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More on the "Awakening" (update)
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another first hand account of the what is happening in Iraq (from an embed). The good, the bad and the ugly.

UPDATE: Stars and Stripes covers it. And NEWSWEEK as well.
 
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Ok, I am rusty and haven’t done this for awhile but here goes:

QUAGMIRE, QUAGMIRE, QUAG - ack, (spits up a hairball)

a shorter retief and ’nost
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Since every reputible media source is reporting May as the deadliest month for GIs since 2004, and Iraqi deaths are staggeringly high with reports of no let up in the violence (13 GIs killed, 169 Iraqis yesterday), while Republicans openly talk about changing course in September and rumors are that the Bush Administration also is talking about a withdrawal in 2008, McQ, unwilling to consider that he might be wrong, finds a blog that supports his position. Oh joy! Let’s just forget all the facts, let’s just ignore the news, let’s just ignore the cost to American lives, Iraqi lives, the overstretched military, massive opposition to the war at home. Study groups note Iraq is on the verge of collapse, and now reports that the surge is not only failing, but making things worse. Shhhh. Ignore all that. There is a blog that says we might have a chance! A blog!

I don’t know how long McQ and others can remain optimistic in the face of stark reality. But here is why inevitably they will either have to admit they were wrong or concoct some "stab in the back legend" (we’d have won if only the liberals and Democrats hadn’t done X, Y and Z): the problem is fundamentally engrained in Iraqi political culture and defeating insurgents (who of course just move from one area to another and adapt) isn’t going change things. Sectarian division, oil corruption, and a political culture with no democratic foundation and a history of authoritarianism and violence is not going to change over night or on our terms. That’s true no matter what military tactic we use. Saddam’s style was about the only thing to enforce stability, and assuming we don’t want to go back to that (which only delays the inevitable difficult transformation) we have to recognize that Iraqi problems will be solved by Iraqis on their own terms.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
McQ, unwilling to consider that he might be wrong, finds a blog that supports his position. Oh joy! ... There is a blog that says we might have a chance! A blog!
And here, on a blog - a blog! - is some bozo sayin’ it ain’t so. Given your thoroughgoing disdain for blogs, why should anyone care what you’re saying on a blog - this one or that inane one of your own? You’re a freaking professor with the requisite degree and a higher education from respected institutions. Why are you wasting your time and ours tapping all your airy thoughts out into cyberspace instead of writing well-researched and properly referenced scholarly articles for peer-reviewed journals or maybe a book or something more creditable, in your mind, than a blog?
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
You imbecile.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
"The MSM is on board supporting the efforts of AQ by emphasizing casualties and ignoring progress while RINO Republicans hedge their positions and the usual rumors swirl, McQ refuses to buy into the LN.
The “stark reality” of the LN is supported by British [!!] study groups: America cannot win and Saddam should have been left in power. Those wogs can never handle democracy.*"


Baghdad Berb is in fine fettle this morning.

*Not an actual quote.



 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
“Outside the Wire” had a good description of tribal warfare with the usual realignment that occurs as tribes switch sides with the change of the wind. While one may argue about the cause of this shift, there are good signs of a substantial number of tribes changing sides. Time will tell if the remaining havens for the jihadists and the Sunni enclaves of Baghdad will continue to be a problem. We’ll have to see.

What is working is not a united democratic Iraq but good old-fashioned divide-and-conquer tribal warfare. It is closer to what we did in Afghanistan. Better late than never.
 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
...Iraqi deaths are staggeringly high...
According to the references I’ve seen, Iraqi casualties in May are about the same as last month, and less than several months in the previous year. They’re also below estimates of the average number of deaths per month committed by Saddam’s regime over a twelve year plus time space. So I don’t know where you’re getting your "staggeringly high" description from, unless you’d call Saddam’s total "staggeringly higher".

Of course we all wish that those numbers were lower. But the difference between you and I is that you believe (if I understand correctly) those numbers would come down if we left, whereas I think they would go up. Maybe a lot.

So, from my perspective, this "staggeringly high" death count is something Iraqis have lived with for a long time. Maybe they’ll go on killing each other at these levels for years. Or maybe they’ll see the parts of Iraq that are peaceful and decide they like that way of life better. McQ’s post, which is supported by other observers such as Michael Yon, is indicative that at least some of them will take the second option.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
So I don’t know where you’re getting your "staggeringly high" description from, unless you’d call Saddam’s total "staggeringly higher".
Well they have to be in order to support the narrative. The fact they might not have to be fought with every erg (in this case erb) of energy
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
McQ’s post, which is supported by other observers such as Michael Yon, is indicative that at least some of them will take the second option.
The hilarious irony in his reaction, however, is that he, like the professor cited in the blog post, haven’t the foggiest idea of what is reality in Iraq. Yet he has no problem, in the face of two first hand accounts by seasoned observers who obviously have a history of reporting the bad with the good (neither of which he apparently read or listened too), of saying his perception is better grounded in fact.

And then he expects you to take other things he says seriously.

LOL!
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’m sure that Joshua Chamberlain is spinning away. Professor Erb is an import to the state of Maine, so perhaps that’s part of the difference.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://

Billy, you’re right that for this year Iraqi deaths have been consistent at a bit under 100 a day, though yesterday’s 169 was far above the average. Most of the dead under Saddam were from his war with Iran and acts against Kurds, the number killed by his regime was nowhere near the level of death in the years before we invaded. There are a few points of disagreement that we could talk about if things in the blog comments didn’t so often degenerate into name calling:

1. I am not sure if the numbers of dead will go up or down if we leave. I do not think we are capable of establishing order any time soon, and I’m convinced that domestic politics assure we will leave before that day. Moreover, I’m not convinced that overall we’re not doing more harm than good. I think we’re just delaying the inevitable. Better to plan a withdrawal and create a time frame for allowing the UN Security Council and regional powers to create a plan to try to avoid massive violence (and I wouldn’t rule out American participation). It may not work, but it’s probably the best bet to avoid an outcome worse than the present.

2. While averting worse violence in Iraq is an admirable goal, we can’t try to do that if it has a severely negative effect on our national interest. Right now our prestige and influence is waning as our military is overstretched, society divided, and we look ineffectual in Iraq. I am convinced the surge won’t change this. Russia is rising, Venezuela is promoting anti-Democratic forces in Latin America, China’s thirst for oil assures it’ll work with Iran and other states we might find dangerous, and our ability to deal with instability in places like Nigeria (where get 25% of our oil) is great. Is Iraq really worth the cost in terms of national interest and national security? I think this conflict has hastened the move from a generally unipolar to multipolar system, but one filled with economic, political and terror dangers. I think the answer boils down to whether or not we can get real, clear succcess in Iraq and that’s point three:

3. Iraq’s problems are deep, they are political, cultural and social. They are driven by corruption and sectarian divisions for which there is no military solution absent strict authoritarianism. Therefore I see this less as a "war" to win than a social engineering effort to try to create a functioning democracy with a mix of military power and reconstruction aid. But since that doesn’t deal with the underlying corruption, sectarian division, and culture built on centuries of violence and authoritarianism and no real democratic development, I don’t think it can work. Therefore, I’m convinced Iraq will continue to slowly bleed away American power while other actors and dangers grow in strength.

This is a serious argument, not one that tries to revisit whether or not we should be in Iraq or has silly insults for the President — cheap shots against Bush for doing what he believes necessary are as misguided in my book as cheap shots against Carter. It’s about what this means for America’s future and position in a world changing in ways we are barely understanding. My frustration is that so many war supporters (and war critics) are so caught up in the pro-war anti-war argument that it’s hard to remove the emotion and really discuss the core differences in perspective.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Given your thoroughgoing disdain for blogs
Linda — Why do you make such outrageous stuff up? I like blogs.

I just wouldn’t trust any blog if it were contradicted by most evidence coming from reputible sources who have been to Iraq and have studied the situation, reported on it, and can give a better perspective than one blogger. You seem in your post to be positively resentful that I enjoy taking time off from other activities to participate in a blog conversation. That seems like an odd position to take. I do this in a forum like this precisely because I see a need to be exposed to different perspectives and here different voices (and luckily not everyone chooses to insult people whose perspective is different than their own). Also, I have generally libertarian tendencies (though tempered with pragmatism and a strong disagreement with how libertarians often over emphasize economic rationality at the expense of culture and shared values/understandings), so I find these discussions interesting.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m sure that Joshua Chamberlain is spinning away. Professor Erb is an import to the state of Maine, so perhaps that’s part of the difference.
I like to think I represent the tradition of Thomas Reed, a Republican Speaker of the House and anti-imperialist back in the 1890s. (A good description of him and his views can be found in Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower.

But this is enough posting for my lunch break. Linda apparently thinks I’m not devoting enough time to my work.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I just wouldn’t trust any blog if it were contradicted by most evidence coming from reputible sources"

But you do not hesitate pulling quotes from hacks like Juan Cole if it fits your own premise. Sorry, professor, for someone who "see a need to be exposed to different perspectives and here (sp) different voices" you don’t seem to take the experience to heart.

Some time ago, you were taken to task for declaring the "surge" a failure before it had even begun. You backtracked - and ever since then you have taken every hint of progress and scoffed at it. Not directly, mind you. No, you won’t get caught again so easily.

But now when faced with citations that offer some measure of progress, you jump in with both feet and attack the veracity of the message and the messenger as
unwilling to consider that he might be wrong, finds a blog that supports his position. Oh joy! Let’s just forget all the facts, let’s just ignore the news, let’s just ignore the cost to American lives, Iraqi lives, the overstretched military, massive opposition to the war at home.
And your response is to link some article referring to some unknown British think tank. Boy howdy! That one is gonna leave a mark!

I see a whole lot of pots and kettles and mention of the color black in those taunts and not much else.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
unknown British think tank.
Well, if you consider Chatham House unknown, then I guess all this international relations stuff is new to you, eh? It’s extremely prestigious and has a good track record.

As for my response to the surge, I reacted in my March 21 blog entry (you’ll have to scroll down if you bother to go there) "Surge Optimism?" with consideration that the surge might have a chance to work. A snippet:
Can that happen? There is one scenario I can imagine where this can really work. If Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Jordan all decide that they want to avoid the potential of a regional Shi’ite-Sunni war, they would recognize that it is in their interest to stabilize Iraq. If US departure was connected to a concerted effort by the states in the region to work with and support the Iraqi government to settle sectarian disputes and avoid escalating again the sectarian violence, then it’s feasible that Iraq won’t slide back into the abyss.
...
If Iran is shifting its policy towards one more friendly to the West, and if the Bush Administration can embrace negotiations and discussions with Iran and Syria ... then perhaps by late 2008 Iraq will be behind us (just in time for the election!) and relatively stable. It won’t be the bold reshaping of the Mideast that neo-conservatives imagined, and will in fact at least in the short term increase the regional power of states like Iran and Syria. It will be less a victory than simply averting total disaster, but it’s possible.
However, in a blog entry on April 12 (current blog page, then scroll down), labeled "Surge Pessimism," I was more pessimistic, here’s a snippet:
The news from Iraq is grim; the US military is said to be spending millions to pay off the families of innocents killed (most Iraqis would say murdered) by American military forces. Yet the sectarian violence remains strong, even in Baghdad where the surge is supposed to bring stability. The death of innocents at the hands of Americans, while far fewer than those killed in the Iraqi on Iraqi violence, are symbolic of the problem. While sometimes anger and frustration lead to blatant murder, American soldiers usually only kill innocents because they don’t know they are innocent — they fear attacks or see something they think suspicious. This means first that there is no real trust between the Iraqi people and American forces, and second it assures continuing and growing resentment by Iraqis of the outside force. Thus, with two conflicts, an over extended military, continued sectarian and insurgent violence and no end in sight, there is very little to be optimistic about. When Senator McCain talks about ’strolling through the market’ the picture shows him surrounded by security — dozens of soldiers, plus armored vehicles. When Representative Pence compares it to a market in Indiana, he looks utterly ridiculous; trying to claim progress in Iraq quickly leads politicians into the realm of the surreal. Even conservative Robert Novak claims news from Baghdad shows that the surge will not work.

General Pretorius notes that the surge can only work if it buys time for the government to develop a political solution; alas, any political scientist studying comparative politics will tell you that the level of corruption and ethnic division in Iraq and Iraqi governmental agencies is not something that gets fixed with a few laws — and that with this kind of corruption grand compromises and political deals are usually cosmetic, there is no reason to be optimistic that al Maliki will or even truly wants to succeed in the way the US hopes. And removing him and replacing him with a pro-American strongman like Allawi would only enhance the legitimacy of the insurgency, and risk turning Shi’ites massively against the government and the US.

Maybe all hell will break loose when we leave, maybe not. All the choices seem bad. But there is something irresponsible and arrogant about playing with the lives of both our soldiers and the Iraqi people in a desire not to have to accept a political failure. The policy in Iraq has failed. It’s time to come home.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m really impressed!
 
Written By: Maximus
URL: http://www.google.com/
I’m really impressed!
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URL: http://depo-provera.virtualret.info/

 
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