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More thoughts on Basra and Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let me recommend some reading for those of you interested in some good sources of opinion that provide a context and insight about what is going on in Basra.

But before I do, let me make a few comments.

What is happening in Basra is what all of us, from the anti-war side to the side of the war supporters, have said we want to see happen - Iraq standing up and taking charge of it's own security and defense. So, I'm a bit amused a the sniping and the foretelling of doom and gloom I see going on among many on both sides of the issue.

Let's consider the ground reality there, ok? The shia militias in Basra are indigenous to the area and are on defense. The ISF is conducting offensive operations. Any idea which is harder to coordinate and execute?

We have the ISF conducting it's first attempt at a large scale offensive operations. Of course there are going to be problems ... many problems, screw-ups and snafus.

You need to understand that when you see comments like this ...
Because this is the end result of the U.S. advisory effort to date — which has focused on creating well-trained and equipped units at the tactical level, but has basically failed at the national, strategic level. The leaders of the Iraqi security forces at the ministry level are as bad as they ever were. And the national government is about as bad. Training and advising Iraqi units at the brigade level and below is well and good. But if you fail to properly shape the national command structure, you're handing those units over to leaders who will misuse them.
...and take them with a grain of salt. You don't conduct good joint, corps, or even division ops if you've never functioned in combat at those levels. That's not to say that there may not be some truth to the comment, but it is just as valid to say that the lessons learned from this operation will go much further toward properly shaping the future national command structure than all the plans, CPXs and Battle Staff training anyone could devise. There is no better trainer than actual experience - if you survive it.

An example of poor coordination and inexperience is highlighted here:
While this isn’t necessarily a defeat for the IA, it remains to be seen if they can overcome the limitations of their equipment to move through the city to confront the Mahdi Army. For now, at least, it looks like their recon might not have been the best. A “Basra newspaper editor” quoted by the Times told the paper that “it was obvious that the central government had not consulted with local commanders in planning the assault, citing the inability of the armored vehicles to fit through city streets.”

When fighting an insurgency that relies on motorcycles and small cars and trucks to move around the narrow streets of a city, bigger isn’t always better.
Obviously, if true, recon and intel gathering are two very important parts of any plan and they weren't very well done in the case of this one. Of course, local commanders would know all of this, or should. So if the part about no coordination is true, the higher command has again done itself and its troops no favors by ignoring or not soliciting their input. It has planned for something which doesn't exist on the ground, and that means they're stuck trying to execute a particular plan with much of the firepower necessary to prosecute that plan unable to support it.

Unfortunately that's a rookie mistake that may now be causing the planned offensive to stall.

There are also reports that this was all planned and put in motion without letting the US know. I frankly find that hard to believe and Bill Roggio's report explains why:
The current Iraqi offensive has been in the works for some time. The Iraqi Army and police have been massing forces in the South since August 2007, when the Basrah Operational Command was established to coordinate efforts in the region. As of December the Iraqi Army deployed four brigades and an Iraqi Special Operations Forces battalion in Basrah province. The Iraqi National Police deployed two additional battalions to the province.
Now, knowing it was something which would happen and not having any control over the plan or implementation are two different things, but we certainly must have known of it in at least a general sense for some time.

Interestingly, Basra is probably the most difficult operation the government could have picked to try it's first large scale offensive operation. Rival militias have been allowed to establish themselves because of a complete failure by the British in a city of 2.3 million. That's not easy pickin's.

One of the things you have to do, for instance, to control such an operation, is to control access in and out of the city. That is a huge manpower intensive job. You want to cut off your enemies from both reinforcement and resupply. That's not an easy task in and of itself. Then of course you have to have the offensive capability to take, clear and hold the city. It's not clear they have that capability in place. That's a planning problem. Last, after taking, clearing and holding the city, you have to reestablish civil control. And, unfortunately to this point, the Iraqi government hasn't been the swiftest entity in that department.

But it is easier to convince someone of the necessity of approaching problems in a particular way vs. the way they've previously done it when they can see why such an approach makes better sense. And experience, such as Basra, is perhaps the best teacher in that department.

Last but not least, with the US available in support, all those mistakes, although most likely costly, are probably survivable.

Of course intertwined in all of this are the political considerations which drive much of the Iraqi thinking and may not be particularly visible to the US military as concerns how operations are executed. I'm not sure how to sort through all of that at this point and make sense of it but I would guess it is having an effect. Whether or not that effect is a show-stopper isn't at all clear.

Bill Roggio has a good roundup of the action here. He also defines what is known about US participation:
US troops are acting in a support role in Basrah and the south, several US military officers told The Long War Journal. The US is providing intelligence, combat support, and air assets to back Iraqi security forces in Basrah and along the Iranian border.

US forces are also actively hunting the Mahdi Army cells in Baghdad conducting the mortar and rocket attacks. Coalition and Iraqi Army forces detained 11 Special Groups operatives believed to be behind a mortar attack on FOB Falcon.
To this point, then, intel, combat support (which could be defined any number of way, but essentially means we're supporting their efforts by other means than direct combat) and air. I recommend you read Bill's article as a good way to get yourself into the situation.

I'd recommend you also read the following blogs for different opinions about what is going on there, it's importance and how they see it developing. Small War's Journal, Abu Maqawama and The Long War Journal. SWJ has a good round up of other opinions. Also check in with the excellent milblogs, such as Blackfive, which have some additional insight as well as some sources of their own.

More on this as it develops.
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Knowing people want a wide perspective, even if you don’t like his views, Juan Cole cites local media sources and give reports from the ground, often directly quoted or translated. At the very least, it can balance the military blogger perspective. And the folks at antiwar.com point to news stories from a variety of sources. I’ve found that the worst thing one can do is focus only on the stories or perspectives from sources one is sympathetic too, that can just reinforce biases. Hence I read also from the sources McQ posts (and of course here). How this operation goes will be huge in determining the future of Iraq, it’s a testing point for the assumptions of the various sides.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
What is happening in Basra is what all of us, from the anti-war side to the side of the war supporters, have said we want to see happen - Iraq standing up and taking charge of it’s own security and defense.

I don’t think Maliki’s attempt to eliminate his political opposition really counts as "taking charge of its own security and defense." You’d have a point if Maliki were moving against AQI or against any of the insurgent organizations that were responsible for the post-surge levels of violence (which were still very high, comparable to 2005). Instead he went after the Sadrists after Sadr renewed his cease-fire.

So we’re taking the side of one group of Iraqis that’s killing another group of Iraqis - we’ve gone from taking both sides in the Sunni-Shi’ite civil war to helping one side in the new inter-Shia civil war (even as the other civil war continues at 2005 levels).

So, no, this isn’t what "all of us" wanted at all, unless you think "all of us" wanted Iraq’s nonexistent "government" to be slaughtering its own people - and of course they can’t even do that without U.S. support, mostly because before he failed with the surge, Saint Petraeus was failing to train the Iraqi army and lying about his failure.

Of course, there is something that can be done, which is a U.S. withdrawal, which would allow the Iraqis to form a real government rather than competing bands of thugs. But pulling out of Iraq would actually be in America’s national security interest and deal a blow to Al-Qaeda, so of course Bush won’t do it.
 
Written By: T.B.
URL: http://
Of course, there is something that can be done, which is a U.S. withdrawal, which would allow the Iraqis to form a real government rather than competing bands of thugs. But pulling out of Iraq would actually be in America’s national security interest and deal a blow to Al-Qaeda, so of course Bush won’t do it.
I think when all is said and done people will point to the years of carnage in Iraq and the stiff price paid by the Iraqi people in blood, and America in prestige and money, and see this as a fiasco of historical proportions.

Still, we are where we are. The President, McCain, and a lot of the pro-war crowd have made a consistent argument: the surge is bringing stability, allowing political progress in Iraq through slow, consistent steps. This is a test of that claim. If Maliki fails, or if the US drawn into a real bloody intra-Shi’ite civil war, then it will be virtually impossible to claim the surge was really successful. It will go the way of ’stay the course.’ If, however, Maliki manages to show that the stability brought by the surge allowed the Iraqi government to gain the capacity to exercise authority over areas previously dominated by Shi’ite militias, and he can do that in a way that doesn’t involve massive US involvement or yield a new authoritarianism, then the pro-surge argument is stronger. It would have been better not to invade, but once there, finding a way to leave is more difficult.

I still think the odds of surge success are low, and even if successful it’s still not clear if it will have been worth it (I think not, but not having access to alternate time lines we can’t know for sure). So judging it on its own terms, the terms of surge proponents, this is the big test. If it fails, this not only will be a failure of the most recent strategy, but could doom the McCain campaign.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Of course, there is something that can be done, which is a U.S. withdrawal, which would allow the Iraqis to form a real government rather than competing bands of thugs. But pulling out of Iraq would actually be in America’s national security interest and deal a blow to Al-Qaeda, so of course Bush won’t do it.
I’ve never seen such a weightless, ridiculous statement in my life, and not only do I read Erb but I also attend University.

Let me get this straight: you say that the government they currently have is not real, and only our leaving will make it real....how? You say pulling OUT of Iraq is in our National interest....HOW? And then you go Ad Hominem and assert that the President does not have the interest of the nation at heart.

You, sir, are dishonest and a fool.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Joel, how is staying in Iraq serving our national interest? How do you justify the cost in America power, prestige, and lives (not to mention dollars)? The Economist has a good 14 point special on the future of American foreign policy. You seem to have a knee-jerk view of America as very powerful and always right. You need to educate yourself. While the post you criticize doesn’t have a lot to back it up, yours is worse, and you show an appalling lack of critical thought. Learn to rise above BS. Grade: D-

And watch critically as things unfold in Iraq. Let yourself learn something.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/30/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often.
 
Written By: David M
URL: http://thunderrun.blogspot.com/
I’m always impressed by how courageously Boris Erb faces each new challenge in Iraq with unstinting defeatism, and even how, from time to time, he attempts to redefine defeat as success.

I’m wondering Boris, do you think that civil society is impossible for Iraqis?

If so, why not just say so? Say, "those rotten ragheads can’t make a consensual society work, and you can check Juan Cole to back me up on it."

You say you wouldn’t use the term "raghead?" Well, why not? It’s indicative of your contempt for the people of Iraq.

Apparently, while you’re too busy being a poltical science professor to consider global changes in politics, you’ve missed the fact that consensual democratic societies have spread pretty rapidly around the world.

Yet you continue to believe that the people of Iraq needed Saddam Hussein, or, since the time that he was removed, that they needed terrorists, and that now they need armed militias. Or at least that they needed to submit to Saddam, or the terrorists, or the militias, if they wanted to survive. A reasonable degree of political freedom has always been out of the question.

Later, of course, you’ll argue that they need Iran.

And always you’ll argue that if the U.S. would only leave, the killing would stop — a theory you would love to see tested. What do you say when the killing goes Rwanda? Ooops? Do you say that like Jerry Lewis?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/03/mahdi_army_taking_si.php
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/5659851.html

Looks like the madidi army got the beat down. maybe a chance for a coalition between sadar and maliki? or is maliki going in for the kill?
 
Written By: slntax
URL: http://
I think when all is said and done people will point to the years of carnage in Iraq and the stiff price paid by the Iraqi people in blood, and America in prestige and money, and see this as a fiasco of historical proportions.
Its funny how history begins with 2003.

Lets forget about 10+ years of sanctions and their affect on the Iraqis and the repeated bombing campaigns to enforce the no-fly zone.

America lost prestige because we took away Europe’s golden goose (remember Europe was all on board with military action before Bush declared "regime change" was a must). They were the biggest benefactors of cheap Iraqi oil and their politicians the biggest benefactors of Saddam’s kickbacks.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Too early to say, but if Sadr gets away with calling a new cease fire on his terms — no disarmament, and end to government raids — then Maliki lost, and the future of Iraq is as uncertain as ever. And remember, Maliki is pro-Iranian, and the Badr brigades and others fighting Sadr are Iranian armed. Iran is coming out of this looking very pretty, the US looks, well...let’s say at this point it appears to be a massive embarrassment. Maybe Maliki can turn this around. But remember, he’s closer to Iran than he is to us!
Lets forget about 10+ years of sanctions and their affect on the Iraqis and the repeated bombing campaigns to enforce the no-fly zone.
Remember, the no fly zone was not imposed by the UN and thus could legitimately be seen as an act against Iraqi sovereignty. Also, it’s clear that the ten years of sanctions and weapons inspections had declawed Saddam, Iraq in 2003 was weaker by far than in 1991 and a threat to no one. That is one reason why I believe there is no way anyone can reasonably claim that this war was worth the immense cost — a cost we are still paying. No if the pro-Iranian Maliki and the Islamic extremist Sadr end up with a truce. Geez, what the hell are we doing there? It’s not like there are any pro-western democratic elements in control. The Sunni tribes are still anti-government. What a waste this war has been, what an utter and complete waste. And if things play out in Basra as it appears, I think McCain’s Presidential chances just took a big hit.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris:
Too early to say, but if Sadr gets away with calling a new cease fire on his terms — no disarmament, and end to government raids — then Maliki lost, and the future of Iraq is as uncertain as ever.
How the prospect of failure makes your mouth water, Boris.
And remember, Maliki is pro-Iranian,
Having a relationship with Iran is necessary for Iraq; that doesn’t make Maliki "pro-Iranian." Not in the sense that your mouthwatering implies: that Iran has its way in Iraq.

There is no need for inter-national alienation anymore than there is a need for an inter-national alliance. That’s why we have the concept of inter-national cooperation. And why good fences make good neighbors: two distinct national sovereignties.

The Persian-Arab national divide is as or more significant than the commonality of Shi’a.
No if the pro-Iranian Maliki and the Islamic extremist Sadr end up with a truce. Geez, what the hell are we doing there? It’s not like there are any pro-western democratic elements in control. The Sunni tribes are still anti-government. What a waste this war has been, what an utter and complete waste.
So, if the factions settle into a peaceful civil society that governs itself, with the U.S. there at the government’s request to facilitate the transition to long-term stability, you will attend a conference in Baghdad to call it a failure?

Are you saying that the 70% Shi’a majority deserved to live under the brutality and repression of the Hussein regime?

You seem to not know what sort of outcome you would like to see, Boris. Besides some sort of permanent humiliation for the United States. You would sacrifice Iraq itself to get that.

Here’s a tip for you: factional formation, followed by factional fighting, followed by factional reconciliation are part of the process of forming a nation state with a civil society in Iraq. The situation is working itself from kinetic violence to the potential violence and monopoly on force controlled by the government of every civil society. Now, it’s already established that you have a pure preference for brutal dictators (Castro in Cuba, Ho in Vietnam, Saddam in Iraq, etc.), but try to calm your passion for that sort of thing.

It’s just unseemly that your abject hatred of the United States is so heavily invested in the failure of Iraq. It’s as if you cannot grasp the fact that the Iraqi people deserve a stable civil society with a reasonably democratic government.

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Rival militias have been allowed to establish themselves because of a complete failure by the British in a city of 2.3 million. That’s not easy pickin’s.
Local militia have been empowered in Anbar province by American forces, as a direct parallel to what the British did in Basra 3 years ago. This recent development in Anbar has led to a great reduction in civilian and allied casualties, like it did in Basra 3 years ago. Empowering local militia is one of the more successful strategies employed in Iraq and is not "failure".
What is happening in Basra is what all of us, from the anti-war side to the side of the war supporters, have said we want to see happen - Iraq standing up and taking charge of it’s own security and defense.

Sort of. It is an internal matter probably not that much to do with security, but at least they are doing it for themselves.

The central government wish Basra be incorporated into a wide southern (Shia) autonomous region, electorally dominated by al-Maliki’s bloc of loyal voters in provincial southern Iraq. Al-Sadrists are dominant in urban Basra and do not want that wider southern autonomous region to be formed. For an autonomous region all provinces need to agree to join "voluntarily". The Iraqi Army is attacking local militia in Basra so that the removal of the old (anti-southern autonomous region) governor on some corruption allegations and replacement with a new governor (presumably pro-southern autonomous region "volunteering" type) can be enforced. This central government maneuver is perhaps against the best wishes of the local electorate and is meant to prevent Basra locals having a say on their city’s autonomy.

I have no inkling as to if that wider autonomous region will be good or bad for Iraq. And it may be moot anyway as the Army has not been completely successful.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I have no inkling as to if that wider autonomous region will be good or bad for Iraq. And it may be moot anyway as the Army has not been completely successful.
Note that Maliki is close to Iran, the militia fighting Sadr are close to Iran, and the Mahdi army gets a lot of arms from Iran. This looks like a cease fire, if it works out, that benefits Iran. Unless the Mahdi army is disarmed, it will show the central government that they can sting, and it’s best not to bother them. The militias that helped the central government simply want their piece of the action, the Iranians want peace to prevail long enough for the Americans to leave so they can expand their influence.

The US? At this point, there’s really no reason to be there. How the tables have turned.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The militias that helped the central government simply want their piece of the action, the Iranians want peace to prevail long enough for the Americans to leave so they can expand their influence.

The US? At this point, there’s really no reason to be there.

Apart from the reason stated in your preceding sentence about maximising influence by staying.

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
No, unaha, that isn’t a reason. We don’t have the capacity to stop Iran without a major increase in forces. They have the inside track on most governmental parties, have power in the Sadrist movement, and know the lay of the land and have their people embedded in ministries, police forces, and all levels of the Iraqi military and government. They’ve won Iraq, and I don’t think there is anything we can do about it that would be worth the price. Let’s just cut our loses and recognize reality. Look at the US economy. Look at stated military concerns about readiness at existing force levels in Iraq, force levels far too small to combat the intense Iranian presence. Look at the strong anti-war sentiment in the US. What on earth could one reasonable put forth as a plan that would have any chance, both militarily and politically (here and there)?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yup, looks like Iran is playing the power broker here.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
What on earth could one reasonable put forth as a plan that would have any chance, both militarily and politically (here and there)?
How about just plain beating the crap out of the Sadrists?
Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces. Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began. . . .Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.
Quoted from Bill Roggio. Looks like a good start.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
How about just plain beating the crap out of the Sadrists?
They won this round. Maliki is humiliated, the Sadrists remain armed, and Sadr — who wanted to maintain the cease fire anyway — is strengthened. Moreover, it’s clear that Iran brokered this deal because Iran is involved with all parties. I think Juan Cole is right that Bush has been "reduced to irrelevancey."

Cole cites this quote from the NYT

’Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis.’
No, SSHiell, it’s getting poignantly clear that the US has achieved little if anything in Iraq, and even the government we support is closer to Iran than it is to us. (Remember, the Badr brigades and the Dawa party are very close to Iran, much closer to Iran than the Sadrists are, with whom they were fighting).

It’s getting clearer every day that Iraq will likely go three different directions, and we should welcome that and get the hell out of there — its done nothing but drain the US treasury of hundreds of billions, destroyed Iraq, opened ethnic fissure, strengthened Iran, and shown our weakness to the region and the world. Sometimes, SShiell, you just gotta admit the obvious.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It’s getting clearer every day that Iraq will likely go three different directions, and we should welcome that and get the hell out of there — its done nothing but drain the US treasury of hundreds of billions, destroyed Iraq, opened ethnic fissure, strengthened Iran, and shown our weakness to the region and the world. Sometimes, SShiell, you just gotta admit the obvious.
You assume a lot. You assume your world vision is "obvious". It isn’t. As I have reminded you time and again - remember - small steps. You also are obviously not familiar with our own history and how we are how many years into this experiment we casually call Democracy and you expect Iraq to be a proven product in 5 years? We, ourselves are still taking it one step at a time. But for you Iraq has got to be a settled case or we leave. Well, I disagree. And since I don’t take any courses from you or don’t have to worry about any pressure from you on any dissertation board when I disagree with the Liberal Narrative you are so resolved to defend - You can pound sand if you don’t like it. In other words, you are full of sh*t.

Or to put it in a more PC way, you have not convinced me your argument has merit. Feel better, now?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Scott Erb, please consider the possibility that Iranian and American strategic interests currently are parallel in wishing for a peaceful resolution in Iraq.

You correctly write that America presence requires Iran to act as an honest broker encouraging peace amoung the Shia factions so that their current friendly relationships are not jeopardised. That when America leaves Iran will be able to expand influence by instituting their standard practice of client warlords (like they have in Hezbollah & Hamas) and crush all secular Shia opposition:
The militias that helped the central government simply want their piece of the action, the Iranians want peace to prevail [amoung Shia] long enough for the Americans to leave so they can expand their influence.
Stay - peace prevails as it is in Iranian interests. Leave - conflict prevails as Iranian proxies eliminate progressive Iraqi groups.

But then clarify:
...that isn’t a reason [for staying]
Peace is in the reasoned interests of America.

This is disputable exaggeration of the influence of Iran in a "reds-under-the-bed" paranoia inducing manner, they really are not everywhere:
[The Iranians] have the inside track on most governmental parties, have power in the Sadrist movement, and know the lay of the land and have their people embedded in ministries, police forces, and all levels of the Iraqi military and government.

Several of these are having a shooting war against each other, directly in violation of your above stated aims of Iran.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
SSHiell, this as a big step, backwards. Maliki took on al Sadr, and ultimately had to back down. Sadr wanted talks from the start, but Maliki vowed that the militants "worse than al qaeda" will be disarmed. They won’t be. Iran stepped and brokered a deal. The US was essentially left out.

There are no small steps being made, no clear sign of any gain, or anything we can gain. You speak in vague, general terms, showing little effort to understand the specifics of the situation. Thus, when the complexities are presented you just repeat your mantra "small steps" as if it were a magical way to dismiss lack of progress on the faith that some kind of small bit of progress is somewhere being accomplished. But the real situation doesn’t show it. So you blame some "liberal narrative" and hide behind vague insults, but you have NOTHING. And I think, deep down, you know it. So yeah, don’t be surprised if your narrative is limited to military blogs and right wing discussion groups. Because your narrative is disconnected from reality.

But I’ve made specific cases, cited articles, explained my reasoning. You want to say "you haven’t convinced me" but you give no reason to believe my analysis wrong. If you’re too lazy to refute it, then you probably shouldn’t comment.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Iran wants an Iraq at peace too, which is why they disliked this outbreak of fighting and worked behind the scenes to bring about a settlement. They know the US wants out, they’re biding their time. Because there is no way the US can sustain an effort if only 30% of the population is behind it.

That’s why, should McCain win, don’t be surprised if the phrase "only McCain could go to Tehran" gets uttered. Ultimately we’ll deal with Tehran as a regional power, and we’ll find a way to both get a long and find mutual interests. That’s not a bad thing, we don’t need to define countries as ’permanent enemies’ and imagine them to be unchangable.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If you’re too lazy to refute it, then you probably shouldn’t comment.
I do not have to justify myself as you seem to need to do. I do not have to speak to hear my own voice. I do not have to counter your points. I have told you previously:
you have not convinced me your argument has merit.
I point to your citations and supposed experts as questionable for cause - you blow me off. I and virtually every other person commenting in this blog offer differing opinions - you blow all of us off with an arrogance that is abrasive to say the least. McQ in this post and others offer other points of view concerning the current operations - you just blow them off - They are beneath you.

And every time those small steps seem to get in the way of your Chicken Little narrative, your voice is not heard at all. Such as McQ’s entry on Friday, March 21, "The Sausage Factory Gets One Right" which discussed Iraq’s presidential council signing off on a measure paving the way for provincial elections by the fall. Even the Associated Press, no cheerleader for the war, called it:
a major step toward easing sectarian rifts as the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the war.
And where were you and your comments? Nowhere to be seen. I even challenged you with the only comment posted there - remember those small steps. It seems whenever there is progress you just ignor it as if it didn’t happen. Typical of you and the MSM at large - if it bleeds it leads, if it don’t ignor it.

And as far as telling me not to comment - If I were commenting to the entries you make at your own Blog, you would have the right to ban me - Oh, thats right, you don’t allow comments there anyway - My Bad. But here you do not have the right to uninvite (or disinvite or ban) my participation. So, let me restate my case: Your argument does not convince me! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I point to your citations and supposed experts as questionable for cause - you blow me off.


Of course, you don’t back up your claims that these people are "questionable," and the experts are legitimate and well respected. It sounds like you just want to attack those people whose perspective leads them to a different analysis than you, and believe those whose perspectives are closer to you. That’s fine for debate as sport, but not for understanding and critically thinking of an issue of this importance. Make a clear cogent argument, and I’ll treat it with respect. Give evidence and ask for counter evidence, and I’ll oblige. I operate under a kind of tit for tat ethic here (except I try to avoid name calling, that’s pretty useless on this kind of medium).

And for as elections, well, we’ve had lots of elections in Iraq, having another one doesn’t seem to in and of itself mean much. There is certainly no evidence at all that this eases sectarian violence — how could it? There were provincial elections before the last bout of sectarian violence! And some people say that the elections caused this latest outburst, which seems to suggest the act made things worse. I didn’t respond to that either because I didn’t read it or didn’t think it interesting.

And you seem to purposefully misstate what I said about your commenting: if you are too lazy to refute, then you probably shouldn’t (not that phrase probably should not — that was friendly advice, it’s better for to say nothing than say something vacuous). Instead you claim I was "telling you not to comment." Sheesh.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Ultimately we’ll deal with Tehran as a regional power, and we’ll find a way to both get a long and find mutual interests. That’s not a bad thing, we don’t need to define countries as ’permanent enemies’ and imagine them to be unchangable.
Only if America stays can this occur. If America leaves the likely outcome is one of permanent, possibly nuclear armed, emnity. This is a very important reason to stay.
...this as a big step, backwards. Maliki took on al Sadr, and ultimately had to back down. Sadr wanted talks from the start, but Maliki vowed that the militants "worse than al qaeda" will be disarmed. They won’t be. Iran stepped and brokered a deal. The US was essentially left out.
Maliki is a politician and is allowed to make bold statements that do not always come off - that is basic the nature of politics as I understand it. Maliki has demonstrated an effort to tackle the Sadrists - in politics the attempt is most significant (for instance there is a country where a party that initiated a "War on Poverty" shares power with one who started a "War on Terror" - success is unimportant compared to making an effort).

Further I cannot understand is how a negotiated settlement of Basra between Maliki & Sadr is a step backwards for American interests. So what if Iran was involved? Previously Basra was held by Mahdi sympathisers and now a negotiated solution will be brokered that almost certainly will reduce Mahdi control in a peaceful manner. Peace was arrived at, peace is in American interests - now Iranian influence and prestige has been invested in gaining a state of affairs that are in American interests. Given that it was Maliki and not America that initiated the operation - the Americans have suffered no loss, they are "left out" of this mess.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Only if America stays can this occur. If America leaves the likely outcome is one of permanent, possibly nuclear armed, emnity. This is a very important reason to stay.
Hogwash. Iran with nukes is no real threat to us. They will get nukes. We aren’t going to stop that. Let’s just deal with the reality.

I also doubt this will weaken the Mahdi army in Basra. Maliki blinked. He made ultimatums he could not enforce. That never is good.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Perhaps not a real threat. But as mitigation to a nuclear stand-off (no matter how asymmetric) America could try to cooperate with Iran on a project of mutual interest (for instance Iraqi stability) or negotiate through a worthwhile intermediatory (for instance a stable Iraqi government). Only thing is to do that America would need to stay involved.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
"Hogwash. Iran with nukes is no real threat to us. They will get nukes. We aren’t going to stop that. Let’s just deal with the reality.
"

Wrong on so many levels. Just keep on smoking that herb Erb.

 
Written By: retired military
URL: http://
Hogwash.
So that’s your version of debate. That’s what you call "Make a clear cogent argument, and I’ll treat it with respect." Hogwash is your version of respect? Unaha-closp makes a serious point - Iran with Nukes is a threat to everyone. Not just in the region. But your response is typical of the way you treat anyone with a cogent reponse to your ramblings - you blow them off. Especially if they disagree with you.

In a way you are right about me. "Of course, you don’t back up your claims that these people are "questionable," and the experts are legitimate and well respected." I have questioned your so-called well respected experts in the past with citations. And I have been treated just as you treat Unaha, you blew me off. So I learned a valuable lesson in dealing with you. Agree or get blown off. So instead of engaging you in debate - which by your own actions you don’t really want unless it is in agreement. I’ll take the high road and just sit on the side and call you Chickensh*t for the kind of tactics you employ and the kind of person you are.

Now, you owe Unaha-closp an apology.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell, you seem not to tell the difference between an unsubstantiated assertion and a clear, cogent argument. Assertions are simply statements of opinion, and they can replied to by similar statements of opinion. You’re striking out, SSHiell. The only time I recall ’blowing you off’ is when you were wanting to talk about Kerry, and I decided that would be a waste of time. Just because you want to talk about something doesn’t mean another person has to talk about it. Conversations only occur when both people want to talk about something. You seem to have a thin skin here. I "blew you off" once and you get so upset that you can’t get over it. That’s your problem, not mine.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Then the gloves are off? Fine.

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://
an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. See Erb.
Pot. Kettle. Black. Read your dismissive posts ridiculing me. Do you not realize how that sounds? Do you notice the speck in my eye, but not the log in your own?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Like I said - it’s your call!

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://
Are you on auto-pilot there, Steve?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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