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Hillary Clinton on Iraq
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, October 12, 2006

These excerpts in the NY Daily News are purported to be taken from a meeting Hillary Clinton had with the editorial board there. So we'll assume, for the sake of discussion, that is true and these are indeed her exact words.

Before she got into the 3 things she feels need to be done in Iraq, she said this:
Having been now on the Armed Services Committee for more than 3½ years, the uniformed military has tried to be respectful of the chain of command. They've been unwilling to contradict the secretary of defense when he said, "Well, nobody's asked me for more troops." I mean, it's just flat-out untrue. It's been untrue for years.
I note it not necessarily to dispute it, but to say I sure would like to see some evidence of it being "flat-out untrue". It may come down to different interpretations of what "more troops" means and the context in which they were requested, but I'd still like to understand her point.

Clinton proposes three ideas for dealing with the Iraq problem. As she notes:
We have to deal with the Iraq we have, not the Iraq we wish we had. And the Iraq we have is a deteriorating, violent conflict that, if not technically a civil war, is about as close as you can get.
Given that as her premise, we're given these as her solution. Point one:
First of all, the political process has stalled and gone backward. The government promised that they would deal with the constitutional issues, including the very serious concern about how to allocate oil resources. And they won't do it. They keep punting it.

I recommended in '03 — and this went all the way up to [Vice President] Cheney, who shot it down — I recommended, while we were in charge, to create an oil trust, where you would basically say to every Iraqi, "You know what, you have a stake in this. And you can get some payment out of the oil revenue."

I thought it would be something that could demonstrate clearly that we were not on the side of the oil companies, we were not on the side of the ruling elites — we were on the side of the Iraqi people.

Nothing like that has been done. The Sunnis will not quit fighting until they are assured they're going to get some share of the oil revenue. Otherwise, the South goes to Shiites, the North goes to Kurds, and these people who have dominated not just Iraq, but the region historically, will be shamed and will be rendered second-class citizens.
So it is all about oil? I'm being facetious, but I do not see this being all about sharing oil revenue. It's about power and representation. Certainly, in that context, oil plays a part and a revenue sharing plan or some sort of assurance to Sunnis that they'll get a piece of the oil pie is probably important enough to be incorporated. But if it were to pass tomorrow, it wouldn't stop the fighting. Lack of oil revenue isn't the only thing which will "shame" Sunnis and render them as "second-class citizens". Giving up the power they've traditionally had has them already feeling that way.

It is about incorporation within the new Iraqi state and assurances that Sunnis will enjoy at least equal power. That's a tough thing to sell a minority who was instrumental in insuring the majority in the last regime did not enjoy equal power.

But her policy is consistent with those who think if you throw enough money at something, it will indeed improve or take care of itself.

On to the second part of her three-part solution:
The second thing that needs to happen is an international public gathering of the parties in the region. Right now, we have sort of private conversations with all these different groups, with the exception of Iran and Syria. So we talk to the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Turks — but we're not bringing them to any kind of resolution about what they will publicly do and get them on record in a way that we can then bank on.

So there is no understanding. The Turks are massing troops because they're scared to death about the Kurds and the infiltration. We know what the Iranians are doing. The other Sunni countries are playing their double game. And we're basically sort of watching it.

Our failure to have even backdoor talks with Iran and Syria with respect to Iraq and everything else in the region is, I think, another in a long line of mistakes on the part of the Bush administration.
Well one of the reasons the Turks are "scared to death" is because certain Democrats keep talking about partitioning Iraq and creating an independent Kurdistan. That isn't "another in a long line of mistakes" from the administation.

But to her point. While we may facilitate such talks, it makes much more sense and would most likely be more effective if the Iraqis did what she is suggesting. I'm not sure what sort of diplomacy success we'd have in such talks, but I wouldn't be surprised if Iraq did have some success among the group of nations Clinton names in the Middle East.

I don't disagree with her idea, I'm just not sure I agree we should be doing it. Instead, perhaps, we should be facilitating it. However I do seem to remember reading about visits by various Iraqi ministers with their neighboring states. That would make it a "work in progress".

Third point:
The third thing is phased redeployment. The administration has this mantra: "We'll stand down when they stand up." Well, 350,000 of them have stood up — but standing up does not mean they will fight and defend anything.

The appropriate formula is, "We will stand down anyway, and you will fight to defend Iraq." Because they are basically able to just allow us to take the brunt of the impact.

There are certain groups of the Iraqis that will fight, but the vast majority of the 350,000 are not prepared to stand up and fight for Iraq. They might stand up and fight for their tribe or for their family or for their religious affiliation. And that's not going to change unless they have to face the reality that, guess what, we are going to start, what we call, in the Democratic alternative, a phased redeployment.

Now, that doesn't mean initially, out of Iraq. It could be just moving to the North, because I do think we have an extra obligation to the Kurds not to desert them once again. It could certainly mean just over the horizon in Kuwait. But what we've been doing is not working.
Some vast assumptions here. Perhaps the biggest is that the "vast majority" of the ISF is not prepared to stand up and fight for Iraq.

I'd like to see something other than assertion on that front. While I've certainly heard rumors to that effect about some of the force (and, given the competing loyalties in Iraq, it's only to be expected), but hardly anything which approaches Clinton's 'vast majority' claim.

Of course, the only way to test this is to indeed give them their head and let the ISF take over full control of their operations. But that runs into a reality which says "not quite yet".

In the face of that reality, Clinton still counsels a "phased redeployment" with us essentially putting our combat forces "over the horizon" in Kuwait and among the Kurds in the North.

If you think Turkey is massing troops now, move the preponderance of your forces up near the border in the north of Iraq and see what happens. While I appreciate her point about the Kurds, I don't think making Kurdistan redeployment central is a particularly good idea (that's not to say that putting a brigade up there wouldn't be an appropriate signal to the Kurds saying "we're with you" as well as being non-threatening to the Turks).

Redeployment is appropriate when we've turned over the majority of Iraq to the Iraqis and are ready to assume the "fire brigade" role. That doesn't mean some troops can't come out before then, but it appears, at least for the immediate future, most will stay.

Having presented her three points, let's review the Clinton plan:

A) promise them money

B) talk to their neighbors

C) get out of there as quickly as we can

Hmmm ... I swear I've heard that before.
 
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A) promise them money

B) talk to their neighbors

C) get out of there as quickly as we can
Way to boil it down McQ :)
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
A) One wonders what she thinks people fought about before the invention of the internal combustion engine.
B) Perhaps we/they are. It is conceivable to me that she is not included in every briefing or conversation.

C) I think everyone agrees on this; the only difference being what the definition of "as quickly as we can" is.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I think the first idea about creating an oil trust is a very good idea. I’m not sure that it is as big of a cause of conflict as Hilary makes it out to be, but I do think it would be a good idea to implement.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
I think the first idea about creating an oil trust is a very good idea. I’m not sure that it is as big of a cause of conflict as Hilary makes it out to be, but I do think it would be a good idea to implement.
Yeah, as I noted, fine, do it. But let’s not pretend that once done the fighting will stop (or even cool down). Well, unless you think that is what they’re fighting over (and I’m not saying you do, Chris, it’s a rhetorical "you").
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net

A) promise them money

B) talk to their neighbors

C) get out of there as quickly as we can

Hmmm ... I swear I’ve heard that before.


Yeah, perhaps you have... maybe in every indepedent conflict-resolution plan ever implemented?

The one she’s critically missing, of course, is:

D: "negotiate a general cease-fire with every group in Iraq interested in having one with us, and use that offer as leverage to insist on a similar cease-fire for everyone vis-a-vis everyone else."

You can’t have the cease-fire without announcing a firm commitment to withdrawal, because that’s what the Sunni holdouts are holding out for. But without the cease-fire, the plan looks a lot different.\

As I’ve said before, you’ll never get people to stop shooting at either you, or each other, without an equivalent offer of you to stop shooting at them. The Bush Admin will not make that offer, and may be ideologically incapable of it.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
A) promise them money

B) talk to their neighbors

C) get out of there as quickly as we can
If I remember correctly, (A) and (C) were the original Rumsfeld post-invasion plan. I guess it wasn’t that bad of a plan after all.
 
Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
A) promise them money
She is providing them with ownership stake on the basis that this will encourage them to take responsibility for maximising their personal return. That does sound kinda familiar, like there is some theory that suggests ownership encourages rational action.
But her policy is consistent with those who think if you throw enough money at something, it will indeed improve or take care of itself.
As opposed to prefering the state to have direct control of all revenue, with government distributing it fairly. Perhaps now is the correct time to admit that you trust the state to look after all social security payments as part of a consolidated fund, knowing that your equal power in the state will ensure the politicians spend wisely. Or perhaps not.
But let’s not pretend that once done the fighting will stop (or even cool down). Well, unless you think that is what they’re fighting over
They are fighting over a religious schism that occured 1400 years ago, solving this schism would require direct divine intervention. What is required is a reason for them to stop fighting now - the tools available are fear, greed, compassion or a secular belief. Fear’s out because you are American, your preferred secular belief in egalitarian democracy is much weaker than their belief in clan loyalty, compassion is a hard thing to capture - so the best remaining option is appealing to their greed. I’d say give this a shot.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
The oil trust idea is an excellent one that I have supported for years now.

Is suspect the re-deployment plan is just a bone to the left wing of her party. But at least she is saying re-deploy within Iraq and not to Okinawa.

Personally, I think Hillary will be president in 2008 and will be a fairly moderate person - no worse than Bush is, perhaps better.

My Democrat friends hate her though.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
McQ’s synthesis and the comments are very interesting. I add only this: Hillary’s highest priority is getting elected. Some cynics might say, based on Clinton family history, that at this point, her only priority is getting elected. If and when she gets elected, she is likely to choose a different tact. Thus, I interpret her current "plan" as more "campaign talking points" than what she actually would attempt to do as President. But, I give her "A" for effort. In this bit, she is actually proposing what she is in favor of, with rather broad, intended to not be controversial, strokes, rather than harping on what she is against.
 
Written By: Vox Clams
URL: http://
I recommended in ’03 - and this went all the way up to [Vice President] Cheney, who shot it down - I recommended, while we were in charge, to create an oil trust, where you would basically say to every Iraqi, "You know what, you have a stake in this. And you can get some payment out of the oil revenue."
Wait a minute. The Democrats say this war was about the oil. Now she’s saying we should have taken over control of the oil money, but didn’t. Fortunately for her, members of the military do not have complete freedom of speech or people would know how the we really feel about her and her party.
Anyway, all good ideas, but the more directly we are involved in A) an B), the less respect those measures will get from the region.
As far as Hillary being a moderate, she has been doing nothing but run for president for decades now. There is no evidence of how she actually feels on any issue, because everything she’s done is whatever she felt would get the most votes in the long run. All we know is that she’s been willing to overlook crimes committed along the way by eher husband and staff without more than a moderate reaction.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://

Yeah, perhaps you have... maybe in every indepedent conflict-resolution plan ever implemented?
Like the Marshall Plan, right? I’m sure we’ll be getting out of there any day now...
As I’ve said before, you’ll never get people to stop shooting at either you, or each other, without an equivalent offer of you to stop shooting at them. The Bush Admin will not make that offer, and may be ideologically incapable of it.
If we refused to refrain from shooting at them, the Lancet study would be accurate and Fallujah would be consigned to history.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
If we refused to refrain from shooting at them, the Lancet study would be accurate and Fallujah

So there aren’t any americans shooting at any Iraqis right now, Pablo? Is that your assertion?
If not, then I’m not sure what strawman you think you’re arguing against.

the Lancet study would be accurate

It’s probably accurate. At the very least, like every situation where there are no credible competing evidence, the methodology is the same used for similar situations over recent decades, and the results were reviewed and commissioned by professionals and experts in their field, they should be given the benefit of the doubt, absent specific evidence of fraud. "But he doesn’t like Bush" is not evidence of fraud.

If you’re sitting on the smoking gun proving that those researchers just made up imaginary people, or used imaginary numbers in their calculations, by all means, let me know.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
It’s probably accurate.
So you accept, without evidence, that at a minimum, 500 Iraqis a day have died of violence in Iraq since March of ’03?

Because that’s what it takes every day, day in, day out, to support those numbers.

And, btw, if you read the report, Lancet says those surveyed produced government documents to back their claim (of the deaths).

Yet no one has said the government has documented what they claim (i.e. the numbers). Seems if they’re providing documents, the numbers would be easily supported by government records. But they’re not.

You don’t find that strange?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
So you accept, without evidence, that at a minimum, 500 Iraqis a day have died of violence in Iraq since March of ’03?

Well, my offhand calculations suggest that the lower bound of the survey would only require 333 Iraqi deaths a day. Is that a shocking number? Yes, it shocks me, even surprises what you might call my gut instinct. Would it be the first time that a political reality uncovered by science is shocking to an average US citizen relying on MSM and blogs? Not at all.

Not only that, but the MSM generalized picture and this study back itself up. Is what we have in Iraq close to a complete anarchic breakdown in society a la Beirut? Outside some of the Kurdish sections, it seems close to it. Is 333 Iraqi deaths a day among a population of 24 million enveloped in generalized violence unsustainable? Not historically, it ain’t. What would it take - one casualty per incident and 350 incidents a day? How many attacks has the US military suffered per day, all by itself? 100 a day? It seems less than impossible. And if you imagine two casualties per incident average, it seems almost a guarantee. Do insurgents, death squads and criminal gangs take a lot of days off?

And, btw, if you read the report, Lancet says those surveyed produced government documents to back their claim (of the deaths).

Yet no one has said the government has documented what they claim (i.e. the numbers). Seems if they’re providing documents, the numbers would be easily supported by government records. But they’re not.

You don’t find that strange?


I’ve read the report. Thanks to having read the report, I have this paragraph:

This process has continued through the current conflict, with death certificates being required for burial, and with information from certificates being duly recorded. However, the tabulation of data from registration of deaths in Iraq has suffered from the chaos of the current conflict. Beyond this, there is also a suspicion that records of death,

particularly related to violent deaths, is being manipulated and only partially being released for various political reasons. Even with the death certificate system, only about one-third of deaths were captured by the government’s surveillance system in the years before the current war, according to informed sources in Iraq. At a death rate of 5/1000/year, in a population of 24 million, the government should have reported 120,000 deaths annually. In 2002, the government documented less than 40,000 from all sources. The ministry’s numbers are not likely to be more complete or accurate today.

I find both the political manipulation argument - even the MSM has caught the Iraqi government changing its story on violent events quite often, not surprising since said government is creating or linked to said events quite often, and the genuine chaos argument, both to be reasonable and compelling.

Two more thoughts to add onto those:

#1. The certificate issuance is local, and the death counts are offered by the Baghdad-bound ministry of health. There’s one million and one ways for the local s’ information to never quite make it to Baghdad, and/or survive after it gets there.

#2: Just because they saw certificates in 87% of cases doesn’t mean that those certficates were given out by an official ministry. Death certificates are useful in Iraq, I’ve read. They provide you with potential survivor benefits.There’s a booming market for fake documents in Iraq, that I have heard from tens of anecdotal MSM reports.

I’ll grant you that it’s interesting that all those certificates aren’t adding to a number in Baghdad, but I think that says something mostly about various people in Baghdad stepping on various disparate chunks of bad-looking info and create a larger picture of mud.

I know with close to certainty that IraqBodyCount’s 50K number is short by a large multiple - common sense and historical comparisons. The survey is the first serious, scientific attempt to figure out the number in the shadows. The methodology is sound and the data reviewed by professionals. It’s very not any form of crude political hack job. It’s possible - by no means demonstrated, but speculatively possible - that the cluster selection, being only about 400 clusters, contained a geographical imbalances that skewed the numbers upward.
But it’s very plausible that the report is right. If someone wants to come up with another sampling study of Iraqi civilians and it produces a lower number, say #200 - 400K, I wouldn’t blow that report off either. But this is the first study to even give the question a serious try. It’s far from being an obvious hack, so it stands until someone else bothers to take up the question. Until now, no one’s cared.






 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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