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Common Sense Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, October 26, 2006

Yeah, I'm on an Iraq jag.

The writer of this identifies himself as a "Sergeant" with the 4th ID working on a "human intelligence collection team". You need to read it if you haven't seen it already.

In an email discussion recently, concerning Iraq, I agreed that probably the most frustrating thing about this war is seeing things you think should be obvious and not understanding why others who could do something about it don't see it, and if they do, why they don't do what they should do. Let me say, as you begin to read, that i agree completely with his first sentence. I also agree with the vast majority of his points. Would that our current administration understood the realities there as this Sergeant apparently does.
I wrote heavily in favor of this war before I enlisted myself, and I still maintain that going into Iraq was not only the necessary thing to do, but the right thing to do as well.

There have been distinct failures of policy in Iraq. The vast majority of them fall under the category "failure to adapt." Basically U.S. policies have been several steps behind the changing conditions ever since we came into the country. I believe this is (in part) due to our plainly obvious desire to extricate ourselves from Iraq. I know President Bush is preaching "stay the course," but we came over here with a goal of handing over our battlespace to the Iraqis by the end of our tour here.

This breakneck pace with which we're trying to push the responsibility for governing and securing Iraq is irresponsible and suicidal. It's like throwing a brick on a house of cards and hoping it holds up. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)—a joint term referring to Iraqi army and Iraqi police—are so rife with corruption, insurgent sympathies and Shia militia members that they have zero effectiveness. Two Iraqi police brigades in Baghdad have been disbanded recently, and the general sentiment in our field is "Why stop there?" I can't tell you how many roadside bombs have been detonated against American forces within sight of ISF checkpoints. Faith in the Iraqi army is only slightly more justified than faith in the police—but even there, the problems of tribal loyalties, desertion, insufficient training, low morale and a failure to properly indoctrinate their soldiers results in a substandard, ineffective military. A lot of the problems are directly related to Arab culture, which traditionally doesn't see nepotism and graft as serious sins. Changing that is going to require a lot more than "benchmarks."

In Shia areas, the militias hold the real control of the city. They have infiltrated, co-opted or intimidated into submission the local police. They are expanding their territories, restricting freedom of movement for Sunnis, forcing mass migrations, spiking ethnic tensions, not to mention the murderous checkpoints, all while U.S. forces do . . . nothing.

For the first six months I was in country, sectarian violence was classified as an "Iraqi on Iraqi" crime. Division didn't want to hear about it. And, in a sense I can understand why. Because division realized that which the Iraqi people have come to realize: The American forces cannot protect them. We are too few in number and our mission is "stability and support." The problem is that there's nothing to give stability and support to. We hollowed out the Baathist regime, and we hastily set up this provisional government, thrusting political responsibility on a host of unknowns, each with his own political agenda, most funded by Iran, and we're seeing the results.

In Germany after World War II, we controlled our sector with approximately 500,000 troops, directly administering the area for 10 years while we rebuilt the country and rebuilt the social and political infrastructure needed to run it. In Iraq, we've got one-third that number of troops dealing with three times the population on a much faster timetable, and we're attempting to unify three distinct ethnic groups with no national interest and at least three outside influences (Saudi Arabian Wahhabists, Iranian mullahs and Syrian Baathists) each eagerly funding various groups in an attempt to see us fail. And we are.

If we continue on as is in Iraq, we will leave here (sooner or later) with a fractured state, a Rwanda-waiting-to-happen. "Stay the course" and refusing to admit that we're screwing things up is already killing a lot of people needlessly. Following through with such inane nonstrategy is going to be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of Sunnis.

We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.

If these three things are done, you can actually start the Iraqi economy again. Once people have a sense of security, they'll be able to leave their houses to go to work. Tell your American commanders that it's OK to pass up bad news—because part of the problem is that these issues are not reaching above the battalion or brigade level due to the can-do, make-it-happen culture indoctrinated into our U.S. officers. While the attitude is admirable, it also creates barriers to recognizing and dealing with on-the-ground realities.
The only problem with all of this is it is never going to happen. Raise your hand out there if you think it is politically viable to send 4 to 5 times more troops than are there now?

How many think, if we did, we could "start over", clamp down, disband the ISF and "do it right". No way.

The mission of "stability and support", given this soldier's view, is a bust, or will be, because we don't have enough troops and US political pressure is causing us shorten the time necessary even more. I talked about that yesterday, and while I think it is what we must do, given the political realities at home, I agree it's not the best for Iraq.

The Sergeants email isn't a sophisticated, word-smithed briefing paper version, or the opinion of some op/ed writing policy wonk (although in many cases it is superior to both). These are the words of a guy on the ground who sees what he sees and wishes it were otherwise. And given what he sees, he knows the drastic measures necessary to keep this whole venture from circling the drain.

Unfortunately, it won't, and can't, happen as he'd like it too.

There is no way we could ever "reassert direct administration". That train has left the station. We have what we have in that regard. And we're not going to be able to disarm the nation, that train too has left the station. That should have been done, as I've mentioned, in the beginning, immediately after the combat phase. We're certainly not going to see troop strength go up by 400,000 either.

So while I think the Sergeant probably has a good handle on the situation in general, his solutions, while most likely a good way to solve the problem, are simply not politically possible. And, unfortunately, that's what it has come down too.

Instead, we have to adapt our strategy in a different way that addresses that political reality. And while he feels turning over the responsibility for Iraq to the ISF and the government is suicidal, it is one of the few remaining options open to us right now. Better we see now how they fare while we're still there and can pull their fat out of the fire, than try it after '08 and risk the distinct possibility of being pulled out of Iraq should a Democratic administration take power. While the ISF may suffer significant casualties during the next 2 years, they will also learn the appropriate lessons, albeit in a hard and expensive way. You want pragmatism? That's pragmatism.

That's also the only way I see Iraq surviving. It won't be pretty, but it might give them a shot at a democratic future.

And that's a pity.

Because, you see, as the Sergeant notes in probably his most telling line, the policy for Iraq is no longer doing what it takes to make Iraq a success. Instead it is becoming doing just enough to call it a success and get our troops out of there. No, the new priority is leaving Iraq ... and the sooner the better. And it has an awful familiar ring to it.
 
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I think it’s safe to say at this point that neither the military nor civilians, conservatives or liberals believe that this administration is leading us in a competent manner. Regardless of who has the majority, congress is never going to approve setting up a draft for Mr. Bush, or Mr. McCain or Mr. Guiliani. Even the republicans don’t’ trust the republicans on foreign policy any more.

Congress might approve a draft if the request came from a democratic president. A conservative dem (like Hillery) would be worried about being perceived as weak. The republicans would vote to give her enough rope to hang herself.

Personally, I’d bet that she would not do it, but at least she could it if it was important.

 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
"A lot of the problems are directly related to Arab culture, which traditionally doesn’t see nepotism and graft as serious sins. Changing that is going to require a lot more than "benchmarks’
=====

WE CAN CHANGE THE CULTURE?
That’s a mind-boggling proposition, not too far removed from converting them to another religion.

And we can do this by pointing guns at them?

All we can do is demand receipts for our money.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
If Pelosi proposed a bill in which the US developed a constabulary force capable of fielding 400,000 troops indefinitely, but coupled that bill to a significant tax hike — reimpose the estate tax, create a new top bracket, increase the percentages in each existing bracket — how do the readers here vote?

I consider myself a mainstream Dem, and I’d pressure my party to vote for that bill in half a heartbeat.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
If Pelosi proposed a bill in which the US developed a constabulary force capable of fielding 400,000 troops indefinitely, but coupled that bill to a significant tax hike — reimpose the estate tax, create a new top bracket, increase the percentages in each existing bracket — how do the readers here vote?
No.

There’s no need for the taxes given the level of spending on defense as a % of GDP and the fact that defense is one of the only legitimate expenditures made by government.

If she would want to do that she can cut spending in other areas and defund other programs to meet the spending need.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The seargent noted that the insurgency is not entirely home grown
...at least three outside influences (Saudi Arabian Wahhabists, Iranian mullahs and Syrian Baathists) each eagerly funding various groups in an attempt to see us fail.
These countries are being allowed to operate with impunity, even a draft will not solve this problem. A draft was used in Vietnam to place an overwhelming force into S.Vietnam and it failled to win the conflict because strategy did not allow action against N.Vietnam. To allow a perfect outcome in Iraq a draft must be implemented AND punitive steps be taken against Saudi, Iran and Syria. This is definitely not going to happen.


I agree with McQ:
And while he feels turning over the responsibility for Iraq to the ISF and the government is suicidal, it is one of the few remaining options open to us right now. Better we see now how they fare while we’re still there and can pull their fat out of the fire, than try it after ’08 and risk the distinct possibility of being pulled out of Iraq should a Democratic administration take power. While the ISF may suffer significant casualties during the next 2 years, they will also learn the appropriate lessons, albeit in a hard and expensive way.
Providing operational control to the Shia run ISF with its known links to Shia irregular militia and Shia political parties will allow for a house clearing of the Sunni Wahabist and ex-Baathist elements in the disputed areas - this is the only politically viable way forward to a resolution. The major point of concern will be how the casualties the security forces inflict (which will be much higher than what they suffer) impacts on political support for the Iraqi cause in America, it is important that this strategy is actioned only after the mid-term elections.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
McQ,

Where are we going to make these cuts you speak of? Paying 400,000 police to work in Iraq isn’t going to come cheap. Figure an average of 200k a year per cop in total costs at a minimum. So $80,000,000,000 per year at least.

Where do we get 80 billion a year?

That post which, out of hand and without hesitation, wrote off the possibility of asking Americans to sacrifice a bit to win in Iraq really makes your commitment to the project suspect.

 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
That post which, out of hand and without hesitation, wrote off the possibility of asking Americans to sacrifice a bit to win in Iraq really makes your commitment to the project suspect.
Where?

Department of Education. Department of Energy. Department of Agriculture. Corporate subsidies.

Think you might find it defunding them and cutting crop and corporate subsidies?

Yeah, me too.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’m sorry McQ, but after months of going on about how victory in Iraq is imperative. That the entire fate of western civilization hinges on victory over the insurgents, this seems weak.

But then I guess you have a smidgen of Libertarian left in you after all.
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
There’s no need for the taxes given the level of spending on defense as a % of GDP and the fact that defense is one of the only legitimate expenditures made by government.

If she would want to do that she can cut spending in other areas and defund other programs to meet the spending need.


Sure, we can discontinue social security payments starting now, or immediately halt funding to the public school system. *That would make this plan politically feasible.

Defense spending - not even counting energy-classified stuff, code-black intel budgets, veterans spending, homeland security and **not even counting Iraq war costs**, is already closing on 500 bllion a year. 5% of GDP and 35% of total government spending is a conservative estimate.


So how about massive deficit spending? (Let’s put the price tag on this plan at.. oh.. let’s see.. increase total army size by a third.. benefits, combat pay, equipment.. 400 billion a year). Would you do it for $400 billion in deficit spending?

How about DoD pork? Future Combat Sytems? Would you kill that for a victory in Iraq?

Frankly, even believing that troop increases are just as likely to make things worse as they are better, and preferring a negotiated withdrawal (there’s probably some level of increase that would lower the violence, and smaller ones than that will probably uptick it), I’d prefer a troop increase to our current policy of just-enough-to-disrupt. And I might support a small tax increase, coming from a democrat I trusted.

I sure as h#ll wouldn’t support massive spending cuts, and neither would anyone else. I’ll say this in your favor, your priorities are at least consistent with your advice. So why am I irritated, then, I ask myself? Maybe because a lot of other wingers are clamoring for escalation, without confronting what the costs would be in any way.

The right is going to pretend that the 06 Democratic surrender-appeasement bloc *forced* them to give up on Iraq and soured the public with lies, but the fact is, the right isn’t really prepared to take the steps neccesary for the chimerical Mega-Happy ending, either. They’re glad to have someone to blame and let them off the hook.

But if Iraq is really the climactic battle for western civilization and the only way to avoid mass terrorist atrocities in the US, then by all means. Raise taxes. Defund the Department of Education. Add another 400K troops. Stand up to your own rhetoric and take the consequences.

unaha:

To allow a perfect outcome in Iraq a draft must be implemented AND punitive steps be taken against Saudi, Iran and Syria. This is definitely not going to happen

You’re right, but you’re also wrong. To control the insurgency, we’d need more than punitive action against these actors (we took plenty of punitive action against N. Vietnam). We’d need to apply such levels of force as to make it impossible to stop supporting the insurgency. We’d have to wipe out their governments or occupy their countries.

Obviously, this creates an additional set of problems that we aren’t prepared to solve. But a few bombing runs on these guys does not control the situation.

If the neighbors are against you, counter-insurgency changes from tough to almost masochistic.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Further to the above, the minor point of concern (wrt. backing a Shia government crackdown) is the impact supporting such action will have on morale of Allied forces. It will require the troops to virtually take a side (the Shia side) in a sectarian war.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Sure, we can discontinue social security payments starting now, or immediately halt funding to the public school system. *That would make this plan politically feasible.
Amen. The federal govt has no business in education in the first place.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
glasnost,

I can cut spending enough to do it in a heartbeat. By the way, I am also willing to see the military slow down its future combat systems, but the real changes could come from eliminating some of the very programs Rumsfeld has been trying to kill. He hasn’t been wrong about everything.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
WE CAN CHANGE THE CULTURE?
That’s a mind-boggling proposition, not too far removed from converting them to another religion.
A hundred and fifty years ago, slavery was legal and women were not allowed to vote. We changed the culture.

Not so long ago, Indian culture had living widows being thrown upon their husbands’ funeral pyres. The Brits changed that culture.

The discovery of oil and the cash that flows from it has changed Arab culture.

Cultures change all the time, some by external pressure, some by evolution.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
If the neighbors are against you, counter-insurgency changes from tough to almost masochistic.
Saddam was constantly dealing with insurgent forces that had outside support, and he didn’t do it with masochism. I believe he used sadism, actually.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
constantly dealing with

Does "constantly dealing with" indicate a particularly high level of success? Thanks for making my point.

(Of course, when the guerillas are on the territory of your own nation, you don’t have (arguably) a choice. )
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
the real changes could come from eliminating some of the very programs Rumsfeld has been trying to kill. He hasn’t been wrong about everything.

I don’t really know what he’s been trying to kill, but I wasn’t against realignment either. And it was, briefly, nice to see a Republican defense minister with absolute backing and cred do what a democrat one would find much harder: attack the defense pork.

But he’s mostly failed. There needs to be a much higher-profile movement.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I’m sorry McQ, but after months of going on about how victory in Iraq is imperative. That the entire fate of western civilization hinges on victory over the insurgents, this seems weak.
Yup, less government and less spending in areas which are not legitimate governmental functions always comes across as "weak" to those on the left.

I notice, however, you dodged the fact that it would easily pay for what Francis proposes.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Sure, we can discontinue social security payments starting now, or immediately halt funding to the public school system. *That would make this plan politically feasible.
Or we could cut agricultural and corporate subsidies and do it easily, right?

The fact that you folks are trying to force this into some sort of false choice which says "we’d have to raise taxes to win" says alot about the validity and credibility of the left’s new mantra of "less spending" and more "responsible government".

Wolf. Sheep’s clothing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Just for some fuel to the fire...

http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6860&Itemid=18
Caldwell noted that Iraqi Army units continue to take the lead in their areas of operations. On Tuesday in Ramadi, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, assumed responsibility in its area of operations. Now six of 10 Iraqi Army divisions, 30 of 36 Iraqi Army brigades, and 90 of 112 Iraqi Army battalions are in the lead, he said.

“We operate in support of them,” he said. “All across Iraq, we continue to see an increasingly capable Iraqi Security Force continuing to take the lead.”

Iraqi-led operations have been successful in rooting out terrorists and finding weapons caches, Caldwell said. From Oct. 14 to 25, Iraqi Security Forces with Coalition support conducted 26 missions against death squads, resulting in the capture of three death-squad cell leaders and 68 death-squad members, he said. Also, from Oct. 12 to 25, about 70 focused operations against al-Qaida in Iraq resulted in 18 terrorists killed and 219 suspected terrorists detained.

Iraqi Forces recently concluded an important operation, disrupting a terrorist operational hub southwest of Baghdad, Caldwell said. During Operation Commando Hunter, which began Oct. 2, they found more than 130 weapons caches, killed five terrorists, and captured 25 suspected terrorists. They also seized the abandoned Yusufiyah thermal power plant, which was known to be a staging area for terrorist attacks.

Operation Commando Hunter was yet another example of Iraqi Forces rooting out foreign influences and creating their own bases from which to attack terrorists, Caldwell said.

The level of violence in Baghdad has decreased sharply since the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Caldwell said. The violence is lowest in areas that Iraqi and Coalition Forces cleared, he noted.

There were recent violent incidents around Iraq, Caldwell acknowledged, but in every instance, Iraqi Security Forces responded quickly, calmed the situation and prevented the violence from spinning out of control.
How DARE we change their culture... it’s just not possible.

http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6804&Itemid=109
Graduations are always proud moments, and there was perhaps none prouder than when ten Iraqi soldiers of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, received certificates declaring them noncommissioned officers in here Oct. 14.

The battalion, known as the Desert Lions, works closely with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, training and conducting missions in the area.

...

Several of the graduates mentioned the stark differences between the army training they recently received and the way things were run in the past.

Now that service is not rewarded by the same corrupt methods as it was previously, Muhammed explained, there has been a change in the outlook, and Iraqi security personnel don’t want corrupt promotions – only pay commensurate with their service.

“Our soldiers now associate service with pay,” Muhammed said. “In our training, we have emphasized the nature of the work and their status (as soldiers). We are grateful to the U.S. and to the Army for helping reinforce the self-confidence of the soldiers and reinforcing all the ethics associated with military service.”
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
I will say this: I hear a lot of things I can’t repeat, and I think a lot of "analysis" we’re hearing is falling prey to what I like to call the Lancet Syndrome: i.e., treating Baghdad as though it were a representative sample of what is occurring nationwide.

Look at the fact that the vast majority of news stories are coming, not from embeds out patrolling with our troops (there are, in fact, only 11 of those) but from the padded backsides of reporters pouring their drinks into the potted palms at Hotel Baghdad - and yes, that was unbridled snark, but read Fumento’s piece - you must realize we’re not exactly getting a firsthand, unbiased, or necessarily an accurate view of events. Not to say it’s wholly false, but certainly skewed, and skewed dark.

What do I hear from some of our recently returned Marines? One thing: whole areas of Iraq that used to be infested with insurgents are now safe. Whole units of IA/IP that were essentially worthless a year ago have now stood up and these guys trusted them with their lives when they left.

To me, that speaks volumes. There is a huge pre-election piling on happening right now. Just as we need to be careful not to tune out bad news, we need to be careful that the bad news isn’t *all* we hear.

You know I agree with you on the political will front. I don’t know what to do when the polity are so feckless, but it seems there is little political cost in hanging on for dear life right now, except maybe losing in 2008 which many think is already a foregone conclusion. In which case why not go down fighting for what you believe is right? History will vindicate you, and the sheer amusement factor in being able to say to John Kerry, "Here...you want to fix it? Go right ahead - show us your plan" would make it all almost worth it.

But that was mean-spirited, wasn’t it? Heh...
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/
By the way, is that anything like a caffeine jag?
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/
Cassandra - I’ve been maintaining that the entire time since the Iraqi border was first crossed, and two weeks later we were in a "quagmire" due to a sandstorm.

I maintain that we are on the correct path, and if we see it through, we can declare the birthing process, complete, and successful. Now, sticking with a strategy, and changing tactics to meet new conditions, are 2 separate things.

http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson102406.html
What matters now is not so much what the war was or should have been, but only what it is — and whether we have learned from our mistakes and can still win. The answer to both questions is yes. We have the right strategy — birthing (through three elections already) an autonomous democracy; training an army subject to a civil government; and pledging support until it can protect its own constitutional government.

Few American officers are talking about perpetual occupation or even the need for more troops, but rather about the need for a lighter footprint, bolstered by teams of Special Forces and air support, to ensure Iraqi responsibility for their own future,. And the key to success — a diplomatic squeeze on the Sunnis to suppress terrorists in Nineveh and Anbar provinces in exchange for Shiite guarantees of more government inclusion — is now the acknowledged goal of both the Iraqi and American governments.

Thousands in Iraq accept that they have crossed the Rubicon, and they must either make their own democracy work or suffer a fate worse than that of the boat people and the butchered in Southeast Asia when the Americans left.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
You know I agree with you on the political will front. I don’t know what to do when the polity are so feckless, but it seems there is little political cost in hanging on for dear life right now, except maybe losing in 2008 which many think is already a foregone conclusion.
I think they will "hang on for dear life", or at least that’s Bush’s plan, and push the Iraqis into taking it all over before 2008. I don’t think, politically, there’s any real choice. Win, lose or draw in that race, they have to plan for a loss and abandoment of Iraq. So "push, push & push" have to be the three key concepts that guide our involvement in Iraq in the near-future.
By the way, is that anything like a caffeine jag?
Heh ... yeah, it’s what fuels "Iraq jags".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
sorry for not getting back sooner; been out the last couple of days.

as to winning in Iraq — what kind of government exists in those places that allegedly have little violence? what little information i’ve seen suggests that violence is diminishing in some places only because militias have seized total control.

on tax hikes: there are precisely four govt programs that cost real money: Interest; DoD; SS; Medicare/Medicaid (notably, of those only DOD is discretionary). The costs associated with raising about 1 million constabulary troops would be significant. If I remember what I read at Intel Dump, the cost associated with even lightly armed troops runs at least $100K per year minimum. 1,000,000 (need to raise about 2.5 troops for every soldier in country) x 100,000 = 100,000,000,000 or 100 billion.

that’s a LOT of money. see here. Defense and DHS together spent 900 billion in 2006, well over 1/2 of all discretionary spending. Education spending, which is mostly grants to low-income states, total 56 billion. Not many people, even among the left, believe that there is 100 billion in avoided corporate taxes. Most conservatives, in fact, believe that corporations should pay no taxes as to avoid double taxation.

There’s a larger point. The House of Representatives is the constitutional agency for authoring spending bills. If the Demcrats take the House, they get to decide how much money to spend on the War, and on other agencies. I’m surprised that an army vet, even a libertarian one, would fight against raising the troops needed to win in Iraq if it came at the price of increased taxation.

maybe that’s why the american people are showing the signs of wanting to elect Democrats to the House. They’re getting the sense that the current government’s commitment to win in Iraq is mostly rhetoric, and no longer sincere.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Or we could cut agricultural and corporate subsidies and do it easily, right?

The fact that you folks are trying to force this into some sort of false choice which says "we’d have to raise taxes to win" says alot about the validity and credibility of the left’s new mantra of "less spending" and more "responsible government".

Wolf. Sheep’s clothing.


I, personally, don’t advocate raising taxes to fund another 400,000 soldiers. I advocate withdrawal to Kurdistan, ending the anti-Sunni war, and cutting our targets in Iraq back to keeping Al-Quieda disrupted.

But you initially came off as flatly unwilling to raise taxes in order to win in Iraq. Since you’re advocating withdrawal as well, this isn’t a big deal, but if you were waxing about how withdrawal equals The Downfall of The West To Fanatic Islam, but ruled out tax increases to pay for it...
bluff. called.

Now it sounds like you’re just not convinced they would really be neccesary. Of course, not, if you discontinue social security. Can you raise enough money through cutting agricultural and corporate subsidies? I have no idea. I agree with those moves anyway. But you don’t even know how many troops it would take to get over the escalation curve and into forced stability - if you think you can be sure it could be done just by cutting agricultural subsidies, I for one am not at all sure, and you shouldn’t be. Francis’s $100 billion is a conservative estimate. Almost laughably so, for one million troops. I’d bump it by a factor of ten.

As for Victoria’s *it’s only baghdad* myth.. I was planning to email this to you, McQ. Here, I’ll post it instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/27/AR2006102700401_2.html


Of Iraq’s 18 provinces, Anbar is by far the deadliest for U.S. troops: About 1,022 service members have been killed there since the war began, compared with 733 in Baghdad and 281 in Salahuddin province north of the capital, according to the Web site iCasualties.org.

So far in October, not including the most recent American deaths, 35 U.S. troops have been killed in Anbar, 42 in Baghdad and seven in Salahuddin, accounting for 88 percent of the U.S. fatalities, according to the Web site.


So we can toss the "only Baghdad" scenario into the trash, right now, DOA. Not that there isn’t and can’t be plenty of carnage where US troops are not dying, but where US troops are dying in Baghdadi numbers, expect Baghdadi levels of violence.





 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
as to winning in Iraq — what kind of government exists in those places that allegedly have little violence? what little information i’ve seen suggests that violence is diminishing in some places only because militias have seized total control.
Don’t know. Ask the MSM. Supposedly they’re covering this war.
on tax hikes: there are precisely four govt programs that cost real money: Interest; DoD; SS; Medicare/Medicaid (notably, of those only DOD is discretionary).
And that’s the problem, since only DoD is a legitimate function of government.
If the Demcrats take the House, they get to decide how much money to spend on the War, and on other agencies. I’m surprised that an army vet, even a libertarian one, would fight against raising the troops needed to win in Iraq if it came at the price of increased taxation.
Well since what you’re advocating isn’t what I’m advocating I can’t understand why you’re suprised.

This is your hypothetical. I’m simply playing along for grins.
maybe that’s why the american people are showing the signs of wanting to elect Democrats to the House. They’re getting the sense that the current government’s commitment to win in Iraq is mostly rhetoric, and no longer sincere.
Is it? I’m guessing it may be because th current government recognizes the possible reality of ’08 and has finally recognized that they better do something quickly if they hope to have even a modicum of success in Iraq. Because worst case, with a Democrat win in ’08, few if any believe that Iraq won’t be abandoned.

It isn’t the current government’s commitment to win that’s the problem, it’s the possible future government’s lack of commitment which is.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I, personally, don’t advocate raising taxes to fund another 400,000 soldiers. I advocate withdrawal to Kurdistan, ending the anti-Sunni war, and cutting our targets in Iraq back to keeping Al-Quieda disrupted.
Well first of all, you don’t have to ... you just have to deploy the vast majority of what you already have.

And that’s why:
But you initially came off as flatly unwilling to raise taxes in order to win in Iraq. Since you’re advocating withdrawal as well, this isn’t a big deal, but if you were waxing about how withdrawal equals The Downfall of The West To Fanatic Islam, but ruled out tax increases to pay for it...
bluff. called.
Is nonsense.
Now it sounds like you’re just not convinced they would really be neccesary.
Yup .. this is Francis’s hypothetical not mine. I just answered his question.
So we can toss the "only Baghdad" scenario into the trash, right now, DOA. Not that there isn’t and can’t be plenty of carnage where US troops are not dying, but where US troops are dying in Baghdadi numbers, expect Baghdadi levels of violence.
Look at a map, ’nost. Those two provinces are near Baghdad ... at least where the fighting is going on. Anbar’s mostly deserted, except near Baghdad and Salahuddin just to the north of Baghdad (and borders on it).

That’s 2 to 3 provinces out of 18. What’s up in the other 16?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Does "constantly dealing with" indicate a particularly high level of success? Thanks for making my point.
Did the insurgents succeed? No. Saddam stayed in power until we removed him, even though that was how he was supposed to be toppled, partially by our design. He was far more successful than the insurgency ever was.

What point do you think that makes, ’nost? I think we’re making the point that you believe any thing other than the absolute elimination of your enemy is a failure. Which, of course, is just nuts.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Did the insurgents succeed? No. Saddam stayed in power until we removed him, even though that was how he was supposed to be toppled, partially by our design. He was far more successful than the insurgency ever was.

What point do you think that makes, ’nost?


Well, the first point is that "staying in power" is a pretty low bar for "functional governance". I think even people as far apart as you and myself would agree that S. Hussein’s governance methods sucked pretty hard. I mean, that was why you and Bush wanted to take him out, right?

But that’s not my primary point, either. My point was, if you care to remember what you originally commented on:

If the neighbors are against you, counter-insurgency changes from tough to almost masochistic.

And this is even more true when you’re an occupying power with zero basic legitimacy, trying to install a friendly regime in the teeth of an insurgency. Genuine success once the insurgency passes a certain horizon of momentum, in this set of circumstances, in almost unheard of. The occupier usually withdraws or cuts a deal. On the other hand, having some level of joint plan or coordinated effort with the neighbors usually enables the internal government to whittle the insurgency down.

Saddam was constantly dealing with insurgent forces that had outside support, and he didn’t do it with masochism. I believe he used sadism, actually.

Yeah, sadism is pretty much the only alternate option. And it sucks when judged by functional governance. It ruins the country in question. It’s morally indefensible in nine out of ten scenarios. And sometimes it still doesn’t work. And when it does "work", it often only "works" to the extent of "the insurgents never manage to seize the capital and put your head on a pike", rather than "working" in the sense of "the country becomes a responsible and modern political actor". Often "work" in this case means, "we don’t lose, but the country settles into stalemated factional conflict for a decade or longer".

Which was not the sticker price on this war.
That’s the point.

I think we’re making the point that you believe any thing other than the absolute elimination of your enemy is a failure.

I think absolute elimination of your enemy is also pretty freaking unrealistic, which is why "not leaving until the job is done" and even the idea of "victory" itself sets America up for an enormous bill of sunk costs into futile military "total victory" strategies with diminishing returns - while the idea of withdrawal is touted as *surrender* instead of simply recognizing our limited capabilities and not pouring more blood and money down the hole.

If our political leadership understood any of this, they would not have killed Maliki’s amnesty plan.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"The House of Representatives is the constitutional agency for authoring spending bills."

Where do you find that in the US Constitution? After rereading Article I, Section 7, the closest thing I can find is "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives...".
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
What kind of government exists in those places which "alledgedly" have little violence?

Check out Kurdistan. The crucial difference in the north is that they had a head start on the rest of Iraq. They were no less messed up to begin with - it simply took time to sort out their differences.

We are so myopic in the West with our instant gratification culture. If it can’t be solved within the time it takes to watch an episode of "24" we are willing to declare the situation a hopeless quagmire and take our balls home. The Iraqis deserve better. Our troops deserve better. Baker notably failed to even bother talking to the Kurds - the only ones who have been successful - he is formulating a ’plan’ for Iraq but couldn’t take the time to talk with the leader of one of the major ethnic groups. Perhaps someone can explain that one to me.
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/

 
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