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Iraq, Obama and McCain: Who doesn’t understand what?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Oh, man ... this is poor, but from Joe Klein, hardly unexpected.
The problem with John McCain's 100 years in Iraq formulation isn't that he's calling for 95 more years of combat—he isn't—but that he thinks you can have a long-term basing arrangement in Iraq similar to those we have in Germany or Korea. That betrays a fairly acute lack of knowledge about both Iraq and Islam. It may well be possible to station U.S. troops in small, peripheral kingdoms like Dubai or Kuwait, but Iraq is—and has always been—volatile, tenuous, centrally-located and nearly as sensitive to the presence of infidels as Saudi Arabia. It is a terrible candidate for a long-term basing agreement.
Is it? What's interesting here is Klein formulates a "solution" in peripheral kingdoms which are also Islamic (and assumes they wouldn't have a problem with basing US troops for the very same reason he feels Iraq would) and invents a past for Iraq which is just not true.

In fact, up until Saddam invaded Kuwait, there were 5,150 military and non-military specialists based in Iraq from the Soviet Union - you remember them don't you? In fact, Iraq had been a client of the USSR for decades. That relationship didn't begin to go bad until 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev and Perestroika arrived on the scene. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the USSR threw them under the bus instead of supporting them (another in a long line of miscalculations Saddam made).

So obviously, to that point, there was little if any concern with "infidels" being on Iraqi soil until Saddam's fall, if then.

While the newfound religious freedom now evident in Iraq may find a portion of the population which considers "infidels" problematic, that doesn't include their leadership which has made it clear that they do not want an early exit by US forces but prefer they remain until they Iraqi government is well prepared to take charge of its own security. Given the operation in Basra, that may not be too far off.
Furthermore, McCain's frequent "You don't know anything" tirades about national security might be more effective if he had a better sense of the war in question. When I asked him about Basra in January, he assured me that it was "not a problem." Last week, he seemed to think it was a good idea for the militia that calls itself the Iraqi Army to attack the militia that calls itself the Mahdi Army. So did George W. Bush, who posited it as the good guys fighting the "terrorists." This betrayed a fundamental lack of knowledge about Shi'ite politics, something any good President or presidential contender—especially one who styles himself a "national security" expert—needs to study. McCain surely knows more about the military than Barack Obama does—and Obama certainly needs to learn more—but McCain's carelessness and oversimplification, and wrong analysis, when it comes to the situation in Iraq puts him in a surprisingly vulnerable position.
Of course, it's alway nice to see an "objective reporter" and apparent expert in Shiite politics, like Joe Klein, point to the flaws he perceives in one argument while ignoring the giant holes in the other.

Obama is talking about a precipitous withdrawal of US troops which would put in jeopardy everything that has transpired in the last 5 years. And Klein is trying to rationalize it for him.

Anyone who thinks that the region which provides us with the life blood of our economy and national security, and the country which is central to its stability, aren't places where we should have a presence is the one who is prone to carelessness and oversimplification. Any guess as to why the Soviet Union aggressively pursued a relationship with Iraq and based their people there?

There is no question that a reasonable accommodation could be found for basing US troops in Iraq without any real visibility or impact being seen on Iraqi society. But Klein seems to believe that one soldier anywhere in Iraq will spawn a collection of Osama clones who'll use that soldier's presence to bomb the US into the stone age.

Hey, Joe, they've been there for 5 years now in great numbers and that hasn't yet been a problem. And, by the way, why wouldn't their presence in Kuwait be just as problematic to a fanatic as a base in Iraq? To them the Caliphate is the Caliphate, isn't it?

Klein gives us a peek at the attempted "100 years war" strategy the left will most likely try to employ now after the Obama campaign has been repeatedly corrected about their out of context use of the quote.
 
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A long term presence in Iraq is impossible, Klein is right. The USSR was able to do so because Iraq was ruled by a ruthless socialist tyrant who crushed religious opposition. It simply won’t be tolerated in a place like Iraq. McQ, you’re not dumb. Don’t you see how wrong all the efforts were to posit this like a Japan or Germany, and think the US could stabilize things and a democracy would take root? I agree with your analysis on a number of strategic points you make, but you don’t seem willing to seriously question the goals and assumptions of this whole invasion and occupation. I think for the sake of your own intellectual integrity you need to revisit the issue, take seriously how different Iraq is Japan, Germany or Korea, and look at the broader context of national interest, terror threats, where al qaeda is really a threat, and the opportunity costs of this war. Because at some point you have to face the possibility that you might have been wrong about this. That’s OK, everyone is wrong sometimes.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Not to mention the thousands of US military and civilians that for years assisted the Shah in Iran, or more recently the Saudis, or the many US bases currently located in Turkey. We even have advisors currently in Egypt - asisting the Eqyptians in the US military hardware being put in use there. USAF units regularly deploy to Egypt (Cairo West generally) for training exercises and to show the flag.

Oh my God! You mean we have put our precious military at risk in these places for all these years - and also under Democratic administrations. I’m shocked!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
While the newfound religious freedom now evident in Iraq may find a portion of the population which considers "infidels" problematic
Missing from most analysis is that this same portion of the population also considers certain other citizens of Iraq "infidels" and has no moral convictions against killing their fellow citizens.
Last week, he seemed to think it was a good idea for the militia that calls itself the Iraqi Army to attack the militia that calls itself the Mahdi Army
Quite hard to take anyone serious who would give the Iraqi Army and Sadr’s militia an equal moral footing.

But I guess I just don’t get multi-culturalism.

Future basing rights will be negotiated at a time when the majority of violence has ended, Iraqi security forces are capable of handling security, and thus the need for a large foreign military presence is not needed.

In fact, that is exactly what McCain meant...
"That reminds me of this 100-year thing," McCain said. "I was asked at a town hall meeting…how long would we have a presence in Iraq. My friends, the war will be over soon. The war for all intents and purposes [will be over], although the insurgency will go on for years and years and years, but it’ll be handled by the Iraqis not by us, and then we decide what kind of security arrangement we want to have with the Iraqis."
And what he actually said was that such an arrangement would be "fine" by him...
McCain, Jan. 3: Make it a hundred. ... We’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as American, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. It’s fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al Qaeda is training, recruiting and equipping and motivating people every single day.
I would expect, that it would also be "fine" with him, if we could not have bases there.

Personally, I think having a US military presence smack in the heart of the middle east wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Long term it is going to be the success of the Iraqis in pulling their country up from the depths of Saddam’s depravities and abuse that will serve as an example to others in the region.

Remaining a steadfast ally of Iraq to ensure their long term security and stability, would be in our national interests.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Perhaps Obama should tell us when he intends to withdrawl troops from Korea, Japan and Western Europe.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
I think for the sake of your own intellectual integrity you need to revisit the issue, take seriously how different Iraq is Japan, Germany or Korea, and look at the broader context of national interest, terror threats, where al qaeda is really a threat, and the opportunity costs of this war. Because at some point you have to face the possibility that you might have been wrong about this. That’s OK, everyone is wrong sometimes.
In other words - And searching your soul you can do naught else but agree with me - and I might add, you can then acknowledge my superiority in all matters foreign and domestic. Additionally, you can then tell all those visiting here at QandO how my blog is so much more attune to the future of the world and the human race at large.

Have I missed anything? Oh yeah - and the US is DOOMED, DOOMED, DOOMED!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
In other words - And searching your soul you can do naught else but agree with me - and I might add, you can then acknowledge my superiority in all matters foreign and domestic. Additionally, you can then tell all those visiting here at QandO how my blog is so much more attune to the future of the world and the human race at large.
Self-esteem problems, SSHiell? If I was right on this issue and McQ wrong, that in no way says I’m ’superior,’ I’d never think to make such a claim. One reason I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong is that I know humans can be wrong, even on big issues, and I do not see it as at all meaning I’m inferior to someone if I am wrong on something and the other person is right. You seem to have personalized this that if another commentator is right, then somehow that debases you and makes the other seem superior. Utterly absurd. When you personalize things like that, you are more prone to make cognitive errors in assessing a situation because you are emotionally motivated not to question a view you’ve taken, and thus you seek only to support your pre-existing position rather than question it. That leads to faulty thinking.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
New entry in Merriam-Webster:

Arrogance.
Main Entry: ar·ro·gance
Pronunciation: \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. See Erb.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Oh, since I’ve never said the US is doomed, you display another example of fibbing — you try to ridicule me by putting words in my mouth I didn’t say. That protects you from having to really confront the argument I make. No need to fear dealing with these issues honestly.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think he doth protest too much. What’s wrong, Erb? Hit a nerve? And you say I’ve got self esteem problems. LOL! I’m not the one telling McQ:
McQ, you’re not dumb.
Why would you say that if that wasn’t what you meant. And then to follow it up with:
I think for the sake of your own intellectual integrity . . .
Wow! And you think you are the one dealing with issues honestly. Again, LOL!

So in response, with all humility, I simply repeat:

Arrogance.
Main Entry: ar·ro·gance
Pronunciation: \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. See Erb.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Don’t you see how wrong all the efforts were to posit this like a Japan or Germany, and think the US could stabilize things and a democracy would take root?
Dr. Erb, perhaps, this same argument could have been made about Japan in the 1940’s. In explanation, a US presence within another western culture, such as Germany, is possible, but Japan is too different. This is an imperialistic society with extreme religious and cultural differences. Its inhabitants have already demonstrated the willingness to commit suicide, so long as US troops are also killed.

Despite these great differences, the US was successful in Japan and in Korea.
I think for the sake of your own intellectual integrity you need to revisit the issue, take seriously how different Iraq is Japan, Germany or Korea, and look at the broader context of national interest, terror threats, where al qaeda is really a threat, and the opportunity costs of this war.
I agree that Iraq is very different than the three you cited. However, the eastern and western nations of that group are also a great deal different from each other (even more so immediately after WWII), so differences do not automatically mean common strategies will not work. Yes, Iraq is different than Japan and Germany. However, it is more similar to Egypt, Qatar, and Kuwait. Maybe, a US presence is then possible? They also share similarities with Iran and Saudi Arabia. A US presence for an extended period of time may not be an achievable strategy. It all depends on what happens in Iraq, which is too difficult for anyone to accurately forecast. I believe it is still possible to build a relationship with Iraq similar to what was done with the former Axis countries of WWII, but it is not guaranteed (and the opportunity costs do become greater every day).
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
Keith:
Remaining a steadfast ally of Iraq to ensure their long term security and stability, would be in our national interests.
And that should be the purpose of our continued presence there. We owe Iraq the same honor and respect we showed to others - Japan, Germany, and Italy - that we have defeated in war.

It is easy to assist your allies when in need, as the Marshall Plan following WWII did - our enemies and our allies. To reach out and give a former enemy a hand up gains another ally instead of a continued enemy. The one lesson World War One should have taught all those who desire peace - either destroy your enemy completely (as Carthage was destroyed by Rome - and I mean completely to the point of sowing their fields with salt) or treat them with respect and give them a leg up to face the world or you will face them on the field again. If we were to step away while they are still trying to get to their feet, we will definitely gain a continued enemy.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
A problem you have Prof. Erb, is that you continue to feed their personal attacks.

I’ve had many disagreements with many people, and read many threads. I’ve noticed that if you ignore personal attacks, they go away. Mostly because the person who continues in one sided behavior tends to garner more ridicule, while the person who stands above it, gets listened to. Even when the majority of posters would agree with the antagonizer.

You say that people should confront the arguments you make, then participate in the personal attacks. Yes, even defending yourself is participating.

Victims get more sympathy then participants in a fight.

Just some personal observations.

YMMV
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Did I miss where the Kruds have rejected us? I know we had deserted them twice in the past, but the reports from Michael Totten don’t indicate that they wouldn’t want us there or are filled with BDS. As a matter of fact I believe that I have read that they would welcome our presence. The also have a very safe environment. Our guys did at one time travel there for a little R & R.
 
Written By: AMR
URL: http://
Obama is talking about a precipitous withdrawal of US troops which would put in jeopardy everything that has transpired in the last 5 years.
So, while taking Klein to task for misrepresenting McCain’s position, you misrepresent Obama’s position.

Pots and Kettles.
In 2004, Sen. Obama said he was willing to support more troops in Iraq, said withdrawal from Iraq would be ’a slap in the face’ to the troops fighting there." Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama said Saturday he would be willing to send more soldiers to Iraq if it is part of a strategy that the president and military leaders believe will stabilize the country …’A quick withdrawal would add to the chaos there and make it ’an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity,’ [Obama] said. It would also damage America’s international prestige and amount to ’a slap in the face’ to the troops fighting there, he said." [Christopher Wills, "Obama Willing To Support More Troops In Iraq," The Associated Press, 9/19/04]
In 2005, Sen. Obama said that ’U.S. forces are still a part of the solution.’ "I believe that U.S. forces are still a part of the solution in Iraq….First and foremost, after the December 15 elections and during the course of next year, we need to focus our attention on how reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq. Notice that I say "reduce," and not "fully withdraw." [Obama speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 11/22/05]


In 2006, Sen. Obama opposed Sen. Kerry’s amendment to withdraw troops, saying he opposed ’a precipitous withdrawal of troops.’ Sen. Obama voted against an amendment by Senator Kerry requiring the president to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2006 and have complete withdrawal by July 1, 2007. "But having visited Iraq, I am also acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes made by this administration. It could compound them… A hard and fast, arbitrary deadline for withdrawal offers our commanders in the field, and our diplomats in the region, insufficient flexibility" [2006 Vote # 181, S2766, 6/22/06; Obama Remarks, Congressional Record, 06/21/06]
Or is the quote "I oppose a precipitous withdrawel of troops" so vague as to be interpreted as "I support a precipitous withdrawel of troops".
In fact, up until Saddam invaded Kuwait, there were 5,150 military and non-military specialists based in Iraq from the Soviet Union
I really can’t believe that you made that statement out of this quote, without cringing at yourself. This is how the article YOU cited made this statement...
There were also over 5,000 Soviet non-military specialists and 150 military specialists scattered all over Iraq who had to be protected from war or Iraqi reprisals.
Wow, this is like saying there were 22,000,000 Shia Muslims and Al Qaeda members in Iraq prior to the war, except that of the 22,000,000, about 21,999,990 were just Shia Muslims.

150 Military specialists and 5000 men and women without guns and uniforms in Iraq hardly supports the case you are making for a major military presence in Iraq.

Klein is likely correct about the response to long term large presence of American military personnel in Iraq. Though interestingly, we have claimed to have agreed to withdraw all American forces if Iraqis ask us to, so if Iraq ever does stand up (so we can stand down), why wouldn’t some politician run on kicking the infidels out, and win?






 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Though interestingly, we have claimed to have agreed to withdraw all American forces if Iraqis ask us to, so if Iraq ever does stand up (so we can stand down), why wouldn’t some politician run on kicking the infidels out, and win?
I agree with you Cap - If the Iraqis called for our departure - we’re outa there. How long do we stay with the Iraqi’s continued request for our presence. I would posit that should we leave at that time and Iraq then "goes to hell", where would our standing then be in the eyes of the world. My thoughts - If you think we have a bad reputation now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
QUESTION: you have said you would leave a small force there to deal with terrorist attacks. how long would you leave them there and what’s your criteria for pulling them out?

SEN. OBAMA: That’s not what I said. What I have said is that we will have troops looking after our embassy there, which we do everywhere. We do it in France. We do it in Great Britain. We have some military personnel that assure that our diplomatic forces are taken care of. we have troops to make sure that our civilian populations are cared for. What I said was I would have a strike force in the region, perhaps in Iraq, perhaps outside of Iraq. So that we could take advantage of or we could deal with potential problems that might take place in the region. That’s very different from saying that we are going to have a permanent occupation in Iraq. It certainly is different from saying that we would have a high level of combat troops inside Iraq for a decade or two decades or as John McCain said, perhaps 100 years.
And:
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
Now unlike your assumed name I know that you have no idea what he’s claiming means in terms of a withdrawal. To anyone who does, what he plans on doing is a ’preciptious withdrawal’ which would endanger not only the troops involved, but jeopardize Iraqi security.

So I reject your claim that I am misrepresenting Obama. The first quote was from MSNBC yesterday and the second is from his website.

His intention per his website, is to pull all combat troops out within 16 months. That’s a ridiculous and dangerous thing to do, but obviously it is indeed his plan until he puts something else on his website where he claims all his "specifics" reside. And he reinforced it in the interview when he said he’d essentially leave embassy guards there and perhaps a strike force (whatever that means to Obama).
150 Military specialists and 5000 men and women without guns and uniforms in Iraq hardly supports the case you are making for a major military presence in Iraq.
Wow, you had to work to twist that into what you did, didn’t you?

The point isn’t the number, it is the fact that there were "infidels" residing in Iraq.

Supposedly, per Klein, Iraq has always been intolerant of them. If true, it isn’t a matter of numbers is it? It’s a matter of them being there in any number. The example I gave, which apparently existed throughout the USSR/Iraq relationship points to Klein’s claim that Iraq "has always been" intolerant of infidels living there as incorrect.
Klein is likely correct about the response to long term large presence of American military personnel in Iraq.
Maybe, maybe not, but the fact remains that’s yet the case and the reasons he gives are specious at best. Consider a base on the Iraq side of the Kuwait border supported entirely from Kuwait. Most Iraqis wouldn’t even know it was there. And my bet is the vast majority wouldn’t care either.
Though interestingly, we have claimed to have agreed to withdraw all American forces if Iraqis ask us to, so if Iraq ever does stand up (so we can stand down), why wouldn’t some politician run on kicking the infidels out, and win?
He may. And he might win. At that point, I’m fine with leaving. Isn’t the desired end-state - to get them to the point that they feel secure in making those sorts of decisions? And we’ve said we’d abide by it. That’s fine with me.

That doesn’t mean, however, that having a significant force based there is a bad idea.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
His intention per his website, is to pull all combat troops out within 16 months. That’s a ridiculous and dangerous thing to do, but obviously it is indeed his plan until he puts something else on his website where he claims all his "specifics" reside. And he reinforced it in the interview when he said he’d essentially leave embassy guards there and perhaps a strike force (whatever that means to Obama).
So we have a politician saying essentially two things, one, that he opposes a precipitous withdrawel, and two, that he intends to intiate a withdrawel that would not be complete until over 2 years from now, which you define as precipitous.

Obama does not define this as precipitous, nor, for that matter, do I...
It was a response to the recognition they had to be responsible for their own situation. And I would argue that, as we send a signal that we’re going to initiate a withdrawal, but not a precipitous one — the quickest we can get our troops out safely is one to two brigades a month. So you’re looking at 16 months to get our combat troops out. If it hasn’t started before I’m sworn in, you’re talking about two years from now.
Of course, whoever is President will have to make new decisions based on what they learn when they actually take office and get realtime reports and have to make realtime decisions. McCain might find that there is no good reason to leave a significant troop presence and pull out, or Obama might find that the likelihood of dangerous chaos is too high if we pull out a significant number of troops, and they may stay in longer than he is promising now.

They want to sound like decisive leaders, so they try not to equivocate, but get real, they are saying what they wish they can responsibly do, not necessarily what they will do.

McCain may not be able to have "a 100-year presence" that includes an "absence of violence against U.S. troops", and Obama may find that his plan is in fact more precipitous than can be tolerated.

I am trying to be honest to both side, it appears that you are trying to be a fact checker for one side and Joe Klein to other side.
Wow, you had to work to twist that into what you did, didn’t you?
Me?

I untwisted the number you mutilated. You said 5150 military and non-military personnel. I separated the two, as they were separated in the article, to show that it 150 military personnel.
The point isn’t the number, it is the fact that there were "infidels" residing in Iraq.
Then why did you inflate it?
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Iraq, Obama and McCain: Who doesn’t understand what?
Jesus, McCain doesn’t understand anything that is going on in Iraq. Was it last week he was saying Iran was training Al Qaeda? He said it more than once.

Such a "mistake" should automatically disqualify him from being POTUS.

And then yesterday, we get this:
“Apparently it was Sadr who asked for the ceasefire, declared a ceasefire. It wasn’t Maliki. Very rarely do I see the winning side declare a ceasefire. So we’ll see.”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Representatives of Maliki’s government went to Iran and petitioned Sadr for the ceasefire, not the other way around, which is what McCain suggests.

Of course, McDrooly, like McQ, also believes that Sadr "lost," and that Maliki "won."

But even if Maliki did "win," how in the world is that good for the US? The more pro-Iranian side wins? Great.

I have asked before and I will ask again: Why do wingnuts love Iran so much? Why do they want Americans to die for Iran?
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
From the 11 November 2007 transcript of Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: I had asked you in one of the debates whether you’d make a commitment to have all American troops out of Iraq by the end of your first term, and you said you couldn’t do that. You said you had to fight al-Qaeda, had to make sure there was not genocide, try to secure the country. How, how many troops do you envision would have to remain in Iraq for some time to come?

SEN. OBAMA: Here’s what I’d do as president: We can get one to two brigades out per month safely. At that pace, we would have all our combat troops out in about 16 months from the time we initiate it. I would like to see it start now. It is not clear that that’s possible, given George Bush’s posture. But 16 months from the time we initiate it, we could have our combat troops out. The only troops I would have in Iraq would have a very limited mission. Number one, to protect our embassy and our civilian, diplomatic corps. I don’t want Blackwater to be providing that security; I want our U.S. military to providing—to provide that security. I’m very skeptical about the use of private contractors when it comes to our national security. The only other mission, and this is a very narrow one, would be to engage in counterterrorism activity. If al-Qaeda in Iraq is reforming bases there, we should have the capacity to strike them. That would be it. Those would be the only troops that we would deploy.

MR. RUSSERT: How many would that be?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I’m going to leave that up to the, the commanders on the ground, because my job is to set a clear mission for them. Their job is to then tell me, “This is what we need to achieve that mission.”

MR. RUSSERT: But, but—yeah, but we have 165,000 there now. Are we talking 150,000?

SEN. OBAMA: There, there—here’s what I’ll say, Tim. We will have the vast majority of the troops who are there gone. This war will be over; there will be no permanent bases. So when I hear, for example, others say, “I will have all troops out,” well, the fact of the matter is who’s going to protect our embassy? Who’s going to protect our civilian forces? Are these folks suggesting that we’re just going to leave them to wander around the streets and rely on the Iraqi military to do that? Obviously not.

And in—there is a difference, though, between myself and Senator Clinton on a couple of these issues. Number one, she hasn’t given a firm timetable in terms of executing the withdrawal, and I think that’s a problem. I think we have to provide certainty to the Iraqi leadership, so that they know that we are serious about changing course. She’s also suggested that the mission on the ground would be more expansive than the one that I’ve envisioned. And that includes, by the way, at least in an article that she—an interview that she gave in March, that, for example, dealing with Iran and making sure they don’t have influence in Iraq would be one of the missions of our military. I think that is a mistake, and so—because what, what happens is that then presents the possibility of a mission creep, an expansion that would involve more troops than I think is necessary.
I believe the highlighted sections have given Obama an "out" for whatever his campaign promises regarding the reduction of troops in Iraq. It is my belief no one running for President today can effectively say there will be no troops remaining in Iraq in 2012 - regardless of their campaign promises.

 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
A long term presence in Iraq is impossible, Klein is right, and so am I. Klein understand the godlike powers of political science possessed by we on the anti-war, post-modernist left, and that if something just doesn’t promote our long term world-view, then it’s clearly impossible by the very axioms of post-modernism.

The USSR was able to do so because Iraq was ruled by a ruthless socialist tyrant who crushed religious opposition. It simply won’t be tolerated in a place like Iraq. That’s just all there is to it. You must have a ruthless tyrant to keep those ignorant wogs in place, or they’ll never be able to have a peaceful society. And forget about democracy. The wogs simply aren’t up to it, no matter how much we help, and we have no right anyway to force them out of their cultural comfort zone because all cultures are equally valuable, and if theirs demands that the Middle East remain a powder keg that threatens to engulf the world in war and unrest forever, well, we just have to live with that.

McQ, you’re not dumb. Well, I have to say that, even though I think you righties are, in fact, pretty dense. Anyway, even though you are pretty dumb, surely you see how wrong all the efforts were to posit this like a Japan or Germany. See, there are differences between the these noble savage cultures and today’s Islamic culture. You really think the US could stabilize things and a democracy would take root? Man, are you thick. Only we wise leftists have the discernment to see all the intangible reasons why something that worked perfectly well on an alien culture after WWII has absolutely no chance or working on a different alien culture today. Because of the wogs.

I agree with your analysis on a number of strategic points you make. Well, I really don’t, but I know if I simply contradict everything you say, then no one will read my comments, so I have to pretend to be even-handed. And I really do that well, don’t you think? Anyway, you don’t seem willing to seriously question the goals and assumptions of this whole invasion and occupation. I think for the sake of your own intellectual integrity you need to revisit the issue, take seriously how different Iraq is Japan, Germany or Korea, and look at the broader context of national interest, terror threats, where al qaeda is really a threat, and the opportunity costs of this war. I, of course, have stainless intellectual integrity, but since I’m always right, there’s never any need for me to revisit my issues to reevaluate. But at some point you have to face the possibility that you might have been wrong about this. That’s OK, everyone is wrong sometimes. Except me.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://clueless.maine.edu
A problem you have Prof. Erb, is that you continue to feed their personal attacks.
I disagree Keith. Mr. Erb’s problem is he doesn’t have any teeth.
I’ve had many disagreements with many people, and read many threads. I’ve noticed that if you ignore personal attacks, they go away. Mostly because the person who continues in one sided behavior tends to garner more ridicule, while the person who stands above it, gets listened to. Even when the majority of posters would agree with the antagonizer.
You’re wrong. You loose the dogs of war or you don’t.
A while back I remember ASHC’s own ChrisB coming to the defense of Erb by saying he has, though positing opinions most here disagree with, stayed above personal attacks and have remained cordial and focused on the issue. That appeal did little as Erb’s complacency to attacks acted only as a canvass for his detractors to paint upon.

Soon enough, Erb changed his tactics to a half ass “oh I’ll stick to the point and woe is me for your attacks”. Well that didn’t work did it? The shark(s) only smelled blood in the water.

Now we see that same tactic from Erb but only fueled more by disdain. That result is from Erb’s own failure to get his point across. Why? ‘Cause he hasn’t any balls. Well, at least that I’ve seen.

Maybe Erb doesn’t have what it takes to deal with the hecklers. Maybe Erb relies too much on partisan thinking. Maybe Erb’s problem is he has the mare’s blinders and sees only the pebbles in the road. I don’t know.
But one thing is for certain. To deal with the denizens of QandO, you’ve got to come in here and put your balls on the table.

You gotta come in here and pull your pants down. And when you’re not swingin’ yo’ thang, you have to protest that Hey man!!! You’re standing on my dick!! Punk ass bitch!

Erb would win some respect if only he presented that he had any for himself.


So Mr. Erb, my advice to you would be to grow a pair.

Oh, and drop the “Professor” thing. It doesn’t help you here.

Cheers.
And give ‘em hell… remember, The Devil is your companion.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
So we have a politician saying essentially two things, one, that he opposes a precipitous withdrawel, and two, that he intends to intiate a withdrawel that would not be complete until over 2 years from now, which you define as precipitous.
I’m not the only one who defines that as precipitous. The military would define it as precipitous.

You don’t disengage combat troops of the numbers we have there, and the support troops there as well, in a timeframe like Obama wants to do without endangering all of them and the situation.
Obama does not define this as precipitous, nor, for that matter, do I..
Of course you don’t because like Obama, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
I untwisted the number you mutilated. You said 5150 military and non-military personnel. I separated the two, as they were separated in the article, to show that it 150 military personnel.
Now you’re being obtuse. What part of "infidel" is defined as only "military"?
Then why did you inflate it?
Inflate what? I said "5,150 military and non-military" as you quoted. Is that incorrect?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Of course, McDrooly, like McQ, also believes that Sadr "lost," and that Maliki "won."
MK ... get a tune-up will you? If you paid for the last one you need to demand a refund.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Pogue, you’ve got some good points about Erbie, but I think you missed his real problem:
Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find
They’re blind to own failings, others’ skills
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
Pogue, what the heck are you talking about? It takes no balls to call names and all that in internet debates. I just am here selfishly, having fun. Oh, and I don’t go by "Professor" here, that is a term others use, not me. I see this as a conversation between equals, judged by the weight of the argument. And if people want to attack, well, that’s fine. It’s meaningless to me, and if it makes them feel better about themselves, then good for them. They might need to do that.

Keith, I am provocative in what I say, and I don’t mind people being provocative back. I don’t mind insults, but it seems that really confident people can really disagree and even have a heated debate without taking it personally.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I just am here selfishly, having fun.
You think it’s fun to be smug and condescending? That explains a lot.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
Erb, perhaps, this same argument could have been made about Japan in the 1940’s. In explanation, a US presence within another western culture, such as Germany, is possible, but Japan is too different. This is an imperialistic society with extreme religious and cultural differences. Its inhabitants have already demonstrated the willingness to commit suicide, so long as US troops are also killed.
Back in the 1800s Japan sent people to Prussia to study the Prussian government and system, realizing they had to copy the Europeans who were conquering the globe. They imported western ideas, modernized, and even had a brief attempt at democracy. (Notably the emperor was elevated to higher importance by the militarists when they took power, in order to keep public support). After the war Japan was governed much like before the war, except without militarism. The finance-business-government triangle remained tight, and they had single party rule (and really have only slowly begun to weaken it). They are nothing like the post-Ottoman Arab culture, and in fact had already embraced the idea of learning western ways and processes. They also were homogeneous and isolated. To use Japan as an example goes further to show why you should NOT expect that to work in Iraq, post-Ottoman culture is distinctly authoritarian, corrupt, and lacking the basics that a democratic culture requires. Democracy is unlikely to take in the Arab world for some time, it’s a tough system of government to build and maintain.

Comparing to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, you can see the volatility of a western presence, look at the dynamics in those countries. OK, maybe it’s possible that if conditions were right we could have a long term presence in Iraq, but I doubt it could be very robust and it might cause more instability than would be worth it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You think it’s fun to be smug and condescending?
You interpret my words in a way different than their intent. I think that happens alot in this kind of mode of communication due to the lack of body language and voice inflection. People tend to imagine their opponent a certain way and then react to that imagined image (intonation,intent), thinking its the reality. I know I do it to, I’ve found that out many times over the years.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I see this as a conversation between equals, judged by the weight of the argument. And if people want to attack, well, that’s fine. It’s meaningless to me, and if it makes them feel better about themselves, then good for them. They might need to do that.
Fine, man. You wanna remain the equivalent of a literary speedbag, go ahead. Yet my advice remains the same, you will win a little respect from the posters here if you only showed you had any respect for yourself. Therefore, you cannot allow them to run over you.

You see, if it were me, I would have taken Grocky’s link to the article that stupid people don’t know they’re stupid, and with a little help from strategically placed punctuation, turned that completely around and used it to attack Grocky.

Though if you wish to remain a punching bag for these guys, that’s your problem I guess. However, I do admit that this predictable exchange from you and your detractors is getting a bit crowded.

But I guess… that’s my problem.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
"Future basing rights will be negotiated at a time when the majority of violence has ended, Iraqi security forces are capable of handling security, and thus the need for a large foreign military presence is not needed."

So if a large foreign military presence is not needed, why would we want to have one there?

If we need a large military presence in the middle east, why not base the troops in Saudi Arabia, where the facilities are already in place?



 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Erb, allow me to explain something basic to you. The attributes of "smug" and "condescending" refer to your effect on other people. That is, if other people perceive those attributes, then they exist, regardless of your intent.

Body language and intonation are not necessary to smugness and condescension. So the only way you know if you are being smug and condescending is to consult other people and find out. So why don’t you ask QandO denizens what they think? I think you are being smug and condescending, and I can pick out plenty of others that, by their comments, appear to agree.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
I can see that Boris is very, very upset by the idea that McCain’s throw-down for U.S. troops in Iraq a hundred years is exactly the way to go. Maybe not 100, but why not look toward the long number.

I think that way back when I said 50 years would do it, before McCain said what he said.

The point is that once you have 150,000 troops in a country like Iraq, you’ve pretty much overcome the threshhold requirements for keeping them there for a purpose for as long as they are needed.

This is the "Foreigner’s Gift" described by Fouad Ajami.

Social equilibrium through civil society will allow Iraq to become a pretty nice country, with a good shot at prosperity in the pursuit of happiness.

Boris wants eternal misery there as spite for the U.S., which he detests AND he doesn’t know his own field AND does not belong in a classroom.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Erb, allow me to explain something basic to you. The attributes of "smug" and "condescending" refer to your effect on other people. That is, if other people perceive those attributes, then they exist, regardless of your intent.
You know Grocky, these attributes of “smug” and “condescending” here at QandO is not limited to Erb. In fact, I would have to say that the majority, including myself, portray these attributes countless fold.

Over the past four years that I have been reading and commenting here, there has been little shortage of smugness and condescension.

The times I remember reading about how I was naïve and ignorant regarding concerns about the Iraq war from people calling it a “done deal”, and ne’er I’ll forget the countless times I was told that “another six months” it will all end. Or the times I was called a “defeatist” or “appeaser”…

Yeah, there is reason enough to lay charges of “smug” and “condescending” at just about everyone here.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Grocky to Erb:
I think you are being smug and condescending, and I can pick out plenty of others that, by their comments, appear to agree.
Well, that would be a first gloss, but the actual problem is that Erb is stupid. From this stupidity follows mendacity, a failing affect, and visceral hatred of the United States (the latter probably just an admission requirement to his academic world). Erb also does not know his own field, which is ignorance, but ignorance as a function of his stupidity. And as Ron White says: Stupid is forever.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Erb, allow me to explain something basic to you. The attributes of "smug" and "condescending" refer to your effect on other people. That is, if other people perceive those attributes, then they exist, regardless of your intent.
I think on this medium of exchange there is more misunderstanding of others than understanding, and I think that this can never be blamed on just one person. The person reading has some responsibility to try to engage what is written and not jump to a conclusion.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris:
I just am here selfishly, having fun.
Yes, I’ve heard of that. They depict it occasionally on TV or in films. There are even clubs, apparently, where someone like you can go to be humiliated.

I’m guessing it has something to do with early years and the potty, that sort of thing.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Boris:
I think on this medium of exchange there is more misunderstanding of others than understanding
That’s probably true here, with respect to you, Boris, but decidedly on the generous side.

As cynical as some of the regular posters here are, I don’t think that they quite get you. They’re reluctant to drop down below a gentleman’s C for you, which is the most respect you’ll get anywhere from anyone who knows anything.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Neo:
Perhaps Obama should tell us when he intends to withdrawl troops from Korea, Japan and Western Europe.
I would be surprised if he didn’t have plans (or give consideration) to do such a thing.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
"You interpret my words in a way different than their intent. I think that happens alot in this kind of mode of communication due to the lack of body language and voice inflection"

Amazing how other people seem to be able to communicate what they intend to communicate without such problems. Probably something they learned in high school English composition classes. Typical of you to blame others for your failings.

"I think on this medium of exchange"

It’s called expository writing. Check your high school book. It has been around for quite some time.

"The person reading has some responsibility to try to engage what is written"

No, the reader has some responsibility to attempt to *understand* what is written. Your use of ’engage’ is symptomatic of your poor writing. The reader has no responsibility to ’engage’ anything. Look it up.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Yeah, there is reason enough to lay charges of “smug” and “condescending” at just about everyone here.
I suppose. But Erb has less reason to be smug than just about anybody here. He never says anything original. His writing is dense and hard to get through. He persistently misses the point of someone attempting to debate him, either from a lack of reading comprehension or an unwillingness to admit that anyone has a valid point.

Most of us who are smug or condescending know when we’re doing it. Erb seems clueless when he’s doing it, which puts him in a whole different league.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
I don’t get the argument that if Iraq wanted us to leave 30,000 troops in a base in Kurdistan or in Western Iraq or somewhere else why that would be "impossible."

Even if the Iraqis detest our troops (which I doubt) they might hold their nose and want troops stationed there to deter their foreign enemies (Iran) or domestic (Keep US troops in Kurdistand/Sunni areas as a protection against ethnic cleansing, guarantee of federalism, etc..)

This is no different than Germany, frankly, or Korea (where US troops are not universally loved either.)

If its an issue of risk to the troops, Kurdistan is the best option, but I suspect the Sunnis would like a base in their region as well...you know, just in case the Shia’s get excitable. Put it out in the desert and no one will be offended too much by women driving cars, etc.

Again, Erb who exactly won’t "tolerate" US troops long-term in Iraq?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
From Erb:
"Democracy is unlikely to take in the Arab world for some time, it’s a tough system of government to build and maintain."
This to me is the whole heart of the matter. It is my belief that it is worth the time, treasure, and blood that it will take to make this successful.

Erb, to me you seem to think that since this is not an easy task before us, that its not even worth finishing.
(we know you wouldn’t want to have even tried in the first place)

The successful end result would be the beginning of true freedom for tens of millions of people, as well as a more peaceful world. It is worth it, and it will be worth it, provided a bunch of whiners and BDS types don’t rule the day and elect a bunch of pacifistic isolationists to come in and smash it all because ’War is bad, m’kay’.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
So if a large foreign military presence is not needed, why would we want to have one there?
Because there’s more to "peace in the Middle East" then just a secure and stable Iraq. Iraq may not need help with their internal security. They might need help with external security.
If we need a large military presence in the middle east, why not base the troops in Saudi Arabia, where the facilities are already in place?
For the same reason we have bases in Japan, South Korea, Germany and a host of other places. It gives us more options. Maybe we don’t want to be in Saudi Arabia when the fight between their radicals and the central government goes hot and wide spread. Maybe the restrictions SA puts on us would be less than Iraq would. It also gives us more direct connections to neighboring countries than SA does. Direct access to Syria, and Iran for instance.

It’s an option we should neither exclude, or plan on.

John - good point. What cost is freedom and a better world (long term) worth?

Pogue - just sayin’ that’s worked for me in the past, and that’s even been on boards where I had a diametrically opposing viewpoint.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
But the violence that paralyzed the oil-rich city last week has died down, with one politician describing the city as "relatively calm and stable."
As usual, CNN pulling their punches for the Bush Administration.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://

Erb, to me you seem to think that since this is not an easy task before us, that its not even worth finishing.
No, I think trying to force our notions of democracy on to another polity is akin to a crusade, we’re taking our ideology — our secular religion — and saying it should apply to others. That’s fine, let’s set a good example and help out. But once we try to force it on others, we end up in the kind of fiasco we find ourselves in with Iraq. (My blog today is labeled "The Crusade," I talk about that more). Better to have a slow cultural move towards freedom than lots of dead bodies, militias, insurgencies and extremists who resent the outside force.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Better to have a slow cultural move towards freedom than lots of dead bodies, militias, insurgencies and extremists who resent the outside force.
And how many times has that worked in the past???

Seems to me, revolutions always produce lots of dead bodies.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I suspect Jimmy Carter had no idea what he was unleashing when he undercut the Shah of Iran. That "slow cultural move toward freedom" didn’t work out too well, did it? Or would that be a case of letting them impose their values on themselves?

I hate it when reality collides with a perfectly good plan.

I do enjoy arguments between the "we should have invaded" and "we shoudn’t have invaded" camps - mainly because neither side will even acknowledge that the result of either course of action was not "everyone lives happily ever after." Life is funny like that.

 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
After his outlaw militiamen raised white flags and skedaddled from their latest round of combat with the Iraqi Army, radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared victory.
He always does. He understands media bravado. He wagers that survival bandaged by bombast and swathed in sensational headlines is a short-term triumph. Survive long enough, and Sadr bets he will prevail.
Some folks are a real sucker for "media bravado," especially when it supports your own personal narrative.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
MarkD - we do not yet know what the ultimate outcome of our current course of action is. So, making judgments that our efforts have failed, is premature at best.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
So, making judgments that our efforts have failed, is premature at best.
Our "efforts" are fluid; if we decide something is not working, we need to assess and change. Therefore, we always need to be thinking in terms of whether or not something is working or failing. I think we have failed to achieve the original goals, and there is little sign that will change. I think the biggest failure has been our policy towards Iran. Iran not only is expanding its influence, but other states continue to do business with it, and protect it from UN sanctions. Perhaps a bold detente with Iran, with a focus on a mutually satisfactory settlement in Iraq, involving the Saudis to reflect Sunni interests can improve things significantly. Because in any on going effort that has considerable costs (both real and opportunity costs) there always is a question of: is this price worth continuing to pay, especially if we don’t know what the final result will be?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
To say whether Malicki won or lost this latest encounter with the Sadrists seems premature at this point. Some points I would like to make:

1. Malicki has Security forces in Basra and the south that are largely untested. The Surge operations have concentrated on Baghdad and surrounding provinces and currently is focused up North around Nineveh. Unless some of these units in the south has been cycled in and out of surge operations, they are largely untested. And the only way to really test the mettle of a unit is throw it into the fray. Malicki or anyone else in charge for that matter must hesitate to ask the US to depart unless he knows he can depend on his own troops. Better to find out now and fix it while you have cover than to find out later when you don’t. I would expect more of these kinds of operations in the near future.

2. The Sadrists cannot help but be hurt by taking 200 casualties a day in the encounter. There may have been some hesitancy among some of the Iraqi units, but by and large they were head and shoulders better than the Sadrists.

3. Even though representatives of the Malicki government went to Iran to broker a truce, the Iranians had to know the Sadrists were taking it in the shorts. You don’t agree to a truce when you are winning. It is just not the Muslim way of war - and it just does not make sense.

4. Now that Sadr has called for the Mahdi Army to disengage, the Iraqi army is continuing its operations. Now that is a strange tactic for a losing army to take. You would think they would at least stop for a while and lick its wounds.

5. Once again Sadr has shown himself to be a big man "in the rear with the gear." Sooner or later that has to grind on the troops in the front lines bleeding and dying for the man. Sooner or later you gotta see more and more of the Braveheart questions coming out like "Why are we fighting for the likes of him?" I’ll bet more like sooner than later.

Again, it comes down to the political ramifications of the conflict just ending. Sadr claims victory, as does Malicki. Whose to say? Time will tell a better tale than anyone I know can tell for sure - today.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
My apologies. My previous entry was supposed to go to a previous thread concerning the most recent operations in and around Basra. My bad.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
An interesting analysis from TIME: How Sadr won in Basra

Given that Maliki started this and Sadr wanted to maintain the cease fire all along, it’s hard to see Maliki giving in and agreeing to a truce as a loss for al-Sadr. Also there are reports of massive defections from the Iraqi security forces and police.

Today Sadr has warned that continuing raids by the government would be breaking the truce, and that could lead to violence again. So while you raise good points, it still seems to me that Maliki lost more than Sadr. Also, note that the Badr brigades, which are Iranian backed, supported Maliki, so I’m not at all convinced that Iran is any more behind Sadr than other militias. I suspect Iran has its hands in a number of militias and parties in order to assure that they can be the power broker. We’ll see, it’s a fluid situation obviously
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
From Erb:
"Better to have a slow cultural move towards freedom than lots of dead bodies, militias, insurgencies and extremists who resent the outside force."
Those same militias, insugencies and extremists are fighting us on the battlefield of our choosing. Contrast this with pre-september 11th where the extremists fought us on the battlefield of their choosing. They exist and fight us regardless of our presence in Iraq, and they have been doing so for decades. Before, when we did not confront them on the ground of our choosing, we still had ’dead bodies, milities, insurgencies and extremists who resent’ us, but they were killing us in our cities, planes, businesses and homes.
"we’re taking our ideology — our secular religion — and saying it should apply to others. That’s fine, let’s set a good example and help out. But once we try to force it on others, we end up in the kind of fiasco we find ourselves in with Iraq."
If you are stating here that democracy is worth pursuing throughout the world, we agree on that. Where we differ is that I do not think that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was ’chosen’ by the people of Iraq. The man was a tyrant who came to power through force, and maintained his power through every vile tactic in the book. With Saddam in power, there was zero chance that any ’slow cultural moves’ were going to change the power structure in that country, much less the entire region.

Democracy is not the natural government of mankind. Every single culture/nation that is now self-ruled by representation had to overcome prior cultural barriers to institute the new form. This is no different for the ME than it is for any other nation in the world. Every culture has the potential for self rule, it is only when the power hungry use suppression, torture and murder to maintain tyranical rule that force is needed to topple the barriers.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
Given that Maliki started this and Sadr wanted to maintain the cease fire all along, it’s hard to see Maliki giving in and agreeing to a truce as a loss for al-Sadr.
A truce that Malicki seems to be ignoring by continuing the operation.
I suspect Iran has its hands in a number of militias and parties in order to assure that they can be the power broker.
And as I stated with my first point, what better time than the present for Malicki to find out where his units stand as far as loyalty is concerned.
Democracy is not the natural government of mankind. Every single culture/nation that is now self-ruled by representation had to overcome prior cultural barriers to institute the new form. This is no different for the ME than it is for any other nation in the world.
Good point, John. And that is the fallacy of those who expect the US to try and institute a Western-Style Democracy in Iraq. Whatever style Democracy Iraq puts in place will be tailored for their particular requirements. And whatever style Democracy that is will be a thorn in the sides of Iran and the rest of the totalitarian regimes in the region.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Those same militias, insugencies and extremists are fighting us on the battlefield of our choosing.
More civilians are dying than anything else. What’s the point? None of these would be threats to us otherwise. Just because we choose a venue for mass murder doesn’t justify it. This has nothing to do with 9-11. THAT enemy is gaining strength in Afghanistan and sending cells to the US. Even the al qaeda that came into Iraq when given the opportunity after Saddam’s fall are almost exclusively recruits that simply joined at the opportunity to go to Iraq. We’re not protecting ourselves from terrorism at all in Iraq — in fact, given the opportunity cost, Iraq has probably increased the risk of a catastrophic attack.

Every culture, I think, has to find its way. When an outside culture imposes its conception of self-rule, that often leads to far more harm than good. Again, what if the US was invaded by an ’enlightened’ nation in 1830 determined to ditch our constitution and replace it with one that had no slavery, gave women rights, and adhered to our 21st century standards. Would that have been right? Would it have been good for our development if an advanced civilization had attacked in 1830? How would have Americans reacted if that had happened? I think people don’t understand why there is so much anti-Americanism in Iraq because they don’t realize that we’re an outside foreign power trying to shape their future, and even if they are glad Saddam is gone, they don’t want us trying to control their affairs. Who can blame them?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"More civilians are dying than anything else. What’s the point?"
The point is:

"we’re taking our ideology — our secular religion — and saying it should apply to others. That’s fine"
We are fighting those that slaughter innocents in order to achieve their goals. Civilians die as a result of our offenses, but it is not our explicit goal to murder them, unlike our enemy.

"None of these would be threats to us otherwise."
Because we’ve never been attacked on our soil before we went into Iraq.
"Just because we choose a venue for mass murder doesn’t justify it."
Once again, Mass Murder is not our tactic, it is our enemies tactic.
"This has nothing to do with 9-11."
But 9-11 and the multitude of prior attacks dating back decades have everything to do with what we are doing. This is NOT retaliation for 9-11 as you seem to think of it. It is a strategic war to change the conditions that give rise to extremists. Those that are protected and used by foreign actors in proxy wars against the western world. Iraq is a battlefield only.
"Even the al qaeda that came into Iraq when given the opportunity after Saddam’s fall are almost exclusively recruits that simply joined at the opportunity to go to Iraq."
And before that, they were going to Afghanistan to train in the Taliban sponsored camps to fight us here on our soil. Now they come to a battlefield of our choosing, and not of theirs. It is a rather simple concept you seem to fail to grasp. These extremists are going to train and attack no matter what. They were doing so before 9-11, they are doing so now.
"We’re not protecting ourselves from terrorism at all in Iraq — in fact, given the opportunity cost, Iraq has probably increased the risk of a catastrophic attack."
Protecting ourselves from terrorism is not the only goal. However, we seem to have been protecting ourselves rather well, given the amount of attacks we’ve sustained here in this country in the last 7 years.
"Again, what if the US was invaded by an ’enlightened’ nation in 1830 determined to ditch our constitution and replace it with one that had no slavery, gave women rights, and adhered to our 21st century standards."
This is a strawman. Iraq had no constitution prior. We are not imposing a carbon copy of our own on them. In fact, as with Japan we have taken them under wing to help them write one of their own.
"Would it have been good for our development if an advanced civilization had attacked in 1830?"
You mean like the British Empire, say around 1812? I recall we went to war and won. I don’t blame them for not wanting others to control their affairs.

I do not want to control their affairs, nor do I think that is the goal of this country. I want them to form a strong democracy that can defend itself. I want an ally in the area and not a territory. I do not support the war because I wish to control their country, but because I want them to be free, as their freedom will become a beacon in the ME showing that hope is not lost and that the future will be better with cooperation and not by supporting the terror masters as some have in the past.

I also want them to understand that the US can be a strong partner in defending the people themselves. I do not want our leadership in this country to negotiate with the tyrants that indocrinate their populations towards hatred and death.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
Nicely done, John.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Very well said, John.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
We are fighting those that slaughter innocents in order to achieve their goals.
No, we’ve created enemies who weren’t enemies to start, in a country where they weren’t slaughtering each other. And it seems to me we kill a lot of innocents ourselves, hiding behind high tech so we can say "well, we didn’t mean to," as a rationalization. Nope, you’re just mouthing a feel good slogan so you don’t have to look at the reality of our deeds for what they are: aggressive acts of war, and attempts to control another culture and society.
Because we’ve never been attacked on our soil before we went into Iraq.
Iraq never attacked us on our soil. This is irrelevant to 9-11, and if anything it helps the extremists by tying us down in a war that doesn’t hurt them, but divides our society and weakens our country. They are not training in Iraq for 9-11 like attacks. There has been no evidence suggesting that they are, and a lot more suggesting that these are just rogue elements who are in there because they can. The real threat is growing in Afghanistan and we’ve been so distracted by the side show of Iraq that we’re increasingly vulnerable to the real threat. That’s why this is a strategic disaster of historic proportions.

We are the ones who launched a war of aggression, attacked a country that was far weaker, killed countless civilians, helped ignite a civil war with massive ethnic cleansing and perhaps over a million dead, who gave al qaeda a breather so they could regroup in Pakistan and Afghanistan and laugh their butts off at us as we sunk into the Iraqi quagmire, doing them no harm, but dividing our people, weakening our economy, fraying our alliances, and overstretching our military, as reports of damage to families and military personnel increase. No, Osama is grinning broadly because we’ve done more to help his cause than he could have imagined. Mark my words: the US will leave Iraq, it will be remembered like Vietnam as a huge mistake, and we’ll learn our lesson. The kind of militarism that led to this is dead. There is nothing noble in launching a war of aggression, you can’t rationalize the massive deaths by asserting that "they" slaughter.

While Britain in 1812 doesn’t address my question, it does show the point: if an outsider intervenes, people will resent it. Iraqis are right to resent our actions, and I think many who are fighting us are driven by a very noble desire to protect their homeland from an outside force. We need to understand that.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
No, we’ve created enemies who weren’t enemies to start, in a country where they weren’t slaughtering each other.
Sorry, but talk about a laughable statement.

Well, I suppose you are partly correct. They weren’t slaughtering each other, the killing was decidedly one way.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
OK, Keith, by 2003 how much killing was going on at the hands of the government. I don’t mean figures including the Iraq-Iran war, but by 2003 — the Kurds had gained autonomy, Saddam was ruthless, but how much "slaughtering" was going on?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Of course, most western media outlets are declaring Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran as the victors of Operation Cavalry Charge. Nothing could be furthest from the truth.

The United Alliance List delegation comprising Ali al-Adib of the Da’awa Party, Hadi al-Ameri of the Badr Organization and (I think…) Qasim al-Sahlani representing a group that had splintered from the Da’awa Party, evidently made al-Sadr an offer he couldn’t refuse when they sat down for a friendly chat in Tehran two days ago: the Iraqi state was willing to go all the way in smashing the Sadrist movement—arresting all the leaders and shutting down all the offices—if he didn’t play along with Operation Cavalry Charge and hand over those operatives whose names appear on the wanted lists.

See Maliki went to Basra with a long-ish list of names comprising all those involved in oil smuggling, drug dealing and the various other crimes that have wracked Basra. It just so happens that many of them claim to be Mahdi Army commanders.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
the Kurds had gained autonomy
Only because we were over there getting shot at every day, while protecting them.

How long do you think it would have been before Saddam would have gone right back in and committed the same acts to the Kurds if we weren’t providing that protection? Which would have been likely once the sanctions against his government had been pulled away at the urging of France, Germany, and Russia.

Further more you forget about all those innocents dying because of the sanctions. Some would ascribe those deaths to US actions, but personally it goes on Saddam’s tally since it was his actions that both led to the sanctions, and made sure the sanctions didn’t end.
"Over the past five years, 400,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died of malnutrition and disease, preventively, but died because of the nature of the regime under which they are living." (Prime Minister Tony Blair, March 27, 2003) Under the oil-for-food program, the international community sought to make available to the Iraqi people adequate supplies of food and medicine, but the regime blocked sufficient access for international workers to ensure proper distribution of these supplies. Since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, coalition forces have discovered military warehouses filled with food supplies meant for the Iraqi people that had been diverted by Iraqi military forces.

The Iraqi regime has repeatedly refused visits by human rights monitors. From 1992 until 2002, Saddam prevented the UN Special Rapporteur from visiting Iraq. The UN Special Rapporteur’s September 2001, report criticized the regime for "the sheer number of executions," the number of "extrajudicial executions on political grounds," and "the absence of a due process of the law."

Saddam Hussein’s regime has carried out frequent summary executions, including:

# 2,500 prisoners were executed between 1997-1999 in a "prison cleansing campaign;"
# 122 political prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib prison in February/March 2000;
# 23 political prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib prison in October 2001; and
# At least 130 Iraqi women were beheaded between June 2000 and April 2001.
And it still comes down to, what cost is freedom, even the freedom of others, worth?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
The western media operating in Iraq regurgitated the Mahdi Army’s bravado as fact thereby serving as useful propaganda tools for the criminal cartels. I’d single out the New York Times, the Associated Press, McClatchy and CNN as the worst transgressors. Many journalists were positively orgasmic in anticipation of another ‘intifada’ or uprising to crease Bush’s message of hope and regeneration. But as the dust began to clear and the real scope of the battle was revealed, these journalists were reduced to alarmism of the “What if Martians decide to invade Basra too?” variety.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
And you seem to be forgetting that, although we accidentally kill hundreds of innocents in a given month, the enemy PURPOSELY kills innocents in a given month.

There is no moral equivalence between the deaths.

A policeman who accidentally kills an innocent standing behind a murder, is not the same as the murderer who shoots randomly at the cop trying to stop him.

The current situation with Sadr’s militia is a perfect case. They claim to be patriots, but kill the innocent regularly. They also kill and intimidate those they consider to be infidels, whether those people are helping the US or not.

If they really want us out, they ought to put down their arms, and join the political arena. The sooner violence in Iraq dies down, the sooner we will leave.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Keith, I do not at all believe Saddam’s claims about how many people were killed by sanctions. But at best your argument is: a) we need to keep no fly zones to protect Kurds; and b) sanctions were hurting Iraqis. That’s not killing by Saddam (and again, I don’t for one moment believe Saddam’s propaganda on the effect of sanctions, he was just trying to get them removed).

I also disagree in how easily you want to dismiss the moral wrong of causing innocent deaths just because a) there isn’t a direct desire to kill innocents (true most of the time, though there have been numerous exceptions); and b) because there isn’t moral equivalence. Well, not being equivalent does not mean not being blameless. If we know innocents are going to die and act anyway, even if we don’t purposefully kill the innocents, then we have some culpability to justify that bloodshed. Moreover, given that in just war theory the protection of innocents is more important than the protection of combatants, US policy that often kills or injures Iraqis because they ’might’ be a threat are indefensible. We are protecting the lives of combatants more than the non-combatants.

But we have real moral and ethical issues when our actions lead to chaos, looting, the deaths of thousands, and a broken culture, children growing up as orphans, etc. Not being equivalent to terrorists is a very low bar to set.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Lets just ignore the plastic shredders, vats of acid, rape rooms, torture chambers et al, cuz Saddam was, like, peaceful and stuff ..... You’ve gotta bump into a lot of things wearing the huge blinders that you do.

I think the saddest thing about your whole line of thinking is this:
"Not being equivalent to terrorists is a very low bar to set."
This to me is vile.

Your equivalence comparisons are deeply disturbing to me. Prosecuting a war in order to protect our own, as well as to bring freedom to others is ’not in the same ballpark, hell, its not even the same f*****g sport’. The entire reason this war exists is a result of the actions of terrorists over a span of decades.

War leads to chaos, looting, death, orphans, and all manner of bad things. When war has been declared on you, you have two options. Surrender or stand up and fight. Thats no revelation, any student of history understands that war is a hard thing to do, yet it still must be done. You have chosen to surrender. I choose to fight.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
Good lord..........
"I also disagree in how easily you want to dismiss the moral wrong of causing innocent deaths just because a) there isn’t a direct desire to kill innocents (true most of the time, though there have been numerous exceptions)"
How does this equate to each other? Seriously, I’m asking how you equate this?

US military: tries like hell to not kill innocents, to the point that our ROE are the most restrictive ever imposed on a military force. We let valuable high level targets escape just so we don’t endanger civilians. Yes, every now and then some soldier may go off the rails and act badly, and those are a miniscule fraction of incidents, isolated and counter to our military training. Such incidents when discovered are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible and the violators imprisoned.

Insurgent/terrorists: tries like hell to kill as many innocents as possible while avoiding direct confrontation with opposing military forces. Purely out to splash as much innocent blood as possible in order to generate screaming headlines in world press. The perpetrators are then lauded as heroic.

These two actions are so unequal it is hard to fathom how you can sit there and make the claims that you do.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
"given that in just war theory the protection of innocents is more important than the protection of combatants"
So your solution is to allow them to kill all the innocents in this country that they desire just so we don’t have to feel bad about going to war? Being cupable for the death of an innocent person is a bad thing. The alternative is worse.
"US policy that often kills or injures Iraqis because they ’might’ be a threat are indefensible"
Yet you are defending terrorist policy that is explicitly out to kill innocents who are no threat. Right now they are killing innocent Iraqi’s. Before that, they were killing innocents Americans. They are currently killing innocents around the world. None of this is not accidental, it is deliberate. How can you sit by idle and excuse this? How can you justify their actions to continue to kill innocent people around the world as they have been doing for decades?

Those in the world who feel the moral outrage have finally stood up and said that it is time to stop. You want those people to sit down, shut up, pull back and return to the status quo, apologizing all the way. You think fighting and killing evil men just creates more evil men? Wait until you get what you want. When evil men succeed in their plans it will create incentive towards that evil. Recruitment for terrorists will grow exponentally faster, with the added benefit for them that we will not be killing them anymore.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
So your solution is to allow them to kill all the innocents in this country that they desire just so we don’t have to feel bad about going to war?
Irrelevant, that was never going to happen. Indeed, innocents being killed before we launched this cycle of violence was very low. You’re grasping at straws here.

Also you are simply wrong in saying they were killing Americans. You seem to be mixing up Iraq and al qaeda. We have done more to cause death and destruction there than al qaeda has, you are a bit too self-righteous.

Finally, terrorism is a strategy. It is used by the weak, usually non-state actors, when confronting a more powerful foe. When a violent outside aggression is unleashed in a place like Iraq, it is natural for many ordinary people to, in anger against the carnage wrought by the outside aggressor, to choose to fight with the most effective strategy available against that aggressor. So when we kill innocents, we help terrorists recruit, we arouse anger against us, and it increases the number of enemies. Terrorists are no more inherently evil than are soldiers of any country, each gets involved in a conflict and uses different sorts of tactics and strategies, often very rational given their power situation. If you have a high tech army, it’s rational to try to claim the moral high ground by saying "we’re trying not to kill innocents" and using technology to your advantage. I’m sure if the shoes were on the other foot, the strategies would change as well. If a high tech Muslim army invaded America to impose what it saw as best (Sharia law perhaps), then Americans might very easily drift towards terror tactics against these outside aggressors, or the Americans that seem willing to help them.

So behind your self-righteous rhetoric that "we are good" and "they are evil" is vast oversimplification, plus you irrationally seem to paint all in the Mideast with the terrorists, though terrorists are only a tiny subsection, and weren’t the reason for invading Iraq.

In short, you have no argument. We launched a war of aggression, we ignited intense violence, and you want to pretend it’s all the fault of some terrorists? You should be ashamed.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You should be ashamed.
Now that one almost caused me to fall out of my chair. Erbie telling someone else to be ashamed! Isn’t there a word for that in psychology? Pretending the other guy has your own bad characteristics?

John put out a great summary of reasoning, and you hang onto irrelevancies. "Iraq is not al qaeda" - how many times do you need grand strategy explained to you anyway, you silly jacka@@? How many Al Qaeda have we killed there? How many of those might have attacked here or in Europe except for that fact that they’re dead? Who cares that they were not in Iraq to start with? It was the best place in the Middle East to make a stand.

But, nooooo, Erbie says just hang back and wait for them to come here. Next time with a dirty bomb, maybe. Or worse. Of course, they won’t be attacking Maine, will they, Erbie? Does that mean you’re a coward who wants to expose others to danger so that you can feel good about your pacifism? How’s that for a strawman, since you seem to constantly pull so many of them out of your a@@?

Yes, Erbie, God forbid that we should actually take action to prevent such a disaster from happening, and along the way allow twenty million people to build a free, modern nation instead of a backward, terrorism-supporting hell-hole.

No, obviously we should listen to you and your kind. "Iraq will never work! It’s an utter failure! Pull out now! Who cares how many of them die after we do? They’re just backward brown people! We can’t make them responsible and peaceful! Who cares if it becomes a haven for terrorists? I just can’t stand the thought of nasty old war! Please, relieve my psychological pain!"

Now, come on back and calmly explain how I’m name-calling, and all that. You and your compulsive need to have the last word. We all understand why you do that, even if you don’t.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
Now that one almost caused me to fall out of my chair.
Almosst?! Darn. I was looking to cause a bruised knee or something there.

OK, Grocky, what is the "grand strategy" you allude to? Is it to make ourselves look so weak and impotent in Iraq that they get over confident and careless? Hmmm, that would explain a lot. I daresay no al qaeda killed in Iraq would have been a threat to Europe or the US. The recruits they got for Iraq were mostly those who otherwise would not have joined, they got a recruiting bonanza in neighboring lands when foreign invaders came and images of dead civilians started to dance across the TV sets of the Arab world. It’s a draw sort of like Afghanistan was in the 80s. Luckily, though, the draw has limited appeal (not many al qaeda are in Iraq), and the Iraqis themselves don’t like them. It’s a diversion for al qaeda, whose real work is being done elsewhere.

Alas, you are right that we should take action to prevent terrorism. That’s my argument against the actions in Iraq, it does NOTHING to prevent terrorism, and helps the terror organizations both recruit, and avoid having US counter action because our money and people are tied up in that conflict. Invading Iraq was a gift to Bin Laden. (Given the tone of your post, you might want to avoid that fifth cup of coffee in the morning, it gets you a bit over the top).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I daresay no al qaeda killed in Iraq would have been a threat to Europe or the US."
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
 
Written By: John
URL: http://

 
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