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What are the "positives" of an immediate Iraq withdrawal?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, May 25, 2007

Given the final outcome of the Iraq supplemental bill, the left is engaged in some introspection. Kevin Drum:
Like a lot of people, I've been mulling over the Iraq showdown between Congress and the president and wondering why Democrats backed down so quickly. The simple answer, of course, is that they didn't have enough votes to pass the bill they wanted. As excuses go, however, that's pretty unconvincing: veto-proof majorities are extremely rare, after all. Rather, the real reason is that Dems were convinced that if things came to an impasse and war funding was cut off, they're the ones who would get the blame.
And not only that, by giving Bush what he wanted, they can avoid responsibility. That was best expressed by freshman Congressman Hank Johnson of GA (he took Cynthia McKinney's seat):
"The passage of this legislation is a big loss for the American people and I could not support it. ...The president must now take full ownership of his war and all of the casualties that result. This time, he can't blame Congress for holding out."
Of course the Netroots is in full screaming hissy fit mode and isn't buying any of that.

But back to the point: conventional wisdom says the President has the advantage in those sorts of showdowns and Drum recalls the Gingrich/Clinton confrontation of years past when Republicans ended up getting blamed for shutting down government and eventually relented. Drum sees that as a plausible explanation for why Democrats capitulated on funding the bill and Johnson expresses that view.

However, more importantly, Drum hits on what may be the true reason they finally capitulated, and it is something Dale has been hitting at for two days with his "Questions for our Liberal friends" posts.

You see, as much as the left likes to criticize the Bush administration for not having a plan for post-invasion Iraq, the Democrats have no idea what will likely happen in a post-withdrawal Iraq and how that will effect that nation, the region and the US.
Drum believes that the conventional wisdom may be wrong and that people will support one side or the other on the merits of the argument. He further states that it seems pretty clear, in his opinion, that the majority of Americans are on the side of the Democrats in this case (although, as I've said in the past, I'm not so sure the numbers for getting out are as solid as the Democrats would like to believe).

But here's the key problem the Democrats face, and I again reference Dale's questions as proof of that:
However, I suspect it depends on Democrats making a positive case for withdrawal. Not just that the war is unwinnable, or that it's costing too many lives — both of which seem merely defeatist to a lot of people — but that America will be actively better off by getting out of Iraq. I admit that's a tough case to make, since we liberals have been less than totally candid about acknowledging the almost certain chaos and bloodshed that will follow an American departure. With that in mind, Democrats likely fear that if we forced a withdrawal we'd spend all of 2008 on the defensive as Republicans insisted that Dems were to blame for the ongoing civil war in Iraq. The public, not having been prepared for this, might agree.
Dale has been attempting to draw an answer from those among the left who champion withdrawal, as to what the result be and is that result a positive one in terms of Iraq, the region and the US's interests. You see, as much as the left likes to criticize the Bush administration for not having a plan for post-invasion Iraq, the Democrats have no idea what will likely happen in a post-withdrawal Iraq and how that will effect that nation, the region and the US.

To date, not a single one can answer that question in a manner which anyone would deem positive, and those that do attempt to put a positive spin on their scenario end up with scenarios which aren't particularly plausible.

So, again, in attempt to focus the debate before the dialog gets side-tracked and dissipated into a thousand tiny mini-arguments, how do Democrats convince the American people that what they want is a positive in terms of outcome for Iraq, the region and US interests?

It is that case which has to be made, if, as Drum suspects, support of the public is contingent on the merit of the argument.

[Drum, btw, ends up blowing off his point by saying "conviction" will do and the American people will follow, which undermines his "merit" argument completely and, in reality, doesn't seem to have much of a basis in fact. If conviction was all it took to get the public to follow, the proposed immigration bill would be meeting little public opposition, wouldn't it?]
 
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They don’t need a positive reason for leaving Iraq. Their (majority dems) opposition to the war is not because we shouldn’t be there or imperialism or any of that (sorry nutroots and scott). It’s because it is the best avenue to gain political power (ie presidency and dem majority circa 1970) they could care less about winning or loosing the war or Iraq. Their motives are purely selfish. Maybe people will wise up to that dems care more about there pet projects (FDR) and ideology than the country itself.
 
Written By: coater
URL: http://
the positive case for withdrawal:

1. Iraqis get to build their own future.
2. The jihadis lose a major recruiting tool.
3. The US stops fighting FOR Iran.

note: I still think that the most important event coming up is the long-delayed referendum on Kurdish independence and whether Kurdish leaders and the peshmerga are ready to roll the dice on a declaration of independent statehood.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
It is a two part question, Francis.

Part I:
the positive case for withdrawal:

1. Iraqis get to build their own future.
2. The jihadis lose a major recruiting tool.
3. The US stops fighting FOR Iran.
Part II:
... what will likely happen in a post-withdrawal Iraq and how that will effect that nation, the region and the US?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
They don’t need a positive reason for leaving Iraq. Their (majority dems) opposition to the war is not because we shouldn’t be there or imperialism or any of that (sorry nutroots and scott). It’s because it is the best avenue to gain political power (ie presidency and dem majority circa 1970) they could care less about winning or loosing the war or Iraq. Their motives are purely selfish. Maybe people will wise up to that dems care more about there pet projects (FDR) and ideology than the country itself.
You call this reason? All you are doing is inventing a motive and then attacking it.

Ironically, the motive you are inventing is that the Democrats are inventing a motive of the President and attacking it.

My view is that motivation is irrelevant, George Bush could have completely malevolent motivations, but if it stirred him to make the right calls, fine. On the other hand, and this is more relevant, if he had completely honorable motivations, but it lead him to wrong decisions, then he still screwed up.

Attacking positions on Iraq is moving target, every position you can imagine is taken by someone (or many) in power, across ideological and party lines. There is however one consistent thread, that being that whether you supported the war or not, the administration bungled the execution so badly that whether it was ever possible to achieve a satisfactory outcome, that possibility may have slipped away in the bungling.

The question is, how many times do his supporters want to allow him to be wrong before saying no mas. For myself, and apparently a majority of the American people, we have long since past that time. We simply do not trust him anymore.

Do Democrats capitalize on the politics of this? Of course, that’s politics. But do the politics of it negate the underlying principle that we do not believe that George Bush has the ability to start making good decisions now.

Perhaps it is true, to paraphrase Rummy, that we are at war under the CinC we have, not the CinC we wish we had, and perhaps too, it is true that Democrats (with all their positions) don’t have a plan that will certainly achieve a good outcome, but I think the overwhelming position is a philosophy of "first do no more harm".

If we redeployed the majority of our troops outside of the hot zones in Iraq and responded to events and intelligence with incursions, we could certainly limit the American costs. We would have to wait and see what effect this has on the Iraqi costs. But I suspect that the current government will forever be seen by a significant number of Iraqi’s as the "American Puppet Government", whether that is true or not, and will thus will be the object of rebellion until it either falls or it has eliminated the rebellion in a bloody crush. I also suspect that this is the path that will be taken whether we are there or not, the only difference being whether we assist in the crush, or delay it.

The complexities have become beyond our ability to manage, and whether we "won" the Iraq War will ultimately be decided by the Iraqi people through their actions.

There are elements of honest debate between Dale and Oliver, and that is more than I have seen in a long time and I applaud them. I also suspect that if they broke down their assessments to the most basic level and how mush engagement Oliver was willing to tolerate and how little engagement Dale was willing to tolerate, they would not be very far apart, all philosophical and ideological differences aside.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
McQ:

the future is not fixed. There could be a three-way civil war between Sunni, Shia and military. (See Algeria, Turkey.) There could be an utter collapse into factionalism. (See Somalia.) The Shia-led government could ask Iran for assistance. (See Lebanon, Northern Ireland.) China has been acquiring interests in energy around the world. They could provide advisors to the Shia, especially in the south, to secure the oilfields. Or Iraqis could decide that without a huge spigot of american dollars flowing in every day that it’s time to make a deal with each other.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
the future is not fixed.
No one said it was. But plans have to made based on "strategic probabilities".

So what I’m asking you is what you think the strategic probabilities are in terms of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

What would such a withdrawal most likely cause for Iraq? For the region? For US national security?

What would al Qaeda most likely do?

Unless you can answer those questions in a reasonable fashion, then I have to conclude you haven’t any idea. If you do have an idea of what is most likely to happen, I’d like to hear it and I’d like to know if you consider what you feel will happen to be a positive outcome and if so how it will positively effect Iraq, the region and US national security.

If you can do that, then you have something to sell.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Francis, I note in your not fixed future, "that Iraqis get to build their own future.", mostly becomes a civil war with foreign intervention. Only one of your possibilities is good...so you’re saying that Iraq is doomed and we should just step aside, then?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The idea that things could go bad in Iraq is not enough to continue a failed policy. The situation has deteriorated constantly since May 2003, and there is little reason to think that things will get better with current policiy — quite the contrary (due to reasons I describe on my May 23 blog and what I’ve written on other comment pages concerning corruption, sectarianism and political culure — this isn’t a war it’s a social engineering experience).

All we can do is try to create conditions where Iraqis can get help. The best strategy: announce withdrawal, have Iraq ask the UN Security Council for a chapter 7 mission to help stabilize the country and prevent sectarian war, and then have the Security Council work out a peace keeping mission that has legitimacy in Iraq and the Muslim world. The US could participate, but given the past four years, that would probably do more harm than good. One can’t guarantee it’ll work, but it’s better than the policy we have.

Also: don’t forget the lesson - intervening in a country leads to unintended consequences and disadvantages, even with total military victory as we achieved against Saddam’s Iraq. That should keep us from doing this kind of thing again.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Jesus God...

Since the current policy is giving us "Things are getting better", why would you roll the dice on "things might be ok if we leave" when your odds are pretty bad compared to your chances at "bloodbath we would have been able to prevent had we been there"??

You really ARE dense, aren’t you...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Also: don’t forget the lesson - intervening in a country leads to unintended consequences and disadvantages, even with total military victory as we achieved against Saddam’s Iraq. That should keep us from doing this kind of thing again.

1) Man I’m glad that FDR/Truman never read that...
2) This is the CORE of the Erb argument, we can NOT be winning because we must NOT win. IF we win, then Erb’s little UN-centric Universe is put at risk.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Dale has been attempting to draw an answer from those among the left who champion withdrawal, as to what the result be and is that result a positive one in terms of Iraq, the region and the US’s interests. You see, as much as the left likes to criticize the Bush administration for not having a plan for post-invasion Iraq, the Democrats have no idea what will likely happen in a post-withdrawal Iraq and how that will effect that nation, the region and the US.

To date, not a single one can answer that question in a manner which anyone would deem positive


In the interests of fairness, Dale asked a question on his blog and got answers from Oliver Willis and a few commentors. It’s not as if the message was played on the major evening news networks. I don’t think you can use the results as dispositive.

I think leaving Iraq - or, to be specific, withdrawing to Kurdistan, limiting the mission to international terror, and ceasing to attempt to exercise influence and political control on the choices of the Iraqi government - is a net benefit for the GWOT, but I guess I’m lumped into the "not particularly plausible" column. Well, I’m not sure that you’re a good marker for the ’average american opinion’.

I do agree that the positive case for withdrawal is not getting a lot of volume. I’ll even agree that some parts of that case are highly uncertain. The positive case for staying is being sold a lot harder, but non-conservative-insiders don’t seem to be buying it. Perhaps positive cases are riskier than warning of drastic consequences, to staying or going.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Dale has been attempting to draw an answer from those among the left who champion withdrawal, as to what the result be and is that result a positive one in terms of Iraq, the region and the US’s interests. You see, as much as the left likes to criticize the Bush administration for not having a plan for post-invasion Iraq, the Democrats have no idea what will likely happen in a post-withdrawal Iraq and how that will effect that nation, the region and the US.

To date, not a single one can answer that question in a manner which anyone would deem positive
In the interests of fairness, Dale asked a question on his blog and got answers from Oliver Willis and a few commentors. It’s not as if the message was played on the major evening news networks. I don’t think you can use the results as dispositive.
I think I can, ’nost, since it is Oliver and those commenters who eagerly jumped on the opportunity to put forward their thoughts on the first set of questions. To this point it is clearly obvious that none have answered since with anything that could be deemed positive in terms of an outcome as a result of our immediate withdrawal.
I think leaving Iraq - or, to be specific, withdrawing to Kurdistan, limiting the mission to international terror, and ceasing to attempt to exercise influence and political control on the choices of the Iraqi government - is a net benefit for the GWOT, but I guess I’m lumped into the "not particularly plausible" column. Well, I’m not sure that you’re a good marker for the ’average american opinion’.
Nice dodge, ’nost. What I am or am not really isn’t relative to the question you seem to be doing your best to avoid.

If we withdraw what net positive effect will it have for Iraq, the region and US national security?

And don’t forget AQ. What will they do?

No grand generalities ... specifics please.
I do agree that the positive case for withdrawal is not getting a lot of volume. I’ll even agree that some parts of that case are highly uncertain. The positive case for staying is being sold a lot harder, but non-conservative-insiders don’t seem to be buying it. Perhaps positive cases are riskier than warning of drastic consequences, to staying or going.
Heh ... "not getting a lot of volume"? It isn’t being made, period. And after all of this, you’ve not contributed one iota to it being made either.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Now this is my idea of losing!
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Of course another positive of pulling out now will be the plethora of "Iraqi Boat-People" stories in the future, and many articles about the chaos in region and it’s effect on oil prices, and finally some wonderfu moivies a la Platoon for future generations to watch....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The positive is: We leave Iraq, which implodes into genocide and comes under the boot of Syria and Ira, which leads to more terrorists attacks on the US, which are then blamed on Bush for retreating for Iraq.

Bush gets blamed, again. For listening to the Democrats.

 
Written By: Tog
URL: http://
Since the current policy is giving us "Things are getting better",
No, things are not getting better. They are getting worse. If the US goes into one area, insurgent activity simply picks up somewhere else.

And Joe, there is a difference between fighting a war against a foe that invades like Japan, or conquers a continent like Germany, and trying to socially engineer an Iraq to end their internal sectarian violence. To try to equate the two shows the utter absurdity that some pro-war types are going to avoid admitting the obvious: this policy is a failure, opposition at home is at an all time high, violence in Iraq is as bad as ever, and it is weakening the US in a variety of levels, especially in overstretching the military and limiting options elsewhere, particularly Afghanistan.

Leaving Iraq is a necessity out of national interest, and staying there does nothing to give the Iraqis a better chance for their future — indeed, our involvement has only made it more difficult for them; every month we stay the worse it gets for national security and for the Iraqis.

I am utterly amazed at how some people are unable to recognize the obvious. Four years of shifting rationales, new strategies, and new Generals. Four years of mounting costs and bodies. Four years America has been weakened on the world stage and divided at home. Four years without effective counter terrorism due to a war that serves no real purpose and only weakens us.

This will end. I guarantee it. You guys will then have to turn to a "stab in the back" legend to avoid admitting you were wrong.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The positive result I think would be most likely is the 15 minutes of blessed silence while the Dem.’s turn to a new page in their hymnal and start squalling about some other heinous crime being committed by Bush.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
ya know, i think that the burden of proof, especially on a libertarian blog, would lie on the shoulders of those advocating for ongoing expenditures of blood and treasure.

so until you can tell me what we are fighting FOR, i don’t think i have any reason to want to bring our troops home other than saving lives and money.

and since it appears that what we are fighting FOR is a stronger Iran I think that the case for withdrawal is made on those grounds alone.

that said, i’m pretty confident that the withdrawal side can make an affirmative case that withdrawal is in our national interest.

1. The fact that AQ still cannot field a single sniper team in the US by now is pretty conclusive evidence that there is much less there than we were told.

2. The only people in Iraq who believe that the US is a liberator, not an occupier, are those getting rich by the occupation. And since forever people have hated being occupied. If China invaded the US because the US failed to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, I’d go find someone who could teach me how to fight and I’d fight. Once they left, I’d put down the gun and return to resolving water disputes. The same is doubtlessly true in Iraq — the people who are attacking Americans do so because they want Americans to go away.

3. Having a strategy of doing the opposite of what AQ says is beyond wrong, it’s stupid. We must not allow a bunch of stateless punks to define our national interest!

4. Imperial overstretch is a legitimate concern. The DOD budget is $500 billion annually. Costs hidden in other departments, like VA, DOE, and Treasury, likely add about another $500 billion annually. $1 trillion per year is a staggering burden and yet that number will have to rise significantly in order to pay for the equipment and bodies broken in this war.

5. Reagan bombed Qaddafhi; Bush II sent relatively small numbers of troops to Afghanistan. We can conduct an effective anti-terrorist foreign policy without massive invasions of foreign countries. In fact, the evidence suggests that stationing large numbers of troops in Muslim countries is counterproductive.

6. Once again, just because someone who purports to be in AQ says that the US should be out of Saudi Arabia, or Eygpt, or Iraq, doesn’t make it a bad idea. We need to weigh the benefits of a stable oil supply against the harm caused by exacerbating Muslim extremism.

7. Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and getting North Korea to give them up is going to require substantial cooperation from Russia, China and the EU. Our occupation of Iraq, and the effect of that occupation on worldwide Islamic fundamentalism is, I believe, interfering with our ability to get that cooperation. Getting the nuclear genie back in the bottle is the most important issue for US security.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
ya know, i think that the burden of proof, especially on a libertarian blog, would lie on the shoulders of those advocating for ongoing expenditures of blood and treasure.

so until you can tell me what we are fighting FOR, i don’t think i have any reason to want to bring our troops home other than saving lives and money.
Oh please. Unless you began reading this blog today, you know that question has been answered any number of times. A pretty poor dodge, Francis.
1. The fact that AQ still cannot field a single sniper team in the US by now is pretty conclusive evidence that there is much less there than we were told.
Really? The fact that they can field a hundred in Iraq means they’ll stay right there if we leave, right? What an absurd formulation.
2. The only people in Iraq who believe that the US is a liberator, not an occupier, are those getting rich by the occupation. And since forever people have hated being occupied.
And that has what to do with the nation of Iraq, the region and US national security if we withdraw immediately?
3. Having a strategy of doing the opposite of what AQ says is beyond wrong, it’s stupid. We must not allow a bunch of stateless punks to define our national interest!
If that were true I’d agree, but since that’s not the strategy I’ll have to conclude you haven’t a clue about what you’re saying.
4. Imperial overstretch is a legitimate concern. The DOD budget is $500 billion annually. Costs hidden in other departments, like VA, DOE, and Treasury, likely add about another $500 billion annually. $1 trillion per year is a staggering burden and yet that number will have to rise significantly in order to pay for the equipment and bodies broken in this war.
You tell me Francis, and this is a straight "either or question", would you rather continue to fight a low-grade insurgency or come back and find yourself in the middle of a regional war?

Now if you understand the question, then you can easily put forward a plausible scenario which would see a regional war as a result of our withdrawal. If you don’t know how or why that would probably happen, then perhaps you need to quit this thread and read up.
5. Reagan bombed Qaddafhi; Bush II sent relatively small numbers of troops to Afghanistan. We can conduct an effective anti-terrorist foreign policy without massive invasions of foreign countries. In fact, the evidence suggests that stationing large numbers of troops in Muslim countries is counterproductive.
I don’t necessarily disagree. But then that has zip to do with the situation we’re now in and what may happen if we withdraw. So why don’t we answer those questions first?
6. Once again, just because someone who purports to be in AQ says that the US should be out of Saudi Arabia, or Eygpt, or Iraq, doesn’t make it a bad idea. We need to weigh the benefits of a stable oil supply against the harm caused by exacerbating Muslim extremism.
Well here’s the problem ... it is AQ saying that and it is AQ who has attacked us here and abroad over the past two decades, even when we weren’t in "Muslim lands".
7. Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and getting North Korea to give them up is going to require substantial cooperation from Russia, China and the EU. Our occupation of Iraq, and the effect of that occupation on worldwide Islamic fundamentalism is, I believe, interfering with our ability to get that cooperation. Getting the nuclear genie back in the bottle is the most important issue for US security.
Yeah, couldn’t just be simple intransigence from two regimes who know nobody is really going to do anything to them, could it?

And there’s another great question, Francis. In a perfect world, how are you going to get Iran and NoKo to not only put the genie back in the bottle but give up the bottle?

BTW, after all of that, you’ve still not answered the questions posed originally.

Tell you what, here’s what I think would happen if we don’t give the Iraqi government and security forces the time to take control of the country, reconcile and make it work. Let’s withdraw immediately and let the chips fall where they may.

This is what I think would happen:

AQ would continue and finally succeed in fomenting a civil war which would bring down the Iraqi government. Shia militias would go after both AQ (a Sunni organization) and Iraqi Sunnis. Saudi Arabia has stated that if we withdraw and that happens it will intervene in Iraq on the side of Iraqi Sunnis. That, most likely, would find Iran entering on the side of the Iraqi Shia given its rather large investment in them to this point.

Any guess as to the state of oil supplies at that point?

And Syria? It would continue to funnel in AQ support and AQ would all keep the thing at a boil (because, you see, AQ wants the SA government to fall as well) and see it eventually spill over into other area. Oh, and Turkey would take the opportunity of no US and with Iran and SA mixing it up to go after the Kurds.

And the US? Back in 6 to 9 months in a real hot war in which casualties would most likely be 10 times what we’ve suffered to this point. Is that what you’d prefer?

But hey, I know, it’s all conjecture based on what countries have said or indicated and it’s much better to go with the unicorns and rainbows scenario and pretend.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
mullah cimoc say ameriki needing for remember vietnam war ending.

when last helicopter fly away usa embassey how long before gun of war go the silent?

Answer: 3 day and then peace more than 30 years among vietnam people. back then time usa govt and control media say the same lying excuse for continue the kill.

special important: not the single viet cong coming for attack amerika during all this thirty year.

now patriotc ameriki man him needing for destroy israeli spy operations in usa start with eliminate neocon spy ops in usa.

then ameriki becoming the free again.
 
Written By: mullah cimoc
URL: http://
This is getting to be mostly pointless because we’re arguing about a tremendously uncertain future, but I’ll keep going a little while longer.

1. The major political powers in Iraq are all Shia and are all (to the extent we can tell) becoming more fundamentalist as the war drags on. So, if you think we’re fighting for the creation of a secular unified country that is an ally in the war on terror (the president’s formulation) you’re the one looking at the rainbows and unicorns scenario. If we manage to avoid outright collapse of the Maliki government, it will be only because we have brokered a tenuous peace deal in which pro-Iranian factions will be predominant.

So we’re fighting to create a government that will be an ally of our worst enemy in the ME. Great. Fabulous. I’m thrilled.

2. If Saudi Arabia and Iran actually go to war over Iraq, why would we intervene? Iran and Iraq went at it for years, and we mostly sat on the sidelines. Hell, if the Saudis ask us for help, we might even improve our image in the ME among the Sunnis (which are a much larger group over all).

3. You assume that we will withdraw from Kurdistan, which I doubt, and that we have no leverage over Turkey, which is a NATO ally and an EU applicant.

4. You also assume that AQ will be able to operate in an environment where no one wants them around. Eygpt, SA, Syria and Iran all have terrifying internal security forces. The reason AQ moved to Afghanistan was to get breathing room.

5. Analyses of the Iran / Iraq war that I’ve read state that Iranian military is poorly led. The SA military doesn’t have much of a reputation either. And the US could also keep carrier forces in the Gulf and insist - via unmatched air power — that regular military units of both sides stay put.

Ultimately, however, we have a fundamental difference about where the greater risk lies. I think the greater risk lies in continuing to act as an occupier. You think the greater risk lies in the power vacuum that would result from our withdrawal. Both arguments have merit. But since there’s no replay button in life, we’ll never know who’s right.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
McQ has a unfounded belief that al qaeda is far more powerful than it is, and seems to think that the governments in power have no capacity to deal with the situation and understand their interests. He doesn’t seem to understand that Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia are united in their dislike of al qaeda (as well as most Sunnis and all Shi’ites in Iraq). If one can only defend the military action by creating a myth of al qaeda power and influence, then it is more proof that this military endeavor is extremely hard to defend.

Of course, his default of what would happen seems to think: a) the US can’t work to develop an alternative with a UN Chapter Seven force getting regional and Security Council approval; b) that the countries in the region can’t work together and use diplomacy to avoid a regional war; and c) that somehow the US would decide to get back into a war for some reason — given the state of public opinion, it would take a lot to get people to want to do that! I’m rather surprised that McQ has such an unrealistic view of the situation — perhaps he’s reading too many pro-war blogs and not enough real information about the region.

Islamic extremists are a small minority and we are helping them by killing people in the region and trying to control results. But the regional balance of power can operate, fantasies of regional collapse if we leave (not like we’re really doing anything to prevent it) simply is not a tenable position to hold. We’re acting like imperialists, and suffering because of it. Time to change course, the sooner the better.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
1. The major political powers in Iraq are all Shia and are all (to the extent we can tell) becoming more fundamentalist as the war drags on. So, if you think we’re fighting for the creation of a secular unified country that is an ally in the war on terror (the president’s formulation) you’re the one looking at the rainbows and unicorns scenario. If we manage to avoid outright collapse of the Maliki government, it will be only because we have brokered a tenuous peace deal in which pro-Iranian factions will be predominant.
The major shia political party in Iraq just dropped the "revolutionary" from its name and switched its allegiance from Iran to Iraq’s Sistani. Hardly "more" fudamentalist.

As for the collapse of a Maliki government, which do you suppose is a better scenario for Iraq? A collapse while where there or a collapse after we’ve left?
2. If Saudi Arabia and Iran actually go to war over Iraq, why would we intervene? Iran and Iraq went at it for years, and we mostly sat on the sidelines. Hell, if the Saudis ask us for help, we might even improve our image in the ME among the Sunnis (which are a much larger group over all).
Four words having to do with our vital national interest: Free flow of oil.
3. You assume that we will withdraw from Kurdistan, which I doubt, and that we have no leverage over Turkey, which is a NATO ally and an EU applicant.
Leverage and time are two different things. While we may apply leverage, we may not have the time necessary to make that leverage work or have the desired effect. And it is becoming more and more clear to Turkey that the EU isn’t going to invite them to join. They have a bit of internal unrest going on in there now which is just perfect for a little outside distraction and it just happens to be something they’ve wanted to settle for a couple of centuries.
4. You also assume that AQ will be able to operate in an environment where no one wants them around. Eygpt, SA, Syria and Iran all have terrifying internal security forces. The reason AQ moved to Afghanistan was to get breathing room.
With us gone they simply broker a local peace with whatever tribe(s) they’re nearest, set up their camps and training facilites and export their terror while the rest of Iraq tears itself apart. With us gone, what’s to stop them?
5. Analyses of the Iran / Iraq war that I’ve read state that Iranian military is poorly led. The SA military doesn’t have much of a reputation either. And the US could also keep carrier forces in the Gulf and insist - via unmatched air power — that regular military units of both sides stay put.
In a civil war with untrained militias they’re fine. And with two armies without much of a rep, the fight ought to be fairly even ... and protracted. What was it, 8 years when Iran and Iraq went at it?

And yeah, we’re going to fire on SA or Iran and invite military escalation - right - and yet somehow stay out of the fight, correct? Where do you propose they launch from? Oh, the Persian Gulf ... yeah, that’ll work just dandy.
Ultimately, however, we have a fundamental difference about where the greater risk lies. I think the greater risk lies in continuing to act as an occupier. You think the greater risk lies in the power vacuum that would result from our withdrawal. Both arguments have merit. But since there’s no replay button in life, we’ll never know who’s right.
You say the greater risk lies in "continuing to act as an occupier". Greater risk to whom, Francis?

Now, I’ve laid out my scenario and taken your questions. Will you finally lay out yours?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The major shia political party in Iraq just dropped the "revolutionary" from its name and switched its allegiance from Iran to Iraq’s Sistani. Hardly "more" fudamentalist.
Sistani is very fundamentalist. Don’t mix up extremist with fundamentalist. Sistani disagreed with Khomeini’s idea that religion should govern politics. Much like many religious fundamentalist in the US, Sistani believes politics dirties religion and he likes to stay out of it.

You assume a worst case scenario to justify continuing a failed policy. That just doesn’t make sense in anybody’s book. You totally neglect the ability of regional actors to negotiate and interact out of their self-interest, and you vastly overstate al qaeda’s ability to act when almost everyone around them opposes them. When you have to make worst case scenario assumptions — unrealistic ones — to support your position, it’s a sign your position is likely wrong.

And, of course, you don’t touch the negatives of our policy: how it helps extremists recruit, weakens the US military, costs hundreds of billions of dollars, divides American society, and severely harms the national interest. You seem to like to ignore what you can’t handle.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
To date, not a single one can answer that question in a manner which anyone would deem positive
We get to avoid ruining our Army and Marines.

 
Written By: Steve J.
URL: http://radamisto.blogspot.com
We get to avoid ruining our Army and Marines.
Indeed. And to stop killing people, getting people killed, destroying lives, bringing home mentally and physically scarred young men and women, and forcing the Iraqi people to work with each other and other states in the region to create stability (something we’re preventing).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"The jihadis lose a major recruiting tool."

Are you serious?

People like the strong horse and want to root for the winning team. Jihadi recruitment would go UP not down.

Do you think that when we left Somalia and Lebanon, it led to less Jihadi recruitment?

Now, if we left on our own terms when they can’t claim victory, I would agree with you, like when we pulled out of Saudi.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Bruce, I’ve been making a positive case for withdrawal for some time. Based on numerous things I’ve read, things repeatedly reported from interviews with everyone from guys from the 1920’s bridages to Ansar Al-Sunna - many of whom have banded into a broad Anti-US, Anti- Al-Quieda, Anti-Maliki front - have all made clear

that the leading swath of the Sunni insurgency demands a US withdrawal, won’t quit until they get one, won’t negotiate for anything short of that, and expects to come to the table once they get it. These aren’t good people, but nor is there evidence that they’re bent on destroying America, as demonstrated by their specific rejection of Al-Quieda in Iraq and refusal to cooperate with them. There’s a similar dynamic on the Shiite side with Sadr and everything more radical than him. I’ve been making a case that the political process in Iraq is stuck and will not unstick until the US leaves. I think there’s a very strong possibility that sectarian violence will decrease, not increase, after we leave. And I think the odds that over a long span of time - say five years - the odds of being less violence if we leave than if we stay go from strong possibility to strong likelihood. In other words, whatever happens to violence soon after we leave, it’s likely to ultimately decline deeper and faster in a year or two than any result we could achieve forcibly with troops.

That’s my positive case for withdrawal: long-run, less Iraqis will die. I don’t know what kind of details and evidence you’re looking for. It’s hard to prove a prediction of the future. There’s not much proof that the surge will make all our problems go away, either.

Also, our leaving a hot continuous war in Iraq will deprive Al-Quieda of advantages - in fundraising, recruiting, learning, propaganda, relevance and local cooperation - it currently gains all over the world from what it’s doing in Iraq. I’ve linked to this several times by now. Maybe if I excerpt it, you’ll respond:

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda’s command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network’s operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda’s leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of Al Qaeda funds, with the network’s leadership surviving to a large extent on money coming in from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.

You want a positive case for getting out of Iraq? How about drying up this terrible little linkage?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
By the way, McQ, you tend to make your withdrawal case against a complete evacuation of troops. Both my idea of a withdrawal and the plans put on the table by Democrats involve a large drawing down and a fundamental change of mission. I want to withdraw to Kurdistan. So the Kurds/Turkey issue is actually improved.

As for a regional war, come on. Saudi Arabia is dependent on us for their military tree down to the bone. They can’t take any serious military actions without our permission. They certainly can’t invade Iraq. We have plenty of naval and Bahrain and Qatar-based air to decimate regular armies trying to invade Iran. A full-scale regular army-war over Iraqi territory is highly unlikely, and I think you know it.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
People like the strong horse and want to root for the winning team. Jihadi recruitment would go UP not down.

Do you think that when we left Somalia and Lebanon, it led to less Jihadi recruitment?


This is a simplistic argument. Al-Quieda’s recruiting goes up by default when they are actively engaged in visible operations - except, under certain conditions among the communities they’re active in - which may (or may not) be alienated by their actions. When Al-Quieda gets to fight America, recruiting and fundraising go up. It doesn’t matter if they’re winning or losing on the ground, except, again, maybe in the territory in question. For an example of this, when we decisively beat Al-Quieda in Afghanistan, their recruiting and popularity in Pakistan went up - not down.

The onlookers don’t just back winning horses. The onlookers back anyone fighting against people regionally percived as hateful bas*ards.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

People like the strong horse and want to root for the winning team.


In the West, when talking about sports.

This is a whole different matter. Here having us there, killing people, with claims of atrocities, true or not, broadcast daily, it helps Islamic extremists. If we’re not there, they won’t be motivated to join groups that espouse radicalism and extremism, and call for intense sacrifice.

This isn’t a horse race or a sport. Those kinds of metaphors are misguided in talking about war.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Now, if we left on our own terms
That is no longer possible, and I doubt it ever was. The sooner you accept that the neo-con plan for Iraq has been a miserable failure, the sooner you can make reasonable posts.
 
Written By: Steve J.
URL: http://radamisto.blogspot.com
Do you think that when we left Somalia and Lebanon, it led to less Jihadi recruitment?
I don’t know of any data that shows recruiting went up after those events but we do know for a FACT that the Iraq Failure has increased the number of Islamic terrorists.
 
Written By: Steve J.
URL: http://radamisto.blogspot.com
Unfortunately for the Democrats, this isn’t the first time their exact strategy has been tried. The last time, it led by short and direct steps to 3 million dead. And despite the attempts by the Erb et al to lie about it, people saw it with their own eyes. And realize that it won’t be any different, except that this time it’s in an area of the world where genocide comes with an economic cost.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
in an area of the world where genocide comes with an economic cost.
Remember the lesson: when we intervene in places to try to shape political outcomes there is a risk of creating conditions where genocide is possible. Lesson: don’t intervene unless absolutely necessary, preferrably with international legitimacy.

And if genocide is a danger, it should be a UN Security Council problem, not something America tries to handle on its own. Because we can’t.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Well done, this site is really great. Just wanted to say hello, keep up the good work!
 
Written By: Yvette
URL: http://www.google.com/

 
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