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Win, or Get Out
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The exodus of conservatives from the pro-war Bush camp continues.They are increasingly frustrated with the recent collapse of order in Iraq, and with the President's apparent unwillingness to do what is necessary to stop it. Today, it's National Review's Rich Lowry who's sounding off. He writes that Iraq is not yet Vietnam, but it's getting closer.
The two parties have clashing imperatives in the Iraq debate. The Democrats want to wage a fight over the war in retrospect, emphasizing Bush administration missteps that have become a matter of conventional wisdom, while declining to make any positive prescriptions that might divide their party or expose unpopular positions (e.g., an immediate pullout). The Republicans have to fight in prospect, avoiding the losing debate over the past while convincing people they have a plausible strategy for success and the Democrats have none.

But what is that strategy? President Bush sometimes seems not to realize that having a fierce determination to see things through is only the precondition for a winning strategy. For too long, his administration has seemed content to do the bare minimum in Iraq, hoping to hold things together just enough to allow troop drawdowns that justify the administration’s assurances of progress. This hasn’t worked, since the violence in Iraq has belied the rhetoric of progress and prevented any reduction in troops. Bush would be much better served by forthrightly acknowledging Iraq’s distressing circumstances and backing an all-out push to secure Baghdad even if it takes thousands more American troops in the country.

For there is one other similarity with Vietnam that should be avoided — the aching sense that not everything was done to win the war. By the end of Vietnam, we had essentially beaten the insurgency and could have helped the South Vietnamese hold off the conventional invasion of the North, if we hadn’t given up. In Iraq, too, we have scored some successes against the Sunni insurgency, but the insurgents have managed to create a new and different threat by stoking a budding civil war.

It is not too late to tamp down that militia-directed violence, which hasn’t yet taken on an uncontrollable life of its own. But the clock is ticking, toward the hour when we will indeed suffer another Vietnam.
This makes me hearken back to a post I did back in 2004, before I joined QandO:
Every minute we pause our operations is another minute the enemy has to consolidate his defenses. Every minute we wait to strike increases the number of casualties we'll eventually take attacking increasingly strong defenses.

And what do our cease-fires gain us? Increased respect from the insurgents? Goodwill from Iraqis? Hardly. The insurgents and Iraqis in general both see it as a tactic of weakness. They both wonder why we don't put an end to it.

We have to stop worrying about how we can make our enemies like us. That is both stupid and counterproductive. We didn't try to gain the respect of Germany in World War II. Instead, we simply started killing Germans, and we kept killing them until they asked us to stop by offering us an unconditional surrender.

Supposedly, one of the lessons we learned from Vietnam was that, if you use American military power, you use it all the way. You cry "Havoc," and slip the dogs of war. And you kill anyone who opposes you until they are ready to surrender, or are all dead. You fight, in other words, with no end save victory.

As far as I can tell, we are in serious danger of forgetting that lesson.
Or this post:
Once you're in something like this, you're in all the way. That means, above all, providing public order, i.e., shooting looters on sight, having Moqtada al-Sadr picked up on a murder warrant before he can really start trouble, etc., and doing it in such a way so that the occupied people know who's in charge. It means whacking anyone who even looks like starting trouble.

Once you overthrow a government, you have to fill the power vacuum created by its downfall. Because if you don't, someone else surely will. Sure, a lot of other things are important: an eventual shot at democratic self-rule, improved public services, economic development, or getting the oil flowing. Great stuff, all of it.

But the bottom line, the one thing you must have before doing any of the other good stuff, is ensuring that the only person filling a power vacuum in the country is you.

We haven't really done that. We've tried to be nice, and frankly, that hasn't worked. Even now, after all we've learned, and especially after what happened two weeks ago, we still haven't taken out the Fallujah problem. Rather than go house to house, street by street, rooting out people who, quite frankly, need to be killed, we implemented a cease-fire.

Those are the tactics of timidity. We won't win with them. It's that simple. Our problem has never been a lack of ability or power, but a lack of will. We may be able to get out of Iraq, and leave behind a quasi-democratic, quasi-free government, but we face a very good chance that it will collapse either into the chaos of civil war, Shi'ite Islamic fundamentalism, or a return to Ba'athist dictatorship.

We are trying to do something extraordinarily difficult and extraordinarily important in Iraq. Being timid in its implementation is no help in doing it successfully.
I could go on, but you get the point.

Now, the nexus of the problem is Baghdad. It'd be nice if the Iraqis could take care of the problem, but they can't. The police are useless. Yes, there's a problem with police corruption, and tribal loyalty, but the basic problem is really much deeper: Police officers have to live and work in the community. Any police officer, Sunni or Shiite, who arrests an insurgent, does so at the risk of his—and his family's—life. To survive, you have to go along to get along.

The Army, on the other hand, is still small, and stretched thinly. And the central government is, for a number of political and military reasons, too fearful to commit the forces necessary to demilitarize the city's various militias. That means the task must necessarily fall to us.

But little has changed in the past two years, apparently, because the Bush Administration seems unwilling to do this. As I mentioned last week, the number of military options is limited. As Lt. Gen. Sanchez remarked in 2004, we need two divisions to secure Baghdad. That implies an additional commitment—as much as 35,000 soldiers—of troops to Iraq. Alternatively, we could shift to a conditions-based commitment strategy, as some Brookings scholars have suggested, forcing the Iraqis to do it.

But the current course is unsustainable.

Now, I know that this will be read by some as being what one blogger referred to as the "Kill more people, George" strategy. Why that is supposed to be an illegitimate strategy is beyond me. Killing people is how you win wars. You kill the people who oppose you, you shut off their logistical support, and you eliminate their political power base. Failure to do so, and engaging in half-measures, simply prolongs the conflict, inflates the casualties and costs, and doesn't move you closer to your goal.

It's not rocket science. The way to win wars is to kill your opponents, and keep killing them until they ask you to stop. Many people, with limited grounding in the realities of military history or operations, seem to find that reality distasteful.

Too bad.

(As an aside, I am always amused by the temerity of people who have either no military experience, or any intellectual grounding or study in military history, strategy, or tactics, who blithely make judgments about military affairs.)

We are rapidly approaching "put up or shut up" time in Iraq, i.e., the time at which no strategy will result in the accomplishment of a stable, unified, democratic Iraq. And we are approaching that point because we have, for the last three years, temporized, negotiated, and shifted between strategies, and gone back and forth between the application of force, and the application of half measures.

And the problem is not that the Bush Administration has made mistakes in Iraq. War is, after all, as Clemenceau once said, a succession of catastrophes that culminate in victory. The problem is that the Bush Administration seems not to have learned from their past mistakes.

And now, even though the military advice that the Bush Administration is receiving—outside of the Special Forces community—is that more troops are required to demilitarize the populace in and around Baghdad, the Bush Administration is unwilling to do so.

In part, of course, there are political reasons for this. Many of the anti-war crowd would go completely bat-sh*t at the very idea of committing more troops to Iraq. The Democrats would leap onto any increased deployment as prima facie evidence of abject failure, and heighten their demands for immediate withdrawal.

But, as I said more than two years ago, the choice is simple: Win, or get out.

The optimal choice, of course, is to win. To make whatever commitment is necessary to ensure that our goals in Iraq are met. IF we fail to do so, then I believe that we will not only lose the chance to avoid a generalized conflict with the Arab Muslim world, but we will hasten the arrival of that conflict.

Creating a free and democratic Iraq would allow us the opportunity to seize the strategic initiative against the Islamo-fascist movement in the Mideast. Failure to do so means that our enemies will be able to dictate the strategic and operational tempo of the conflict. As such, Iraq remains the nexus of an extraordinarily—indeed, world-historically—important strategic effort.

I estimate that we have at most another six months time remaining to us to turn the situation in Iraq around, after which, nothing short of major combat operations, and essentially starting from square one, will retrieve the situation in Iraq.

So, are we willing to use the next 180 days to do what is necessary, or not? If so, then we need to start right now. If not, then we need to begin turning over "security" to the Iraqis, and bring our troops home to refit, rest, and retrain, in order to prepare them for the more horrific conflict that will follow.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Dale —

I’m not going to slam you for a
"Kill more people, George" strategy, although that is in fact what your strategy boils out to. However, you’ve made a fairly lucid and straightforward case for it, grounded logically, not in exaggerated threats and manipulative appeals to the survival of civilization. Not grounded in psychobabble, but in the specific objectives of the specific situation.

What I would say to you is: I don’t this wouldn’t really work, either. I could possibly be wrong.

At its cleanest - conceptually and morally - and also at the peak of its widespread acceptance as a political tool - what you’ve described is how you could win war. Kill everyone as quickly and effectively as possible until you achieve a surrender.

This works well against armies fighting limited wars for territorial scraps, a la the nineteeth century. It even works okay in conventional wars that may be for the whole enchilada - because even then, there’s a future if the government steps down. The population, even the army, sees a point to surrendering, not only because life otherwise is short and painful, but because you get to go back to some sort of hopeful future when it ends. The reason why the French surrendered but the Russians did not is partially based on how the Nazis treated the two, separately.

This paradigm just doesn’t work so well in guerilla wars. If you’re a civilian who wants to surrender, the guerillas kill you. Furthermore, since it’s so hard to tell the two apart, in order to kill enough to really stop the guerilla movement, you have to pretty much exterminate the population. And you won’t even get the benefits you discuss here - of demoralization from the other’s guy’s overwhelming victory leading to less death in the long run - because there is no future for the guerilla if he surrenders, unlike the solider. There’s no amnesty in Iraq right now. The Bush Admin killed it.

So I don’t see, *** especially *** with Iraq’s current neighbors, another 50,000 troops solving the problem. Nor do I see turning Iraq into a free-fire zone as solving the problem. It might, maybe, suppress the insurgency short-term, but political support for it will deepen. That’s a best case scenario where we make mincemeat of the Sunnis but don’t even touch the Shiites. If we get serious with the Shiites, and US forces become targets in the whole country, the situation is genuinely fuc*ed.

There’s one more reason why more outputs of massive force won’t work here - we are wedded to a broadly humanitarian goal in Iraq. Promoting democracy is unavoidably entangled with humanitarianism. We simply can’t replicate Fallujah across Iraq without bringing the contradictions between what we are doing at that time and our alledgedly humanitarian goals into such relief as to equal political collapse.

We’re ######, Dale. No significant escalation is coming. It’s only theoretically possible, and I don’t think it would work. Here’s a wise Democratic policy that they’re too stupid to advocate for - negotiate our withdrawal conditional on a general Sunni-Shiite truce.

Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Dale, what advice are they getting from the SpecOps people that isn’t "add more troops"? I don’t see a plan B, (like I said, I don’t even see a plan A) but if the SpecOps had one, it would be worth a listen.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I think I would worry more if the criticisms were coming from military people who had served there rather than pundits. Are we losing? Or is it that we are demanding rapid results for a counter-insurgency that is going to take many, many years to solve?

Would more US troops help, even if they don’t speak Arabic, as some special forces were advocating pulling regular troops out and just keeping 50,000 of the better suited forces there?

Frankly, I don’t really feel qualified to know what to do - but I certainly hope the military is screaming for more troops if they think it will help. (and if Bush or Rummy is not listening they should be fired.) B

ut, if the Shias and Sunnis really, really want to fight a civil war, I don’t think we will ever have enough troops, and if we want to prevent that, I’d say we need a political solution or force the Iraqis to solve their militia problem.

The scariest time in the whole conflict IMHO, was during first Fallujah, where the Mahdi army also started an uprising. We managed that fairly well. I hope we can juggle the current situation the same way.

Written By: Harun
URL: http://
There is no need to replicate Fallujah across Iraq, mearly across Baghdad. And even that may be the wrong strategy. What we have in Baghdad is more akin to what the French had in Algeria.

I don’t disagree that we’ve missed some key opportunities by not applying enough violence at certain times. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, doesn’t move us forward. It might prevent the same from occuring in the future though.

Progress, while slow, is still being made. The Iraqi Army is at 1/2 strength. Projections are that by the end of the year they’ll be at 80%. They are increasingly being relied upon for security operations. But conditions are fluid.
BAGHDAD – Iraqi forces conducted an early-morning operation on August 14 in west Baghdad, capturing one of their primary targets and detaining one other individual.

Iraqi Security Forces, supported by Coalition advisors, conducted the intelligence-focused, precision raid at a two-story residence in the Mansour district, capturing their primary target without incident. This individual is believed to be responsible for the shooting death of one U.S. soldier and one interpreter in January.

No Iraqi forces, coalition forces or civilians were injured during this operation.
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Soldiers from 2nd Tank Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, supported by Soldiers from 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained seven suspected terrorists during a combined operation that began at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday north of Baghdad.

Soldiers from 2nd Bde., 9th IAD, and Troop A, 7th Sqdn., conducted a cordon and search and detained 38 suspects; 31 were released and seven were moved to Camp Taji for questioning.

Meanwhile, a dismounted patrol from 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Regt., seized munitions from two sites north of Baghdad at approximately 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

A patrol from Troop B found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with two rounds, an AK-47 assault rifle with 10 magazines, a missile guidance system and 20 to 30 pounds of flake TNT explosives.

The same patrol found a mortar round at a second site. An Estonian Infantry Platoon attached to 7th Sqdn. reinforced the patrol and assisted with the searches.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces took control of another area of Baghdad on Monday after the latest in a series of transfer of authority ceremonies near the capital.

Army Col. Claude Ebel, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division said responsibility for Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah South, a base of operations for security forces south of the capital, was transferred to the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, dubbed the Desert Lion Brigade. The Iraqi unit will have full responsibility for the Baghdad areas of Mahmudiyah and Rutifiyah, Ebel said.

The ceremony, which included a demonstration of Iraqi military capability and martial prowess, comes as joint Coalition and Iraqi operations continue to rid the capital of death squads and insurgent violence.
BAGHDAD American and Iraqi soldiers searching for kidnapping victims raided the Iraqi Health Ministry before dawn Sunday, arrested five bodyguards and confiscated a large sum of Iraqi dinars, military and government officials said.

Also Sunday, bombers killed at least 47 people and wounded 148 more in a coordinated series of blasts that demolished two buildings in a commercial district of Baghdad, Agence France- Presse reported.

In separate incidents, Iraqi security forces arrested 16 men who planned to kidnap or kill members of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s family, and the governor of Ninawa Province barely escaped assassination after gunmen opened fire on his convoy in Mosul.

The raid at the Health Ministry, at 2:30 a.m. following a citizen’s tip, did not turn up any kidnapping victims but drew a vehement reaction from the health minister, Dr. Ali al-Shimari, a Shiite who is closely aligned with the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr and the powerful Shiite militia he commands, the Mahdi Army.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
To some extent, I agree with glasnost. Killing lots of people is a very useful tactic in some situations. I’m far from sure that it would be useful in this one, though. For one thing, I don’t really see how it would resolve the underlying problems the Iraqis have.

Powerful factions among the Sunnis and Shiites — and influential outside actors, as well — have a vested interest in seeing to it that they get their way. And "their way" is inimical to that of other powerful groups, and often to the very existence of ’democracy’.

It’s entirely possible that Iraqi culture, as it currently exists, just isn’t that darned interested in democracy. Or rather, that they like the theory, but eschew the idea. Maybe, maybe not, but I kinda doubt that killing them in job lots will change that. Will Wilkinson makes that point pretty well here.

That’s why I’ve been saying that (a) it’s very important we not simply pack up and leave, and (b) it’s probably best we step out of their way for awhile. As in Vietnam, better that we be in a position to influence the eventual, imperfect State, than that we simply leave them to the butchers almost sure to fill our vacuum.
Written By: Jon Henke
To some extent, I agree with glasnost. Killing lots of people is a very useful tactic in some situations. I’m far from sure that it would be useful in this one, though. For one thing, I don’t really see how it would resolve the underlying problems the Iraqis have.
That’s hardly the point. The point is to demilitarize the society to the point where the security situation can be stabilized. It’s not to win hearts and minds. Without security stabilization, any effort at winning hearts and minds is doomed.

Security is the pre-requisite for addressing the underlying problems, something that the Iraqi government, rather than us, should do, by the way. The Iraqis can probably do a decent job of maintaining that security, but they probably can’t do what is necessary to create it. If we won’t do it either, then any decent result will be the the end product of luck, rather than skill.

Written By: Dale Franks
Again, I’m just not very sure that’s true. How can the Iraqi government maintain security, if the Iraqi security agencies—well up the chain of command—are riddled with competing militia’s and competing allegiances? How do you achieve security when the most important players involved want something other than security?

Perhaps you can kill them, but you can’t do that to an entire culture. It’s difficult for us to even tell which civilians are tolerant of the project and which are merely the Resistance in street clothes.

There is a way to solve that problem, but it looks a lot like the Hussein regime: brutal, centralized and autocratic.
Written By: Jon Henke
If you can, find and watch last night’s Charlie Rose. Holbrooke v. Kristol re: Iraq and what to do. Kristol basically took Dale’s position, i.e., more troops.

It wasn’t that Holbrooke slammed Kristol. He simply allowed Kristol to make himself look foolish. At the end of the program, you could see that Kristol really didn’t believe that more troops would really fix the matter. He looked kind of pathetic. But the dicussion was a very good give and take without the normal screaming.

More troops is not the asnwer. There is no way Bush or the American people have the will to smash the Shia militias. 100,000 armed radical Shia. Think about what that would take. And that’s not even considering the Kurdish militias. The PKK is a terrorist organization, after all. (Why aren’t we killing these terrorists?) There is also the Sunni insurgency, of course. Given that the police are useless, we would also need to become the police of Baghdad. How may troops would dealing with all these problems take? 35,000? Are you kidding?

By the way, Rich Lowry is a partisan hack. I can’t really believe he said this:
The two parties have clashing imperatives in the Iraq debate. The Democrats want to wage a fight over the war in retrospect, emphasizing Bush administration missteps that have become a matter of conventional wisdom, while declining to make any positive prescriptions that might divide their party or expose unpopular positions (e.g., an immediate pullout). The Republicans have to fight in prospect, avoiding the losing debate over the past while convincing people they have a plausible strategy for success and the Democrats have none.
Bush creates a problem for which there is no solution. And Lowry has the nerve to blame the Democrates for not coming up with a solution. Bush drove the car over the cliff and Lowry is upset that the Democrates can’t come up with a way to prevent it from crashing on the rocks below. This is a favorite argument of the right. It is a ridiculous argument. Childish really. But it is what passes for intellectualism among those who were stupid enough to believe that Bush had the intellectual and analytic capacity to pull off a success in Iraq.

It comes down to a question of judgment. I never trusted Bush to be able to control the Pandora’s Box we opened in Iraq. Lowry, Dale, and many on this site did.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I was right and you were wrong. Now, can we start getting realistic, or is that too much to ask?

Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
If we won’t do it either

A literal question: Let’s assume we’re willing to do it.


Let’s forget everything I just said about it not working. Is there a detailed plan for having it work? Within the imagination? ("More troops" and "loosen the rules of engagement" are to me not detailed enough to be plausible).

The first conceptual step, I think, would be inviting a large number of Iraqis - half of Baghdad would be a good start - inside a completely and totally demilitarized area, down to strip searching every single citizen and building the living and commercial establishments from scratch, and putting a kill-zone perimeter around it.

And they wouldn’t be able to leave.

It seems we can’t seal Iraq’s borders to weapon shipments, and I don’t think we can apply enough pressure to the death squads, terrorists, guerillas and etc to have them stop killing civilians or to have the organizations cease to exist.

So some sort of solution would involve **completely** separating segments of the population in discrete, disarmed, small areas that we actually can control, and letting a competing societal order grow there.

Wildly infeasible? I wouldn’t be surprised, but hey, I gave it a shot. And it’s the sort of drastic action that has been attempted in drastically adrift counterinsurgencies. Usually it’s a very brutal process. Possibly that could be improved upon. While I’m just bullsh*tting at random.

Note that I wouldn’t really attempt to defend this idea, but... hey. Call it "The Day I Tried To Be Pro-War".

Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Iraq is not Vietnam.

The mission in Vietnam was to ruin the country. The US killed between 2 and 3 million people, a genocidal figure. It dropped enough bombs to equal a 500 pounder for every single person living there. The purpose was not to "save" but to destroy.

Such is not the case in Iraq. There, the mission is to strengthen control over the world’s energy reserves. They don’t want to destroy Iraq, just conquer it. Hence, the "kill more people" until Iraqis submit strategy.

Some people are so desperate to "win." It’s as if they would be so personally violated by the specter of a military loss that they are willing to kill thousands of Americans, and tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, in the process. Nevermind the hundreds of billions in coerced taxes.

Just let it go, there’s no conquering Iraq.
Written By: Nicolai Brown
Lowry’s done a service to bring this up, yet again, in the conservative camp.

The choices are all bad.

1. Cut Iraq loose to become the terrorist haven it wasn’t under Saddam. Commence a 2-year drawdown come hell or high water and tell the Iraqis Americans won’t save them from the Civil war they want so much. Have at it. lads!

2. Commit the miliary to Iraq, be patient with a people that put France to shame in the arts backstabbing, treachery, and ingratitude...but acknowledge while we are "saving the Iraqis" from themselves we will be mired down for at least two years and unable to strategically act and put boots on the ground elsewhere....and will be paralyzed even longer than that unless Bush admits we must add more active duty to the roster and get through the 2 years needed to train uo 2 new Divisions. (Which might come at expense of the two things Bush refuses to contemplate - cut back on his corporate pork spending, end his tax cuts for "The Ownership Society")

3. Stay the Course! The Skipper knows what he is doing.
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
I guess the solution here really is to carry out the Ceasers gameplan to winning wars. It would involve some actual civilian casualites, which could be much more easily proven to the general public than the last several cases we have heard about (Marines allegedly slaughtering unarmed non combatants), and would be broadcast on every tv network in the world.

Or we could try to comprehend what is actually happening there, instead of getting depressed at 100% negative news coverage. As Harun put it:
I think I would worry more if the criticisms were coming from military people who had served there rather than pundits. Are we losing? Or is it that we are demanding rapid results for a counter-insurgency that is going to take many, many years to solve?
Our troops who are actually over there constantly tell us that the MSM has the whole situation in Iraq wrong. I trust our troops to know best about what is happening in the country they have been living and working in. The MSM on the other hand never leaves their hotels and puts their trust in Iraqi (or maybe just any muslim) stringers because these dogmatic hard leftist journalists CLAIM that the battlefield is too dangerous for reporters.
Written By: Josh
URL: http://
I didn’t see anyone else reveal this gaff.
"Kill everyone as quickly and effectively as possible until you achieve a surrender."
The way to do it is "kill the enemy", not "kill everyone".

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Does anyone recall what position glasnost once claimed to have served in in the government.

Searching Q&A turned up one post, and it had nothing to do with it?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I’m surprised. Here we have a question of what to do about an occupied country on the verge of civil war, the name Vietnam has been mentioned, and nobody has thought of the Indian solution? That’s dots, not feathers.

When the Hindi Indian majority didn’t know what to do with an uncontrollable, irascible muslim minority, they did the only thing they could do. They created Pakistan.

North and South Korea. North and South Vietnam. Similar geopolitical divisions of irreconcilable previously uniform populations.

Okay, to be sure pakistan, north korea, and vietnam are not exactly the easiest people in the world to deal with - but we can do so diplomatically, rather than militarily. That has been proven in the past.

Perhaps the Iraq solution is to allow it to split into three parts, Shiite, Sunni, and Shia, then let whichever third become a vassal state to Iran, and set our sites on creating secure borders for the other two. At least we’d get all our [most virulent] enemies in one place, and be able to start treating them as a state rather than as an "insurgency." They’re good at guerilla warfare and terrorism. We’re better at diplomacy. Let’s figure out a way to play to our strengths.


Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Gil, You are right. As much as anyone hates the idea of doing it partition might be one of the few solutions that could work out. Although a Kurd based partition would be a huge problem with Turkey and Iran. Present day Iraq is a creation of Britain and France.

However in the Pakistan case, hopefully we will have better advice for the minorities in those paritions than Ghandi did. His advice was to be non violent and get along. Unfortunately, millions were massacred in following this advice.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
And Pakistan and India are still fighting over Kashmir...
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://

Not to burn the partition solution - which is looking more and more like the only realistic outcome anyway. Hopefully more of an East Germany/West Germany than an India-Pakistan, but anyway...

India’s Hindu majority was not the driver behind the separation of Pakistan. That was a grassroots Punjabi Muslim movement. Hindis were pretty unhappy about it. Thus the million people killed.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I’m not completely opposed to the partition idea, but I really doubt it would work and I’ve never seen a good suggestion for how it could be done.

The problems are (at least) two-fold.

1) The sectarian populations are not in distinct parts of the country. They co-habit many large cities, and have inter-married, too. So even if you divided up the country, there would still be sectarian conflict. (and perhaps cross-border attacks on behalf of sectarian friends in ’enemy territory’)

2) Oil. The Sunnis generally live in oil-poor areas, and they’re not about to give up access to the oil proceeds. And the Kurds and Shiites would fight long and hard over some oil they share, as well.

I just don’t see that partition would resolve the problems so much as bring them into sharp relief.
Written By: Jon Henke
Jon, you’re smarter than that. You really can’t think of oh, say, 13 examples of how people with different ideals can divide up territory and still be part of the same nation?

I ask you to imagine Iraq in three parts. The Great State of Shia, The Great State of Sunni, and The Great State of Shiite. Each with their governer. Any Iraqi is free to choose where to live within Iraq. If you’re Sunni and you married a Shia, you get to decide which half of your marriage compromises. As for the oil, and division of the proceeds from same, that’s a matter for the Iraq Feds. Partition need not mean division, necessarily.

Glasnost- Thanks for the historical correction - I didn’t actually know it was the Muslim’s choice to get the hell out of Dehli (to borrow a phrase).

RE: The Kashmir caveat - nobody imagines that there is a perfect solution for the Middle East. The realistic goal is a low level of simmering violence, rather than full on conflagration, with the idea being that maybe things can become stable enough and self governed enough for the minor flares to die down and people to start creating something worth protecting. Conservatism requires the possession of something worthy of conservation. Las Angeles is hardly a perfect peace, right? That’s the kind of low level simmering violence I’m talking about - something that can be (badly) managed by a civilian police.


Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Jon, you’re smarter than that. You really can’t think of oh, say, 13 examples of how people with different ideals can divide up territory and still be part of the same nation?
I can think of tolerable partitions. But I’m not the important data set. The relevant data set appears to be very determined not to accept those partitions — or rather, they appear very determined to achieve sectarian, rather than pluralistic ends.
Written By: Jon Henke
The Sunnis aren’t happy about partition, but they can live with it - could be forced and enticed to live with it with some marginal degree of oil-revenue-sharing - or even without. The Shias and Kurds are all for it. It’s the Americans who are dead set against it. As with amnesty and other parts of a real political solution, US concepts and PR perogatives are suffocating the natural outcomes to this conflict.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Firing Rumsfeld would be a start.
Written By: cllam
URL: http://
Interesting post. A few (the coffee-still-hasn’t-kicked-in) miscellaneous thoughts.

Please don’t blame the anti-war movement for how the war was conducted. This President has had unparalleled freedom to conduct the war in the manner he sought fit.

Apparently victory, for the author of this posts, consists of a "free and democratic" Iraq. Sounds good. But given the lack of security from the central government, communities are turning to their own hard men to stand up to the various thugs and rival clans running around. The Shia in the south are pro-Iranian and very devout. So women and secular men are losing their liberties (like walking unaccompanied, for the former, and drinking alcohol, for the latter) like sand running through an hourglass.

So how does the US get from here to there? Whom do we kill? It seems to me that an occupation is profoundly different from a hot war. I’ve been reading up on the US occupation of Germany post WWII, and Marshall made a huge commitment to restoring civilian government from the ground up and, when that wasn’t enough, launched the Marshall Plan. Iraq, instead, got the CPA.

Why is the next six months so critical? Why not two years? Or, giving the rate of intra-Iraqi violence, why isn’t it the case that the preceding six months were the critical ones, and we’ve lost the chance to get the kind of victory we wanted?
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Well why dont we keep doing what we are currently.

That is detain people and let em go after we fill the guys car with explosives, when he gets to a populated area explode it (of course we can also use the Iraqi force for that), we call it suicide bomb.

This way we can have a civil war.

By thw way the ongoing special death force tactic is good also, pretend to be locals and shoot em up and drill holes in the skull etc.(of course the stupid brtits got caught).

How about it killers, lets go, sign up here.
Written By: Killer
URL: http://
A three party confederation with oil revenue sharing. I’m convinced it is the only possible solution (not that it is without problems itself). I emphasize "possible" solution because there may well be no solution at this point, other than waiting for the civil war to burn out. I know its rhetoric is resolutely to the contrary, but I truly hope the Bush Adminstration is willing to change course. It should begin laying the groundwork now. And it can be done in a politcally palatable manner, too: just begin hinting that there are limits to American largesse and go from there.
Written By: David Shaughnessy
This is incredibly depressing to read, all of it.

I think that the only good to come of all of this is that basically the libertarian movement will be more clearly defined. People who truly believe in freedom will be moving out of the Republican party, leaving it to the so-called "pro-war, free-market" people in their alliance with the fundamentalists who basically deride free choice in every sphere except for the free market. These so-called freedom-lovers pass bills outlawing online gambling and imprisoning medical marijuana users, but none of you is ever heard to criticize Bush, because "we are at war."

When all of this shakes out, the Qando types will see a lost war, a semi-totalitarian state and a huge opportunity lost to truly attempt to shrink leviathan, but they were more interested in invading random muslim countries in the Mideast, instead of using limited political capital to actually limit government.
Written By: william
URL: http://
That’s an interesting suggestion David. As long as there is still some sort of confederate arrangement, countries like Turkey can be restrained.

But before we write the current arrangement off, I think we need to understand that the only question concerning Shi’ite and Sunni feuding or the several different phenomena often collectively referred to as "the insurgency" is this: do they emperil the sitting government? We "win" the reconstruction phase when the havoc created by insurgents and death squads is no longer sufficient to bring down the elected government. Any ultimate resolution to the ethnic strife in Iraq is up to the Iraqis, both practically and morally. Besides, even if it weren’t, resolving longstanding foreign ethnic disputes is a goal that has always been outside of the scope of projectable US power.

That’s when we win, and that’s when we get to leave.

Written By: Peter Jackson
Well said, Peter. -Gil
Written By: Gil
URL: http://

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