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Couric: Progress in Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Uh oh ... she'll most likely be savaged by the left for this assessment at a critical time:
One week before Gen. David Petraeus is expected to give his report on U.S. progress in Iraq, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric says she has already seen dramatic improvements in the country.

"We hear so much about things going bad, but real progress has been made there in terms of security and stability," Couric said Tuesday. "I mean, obviously, infrastructure problems abound, but Sunnis and U.S. forces are working together. They banded together because they had a common enemy: al Qaeda."
Oh man, there she is supporting the "progress in Iraq" wing when they are sure that's a bunch of baloney. I mean person after person, politicians, analysts, reporters, members of think tanks and now news anchors are all saying, "hey, you know what, they are making progress here in Iraq".

And, she says:
"I think everyone I talk to agrees that restoring basic services is really an imperative step in bringing stability and some kind of sense of society to Iraq," Couric said.
Absolutely. And, if you've been reading the reports from all of the PRTs I've been posting, you know that is now happening fairly rapidly, not only in Anbar, but in other provinces as well.

However those who haven't been there and are unlikely to go there, continue to be convinced that all is lost.
As Mr. Reid reopened the Senate for business, he vowed to change the course of the Iraq war. "September is the month for policy change in Iraq," Mr. Reid declared in his opening speech from the floor, noting that many Republican lawmakers had urged patience until the Petraeus and Crocker reports were received this month.

"The calendar has not changed," Mr. Reid said. "It's September. We have reached this goal. It's time to make a decision. We can't continue the way we are. We can't afford it, militarily and financially."
I guess Katie didn't get the memo. But then, neither did Democratic Rep. Brian Baird:
"I believe I must speak and act based on what I believe is in the best interest of our nation regardless of political advertisements or partisan interests. Based on personal visits to the region, I believe the dynamics on the ground in Iraq are changing for the better and, while there are still multiple and serious challenges, and while the course is uncertain and dangerous, the changes I have seen warrant continued support of current actions through next spring."
Funny how that works - I mean going and seeing and doing so with an open mind.

But, of course, bucking the orthodoxy as has Baird has done will certainly have a cost, won't it? He is now the target of a concerted effort by MoveOn.org to have him pay politically for having dared to not toe the line. [As an aside I wonder ... does his support for giving Iraq more time now make him a "chickenhawk?"]
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Don’t discount the chance that they’re just setting up the next groupthink narrative- the second something bad happens, all that "progress" goes up in smoke, they’ll be able to talk about a collapse, quagmire, etc etc.

There’s always an angle with these people...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
restoring basic services is really an imperative step in bringing stability and some kind of sense of society to Iraq
you know that is now happening fairly rapidly
It is only Sept. 2007 after all.

 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
It is only Sept. 2007 after all.
No one is denying that or ’wishing’ it had been started earlier. But you know what you get when you wish.

This is where we are now. Just because we’d have preferred having this happen a couple of years and a thousand lives ago doesn’t change the fact that it is happening now.

So what, do we abandon the effort because of the date? Or do we acknowledge the facts and the possibility (supported by those facts) that we’ve finally gotten it right and should give it more time?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Katie Couric will have a counter-conversion soon enough.

Harry Reid will be a drip until the day he dies.

And, historically, Iraq is a bargain. We’ve never gotten so much for so little. The Iraqis are paying a heavier price, but nothing comparable, yet, to what we paid in our own civil war.

And to the advantages we can add an acceleration of the Islamic clock so that Westerners, who think from breakfast to lunch, can see what’s actually happening in a civilization that thinks from century to century.

The Europeans are almost at the point where they can see enough to scream "Holy s**t" before they ain’t no more.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Well, that’s 4 1/5 years for CBS Evening News anchors to voice satisfaction.

How long before the U.S. Government Accountability Office is satisfied?
 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
Probably when it can do a report that actually has some meaning.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
symptomless writes:
How long before the U.S. Government Accountability Office is satisfied?
The GAO can’t get no satisfaction.

It can’t get no girl reaction.

But it tries.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
You’re right, we should believe a Rupert Murdoch/Bill Kristol opinion rather than a Congressional audit, They’re gonna have a fair and balanced view of the situation.
 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
They’re gonna have a fair and balanced view of the situation.
And you do?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Nice. It wasn’t Rupert Murdoch or Bill Kristol who wrote the article. Why not address the substance of Kagen’s points instead of the usual ad hominem attack designed to avoid having to do so?

And frankly, I find it laughable that you’re willing to take the word of a government agency as "proof" of anything especially given that because of the constraints on what it could report it had to ignore the entire metamorphosis seen in Anbar and a number of other provinces.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And you do?
I’m not reporting anything.


 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
I never said I believe in the government agency as proof, but in terms of accountablility I’d rather lay more faith in them than a Murdoch rag. Whose benchmarks were they anyway?

Why don’t I just post a few links to left wing newspapers or blogs to refute your link. Its not as if you gave any substance to the article apart from a reference.

Whoever posts most links wins, yes?

 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
Whoever posts most links wins, yes?
Here I thought the original post was talking about Katie Couric....silly me.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I never said I believe in the government agency as proof, but in terms of accountablility I’d rather lay more faith in them than a Murdoch rag. Whose benchmarks were they anyway?
Why are you asking me? Since you linked to it I assumed you’d already read the report. Obviously you have no idea whether there is anything in terms of "accountability" in that report do you?
Why don’t I just post a few links to left wing newspapers or blogs to refute your link.
Who started the link war?
Its not as if you gave any substance to the article apart from a reference.
And you did, given your link with no further explanation?

BTW, you can link whatever you want, but since you obviously have no idea what’s in the report, why should what you say be taken with anything more than a grain of salt? Apparently, even if you read the Kagan article, you’d have no basis for rebuttal.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
looker writes:
Here I thought the original post was talking about Katie Couric....silly me.
You can see just how thin a subject she is.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
While I never gave a hoot for Saddam, al Qaeda, Taliban, or any of those guys and was happy to see them go down and — to the extent I still pay attention — still go down, all I can think of now when I consider this expedition is "thank God for heavy taxation and inflation to make up the shortfall."

How ’bout y’all?

 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Interestingly, the GOA report comes to the same "conclusions" as Kagan, that better measurements are needed...

The GOA report doesn’t recommend a course of action regarding Iraq, it only reports on whether benchmarks defined by Congress have been met or not.

How long should it take for the political process to gel?? 1 year, 4 years, 10 years, 200 years?? We continue to propose amendments to our Constitution and our political process is hardly a model of perfection.

How long should it take for social reconciliation take?? Our country was still lynching black people up till the 60’s, 103 years after the Civil War.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
How long should it take for the political process to gel?? 1 year, 4 years, 10 years, 200 years?? We continue to propose amendments to our Constitution and our political process is hardly a model of perfection.

How long should it take for social reconciliation take?? Our country was still lynching black people up till the 60’s, 103 years after the Civil War.
Well that settles it.
Because we’re still debating “Right to Privacy”, we should go ahead and spend another ten years and ten trillion dollars, not to mention thousands more US lives.

There is a clock on this war, Keith. You may not have a problem spending trillions and trillions of tax payer money, but most of us do.

I don’t care if it takes them two hundred years for their process to gel, we’re tired of wading through this muck. They need to close this deal quick… The shop is closing.

Tick tock, tick tock.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
You mean you have a problem with them spending it on the war, rather than some other project, like, say, the Big Dig or perhaps a national health care system. because spend it, they will.

Let’s not all pretend that when we finally pull out of Iraq our taxes are actually going to go down okay?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I don’t care if it takes them two hundred years for their process to gel
Then why have it as a benchmark???
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Richard writes:
all I can think of now when I consider this expedition is "thank God for heavy taxation and inflation to make up the shortfall."

How ’bout y’all?
It’s one of the few items in the federal budget worth the money.

When you’re having a conflict with another civilization and its fundamental tactic is to attack you with terrorism, it’s best to get it worked out over at their building.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
thank God for heavy taxation and inflation to make up the shortfall
Is the EU footing the bill for our stay in Iraq?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Keith Indy observes:
How long should it take for social reconciliation take?? Our country was still lynching black people up till the 60’s, 103 years after the Civil War.
Our civilization allowed millions of people to be exterminated just over a half century ago.

And we’re dealing with another civilization that is ready to attack us now because it senses our dissolution. In fact, I could see how they could watch Harry Reid on the Senate floor and reasonably shout "We’ve won! It’s over!"

We have a very good deal going in Iraq right now. It would be insane to leave there anytime soon. If they ask us to leave, then we can oblige them. But they would be even crazier to ask us to leave than we would be to leave on our own.

We should stay until they and the whole region are as pacified and pathetic as the Germans.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
restoring basic services is really an imperative step ...
Absolutely. And, if you’ve been reading the reports from all of the PRTs I’ve been posting, you know that is now happening fairly rapidly, not only in Anbar, but in other provinces as well.
I have been reading those reports, and at best you’re being extremely generous with your characterization of "fairly rapidly". What’s the unemployment rate nationwide? How much oil is being sold lawfully? How many people trust the police? What’s the rate of ethnic cleansing? How much power is being generated nationwide?

And, most critically, what evidence exists that this "bottom-up" rebuilding effort is leading towards reconciliation instead of dissolution? Is Dawa any closer to a power-sharing agreement? SCIRI? The Mehdi Army? Now that the Sunnis are getting some love from the US, are they more likely or less likely to agree to permanent minority status?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Now that the Sunnis are getting some love from the US, are they more likely or less likely to agree to permanent minority status?
Uh Francis, unless they F*ck a whole bunch or use WMD’s against their neighbors, they ARE a permanent minority...it’s what might be called demography. It’s what happens when you are 15% of the population. As you pose it your question is meaningless, it’s akin to asking are birds likely to agree to permanent aviation status or are fish likely to agree to permanent dampness?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Francis writes:
And, most critically, what evidence exists that this "bottom-up" rebuilding effort is leading towards reconciliation instead of dissolution? Is Dawa any closer to a power-sharing agreement? SCIRI? The Mehdi Army? Now that the Sunnis are getting some love from the US, are they more likely or less likely to agree to permanent minority status?
I don’t know, sounds like a pretty short menu compared, for instance, to the political issues adjoining WWII. It will work itself out.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Who started the link war?
Not me.

I posted a link to an impartial source. In fact, a non-partisan report on the progress of the official benchmarks.

I didn’t point to a partisan news source like The National Review who have been claiming progress in Iraq for approx 4 1/2 years now.

If you don’t want to read the report, preferring partisan news, or lightweight evening news reports to ’fill you in’, that’s up to you.

Here’s a nice easy to read summary of the report for context: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/629/629/6978726.stm

3 of the 18 benchmarks are fulfilled, 11 not. Doesn’t sound like success to me, if you want to claim progress then that’s up to you, not at a very substantial rate though.
 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
Now that the Sunnis are getting some love from the US, are they more likely or less likely to agree to permanent minority status?
Uh Francis, unless they F*ck a whole bunch or use WMD’s against their neighbors
I’ve read on this site [forgive me if I don’t post a link] that the reason that the US went to war in Iraq was, not because of WMD, not because of Saddam’s connections to Al Qeada, but BECAUSE the Sunnis "used WMD’s against their neighbors"

Now they’re "getting love from the US".
 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
So the conclusion by the usual group - still no progress made, pull out now, blood and treasure, no hope.

Quell surprise.

Hey, can we pull out of New Orleans? I mean, seems like there’s no progress being made there either after 2 years. Enough spending the treasure and all that stuff.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Not me.

I posted a link to an impartial source. In fact, a non-partisan report on the progress of the official benchmarks.
Oh please. And I posted a rebuttal ... does that necessarily make it "partisan" if it addresses the report you linked?
Here’s a nice easy to read summary of the report for context:
I’ve actually read the report, and until you do, I’m not particularly interested in your take (or your links) on the subject (namely because you have no idea if your link’s summary is telling the whole story).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

I have read the report. Its not rocket science

So lets cut to the chase.

Which part of this assessment sounds like progress, page 5,
As of August 30, 2007, the Iraqi government met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 benchmarks. Overall, key legislation has not been
passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi
government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds.
I don’t agree with all the benchmarks, for instance selling the Iraqi oil wealth to the West, but can you point to a more valid official source of progress?

 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
Martin, both Germany and Japan were unified countries prior to occupation. We also had a very convenient threat from the USSR. And competent US leadership. There is no evidence-based reason to believe that the occupation of Iraq will ever look anything like the occupation of Germany or Japan.

On the news today, the President again said that victory in Iraq was achievable, and that victory included Iraq staying a democracy and becoming an ally in the war on terror. Now, since Iraq is majority Shia, if Iraq stays a democracy the Shia will control. Maliki may be willing to turn over Sunnis (be they AQ or not) to the US’s tender mercies, but any democratic Iraqi government over the next generation is really likely to be much more pro-Iranian than pro-US.

I remain baffled that a nominally libertarian site has so many posters and commenters that are so sure about the power of our government to obtain reconciliation between two warring parties in a society radically different from our own. Aren’t you guys supposed to be skeptical of government power?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I have read the report. Its not rocket science.
I’m sorry, did someone claim it was?
Which part of this assessment sounds like progress ...
Good grief man, it’s not a "progress" report ... it’s a status report, and that’s why it is meaningless.

Or said another way, of what part of that status were you unaware prior to the report?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Martin:
It’s one of the few items in the federal budget worth the money.
Perhaps, though we won’t be sure for a long time. Moreover, we’ll never really know how things would have gone if we’d have just left them to their dirt scratching in that region all along.
When you’re having a conflict with another civilization and its fundamental tactic is to attack you with terrorism, it’s best to get it worked out over at their building.
Some say their primary motivation is that we were in their building to begin with. Whether completely true, or justified, or not, it’s important to consider that that might really be their primary motivation.

If they were a serious force of supreme danger to us, they’d probably use conventional weapons and methods, as did the Germans and Japanese. That they use terrorism is, to me, more a signal that they’re pretty primitive. Given that, it’s really unlikely that there are enough army guys and weapons in the world to reasonably assure that some nutcase isn’t going to explode himself in a busy American shopping mall at some random future point. We could spend another decade and trillions, and no matter how much pacification we deliver, that can always come right out of the blue at us.

Anyway, these are some of the things I think of, as a former gung-ho supporter of the war (and former Navy officer). Certainly I get it (the continued support), and my guarded skepticism now is really more about practicalities than anything.

I think we’re fighting low tech to such an extent that there’s simply no way to judge victory short of total annihilation, if our standard of success is that no more building get blow up, or they don’t start blowing themselves up in shopping malls and Starbucks.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
I remain baffled that a nominally libertarian site has so many posters and commenters that are so sure about the power of our government to obtain reconciliation between two warring parties in a society radically different from our own. Aren’t you guys supposed to be skeptical of government power?
And I remain baffled that someone that claims to read this site still thinks we think it is up to "the power of our government to obtain reconciliation."
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Aren’t you guys supposed to be skeptical of government power?
were it not for the fact that our own government’s two warring factions, donkeys and the elephants had two such divergent views on the subject you might see more skepticisim, you can find it, if you bother to really look, and sometimes it’s right on the surface.

As it is, I’d say the locals feel more inclined to support the Republican view, cracked as it has been in the last four years, than the Democratian view of the situation.

Largely because of the long memory of the elephants over the perceived tendency of the donkey’s to bail out when the goin gets tough.



 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
McQ,

The thread is about ’progress’ in Iraq, you prefer semantic nuance to avoid answering my inconvenient questions, fine. If you like I’ll reword my question, where does the evidence in the report for the ’status’ of the 18 benchmarks suggest ’progress’?

The only evidence of progress you seem to happy with are quotes from ’talking points’ pundits and tv presenters.



 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
And I remain baffled that someone that claims to read this site still thinks we think it is up to "the power of our government to obtain reconciliation."
If it weren’t, erm, why are they still in Iraq.

I’m baffled.
 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
If you like I’ll reword my question, where does the evidence in the report for the ’status’ of the 18 benchmarks suggest ’progress’?
How many times do you have to see it before you understand the report’s purpose wasn’t to document "progress" but to give a status? It has nothing to do with semantics (although words actually do mean things), it has to do with purpose.
The only evidence of progress you seem to happy with are quotes from ’talking points’ pundits and tv presenters.
Well they’re actually talking about "progress" and not status, and as you rightly point out, that’s the subject of the post.

Let me ask you again: what part of the status they reported was news to you?

Where was the "progress" in Anbar and other provinces noted?
I’m baffled.
If you’re actually unable to answer your own question, I’d agree.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You’re a slippery customer.

You believe that Iraq is making progress because the TV tells you, even though the Government Accountability Office demonstrates little evidence for progress in the status report for the criteria for that progress.

You’re stretching the credibility of your argument to breaking point by avoid it.



 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
Where was the "progress" in Anbar and other provinces noted?
Well, according to you National Review link, any ’claimed’ progress in Anbar occurred after the report’s remit.
If you’re actually unable to answer your own question, I’d agree.
Since I’ve answered your question maybe you could assist by attempting to answer any of mine, maybe why the US government is in Iraq, if not to obtain reconciliation?
 
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
McQ:

The purpose of the surge, even according to this site, was to create an adequate environment of stability as to allow reconciliation to occur.

Stability has been (roughly) achieved by our switching sides and providing direct support to the Sunnis. You personally cite to the success of the PRTs in creating stability by restoring basic services.

OK, we got our stability. Where’s the reconciliation? Nowhere. Maliki has about as much intent of making a serious offer to the Sunnis as Bush does of withdrawing US troops, ie, none. Like any good rational economic actor, he is taking advantage of the situation. His cronies get to skim billions of US tax dollars and get armed by the US military and he makes a whole series of promises that he has no intention of keeping.

Incentives, both political and economic, are important to the posters and commenters here. Please describe to me the incentives on Maliki to enter into a power-sharing agreement with Sunni political parties. Also consider the incentives not to do so (like staying alive).

Let me amend my prior statement as follows:
I remain baffled that a nominally libertarian site has so many posters and commenters that are so sure about the power of our government to use military power as a means of creating an environment for reconciliation between two warring parties in a society radically different from our own. Aren’t you guys supposed to be skeptical of government power both Iraqi and American?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Francis writes:
Martin, both Germany and Japan were unified countries prior to occupation.
So? We had to fight them for four years apiece just to get to them. In the Pacific alone, on Okinawa, we had more problems in three months than we’ll have in Iraq in the next ten years (and that’s adding in the last four as well), and that’s assuming that we make no progress.
There is no evidence-based reason to believe that the occupation of Iraq will ever look anything like the occupation of Germany or Japan.
That’s correct. There’s no evidence that it cost us 400,000 dead and a national debt 150% of GDP to even get inside Iraq, with the bonus of not having to use nuclear weapons to break down the last door.

Now we can sit on them until they make a reasonable accomodation with the modern world. It could take 50 years. But the vicious louts in Germany and Japan took to it like pussycats, and look what little sissies the Germans are today.

Richard responds to my comment:
"It’s one of the few items in the federal budget worth the money."

Perhaps, though we won’t be sure for a long time.
I’m sure right now. It is a ridiculously small price to pay to get into the middle of the most destabilizing place in the world and begin to exert some control over it. As I said the other day, the only really good news out of the Middle East is that we have 150,000 troops there. Half of that battle was getting in there in the first place.
Moreover, we’ll never really know how things would have gone if we’d have just left them to their dirt scratching in that region all along.
Well, let’s see, Saddam had a personal kitty to the tune of $50 billion. Just the interest on that alone would have been enough to outsource six dozen 9/11s to various lunatics around the world who wouldn’t even know where it was coming from. Saddam Hussein was a psychopath who controlled, what is it, the second largest oil reserves on the planet.

When it comes to people like that, this world is very small. He had to be taken off the board after 9/11 whether he had a direct hand in it or not. That we’ve stumbled into a long-term engagement there where we can pacify the region, all set up with a killing field for taking out an entire demographic of jihadis, is just a stroke of good old American luck. We should appreciate it for the advantages that come with it, and stop arguing in the context of the Left’s conventional wisdom, i.e., that it’s a "disaster." The Left swoons over real disasters — USSR, China — and reflexively attacks U.S. and Western efforts to quell them before they get out of hand.
Some say their primary motivation is that we were in their building to begin with. Whether completely true, or justified, or not, it’s important to consider that that might really be their primary motivation.
Well, I’m sure that after they’re pacified and prosperous, some decades from now, that they’ll hate us as much as the Germans now hate us. In the meantime there isn’t any time to uncover their "primary motivation," although Bernard Lewis ("What Went Wrong?") probably has the best take on the Muslim world and its problems. And when you’ve got nuclear weapons in the picture, via the A.Q. Khan network, the Iranians, the North Koreans and the black market, the therapeutic approach is not advised.

And I don’t want to leave the impression that I hate Muslims. They are being preyed upon by the worst aspects of their civilization, and by their own failure. They’ve got to get both of those monkeys off their back. And this is the easy way.

The hard way, not so pretty.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
You’re a slippery customer.
Oh, you mean because I insist on using words properly?

Yeah, that’s me ... slippery.
You believe that Iraq is making progress because the TV tells you, even though the Government Accountability Office demonstrates little evidence for progress in the status report for the criteria for that progress.
Look at what you just wrote and turn it around. Aren’t you telling me you believe the GAO report?

I believe it because I talk to 3 to 4 different people a week who are serving in Iraq and working the problem, and unless they’ve all gotten together and conspired to answer my questions in a certain way, they are the one’s who’ve helped me conclude progress is being made. Those on TV, interestingly enough, are just confirming what those on the ground there have told me.

Think they’re in on the conspiracy as well?
You’re stretching the credibility of your argument to breaking point by avoid it.
Heh ... am I? I’ve talked to multiple people (actually in Iraq) over multiple weeks about the very subject of progress and you’ve decided that a single report on the subject of the status of arbitrary benchmarks nullifies that and I’m the one stretching the credibility of my argument?
Well, according to you National Review link, any ’claimed’ progress in Anbar occurred after the report’s remit.
National Review link? You don’t read things closely, do you?
One of the most striking things about the GAO Report is its failure to take adequate notice of the Anbar Awakening and the general movement within the Sunni Arab community against Al Qaeda In Iraq and toward the Coalition. "Anbar" appears twice in the document, both times in a comment noting that violence has fallen in that province, but without reference to the turn of the Sunni population against the terrorists.
How would that relate to Anbar occuring "after the remit".
Since I’ve answered your question maybe you could assist by attempting to answer any of mine, maybe why the US government is in Iraq, if not to obtain reconciliation?
To help give the Iraqi government the time, space and security it needs to obtain reconciliation. As we’ve said repeatedly here, that is something only the Iraqis can "obtain".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ:
To help give the Iraqi government the time, space and security it needs to obtain reconciliation. As we’ve said repeatedly here, that is something only the Iraqis can "obtain".
I’m sure that the arm-twisting behind the scenes has intensified, face-saving public gestures notwithstanding. And I think that the sheriff has just about sorted out all the customers at the saloon. The diplomacy, so to speak, is not of the State Department variety.

I think everybody knows the options on the table: Get with the program, Get it done, or Get dead. In other words, nobody gets in bed with suicide bombers or death squads. We hand you a manageable situation and you’d better be prepared to use the violence necessary to keep it that way.

And as a special bonus, we’ll treat you like none of this is happening behind the scenes.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Martin:
I’m sure right now.
Well, of course you’re sure it’s worth it for you. And if it was only your money and the money of those to whom it’s worth it, I wouldn’t give a hoot.

It isn’t worth it for me, though money isn’t my only (or even primary) objection.
It is a ridiculously small price to pay...
Sure is; for you; that is, it’s not like you’re footing the bill, or anything.
Well, let’s see, Saddam had a personal kitty to the tune of $50 billion...[and so on]
That’s not telling me how you know how things would have gone had we just left him alone completely. Sorry, but the what iffs are just endless. I could haul out a bunch of them, too.
When it comes to people like that, this world is very small. He had to be taken off the board after 9/11 whether he had a direct hand in it or not.


I’m not complaining that he was; but even though I supported it, I wouldn’t say it was a moral imperative. It’s just...fine, I guess. Maybe it works out for us, maybe it doesn’t; or maybe it would not have made any big difference either way. Well, we’ve placed a sizable bet in terms of quite a bit of blood (not yours and mine, of course), money, global goodwill and so-on; now let’s see how, if, and when it pays off.

I say that fully understanding that the government will likely stay the course — if they can get away with it — until "victory" is as certain as they can make it. It’s reminiscent of an IRS audit or regulatory investigation, both of which I have experienced in business. They will simply go until they find something to get you on. Every time.
That we’ve stumbled into a long-term engagement there where we can pacify the region, all set up with a killing field for taking out an entire demographic of jihadis, is just a stroke of good old American luck.
Yea, right now it’s easy enough for them to hit us over there, which causes political ripples over here, and so on. Convenient for us both, I suppose. In a sense, we’ve created a kind of balance of power. But what happens when we really get a grip on things, as presumably is our intention? What happens when they perceive it’s easier to hit us in an American shopping mall? So, there’s a fairly realistic scenario where "winning" in the sense I think everyone means could bring exactly what we claim to be trying to prevent and (ignorantly?) patting ourselves on the back because "we haven’t had another 9/11."

Frankly, Martin, I am just amazed at the levels of "certainty" I see from all corners on this stuff and I find it almost laughable.

That all said, I don’t have a certain answer either. But I do think that in the face of such uncertainty, it would probably be best to leave the region entirely and be ready to press the reset button again at some future point, if necessary.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
The purpose of the surge, even according to this site, was to create an adequate environment of stability as to allow reconciliation to occur.
That’s correct. But you do know the Surge isn’t over, right? In fact, it is planned to continue until April ’08 at the moment.
Stability has been (roughly) achieved by our switching sides and providing direct support to the Sunnis. You personally cite to the success of the PRTs in creating stability by restoring basic services.
Only is certain areas (i.e. those areas which are predominantly Sunni). But the same is happening in Shia areas now. I talked with the 4/25 BCT commander today (COL Michael Garrett) who said that in the three mixed provinces he has the same sort of cooperation is now starting to show up with the Shia and has been instrumental in him being able to kick JAM out of various areas there.

Re: PRTs -

No, the PRTs do not "create stability" or "restore basic services". They take advantage of stability to teach the Iraqis how to govern, institute the rule of law and rebuild their own infrastructure and economy.
OK, we got our stability. Where’s the reconciliation?
Huh I guess Maliki forgot to snap his fingers.

My goodness Francis, the point is to create stability for a period long enough for that to happen. The military offensive portion of the Surge started in June and it is still occurring.

Are you suggesting 90 days is all their allotted for reconciliation?
Incentives, both political and economic, are important to the posters and commenters here. Please describe to me the incentives on Maliki to enter into a power-sharing agreement with Sunni political parties. Also consider the incentives not to do so (like staying alive).
As I see it the primary incentive is becoming the ability for him to continue to hold power because as I see it, some form of reconciliation is going to happen whether he is a part of it or not.

And his recent visit to Tikrit seems to indicate, at least on some level, a desire to reconcile with the Sunnis. Couple that with the agreements among leading Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders recently (on debathification -reconciliation- and oil revenue sharing) and you can’t deny something is going on and it’s even harder to describe it as something other than progress. So there seems to be some level of incentive at work here and it appears to be working.
Let me amend my prior statement as follows:

I remain baffled that a nominally libertarian site has so many posters and commenters that are so sure about the power of our government to use military power as a means of creating an environment for reconciliation between two warring parties in a society radically different from our own. Aren’t you guys supposed to be skeptical of government power both Iraqi and American?

Tell me when I’ve argued that the military isn’t a legitimate use of government? And if the problem is security and the mission is to provide it, give me a better entity with which to do it.

The fact that government has screwed up its portion of the post-war job and has had to rely on the military to pull their fat out of the fire would seem to reinforce the libertarian belief that government is essentially inept and inefficient.

The fact that the military has exceeded all expectations and been able to greatly expand both its role and mission to cover governments @ss is more a testament to the great men and women we have in the military than to the government being able to do this sort of thing well. And to the point that the post-war misadventure may actually succeed because of the creativity and tenaciousness of the military is a pleasant surprise, but also one we should exploit in order to ensure that success since it is in our best national interest to do so.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I think everybody knows the options on the table: Get with the program, Get it done, or Get dead. In other words, nobody gets in bed with suicide bombers or death squads. We hand you a manageable situation and you’d better be prepared to use the violence necessary to keep it that way.
Well that and the fact that CF can point at Iraq now and Iraq 90 days ago and say, "you can have this (an improving situation) or that (a guarantee of implosion at some point in the not to distant future) and all it will take is us saying, "Ok, we’re out of here" because you guys continue to drag your feet.

Sometimes it is better to show what you can do and demonstrate what losing that may mean than to just threaten.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I seem to remember some story or something about American forces supplying power and utilities to areas of Iraq that never even had them before. That was years ago. Isn’t that progress as well?
 
Written By: jows
URL: http://
There is progress towards completing the benchmarks.

That point is irrefutable.


8 months ago, the Iraqis had completed 0 out of 18 benchmarks.

Now, they have completed 3, partially completed 4 others, and the others have various amount of work being done to complete them.

Now, it is certainly true that they haven’t completed all 18 benchmarks.

But, anyone who thought they would have fully completed all 18 benchmarks is a pie-eyed fool with rose colored glasses.

Meanwhile, the point of this post, is that people on the ground are seeing "real progress."
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
But, anyone who thought they would have fully completed all 18 benchmarks is a pie-eyed fool with rose colored glasses.
Should be:

But, anyone who thought they would have fully completed all 18 benchmarks by now is a pie-eyed fool with rose colored glasses.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
McQ writes:
Sometimes it is better to show what you can do and demonstrate what losing that may mean than to just threaten.
I agree.

From this morning’s New York Times:
BAGHDAD (AP) — American and Iraqi Special Forces clashed with suspected Shiite militiamen Thursday in western Baghdad before calling in airstrikes, the U.S. military said. Residents and police said at least 14 people were killed.

Acting on intelligence information, the U.S. and Iraqi troops launched the early-morning raid in the capital’s Washash area against the suspected terrorist cell, which was believed to be responsible for attacks on police and sectarian killings, the U.S. command said.

As the troops entered the area, they came under fire from more than a dozen militiamen firing from the rooftops.

’’Iraqi and U.S. forces then responded with well-aimed and suppressive fire,’’ the military said. ’’Forces also directed proportional aerial fire onto targeted buildings against positively identified armed gunmen directing small arms fires onto the assault force.’’

The military reported that four buildings were damaged, ’’including two enemy strongholds that sustained major damage and two surrounding buildings that sustained moderate damage.’’

There was no mention of any civilian or suspected insurgent casualties in the statement, and the military did not respond to requests for clarification. Local police said 14 people died.
As I said earlier, it’s taken a while, but now the Sheriff knows who most of the customers in the saloon are.

Here at home the battle turns against the more dangerous enemy, the Left and its conventional wisdom of defeat.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
which militia? why were they attacking the police? Were the militia criminals or righteous citizens protecting themselves from corrupt police? How can you be sure of your answers?

As I said earlier, it’s taken a while, but now the Sheriff knows who most of the customers in the saloon are.

Unmitigated first class A-grade BS. One of the biggest problems in Iraq these days is that the sheriff is just another crook.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Francis writes:
which militia? why were they attacking the police? Were the militia criminals or righteous citizens protecting themselves from corrupt police? How can you be sure of your answers?
I can only be sure that they’re dead, Francis, and that they made a huge mistake firing on U.S. troops. That’s the wrong move in a war zone. But I suspect that the U.S. commanders invovled knew exactly who these guys were, and that they got exactly what was coming to them.

It’s a beastly business, but there’s a very serious rule involved: don’t open fire on the Americans.
One of the biggest problems in Iraq these days is that the sheriff is just another crook.
The Americans are the sheriff in Iraq, Francis.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
How can you be sure of your answers?
Well, they, meaning US and Iraqi Special Forces, developed intelligence, you know, went and talked to people and did the leg work, that indicated who the bad guys were, and were going to get them.

Why were they bad guys???

Well, besides attacking the local police, they were "conducting illegal checkpoints to intimidate, extort and murder local citizens. The team also conducts extra judicial killings of Sunnis."

From the official release:
Iraqi Special Operations Forces, with U.S. Special Forces as advisers, while conducting an intelligence-driven operation in the Baghdad area Sept. 6 were engaged by a number of Shi’a extremist militants.

The targeted Shi’a extremists are part of a terrorist cell operating in the Al Washash region of Baghdad.

The cell is responsible for attacking local police and conducting illegal checkpoints to intimidate, extort and murder local citizens. The team also conducts extra judicial killings of Sunnis.

When Iraqi and USSF members entered the area, they immediately came under fire from more than a dozen extremists firing from the rooftops of surrounding buildings.

Iraqi and U.S. Forces then responded with well-aimed and suppressive fire. Forces also directed proportional aerial fires onto targeted buildings against positively identified armed gunmen directing small arms fires onto the assault force.

A total of four buildings were damaged including two enemy strongholds that sustained major damage and two surrounding buildings that sustained moderate damage.

No Iraqi or U.S. forces were injured during defensive maneuver.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Keith Indy quotes from the official release on the killing of 14 Shi’a militia in Iraq:
The cell is responsible for attacking local police and conducting illegal checkpoints to intimidate, extort and murder local citizens. The team also conducts extra judicial killings of Sunnis.
Sorry, that’s not good enough for Francis. After being fired upon, our troops must first look into the hearts of the enemy, then look into their own hearts, then weigh matters under the tutelage of both an Islamic scholar and a neo-Platonist, and ONLY THEN expose themselves to fire and die for the cause of Harry Reid, AMEN.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Well, no, I think Francis is just trying to make a point that, "maybe the policemen deserved to be attacked."

Which, unless those accused of attacking the police, were acting in self-defense at the time, is not how a society trying to foster the rule of law ought to behave.

Consider the following:

1) those "suspected extremist militants" attacked by the combined forces were Shi’a.
2) the Iraqi Special Operations Forces likely had a high number of Shi’a, as well as some Sunni operators in the mix.

Is this not clear evidence that, at some level, the two tribes can work together for Iraq as a whole.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
that’s not good enough for Francis. After being fired upon, our troops must first look into the hearts of the enemy, then look into their own hearts, then weigh matters under the tutelage of both an Islamic scholar and a neo-Platonist, and ONLY THEN expose themselves to fire and die for the cause of Harry Reid, AMEN.

one possible answer: Go F**K yourself.

second possible answer: No, you idiot, we’re not the sheriff. The sheriff was always a local. We’re the cavalry. But we don’t speak the language, three different people are all claiming to be sheriff, we’re throwing money around like we’re printing it (oh yeah, we are), and all that we can be sure of is that everyone is lying to us.

Maybe, in this case, the intel was accurate. Maybe, in this case, the people killed were hated by the local community. Maybe, in this case, the raid did more good than harm to our overall goal. Maybe.

But when the DOD insists that all the trends regarding sectarian violence are going in the right direction, then refuses to release the data and refuses to compare year-over-year data, it’s once again a pretty strong suggestion that either DOD is lying or they’re making stuff up. Either way, it does not give me tremendous assurance that we have any idea that we know what we’re doing.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Keith writes:
Well, no, I think Francis is just trying to make a point that, "maybe the policemen deserved to be attacked."
You’re giving Francis the benefit of the doubt, which is a standard of fairness he doesn’t use about the reported armed engagement.

I was satirizing Francis.

Whether your benefit of the doubt or my satirization gets closer to where Francis is coming from remains to be seen. I’ll stipulate, in the meantime, that your take is marginally closer.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Francis, in a delicate mood, writes:
one possible answer: Go F**K yourself.
Then he tries this, his gene for recognizing metaphor obviously supressed:
second possible answer: No, you idiot, we’re not the sheriff. The sheriff was always a local. We’re the cavalry. But we don’t speak the language, three different people are all claiming to be sheriff, we’re throwing money around like we’re printing it (oh yeah, we are), and all that we can be sure of is that everyone is lying to us.
And there’s rats all over the place!


 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
More Francis:
Maybe, in this case, the intel was accurate. Maybe, in this case, the people killed were hated by the local community. Maybe, in this case, the raid did more good than harm to our overall goal. Maybe.
Umpire one: "If its a ball, I call it a ball. If it’s a strike, I call it a strike."

Umpire two: "It ain’t nothin’ until I call it."

You see, Francis, there’s this thing called the "fog of war," and our good soldiers often rely on their gut instincts to know what’s what, AND THEY ARE NOT STUPID.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
6LwFY5 avggtauopfid, [url=http://ofewtyjljpok.com/]ofewtyjljpok[/url], [link=http://oznkgetwdhen.com/]oznkgetwdhen[/link], http://rawyzugiksmv.com/
 
Written By: hduinqsey
URL: http://zvameheemkih.com/

 
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