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Casuality Statistics are not the Metrics for Progress in Iraq
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, October 25, 2007

Outside the Beltway's Alex Knapp makes a point about Dean Barnett's why are they ignoring the progress in Iraq commentary that I've made before. Writes Knapp...
This type of observation completely misses the point. A two-month in a row drop in U.S. casualties is nothing new. it has happened several times over the course of the war and occupation. Two-month in a row drops in Iraqi deaths have also occurred several times. A steady drop in deaths over the course of six months might be news, but over two months it’s just a statistical blip.

Furthermore, the ostensible purpose of U.S. forces in Iraq is to provide enough security to facilitate the democratic political unification of Iraq and to transition security operations to the Iraqi government. Progress on both political unification and security transitions have made barely any progress at all. Sunni militias may have taken our money and equipment to turn on al-Qaeda, but they still happily attack Shi’ites. Shi’ite militia members still dominate the “Iraqi” security forces. The Kurds are still barely acknowledging that the central government even exists.
Let me reiterate: security progress is good, but if supporters are pointing to death/casualty statistics instead of concrete political progress that replaces the need for US troops, then the surge is not working.
 
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Gee Jon, IF the violence is falling, THEN it follows that the conditions on the ground are improving, making reconciliation more possible. You can not or can not easily reconstruct AND fight the insurgents. Violence and death are down, meaning the insurgency is waning, making the economy more stable, making it more possible for some reconciliation to occur.

I realize that you have been leery of this war, but it feels like you’re moving the goal posts....again.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well, since we’re apparently destined to repeat ourselves on this point, I’ll just paste the beginning of what I said in the other thread you referred to:
Jon, I understand your point. But there’s another one that needs to be made. Iraq war opponents have been shouting "Civil war! People dying left and right! Death and destruction!" for a long time. Before we can even get to discussing the political process, that mantra has to be muted.

That, in and of itself, takes time and repetition.
The rest is the first comment over on that other thread.

To address your point directly: There’s a difference between saying that decreasing violence is a sign of progress and saying that it’s the only important metric for progress. I don’t know anybody who argues the second form of that; I certainly don’t mean to.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
If course Jon’s right here and I don’t think he’s moving the goal posts. I guess the reason I’d take these stats as maybe a little better evidence this time is because there is—reportedly—greater communication and collaboration between Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi army and the Coalition. It may be that political reconciliation has to be a groundswell rather than from smoke-filled rooms, which is depressing after all this time. But perhaps the foundation for this reconciliation is being laid. And if it is, we may emerge from this with a solid ally in the region rather than a reluctant client.
 
Written By: spongeworthy
URL: http://
I more look at it as saying, "When the stats were bad, the NYTimesWashPostCNNABCCBSNBCetc. were all over them. Now? Not so much."
 
Written By: Veeshir
URL: http://
For what it’s worth, we’re set to have the number of US deaths decline for a 5th straight month. Of course that’s coming down from the third highest, but previously it had never declined more than 3 months in a row.

And what standard are we using for political reconciliation? I always hear oil revenue sharing mentioned, but what else?
 
Written By: abw
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
Let’s review: The purpose of "the surge" was to suppress violence so that there could be national reconciliation and we could leave. Yes, due to "the surge" — along with other factors like advanced ethnic partitioning, AQ revealing itself for what it is, the U.S decision to arm Sunnis, etc. — violence has evidently decreased markedly. Of course, that is a good thing in itself. However, there has been no political reconciliation whatsoever. In fact. I believe that the Bush Administration’s new position is that "bottom-up" reconciliation has supplanted national reconciliation as the aim. In other words, there will be no national reconciliation anytime in the foreseeable future. More importantly, I don’t see the U.S. one second or one inch closer to leaving Iraq. In fact, with Iran and now Turkey increasingly volatile, we are becoming more and more imbedded in the country and hurtling towards a huge and permanent military presence in Iraq. There certainly is a civil war underway in Iraq, and anyone with a brain can recognize it and could have predicted it. It is now in hiatus while the Sunnis accept our munitions (ostensibly to eradicate AQ), and everyone waits for us to leave. If we do leave, we don’t know what will happen in our absence. If we do not leave, then . . . well . . . Which is, perhaps, stating the obvious: "The surge" was never really intended as a temporary measure to create a respite for national unity to develop. That’s how "the surge" was sold, But in reality, "the surge" is and always was intended only to accomplish some thing, any thing at all, so that the Adminsitration can tout the "new success" of the "new plan." All in order to maintain enough public (and political) support to keep the troops in Iraq. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are no circumstances — none — under which George Bush will withdraw a meaningful number of U.S troops from Iraq. As far as Bush is concerned, we are staying in Iraq. Period. Everything else is gamesmanship and political theater.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
I am waiting for Scott’s take.
 
Written By: coater
URL: http://
Fred Kaplan at Slate has some interesting stats:
However, some perspective is warranted. First, all told, 2007 has been a horrible year for American lives lost in this war—832 to date, more than the 822 lost in all of 2006, and, by the time the year ends, almost certainly more than the 846 killed in 2005 or the 849 in 2004.
So 2007 will be more bloody than 2004, 2005, and 2006.
From January to September of this year, according to unclassified data, U.S. Air Force pilots in Iraq have flown 996 sorties that involved dropping munitions. By comparison, in all of 2006, they flew just 229 such sorties—one-quarter as many. In 2005, they flew 404; in 2004, they flew 285.

In other words, in the first nine months of 2007, Air Force planes dropped munitions on targets in Iraq more often than in the previous three years combined.
As Kaplan points out, the trend toward airstrikes likely has played some part in the two month decline in troop deaths.
The research group Iraq Body Count estimates that 417 Iraqi civilians died from January to September of this year as a result of airstrikes. This is only a bit less than the estimated 452 deaths caused by airstrikes in the previous two years combined.
And as Kaplan notes, these estimate are almost certainly underestimates.
And what standard are we using for political reconciliation? I always hear oil revenue sharing mentioned, but what else?
Seems that one would be transparency in government, in an effort to root out corruption. Looks like that won’t be happening anytime soon.
House panel critical of Iraq contractors

By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House oversight committee, said Thursday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has issued an order requiring his approval of any corruption investigations of himself or senior ministry officials.

Waxman, D-Calif., said the order essentially grants immunity to al-Maliki and his ministry at a time when fraud and abuse is rampant and hurting reconstruction efforts.

"These are not unfounded allegations," Waxman said. "This is Nouri al-Maliki’s edict that no one will be referred to court unless he approves it."
Maliki is a grade A sectarian thug and kleptocrat. It’s a shame Americans have to die to prop up his corrupt regime.

But that’s why you won’t see any political reconciliation. The Shia who dominate the government have no reason to reconcile. Why would they give up or compromise their position at the trough?
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Jon is quite right. Less violence is a good thing. An absoutely good thing for the Iraqis who have to live with it. From the point of view of our Iraqi Adventure ever accomplishing anything though, it is only good in so far as it results in the leaders of Iraq’s factions abandoning their maximalist goals and making compromises they can all live with. That is what makes these gains too fragile to survive a reduction in US troops, a lifting of curfews, or bans on vehicle traffic like in falludja, or a reduction in the spike in airstrikes that’s going on now.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
there has been no political reconciliation whatsoever
Cue an apoplectic Tom Perkins...
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
I’m still waiting for us to withdraw from England.
Let me know, okay?

I mean, Churchill has been dead for years....
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Let me reiterate: security progress is good, but if supporters are pointing to death/casualty statistics instead of concrete political progress that replaces the need for US troops, then the surge is not working.
Look, you’re missing the fact that this is the metric the anti-war people are using.

Just the other day, we had Erb rush to his computer to breathlessly post some link about 111 (or whatever it was) Iraqis killed because that’s the chosen metric for THEIR war against the war.

THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH.

Yes, in real life body counts isn’t the metric. I agree.

But in the war over the war, we have to engage on the chosen battlefield.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Seems that one would be transparency in government, in an effort to root out corruption.
I’m still waiting for that in our country...
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I realize that you have been leery of this war, but it feels like you’re moving the goal posts....again.
Quite the opposite. I’m using precisely the metrics used by those who advocated and instituted the surge. The surge was intended to create the security space for political reconciliation. The surge was a means to an end, not an end in itself.

No political reconciliation, no success.
To address your point directly: There’s a difference between saying that decreasing violence is a sign of progress and saying that it’s the only important metric for progress. I don’t know anybody who argues the second form of that; I certainly don’t mean to.
It really is the only important metric for progress. To wit: if casualty statistics don’t decline, but there is political reconciliation that leads to the pluralistic, stable, sustainable government in Iraq...it has been a success. If casualty statistics decline to zero, but there has not been political reconciliation that leads to the pluralistic, stable, sustainable government in Iraq...it has been a failure.

i.e., the relevant metric is political progress, not military progress. Military progress makes political progress more possible, but it is not a substitute for it.
Iraq war opponents have been shouting "Civil war! People dying left and right! Death and destruction!" for a long time. Before we can even get to discussing the political process, that mantra has to be muted.
No, it doesn’t have to be muted. Political reconciliation could render it useless...if it happens. But the war to be won or lost is in the political realm. What people are shrieking here is of little consequence, compared to the internal dynamics in Iraq.

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
No, it doesn’t have to be muted. Political reconciliation could render it useless...if it happens. But the war to be won or lost is in the political realm. What people are shrieking here is of little consequence, compared to the internal dynamics in Iraq.
To use a sports analogy, your post is like someone saying that Team X is great at passing the ball, but that’s not the metric we measure vicotry by, it’s points on the board. That is true enough, but if you can’t move the ball you don’t get many points on the board, either. So they are linked, and progress in one realm leads to progress in others. Without security, there will not be a breathing space for the reconciliation to occur. If the economy grows well, it’s easier to share the pie, as the pie is getting bigger. If violence is down, then there is probably less ethnic cleansing of Sunni, and that’s to the good as well. So whilst fewer dead peole is good, it isn’t a measure of final success, but it is a harbinger of that success.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
That’s a useful analogy. However, after 4+ years, it’s time to discuss why all those yards you’ve said have been gained have not translated into points on the board.

Earlier this year, people pointed to September and shortly thereafter as a point by which we’d expect to see some political progress. Well? Lay out your metrics. "It could happen, if we stay there long enough" is not a strategy. It’s an unfalsifiable indication that you don’t know what to expect...you’re just running on hope.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
There’s a huge difference between (admittedly justified) scepticism regarding the permanence and significance of these data, and a mulish refusal to even countenance the possibility that these significant, widespread, and seasonally adjusted decreases in violence actually point to the beginning of an important trend.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
I forget when I first said this, but it was probably back in late 2004. And I’ve said it many times since to many people:

The great army in Iraq is civil society.

"Political reconcilliation," whatever that might be, could take decades of hashing things out. It’s certainly not clear to me that it has happened even here, in the United States.

But civil society, beginning with tacit understandings before explicit agreements, is the habit of observed norms, which is what the car bombers have sought to disrupt, delay, destroy so that they could impose God knows what on Iraq. I’m sure that it is more or less the delusions of the violence fevered mind.

Civil society has existed in Iraq all along. It is how people get along together in its basic intuitive form. It corresponds with natural law and reciprocity and the golden rule.

The terrorists and their consulting Erbs have sought to break it down in Iraq.

Civil society is the basis of government, and not the other way around, in that it transfers to government the general monopoly on violence.

In Iraq it’s going to be complex and a matter of many grassroots transactions. But it will stem from a desire to not live in the stifling insecurity of random violence, paranoia, and war.

Civil society is the literal marketplace, where actual things are bought and sold, and people need the peace to be able to do that.

Civil society is the highway. It is the mosque. It is the neighborhood.

And somewhere down the road it is an agreement on how all the piece are put together.

A decline in violence strengthens civil society because it reminds people of how they want to live vs. how violence forces them to live.

If the households understand they are to observe peace, both because they understand they need it and because those outside the household demand it of them, then those collaborating with terrorism will themselves reject terrorism and fall back into the rhythms of civil order. That must happen. It must happen in the clans from the head of the clan on down to the rebellious young.

If it happened, eventually, in Scotland, it can happen in Iraq.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
That’s a useful analogy. However, after 4+ years, it’s time to discuss why all those yards you’ve said have been gained have not translated into points on the board.
‘Cause the coaching staff sux ass.
Plus too, you’re on the road, and your players aren’t allowed to play on a level playing field.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
I don’t think that you can say nothing has happened in the country politically. When you discuss the surge, it is pretty apparent that not only did putting more US troops in country help slow the violence, but we also slowed it by making peace with a lot of Iraqi groups out of an interest to fight a common enemy. The US has made major political gains in Iraq. But those gains are on the tribal and local level, not the national level. But it has spread not only across the Sunni regions, but also into the Shiite areas as well. So it is national progress, but on a local and tribal level.

The real big issue now is how you take those local and tribal successes and translate them to successes in the national government. Which we need to do. Will elections cut it? Maybe. I think it is possible that there will be a second Iraqi constitutional convention. The entire centralized national paradigm which is in place may have to shift to something more federalized in order to win broad popular support. And that is ok. Our Articles of Confederation didn’t take either. If what we have doesn’t work, then lets help them work out something that will.

Realistically we’re going to be in Iraq for a while longer. Why? Even if total political reconciliation happens tomorrow, the Iraqi Army is incapable of defending the country without us there to back them up. They don’t have artillery or armor or air assets. They call us when they need them. So we’d need to build those arms of the Iraqi military before we could pull all our forces out anyway.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
If it happened, eventually, in Scotland, it can happen in Iraq.
Okay… umm… what!?!

So is Maliki supposed to be Robert the Bruce, John Comyn, or William Wallace???
Ahmadinejad is definitely Edward II,… right?
I’m not even going to guess who Bush is supposed to be.

I guess we’ll know in about 700 hundred years.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Henke writes:
Earlier this year, people pointed to September and shortly thereafter as a point by which we’d expect to see some political progress. Well? Lay out your metrics. "It could happen, if we stay there long enough" is not a strategy. It’s an unfalsifiable indication that you don’t know what to expect...you’re just running on hope.
Everybody, everywhere, at all times, runs on hope, pal.

Hope is the coefficient of will. War is the contest of wills, and no war is over until its over and when its over you never know what you have for a very long time.

From the limited perspective of four years, Iraq is a vitally important, major, significant. strategic matter with vast implications for the future of, of course, Iraq, but also the Middle East, strategic peace and security within the world community, Islamic and the Western civilizations, the United States, and the future of mankind in general.

Now, how do things look from that perspective? Pretty good right now, and they’ve never looked terribly bad since the time of regime change.

But the caterwauling here and there has been heavy, often disgusting, seldom amusing.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Baptist writes:
Realistically we’re going to be in Iraq for a while longer.
The longer the better.

The only really good news out of the Middle East is that we have 150,000 troops there. It took the tragedy of 9/11 and the determination of George Bush to get them in there, and we should keep a pronounced military presence in Iraq and the region until the entire place is pacified, if it takes 50 years.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Hope is the coefficient of will. War is the contest of wills, and no war is over until its over and when its over you never know what you have for a very long time.
Oh well that’s convincing. Then it seems clear that we’re just not hoping enough.

The problem with your “hope” and your “limited perspective” is that it comes at too great of costs for your purse.
If we used your standards… then all we have to do is hope that socialized health care will work, hope that entitlement spending will bear fruit, hope for social engineering. The will then comes shortly after, and who knows, it ain’t over til it’s over, and you never know what you have for a very long time.

There comes a time when expedience and rational outweigh hope and limited perspective. Hell, you read like a liberal.

Of course we all hope that everything turns out great in Iraq. But hope only buys you so much.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Mahone writes:
The problem with your “hope” and your “limited perspective” is that it comes at too great of costs for your purse.
The purse for Iraq has been a very tight one. If anything, I’d fault Bush for running a bargain basement war. But there might be some genius to that, too. The time frame, although unexpected in terms of a quick and easy war, is really just that of a stretched out battle — intentionally so by the enemy in order to get the hand-wringing morons of the West whining. That, in fact, has been the enemy’s major success. Bully for him.

Regretably, we’ve "progressed" beyond the at least occasional incarceration of the treacherous. There’s no such thing as treason any more. And I guess it’s too much to hope that every once in a while one or two of the worst cases would at least have the s*it kicked out of them.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
However, after 4+ years, it’s time to discuss why all those yards you’ve said have been gained have not translated into points on the board.
Except we haven’t had 4+ years of steadily diminishing violence. The point Joe was making is that the drop in violence is a harbinger of political success.
What people are shrieking here is of little consequence, compared to the internal dynamics in Iraq.
In a perfect world, perhaps. But it’s hard to argue that loud voices near Congress will drown out subtly positive events far away. If enough people here shriek loud enough, the will to persist will evaporate, no matter how close we are to succeeding.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
So is Maliki supposed to be Robert the Bruce, John Comyn, or William Wallace???
Ahmadinejad is definitely Edward II,… right?
I’m not even going to guess who Bush is supposed to be.
Bonnie Prince Charlie?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Can we at least agree that seeing the talking points move from "we are in the middle of a civil war" to "there has been no national political reconciliation" is a sign of progress?
 
Written By: abw
URL: http://abw.mee.nu
Lowering the violence is all the US can do. If we help achieve an atmosphere that isn’t paralyzed from violence, then the onus is the Iraqis to make progress from there.

If they fail to do so after a reasonable time, then its the Iraqis who failed and we can go home knowing we gave them a solid opportunity for self-governance.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
There may need to be one more round of national elections in Iraq before reconciliation can occur. Anyone who wants to force it now for the expediency of getting our troops home should consider that some patience might bring a much deeper and lasting results. I’m thinking of the fact that some of the Shia militias are losing support, the Sunnis will vote next time, and possible the "Awakening" groups will form parties.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
U.S. casualties aren’t necessarily a measure of progress in Iraq, but civilian casualties most definitely are. By excluding that metric, Alex’s post is misleading. The October numbers for civilian casualties are projected to be lower September’s already low numbers, barring some spectacular al Qaeda bombing. And political progress is being made, just not on the national stage.

 
Written By: Charles Bird
URL: http://www.redstate.com
There may need to be one more round of national elections in Iraq before reconciliation can occur.
The magic of an election has been promised before. Political reconciliation is not happening because powerful forces will not let it happen. The only road to any kind of stability is partition. We went into Iraq not understanding the political culture of the region, with a naive belief that Iraq would be like Japan and Germany after WWII. Hopefully, we’ve learned (as I noted in another thread) that such glib analogies are poor informers of foreign policy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb,

Who is in power in Iraq now? The people who have a majority in their parliament. Those happen to be a Shia bloc. They won the votes during the last election. Are you really sure that electoral politics doesn’t apply in Iraq but instead mysterious "powerful forces" do?

Might want to tell all of your colleagues that study domestic politics and comparative politics about this new theory of yours. Also, could you please use this new theory to make a list right now to tell us which countries can and cannot have democracy? You know, so we can avoid foreign policy blunders in the future.

An example: Burma

Step up to the plate Erb and tell me, can Burma have or not have democracy?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
It’s funny that he invokes Japan or Germany.

Look, this is the part that no one likes to talk about.

a. Our military has never been set up or trained to be an occupational force or an infrastructure building force. They’ve been, however, very well trained at mass destruction and targeted destruction.

b. Even if we were (which we are becoming, with experience being the teacher) it takes, at least, a decade of occupation to create any semblance of stability in an instable nation, particularly one created after a prolonged period of authoritative rule.

Examples? Germany, Japan, and the former Yugoslavia (we’re still there, by the way).

Now, if we come to accept that these things take time (which, obviously, they do) then we have to do something Americans aren’t known for: have patience.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Who is in power in Iraq now?
The government is not — they have only limited power within the society. Real power is with militias and community groups, and due to corruption, wealthy and powerful actors have power. The government is very weak, fragmented, and ineffective.

Anyone who studies comparative politics, like I do, knows that in dealing with third world states often governments do not have real defacto power. Also, the importance of civil society and the difficulty (and sometmes impossibility) of establishing stable democracies is also well studied. It is lack of knowledge of comparative politics and the importance of political culture that causes some people to have fallen for the naive and ridiculous fantasy that one could make an analogy between Japan and Germany after WWII and Iraq now. That’s superficial reasoning, and we’ve seen in very real terms how it’s failed.

And it’s amazing how the pro-war side can slide from ’we’ll be greeted as liberators’ and ’Iraq will be a model...oil revenues will pay for reconstruction and even the war’ to "well, the Balkans have taken a long time, so we shouldn’t be surprised."

Face it: we launched a war of aggression, it’s turned out far more costly than anticipated, and is destined to be remembered as a fiasco, which hurt the US and create discord, violence,and extremism in Iraq. The *best* one hopes for now is somehow that Iraq can avoid massive violence. The dream of a secular, democratic pro-American Iraq is dead. Reality bites. Hard.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Face it: we launched a war of aggression, it’s turned out far more costly than anticipated, and is destined to be remembered as a fiasco
Do you really think repeating this mantra over and over is actually a substitute for an argument? Calling it a "war of agression," is, in my view, utter nonsense, by almost any historical measure. Iraq was an openly hostile state with which the U.S. was already engaged militarily, on almost a daily basis prior to the war. It was in violation of many of its surrender terms from the Gulf War, and did its best to provide the U.S. with as many reasons as possible to take further military action against it. The removal of Saddam Hussein was long overdue. In my opinion the problem lies in the assumptions made about the aftermath, and the planning for the occupation, not in the removal itself. Opponents of the war have and had some good rational arguments worthy of debate. But calling it a "war of aggression," "illegal," "war for oil," "war of choice," "imperialistic," or whatever the jargon of choice is for left-wingers, is generally a red flag indicating that someone is interested in meaningless emotionalism rather than serious debate.

As for how the war will be remembered... your opinion at this point is nothing more than pure speculation based on your own biased outlook. The Iraq War is a current event that is still ongoing, and probably will be for years. Pretending to have knowledge about how a current event will be viewed in history is simply ridiculous, since neither you nor anyone else knows what the eventual outcome will be.

Anyone calling the Iraq situation the worst foreign policy move of all time, a disaster, a fiasco, or making any of the other definitive statements opponents of the war like to make, is at best engaged in over the top exaggeration, and at worst demonstrating a severe ignorance of history.
 
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
Jon,

Based on this very persuasive analysis it appears that progress is evident using your metics.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Do you really think repeating this mantra over and over is actually a substitute for an argument? Calling it a "war of agression," is, in my view, utter nonsense, by almost any historical measure. Iraq was an openly hostile state with which the U.S. was already engaged militarily, on almost a daily basis prior to the war.
When you cross an ocean to invade another state, that’s aggression. The no fly zones were also violations of Iraqi sovereignty, and arguably any hostility they showed against those were defensive. Iraq has been offensive in the past, attacking Kuwait and Iran. Iran defended itself (despite US help to the aggressor, Iraq), and Kuwait’s government regained sovereignty after a UN sponsored force enforced international law. But the 2003 invasion was aggression, obviously and clearly.

And who are we to decide who to remove from power? Who are we to determine how other states are to be governed? And after removing him from power, who are we to try to create a government for them, engage in ’nation-building’ and even veto their choices for high position such as Prime Minister? That only has made it easier for them to avoid reconciliation and try to fight for what their group wants.

I am basing my "speculation" (really near certainty) on the historical view of Iraq because of the reality of the situation, and by comparing it to other historical episodes and looking at it through various lenses of IR theory. Those denying the obvious fiasco in Iraq are driven by bias, seeming to have forgotten the rhetoric of "greeted as liberators...oil revenues to pay for reconstruction...no ethnic fighting will occur, Iraqis are secular...it’ll go quickly, we’ll be in a position of strength in the region...Iraq will be a model..." All those pro-war predictions have been proven objectively wrong, they obviously didn’t expect what happened. Now the best you seem to have is "well, let’s not judge because maybe, somehow, someway, history might look at it differently, you never know."

Sorry, that’s pretty weak to me, and demonstrates not only an ignorance of history, but a contempt for making judgements based on facts, knowledge of history, and knowledge of how international politics works.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Dr. Erb,
When you cross an ocean to invade another state, that’s aggression.
Really? That’s your definition of aggression?
But the 2003 invasion was aggression, obviously and clearly.
There is nothing obvious or clear about it. It is merely your opinion. Please stop confusing your opinions with facts.
The no fly zones were also violations of Iraqi sovereignty, and arguably any hostility they showed against those were defensive.
Thank you for stating Saddam Hussein’s position. Obviously the U.S. position is quite different. Iraq started a war and lost it. Therefore they had restrictions placed on their sovereignty as a result of their own actions.
And who are we to decide who to remove from power? Who are we to determine how other states are to be governed? And after removing him from power, who are we to try to create a government for them, engage in ’nation-building’ and even veto their choices for high position such as Prime Minister?
Those things have traditionally been the prerogative of the victor over a state defeated in a war.
I am basing my "speculation" (really near certainty) on the historical view of Iraq because of the reality of the situation, and by comparing it to other historical episodes and looking at it through various lenses of IR theory.
There is no certainly in events yet to be determined. Your pretensions to "near certainly" about what Iraq might look like twenty years from now are simply ridiculous.
Sorry, that’s pretty weak to me, and demonstrates not only an ignorance of history, but a contempt for making judgements based on facts, knowledge of history, and knowledge of how international politics works.
Oh please. You might want to look in the mirror before making such statements. There is very little in what you have written in this thread which is based on fact, and very much which is pure speculation and opinion. If you had the knowledge of history that you pretend to, you would realize that attempting to make sweeping historical judgements based on current events is ludicrous. There is nothing wrong with speculating and offering your opinions. But recognize that speculations is just that.

Consider the Korean War, a horrible fiasco that caused massive U.S. casualties, embroiled the it in a war with China, endangered its greater strategic interests in Europe, risked war with the Soviet Union, and ended in a bloody stalemate — all for a country that pre-war had been considered virtually worthless to U.S. interests. How many people could have predicted, while the Korean War was raging, that 50+ years from then, South Korea would be a stable democratic state, and a major trading partner of the U.S?

There’s no way to tell what the future will hold, so you may want to rethink your pretensions of knowledge.
 
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
You don’t deny that the US was an aggressor, and that the no fly zones were arguably a violation of sovereignty. You seem to hint that since that was Iraq’s (Saddam’s) position it must be wrong, but that’s a logical fallacy.

Also, you state:
Those things have traditionally been the prerogative of the victor over a state defeated in a war.
No, nation building and going in and recreating a government in the image of the victors is not the perogative of any state winning. However, it is often what imperialist or aggressor states do, and that is what makes them dangerous.

You criticize as ’speculation’ any judgment about the war. How convenient. If things are going bad, just say "can’t make any judgments until later, we don’t know what history will bring, don’t criticize, don’t analyze, just shut up and wait." Nope. That ain’t gonna happen. And it’s amusing how you bring up the Korean war, which was clearly a fiasco. We got in 1953 what we could have had in 1950, but there were a lot of needless death and a humiliating retreat in between.

Oh, and given that you came in here with arrogant accusations, I daresay you’re hardly in a position to complain about ’pretensions of knowledge.’ All you’ve brought to this discussion is claims we need to wait and see because any judgment is ’speculative,’ and assertions that aren’t backed up that seem to evade dealing with the fact this war was aggression on our part (hint: you’d be in a more defensible position if you tried to argue that it was justifiable aggression), and that nation building and trying to shape other cultures is a dubious endeavor. I talk about that in my blog today as well.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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