the six days since Wednesday, based on a figure of 8,060 deaths from violence recorded at the morgue in 2005 - 155 deaths a week.

Not all Iraqi deaths in Baghdad are recorded in the central morgue, but it sees a high proportion of those who die violently. Other deaths are more typically recorded at hospitals.

Here’s a more recent article:
A government count of 379 dead and 458 wounded as of Tuesday afternoon was followed by news of at least 23 deaths in a blast at a Baghdad Shia mosque
[snip]
It appears to have been a direct response to a figure of 1,300 dead published by the Washington Post newspaper - a figure Iraqi officials deny.

"What was reported in a foreign newspaper were inaccurate and exaggerated numbers of victims," a cabinet statement said.
Sounds like the WaPo isn’t doing its homework.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com
I’m just curious at what point does the right begin to acknowledge that Iraq is not a bed of roses...

Maybe the left should acknowledge that Iraq isn’t the unwinnable quagmire they want it to be...


By the way MK and Pogue, thanks for proving my point. At least you have the honesty to admit you want things to go poorly in Iraq just so you can think you can scrore a point off Bush...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Sounds like the WaPo isn’t doing its homework

Hey, it’s the Katrina reporting all over again!

If they can’t get the story right in their own backyard, how can we trust them to do it in a foreign country?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I must confess.

I didn’t object to removing Saddam; but I wasn’t for nations-building. I called it honorable but over generous.

However, the nations-building is going much better than I expected. I was wrong in that regard. Am I the only commentator to say his prediction of the Iraqi operation was wrong?

I have to object to one phrase, McQ: "liberty as they define it." There’s only one liberty: that of the individual. Of course, there are degrees of liberty. If you want to say they will have a scaled down version of the real thing, that’s obvioius. But, come to think of it, we have a scaled down version of the real thing!

 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
There’s only one liberty: that of the individual.
I understand and don’t necessarily disagree with your point, Jason. It might be a matter of me not expressing the idea well.

What I was driving at is they view matters of liberty differently than do we. An example might be the role of women in society. We see that role one way and have a tendency to condemn any other culture that doesn’t mirror our example. I’m simply suggesting that women of Islamic societies may view their liberty in a different way than do we ... thus their definition of liberty in that regard will be different than ours.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
We lost half a million in our civil war between two sections of the country that hated and despised one another.

Incorrect. They did not “hate and despise” one another.

You can still see the tail end of it almost a century and a half later by slurs like "redneck"…

And slurs like ni**er, cotton picker, and colored.

…and the northern stereotype of southerners as beer drinking, slow-witted, blowhards rather than as Southern gentlemen who are among the best and the brightest—

Get’r dun.

I see your point, though.
Damn Yankees.

They did hate and despise each other. Read any history of the Civil War and the epithets poured out on Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, and the harsh reactions on both sides to Reconstruction. There was hate, and there was despising. That’s what causes, sustains and is the continuing result of civil war. Even so, it did not bring our democracy down.

The phrase you use, "Damn Yankees", is still common and understood. And it has been almost a century and a half since it was first used. It illustrates my point at how deep the feelings were—and they haven’t fully gone away, have they?

The slurs you mention "ni**er, cotton picker, and colored" are not directed at Northerners. Damn Yankees is—but is not really a slur, is it? And "colored" was the respectful way to refer to African Americans for decades way up into the 1960’s. I’m assuming you are too young to remember that. There was a point in time when colored was out and black was in. Now black is going out and African American is in. A knowledge of history is a great help in being able to understand and evaluate the present.

 
Written By: Terrance
URL: http://terrancethisisstupidstuff.blogspot.com/
I’m just curious at what point does the right begin to acknowledge that Iraq is not a bed of roses, to the point of now focusing fire on one of the con movement’s leaders, Buckley.
I’ve heard about Oliver Willis but never bothered to check out his blog. Wasn’t missing much, as that’s one of the most off-base observations I’ve heard in a while.
The paleocons (like Buckley) were against the invasion before it began, during major combat operations, and have been ever since.
Reminds me of how pointless Crossfire was at the time. When you have Buchanan and Carlson representing the right, both opposed to invading Iraq, you never got a debate.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://sdparadigm.blogger.com

 
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