Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Gasp! Down to 60,000 in Iraq by 2009?
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wow, that would ruin a few political days, wouldn't it? But apparently it is at least possible now (see my bold prediction for this year):
Gen. Petraeus told reporters that he and Pentagon planners were also working on a new "intellectual construct" for a U.S. troop presence in Iraq beyond the planned withdrawal of five brigade combat teams, two Marine battalions and the Marine Expeditionary Unit by the end of July. "We're going to continue to play with this, if you will," Petraeus said. "We literally meet a couple of times a week and keep working this along." Asked whether he and the Pentagon were considering a larger drawdown than the current one—which would shrink the U.S. presence to a pre-surge level of about 130,000, he added: "Certainly there is a possibility of that." In fact, one Pentagon contractor who is working on the long-term U.S. plans for Iraq says that the administration is considering new configurations of forces that could reduce troop levels to well under 100,000, perhaps to as few as 60,000, by the time the next president takes office.
I would expect the usual suspects here to go from foaming at the mouth to completely hysterical if this were to actually happen. Of course, there's a lot more to be done in Iraq before it would happen, but the fact that they're playing with those numbers (and we've seen some progress at national reconciliation at a national level) is a good sign. And, if we think about it, no one would have thought, 18 months ago, that we'd be turning Anbar province over to the Iraqis in March, would they? So this is certainly not beyond the pale.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Alas, McQ, you still do not get it. This planning to reduce troop levels is not based on an optimistic forecast of improving conditions, as you would have us believe. It is, rather, based on a more pessimistic but realistic assessment of the futility of continuing on in this quagmire. This is merely a plan for a retreat, if not a rout, thinly disguised as a victory. Face it, if you can. All is lost. This failure to face reality and embrace failure is but another symptom of America’s decline.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Just because the neocons try to have an alternate reality where they say they’re winning (or won) doesn’t mean that they actually are!

Or some such egghead speak.

The fact of the matter is that it looks like Bush is going to "win" this one. And that’s not insignificant. The fact that we exercised sustained political will on this matter, combined with the fact that we showed that insurgencies could in fact be effectively combatted gives us tremendous credibility where it counts- among our enemies. And even if our next president squanders it - which they probably will- Bush deserves credit. He owns his mistakes, but he gets the credit as well, when the time comes.

I’ve said it before, Bush won’t start getting his proper historical examination and credit once the hateful children have moved on. And when that happens, lots of people are going to be shamefaced, even though they’ll go to their graves denying that Bush was anything less than an American Hitler.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Apparently someone has yet to let El Decidero know about this:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22626192/
(AP—reported time for the article is approximately 1/12/08 7:30 PM EST)
President Bush said Saturday he is open to the possibility of slowing or stopping plans to bring home more U.S. troops from Iraq, defying domestic demands to speed the withdrawals.....
Bush said any decision about troop levels "needs to be based upon success," but that there was no discussion about specific numbers when he was briefed by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad....
With Petraeus at his side, Bush said, "My attitude is, if he didn’t want to continue the drawdown, that’s fine with me, in order to make sure we succeed, see. I said to the general, `If you want to slow her down, fine. It’s up to you.’"



 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Like the illegal immigrant problem, this is something that, if solved, would ruin the day (week, month, year) of too many politicians if it happened.
 
Written By: Troy Camplin
URL: http://www.zatavu.blogspot.com
there is still a long way to go before we declare victory. the sectarian war has a cease fire for now. but that doesnt mean they wont start fighting again. what really needs to happen is a another general election which will happen in 09 where the sunni groups partake in the elections. without real political progress the success on the ground is only short term. its all about long term victories not the short term.
 
Written By: SLNTAX
URL: http://
Yup, this is still going as I predicted last January.

Here’s why things are as they are: We stopped trying to win. We stopped trying to defeat the insurgents, but instead make deals with them. We let them keep their arms, stay in charge of their own regions, and not bring them under the support of the central government. For the Shi’ites, we decided not to try to disarm the Shi’ite militias and instead get both to for awhile focus on our mutual enemy: al qaeda. But the price of doing this is to admit our entire plan was flawed. We’ll leave Sunnis and Sh’ites eached armed, the central government corrupt and ineffective, and a real chance of a lot more violence once we’re gone (and clearly after the political, economic, and national interest cost of this, we’ll not come back in any numbers when things go south). The plan — as I predicted last year — is to get the violence down in the short term to create a "peace with honor moment." I agree with Bush’s current realism, it’s the best way out of Iraq. But its admitting the original policy failed, and that the effort to reconstruct and remake Iraq was a mistake — we and the Iraqis would have been better off if we’d left in 2003 (and even better if we hadn’t invaded).

And we’re just starting to feel the pain the blow back from this war is causing. Part I will be a recession which could be far worse than predicted. Hold on to your hats!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb,

"We let them keep their arms, stay in charge of their own regions, and not bring them under the support of the central government."

I guess you missed the fact that Bush admitted defeat yesterday by allowing the US controlled Iraqi gov’t to reinstate some Baathists yesterday. Which is it? Is Bush admitting defeat by allowing the regions to have more autonomy or by allowing them into the central government. BDS has overtaken your own logic.


"we and the Iraqis would have been better off if we’d left in 2003"

Except of course the Iraqi’s that Hussein would have continued to kill or maybe the Kuwaiti’s or Saudi’s if he decided to invade or the Iranians that might have died if Hussein had developed a weapon to counter the Iranian nuclear program. Caus you know all those Arabs and Iraq’s were so safe when he was around. Perhaps you have never done an Arab body count when Hussein was alive.

Is this truly the state of our education system? No wonder our country is in the state it is in. Our professor’s don’t know crap or either do know crap and can only teach crap.

 
Written By: Blue
URL: http://
No, Blue, you don’t get it. We stopped trying to defeat the insurgents and have made a deal: we’ll get out if you stay calm for awhile, but we’ll let you keep your arms. The Sunnis control Sunni areas, the Shi’ites control Shi’ite areas, the militias remain well armed, and government pronouncements and reinstatements — just the game being played.

Hussein was not a threat by 2003, and certainly could not have taken Iran. That’s silly. You are in imagination land with your scenarios. Reality: Iran is stronger, Pakistan is in turmoil, Saudi Arabia — more repressive than Saddam’s Iraq — is shifting towards China, the dollar in decline (and our economic health relies on the Saudis and Chinese loaning us money), and we’re involved in a costly war that doesn’t serve the national interest. I think you need to really study and learn about the REALITY of the situation, rather than fall for political rhetoric.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The plan — as I predicted last year — is to get the violence down in the short term to create a "peace with honor moment." I agree with Bush’s current realism, it’s the best way out of Iraq. But its admitting the original policy failed,
This is utter and complete BS which I already proved in a previous thread by linking to the actual Bush plan. The plan was ALWAYS to make deals with the locals rather than to fight them.

Furthermore, Erb has claimed all sorts of contradictory scenarios.

Erb is a weasel who will claim he is right no matter what scenario evolves.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Iraq War Cliff Notes

1. Iraq posed a threat to US interests in the region. They had used WMD (nerve gas) on Iran and on the Kurds. They did not comply with Gulf War terms or UN Resolutions regarding inspections.

2. Bush tried to avoid war. He had authority for over 6 months. In under 3 weeks, the coalition fought a brilliant conventional maneuver campaign with minimal loss of life.

3. No Iraqi Army unit defected as intelligence had predicted, leaving no Iraqi force to preserve order post war.

4. Paul Bremmer began an unwise de-Baathification which left young men unemployed and in fear of Shiite retribution. These Sunnis filled the ranks of nationalist insurgency.

5. In September, an al Qaeda suicide bomber blew up the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, starting a rush to exit by all of the major non-governmental organizations.

6. Al Qaeda - Sunni tribal alliance was logical. Sunni tribal areas were both sanctuary and source of local Jihadis. Their common enemy was Democracy.

7. US forces were prepared for a conventional war, not an urban insurgency. Doctrine, equipment and training were revised and troop level surged by 20,000.

8. After three elections, Al Qaeda in Iraq realized that their only hope was a civil war and the bombing at Sammara nearly started one.

9. Al Sistani realized a civil war would undermine the Shiite control and delay our departure, so he restrained the militias and told mullas in Iran to back off.

10. Petraeus’ COIN strategy secured and held population centers, peeled off the Sunni tribes and used them to crushed al Qaeda in Iraq. Shiites no longer need their militias.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
1. Iraq posed a threat to US interests in the region. They had used WMD (nerve gas) on Iran and on the Kurds. They did not comply with Gulf War terms or UN Resolutions regarding inspections.
That doesn’t justify invasion. Syria, Iran and other countries are a threat. Moreover, Iraq had been weakened, was under surrveillance, we had weapon inspectors in the ground, and Saddam was not a credible military threat. He lost control over the north of Iraq, and was boxed in. He was not a real threat by 2003. And we had supported him when he was using chemical weapons.
2. Bush tried to avoid war. He had authority for over 6 months. In under 3 weeks, the coalition fought a brilliant conventional maneuver campaign with minimal loss of life.
No, it’s clear now the war was chosen back in early 2002, nothing was going to stop Bush from war. He wanted the rest of the world to grant it legitimacy, but most of planet realized it was unnecessary and dangerous — Chirac has been proven correct. The conventional war was brilliant — though it was an aggressive invasion, not defensive. However, after the war they wanted to act like imperialists and social engineer a regional outcome. That was an error of arrogance which we’ll be paying for a long time.

3. No Iraqi Army unit defected as intelligence had predicted, leaving no Iraqi force to preserve order post war.
It’s clear now the plan was to go into insurgency mode.
4. Paul Bremmer began an unwise de-Baathification which left young men unemployed and in fear of Shiite retribution. These Sunnis filled the ranks of nationalist insurgency.
That was in line with the original Bush plan — to reconstruct and remake the region. Bremer’s policies fit what the US believed in 2003, and that plan failed utterly and compeltely.
5. In September, an al Qaeda suicide bomber blew up the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, starting a rush to exit by all of the major non-governmental organizations.
And why should they stay? The stability was destroyed by a US invasion, and the US could not provide security — the US plan was failing completely by that point.
6. Al Qaeda - Sunni tribal alliance was logical. Sunni tribal areas were both sanctuary and source of local Jihadis. Their common enemy was Democracy.
The enemy was an outside aggressor who came and was destroying their country and killing people. It was patriotic and expected that they would oppose us — we’d have done the same in their shoes. We also didn’t understand the cultural differences and naively thought they’d adopt a western style system. Democracy in the region doesn’t work yet because they don’t have the cultural precursors for effective democracy.


7. US forces were prepared for a conventional war, not an urban insurgency. Doctrine, equipment and training were revised and troop level surged by 20,000
.

Yes, because the policy was ill defined and based on false assumption. It failed, and cost became far greater than the benefits.
8. After three elections, Al Qaeda in Iraq realized that their only hope was a civil war and the bombing at Sammara nearly started one.
The elections were meaningless, essentially they showed sectarian differences. The governments were corrupt and sectarian and couldn’t control the country — it still isn’t accepted in most of the country where Shi’ite and Sunni militias hold sway.

Al Qaeda saw Iraq as an opportunity to hurt the US on the cheap — send a few Saudis there and hit the US and cause disruption, bleeding us of money and life, at no real cost to themselves. For al qaeda, our invasion of Iraq was a godsent. They had virtually no effective presence before, and no chance to hit the US. We gave them a gift.
9. Al Sistani realized a civil war would undermine the Shiite control and delay our departure, so he restrained the militias and told mullas in Iran to back off.
That worked until 2006. Then Iran drifted to civil war, and now Iranian backed Shi’ite militias act withot restraint, and the US accepts it, knowing we can’t defeat them.

10. Petraeus’ COIN strategy secured and held population centers, peeled off the Sunni tribes and used them to crushed al Qaeda in Iraq. Shiites no longer need their militias.
The change in strategic came from the White House and involved not trying to win. Instead, we would allow the different groups to stay armed and in control of their own regions, we wouldn’t try to get them to have a stable democracy, and we wouldn’t worry about trying to help the government control. So we stopped trying to defeat the enemy, and instead want a deal where they’ll lay off, we won’t go after them, and we’ll soon leave. Most accepted the deal, those who didn’t (such as al qaeda) were a more tractable enemy. So Shi’ite militias, armed by Iran, dominate in Shi’ite areas, Sunni tribes remain armed, and once we get out... who knows?

Was it worth it? It’s almost impossible to argue it was. But at least now I think the Bush Administration has a more realistic policy, and I applaud that. Gates and Rice have helped bring realism to the policy.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb, why don’t you remind us who was strongly advocating for the "realistic policy" of complete withdrawal and diving Iraq into partitions?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I reiterate... what a sad commentary on the state of our educational system.
 
Written By: Blue
URL: http://
Erb comes from the "Lancet" school of Iraq thought.

My only question is how much is he getting from Soros?


It’s funny to contrast the tone and substance of his remarks now, vs. those he gave when he was all happy things were going poorly.


 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
That doesn’t justify invasion. Syria, Iran and other countries are a threat. Moreover, Iraq had been weakened, was under surrveillance, we had weapon inspectors in the ground, and Saddam was not a credible military threat
Actually, the intelligence agencies of every Western nation considered Saddam to be a dangerous threat. Saddam had kicked out weapons inspectors in 1998 with tons of unaccounted for known Vx and chem weapons. What happened to those known weapons we don’t know, but it would have been irresponsible to take a chance by trusting Saddam at that time. If he destroyed the weapons, he only had to offer his proof.
And why should they stay? The stability was destroyed by a US invasion, and the US could not provide security — the US plan was failing completely by that point.
Hang on, the UN refused to cooperate with the US on security of their Iraq headquarters. Only a dishonest partisan hack would try and hang the bombing of the UN on the US given the facts
That worked until 2006. Then Iran drifted to civil war, and now Iranian backed Shi’ite militias act withot restraint, and the US accepts it, knowing we can’t defeat them
We probably should have taken out Al-sadr early on, but from what I’ve read, the Shiite militias, although splintered away from Al-Sadr have caused significantly fewer deadly attacks over the last year. You attribute this to the US "cutting a deal" to having them lie low until the US military leaves. But although there will likely be a reduction in forces I don’t see a complete military withdrawel for years to come, so your assertion is not only unknowable, it’s dubious. It’s more likely that a) the government is doing more to control the militias and b) Shi’ite militia members increasingly see the US military as an ally, not occupiers
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
Scott Erb is rewriting history.

1. Saddam had a partially active WMD program. His nuclear know how came from the AQ Khan network. No country who hired AQ Kahn (including Iran) ever used his technology to build power plants. Iraq’s chemical weapons came from the Soviets and later the Russians. Iraq’s nuclear weapons program manager defected to the US. Iraq had Vx, Sarin and mustard gas. He also had fielded delivery systems - missiles, rockets, aircraft and artillery shells. Due to the unpredictability of biological agents, his biological warfare program was research. Also, what makes you think that Iran and Syria are off of our list?

2. Had Saddam not expelled the UN teams, we would not have invaded. The Russians on UNMOVIC told Saddam where the inspectors were going rendering the team’s effort meaningless. Behind the scenes, there was considerable approval of our actions in the Arab world. Saddam was not an annoyance, he was a direct threat to our forces and economic interests in the Middle East.

3. Our intelligence had been communicating with commanders of several of Saddam’s senior field commanders who allegedly wanted to switch sides as soon as the war started. I do not know what happened to these men but it was another example of bad CIA data.

4. No argument about Bremmer. His civilian administration brushed aside security concerns and rushed to turn over control before the country could be pacified. In my view, we would have had less trouble with the Sunnis had we either used more occupation troops or proceeded more slowly. The de-Baathification was a disaster.

5. What our invasion destroyed was a brutal, repressive, murderous police state modeled on Nazi Germany. If you consider that "stability", I don’t share your opinion. UN and other NGOs should stay to handle post war refugee programs and provide security. But, people at the UN were deeply invested in Saddam’s oil for food scam as were the French and Russians and none want their involvement exposed.

6. Ask the Sheiks in Anbar Province who is the outside invader. Also ask Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds if they want us to cut and run or win. No culture on earth was more isolated and removed from democracy than the Japanese before and during WWII. Obviously "they [didn’t] have the cultural precursors for effective democracy" either. How did they manage?

7. Counterinsurgency is not how the "Big Army" fights wars. Special operations does that. The Big Army has tanks and artillery and helicopters and infantry. They ignored COIN to their own detriment. The generals before Petraeus were Big Army guys. Bush and Rumsfeld gave them what they said they needed (expect 500,000 troops). The Army was slow to switch to COIN.

8. Osama Bin Laden famously said, "Democracy is un-Islamic," and I wholly agree. When all the purple fingers were being held aloft, the Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda were facing a powerful message - they were being relegated to the margins. Iran too, feared a democratic Iraq, not militarily, but politically.

9. We agree to disagree on civil war. There was violence inflicted by Sunni IEDs and assassinations of Shiites. Shiites used the police to terrorize Sunnis. Civil wars are domestic disputes. Al Qaeda hit the golden mosque. Al Sadr hit back. The level of violence in Iraq did not rise to the level of civil war I saw in El Salvador in 1981.

10. To paraphrase Bush, winning is creating a stable, democratic Iraq able to defend itself and not threaten its neighbors. Shiite militias are closer to organized crime. They sell protection that is no longer required. That is why they being asked to leave by the Shiites.

General Barry McCaffrey, not a Bush ally, recently returned from Iraq and announced we have achieved a tactical victory over al Qaeda in Iraq. Face it Scott, your side - the anti-American left - lost the war.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
I’m sorry, i couldn’t stop laughing right at "yup, this is exactly as i predicted last january"

Oh, Erb, you really ARE delusional!
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
To paraphrase Bush, winning is creating a stable, democratic Iraq able to defend itself and not threaten its neighbors
Arch, that’s the definition of success that Bush gave before the invasion started. But it’s not how Rumsfeld sold the war to Erb, so your point is moot.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Ted:

I know. Young Professor Erb is trying to rewrite history and paint us as a ruthless imperial power.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
I’m sorry, i couldn’t stop laughing right at "yup, this is exactly as i predicted last january"

Oh, Erb, you really ARE delusional!
My blog, January 17, 2007 (about a year ago) — scroll down to the "Peace With Honor Moment" entry.

I thought the pull out would be starting a bit earlier, but still it’s pretty much as I described how I thought it would go.

Arch and Darrell, I’ll get to your posts later, at least you gave a counter argument and not some little insult. My two boys, age 2 and 4, are demanding my time so it won’t be until later.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
at least you gave a counter argument
Erb, you haven’t even provided any evidence to counter. You just continue to talk out of your @ss.

I already know the reason. Every time you try to provide evidence, you get your @ss handed right back to you.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Erb in August 2007:
The surge has a limited goal: to weaken al qaeda. In January when the surge first began, I wrote that I thought it was designed to combat Sunni insurgents, which was to the benefit of the Shi’ites. I was wrong. The goal was more limited – Sunni insurgents have been made allies in a fight against al qaeda, even though they have no love for Americans. This has angered the Shi’ite majority, whose policies have already pushed Sunni groups to leave the ’unity’ government. They correctly note that we are working with, funding and supporting Sunni groups that may have been part of the insurgency against the US, and may be very willing to use arms against the Shi’ites once the US departs. The US hopes that, with a weakened al qaeda, these Sunnis will be able to forge a political compromise with the Shi’ites — after all, it took al qaeda and similar extremists two years to create conditions of if not civil war, at least intense sectarian voilence.

In Sunni parts of Iraq that has yielded results: areas are more stable, al qaeda and similar groups weaker, and some political stability has returned. Those cheering on the “surge” point to that and say “see, we’re making progress.” That is true. Alas, this is but a side show to the real problem in Iraq: the politics of the Shi’ite majority, and efforts to promote Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation. Those are outside the scope of the surge, and beyond the control of American decision makers, but therein lies the future of Iraq. Weakening al qaeda is important, and will increase the chances all out civil war will break out (and perhaps spread through the region), but alone it is not enough.
and
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
and
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.
Erb in September 2007
For now, it seems like we’re moving towards a partition, and perhaps one which can be done in a way to allow American forces to leave (perhaps leaving some for peaceful duty in Kurdistan) and Iraq to avoid chaos.
and
In Iraq not only is the US desperately trying to figure out a way to stabilize the situation as, despite some cautiously optimisitic comments from Gen. Petraeus, the grim reality is that bad news still far outweighs good news. In places like Diyala province where some Sunnis started to cooperate with the US against al qaeda, that cooperation is in danger. Most important, government corruption and inefficacy remains endemic and political reconciliation virtually non-existent.
Erb in December 2007
Alas, little has changed since 2006. Corruption is as bad as ever, ethnic groups are armed, and there has been no real effort at reconciliation.
Erb is a weasel who posts lots of possibilities so that he can pick one to match reality. Erb is consistently wrong, and even made the claim in August that his January claims were wrong.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Arch and Darrell, I’ll get to your posts later
Maybe then you could explain how Al Queda, which has suffered devastating losses in their leadership, support and credibility in Iraq, how you could possibly characterize Al Queda’s situation there as having "no real cost to themselves". If you can’t honestly acknowledge the game-changing setbacks and defeats that Al Queda has suffered in Iraq, then you’re simply not arguing in good faith.
 
Written By: Darrell
URL: http://
OK, I got a bit of free time here after all, since the boys decided they wanted to watch Cars (great film), so here’s my response to Arch:

Scott Erb is rewriting history.
We’ll see…
1. Saddam had a partially active WMD program. His nuclear know how came from the AQ Khan network. No country who hired AQ Kahn (including Iran) ever used his technology to build power plants. Iraq’s chemical weapons came from the Soviets and later the Russians. Iraq’s nuclear weapons program manager defected to the US. Iraq had Vx, Sarin and mustard gas. He also had fielded delivery systems - missiles, rockets, aircraft and artillery shells. Due to the unpredictability of biological agents, his biological warfare program was research. Also, what makes you think that Iran and Syria are off of our list?
You’re contradicting even the Bush Administration here. Almost everyone agrees the WMD program was inactive and unable to accomplish anything. Also, the chemical weapons had been destroyed by the weapons inspection regime, all that was left was a few weapons that had slipped through the cracks, but most of those were probably unusable by 2003. The US won’t attack Iran or Syria because, well, of what might be called “the Iraq syndrome.” The country would not countenance another war of aggression over imagined threats from places on the other side of the globe. When the full economic cost of this conflict comes home to roost, history will judge the choice to go to war poorly. Also Iran is much more powerful than Iraq, and a US attack would devastate our economy, and we simply are too militarily overstretched to even think of it.

2. Had Saddam not expelled the UN teams, we would not have invaded. The Russians on UNMOVIC told Saddam where the inspectors were going rendering the team’s effort meaningless. Behind the scenes, there was considerable approval of our actions in the Arab world. Saddam was not an annoyance, he was a direct threat to our forces and economic interests in the Middle East.
Saddam didn’t expel the UN teams in 2003 – you are the one rewriting history. The weapons inspectors were withdrawn because the US said they had to leave due to the impending war. Also, there was very little approval, even behind the scenes for the 2003 war (1991 was, of course, a different story). Especially Arab public opinion was vehemently against what they correctly saw as US aggression. As one Arab noted, America managed to get the Arab world to rally behind a thug like Hussein – that’s how much they opposed our aggression.

3. Our intelligence had been communicating with commanders of several of Saddam’s senior field commanders who allegedly wanted to switch sides as soon as the war started. I do not know what happened to these men but it was another example of bad CIA data.
I don’t see the relevance here; in any event, policy choices shouldn’t be made on such dubious intelligence guesses.
4. No argument about Bremmer. His civilian administration brushed aside security concerns and rushed to turn over control before the country could be pacified. In my view, we would have had less trouble with the Sunnis had we either used more occupation troops or proceeded more slowly. The de-Baathification was a disaster.
To stabilize Iraq you needed a lot more troops. They really thought they could re-make Iraq in a way that would be friendly to America and grant us a close ally in a dangerous part of the world. That was from the start not going to happen.
5. What our invasion destroyed was a brutal, repressive, murderous police state modeled on Nazi Germany. If you consider that "stability", I don’t share your opinion. UN and other NGOs should stay to handle post war refugee programs and provide security. But, people at the UN were deeply invested in Saddam’s oil for food scam as were the French and Russians and none want their involvement exposed.
No, it wasn’t modeled after Nazi Germany. However, it was modeled after Stalinist Russia, which was much more organized and controlled (the Nazis couldn’t even get Berlin under their complete control until the war broke out – and then it was war time martial law). Saddam was repressive but SAUDI ARABIA, our ally, is MORE repressive. So unless you want to attack all repressive states, we constantly choose stability over trying to impose our notions of human rights through warfare. Also, the French didn’t oppose the war because they were covering up food for oil corruption. That’s absurd. The French and Russian view was shared throughout Europe, including the publics of Spain, Italy and Great Britain: that the war was dangerous, could radicalize Muslims in Europe, was unnecessary, and reflected the US acting as if it were above the law.
6. Ask the Sheiks in Anbar Province who is the outside invader. Also ask Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds if they want us to cut and run or win. No culture on earth was more isolated and removed from democracy than the Japanese before and during WWII. Obviously "they [didn’t] have the cultural precursors for effective democracy" either. How did they manage?
Almost all see us as the outside invader. Opinion polls have shown that. Now, if they can use us to help promote their interests, they’ll want us to stay – in a divided society, colonized often see it helpful to use the colonizer (making promises they don’t intend to keep, knowing that the outside power doesn’t understand the intricacies of local politics). But clearly we are the outside invader, the aggressor. There is no doubt about THAT.

Japan had already tried democracy, and had modernized, copying Prussia and then imperial Germany. It had a strong movement of western and democratic thought, even though the militarists pushed them aside. Moreover, Japan after WWII was a lot like before the war, minus the militarism. The links between business, government, and finance remained, and it was a single party state until the 90s, and in many ways still in. The problems of their closed system came out in the early 90s with deflation, and they haven’t fully recovered. Again, you accuse me of rewriting history, but I’m not sure you have really researched the assertions you’re making, especially if you don’t understand how Japan had modernized, tried to institute democracy, and had many western ideas and activists well before WWII.

7. Counterinsurgency is not how the "Big Army" fights wars. Special operations does that. The Big Army has tanks and artillery and helicopters and infantry. They ignored COIN to their own detriment. The generals before Petraeus were Big Army guys. Bush and Rumsfeld gave them what they said they needed (expect 500,000 troops). The Army was slow to switch to COIN.
The reason, of course, is that false belief that we could impose our kind of system on another kind of culture. It was a seductive delusion, allowing us to think Iraq would become pro-American, we’d be in a position to pressure Syria and Iran to change, we’d push aside Russia and China in terms of influence on Mideast oil, and the spread of democracy would undercut terrorism. So seductive, it seemed to indicate that all we needed was the will to use our power and we’d benefit both the region and ourselves. Alas, it was an illusion.

8. Osama Bin Laden famously said, "Democracy is un-Islamic," and I wholly agree. When all the purple fingers were being held aloft, the Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda were facing a powerful message - they were being relegated to the margins. Iran too, feared a democratic Iraq, not militarily, but politically.
In Iran they have the most democratic state in the region, other than Israel. It’s democracy is at this point more representative and effective than Iraq’s. Iran’s democracy is limited by the power of the religious clerics to overrule laws and candidacies, but most decisions don’t require that, the people vote, and there were changes. In fact, the biggest blowback from the 2003 invasion was that the hardliners got a lot of anti-American support from the Iranian public and won their first elections. The Guardian Council had been loosening up. Now, from a position of strength, Iran is realizing its potential as a regional power. The good news is that they may find themselves back on that slow path to democracy that seemed to be threatened after the 2004 and 2005 elections. (Ahmadinejad is almost certain not to be re-elected, he’s lost the support of the Guardian council and the Iranian people…he could bounce back, but it’s not likely)
9. We agree to disagree on civil war. There was violence inflicted by Sunni IEDs and assassinations of Shiites. Shiites used the police to terrorize Sunnis. Civil wars are domestic disputes. Al Qaeda hit the golden mosque. Al Sadr hit back. The level of violence in Iraq did not rise to the level of civil war I saw in El Salvador in 1981.
Civil wars are usually disputes between different ethnic groups, and that certainly was the case here. By every definition I know of, it was a civil war. Very few people deny that. It appears to have really died down to a point of being sectarian violence and not civil war, but it could (and likely will) flare up again.

10. To paraphrase Bush, winning is creating a stable, democratic Iraq able to defend itself and not threaten its neighbors. Shiite militias are closer to organized crime. They sell protection that is no longer required. That is why they being asked to leave by the Shiites.
Shi’ite militias are as strong as ever, I’m not sure what you mean by saying they are being ‘asked to leave.’ The violence between Shi’ite groups is intense, and the central government has very little power outside Baghdad. This is not a stable, unified, democracy, it’s an unstable, on the edge state of militias and tribal governance.

General Barry McCaffrey, not a Bush ally, recently returned from Iraq and announced we have achieved a tactical victory over al Qaeda in Iraq. Face it Scott, your side - the anti-American left - lost the war.
I never thought al qaeda had a chance in Iraq anyway, since the Shi’ites and Sunnis there hate them. So a tactical victory over al qaeda had better take place, they aren’t the real problem there (and weren’t even a problem there at all before our invasion). My side is the side in favor of American values and moral principles. I’m not a leftist, my roots are with folk like Thomas Reed and Charles Eliot Norton (my blog, March 1, 2006). It starts with a quote from Charles Eliot Norton, from 1895, quoted in Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower, p. 140: "I fear that America is beginning a long course of error and wrong and is likely to become more and more a power for disturbance and babarism...” It’s not anti-American, it’s opposition to those who want to turn our Republic into a centralized powerful neo-imperial state.

But I don’t think the other side is "evil," and I do try to understand the diverse perspectives. It’s funny in a way. I see the anti-war side unable to accept that Bush could change and actually recognize that we can’t win the war and need to get out, and then do a decent job setting that up (I think he’s setting the next President up for success — Bush probably will not get the credit he deserves for his change of policy). I see the pro-war side as saying that if we can create stability at any time then it’s a success, as if the five years of destruction and high costs, overstretching the military, etc., are irrelevant. The two sides need to talk to each other and find points of agreement.

OK, I gotta go watch a bit of Lightning McQueen’s adventures...
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
1. Iraq posed a threat to US interests in the region. They had used WMD (nerve gas) on Iran and on the Kurds. They did not comply with Gulf War terms or UN Resolutions regarding inspections.
That doesn’t justify invasion.

Since when has violation of cease fire terms not been justification for resumption of hostilities?

This is/was a major mistake of the anti (Bush) war movement. Bush had enough justification, authority, and reasonable concern about WMD to war on Saddam.

The issue is and should have been, was the resumption of hostilities against Iraq the right strategy in the struggle against Al Qaeda.

Was the risk of a strife torn Iraq convulsed by civil war worth the distant promise of a liberal democracy arising from a collection of tribes and adversarial sectarian factions, that had not been prepared for Republic by a enlighten Machiavelian prince, but had been brutally repressed by a monster?
 
Written By: newshutz
URL: http://
Almost everyone agrees the WMD program was inactive and unable to accomplish anything. Also,the chemical weapons had been destroyed by the weapons inspection regime, all that was left was a few weapons that had slipped through the cracks
Apparently, ’almost everyone’ does not care about the actual evidence from UNMOVIC, but would rather take Saddam’s word for it.
In paragraph 11, we note that the long list of proscribed items unaccounted for has not been shortened by inspections or Iraqi declarations, explanations or documentation.
That list included thousands of litres of biological warfare agents, at least 1.5 tons of VX and over 500 rounds of mustard gas. All probably old and unusable? We did find some they still had hidden in 1997-
The chemical sampling of these munitions, in April 1998, revealed that the mustard was still of the highest quality. After seven years, the purity of mustard ranged between 94 and 97%.
The WMD program also included proscribed missles. Made before 1991? No. Seventy-five were actively deployed in Jan 2003, with more on the way.

A 2,000 word post and you couldn’t make it halfway into the first paragraph without having the facts prove you wrong.


 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
"A 2,000 word post and you couldn’t make it halfway into the first paragraph without having the facts prove you wrong."

Both the verbosity and the errors are typical.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Since when has violation of cease fire terms not been justification for resumption of hostilities?
It depends on the case — and who legally decides if there has been a violation and what the appropriate response will be. The US invaded thinking it would have easy success, and instead it turned out to be a strategic diaster of historical proportions. Now people supporting the war say it will be a ’success’ if we just get out of there after five years and horrendous damage (money, American soldiers’ lives, Iraqi civilians’ lives, psychological damage, etc.) and strategic loses. Iran is stronger, Pakistan is falling apart, Syria and Turkey are forging close ties, and Iraq is divided between different sections, the unity of Iraq is a fiction (which causes me to believe that only a partition has the possibility of averting a major civil war in Iraq in coming years). Oil prices are high, the economy is weaker than most realize. The only good thing is that the public will not tolerate another such adventure any time soon!

Therein lies the problem. You mention Machiavelli. The policy was driven by idealism rather than Machiavellian realism, Machiavelli almost certainly would have doubted the wisdom of such a policy. And, if a great power is to put its prestige and interests on the line against some piddly, weak, distant state, it had better go in with everything. Machiavelli would have urged a massive force, quickly disposing of the old regime, disarming and killing enemies, and putting in place a regime friendly to the US. Even then, Machiavelli would have probably urged we not try to re-create the country and get involved in reconstruction (look at his sections on conquering and holding different kinds of kingdoms).

However, lately President Bush has not only done much better by embracing realism, but his visit to Israel and the West Bank showed a visionary quality to it. I just wish the George W. Bush of 2008 could go back and replace the inexperienced one who, in 2002/03, listened to advisers who didn’t understand the forces they were playing with in Iraq, and thought that military power followed by massive amounts of reconstruction aid would make it easy to get a pro-American stable Iraq. At least the President seems to have learned a lot of lessons over time, that says something good about him.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ted, your evidence doesn’t support your claim. You: a) state that some things are unaccounted for — that happens sometimes; and b) that in 1998 some mustard gas was in good shape. That hardly proves Saddam had much if anything in the way of effective WMD. You ignore the whole post and try to nitpick one point, and don’t even do that effectively. If anything, what you post should have indicated that we should have given the UN more time — they apparently are effective.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I didn’t claim Saddam had lots of WMD ready to use. You claimed he had none, and the evidence doesn’t support that.

You claimed only a small amount had slipped through the cracks. In reality, there are many tons of chemical and biological agents unaccounted for.

You claimed that most of what slipped through the cracks was "probably unusabe". When they did find something that had slipped through the cracks, it was still fully effective.

You claimed the WMD program was inactive. Iraq admitted they were still making and fielding illegal missles within two months of the invasion.

I didn’t ’nitpick’ your post, I showed you were completely wrong in the opening paragraph. There’s no need to read the rest, start with a false premise and you get bad results.

And yeah, maybe a dozen years wasn’t enough time. I’m sure he would have gotten more cooperative as time went on. Oh wait, even you argued that he was being less cooperative over time.

 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
You’re contradicting even the Bush Administration here. Almost everyone agrees the WMD program was inactive and unable to accomplish anything.
If this were true, why would Paul Begala, on Crossfire on the eve of the war, be screaming that our troops were going to get hit with mustard gas as soon as they crossed into Baghdad? This is what the Clinton Administration knew about WMD. You’ve read the quotes circa 1999 to prove it. Right down the memory hole, eh?
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
When the full economic cost of this conflict comes home to roost, history will judge the choice to go to war poorly.
Well... history as written by pointy-shoed bow-ties in the Chomsky tradition, that is...
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
You claimed he had none, and the evidence doesn’t support that.
Come on, even the Bush administration admits they haven’t found anything except old, obsolete shells. You’re simply wrong. Otherwise, where are all these WMDs, hmmmmm?

If this were true, why would Paul Begala, on Crossfire on the eve of the war, be screaming that our troops were going to get hit with mustard gas as soon as they crossed into Baghdad?
Not being a supporter of Clinton or Begala, why should he be considered a credible source? In any event, the reality is that the weapons inspectors and the French President, who have been proven correct by history, argued they had not seen credible evidence there was a threat, and they should remain and continue their work, there was no need to launch a war. They were brushed aside by an administration who learned the hard way the cost of such arrogance. Luckily, the President has been able to learn, and the Bush realism of 2007 is a welcome change.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I would expect the usual suspects here to go from foaming at the mouth to completely hysterical if this were to actually happen.

If by "hysterical" you mean "pleased and happy", then I can agree with you. Why exactly you expect advocates of less troops in Iraq to be hysterical about less troops in Iraq, I don’t immediately understand. I suspect it has something to do with the pot and the kettle.

As for the whole "this means we won and everything we did was good" scenario, that argument is a waste of time. I don’t much care if you want to claim that a troop withdrawal by 2009 proves the return of Christ. Sure, it must take a massive effort of will to pretend ignore that early 2009 is the likely inaguration of an anti-war president by an anti-war electorate - an outcome widely predicted for years. So, the non-koolaided will see this withdrawal, if it happens, as halfway between a lucky break and political triage. Of course, GWB was just talking about bumping the number up to 180K about two days ago, but either way good luck on George Bush implementing the troop withdrawal that Democrats have been demanding for years. We wish him well. Rock on, Dubya!
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider