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Adjusting the Democratic message on Iraq
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, August 23, 2007

As I'm sure you're aware, there's a little message editing going on right now among Democrats in the wake of favorable reports out of Iraq concerning the effect of the Surge.

No one should be surprised by this. It is as natural among politicians as sunrise for the rest of us. No politician wants to be caught on the wrong side of an issue.

That said, some merely have to slightly shift their position while others like Harry "the war is lost" Reid have an almost impossible task. As a party, the Dems aren't much better off than Reid, having come to be identified as the anti-war "get us out now" party whether they like it or not.

Before I get further into that, let me say a word about those Democrats who have gone to Iraq and come back with positive things to say. That takes integrity, and as much as I don't care for Dick Durbin (and as much as he tried to spin the positive aspects of the Surge) he didn't deny progress was being made.

But now what? Well Pelosi and Reid seem, at least at the moment, to be staying on the old message. Failed strategy, need a new direction, Surge not working.

But those who haven't been on vacation in August, such as the presidential candidates, and those who traveled to Iraq, such as Senator's Levin and Durbin, seem to be shifting the message a bit. It now seems to be "yeah, the military aspect of the Surge seems to be working somewhat, but a political settlement has not yet been achieved and that's the only thing that matters". Oh, that and condemning the Iraqi legislators for not being serious about all of this because they took a vacation this month.

Said another way, the new message will essentially waive off the military momentum the Surge has achieved as unimportant because no political progress has been made. Ignoring the fact that political progress only began in earnest once security was established in places like Anbar, Democrats will charge that because it isn't happening simultaneously with the Surge on a national level, we've failed.

So watch for it. You'll see it as soon as Congressional Democrats reconvene in Congress. You've already heard versions of it on the campaign trail with Hilary Clinton claiming that while the Surge is "working" it is simply too little, "too late" and it is time to bring the troops home.

This is the evolving strategy which will allow Democrats to ignore a positive report from General Petraeus and continue to demand the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
 
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The advantage of the "too little, too late" message mantra is that it’s one-size-fits-all. It can be glibly applied to just about any positive news that comes out of the Middle East.

Progress there, to the extent that there is any, will probably always be in fits and starts for decades. So it’s easy (for either side, actually) to pick incidents that support what they expect to see.

One of the keys to objective analysis is metrics, but to date I’ve never interested any anti-war types into formulating any metrics that they personally would stick to as indicative of long-term progress. I’d love to see that change.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The surge is not going to work, it doesn’t address the real strategic problems. The smart Democratic message is to stay opposed to the war, and argue that we must leave in a way that takes Iraqi concerns into account. The real issue is the Shi’ite majority, Iran, and their policies, and the "surge" doesn’t even begin to address that. Moreover, personnel issues assure that any "surge" can’t last past April. It also is a very limited and minor tactical effort, which does little to address the real problems. Democrats should have learned by now to be wary of the short term "good news" from Iraq. It never lasts.

Billy, the reason why the anti-war types (libertarians, conservatives and voices from the left) don’t give metrics for long term progress is that we doubt the fundamental assumptions of this policy. We are (at least those more libertarian) anti-interventionist, and skeptical of attempts to use big government (such as military power) to shape political outcomes (such as nation building and democracy creation). We will not solve problems in the Mideast, those problems have to be solved by the participants. We can help as invited and in a limited capacity, or in collaboration with others in the case of atrocities that shock the human conscience, but the idea that military force will reshape the Mideast is clearly misguided.

Now in Iraq you have Iran emerging the winner, and thus the talk moves towards war against Iran — probably on the cheap, given our military shortfalls (missile attacks, efforts to hit their infrastructure). That’s all we have left to prevent Iraqi Shi’ites from sliding closer to our Iranian "enemies." But if Iran is pushed into a corner they’ll hit us where it hurts the most — in our economy. The economy is in trouble anyway due to massive debt and dependence on cheap foreign goods. I think it’s time for pro-war types to wake up and look at the deteriorating strategic situation of the US and question some of their assumptions. We are seeing the United States in the process of an historic (and some might argue inevitable) decline due to overstretch and holding on to illusions of power. Our children will have to clean up this mess. As provocative as that sounds, I’m typing it more with a sense of saddness than an effort to provoke.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Billy, the reason why the anti-war types (libertarians, conservatives and voices from the left) don’t give metrics for long term progress is that we doubt the fundamental assumptions of this policy.
(Emphasis mine) So, Erb, you have finally associated yourself with the "anti-war types" or was that merely a typo.
The real issue is the Shi’ite majority, Iran, and their policies, and the "surge" doesn’t even begin to address that.
As has been stated here on this blog and within these comment sections time and again, the surge was never intended to fix all of the problems in Iraq. The purpose of the surge, again, is to provide for some level of security in order for the political process to mature.

And it seems that even this is occurring. From the Italian news service, AKI:
The leader of Iraq’s banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party’s former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

"AlDouri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," al-Jashaami said.

Al-Douri has decided to deal directly with US forces in Iraq, according to al-Jashaami. He figures in the 55-card deck of "most wanted" officials from the former Iraqi regime issued by the US government.

In return, for cooperating in the fight against al-Qaeda, al-Douri has asked for guarantees over his men’s safety and for an end to Iraqi army attacks on his militias.

Recent weeks have seen a first step in this direction, when Baathist fighters cooperated with Iraqi government forces in hunting down al-Qaeda operatives in the volatile Diyala province and in several districts of the capital, Baghadad.

Although the Baath party was officially banned after US-led forces in 2003 toppled the regime of Iraq’s late president Saddam Hussein, its members have fought in the insurgency.

Until just a few months ago, former Baath party members were helping Islamists carry out terrorist attacks against US forces in Iraq.
It seems that while the Iraqi legislature has been on recess, Al Malicki has been hard at work doing exactly what he needs to do - Resolve the political process. He recently visited Tikrit, the former Baathist power center, and met with Sunni tribal chiefs. At the same time, he signed an agreement with the Kurds and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which has been Moqtada al-Sadr’s bitter opponent in the south. (see Captain’s Quarters archive 011890.php)
We will not solve problems in the Mideast, those problems have to be solved by the participants.
From the above mentioned items, it seems that is exactly what the Iraqis are doing.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Billy, the reason why the anti-war types (libertarians, conservatives and voices from the left) don’t give metrics for long term progress is that we doubt the fundamental assumptions of this policy.


Sorry, Scott, but that just sounds like a rationalization to me. We are there. The implications of doing what the anti-war types want would be very nasty, and even many on the anti-war side admit that. Chief among them is the reputation the US gets as someone who will always cut and run if our enemies drag things out long enough, plus a likely six figures worth of dead Iraqis.

So it behooves us to try and find an approach that works, even if you think that’s impossible. You might be wrong, after all. And the question is, how will you know you’re wrong? That’s where metrics can be useful.

Disagreeing with the fundamental assumptions doesn’t affect this. Given the disagreement we see, some of the folks in this debate have to be wrong in their fundamental assumptions. You might be one of them.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The purpose of the surge, again, is to provide for some level of security in order for the political process to mature.
Agreed, and so far it is most successful military strategy yet attempted in Iraq, and may be completely pointless because of the second part of the equation. Not that it’s not worth trying, and really, if the surge succeeds but the politics fail, can we take our football and go home?

The surge itself is technically a perfect start to an exit strategy.

CLEAR - the area of bad influences
HOLD - the area preventing the bad influences from returning to power
RETAIN - the area in handoff to Iraqi forces

Once an area is cleared, held, and retained, we should be done, and once that’s complete through most of the country, we should be gone.

If they can’t avoid civil war after that, what else should we do?

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

You are 100% correct. Especially since the Iraqi army takes over as we leave.

Imagine we can clear, hold, retain the whole country to where there is not any attacks at all. But there is no political progress on all of these issues. I think we’d leave eventually then even if there is no resolution...see Kosovo...how many more years will we stay there if the UN can never agree to independence? 5-10-15? No way. The fact that it is small and peaceful means you can keep troops there for a longer time since they are not in the news, but still it can’t be forever.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Boris Erb, talking glibly through his tradesman’s entrance:
The surge is not going to work, it doesn’t address the real strategic problems.
Ah, Boris, we’ve already addressed the strategic problem in Iraq, which was the Hussein regime.

Iran is a strategic problem in its own right, and was and would have continued to be so whether or not we addressed the Hussein regime.

The "great army in Iraq" is and always has been civil society. It is and always has been the only rational choice post-Hussein. The surge is the tactical means of helping that "great army" gain control. It will embody sufficient violence for the Arab Shi’a of Iraq to deal with the influence of the Persian Shi’a who seek to meddle in their affairs, as things move forward.

Of course, it is well known that you have never wanted anything good to come of the situation in Iraq. You only want to be right. That’s your "special interest."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
SShiell: I find the most cogent anti-war arguments actually from the right and the libertarian side rather than from the anti-war left. I can severely disagree with Pat Buchanan on immigration and gay rights, but when he talks about the war he makes a lot of sense (and he has an interesting critique of American foreign policy in general — a conservative critique of America’s style of imperialism). So anti-war "types" run the spectrum and can’t be painted as just the ANSWER type protesters.
Sorry, Scott, but that just sounds like a rationalization to me. We are there. The implications of doing what the anti-war types want would be very nasty, and even many on the anti-war side admit that. Chief among them is the reputation the US gets as someone who will always cut and run if our enemies drag things out long enough, plus a likely six figures worth of dead Iraqis.
First question: is this something we can "fix?" Will trying to fix it make matters worse? That’s an essential, though usually unasked question because people tend to assume we can fix it.

However, if you note my post I said we have to do what is best for the people of Iraq at this point, and that might mean staying longer than I would rather have done. I accept that, and agree in general that we have to work to avoid something nasty. I think we should learn, though, that the American public makes what David Calleo of Johns Hopkins said "lousy imperialists." We are not a country capable of the kind of foreign policy that requires engagement for long times in different parts of the world for unclear goals. We need to learn to pay close attention to the Weinberger and Powell doctrines, and not "sell" a war on rosey scenarios. Both Kosovo and Iraq should teach us that — it should push us to a less interventionist policy after this.

But yes, we are there now. We can’t undo the past, and that gives us a moral obligation to make sure our departure is not one that brings chaos — so much as it is in our power to do so.
So it behooves us to try and find an approach that works, even if you think that’s impossible. You might be wrong, after all. And the question is, how will you know you’re wrong? That’s where metrics can be useful.
Fair enough. The metric for me is political progress at Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, and Shi’ite support for true democracy rather than a Shi’ite dominated government. The metric is less corruption, weakened Shi’ite militias, with less of a tie to Iran, and a stable, functioning government able to maintain order. Here’s part of what I wrote on my blog on August 7:

Unfortunately, things look bleak. Iraq’s middle class was decimated in the years of Saddam’s rule, with the sanctions regime following on the footsteps of a costly war with Iran. Those who survived that have been leaving Iraq to places like Jordan, Egypt, and even Europe, meaning Iraq may lack the middle class necessary to create a stable, functioning democracy. Beyond that, Iran’s support of Shi’ite militia groups assures that the Shi’ite majority will not be the kind of majority the US wants to see run the show in Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr, once wanted “dead or alive” represents the kind of populist Shi’ite ideals that are now mainstream. Add to that the fact Sunnis are fleeing Iraq, and the Shi’ite position is even more dominant. With Sunnis quitting government and political reconciliation as far away as ever, Iraq looks to be in a deepening crisis. The “surge” has also been unable to stop the violence; Iraqi deaths were up dramatically in July compared to June, and show no signs of abating.

Military success in Sunni regions mean that the surge will continue into Spring ’08. But lacking political change in the rest of Iraq, this is of limited value. The hope is that al qaeda can be weakened to the point it cannot work to ignite an Iraqi civil war, and thus political reconciliation will be possible. At present that appears to be wishful thinking. At some point tough decisions will have to be made: do we talk seriously with Iran and Saudi Arabia about help stabilizing the area, with it clear that we’re leaving? Do we support partition? Do we keep forces at least in the Kurdish regions?

Outside Iraq, the US is arming the Saudis and other Sunni governments in the region so they can combat the emerging Iranian-Shi’ite threat, recognizing the danger if Iraq emerges as a close ally of Iran. But that could of course backfire, as more weapons often make conflict more likely. If they do avoid a regional war, which could devastate the world economy, Iraq will nonetheless likely be an Islamist Shi’ite state, close to Iran, opposed to Israel, and skeptical of the US. The more stable it becomes, the more it will resist American influence. And, frankly, that’s a result I think even the hawks in the Administration could now live with.
Disagreeing with the fundamental assumptions doesn’t affect this. Given the disagreement we see, some of the folks in this debate have to be wrong in their fundamental assumptions. You might be one of them.
True, but it seems to me that given how bad things have gone — unexpectedly bad — there would be a bit more humility from the pro-war side about their policy assumptions and ideals. Instead they seem to want to do like the left and just "blame Bush" — "it would have worked if only there had been better leadership." That seems to be a bit of a cop out.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb, still talking like a circa 1981 KGB wannabe, writes:
The metric for me is political progress at Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, and Shi’ite support for true democracy rather than a Shi’ite dominated government.
Well, Boris, since the Shi’a are roughly 70-80% of the population, they’re going to dominate the government in a "true democracy," ipso facto.

"Reconcilliation" amounts to a fair standard of law for everyone, and a shared piece of the oil revenue. That sort of reconcilliation goes on everyday all around the world in all sorts of multi-factional countries, including the United States.

But you’re not really concerned about Iraq or Iraqis. You’re only interested in your special interest: being right, about something, some day.

Your political interests have long coincided with the interests of the car bombers in Iraq, the only difference between you and them being that they might actually have had slightly higher motivations than you.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Hey, Erb! Why is there always such a disconnect between your cut’s & paste’s and the topic at hand? Can you say "Going off on a tangent"? Sure you can.

HINT: Quantity is NOT quality, and some ditzo jerkoff’s "reality based" OPINION is worthless
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Erb barfed: "Now in Iraq you have Iran emerging the winner,"

Yeah, and China was the big winner in Korea (during the 50’s for you history challenged academic types).
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
some ditzo jerkoff’s "reality based" OPINION is worthless
Thank you for admitting that. You see, most of what you have here are opinions and explanations from all sides. Are only the ones you disagree with worthless?

Of course you had me chuckling when in one comment you wrote:

Can you say "Going off on a tangent"? Sure you can.

And in the next comment you write:

Yeah, and China was the big winner in Korea


Ah, sweet irony.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:
Ah, sweet irony.
For someone who no longer takes just weekends and vactions at the top of the irony meter, but now lives there year-round, that comment has no doubt already inspired Congress to consider raising the irony ceiling.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Agreed, and so far it is most successful military strategy yet attempted in Iraq, and may be completely pointless because of the second part of the equation. Not that it’s not worth trying, and really, if the surge succeeds but the politics fail, can we take our football and go home?
Cap, I agree - that is the true heart of the matter. As far as an answer, I do not have one per se. But the timing is such that I may not need one.

If trends continue, there will be a Democrat as President with probably a split legislature - by that I mean even if the Dem majority holds in the Senate, they will still not be able to override the 60 vote cloture rule. And that means we are probably going to see some reduction of forces in Iraq. But I trully believe the effectiveness of the military surge will allow for that eventuality. I believe Patraeas’ report next month will call for a redepolyment of troops within Iraq as the result of recomending the turning over of more provinces to Iraqi control. The result of this action will be to shift even more forces into the areas still being contested. In effect, increasing the pressure of the surge without the need of more deployed troop levels.

 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
But I trully believe the effectiveness of the military surge will allow for that eventuality. I believe Patraeas’ report next month will call for a redepolyment of troops within Iraq as the result of recomending the turning over of more provinces to Iraqi control. The result of this action will be to shift even more forces into the areas still being contested. In effect, increasing the pressure of the surge without the need of more deployed troop levels.
You’re still missing the big problem: it’s not the contested areas that are difficult, but the majority Shi’ite part of Iraq which is increasingly tied to Iran, and who has militias, popular with the people, and who have almost completed cleansing Sunnis from many ’contested areas.’ Since the surge cannot continue at these force levels after April, and since the success has been less Americna force and more making alliances with Sunnis, the "Shi’ite problem" cannot be solved by redeployments (the numbers will go down) and potentially could strengthen Iran considerably. Unless the Shi’ite issue is solved, the "surge" is minor, and unlikely to yield long term success — except perhaps a brief ’peace with honor moment.’ One possibility is to cut our loses — recognize that the Shi’ites will be close to Iran, partition the country, work with the Saudis to help the Sunni portion be viable, and then put troops in Kurdistan to both assure the Turks (and hold back Kurdish radicals) and send a message to Iran. Partition is a difficult and usually bad path to take. But it may end up being the best option to avoid collapse in Iran — and to allow us to get most of the troops out of harms way without a bloodbath following.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You’re still missing the big problem: it’s not the contested areas that are difficult, but the majority Shi’ite part of Iraq which is increasingly tied to Iran, and who has militias, popular with the people, and who have almost completed cleansing Sunnis from many ’contested areas.
No Erb - it is you who are missing the big problem. The point of the surge is to allow the security necessary for some level of political resolution. The big problem is anyone other than an Iraqi dictating what that resolution should be! We need to be able to walk away from an Iraq that can function as a free and independent state. We may want them to do this or that or the other but the long and short of it is very simple. It is their country and it is their call! I have not proposed any other required outcome.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
We need to be able to walk away from an Iraq that can function as a free and independent state.
We would like to be able to walk from an Iraq that can function as an independent state.

Whether that is even possible is still very much in question, whether it is technically free is certainly negotiable.

What we would most like to avoid is leaving Iraq as a failed state, and we would leave them as a dictatorship before leaving them as a failed state.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
he point of the surge is to allow the security necessary for some level of political resolution
No, that’s not what the President said in announcing the "surge." You’re altering the argument because it isn’t working out as planned. Political change was supposed to go along with the surge. You are simply wrong in that statement.

You’re ignoring the real problem, and how limited the "surge" is in terms of providing security.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Political change was supposed to go along with the surge. You are simply wrong in that statement.
How do you conclude that? The surge is primarily a military operation. How is that supposed to be have a direct political effect (as opposed to an indirect effect by providing stability)?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
President Bush, in announcing the surge, claimed that PM Malaki made a number of promises and that political change and stability was supposed to be taking place alongside the surge. These promises have not been kept, and the political situation has worsened. The idea that the surge was supposed to come first is contrary to what the White House said, and I think is contrary to anything they’ve been saying recently. The political front of the surge was not something waiting for the military operation to finish. Moreover, security of Sunni areas against al qaeda — which is the focus of the surge — isn’t really necessary for the kind of political change needed. I have to conclude that those who say that the surge comes before political change simply don’t want to face up to the fact that there is a glaring problem in the current approach, and somehow avoid dealing up front with that difficulty. I do note that McQ and I presume you have been a bit more up front about that then some commentors — though I think you need to really tackle the issue of Iran and the Shi’ites in Iraq as the biggest barrier to success.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:
President Bush, in announcing the surge, claimed that PM Malaki made a number of promises
Oh.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
President Bush, in announcing the surge, claimed that PM Malaki made a number of promises and that political change and stability was supposed to be taking place alongside the surge.
First, the surge is still going on. Second, I read the speech you linked to, and I see nothing that specifically says when Maliki is supposed to carry out his various commitments. The only date mentioned is one in November for handover of primary security to the Iraqis.

The only thing I see that could even be remotely interpreted as a partially broken condition is:
This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods — and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
Since there have been attacks on Sadr’s allies, and Sadr himself fled, at least part of that has been met. I realize Maliki dragged his feet on some things concerning Sadr, but I don’t see how that comes anywhere close to the level of breaking trust so much that we need to bail.

Unless I’m missing something in that speech, I just don’t think it supports the conclusions you claim it supports. I think you’re reading into that speech what you want to see. If you believe otherwise, let’s see the quotes you think commit Maliki to conditions that were supposed to already be met and have not been.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
...I think you need to really tackle the issue of Iran and the Shi’ites in Iraq as the biggest barrier to success.
What makes you think we’ve discounted that. I know I have not, and I don’t think McQ has either.

I’d rather be much more confrontational with Iran. Given what are easily considered acts of war, I think we have plenty of provocation to be a lot tougher with them that we’ve been. But then, I don’t think the folks on your side would care for that approach.

In fact, I’ve yet to hear a coherent explanation from anybody on the anti-war side of how to "tackle the issue of Iran and the Shi’ites in Iraq" except to run away and let Iran win. Do you have something constructive to offer on that score?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Unless I’m missing something in that speech, I just don’t think it supports the conclusions you claim it supports. I think you’re reading into that speech what you want to see.
What!?

Erb would NEVER alter someone else’s argument to make it mean something else. He has too much intellectual honesty to do something like that.

Clearly, Billy, you must be mistaken.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
You’re altering the argument because it isn’t working out as planned.
I am doing what? Tell you what there, Erb. Go back a few days/weeks/months and take a look at what I have written and show me where I have alterred anything in order to fit an argument. My position has been clear from the very beginning, and it is consistent with the goals of the surge - a surge you claimed had failed months ago! And now you are the one reading ficticious promises in a speech in order to accomodate your own position.
You’re ignoring the real problem, and how limited the "surge" is in terms of providing security.
Where’s those goalposts moving to this time Erb? Why don’t you tell me where you are going to get "security" if not by a process remarably similar to the one being utilized today with the "Surge"? Are you going to keep pointing to your buddies to the East - Iran? You have on numerous occasions proposed Iran should be invited to cooperate in the development of security in the region. The very same Iran that is providing weapons and men to the Insurgency. The very same Iran that you propose:
Now in Iraq you have Iran emerging the winner
You keep typing Erb and every time you do those goalposts keep moving. You are about as consistent as Murtha is honorable!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://

In fact, I’ve yet to hear a coherent explanation from anybody on the anti-war side of how to "tackle the issue of Iran and the Shi’ites in Iraq" except to run away and let Iran win. Do you have something constructive to offer on that score?
I won’t cut and paste from my blog this time, but I’ve tried to tackle that. I think probably the best solution, absent some kind of diplomatic agreement with Iran, would be a partition. The US has to accept that Iraqi Shi’ites will be close to Iran and we aren’t in a position to force them into a pro-American democracy. However, we need to avoid a bloodbath. The Saudis are very involved in helping the Sunnis in Iraq (and Israel even accepts new military aid to Saudi Arabia out of fear of Iran), and if we can get agreement on the borders (easier now, thanks to all the ethnic cleansing that’s been going on), a partition is possible. There will be a lot of support for the Sunni portion from the rest of the Sunni-Arab world. The US could keep troops in Kurdistan for two purposes: 1) hold back Kurdish nationalists from setting sights on Turkey’s Kurdish regions (and thereby assure the Turks); and 2) have a force there to remind Iran that we still can act. Personally, I oppose that in an ideal world sense due to my anti-interventionist principles, but my pragmatism suggests that given how we’ve already been involved, this is probably necessary.

The alternates are to: 1) give up any pretense of democracy and install a pro-American dictator; or 2) expand the conflict with Iran. Both options are even more risky than partition. One could hope that pressure on Maliki and Iran will get them to back down, but our hand is weak at this point. I suspect that the Maliki government has been duplicitious with us and is playing a double game to assure their survival regardless of American actions. That is, in fact, the rational game for him to play given Iraqi political realities.

All this of course sets up a geopolitical situation with a strengthened Iran, balanced by a Sunni Arab world with American support. Then our gaze will shift to Lebanon and Israel, and that’s where the game gets, uh, "interesting."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
SSHiell, you’re posting a lot of words, but evading the issue. There is no content to your post except for personal accusations which are meaningless. The surge, as I noted in my blog on August 15th, is not designed to provide security for Iraq. It’s goals are very limited, and the Maliki government was supposed to be working for political reconciliation, a stronger Iraqi military and police component, and stable rule of law. The Bush administration has not said that the surge comes first then political reconciliation, quite the contrary. You also haven’t addressed the problem of the Shi’ites. Now, you can deal with the hard issues, or you can hide behind insults and accusations. I’d prefer to put aside that meaningless stuff and deal with the reality of the situation. Like I tell students, in political discussions once someone leaves the content of an issue and gets personal, that’s a sign they know their argument is weak and they move from reason to emotion.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The Bush administration has not said that the surge comes first then political reconciliation, quite the contrary.
Let me paraphrase Billy:

Provide the quote or shut up!
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
From Erb’s link to Bush’s speech:
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad.
Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people.
But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help.
This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to... Yet over time, we can expect to see... When this happens... the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace — and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.
As usual, this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Erb claims.

Surge first — THEN reconciliation.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
SSHiell, you’re posting a lot of words, but evading the issue. There is no content to your post except for personal accusations which are meaningless.
In a sense you are right, if you consider calling you out on the misreading of a simple frigging speech as a personal accusation.
The surge, as I noted in my blog on August 15th, is not designed to provide security for Iraq.
Back it up, Erb. show us the links and/or quotes. JWG did a good job of posting the appropriate quotes, now it is up to you. Cough it up or acknowledge you stepped in it once again!
You also haven’t addressed the problem of the Shi’ites.
And you have? Iran is the root source of this problem - I have acknowledged that from the very beginning. I have already stated on numerous occasions that in order to deal with the Shi’ite issue, you first need to cancel out the Iranian influence. At the same time you were putting forward Iran as the great peace-making partner in the region. So, you answer the question, Erb? What do we do about the Shi’ite problem.
Like I tell students, in political discussions once someone leaves the content of an issue and gets personal, that’s a sign they know their argument is weak and they move from reason to emotion.
Well, if that be the case, by your own standards this post of yours just flunked!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I forgot to add the following for Erb.

To rephrase an old adage: Teacher, instruct thyself!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Scott, I’ll give you some credit for laying out a set of alternatives, and realizing that they’re all pretty bad. I’m not sure you realize how bad a couple of them are, given factors such as shared Sunni/Shia neighborhoods, but that’s a fine point.

But your analysis at least helps me understand the basic place where we disagree. Based on the alternatives you allow and those you deny (such as what the Bush administration is trying to do), you must believe the Shia in Iraq will (1) allow their religion to dominate everything else about their political future, and (2) absent an American-supported dictator, will inevitably ally with their co-religionists in Iran.

I do not accept those two assumptions. Certainly their religion is going to have a heavy influence, but I deny that it’s the only influence.

Those assumptions treat the Iraqi Shi’ites as if they are a monolithic block, under hypnotic control of their religion. I think there’s plenty more variation there than that. And the more time we give them as a relatively open society, the more that variation will increase.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Well, there are fewer and fewer shared Shia - Sunni neighborhoods, thanks to all the ethnic cleansing going on (without hindrance from us or the Iraqi police and military). But for those that remain, it would be as difficult as Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, or any other place with mixed populations and a history of violence.

One key assumption I’m making is that Iraqi political culture is typical for that of a low literacy state with virtually no experience in democracy, an authoritarian past full of political violence and repression, and intense corruption. In such a situation democracies simply do not take root, government is about who has power and who controls the goodies, and if you add sectarian divisions there, government is usually less cooperative and more competitive, to the point that there can be no true power sharing. Add to that the fact the Shi’a have been a minority dominated by the Sunnis in Iraq for 400 years. They fear sharing power, they are worried that once the US is gone the Sunnis will manage to reassert control, and they gravitate to Iran in part because Iran has the capacity to assure they do remain dominant. Also, most of Iraq’s political leaders have long standing ties to Iran, many were exiled there in Saddam’s time, and their movements — now the major political parties, were kept alive by Iranian support.

I think it’s a given that the Iraqi Shi’ites will have good relations with Iran, and in general, the idea that we’ll create a pro-American Iraq is extremely unlikely. Democracies and open societies are very difficult to construct and maintain, even without the kind of problems Iraq currently has. This is a typical third world polity driven by rivalries, lack of order, political instability, and not much of a political culture to provide guidance. Moreover, third world states with valuable resources (oil, diamonds, etc.) have proven more resistant to democratization and political development than others (look at the backsliding of states like Venezuala and Russia — oil helps corrupt leaders stay in power, and removes the incentive to promote democracy). What I read from you is "hope":
Those assumptions treat the Iraqi Shi’ites as if they are a monolithic block, under hypnotic control of their religion. I think there’s plenty more variation there than that. And the more time we give them as a relatively open society, the more that variation will increase.
I don’t think they are under hypnotic control by their religion; rather, their religion creates a political cleavage. That’s common, and doesn’t go away quickly or easily. I also don’t see how they will get a "relatively open society," or what we can do to provide it. I just don’t see evidence to support your hope. This is especially the case when one looks at how the government is functioning, the role of Iran now in backing militias and influencing politics, and the relative weakness of the US to do much — the surge is very limited in its scope.

Nothing in the literature of political development, democratic studies, or studies of ethnic conflict gives any region to expect anything good any time soon. All we can do is try to avoid a ’worst case scenario,’ work for some kind of stability, and hope that corruption, antagonism and religious extremism gives way to modern thinking. That’s a cultural change that takes at least a generation. Iraq isn’t like Japan or Germany after WWII, it’s a third world state with a political culture straight from the Ottoman Empire. I don’t think democracy can function there, at least not in a western sense. That doesn’t mean we write them off forever, but recognize that they need to develop their own path forward, and it may be in fits and starts, and in a manner we might not like.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
SShiell: the surge was meant to provide security to two areas — Anbar province and Baghdad. Al-Maliki promised to end sectarian violence and work towards reconciliation at the same time. It was never designed to provide security for the whole country. You can read more about it yourself. Again, you’re evading discussion of the Shi’a issue and how the lack of political progress is not something the surge is able to fix. You need to settle down and think seriously about the reality of the situation, I think.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You know something, Erb, I am beginning to realize why McQ will not engage you any further in discussions.
The surge, as I noted in my blog on August 15th, is not designed to provide security for Iraq.
And
the surge was meant to provide security to two areas — Anbar province and Baghdad
And your reference to Wiki states in the first two sentences:
The "troop surge" is a phrase commonly used to describe U.S. President George W. Bush’s strategy change involving an increase in the number of American troops deployed to the Iraq War to provide security to Baghdad and Al Anbar Province.
So, which is it, Erb?

Next:
Again, you’re evading discussion of the Shi’a issue and how the lack of political progress is not something the surge is able to fix.
No, I have not evaded the issue. You are harping on an issue and claim only two alternatives for its resolution:
The alternates are to: 1) give up any pretense of democracy and install a pro-American dictator; or 2) expand the conflict with Iran.
I have responded to the issue by stating:
I have already stated on numerous occasions that in order to deal with the Shi’ite issue, you first need to cancel out the Iranian influence.
To which you have not responded at all. Additionally, I challenged you for your referencing Iran
Now in Iraq you have Iran emerging the winner
I find that interesting because for months you have been the one that has constantly insisted that Iran should be brought to the negotiatng table as they were needed as a "stabilizing force" in the region. The very same Iran that is exporting weapons and fighters into Iraq and providing sanctuary for Sadr when he feels any sort of heat. And then you say
The metric for me is political progress at Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation
Which to me sounds strange because in a previous comment, I posted an article from AKI news where the leader of Iraq’s banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda. AKI is an Italian news service that has been extremely critical of the US in Iraq from the very beginning. So to read of an important turn of events like this, which could literally be a defining moment in Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation. But instead of engagement by you on any one of these fronts, I get a lecture from you:
You need to settle down and think seriously about the reality of the situation, I think.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry - Laugh at the duplicitouness of your arguments or Cry at the horror of your kind of logic infecting the young people of our country today.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell,

I’m also going to ignore all the personal stuff since it’s irrelevant to the real issues. Also, it’s odd that you quote the Wiki entry as stating precisely what I said, and then ask "which is it." The quotes say the same thing! My claim that the surge was not meant to bring security to Iraq but only to these two regions seems beyond dispute.

So the only content you seem to have is a claim that we need to "cancel" Iranian influence. Well, how do you plan to do that? Diplomacy and negotiation is probably the only feasible option given the political and military realities on the ground. Do you have another approach? Economic pressure? The problem is that Iran can turn to China and Russia, each of whom see Iran as important — China especially.

I’m not sure why you think the news that Baathists are fighting al qaeda (Baathist ideals were always against religious extremism) says anything about Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation, let alone a defining moment. Why do you make that claim? It says NOTHING about Shi’ite - Sunni reconciliation! Do you know who the players are, who the Sunnis and Shi’ites are? Sunni insurgents have been turning on al qaeda for sometime, and I’ve praised one aspect of the surge quite clearly: the fact we are now working to create cooperation with Sunnis rather than animosity. But that’s upset the majority Shi’ite, who have been critical of the US approach.

Baathists were predominantly Sunni (with some Shi’ites as members), and the areas affected by the surge are Sunni, and al qaeda is a Sunni organization. The Shi’ite majority opposese Baathists, and have refused to undo de-Baathization (though the US says they must). The Shi’ite majority (65%) fears that the Sunnis will try to regain control, and want to be in control of major oil production and Iraqi policy. They are close to Iran. So how do you get reconciliation, and how do you propose to "cancel" Iranian influence?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m also going to ignore all the personal stuff since it’s irrelevant to the real issues.
Then stop it up by your lecturing me. I am not one of your students!
My claim that the surge was not meant to bring security to Iraq but only to these two regions seems beyond dispute.
Wrong. And as an example, the major operations in Diyala province is evidence of that very thing. Diyala province is neither Baghdad nor Al Anbar. True, Baghdad and Al Anbar are two especially sensitive areas that the surge needed to concentrate upon but to limit the surge operations to only two areas would not only be ineffective - the Insurgents would only cross the "state line" to escape the operations - but also stupid because security is a national need and not merely a local requirement.

To say the Baathists are predominately Sunni is an understatement. True, internationally they are predomoinately Sunni with a mixing of Shi’a but in Iraq they are almost totally Sunni. The fact remains that this group, whose leader is on the 55 playing card wanted list (Remember the list of which Sadaam was the Ace of Spades), will now be cooperating with the Iraqi military in operations against AQ is a major step in the reconciliation of the two sides.
So how do you get reconciliation, and how do you propose to "cancel" Iranian influence?
There is virtually no stronger ties between men than those who have fought side by side against a common enemy. I am not saying there will be all peace and light between them, but when they cooperate together against a common foe, it could potentially change the whole dynamic. And again, the purpose of the surge waas explicitly to provide that level of security from which these types of actions could occur. You cannot have political progress without first getting some level of security - regardless of what you may think. (A note from our own history - Vicksburg, Mississippi, as a result of bad feelings from our own Civil War did not celebrate the 4th of July from 1863 until when? - 1942, after Pearl Harbor!)

Again, it is a start. I know these are not complete and total answers on how to cancel Iranian influence or complete the Sunni-Shi’a reconciliation. But they are steps in the right direction. And with a little luck and increased security, more steps can be taken. I don’t know the way forward, but, in my own defense, I wasn’t the one who claimed to know the way forward.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
The Bush administration has not said that the surge comes first then political reconciliation, quite the contrary.
Erb, still waiting for you to back it up...

Put up or shut up.

You’re doing the classic Erb-Shuffle again.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
There is virtually no stronger ties between men than those who have fought side by side against a common enemy.
I just don’t think that’s going to happen. A Baathist leader saying he’s opposed to and will fight al qaeda does not mean he will join with the government. It’s a stretch.

Here isCharles Krauthammer’s take — he’s a well known neo-conservative obviously.

The problem I see in Krauthammmer’s argument is that it’s sort of a crap shoot. Well, new elections, maybe a new leader will change everything. Perhaps. But most likely not due to the political conditions in Iraq I noted in my response to Billy. I can agree with Krauthammer in much of his argument about what the surge has accomplished and the importance of degrading the Sunni insurgency.

Here are five questions, not directed at you, but which in general I think are very important:

1. If al qaeda is seriously weakened, will the Sunnis truly work with the Shi’ites or will they begin a new insurgency to try to get back the power they’ve held for 400 years or so (earlier as part of the Ottoman Empire)?

2. If al qaeda is seriously weakened, will the Shi’ites share power with the Sunnis to the extent necessary to make it acceptable to the Sunnis to join a national unity government?

3. Will the Iran backed Shi’ia militias, now more powerful in many ways than government forces (and they’ve infiltrated government forces) allow any kind of real power sharing, or will a Shi’a populism create a policy designed to assure power and oil resources to the Shi’ite majority?

4. Will extremists on each side be able to engage in attacks that sustain ethnic animosity that has prevailed for years?

5. What kind of democracy can emerge in a country so riddled with corruption, lacking a democratic set of traditions, with outsiders of all sorts trying to influence policy?

I think Krauthammer underestimates the problems inherent in a polity like Iraq, and does not confront enough the problem Iran creates (as well as the closeness of Iran to many prominent Iraqi political leaders). I think the militias are being created precisely to prevent a US sponsored "coup" or the forcing of new elections — Iran and the Shi’ite government.

Iran is bound and determined not to let Iraq emerge as a state "useful" to the Americans. They are using every means possible to prevent that, they have agents embedded into Iraq’s government, as well as secret deals and ties to various Iraqi parties and militias. Iran is also a regional power. Our policies in the region, especially since 1991, have tended to benefit Iran, whose potential ambitions had been held in check in part by a Baathist Sunni led Iraq. I don’t think Iran is expansive, but they want to be a major player in the region. They want to assure that US influence is limited. The policy question that will determine ultimately how this will play out is how we’ll deal with Iran. That’s more important than al qaeda in Iraq, or the Sunni insurgency.

JWG: Quote’s already been posted, it’s in Bush’s speech, as well as the article from Wikipedia. Political reconciliation was to happen alongside the surge. However, if you claim that it was supposed to come later, you post a quote.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
BTW, this article give credence to the idea that a partition could happen, society is already splitting up, mixed neighborhoods are becoming rare.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb, talking again through his tradesman’s entrance:
Iran is bound and determined not to let Iraq emerge as a state "useful" to the Americans.
Well, as a spokeman for the Iranian regime, Boris, don’t you think that your assessments of the situation are, uh, shaded against the interests of both Iraq and the United States?

Come to think of it, as a spokesman for virtually any regime that shows even the inclination of becoming an enemy of the United States, don’t you think that your interests were exposed long ago?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
JWG: Quote’s already been posted, it’s in Bush’s speech
Oh, man...here we go...

YOU provide the quote from the speech. Don’t just point to the speech and claim it supports your point. You are claiming something Bush doesn’t say.
However, if you claim that it was supposed to come later, you post a quote.
I ALREADY DID...

Here it is again:
From Erb’s link to Bush’s speech:
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad.
Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people.
But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help.
This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to... Yet over time, we can expect to see... When this happens... the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace — and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.
As usual, this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Erb claims.

Surge first — THEN reconciliation.
And we continue with the Erb-Shuffle...
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I just don’t think that’s going to happen.
Then it is merely your gut feeling versus mine. I’ll trust my own, thank you very much.
A Baathist leader saying he’s opposed to and will fight al qaeda does not mean he will join with the government.
Small steps, Erb. Small steps all in the right direction. Crawl, then walk, and then run. You know the drill. As for your questions:
1. If al qaeda is seriously weakened, will the Sunnis truly work with the Shi’ites or will they begin a new insurgency to try to get back the power they’ve held for 400 years or so (earlier as part of the Ottoman Empire)?
Why not? Look at the odds. Either they cooperate or it is 7-3 against them with the Shi’a holding the "high ground" and by that I mean the military and police. They also only have to look North at the Kurds to see what comes with peace - prosperity!
2. If al qaeda is seriously weakened, will the Shi’ites share power with the Sunnis to the extent necessary to make it acceptable to the Sunnis to join a national unity government?
Again, why not? Why should they put their own safety at risk because of greed. If the Irish can "bury the hatchet" then anyone can. Again, look at the Kurds.
3. Will the Iran backed Shi’ia militias, now more powerful in many ways than government forces (and they’ve infiltrated government forces) allow any kind of real power sharing, or will a Shi’a populism create a policy designed to assure power and oil resources to the Shi’ite majority?
The deal has already been brokered and is set to be put before the general assembly. Have you stopped reading the paper lately? Oh yeah, I mean foreign sources, like Der Sturm (sp?). Even the UN has announced it will set up operations in Iraq after a 4 year absence.
4. Will extremists on each side be able to engage in attacks that sustain ethnic animosity that has prevailed for years?
Sure they will try to engage in attacks that sustain ethnic animosity. It is what "extremists" do! So?
5. What kind of democracy can emerge in a country so riddled with corruption, lacking a democratic set of traditions, with outsiders of all sorts trying to influence policy?
Damn, that sounds like 1783 America! But I digress. To answer your question, An Iraqi-kind of democracy. Which means it is a democracy that, by needs, must be tailored to the fundamental aspects of day to day Iraqi life. The Sunni, Shi’a, and Kurds must act together or fall apart. Just like we had to do over 200 years ago - remember? And, don’t forget, it is in their collective best interest to do so.

Does all that mean that it will all of a suden become peace and light and we can all sit around the campfire singing Kum-By-Ya in three part harmony? No, but it is as good a chance as we have had in that part of the world in a long time. There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. I would like to think it was a good light and not a hellfire.

Finally, as far as which came first, chicken or egg. The Wiki reference you posted says not one word in that regard whereas JWG put quotes up for all to see. Concede or put up your references - the Wiki one doesn’t float. (Note: And I did not even once mention the on-going controversy regarding Wiki manipulation. I’m just saying . . . oops, I just mentioned it, didn’t I?)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell,
Why not? Look at the odds. Either they cooperate or it is 7-3 against them with the Shi’a holding the "high ground" and by that I mean the military and police. They also only have to look North at the Kurds to see what comes with peace - prosperity!
If you read Sunni propaganda, they don’t even believe they are only 20% (Arab Sunni) of the population, they think they have more and that the Shi’ites are out to dominate them. Many think that once the US is gone they can again gain control. Others think they have to, or else be under control of the Shi’ia. This is common for such conflicts (Hutu - Tutsi, Bosnian Muslim - Bosnian Serb, etc.) Shi’ia populism essentially says that they should control because they are the majority, and that the Sunni screwed them for centuries, they don’t deserve favors — and especially not to go back on de-Baathification.

The deal that was brokered was a Shi’ia-Kurdish deal, the Sunnis didn’t participate, and as such it’s seen primarily as a failure. Without Sunni buy in, it’s not a real deal.

Interesting to compare to 1783 America — since we then had slavery and women were treated as second class citizens. But the US was being built on British culture which was already moving to democracy and steeped in enlightenment thought. Iraq is being built on Ottoman culture and a violent 20th century. If you look at ethnic conflict throughout the third world, you’ll find that especially in places with resources like oil, the allure of prosperity if they cooperate gives way to the short term desire to control the resources for your people, and to keep government power as a way to rake in the money for yourself. Iraq is right now on that path.

Finally, the region is worse now than when Saddam was in power in terms of stability, I think we’ve done more harm than good. You have hope that somehow they’ll make small steps and improve, but I haven’t seen evidence that it is at all likely. Time will tell — though the optimists were certainly wrong about the likely aftermath of the 2003 invasion, while people like me were pretty certain things were going to be very difficult.

And it is absolutely wrong to think it was surge first and then political progress. JWG knows this was in Bush’s speech, which is why his "quotes" were full of snips. And he ignored this:

I’ve made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this.


Or this:
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.

America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/iraq/story/18927.html:
Despite U.S. claims that violence is down in the Iraqi capital, U.S. military officers are offering a bleak picture of Iraq’s future, saying they’ve yet to see any signs of reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims despite the drop in violence.

Without reconciliation, the military officers say, any decline in violence will be temporary and bloodshed could return to previous levels as soon as the U.S. military cuts back its campaign against insurgent attacks.
Note this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/21/AR2007082100863.html?sub=AR
President Bush pointedly declined Tuesday to offer a public endorsement of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, expressing his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and saying that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace their government.

"The fundamental question is: Will the government respond to the demands of the people?" Bush said. Stopping short of directly endorsing Maliki, as he has on several previous occasions, Bush continued, "If the government doesn’t respond to the dema
Now, if we were supposed to wait for the surge to be complete before political reconciliation, Bush wouldn’t be saying this!

Or would this be the US take if we were waiting for the surge to end and not expecting reconciliation now? http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IH24Ak02.html

Not only has the Iraqi Parliament failed to approve legislation on the distribution of oil revenues, on the eligibility of former Ba’ath Party officials to return to government, or on the holding of elections that would give Sunnis a greater voice in provincial and local councils, but the largest Sunni bloc aligned with the government walked out this month.

Crocker himself on Tuesday called progress toward national reconciliation "extremely disappointing", while even Bush appeared to be hedging his support for Maliki during a visit to Canada the same day, calling on the Iraqi government "to do more through its Parliament to help heal the wounds of ... having lived years under a tyrant".
Finally, read this from January: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/bulletin/bulletin_070116.htm

Bottom line, it is clear that political reconciliation, and a crack down on militias and ethnic violence and cleansing (the earlier article I sent shows that hasn’t been done) was all expected during the surge, not afterwards.
And it was in the Bush speech.

But clearly the speech showed that political progress had to be made, as did the Wiki reference, as has many people throughout government. So that’s a lot of evidence supporting my claim. But given that there was no evidence against my position posted, I really didn’t need to give quotes to support my position, and am doing so only to show readers that I am trying to go the extra mile in trying to promote real discussion.

Let’s see the JWG shuffle now (chuckle)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So that’s a lot of evidence supporting my claim.
OMG.

Your claim was:
The Bush administration has not said that the surge comes first then political reconciliation, quite the contrary.
Do you even know what "first...then" means?

Do you even know what "quite the contrary" means?

You are so unbelievably predictable it’s scary.

You have completely deviated from your original premise. THAT is the Erb Shuffle.

Idiot.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Boris Erb, when nervous, types faster and longer, so I’ll just fish out the usual:
Finally, the region is worse now than when Saddam was in power in terms of stability, I think we’ve done more harm than good.
Actually, Boris, that would be a hard case to make, but it’s irrelevant, because we have removed the one most destabilizing factor from the most unstable region in the world, namely the Hussein regime. And basically what we have left, aside from the terror outfits, is the next fellow up on the queue, the Iranian Mullahocracy, which has been the leading outsourcer of terrorism for 28 years. Once we deal with that, the more minor role players, like Syria, will be easy to deal with. And then there’s the machinations of the Saudi regime, as well. I don’t think you’ve heard of the concept of "one thing at a time," but you’ll run across it someday.

Now, Boris, tell the crew here exactly how we would ever be so fortunate as to have our armed forces positioned right in the middle of it again? Really. You’ve got a region of the world that has been spinning out of control since, to pull a marker, 1979. And it’s a threat to Europe, the rest of the Middle East, the world economy, and the United States, and now we’re in there in force. That is half the job right there.

We’ve stayed in Europe now for 62 years after WWII. Ditto Japan and Korea. And now at a fraction of the cost in men and treasure, we are positioned to influence what everybody does, and to influence it for the better.

And the bloody Democrats want to give that up because they want to play Vietnam again, and pretend they’re going to get lucky at a "peace" rally.

The more important thing though, for the United States as a world power, a world power that has repeatedly done major good for the world over the past 60 years — especially in spreading affluence and freedom and defeating totalitarian Communism — is to throw off the conventional wisdom cultivated by the anti-American Left.

So, the longer we stay in the Middle East, with deliberatness and determination, the more good we can accomplish. And how do we do that? By doing exactly what George Bush has laid down as the strategic vision: expanding the frontier of freedom through consensual government. It’s long and difficult work, but like I said, just getting in there on the ground was half the job.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
JWG, you seem very Clintonesque in your approach to words. It’s clear that I was saying that the surge does not come before political change. It’s clear Bush never said it did - quite the contrary, in the quotes I provided he said the time for the Iraqis to act politically is "now" (said in January). You’re playing word games, but you have to stretch farther than Clinton’s "it depends upon what ’is’ means."

Quite the contrary means he said political reforms had to take place alongside the surge, not afterwards. Do you not understand that? Or are you trying to play a word game it make it seem like I was saying something obviously absurd like they had to have reconciliation before the surge would start? If so, you win the Bill Clinton word game award of the day.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Or are you trying to play a word game . . .
To tell you the truth, Erb, I think it is you who are playing word games. To begin with you state:
The surge, as I noted in my blog on August 15th, is not designed to provide security for Iraq.
(Emphasis mine) And then:
the surge was meant to provide security to two areas — Anbar province and Baghdad.
(Emphasis mone) So, which is it, Erb? The first time I challenged you on these two statements you responded:
Also, it’s odd that you quote the Wiki entry as stating precisely what I said, and then ask "which is it." The quotes say the same thing!
NO. THEY. DO. NOT. In one you say the surge was not designed to provide security and in the other you say it was. So which is it? The surge is or is not designed to provide security?

Now to be fair your entire first quote was:
Or are you trying to play a word game it make it seem like I was saying something obviously absurd like they had to have reconciliation before the surge would start?
But you did that very thing:
The Bush administration has not said that the surge comes first then political reconciliation, quite the contrary.
Do you see my problem here? "quite the contrary" for which you yourself placed the emphasis!
I’m also going to ignore all the personal stuff since it’s irrelevant to the real issues.
Note: For the record, this was not personal stuff since it’s irrelevant to the real issue but an observation of a series of statements that are contradictory by their very nature.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell:
Security to Iraq is not the same as security to a small portion of Iraq.

Quite the contrary to the political improvement coming after the surge is political improvement coming along with the surge. I stated that many times, explicitly, in my posts.

You are ignoring all the content and issues involved to try to play word games. Pathetic. You had risen above that and we had actually developed a decent dialogue about the issues. Then you fall to this? Sigh.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Quite the contrary means he said political reforms had to take place alongside the surge, not afterwards. Do you not understand that?
I understand what contrary means.

You obviously did not.

Furthermore, Bush clearly stated that the surge had to successfully provide security BEFORE political reforms could be successful.

NO ONE (but you) made the argument that the surge had to END before political reforms could start.

——

This was ANOTHER perfect example of Erb Logic.

1) You made a false statement.
2) Several people called you on it and provided evidence.
3) You altered everyone’s argument into a strawman.

You were busted once again.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
You’re dancing and weaving and shuffling JWG, but you cannot deny that my quotes proved exactly what I said: the surge was not meant to precede political change, but President Bush was demanding political reforms be implemented during the surge by the Maliki regime. There is now criticism of the regime because the reforms have not been taking place.

You apparently do not have the honor to admit you were wrong, and you are playing really pathetic word games to try to hide that fact. What is funny is that not only do you apparently not feel capable of actually debating substance, but you try to compensate by playing word games, and you fail utterly. Now, do have the honor to admit that my argument was right — political reform was meant to go along with the surge, and not afterwards — or are you going dance, shuffle, weave, and play games?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You know, Erb, you could have ended this entire thread by simply stating you mistyped something or misstated something.
you cannot deny that my quotes proved exactly what I said
So, aqain
The surge, as I noted in my blog on August 15th, is not designed to provide security for Iraq.
This quote proves exactly what you said! Then you backtracked to
the surge was meant to provide security to two areas — Anbar province and Baghdad.
But then you disregard my reference to major surge combat operations in Diyala Province. So if the surge was limited as you say, what are they doing in Diyala? And when confronted:
You are ignoring all the content and issues involved to try to play word games.
Who’s playing games here?
You had risen above that and we had actually developed a decent dialogue about the issues. Then you fall to this? Sigh.
No, I was the one who made an attempt to answer your 5 questions. Which you then promptly blew off rather than engage.
Pathetic.
No, if anyone here is dancing and weaving, it is you. You are the one that is pathetic. But then, the rest of us already knew that!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SSHiell, Clearly I was right when I said the surge was not meant to provide security to Iraq but specific regions. It’s primary focus was, as the Wikipedia article noted, Baghdad and Anbar provinces, it does reach into other areas as well, but it was not meant to provide security to the whole country. That was clearly my point, and in fact I have many times praised the tactical successes of the surge. Where are you disagreeing with me?

No, I was the one who made an attempt to answer your 5 questions. Which you then promptly blew off rather than engage.
Really? Who blew off this post I made in response to you?
If you read Sunni propaganda, they don’t even believe they are only 20% (Arab Sunni) of the population, they think they have more and that the Shi’ites are out to dominate them. Many think that once the US is gone they can again gain control. Others think they have to, or else be under control of the Shi’ia. This is common for such conflicts (Hutu - Tutsi, Bosnian Muslim - Bosnian Serb, etc.) Shi’ia populism essentially says that they should control because they are the majority, and that the Sunni screwed them for centuries, they don’t deserve favors — and especially not to go back on de-Baathification.

The deal that was brokered was a Shi’ia-Kurdish deal, the Sunnis didn’t participate, and as such it’s seen primarily as a failure. Without Sunni buy in, it’s not a real deal.

Interesting to compare to 1783 America — since we then had slavery and women were treated as second class citizens. But the US was being built on British culture which was already moving to democracy and steeped in enlightenment thought. Iraq is being built on Ottoman culture and a violent 20th century. If you look at ethnic conflict throughout the third world, you’ll find that especially in places with resources like oil, the allure of prosperity if they cooperate gives way to the short term desire to control the resources for your people, and to keep government power as a way to rake in the money for yourself. Iraq is right now on that path.

Finally, the region is worse now than when Saddam was in power in terms of stability, I think we’ve done more harm than good. You have hope that somehow they’ll make small steps and improve, but I haven’t seen evidence that it is at all likely. Time will tell — though the optimists were certainly wrong about the likely aftermath of the 2003 invasion, while people like me were pretty certain things were going to be very difficult.
I was going to praise you for getting to substance, but now you’ve shifted to silliness. Can you deal with the substance:

1. The "deal" before the assembly was a Kurdish-Shi’ite deal, without Sunni buy in, so it is not a real step forward — it was a failure since the Sunnis were not brought in, and in fact left government.

2. You’ve not touched the part about how difficult it is for third world states with corruption, resources, no tradition of democracy and one of violence to move towards democracy.

3. You’ve not addressed the ethnic conflict except to express hope that "small steps" will make things better.

In short, I’ve given you serious problems that need to be solved if Iraq is to stabilize, and my proposal of partition as the best likely path forward. You respond by saying "slow steps" and hope. Fine, but that isn’t very persausive.

The reason I provided quotes to show that I was correct about the purpose of the surge, it’s limits, and the need for political progress during and not after the surge was to do all I can to show I’m debating in good spirits. But for you to accuse me of blowing off your answer when you blew off my response to your answer, well, there’s no excuse for that.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
you cannot deny that my quotes proved exactly what I said
You still do not understand the meaning of "contrary".

Furthermore:

You still do not understand "most urgent priority" ... "[security] over time" ... "When this happens" ... "the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas"

It’s a progression — security (surge) FIRST [security does NOT end — that was your Erb Logic — no one else ever made such a claim] — THEN political reconciliation can "make progress".

Idiot.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Can you deal with the substance:
I will probably regret this but here goes.
1. The "deal" before the assembly was a Kurdish-Shi’ite deal, without Sunni buy in, so it is not a real step forward — it was a failure since the Sunnis were not brought in, and in fact left government.
In your vast experience in the Senate, have you ever seen deals being brokered that have had to go back to the negotiating table time and again? Remember, small steps, Erb.
You respond by saying "slow steps" and hope.
The fact that the Shi’a and Kurds came to agreement is a step in the right direction and I am willing to take heart in a step like that.
2. You’ve not touched the part about how difficult it is for third world states with corruption, resources, no tradition of democracy and one of violence to move towards democracy.
Yes, I have. But I do think this as an unsurmountable obstacle which is why I referenced our own past in 1783.
3. You’ve not addressed the ethnic conflict except to express hope that "small steps" will make things better.
And you know of any one big step that will or could occur to remedy that? I grew up in the deep south. I grew up with Segregation. I grew up not 20 miles away from Little Rock Arkansas and I remember vividly Central High School in 1957. And this is a country that freed the slaves in the Confederacy with the Emancipation Proclamiation in 1863 and the rest of the country with the 14th Amendment in 1870. But I can now count among my friends more than a dozen blacks. And among them are men that I served with in the Military. That is why I mentioned the importance of the former Baathists joining the fight with a common enemy.
Fine, but that isn’t very persausive.
You may be able to blow that off because yuo have never experienced the same type of feelings for your brothers but I and others who post here have lived through experience like that and can tell you it is a powerful force and cannot be discounted out of hand. It is also why I mentioned Vicksburg and the 4th of July. It was not only Vicksburg that rebuked the 4th of July in the South, although Vicksburg was the only city that did so institutionally. I and many of my friends in the south had great-grandparents that fought in that war and they had a kinship with the attitude of Vicksburg. But in 1942 that 4th of July after Peal Harbor meant something. Something important enough to overcome a 75 year institutional animosity - a common enemy. Again, you may be able to blow that off with impunity - you did not even comment back to me on the mention. But it was again one of those small setps that could lead to more important and larger steps in the future.

The new Iraq is only 4 yrears old. It took us how many years to install a constitution? It took us how many years to finally destroy the institution of slavery? It took us how many years to grant women the right to vote? It took us how many years to pass the Civil Rights Act that finally granted blacks the freedom denied them institionally since the 14th Amendment? Small steps, Erb. Small steps! Discount them only at your peril because our own country’s history is nothing but a series of small steps to what we are today. And guess what? We still got a ways to go!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I grew up not 20 miles away from Little Rock Arkansas and I remember vividly Central High School in 1957.
Huh. Ft. Smith, 1st graduating class out of Southside High School. Moved to AR from CA when a Jr. in HS. Graduated from Arkansas Tech in Russellville (one of the best ROTC programs around at that time).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
JWG: On the contrary means he did something different than political reform after the surge; in this case called for political reform as the surge was taking place. I have absolutely no clue what your claim is that I’m somehow wrong.

SShiell,

1. The "deal" before the assembly was a Kurdish-Shi’ite deal, without Sunni buy in, so it is not a real step forward — it was a failure since the Sunnis were not brought in, and in fact left government.

In your vast experience in the Senate, have you ever seen deals being brokered that have had to go back to the negotiating table time and again? Remember, small steps, Erb.
Two years isn’t vast experience. But the point is that they were supposed to be in agreement with the Sunnis by this time with political reconciliation going forward. Instead the Sunnis have left the government, and Allawi is being called weak and failing by even top members of the Administration, including the President. This was not supposed to happen, this is not a good sign.

The fact that the Shi’a and Kurds came to agreement is a step in the right direction and I am willing to take heart in a step like that.
There was never any doubt the Shi’a and Kurds could agree. It’s the Sunnis who are the improtant ones.

2. You’ve not touched the part about how difficult it is for third world states with corruption, resources, no tradition of democracy and one of violence to move towards democracy.

Yes, I have. But I do think this as an unsurmountable obstacle which is why I referenced our own past in 1783.
Totally different. We were steeped in enlightenment thought, had inherited the British tradition, and were in essentially pre-modern times without near the problems Iraq faces. You need to look at the literature of the politics of developing countries to see the kinds of problems they face, it is nothing like the US in 1783, not even close. I’ve stated the reasons: intense corruption, the curse of resource wealth, ethnic violence, a tradition of violence and authoritarianism from the Ottoman Empire, and a century of violence and ruthless rule. Look at the politics of third world states and you’ll see that these are usually insurmontable obstacles. Look at Nigeria, the British set it up with an almost perfect system, yet it fell apart completely within a few years. This is not like the world of 220 years ago, and it isn’t like the enlightenment West.

3. You’ve not addressed the ethnic conflict except to express hope that "small steps" will make things better.

And you know of any one big step that will or could occur to remedy that? I grew up in the deep south. I grew up with Segregation. I grew up not 20 miles away from Little Rock Arkansas and I remember vividly Central High School in 1957. And this is a country that freed the slaves in the Confederacy with the Emancipation Proclamiation in 1863 and the rest of the country with the 14th Amendment in 1870. But I can now count among my friends more than a dozen blacks. And among them are men that I served with in the Military. That is why I mentioned the importance of the former Baathists joining the fight with a common enemy.
The one mistake most Americans make is they see too much of our system and way of thought in other cultures, leading us to think that people generally think the way we do, and want the same kinds of things we do. We have a hard time comprehending how fundamentally different politics can be, especially in places like Iraq with a very different political history and culture. Trying to draw analogies between our society and theirs doesn’t really apply; we have to look at their culture on their own terms, and look at similar places where ethnic conflict and corruption have dominated. Also, I suggest you read Robert Baer’s work — he’s not a leftist, he thinks we’re in WWIV. He’s a former CIA agent, an expert on Iran and Iraq (and Lebanon — he probably know as much about Hezbollah as anybody). I am convinced that ties between Iran and Iraq are deep and we don’t really have the capacity to truly understand and counter that. That’s dangerous to our interests.

I’ll answer the rest later, I gotta get my four year old to bed.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
McQ:

I graduated from Jacksonville High School. Went on to and graduated from the UofA ’cause at the time it was the only Air Force ROTC program in the state (My father was career Air Force and was still active duty when I graduated and was commissioned - he was enlisted and got my silver dollar - a proud moment for both of us!). My best friend and the best man at my wedding came from Fort Smith and graduated from FS Northside - sorry about that - and my nephew, on my recommendation, went to and graduated from Arkansas Tech. Many of my friends from my UofA days were from Fort Smith and are still there today.

Small world, McQ.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
On the contrary means he did something different
Nope. Not in the English language it doesn’t. It has a more specific meaning.

Idiot.

By the way, I hope your boys never have a coach who tells you that their season will start with practices before they start playing any games.

According to Erb Logic, the coach has informed you that you’ll have to stop taking them to practice once the games begin.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
JWG, "On the contrary" does not mean what you think it does. It does not mean "the exact opposite." For instance, "I did not tell him I’d pick him up at 8:00; on the contrary, I said I’d be there at 7:00." It means something different, not the opposite. *eyes rolling*

From dictionary.com:

11. on the contrary,
a. in opposition to what has been stated.
b. from another point of view: On the contrary, there may be some who would agree with you.

I think you should have been holding a mirror when you wrote "idiot."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
SShiell, continuing:

You may be able to blow that off because yuo have never experienced the same type of feelings for your brothers but I and others who post here have lived through experience like that and can tell you it is a powerful force and cannot be discounted out of hand. It is also why I mentioned Vicksburg and the 4th of July. It was not only Vicksburg that rebuked the 4th of July in the South, although Vicksburg was the only city that did so institutionally. I and many of my friends in the south had great-grandparents that fought in that war and they had a kinship with the attitude of Vicksburg. But in 1942 that 4th of July after Peal Harbor meant something. Something important enough to overcome a 75 year institutional animosity - a common enemy. Again, you may be able to blow that off with impunity - you did not even comment back to me on the mention. But it was again one of those small setps that could lead to more important and larger steps in the future.
Again, you’re comparing an advanced industrialized state and a war from a different time with Iraq. Moreover, it’s not like Shi’ite and Sunni will stand side by side to fight al qaeda, or that this is a common enemy of the sort that will unite them. Al qaeda in Iraq isn’t that strong, and its common in that part of the world for people to share enemies while remaining enemies themselves. Again, you’re not dealing with Iraq and Iraqi culture and history on its own terms, you’re imagining them as being and thinking like we do. The culture and history are fundamentally different (BTW, I think that error is extremely common — it is the fundamental error which caused the mistaken view that we would be greated as liberators and that Iraq would quickly embrace the US and what we’re ’doing for them’ after Saddam’s fall).
The new Iraq is only 4 yrears old. It took us how many years to install a constitution? It took us how many years to finally destroy the institution of slavery? It took us how many years to grant women the right to vote? It took us how many years to pass the Civil Rights Act that finally granted blacks the freedom denied them institionally since the 14th Amendment? Small steps, Erb. Small steps! Discount them only at your peril because our own country’s history is nothing but a series of small steps to what we are today. And guess what? We still got a ways to go!
Small steps as in 75 years? OK, I’ll grant that is possible. But to me that means we need to leave relatively soon, and let Iraq develop on its own terms. Thought experiment: America 1820. An invading power attacks because we allow slavery. Its goal is to overthrow our evil institutions that allow slavery and don’t allow women to vote or have equal rights with a more fair and just system. They attack, take over the White House, Congress, and install a government based on their ideals, not in line with where we were culturally. How would Americans have reacted, even those who opposed slavery?

All that said, at a deep level I agree that small steps are the way to go, and that if we can be of assistance, we should. But they have to take the steps, they have to make the hard choices, and we have to recognize we are limited in what we can accomplish and that we may do more harm than good in trying to stir it. So let the surge continue through April next year. Work the region diplomatically. And, if things seem ready for chaos and a bloodbath, partition Iraq. If not, leave slowly and allow them to find their own way.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
*ERB LOGIC ALERT*

Quit ALTERING your original claim!!!

You stated: "quite the contrary"

From your cited Dictionary.com
con·trar·y [kon-trer-ee; for 5 also kuhn-trair-ee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, noun, plural -trar·ies, adverb
–adjective
1. opposite in nature or character; diametrically or mutually opposed: contrary to fact; contrary propositions.
2. opposite in direction or position: departures in contrary directions.
3. being the opposite one of two: I will make the contrary choice.
4. unfavorable or adverse.
5. perverse; stubbornly opposed or willful.
–noun
6. something that is contrary or opposite: to prove the contrary of a statement.
7. either of two contrary things.
8. Logic. a proposition so related to another proposition that both may not be true though both may be false, as with the propositions “All judges are male” and “No judges are male.”
–adverb
9. in opposition; oppositely; counter: to act contrary to one’s own principles.
You have got to be the worst educated PhD on the planet.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
For instance, "I did not tell him I’d pick him up at 8:00; on the contrary, I said I’d be there at 7:00." It means something different, not the opposite.
By the way, genius...

This is a misuse of the term "on the contrary."

The proper use would be:
I did not tell him I’d pick him up at 8:00; on the contrary, I said he’d pick me up at 8:00.

Quit mangling the English language. Stick with mangling politics.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
JWG, clearly you’re playing Clintonesque word games, unwilling to admit that I clearly wasn’t saying the surge wouldn’t start until the political reforms were completed — I stated clearly that they would take place at the same time.

Since you obviously aren’t capable of real discussions of substance — you apparently lack the knowledge and capacity for logical argumentation — you are left with pathetic word games, such as debating what ’quite the contrary’ means. Pathetic.

Bottom line: Bush never said the surge had to be complete before political change could take place. Quite the contrary, he said the two were to take place side by side. All the word games you try to play, all the shuffles, weaves, dodges, does not deny the fact my claim is very clear. Now, William J. Clinton, go on arguing what the meaning of the word "is" or "quite the contrary" is. You display your inability to argue substance; you seem to be letting my degree intimidate you.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
you are left with pathetic word games, such as debating what ’quite the contrary’ means. Pathetic.
It’s pathetic that you can’t use the English language correctly.

You want me to apologize for assuming you meant what you actually wrote?
Bottom line: Bush never said the surge had to be complete before political change could take place.
*ERB LOGIC ALERT*

And NO ONE ever argued this (except you).
Quite the contrary, he said the two were to take place side by side.
Congratulations, you CONTINUE to misuse the English language.

You also CONTINUE to misrepresent what Bush said. The surge had to begin and show success FIRST — BEFORE political reconciliation could take place. No one said anything about Bush claiming the surge would end before "mak[ing] progress in other critical areas."



All you can do is misrepresent the facts.

You misrepresent what others say, you misrepresent what you say, and now you misrepresent the English language.

It never ends.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Quite the contrary, he said the two were to take place side by side.
Congratulations, you CONTINUE to misuse the English language.
Actually, this is a correct usage. I was wrong in claiming it was a misuse.

It is the OPPOSITE of your first phrase:
"Bush never said the surge had to be complete"

The opposite is the surge NOT being complete.

I am pleased you actually learned something!
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
JWG, I’ve been saying the same thing the whole time. You tried to play a gotcha game and failed. If you’d put as much effort in actually talking about what it will take to improve the situation in Iraq and talk about that, it would be a more fruitful discussion.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
JWG, I’ve been saying the same thing the whole time
Then according to Erb Logic:

"OK, team, we’ll begin having practices before the first game starts."

is the same thing as

"OK, team, we’ll begin having practices until the first game. Then there will be no more practices."

Your kids will be laughed off the team. Good luck.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
No, JWG, I’ve been clear that the surge will go alongside political reforms, even in my very first posts in this thread: the reforms don’t wait until after security has been established or the surge completed. You twisted an interpretation of "quite the contrary" to pretend it was something it wasn’t (you want to say I was saying the surge wasn’t supposed to start until after the political reforms, something obviously contrary to all my statements) to try to play a silly gotcha game and it failed.

It’s too bad you don’t have the strength of character to admit it. Oh well.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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