Thursday, December 08, 2005

Baghdad county

Bill Roggio's last two posts from Iraq, Patrolling Haqlaniyah and On the Offensive in Ramadi describe a situation in which military operations have become a handmaiden to politics. Not American politics primarily , but Iraqi politics. For a sense of what that kind of politicking looks like Iraq the Model's synopsis at Pajamas Media is close to the best. Basically, the various tribes, religious and ethnic groups (even the Christians) are maneuvering for votes: including, surprise, surprise, the Sunni insurgents. "The new and interesting thing in this election is the large-scale participation of Sunni parties for the first time. These parties think they have a good chance to win many seats in the parliament."

So it is less and less surprising that suicide attacks, such as the blast in a bus killing 30 people or the one which killed nearly the same number at a police academy involve Iraqis on Iraqis. It's no longer war, properly understood, but politics Middle-Eastern style. (BTW the word "Iraqis" is consciously used knowing it conceals a multitude of differences. For a discussion on how Arabs aren't all the same see Michael J. Totten) The purely military war in Iraq is over and America has won. The US casualty count carefully kept at Global Security has never gone back to its 2004 levels and (in my view) probably never will. But though the politics may be bloody, the dynamics of the electoral arena described by Iraq the Model suggest something quite revolutionary has taken place.

But more important than all of this is the fact that in these few years, we have witnessed the birth of a sensibility that was buried for decades -- Iraqi patriotism. This sense is currently represented in three political alliances/parties that ignore the ethnic and sectarian issues in their platforms. Relatively speaking, they are looking at Iraq as a whole.

Factions are struggling for control of Iraq through the ballot. Assisted by bombs, intimidation, bribery, and disinformation it's true, but through the ballot. In this atmosphere, the carnival trial of Saddam Hussein almost makes sense, right down to the surreal presence of his defense attorney Ramzi Clark (spelling courtesy of Hammorabi).

Commentary

Victory when it came, was both greater and less; more partial and more complete than expected. It did not take the European form of parades down the Champs Elysee, followed by a return to old and establish ways of governance. What the destruction of the Ba'athist regime did was reanimate long suppressed local and ethnic interests and channel them into competition through the ballot box -- with the occasional recourse to violence. Tremendous forces have been unleashed which critics of the war will point to as signs of an incipient civil war, but which supporters of OIF will describe as a newly liberated society feeling its way forward.

Whether OIF has wrenched events in the Middle East from their old tracks and put them on a better route remains to be seen. What is less debateable is that OIF has subtly changed America. The Armed Forces have acquired capabilities they never had before. Bill Roggio in Patrolling Haqlaniyah describes three-tour veterans who can talk politics with Iraqis. For many individual Americans Iraq is now something less than home and something more than a foreign country. For America as a whole, one thing that no politician will dispute in 2008 is that aside from being a European and Pacific power -- which it has been since the end of the Second World War -- the US is now a part of the strategic landscape of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Update

This email from Capt. Jeffrey Pool, the Marine PAO.

You don’t know how true your post Baghdad county truly is, you’re right on the mark.

The 2nd Marine Division has been conducting talks/negotiating at the Government Center in the provincial capital in Ar Ramadi with the Governor, sheikhs and imams. Most of the groups who have been fighting the Iraqi government, military and Coalition Forces are now beginning to realize the power is with the ballot, not the bombs. However, the hard core al Qaeda terrorists realize this and are starting to threaten the local insurgents who they normally work with. This is creating what we call ‘red on red fighting’. Basically two groups who aren’t are allies slugging it out for power. This is what has been happening on a large-scale in Ramadi and to a lesser scale throughout Al Anbar.

From the city of Hit all the way to Husaybah is closed to al Qaeda groups, and in Ramadi, they are holding on by their finger nails. The series of operations 2/28 Brigade Combat Team has been conducting has really helped disrupt their planning and ability to launch attacks. But the real meat of this is the local insurgent groups who are trying to dissociate themselves from AQI.

The last tool AQI has is money. They are paying for support and sanctuary. It is not being freely given anymore in Ramadi. The elections are going to be pivotal. My opinions, if the Sunnis vote en masse then AQI is done but if AQI is successful in intimidating the populace then they bought themselves some more time.

It is an interesting time to be in Al Anbar.

But once again, good posts.

SF

Capt Pool

77 Comments:

Blogger RWE said...

Seems bizarre, but not so by Mideast standards - unless you count the mere fact of democracy around there being bizarre.
Consider that in Vietnam there was a period when the USAF and USN were supporting DIFFERENT candidates for the presidency. And at that time, when the SVNAF was ordered to bomb the Presidental Palace, the directive went out to U.S. forces to intercept them but NOT shoot them down. So. A-1's and F-4's played "Tag" for an hour or so over Saigon and then everyone retired to the O Club for a few beers and a good laugh.
Compared to that ultimately ill fated escapade, what is happening in Iraq looks positively serene - as well as a bit surreal.
The Law of Unintended Consequences is fully in effect!

12/08/2005 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

A client once asked me: Which Middle Eastern country is the most powerful. Without missing a beat, I said, "the United States." Until some outside challenger, China perhaps, is capabile of competing on at least the military terms set by the United States, Washington can continue to press for fundamental reforms without worrying about losing its oil-rich clients (Saudi Arabia et al) to the influence/support of an outside power.

In Central Asia, however, the United States is not the most powerful player: Our military presence is relatively small and is easily matched, quantitatively at least, by the presence of Russian forces in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which could be augmented, in theory, by Chinese forces or Uzbek forces.

The United States is also exclusively dependent on overflight, landing, and basing rights to maintain its presence in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Hence the need for allies, both inside the region (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan) as well as outside the region. In the case of the latter, the United States has sought to downplay the very obvious competition with Russia for regional influence while coaxing NATO to play the lead role in Afghanistan.

If Kabul were only on the Indian Ocean . . . .

12/08/2005 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

"Victory when it came..."

Yes, I agree that we are looking at the face of victory. What makes this even more convincing is that the leftwing Dems are calling for immediate pullout and Dean is calling the war "unwinnable". The Left must work doubly hard now to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory or else it find Bush vindicated - a fate truely worse than death, especially if the dead are only Iraqi.

12/08/2005 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

A bold and typically competent analysis Wretchard. I admit that I wasn't prepared to make any of those connections myself.

For the second time in less than a week National Public Radio yesterday managed to fit the archived voice of Cronkite's "we are mired in stalemate" broadcast into one of its relentless Murtha stories (US taxpayers are supporting that drivel!).

Imagine what a different world it would have to be, but also *what a different world it would become*, if some mega-media personality today had the balls to broadcast an assessment like yours.

Now off to follow all those links...

12/08/2005 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

As "we" (the west) always seem to gauge politics in our terms rather than local terms, does the current debate between left and right wing U.S. political groups surprise anyone?

Wretchard, I like the "local baseline" approach of your argument. It starts to bring reality back into the picture . I always laugh at the strive for perfect crowd. In the business world, they are the ones who have never actually performed a task - just planned them.

12/08/2005 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

As part of the "normalization" process, I wonder about the democratization of corruption and crime. Under Saddam, criminal enterprises were a monopoly of the state, with Saddam as "godfather" of the whole operation.

I've been reading about Afghanistan's enormous opium/heroin production (up to 50% of its GDP) and the smuggling routes for product that run through Pakistan and Iran. From Iran the smuggling continues through Iraq.

Presumably local entrepreneurs are taking advantages of lucrative opportunities and jumping into the trade, using the customary business methods of bribery, extortion, and murder.

How many of the "insurgent" incidents are actually related to the new criminal enterprises? And how would we know?

12/08/2005 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

The US has been the dominant power in the Middle East since the Suez crisis of 1956-7. Until now, however, we have not acted dominant. The great danger is that we will walk away after Iraqi stabilization and allow chaos to well up again. Capitalism, democracy and secularism must have the opportunity to take root and flourish in Islamic lands. Otherwise we face more decades of intifada and international jihad.

12/08/2005 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...

I predict that many of these men and women will return for fourth and fifth and sixth tours of duty- only duty of another kind. One day Iraq will be ready, willing, and able to do business. And were I running a business instead of blogging about it, these former soldiers would high on my list of people to hire. After all, they have an understanding of the people, the language, the region, and the political landscape. They know much about leadership, strategy, logistics, organization design, planning, and the marshalling of resources and capabilities to meet clearly-defined objectives. In short, they are ideally suited to help Iraqi one day erect the other pillar of a free society- the free enterprise system. And though that day has yet to dawn, preparations are quietly underway.

12/08/2005 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I am glad to see the best mind on the thread has come to the conclusion that US has won the war in Iraq.

That was my conclusion a year ago, based upon reports from my son, who was on site.

The Elections should be interesting, Mr Bush should go to Baghdad next month and congratulate the Victors, whom ever they may be.

The greatest fear is that the entire WoT will wind down as does our Iraqi occupation. The Administration has tied the two so closely that victory in the Battle of Iraq may well be spun as Victory in the Mohammedan Wars, which it is not.

Time to instigate the 90% solution.

12/08/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Baron,
The terror acts may not be connected to criminal activity per se, although there are rumors that criminal organizations will take money to set up IEDs. However, it is almost always true that terror organization, underground networks, and the like eventually become criminal networks [or more accurately move beyond their original business plan]. Look at the IRA in Ireland. That is why the 'insurgency' will continue for a while, it will be justification for the existence of many a criminal enterprise. I don't think we're to that stage just yet, but we seem to be getting closer to the tipping point.

As for U.S. power in the middle east, our biggest counter weight is the country to the east of Iraq, west of Afghanistan, that supports Hizbollah, has a president with a messianic complex, and has been at war with us for 25 years. Oh, and they are close to getting nukes.
(the Israelis must be going crazy)

12/08/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Baron writes:

"How many of the "insurgent" incidents are actually related to the new criminal enterprises? And how would we know?"

The same exact question applies to Ireland, that other bastion of tribal blood feuds cross-fertilizing with criminal activities. Both sides in that conflict have slowly morphed into being nothing but criminal syndicates. In the Irish Republic during the '90's it was primarily the heroin traders who were running the guns (n.b. the Kelly, Keane, and Ryan families of Limerick shared a drugs-and-guns dynasty until they started knocking each other off two years ago.)

So how is law enforcement sorting it out in Ireland? By following the money, of course.

12/08/2005 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Isn't it interesting how many of the very people who were claiming that the attacks of 9/11/01 were our own fault because we walked away from Afghanistan after the Soviets were defeated are now demanding that we do just that again in Iraq?
I'll bet that if things go absolutely wonderful in Iraq that in a few years - or less - those same people will be claiming that we are being remiss by letting the newly powerful Iraqis whup up on the poor misunderstood folks in Syria and Iran.

12/08/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Must be morphic resonance.

12/08/2005 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Desert Rat reiterated my own concern:

"The greatest fear is that the entire WoT will wind down as does our Iraqi occupation. The Administration has tied the two so closely that victory in the Battle of Iraq may well be spun as Victory in the Mohammedan Wars, which it is not."

The "heavy lifting" hasn't started yet (the Iraqi War was merely an opening gambit). Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran together are just as dangerous as Iraq was during the peak of Saddam's power. It is vital that we maintain strong military bases in Iraq (out in the desert, far away from Iraq's population centers) that are prepared for military action against Iraq's neighboring countries. "Interesting times" have only just begun in the Middle East.

12/08/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

The reason why I wondered about criminal enterprises in Iraq was because of the corruption of Afghanistan by the drug trade. According to the article in US News & World Report, everyone in Afghanistan -- police, politicians, military, etc. -- is on the take because the amount of money involved is so irresistable.

I presume Iraq will be less corruptible, because its economic mainstay (oil) is legal. But I imagine there are opportunities in smuggling, drugs, prostitution, etc., for the ambitious and amoral among the Iraqi entrepreneurs.

I would not be at all surprised if some of the insurgent groups are already morphing into protection rackets and crime syndicates. The kidnapping trade appears to be quite lucrative, and I doubt that all the proceeds go into funding the jihad operations.

The creation of a non-corrupt and effective civil police force & justice system has got to be the biggest task facing Iraq. Since time immemorial the only law in Iraq was Saddam and the strongmen who preceded him. It's got to be hard to learn allegiance to a body of civil law as opposed to the whim of the tribal chief.

12/08/2005 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

This type of politics--chaos punctuated by car bombs--is not very exportable. It is not attractive to ordinary people and it is upsetting enough for the tyrants around Iraq to put down violently should it seem to be gaining ground. How is the new Iraqi idea of individual freedom going to export itself throughout the Middle East, as we hope it eventually will, if it presents itself as violent farce complete with an OJ-style trial of Saddam?

In order for us to be sure that OIF has "wrenched events in the Middle East from their old tracks and put them on a better route" I think we need to wait to see a quieter revolutionary force: one that appeals to people who are not hot heads--working people, parents, young people who want to make something of their lives. The revolutionary appeal of freedom and capitalism--the radical appeal--is to the individual as prospective author of his own fate. I'm afraid that ballots and bombs lack the appeal our project needs. It will take a long time to succeed in a non-military sense, won't it?

Desert Rat--what is the 90% solution?

12/08/2005 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

OT, but I thought this was fascinating.

Fox News just interviewed two former Palestinian terrorists that were scheduled to speak, with one other, at Princeton University. These two men, and their partner who did not join the interview, had been arrested some fifteen years before by Israeli police while trying to kill Israeli civilians in a terrorist attack.

So what's fascinating about that? Their message.

They were to speak at Princeton about the brainwashing of Palestinian children, about the evil of terrorism against civilians, about the wrongness of continued conflict with Israel, and about the possibility of peace if only the Palestinians could open their eyes and see.

As if that weren't enough to make the jaw drop a bit, the interviewer mildy inquired toward the end of the session on the religious views of these extraordinary (a value-neutral observation) men. To my surprise, these men were Apostates!

These men had found peace, and strength, in Christ. Where once they were blind, now they could see, and they go forth with courage and conviction to spread the His word of peace and love throughout the land...or something like that.

Perhaps not indicative of anything, but...how's that for a pick-me-up?

Will we see a new Great Revival in the land of milk and honey?

12/08/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Stuart Fullerton said...


Desert Rat--what is the 90% solution?

The US in a couple of years will have the killed the cost of water desalination and trasport and --alternate energy such that the middle east won't be necessary for energy and it will be possible --to turn all the world's deserts green.

That's what's in the cards right now.

12/08/2005 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Aristides,

Except that my alma mater cancelled the talk by the reformers, on the grounds of security

12/08/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Mr. Newt has said that the solution to the Mohameddan Wars is only 10% military, 90% "other".
The 90% is propaganda, economics, lifestyle choices, etc.

Really it is the force that will motivate the "quiet revolution" you speak of.

It is the force of individual liberty with a heavy dose of personal responsibility.

The trial of Saddam, even if it seems a farce, is anything but. Saddam refuses to attend, funny thing. I would hope that he is brought to Court next time, in chains, if required. The value of that shot, on Al Jezzera will be worth 50,000 US troops.

Iraq is still in need of US aid, the Challenge is that the aid required is not really military, our strong suit, but socio-economic, our weak suit.

The US should begin to export it's own Revolution, it is really so much better than either Marx's or Mohammed's, if the "people" only knew.

12/08/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

“For America as a whole, one thing that no politician will dispute in 2008 is that aside from being a European and Pacific power -- which it has been since the end of the Second World War -- the US is now a part of the strategic landscape of the Middle East and Central Asia.”

There it is… The US is now part of the strategic landscape of the Middle East and Central Asia. I believe this is one of the most important positive aspects of OIF. This aspect of the war against Islamofascism is almost unreported. American military presence and political influence in one of the largest and most economically viable regional powers is critical to generating positive change in the political dynamic of the area. It has important implications for America, like maintaining long-term stability in world oil prices and availability, providing near-field intelligence gathering capabilities on some of the most anti-American countries on the Earth, spreading the idea of free and representative government, improving the perception of America in local populations, improving the quality of news information available to local populations, and, perhaps most importantly, the presence of an exceptionally strong, quick, and agile American military force in the region, backed by politicians with the steel to use it, will have a dampening effect on the nefarious plans of rogue regimes.

This is not a short-term deployment. American troops, civil affairs personnel, contractors, and clandestine operators should be in Iraq for decades. Incipient and subtle changes to the perceptions of local populations will, over the years, accumulate and collectively mitigate the fertile growing fields of future jihadi’s (sp?). And the American presence will not, in the long term, be a drag on the American economy. Improving government and stability conditions in Iraq and surrounding countries will attract investment and American companies are well placed to win a big portion of this business.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

12/08/2005 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

Yes Rat,

Wheel him into the courtroom, constrained like Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs."

Clearly, there's no moral difference between the players.

12/08/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

I'll know our job is done in Iraq when I read an interview in the NY Times that goes something like this:
Bob Herbert: Ahmed, as one of the myraid poor, oppressed souls living in our illegally occupied 51st state, how long will you continue your valiant jihadist struggle against your imperial profiteering overlords?
Ahmed: Jihad? I have no time for jihad! I have a mortgage payment to make, I have a 3p appointment with Fatima's guidance counselor to discuss her college options, there's a potluck fundraiser at the mosque tonight, little Assad needs braces, and this weekend I'm taking my wife skiing in Iran for our anniversary...

12/08/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

As for Iraq?

How long has victory been in our hands, removed from the chaotic currents of complex causation to rest squarely on the edge of a binary value?

How weird to think that victory is dependent, solely dependent, on whether or not we want it.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?


A binary choice it was, and we have chosen nobility...and victory.

Nothing like a good, healthy debate to make you sweat, though.

12/08/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

Will we see a new Great Revival in the land of milk and honey?

we'll inside the land of milk and honey, the Jews are just fine, outside, where the squatters live, that's another story...

12/08/2005 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Nice one aristides.

12/08/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"For the second time in less than a week National Public Radio yesterday managed to fit the archived voice of Cronkite's 'we are mired in stalemate' broadcast into one of its relentless Murtha stories (US taxpayers are supporting that drivel!)."

- opotho

Speaking of NPR, they've recently begun using the term "jihadists" to describe the mass-casualty martyrs in Iraq. Had this switch taken place two years ago (hell, six years ago at the start of the second intifada, or four years ago, following the attacks of 9/11) I would have regarded it as a promising rhetorical development, but now suspect it is simply part and parcel of the effort to portray unmitigated failure (and embarassing irony) in an operation initially conceived, to a degree, as a response to jihadism. 'Look! The administration has achieved the opposite of its aim!'

12/08/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger DaveK said...

The Democratic Party will, I think, have to face some long-term unintended consequences of this war...

A good number of the soldiers, both officers and enlisted, have been profoundly transformed by their experience in the GWOT (Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters). Some will continue to serve in the military for a long while. Others will take the business opportunities offered because of their intimate knowledge of the area and its politics. Still others will enter the political arena... And there is where we may see our political landscape transformed.

I think we will see a bunch of very able leaders rise from this army we have fielded into the GWOT.

Just my $.02
DRK

12/08/2005 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Wow, by these standards Jimmy Carter’s Desert One was a huge strategic success since under the Shah, elections were few and far between as well as being totally rigged, while under the Mullahs, Iran has regular elections, albeit with a glass ceiling for atheists. Of course you don’t have as many buses blowing up in Iran but Carter could never really be expected to accomplish goals as well as George Bush.

The French government recently ordered its schools to start preaching that colonialism was a good thing, with these standards of victory they can now also declare the Algerian War of 1954-62 was a great success since there have also been regular elections in Algeria (albeit without those awful integrists) but we must admit, even more so than in Iran, the Algerians have been “assisted by bombs, intimidation, bribery, and disinformation it's true”.

I haven’t seen grading standards this loose since I helped organize a finger painting competition for terminally ill 7-year olds.

In other news, I always thought Fox News’ “War on Christmas” was just more anti-Semitic demagoguery but it appears that they were telling the truth after all:

Lawrence, Kansas, Dec. 7 -An explosion in a coffee shop here this evening killed at least three civilians and a Lawrence policeman, Guard and police officials said, a day after two suicide bombs in the capital's main police academy killed at least 36 police officers and wounded 72 other people.

Lawrence police said a secular terrorist left a satchel filled with explosives at the coffee shop on the University of Kansas campus that went off about 8:30 p.m.

The blast also wounded nine other civilians and three Lawrence policemen, officials said.

Tuesday's powerful explosions at the police academy were the deadliest in Lawrence in months, and came as Kansas officials were predicting an increase in violence with the approach of the Dec. 25th holiday .The explosions at the academy sent police officers fleeing across the campus. Officers in bloody, tattered blue uniforms were carried into nearby hospital wards, some of them wailing, their faces streaked with tears. Kansas soldiers piled out of Humvees and helped to seal off the inner courtyard, where the explosions had scattered body parts of trainees.

"They were all like brothers, they were all young," said Harvey Dowd, 32, a teacher at the academy, who was sobbing while lying on a marble bench in a hallway of Kind Hospital, his head in the lap of a colleague. "I just want to ask, 'Is this the war against Christmas? Is this the war against Christmas against Lawrence?' I want to ask the secularists, 'Do you slaughter your brother in the name of the war against Christmas?' "

The attack underscored the continuing vulnerability of the Lawrence forces, even in the capital, as President Bush is under increasing political pressure in the United States to defend Christmas.

12/08/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger jackhazard said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/08/2005 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

I caught that too Trish - NPR's switch to "jihadists" - but only semi-subliminally. Thanks for bringing it more into view.

Your analysis of this particular switch in terminology fits my general estimate of their editorial manipulations. It totally burns me that they get a cent of taxpayer money.

Where did I read recently (was it here?) that the "insurgents" and "jihadists" in Iraq could easily have been referred to as "right wing death squads". Now that would've been quite the monkey-wrench in NPR's routine. Of course the phrase is reserved for the Latin American narrative...

It's all totally nuts, isn't it?

12/08/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fred K said...

Another great post from Wretchard. It is clarifying to get the the long view amidst the daily bloody tactical body count.

I'd like to chirp in with some related good news in Afghanistan from my blog PoliticalFred.blogspot.com.

Two battles, two victories, two increasingly positive outcomes. Throw in Lebanon and Libya as partial successes and one can make a credible case that the post 9/11 policies are having real, measurable positive effects.

12/08/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Evanston said...

fred k, thank you for the link and bringing other pertinent, regional facts into the discussion. elam bend is also exactly right in how the die-hard sunnis are morphing into an IRA-like combination of "political" and "military" (guerrilla/mafia) wings alternately using elections, violence and corruption. Folks like kevin clearly have no sense of how common this combination is worldwide, today, and how recently it was minimized (but not entirely eliminated) in the U.S. His insulting generalizarions disguise his lack of specific standards for what constitutes "success" so he can, forever, be happily the critic. From the vantage of an OIF veteran (2004), I knew then that the unskilled enemy we were fighting had already lost and that the Iraqis I met had a great thirst for democracy. While violence and corruption will continue, the imminent Iraqi elections will give each group a real voice in government for the first time, ever. Kevin's comparison with Desert One applies here. Back then we failed to keep a few helicopters flying in order to free a small group of prisoners. This time we freed 2 entire countries that were virtual prisons. The people who terrorized these countries and the U.S. are either on the run or dead. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is Shangri La but neither will step back from democracy. Iraqis and Afghanis have already shown that they can broker compromises and they recognize the benefits of working together. We passed the tipping point for victory in both countries with their first elections and there is no going back. Ask Saddam.

12/08/2005 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger EddieP said...

There is plenty to fear about shutting down the GWOT if we elect a Democrat to the White House in 2008. There is one caveat, however, and that is Almondjeans in Iran. He may force the democrats to commit to continue even if the extreme left pitches a huge fit.

That, and how Al Q and other jihadis press internationally. There appears no reason the jihad won't continue long after Iraq, and because of the integration of the world's economy, we 'll have no option but to protect our self interests.

12/08/2005 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Where did I read recently (was it here?) that the "insurgents" and "jihadists" in Iraq could easily have been referred to as "right wing death squads".

- opotho

If you could find or recall that spot-on observation and its author, I'd be much obliged.

12/08/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/08/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

Took awhile but I was able to relocate it using Google.

It was a December 2004 Frontpage interview of Steven Vincent by Jamie Glazov. I found and read it only recently, without having noticed the date.

The excerpt below - the one I paraphrased earlier - is from Vincent's 5th response to Glazov. You'll notice that I stupidly left out an additional great word, "paramilitary".

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16214

"Vincent:  Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will not succeed in Iraq. That is why the terms the press uses to cover this conflict are so vital. For example, take the word “guerillas.” As you noted, mainstream media sources like the New York Times often use the terms “insurgents” or “guerillas” to describe the Sunni Triangle gunmen, as if these murderous thugs represented a traditional national liberation movement.  But when the Times reports on similar groups of masked reactionary killers operating in Latin American countries, they utilize the phrase “paramilitary death squads.” Same murderers, different designations. Yet of the two, “insurgents”—and especially “guerillas”—has a claim on our sympathies that “paramilitaries” lacks.  This is not semantics:  imagine if the media routinely called the Sunni Triangle gunmen “right wing paramilitary death squads.”  Not only would the description be more accurate, but it would offer the American public a clear idea of the enemy in Iraq.  And that, in turn, would bolster public attitudes toward the war. 
 
"Supporters of the conflict in Iraq bear much blame for allowing the terminology—and, by extension, the narrative—of events to slip from our grasp and into the hands of the anti-war camp . ..."

12/08/2005 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger opotho said...

post-script: Even more stupidly, I didn't realize until moments ago that this Vincent was the same Vincent who was killed in Iraq earlier this year.

12/08/2005 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Thanks, opotho.

12/08/2005 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Enigma said...

Wretchard,

I see the war as won, but not as being over just yet. Final victory is yet to be secured.

Winning A Won War

12/08/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

There's an interesting article in the Guardian covering discussions at the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).

"Leaders of more than 50 Islamic countries at a summit in Mecca called by Saudi Arabia's ruler, King Abdullah, adopted an ambitious plan to combat extremism and poverty throughout the Muslim world yesterday ... There is also no doubt that many Muslim leaders have been shaken by Islamist militancy. One Saudi working paper at the summit, seen by the Guardian, conceded that 'an endemic problem currently exists in the Muslim world'."

They are talking about liberating Islamic societies and meeting extremism head on. Personally I doubt whether 50 Islamic countries would have taken the matter so seriously, even rhetorically, if the US had not responded forcefully after 9/11. While the response wasn't perfect it made the issue of Islamic extremism impossible to ignore. Suddenly, the stakes for everyone were very high indeed. It was the opposite of the 1990s where every effort was made to pretend the issue didn't exist. Pulling all those heads out the sand was arguably the greatest victory the War on Terror has achieved. However history prefers to judge GWB, it can't deny that he put the issue squarely on the table.

12/08/2005 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

ABC News reported that the Iranian President called for the Jews to be "moved to Europe" at the OIC meeting. Sublime irony. The more the Europeans toady, the more likely that countries like Iran will succeed in shipping the entire population of Israel back to Europe. Now this is either the law of unintended consequences or proof not only that God exists but that he has a sense of humor.

12/08/2005 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

That was great commentary Wretchard. I cannot add to it.

desert rat notes:

...[I] am glad to see the best mind on the thread has come to the conclusion that US has won the war in Iraq.

That was my conclusion a year ago, based upon reports from my son, who was on site... The greatest fear is that the entire WoT will wind down as does our Iraqi occupation
.

True. But, I have this feeling that we will be there longer than most think. It maybe like Korea where we need to assets on the ground to ensure security. Or, it maybe for other reasons. But, I think we will be there for a while. That's only a guess.

desert rat:

...trial of Saddam, even if it seems a farce, is anything but. Saddam refuses to attend, funny thing. I would hope that he is brought to Court next time, in chains, if required. The value of that shot, on Al Jezzera will be worth 50,000 US troops...

And geoffgo adds:

Wheel him into the courtroom, constrained like Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs." Clearly, there's no moral difference between the players.


Putting Saddam in 'Hannibal Lecture' hockey mask and a straight jacket would be quite amusing. But, seriously, the quicker Saddam is off to bone yard the better. He only serves to incite violence and intimidate his foes. I would like to see him gone before the elections.

Evanston notes:

...This time we freed 2 entire countries that were virtual prisons. The people who terrorized these countries and the U.S. are either on the run or dead. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is Shangri La but neither will step back from democracy. Iraqis and Afghanis have already shown that they can broker compromises and they recognize the benefits of working together. We passed the tipping point for victory in both countries with their first elections and there is no going back. Ask Saddam.

Yes, I would say we are passed the tipping point. But, the eliminating the Sunnis who have morphed into criminal gangs will be harder to counter. Yet, I believe that with enough honest Iraqi police they can be stopped (the Iraqis know who they are and where to find them).

Starling David Hunter notes the business side:

...they [US troops] have an understanding of the people, the language, the region, and the political landscape. They know much about leadership, strategy, logistics, organization design, planning, and the marshalling of resources and capabilities to meet clearly-defined objectives. In short, they are ideally suited to help Iraqi one day erect the other pillar of a free society- the free enterprise system.

That is what I have thought all along. Economic out put will bring a huge positive change in Iraq. But, there must be a level of security before full scale economic trade in Iraq can occur. Now, if an outsider wants to do business on the ground in Iraq he must hire a security firm - which if fine for the big guys. But, the small guys need help. I would suspect some of these troops could be very helpful in that aspect along with know the lay of the land and customs. But, in the time business will come to Iraq. Btw, I have book marked your three business sites.

12/08/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Another America Hating Nobel Winner.

Accusing the United States of torturing terrorist suspects in Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, Mr. Pinter called the invasion of Iraq - for which he said Britain was also responsible - "a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law." He called for Prime Minister Tony Blair to be tried before an international criminal court.

Mr. Pinter said it was the duty of the writer to hold an image up to scrutiny, and the duty of citizens "to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

"If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision, we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man," he said.

12/08/2005 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

We have only one The First Battle of the Great Western Defensive War.

Sweet, indeed.

And let's add to the ME countries forced to address the ills of their cultures our other great victories: bye bye Schroeder, bye bye Chirac.

Now for the PC/MSM/Leftists. I think even they're on the run.

But Islam still believes.

ADE

12/09/2005 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Damn - "won"

12/09/2005 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Kevin's link is interesting when you get to the New Orleans inquiry post:
Blogger there was impressed by the lying, hateful, racist, Black Panther ladies, and the manifestly crooked William Jefferson, ...even hate filled, anti semite Mckinney earns his respect:

"IT WAS FANTASTIC AND CYNTHIA MCKINNEY AND WILLIAM JEFFERSON WAS THERE. THE REPUBS TRIED TO DEFEND THE RACISM AND ETHNIC CLEANSING CHARGE BY SCOFFING AT THEM."
---
The guy even believes the levee may have been bombed!

Different strokes, Kev:
I spend my time watching little green men from Mars.

12/09/2005 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

On Hewitt's show the other day, the racist whites that volunteered their time to triage people out of their Nagin-enabled hole there called the show to dispute almost every claim made by these world class professional victims.

12/09/2005 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Kevin,
There are troubles with Kansas, some fella even wrote a book about it.

The real trouble spot, though, is Oklahoma. That is where neo nazis in conjunction with Mohahammedan training in the Philipines destroyed a Federal building.

Then again there is LA, where street gangs control large swaths of the geography, Police units are attempting to put things right, one of the founding members of the Insurgent Force is due to be executed in a few days. However without more Federal troops are having a tough go of it.

Proposals for deployment of the Mexican Army to make LA "secure and stable" are exagerating the challenge to the local Police. They just need more training, not Mexican Army occupation to make South Central LA "secure and stable". Elections, scheduled for November '06 mat well be the "tipping point" in the conflict.

12/09/2005 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

While there is some validity to the claim that the Mexican troops could communicate with some of the Insurgents in their primary language, local officals and LA Police discount the language barrier as am obstacle to freeing LA of the Terrorists, however.

In Washington the deployment of the Mexican Army to LA is looked upon as an attempt by Mexico to reclaim territory lost in the Mexican-American War. There is a fear that once deployed the Mexicans will not leave, even in the face of success.

There have been limited discussions in Washington, in an attempt to negotiate the creation of bases, in the Palm Springs area, for the Mexican Army to occupy, with a Rapid Reaction Force, in case of renewed rioting in Watts.

While not confirmed, it seems common knowledge that fears of Canadian incursions are prompting the Mexicans to refrain from setting a timetable of success.

12/09/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The LA Insurgent Leader, captured over 26 years ago, is awaiting execution, next week. The Governator of California met just yesterday with Representitives of the deposed "Insurgent Leader" in an attempt for clemency.

Fears of increased Insurgent activity, in conjuction with the execution, have prompted calls from some Hollywood celebs, to withdraw the Police from South Central. They claim that removing Police protection from the area will placate the Insurgents and save lives.

12/09/2005 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

www.commentarymagazine.com/
Production/files/
podhoretz0106advance.html

Excellent analysis of Iraq and Iraq war critics by Norman Podhortz.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

12/09/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Okay, Now how do we trick Iran into attacking us (our troops, one of our ships, a drone, "Anything?"

Times running out. "Think People!" "Come up with SOMETHING!"

12/09/2005 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat,
Ugh! Real War is with Native Americans.
Pray for young Matthew's continued good health.
---
Weekly Standard 11/28/2005
Money, Mobsters, Murder The sordid tale of a GOP lobbyist's casino deal gone bad.

Matthew Continetti.
---
Gambling doesn't destroy people. People destroy people. The gentleman or gentlewoman who decides to gamble makes that decision of his own free will. It's a free market industry, and that appeals to conservatives.
--Michael Scanlon

AT ABOUT 8 p.m. on the night of September 26, a homicide detective with the Ft. Lauderdale police department entered the home of Anthony Moscatiello in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York.
Once inside, he placed the 67-year-old "caterer," aka "Big Tony," under arrest. Around 11 p.m., a thousand miles away in North Miami Beach, police stormed the condominium where Anthony Ferrari lived with his wife and two children and took the 48-year-old "security consultant," aka "Little Tony," into custody.

And the next morning, in Palm Coast, Florida, police arrested 28-year-old James Fiorillo. Fiorillo, aka "Pudgy," worked at the Builder's First hardware store in Bunnell. "Everybody loves him," Fiorillo's supervisor, Kurt Wright, told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

12/09/2005 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This is the fascinating guy at the center of this sordid tale of how many decisions are made in D.C.:

"KONSTANTINOS BOULIS was born in Kavala, Greece, in 1949.
His father was a fisherman, and his family was poor.
In 1968 the young Boulis joined the Merchant Marine. It was an escape route. Boulis jumped ship in Nova Scotia that year. He settled in Toronto, where he took a job as a dishwasher at a Mr. Submarine sandwich shop.
Within five years he had bought the shop and had become Mr. Submarine's CEO.
Eventually, under Boulis's leadership, the chain grew to over 200 stores. The sale of the company in the mid 1970s made Boulis a multimillionaire.
He was 25.
"
---
Maybe they should give the newly elected Iraqi leaders seminars in our capital.

12/09/2005 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Doug Santo, thank you for the Podhoretz link.

12/09/2005 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"They claim that removing Police protection from the area will placate the Insurgents and save lives"
---
As Warrior Patriot Murtha of all Surrenders Says:
"The Police are just creating more brave insurgents."

12/09/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

All the Iraqi factions agreed, in Cairo, that an Insurgency against an Occupier was legitimate.

They'll have their election,
they'll have their ISF,
they'll have our aid money,
they should have the country ASAP.


Notice there is NO discussion of the LONG TERM policy in Iraq.

The politics in Washington is about the "NOW". That is why if US goes to war, it must be decisive. Not a long drawn out affair, that is not a WAR that US can win.

To describe the WoT as a WAR and then not prosecute it according to "support a terrorist, you are a terrorist", to not follow thru, a complete disaster to US credibility.

Iraq is over, the bulk of our troops are Garrisoned. It has been that way for years, now.
How many troops do we need Garrisoned in Iraq?
How many can we Garrison there, long term?
That will be the REAL debate.

It may not come 'til Bush is gone, but it will come.

12/09/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

oh, doug, many Mexicans ARE native Americans.

European colonization, there in Mexico, followed the Spanish model, not the Anglo-Saxon one.

They enslaved the natives instead of killing them.

12/09/2005 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

and Mexico is definately part of "America", as is Canada.

12/09/2005 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"oh, doug, many Mexicans ARE native Americans."
---
But it wouldn't have worked politically, in the begining, to award *Mexicans* Casinos on their Tribal Lands.

12/09/2005 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger GEB4000 said...

Desert Rat

Don't you mean native Mexicans? Mexico is part of North America, not America, so maybe you can call them native North Americans.

12/09/2005 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

geb4000

not at all my friend, they think WE are North Americans and they are Americans.

It is part of the overall cultural disconnect we have with our neighbors, beyond or because of the language differences.

Most all of the Panamanians, Brazilians, Ecuadorans, Costa Ricians, etc. that I have met thought this way.

Not that they are absolutely correct, but their perception bases their reality.

In all my travels in the "Americas" it is only in the US that "America" and the United States are synonomous.

I must admit my travels have all been beyond our Southern Frontier, the Canadians may well see it differently.

12/09/2005 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger GEB4000 said...

Desert Rat

Regardless of what the peoples south of the border think, the reason Americans consider the United States and America synonymous is because it is. It's the United States of America. Not North America or the Americas. The land the fifty states encompass is called America.

12/09/2005 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger What's the solution? said...

I think it is premature to say,we won or loss in IRAQ!

If the main goal of OIF was to create a relatively stable democrary, we won't know if its fledging democracy will survive until the vast majority of American troops are home, instead of proping up Ambassador Bremer's creation.

How long will Americans' fund this enterprise when America has some serious infrastrature issues to deal with. (IE roads, levies, and remember that baby boomer demographic)

12/09/2005 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger StoutFellow said...

Victory when it came, was both greater and less; more partial and more complete than expected.

It also was completely missed by al-jazeera
The U.S. can’t win Iraq war
12/9/2005 8:00:00 PM
The Bush administration’s statistics prove that the Iraqi resistance is getting tougher than ever and that it’s become increasingly difficult for the U.S. army to beat those fighters


And by NPR which is focused the the pre-OIF period, you know Bush Lied/People Died/False Pretext for war etc.

Suspect Fabricated Story of Al Qaeda, Iraq Links

Meanwhile in Iraq the ocean that the "Insurgents" are supposed to swim is drying up.
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi citizens turned over a high-ranking Al Qaeda member known as "the Butcher" to U.S. forces in Ramadi Friday a military statement said.
Khalaf Fanus was No. 3 on the 28th Infantry Division's High Value Individual list for Ramadi, wanted for murder and kidnapping in connection with his affiliation with Al Qaeda in Iraq.
"He is the highest ranking Al Qaeda in Iraq member to be turned into Iraqi and U.S. officials by local citizens," Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool said in a statement released from Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi. "His capture is another indication that the local citizens tire of the insurgents' presence within their community."


So much for the al-jazeera and npr narratives. The Leftists/Democrats better hurry up with an exit strategy and timetable. Pretty soon there won't be anyone left to surrender to.

12/09/2005 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

And when/ if we annex more of Mexico, as we did with California, Arizona, New Mexico & Texas what will it be called? New America?, nah, it's all America, a land mass divided into north, central and south, but still alll of it is America.

Could the Baja be part of America, how about the northern states of Mexico, they could easily become "America".

Just as you think you are American being in the US, they think they are Americans being in Mexico. They are as right as you are.

12/09/2005 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger StoutFellow said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/09/2005 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

geb 4000

As the thousands of illegals cross the border tonight, they are entering the United States. They are already in America.

That is part of the border challenge. Mexican and Latin American history is not the same as ours. The perceptions, narratives and facts are not the same on both sides of the border.

My son was raised in Panama and attended the best private schools in that country. The "facts" that he was taught, both about US and Panamanian history were outlandish. Took quite a while to reeducate him, anyway, cultural identity and political reality is not a one way street. Either in Mexico or Iraq.

At Wind of Change the is an essay .

In it he states
" ... There are very fundamental cultural differences between Americans and Arabs, but for a variety of reasons these differences are exaggerated between the Marine tribe and the Iraqi tribe. Our fundamental differences lead to fundamental misunderstandings. ..."

The same is true of US and "Latin Americans", although the cultural diferences are somewhat different than those of the Arab culture.

The Major's article is worth the time it takes to read it IMO.

12/09/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The essay linked to above was written in May, 2004 by Maj. Ben Connable, serving as a foreign-area officer and intelligence officer with the 1st Marine Division.

It's well worth the read

12/09/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

" ... SHANGHAI, Dec. 9 - Residents of a fishing village near Hong Kong said that as many as 20 people had been killed by paramilitary police in an unusually violent clash that marked an escalation in the widespread social protests that have roiled the Chinese countryside. Villagers said that as many as 50 other residents remain unaccounted for since the shooting. It is the largest known use of force by security forces against ordinary citizens since the killings around Tiananmen Square in 1989.

"From about 7 p.m. the police started firing tear gas into the crowd, but this failed to scare people," said a resident who gave his name only as Li and claimed to have been at the scene, where a relative of his was killed. "Later, we heard more than 10 explosions, and thought they were just detonators, so nobody was scared. At about 8 p.m. they started using guns, shooting bullets into the ground, but not really targeting anybody.

"Finally, at about 10 p.m. they started killing people."

The use of live ammunition to put down a protest is almost unheard of in China, where the authorities have come to rely on rapid deployment of huge numbers of security forces, tear gas, water cannons and other non-lethal measures. But Chinese authorities have become increasingly nervous in recent months over the proliferation of demonstrations across the countryside. ..."

NYTimes
If you can believe NYT International.

12/09/2005 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat,
But did they put panties on anyone's head?
No doubt the UN will impose sanctions.
Should be one hell of an Olympics.

12/09/2005 07:45:00 PM  
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