Friday, November 17, 2006

Fly Now, Pay Later

George Packer argues in a special issue of the New Republic, Iraq: What's Next (behind a subscription link), that America now has no option but to accept defeat in Iraq. But he has no illusions about what that means to Iraqis.


I want to talk about something else.Withdrawal means that the United States will have to watch Iraqis die in ever greater numbers without doing much of anything to prevent it, because the welfare of Iraqis will no longer be among our central concerns. Those Iraqis who have had anything to do with the occupation and its promises of democracy will be among the first to be killed: the translators, the government officials, the embassy employees, the journalists, the organizers of women’s and human rights groups. As it is, they are being killed one by one. (I personally know at least half a dozen of them who have been murdered.) Without the protection of the Green Zone,U.S. bases, or the inhibiting effect on the Sunni and Shia militias of 150,000 U.S. troops, they will be killed in much greater numbers. To me, the relevant historical analogy is not the helicopters taking off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, leaving thousands of Vietnamese to the reeducation camps. It is the systematic slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of every Cambodian who appeared to have had anything to do with the West. If the United States leaves Iraq, our last shred of honor and decency will require us to save as many of these Iraqis as possible.

That wasn't hard to guess, now was it? The Belmont Club in Just Walk Away Renee predicted substantially the same thing less eloquently.

As a practical matter a lot of Iraqis who threw in their lot with America must now be thinking of secret ways to mend fences with whoever they believe will be in control after the US leaves. Those who can't are probably now considering whether appeals to some American they have come to befriend will help them leave when the time for the Last Helicopter comes to go. America would be best, but maybe Canada, maybe Britain, maybe Australia, maybe Romania, maybe Bulgaria will take them. No? well anywhere at all, then. Everyone comes to Casablanca.

What Packer does not address in his wonderful article is the point raised in the continuation of that same Belmont Club post. Withdrawing from Iraq will just move the killing elsewhere.

Everyone comes to Casablanca. Including al-Qaeda. This is going to be different because the enemy will pursue right back to mainstreet USA. Perhaps even on the tide of refugees that will be sure to ensue.

Of course it's impossible for the war to come home to America isn't it? How could the enemy attack America, or are we forgetting something just at the edge of our consciousness? The flaw in the argument over leaving Iraq is to assume that we have the option to leave the war. Consider Israel: it can't even leave Gaza. The World Net Daily describes the problem of dealing Qassam rockets that are being launched with increasing depth into Israel.

Since Israel withdrew from Gaza 15 months ago, Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups have fired hundreds of Qassam rockets at Jewish communities near the territory. Qassams are improvised steel rockets, about four feet in length, filled with explosives and fuel. They can travel between one and four miles depending on the sophistication of the particular rocket

The answer? After withdrawing from Gaza, withdraw deeper into Israel. And as the rockets gain in range, why then, withdraw even deeper.

Today, hundreds of children from Sderot were evacuated for a "weekend reprieve" in the southern resort town of Eilat. The brief vacation from Qassam attacks was paid for by an Israeli billionaire. Reports in the Israeli media say Sderot residents are ready to pack up and move to towns further from Gaza's current rocket range. Palestinian terror groups, though, say they are working to improve the distance their rockets can travel.

So what exactly is the next war in the Middle East probably going to be about? It will be about Israel going back into Lebanon and into Gaza to temporarily stop being rocketed from places from which they have withdrawn. By all means buy tickets for friendly Iraqis out Baghdad. But to play safe, make it round trip.

56 Comments:

Blogger Woman Catholic said...

wretchard wrote:

This is going to be different because the enemy will pursue right back to mainstreet USA. Perhaps even on the tide of refugees that will be sure to ensue.

After we walked away from the Vietnam debacle, there was a tide of refugees who became immigrants, but they could hardly be considered
enemies who pursued us back to main street. The ones who leave the country are always the ones who love life and want to make things better for themselves, with notable few exceptions (ie. the 19 hijackers of 9-11).

11/17/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

WC,

Can't recall who said it, might have been here. Big difference. AQ and its spinoffs and emulators make no pretense at about wanting to just be left alone.

I agree, most of the Iraqis who (God forbid it come to that, but it is becoming more and more probably) flee Iraq will come here and integrate (eventually, the Hmong are assimilating but it is tough on them and from time to time tough on the locals). However, another group will leave Iraq since the fight is no longer there, but will come here and go elsewhere.

After all, there is Al Andalusia to reconquer.

11/17/2006 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

From kellyaward.com:

"Biography
George Packer has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since May 2003. In addition to his coverage of Iraq, he has written on the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone, civil unrest in the Ivory Coast, and the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel. Packer was awarded two Overseas Press Club awards for his work in 2003, one for his Iraq coverage and the other for his reporting on the civil war in Sierra Leone. Packer, a 2001-2002 Guggenheim Fellow, has contributed articles, essays, and reviews on foreign affairs, American politics, and literature to The New York Times Magazine, Dissent, Mother Jones, Harper's, and other publications. He has taught writing at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence, Bennington, and Columbia. Packer is the author of “The Village of Waiting” about his experience in Africa. His book “Blood of the Liberals” won the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He has also written two novels, “The Half Man” and “Central Square.” Packer was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. After graduating from Yale in 1982, he served in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y."
(emphasis added)

So late 20th Century neo-Marxist bourgeois. Explains to me how he can be so dismissive of so many lives...and any sense of the value of freedom.

11/17/2006 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Not so fast on the retreat. Whit posted an excellent post that includes a very thorough plan for victory. The last part of the post refers to argument by Frederick W. Kagan and William Kristol for a heavier footprint in Iraq, which discusses both a strategy and the tactics of a plan. It is a long but worthwhile read. It is based on the premise that The US must choose a side. Now that is about as basic an idea as you can get. This will stir up some of the Neo-Con alert squad over here at the BC, but it is a worthy suggestion and appears to be achievable at a reasonable cost.

The only remaining conceivable goal must be to stabilize Iraq. That is more important than achieving other higher idealistic goals that were never in our power to achieve in the first place. Here is where I agree that the Neo-Cons were too ambitious. In Whit's post he links to an arguement by Kagan, who recommends coming down firmly on the side of breaking and eliminating the Sunni resistance. That is fine with me. It does put us on the same side as Iran and that may have some interesting consequences, but it does seem realistic and achievable.

The Enemy Won't Defeat Us But Despair Will.

11/17/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

I'm amazed at all the words typed by the cut & run crowd to say essentially nothing.

Nothing. I am so glad that Mr.Bush is not a cut&run coward. Funny how most of the cut&run stuff sounds like it was written by those cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys that caused a surge in the sale of "freedom" fries.

Frankly this subject isn't really worth the effort to blog on.

11/17/2006 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

I couldn't read the Packer article behind TNRs subscription firewall so I hope to read it elsewhere sometime.
I don't normally mind refugees, but I'd rather see the Iraqis who by 80% majorities believed killing Americans was a good thing (Iraqi Sunni Arabs and Iraqi Shia Arabs)not come to America and become an enemy within. I'd rather see that none get in - even if they are strung up by their noble freedom-loving purple fingers and executed by other noble purple fingered freedom lovers. Same with their noble freedom-loving wives and kids.
I just know I don't want millions of a murderous Muslim enemy that actively killed Americans or sat on the sidelines for 3 1/2 years cheering admitted in under any circumstances.....though the thought of Jihadi refugee camps in Crawford Texas right alongside the Idiot --and in heavily liberal, Jewish towns beholden to neocons or ACLU -- obsessed with spreading democracy to Muslims by force in a series of major wars if neocons, if ACLU oriented - then favoring terrorist rights, ending the Patriot Act, and undermining the struggle with radical Islam. US-hating Muslim Refugees dumped on them has major, major appeal to me. But it would be stupid - they would disburse and give us the problem England and France now have with immigrants and refugees bringing Jihad in with them.
************
I see Teresita has changed her habit(s).
**************
Blair admitted in an interview that Iraq is a distaster now.

In his frankest admission about the war to date, Mr Blair admitted that Western forces have been powerless to stop the descent into violence.

The Prime Minister stopped short of accepting the blame for plunging Iraq to the brink of civil war - blaming instead the insurgent uprising that has killed 125 British troops.

But his admission in an interview with the Arab new channel Al Jazeera will be seen as an historic climbdown for Mr Blair, who has always fought to put a positive gloss on often disastrous events.

Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has "so far been pretty much of a disaster", Mr Blair said: "It has."


*****************
Domestically, Bush's poll numbers continue to drop - this time it is Republicans deserting or openly criticizing the incredible damage Bush did to Congressional chances by not just with holding news he was changing the course - but who was making speeches saying we were close to winning and that a week before the elections - adamently lying and saying Rumsfeld would say until the end of his term. Among the critics all but calling him a moron for this betrayal are Newt, Roy Blount, staff of George Allen, defeated Congress Reps in CT, NH, Indiana who lost razor close elections, and Sen Talent.

Those who feel misled by Bushies about "things are steadily getting better, we are winning" White House and DOD propaganda are assigning little credibility to Bush and wishing we could just fast forward to 2008.

Bush's national approve-disapprove spread in polls is possibly going into his remaining approval in just the high 20s.

Blair should have also been asked if on top of Iraq being a disaster, Bush has turned into a disaster after a few promising months in the 9/11 aftermath.
**************************
2164th - Part of your idea has merit. Side with the Shia and get some payback on the Sunnis responsible for 95% of our dead and maimed. Except we have a number of Sunni allies that would rightly see that as treachery, given our past pronouncements.
************************
dla - If you believe in Dear Leader so much, why are you here rather than in Iraq saving the Iraqis from themselves?

11/17/2006 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Cedarford: You write lots and lots - my you must type fast! But like an article in the local cageliner, you are short on facts, high on conjecture, offer little information and most folks here could summarize your posts into a couple of bullets.

The average Iraqi certainly has a different view than I - that's hardly surprizing. But I don't think the average Iraqi has any better idea of the trend of this conflict than I. Do you somehow think that their singular Arabic news source gives them any better info than the pathetic urpulent upchucked by the American MSM?

I'm afraid you've allowed the cut & run crowd to defecate into your thinking. You need to clear your mind of that "stuff" and think.

11/18/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

The situation in Iraq has only deteriorated since the war began. But, as said previously, this conflict is not a war in the sense this word had until now. A real war - according to our entire framework of law, Geneva, and "human rights" constructs - is an armed conflict between two states and two regular armies.

Therefore, it is vain to think that any regular army fighting according to regular war rules, can win such a war against insurgents. The lesson of Iraq is that civilians belonging to Shiites or Sunnites - ready to commit suicide to kill soldiers, as well as civilians of the other faith, and all this in the name of Allah and never really facing their enemies - cannot be effectively deterred by US soldiers still bound by Geneva and restrictive laws and NGOs fostered by the Left. Already the US has been bled of far more treasure and a higher casualty rate than what the Soviets had in Afghanistan. And bled of 605 billion so far by a minimal outlay by our Islamist enemies that may not exceed a hundred million...
Until we revamp our rules, it is unlikely we can win in any insurgency. But to do so would mean fighting in a way we preached to the world to the point of nausea America was too good and pure to ever do.
Traditionally, insurgencies were treated as mass insurrections by a whole populace against the lawful ruler or ruler they surrendered to - a one-time deal - in accordance with conventions of war. And conquerers typically responded collectively and brutally.
I don't see enough blood yet shed where America can change the war rules enacted after WWII that all but ensure our defeat in an conflict on Islamoid home turf.
Iraq was a sad-sack, medium sized nation of only 22 million. After 23,000 casualties and 605 billion dollars spent by us trying to defeat them with a regular army required to take a grovelling acceptance that enemy civilian life is more paramount than our soldiers lives and the only enemy that may be fired on is a civilian that "pops up" visibly to be a "real enemy" trying to kill us. And our soldiers may be prosecuted by the media and then by courts determined to punish anyone who fights outside regular rules against enemy and enemy family and villages and towns with no rules.

Just the time, expense, and political destruction of those affiliated with the Iraq War will give American leaders considerable pause for any future war against enemy...until enough blood is spilled to change the rules or secular Jewish progressives that dominate the American Left and legal systems are given a wakeup call or are removed from power...

But that is in the future.

In the here and now, knowing we cannot win assymetric war under the rules we are trapped in, we will have to pass on Syria and Iran. When the situation can never be solved by the coalition armies staying the course, the only solution appears to be we would have to agree with the elected Iraqui government on a timetable allowing the coalition armies to withdraw and the Iraquis to assume their responsablities. Even if this would create a civil war, it might finally reach the reality of the local situation.

The US should then try to assure the Iraqui government that they will be ready to help them as much as possible, without a new military intervention, even if we watch their Iraqi-on-Iraqi bloodbath. And add we will not take any refugees, but assist them taking shelter in an accepting Muslim country since it is unsafe while Jihad is a threat to take them into our own homeland.

Leaving Iraq, America must sit down and seriously confront the rules and impediments to victory before we even think of going into another country. And many of those changes will be very, very unpleasant for enemy rights lovers.

11/18/2006 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Democracy works best in mercantilist / industrial societies that develop an intricate web of finance, manufacturing, trading, and consumption. Societies which depend on resource extraction tend towards being autocratic dictatorships where control of the wealth producing resource is concentrated into as few hands as possible. While other factors, such as religion also play a role, one sees this dynamic in the former Soviet bloc where resource rich Russia is becoming more and more autocratic and Poland and the Czech Republic are developing intricate capitalist economies while embracing democracy. This reason alone should haven given policy makers pause when embarking on a their utopian crusade to democratize Iraq, assuming that really was the reason for the 2003 invasion.

The violence we see breaking out in Iraq is nothing more than the manifestation of the traditional way to decide who will be in control in societies based on resource extraction -- war. The only result of the US / British occupation nowadays is to dampen the intensity of the war that will eventually decide which faction(s) will control Iraq's oil.

There are four main players, the Kurds, the Sunnis, the southern Iranian-backed Shia, and the Sadrists.. All the Kurds and the southern Shia need to do is hold on the oil they already more or less control. The Sunnis and Sadrists need to actually conquer oil fields controlled by others, which is a much more difficult military objective to achieve. The current Iraqi Army is a fictional construct that will disintegrate as soon as the US leaves, if not sooner. The 2-3000 members of Al Qaida in Iraq are granted temporary residence in Iraq by the Baathist generals leading the insurgency in order to mollify the Sunni fundamentalist elements who used to be tortured by these same Baathists but who are now vital to the generals ultimate success in reconquering the country. As soon as victory appears on the horizon, Al Qaida in Iraq will be given the same treatment that Saddam’s rivals used to get.

For each of these four major players it’s all going to come down to military ability and regional allies as to whether they will achieve their goals of controlling the oil fields they so covet.

The Kurds have what must be considered a rather strong militia although they have not seen much action. Their only regional ally is Israel which may not be such a positive factor, considering which region of the world they are located..

The Sunnis have shown an amazing level of military ability, holding off the US forces in the first Battle of Falluja as well as conducting a textbook perfect insurgency. They count Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and Egypt, among others, as regional allies.

The Sadrist’s have shown good organizational skills; have proven their ruthlessness and espionage abilities, but have yet to perform on the battle field. They act more like Crips than Hezbollah when under enemy fire. They have no regional allies (Hezbollah, who could be considered sympathetic, is ultimately controlled by Iran and is able to provide much more than moral aid).

The southern Shia are also well organized but have not yet shown much on the battlefield. They have Iran and probably Syria as regional allies.

If the US wants to exert any real influence over Iraq the only way to do so is step back and let the smouldering inferno erupt into a full-fledged war. A side could be chosen to back and then perhaps a decisive victory would follow, although it’s just as likely that a long, drawn out violent stalemate will result. The difficulty in all this would be in deciding which faction(s) to back. Sentimental considerations would lean towards the long-oppressed Kurds and southern Shia. Regional considerations point in another direction. Realists in the US foreign community will want to both reinforce the close ties we have with the main Sunni regional powers and maintain the integrity of Iraq. This means Sadr is out and the Sunnis are in, despite the insurgency. Iran would rush in to aid the southern Shia and we would have Round II of the Iran – Iraq War, this time being more of a Shia – Sunni War. Assuming the Sunni win they could combine with Turkey to try to bring the Kurds back under their yoke. They will never be totally successful in this endeavor.

Of course Israel will not have the luxury of assuming a Sunni victory. A Shia victory would result in a Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah dagger aimed right at the Jewish state. Syria is the obvious weak link here; look for a Kosovo style operation in 2007 aimed at regime change and the installation of a Sunni dictator in Syria in order to effectively create a Sunni cordon sanitaire around Israel. Hezbollah would become an isolated Shia island in a hostile Sunni / Israeli sea.

The next few years will be very ugly in the Middle East.

11/18/2006 03:46:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

If a story is behind a subscription firewall, why not do everyone concerned a favor and indicate this in the link, so that we don't waste our time trying to read a for-pay article.

Eh?

11/18/2006 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Kevin,
Don't miss Peggy Noonan's piece in the Opinion Journal.
---
What is the first thing men do when they're drowning?
They save themselves. With the waters rising on every side the president will attempt to re-enact his first and most personally satisfying political success when, as governor of Texas, he won plaudits and popularity for working hand in glove with Democrats. He accepted many Democratic assumptions--he shared them, it wasn't hard.

The White House's reaction to the recent election was, essentially, Now we can get our immigration bill through with the Democrats. That was a clue. I suspect the president will over the next two years do to Republicans what he did to Donald Rumsfeld: over the side, under the bus and off the sled.

He doesn't need them. They're not popular. They're not where the action is. He'll work closely with Democrats, gain in time new and admiring press--"Bush has grown," etc.

This is the path he will take to build his popularity and create a new legacy. If the Democrats let him. It would be in their interests, so I think maybe they will.

11/18/2006 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger putnam said...

It now appears that post Saddam there was always going to have to be a log of blood spilled.

Our problem was that we let the pacifists define the terms that we could fight the war, when we should have told them to shut up of go fight it on their own.

And this is the root problem with the so called "war on terror". How can you get mean enough to be willing to massacre an enemy that the government can't even cleary define.

11/18/2006 04:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Putnam,
The dream was to win a war w/o hurting anybody.
And definintely not offend CAIR.
Some dream.

11/18/2006 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"definitely"

11/18/2006 04:47:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Noonan:
I am taken aback this week at the level of disenchantment with and dislike of the president and his men--not among Democrats, but among Republicans.
On the Hill they no longer see the White House as talented and formidable.
They see it as shuttered and second-rate. There are bitter anecdotes about the way the White House has rigged and controlled events, only to blame those who followed them when disaster ensues.

There are more anecdotes about the president's refusal or inability to absorb information he emotionally resists.

There is increased criticism too of the habit of high White House staffers to muscle critics, silence dissent, force obedience.

11/18/2006 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

kevin,

Thanks for observations. But whether backing a "side" in a post-Saddam conflict, or driving Saddam out of Kuwait, or escorting tankers past an Iraq-Iran naval conflict, or providing a no-fly zone for the Kurds, or keeping Israel from retaliating under Scud attack, or trying to keep Lebanon together, or keeping Saudi Arabia together there is no exit from the Middle East.

If Israel's problem is that it can't get away from Gaza, Lebanon, Sinai and the West Bank -- even if it wanted to, the problem is replicated on a global scale for America, with the region standing in place of the disputed territories. You want to withdraw but you can't.

The idea that if one had somehow not toppled Saddam the alternate universe would have been better is a supposition not entirely supported by the history of the region.

Given that there is no way out then the logical thing to do is to find a path to victory within the framework of US national interest. Now I couldn't say how this can be achieved only that it has to be achieved by exclusion of the alternatives.

11/18/2006 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bush steps down,
Cheney and Rumsfeld do what they would have done to begin with.
(I get to dream too!)

11/18/2006 05:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

rufus said...
How much would it cost to power up Baghdad?
It turns out to be Six and a Half Billion Dollars.
Compare that with what we get for our $230 Billion Dollars. Wouldn't that be something?
---
But that would have required out of the Box Thinking.
Not W's strong suit.

11/18/2006 05:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Bush Continuing To Enable Terrorism"

11/18/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"If Israel's problem is that it can't get away from Gaza, Lebanon, Sinai and the West Bank -- even if it wanted to, the problem is replicated on a global scale for America, with the region standing in place of the disputed territories. You want to withdraw but you can't."

Slaughter or surrender (which leads to our slaughter soon after). Slaughter now or slaughter later; later means more. Not a time for squeamishness as squeamishness means later means more slaughter.

We did not choose this. We have not set the ultimate rule (slaughter or surrender). We MUST play by it, however. Packer is surrender, which is not surprising; he has the correct provenance for it.

11/18/2006 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Life is so strange when its changin', yes indeed
Well I've seen the hard times and the pressure's been on me
But I keep on workin' like the workin' man do
And I've got my act together, gonna walk all over you

(chorus)
Gimme back my bullets
Put 'em back where they belong
Ain't foolin' around 'cause I done had my fun
Ain't gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back my bullets

Sweet talkin' people done ran me out of town
And I drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around
But I'm leavin' this game one step ahead of you
And you will not hear me cry 'cause I do not sing the blues

(chorus)
Gimme back my bullets
Put 'em back where they belong
Ain't foolin' around 'cause I done had my fun
Ain't gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets
Oh, put 'em back... where they belong

Been up and down since I turned seventeen
Well I've been on top, and then it seems I lost my dream
But I got it back, I'm feelin' better everyday
Tell all those pencil pushers, better get out of my way

(chorus)
Gimme back my bullets
Put 'em back where they belong
Ain't foolin' around, 'cause I done had my fun
Ain't gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets
Oh put 'em back where they belong
Gimme back my bullets

Allen Collins -- Ronnie Van Zant

11/18/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

doug said:

This is the path he will take to build his popularity and create a new legacy. If the Democrats let him. It would be in their interests, so I think maybe they will.

It's not possible, Doug. They've built up such a reservoir of hatred that getting soft on Bush is now the ultimate political heresy. Look what they did to Fighting Joe Lieberman.

11/18/2006 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

So Packer is saying that defeat in Iraq will be bad for the Iraqis and bad for us? Gosh, who could have known?

Whatever happened to everything will be fine if only we'd just retreat to Okinawa?

11/18/2006 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"Look what they did to Fighting Joe Lieberman."

Again, what happened to Joe Lieberman was wholly a product of CT Democrat Party internal politics. It was done with the tacit blessing of the 2 men in the state who run ,all Democrat politics: Chris Dodd and the Dem party chairman. They have hated, but tolerated, Joe Lieberman for 18 years. The Lamont campaign was an exercise in the ritual humiliation of a Dem apostate; whether Lamont won or lost, it's purpose was served, though Lieberman losing would have been preferrable to the CT Dems (i.e. Dodd).

11/18/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/18/2006 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Wretchard,

We could debate for hours the wisdom of concentrating on secular, Arab nationalist, Saddam Hussein while Saudi and Pakastani madrassas continued to produce Islamic militants unmolested. If Saddam were still in power perhaps he would have by now somehow stirred up an even bigger mess in the region. What is beyond debate though is that the US Administration most hostile to the UN has committed the classic geo-political blunder that usually only overpaid UN Secretary Generals are incompetent enough to make: inserting a force inadequate for the job into a conflict zone between multiple indigenous factions who don’t particularly want any peace kept. That has to be the most demoralizing situation for any soldier to face; at least that’s what I’ve been told by a Belgian veteran of the Rwanda mission in the early Nineties. If Saddam had stirred up trouble and our soldiers were faced with say evicting him from Jordan some similar mission at least that is something they are trained for and would excel at. But to force our troops to play blue helmets while taking fire from a combination of Sunnis, Sadrists, and Iranian Shia is a moral sapping disaster. In the end, almost always, the peacekeepers are either withdrawn or slaughtered, and all the energy and sincere sentiments that were expended trying to avoid war are forgotten as the combatants finally get to settle their differences on the field of battle. I see no reason why Iraq will not follow the same course.

The one conflict that has never been allowed to burn to a climax, where one side is definitively vanquished and who must then submit to the victor is the Israeli / Arab conflict. The only thing accomplished by all this peacekeeping is that the ultimate conflagration will burn all the brighter.

11/18/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Unfortunately articles of this type have lately been "preaching to the choir", part of a situation in which the two sides talk past each other instead of talking to each other. I believe that the odds of being forced to withdraw early from Iraq are very small, but articles like this increase the problem.

The two sides I refer to are not pro-war and pro-peace, but pro-status quo and pro-change, where status quo means continuing to fight in Iraq and the global war on terror (GWOT) exactly as we are now. The pro change group is divided into an anti-war part, a fight-the-war-better group, and undecideds who are looking for more information. So in the back of their minds the pro-status quo crowd assumes that their approach to fighting the war is perfect and could not possibly be improved.

The main reason there is a push for withdrawal is that the pro-status quo crowd not only hasn't proved their case, but refuses to even try. This may not be intentional, but because in their minds the pro status quo people see the world as divided simply into two groups: pro-war on terror and those who don't get it.

Needless to say, this "my way or the highway" unconscious attitude does not help convince the undecideds to support the war instead of turning against it. It prevents the very discussion which could bring America to a stronger consensus supporting the GWOT. It also prevents the GWOT and Iraq war from being improved and fought better, which is what the fight-the-war better group wants. It creates what is considered unacceptable in any system of management, that the people fighting the war become unaccountable.

The articles and discussion I am referring to use a technique commonly called "preaching to the choir", which more formally is the logical fallacy of "begging the question", along with other related fallacies. The bottom line is that the pro-status quo crowd never attempts to prove their case, but assumes it too be true, often in a tricky way like by silently assuming something else which is questionable and really needs to be debated.

The best way to show this is for me to extract some comments from the article and write what goes through my mind as I read it. I am in the undecided camp, leaning towards fight-the-war better. I particularly believe that the global war on terror has been defined improperly by the status quo people, something which makes us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, not less. (I don't have access to the whole pay-per-view article).

> George Packer argues .., that America now has no option but to accept defeat in Iraq

This sounds absurd to me and absolutely false. It doesn't even come close to reflecting the political situation. The votes are not nearly there to withdraw, not even close. The reality is that the pro-status quo group hasn't even begun to make their case, so there is no reason to assume they will lose the argument. Instead of making their case, the pro-status quo group, perhaps subconsciously, feeds back to everyone else that they (incorrectly) believe that:

- Anyone who doesn't agree with us is a stooge of the terrorists
- Anyone who wants to keep a closer eye on the politicians leading the war hates the troops
- Anyone who wonders if the GWOT or Iraq could be fought better doesn't realize that we are at risk from terrorists
- Anyone who questions the status quo is "weak" and "soft", someone who forgot about 9/11 already

So if there is a real risk of withdrawal, one major reason is because the pro-status quo people haven't made their case, that we must continue fighting the war exactly the way it is.

> George Packer argues .., that America now has no option but to accept defeat in Iraq

The second comment that comes to mind when I see this is that George Packer doesn't get it. He doesn't realize that the only reason we could have defeat is if we let pro-status quo people like him expand the scope of the war to include things it never had and shouldn't have. It isn't our job to police Iraq, to fight their civil war, or to make all the Iraqis love each other.

By contrast, General Azibaid gets it:
"It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon us to do this work," Abizaid said. "I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future."


The General knows that the biggest problem now is that the Iraqis are dragging their feet. The problem is the Iraqis, not us, which is why the General says we won't be defeated, while the author of the article we are discussing sees defeat.

Packer sees defeat only because he imagines a war with the improper scope, a war in which we are the police force of Iraq, in which the US is responsible and shamed every time one Iraqi shoots another, and in which we will promise to prevent all violence in Iraq forever, regardless of how long the Iraqis sit on our hands. This country will not fight Packer's absurd war, and neither will we withdraw from the real war, therefore we will not be defeated.

> Withdrawal means that the United States will have to watch Iraqis die in ever greater numbers without doing much of anything to prevent it,

As I said above, I don't believe we will withdraw. Thanks to us the Iraqis now have freedom, and if they choose to use that freedom to kill each other, it's not our problem. There are civil conflicts all over the world, and the US & other countries can do little more than watch.

As General Azibaid said in the quote above, we are at the limit of what we can do for Iraq. It does not help for us to keep fighting their battles for them, or to put even more US troops in.

> If the United States leaves Iraq, our last shred of honor and decency will require us to save as many of these Iraqis as possible.

Continuing the discussion from above, I don't believe we are leaving Iraq, but I see absolutely no reason why our honor or decency requires us to stop Iraqis from killing each other, when we don't do that for any other country in the world.

Packer is totally wrong about this, which is why he see the possibility of defeat. He wants us to be the police force of Iraq instead of simply training the Iraqis to protect themselves, and then moving to the sidelines to allow the Iraqis to work out their own future in freedom.

Although he doesn't intend it, Packer is playing into the hands of Al Qaeda, weakening the US, increasing the chances of a politically forced withdrawal, and increasing the chances of terrorist attack on the US. He ends up wanting to put the united states at risk just because he can't stomach watching the Iraqis kill each other. Indeed, the status quo group often says that America wants to withdraw because we can't stomach seeing US troops dying, yet ironically their approach ends up increasing US casualties and our risk of losing the war solely because we don't want to see Iraqis dying!

IMO that is the fundamental question facing the US: are we strong enough to get tough with the iraqis by (1) continuing to stay in Iraq and (2) continuing to transfer fighting duties to the Iraqis even if that means more of them die?

Because making the mistake of sending in more troops and continuing to fight the iraqi's battles increases our chance of failure in the war. As the General said, the Iraqis will just keep depending on us. Why should they die for their country if we are willing to do it? This increases our casualties and prevents us from ever reaching our goal of transferring the fighting duties to the Iraqis. It leads the Cindy Sheehans of the world to say that the war is a quagmire, we have no exit stategy, that every Iraqi who falls is a failure by the US, and that the situation is hopeless. Packer is helping Sheehan by pushing us into a no-win war, instead of the real one we set out to fight.

This whole situation seems absurd, and reminds me of a scene in the comedy "Blazing Saddles". In the scene a sheriff who is surrounded and about to be shot talks his way out by holding a gun to his head and saying he will shoot himself unless he is released!

In some ways Iraq is trying to do the same thing. Iraqi sunnis and shiites, mostly from organized groups, are killing each other daily, and demanding that the US leave the country. One US group says that we will withdraw rather than watch the Iraqis shoot each other. The other US group also doesn't want to watch the Iraqis shoot each other, but says that we will use our troops to try and stop the Iraqis from shooting each other!

My attitude is different, to hell with the Iraqis, and let's do what is best for the US. We should not withdraw from Iraq because the Iraqis have formed a suicide pact to kill each other, and neither should we take the blame for their actions or promise that we will always intervene to stop them.

> This is going to be different because the enemy will pursue right back to mainstreet USA. Perhaps even on the tide of refugees that will be sure to ensue.

This statement, IMO, is horribly flawed. The unspoken assumption seems to be either that every Muslim is a global terrorist, a threat to the united states, or that most of the fighting in Iraq involves global terrorists.

The reality is that almost all the fighting in Iraq is a civil war fought by people who are not a threat to us. Even though sunni and shiite groups do kill civilians from the other side, a form of terrorism, that does not mean they are global terrorists and a threat to the US. Sadly, such local terrorism, killing civilians in a civil war, takes place all over the world, not only in Muslim countries.

Packer seems to believe in what I think of as the V-GWOT, the vast global war on terror, based on Hillary Clinton once referring to a "vast" right-wing conspiracy. V-GWOT people see a terrorist under every bush and behind every tree, and every group and every battle fought in a Muslim country to be part of the vast global terrorist network.

The status quo, vast GWOT group often makes analogies to past US wars, usually about not retreating, but strangely always omit discussion of the Cold War, the one which seems closest to the real GWOT. Even though the Cold War went hot in Korea and Vietnam, that was rare and it instead was fought with special forces or most commonly by political / economic but non-military means.

IMO this is even more true in a war on terrorism in which even a few Islamic terrorists could attack the US: the GWOT will be won more by economic, political, and propaganda techniques than by military action, just as the cold war was. Assuming that every Muslim is a terrorist won't help win the real GWOT, but will hurt it. Using military action where other means are more appropriate will hurt the GWOT.

11/18/2006 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger istarious said...

My complaint on the Iraq war is that’s too expensive. Too many troops and not enough thought given in how to use them. US troops should've been withdrawn the moment it was understood the Iraqi WoMD threat is no longer a reality.

11/18/2006 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

wretchard said...
The idea that if one had somehow not toppled Saddam the alternate universe would have been better is a supposition not entirely supported by the history of the region.

Ah, but neither is it entirely refuted, especially when you factor in another aspect of Middle East regional history: that of the failures of Western colonialism and democracy. There are too many factors to say, with any accuracy, how the Middle East would have turned out without the American invasion. What we can say -- with the benefit of the past couple years -- is that using history as a guide would point to the many fallacies and illusions of a successful American transformation of the Mid-East based on Liberal Colonialism.

Wu Wei said...
Unfortunately articles of this type have lately been "preaching to the choir", part of a situation in which the two sides talk past each other instead of talking to each other.

Well that's the burned audience of the New Republic. George Packer is a flaming liberal, he's even written a book about his family called "The Blood of Liberals" and he was an ardent supporter of the war until it all drifted sideways . . . in late '04. His history of engagement with the war goes way back, and shows the liberal/neoconservative alliance that helped to sell the war, a group that has largely abandoned it now. Pick up Packer's "The Assasins Gate" to learn of the liberal ideas, the Wilsonian agenda, behind the Iraq War, for he broke bread with all the Neocons.

Wu Wei . . .
Thanks to us the Iraqis now have freedom, and if they choose to use that freedom to kill each other, it's not our problem.

Well of course it's our problem . . . if we stay! We still have that Status of Forces agreement arranged through the UN and are suppossed to provide security for the new Shia Islamofascist government, a government of which large parts are illegaly slaughtering its own citizenry. Wu Wei, our stated objective, through Ambassador Khalilzad, is to get the Sunni and Shi'a to play nice, to lay down their arms and take up pacific governance. Ergo, a civil war is a huge problem for our stated objectives. It's also our problem if we get caught in the crossfire. How can you say otherwise?

Wu wei said . . .
I am in the undecided camp, leaning towards fight-the-war better.

Fight the war better on whose behalf? On whose side? Wu Wei, do you support the corrupt, Islamist front government of Maliki, even though you know it's allied with Sadr and SCIRI? If not, then on whose behalf do you think we should fight for in Iraq? The Sunnis? The Shiite "moderates" who have imposed Sharia and death squads in the South? Before we can chart a path to victory, we need attainable goals and a cause or a people to fight for.

As Wretchard admits:
Given that there is no way out then the logical thing to do is to find a path to victory within the framework of US national interest. Now I couldn't say how this can be achieved only that it has to be achieved by exclusion of the alternatives.

Well, Wretchard, start parsing off alternatives from that stick you hold, and when you've whittled it all away, wave around your empty hands and declare "Victory!"

11/18/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Thrasymachus said...

I don't understand why it's inevitable that the advocates of democracy and human rights will be murdered out of existence, rather than the Islamists. Maybe we need to give the democrats guns and bomb making materials and explain to them the best thing they can do for democracy and human rights is kill the Islamists, kill their families, kill their friends, kill anyone even slightly sympathetic to them. Posting videos on the internet of Islamists being tortured and killed or hanging their mutilated and burned bodes from lampposts would be optional, but would add a delightful frisson to the whole process.

The truth is the war against Communism was won at least as much by people like Roberto D'Aubuisson as people like Lech Walesa.

11/18/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Clearly what we've attempted to do in Iraq has been a failure, but I'm not sure if it's a failure because democracy won't work in the Middle East, or if it's something else we need to be trying to wrap our minds around. I'm pretty sure it hasn't been a failure on the part of our military.

Iraqi's have been unable to pick up the mantle of civilization that we tried to give to them. One reason for that may be because they're simply too traumatised from living under Saddam for decades. That strikes me as unlikely, however, in that other traumatized people have managed to pull it together after war and get on with building their lives. I'm thinking here of Germany after Hitler, and even Russia after both Lenin and Stalin where they went toe-to-toe with us *and* managed to be first to explode into space.

So it seems to me that we *must* look at the Muslim psyche as formed by memorization of the Koran and thousands of years of their own ineptitude to see why we are failing in our attempt to bring democracy to the Middle East, and why Arabs are failing in *their* attempt to become civilized.

Pre-9/11 we knew nothing of Islam nor of Muslims, but were content to let them play with their camels and turn away so they wouldn't see us laughing at them while we mouthed platitudes about the importance of multiculturalism.

Now, in the last four-plus years, a lot of us have been studying not only the religion of Islam, but also the effects trying to live within its strictures have upon human beings. And those effects ain't pretty. What have we learned since 9/11 about Muslims that would have a bearing upon what we're trying to do in Iraq?

1. Arabs absolutely will NOT take responsibility for their own actions. That means they are content to live with sewage in the streets, no electricity, and the sure and simple knowledge that every other man walking down the street is instantly recognizable as being from another country and therefore a terrorist. That seems to be fine with them.

(b) A corrollary to this is just because a lot of people turn out for an election and vote on something does *not* mean that a consensus will then be formed and the thing voted on will be worked towards. For some reason in the Middle East, elections happen all the time, but the same people keep getting re-elected and the same problems keep re-occurring. There has never been one single instance in all 22 countries of the Middle East where an election occasioned the same sort of change as just happened in America with relatively small and unimportant midterm elections. Indeed, the Arabs expect applause and rewards for electing a bunch of terrorists like Hamas, evidently on the grounds that at least they got together and counted right.

2. Arabs pay lots and lots and lots of attention to subjective stuff like honor and humiliation. And they can find humiliation *every* where, including in architect's drawings for a new building for Apple in NYC. This seems immensely counterproductive, but maybe we could channel the fear of humiliation into something beneficial for what we're trying to do. I wonder how Mr. Maliki would feel, for example, if he were to become the very first Prime Minister in Iraq ever to be impeached (which might be infinitely worse than being merely assassinated, which seems to be happening to all the right people).

3. Arabs are absolutely mesmerized by Israel and the Jews. They'd much rather starve to death today and thirst to death tomorrow than engage in trade with Israel and become rich. It makes absolutely no sense to an American, but there it is. Live with it.

4. Arabs are scared to death of women. Therefore, women must be costumed, hidden, beaten regularly, and raped occasionally so that everyone understands what their place is. It's also alright to kill a woman if it's done in public to make a statement. Arab men tell us this is done because they love their women so much - which is just as good an example of the lies they tell as anything is.

5. Arab women see nothing much wrong with these attitudes, and place a great deal of pride upon their ability to birth multiple children. No one seems to worry too much if those children then die of hunger or disease, nor is any planning whatsoever done to educate them or make a better life for them.

(b) Of course, this not planning for their children is OK, since if the kid *does* live past infancy, chances are excellent that the best it can hope to grow up to become is a suicide bomber once it's old enough to walk and push a button at the same time. Neither Arab mothers, nor fathers, nor their children ever aspire to anything more because there are NO role models for Arabs to want to grow up and become like; there are no Arab rocket scientists, no Arab economists, no Arab brain surgeons, no Arab military hero's or generals, there isn't even an Arab oil rigger like Tex Adair - someone famous for bringing in gushers and knowing how to make oil spout and stop. Nothing for a little Arab kid to grow up and become famous for except a pedophile pervert prophet or Mohammad Atta ... Arabs produce the world's best terrorists.

All in all, it seems to me that we need to consider Iraq as a kindergarten, rather than a nation of grown-up adults willing to partner with us to build them a better life. If we decide to stay in Iraq, we need to teach them from the ground up, things like sharing, and telling the truth, and respect for the other. All the things their culture as Arabs and as Muslims has significantly failed to teach them, which seems to me to be very contributory towards our failure (and theirs) to successfully nation-build there.

We've been trying to teach them how to be better soldiers and police officers and oil well drillers, but if you're dealing with a bunch of amoral uneducated juvenile delinquents who think that martyrdom is groovy-cool, how can we *possibly* succeed in creating a sophisticated, multi-layered, intertwining 21st Century country and tolerant culture?

11/18/2006 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Thrasymachus said...
I don't understand why it's inevitable that the advocates of democracy and human rights will be murdered out of existence, rather than the Islamists.

That's easy. There's hardly any democrats of significant political or military weight in Iraq. Take a look at the list of the Iraqi parties that won seats in parliament in '05. Then do just a little research on them. The dominant parties are Shiite Islamists, Sunni Islamists and Kurdish separatists, and you can't hold a state together with that. We have no allies that command a significant social base. In times of prolonged anarchy people turn to the armed ogranizations that can provide food and substinence. This is not a time for pro-Western liberal parties, but Leninists with an Islamic agenda. If you disagree, then by all means, point out a liberal, democratic, secular party in Iraq that has an armed wing and is gaining in popularity. If you can't do this, then what, or who, are you REALLY supporting?

11/18/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Wu Wei, commenting on W, sez:

> This is going to be different because the enemy will pursue right back to mainstreet USA. Perhaps even on the tide of refugees that will be sure to ensue.

This statement, IMO, is horribly flawed. The unspoken assumption seems to be either that every Muslim is a global terrorist, a threat to the united states, or that most of the fighting in Iraq involves global terrorists.


The only ones who have ever made such all-inclusive remarks are Islamofascists like Osama, in his 90's fatwas, and any number of clerics who have declared the same.

But then we saw the cheering crowds as our troops' bodies were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, we saw the Palestinians' dancing to celebrate the 9/11 attacks, we've seen the decades of endless attacks on Israel, and you start thinking maybe Osama's on something....

Slightly off-topic, the news comes out today that Jose Padilla was caught due to information from high-level Al Qaeda captives. So, he wasn't just locked up for no reason, simply because he was a Muslim, denied his Constitutional rights and all that.

While the Cold War is the best analogy for the timeline of this war, it's a poor analogy because of the central role that governments played, and the role that Communism played as an alternative to capitalism and free societies. In this case, we seem to be fighting the people themselves, not just their governments and ideology. Iraq is proving to the American voting public that all of our good intentions will go nowhere in such populations. As in the apocryphal story of the North Vietnamese cutting off the arms of villagers that Americans had recently innoculated with vaccines, there seems to be a desperate, determined battle to hold on to what seems to us to be a disease.

It's good that the Democrats were elected, now we can see a broader range of options. And after Bush leaves office, the war won't be over, and the war will be blamed on Bush, but someday the West may wake up. Just as "education" doesn't reduce the murder rate in American cities, "nation-building" may not be the cure the neo-cons were sure it would be.

What then?

11/18/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

Al-Qaeda: Kill the Christians

Retreat, how far? to our root cellars? Bull Shit.

An al-Qaeda manual made a surprise reappearance on October 31st in a new repackaged, reformatted edition on an online jihadi forum associated with the terrorist organization. The manual, A Guide for the Undecided on the Legitimacy of Killing Christians, (Irshad al-Hayara fi Ibahat Dimaa al-Nasara) made its first appearance back in September 2002, published by the al-Qaeda “think tank,” the now defunct Center for Islamic Research and Study, in their bi-weekly magazine, Sawt al-Jihad (The Voice of Jihad). Translated excerpts from the 56-page manual, authored by Hafid Abu-Basir, are available from the Site Institute.

But republication of this manual in a new format has counter-terrorism officials concerned that it’s re-release might be a sign of forthcoming terror attacks directed at Americans. In Chapter 15 of the document, Abu-Basir offers encouragement to dispirited Muslims that fresh attacks against the American infidels are forthcoming:

"Beloved ones, I bring you the great, joyful news, which is the coming attack in America, with the permission of Allah, in a new wonderful method. America will be shocked once more, and this time Bush of the infidels will cry again."

The Guide for the Undecided is an extensive theological warrant deeply rooted in Quranic and Hadith sources for the killing of Americans based on what the author alleges are historical wrongs committed by America against Muslims worldwide. An entire section of the work, “Al-Umariyah Conditions,” (Chapter 9) is dedicated to explaining that the only proper role for Christians and Jews are as subjected and submissive dhimmis – legal non-persons. It also provides justification for attacks directed at Muslim allies and Islamic governments working with the U.S. government and thoroughly rejects any coexistence with America.

The republication of this manual follows just weeks after an al-Qaeda-linked website released a manual by Egyptian Mohammed Khalil Al-Hakaymah, How to Fight Alone, a how-to guide for Muslims to conduct their own “Jihad of One” against the “Crusader-Zionists.” A brief analysis of al-Hakaymah’s manual by Geostrategy describes his instructions on how lone Muslims can take the battle to the infidels:

The recommended methods include stabbing, feeding overdoses of cocaine or heroin, injecting air via needles, assassination with guns, burning down homes, putting poisonous snakes in cars, tampering with car brakes, planting explosives in vehicles, running over people, and luring people and then killing them.

The book also highly recommends poisoning targets and includes various methods of preparing and obtaining lethal toxins, including botulism. The book also gives instructions on making improvised explosives.

Al-Hakaymah is playing a more visible role in the global jihad, attested to by none other than al-Qaeda number two man, Ahman al-Zawahiri, who praised his fellow Egyptian by name in a video statement released on August 5th. As counter-terrorism analyst Chris Zambelis explained in the October 10th and October 24th editions of TerrorismFocus, al-Hakaymah is playing a crucial role for al-Qaeda in breaking away from the Egyptian Islamic Group (Gama’a al-Islamiyya), who has criticized al-Qaeda and moderated their stand towards the Mubarak regime, and forging an alliance between his splinter group, Those Who Stand Firm for the Covenant (al-Thabeton ala al-Ahad), to utilize violence against infidels and Muslims rejecting al-Qaeda’s vision of global jihad alike.

Since the public acknowledgement of al-Hakaymah by Zawahiri, a number of instruction manuals and statements by al-Hakaymah have been posted online, including How to Fight Alone. One manual that has drawn considerable interest by intelligence agencies is the 151-page, The Myth of Delusion: Exposing the American Intelligence, which relies on a number of open source analyses to present a picture of U.S. intelligence institutions and methods. A complete translation of the work is available.

“The Myth of Delusion” is a critically important document, in that it expresses a conspiratorial worldview where U.S. intelligence is governed by a cabal of conservative think tanks, South Korean intelligence, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Texas oil interests, and – of course – the Israeli lobby (oddly, not much unlike anything you can find on several prominent American leftist blogs).

But its importance lies especially in the real-world advice offered to jihadis on evading detection by Western signals intelligence agencies by using disposable cell phones and avoiding the use of certain key-phrases to escape notice by the National Security Agency’s ECHELON system. As Jeff Stein of Congressional Quarterly recently noted, the manual also advises with stunning detail various CIA investigative techniques and the management of operatives.

All of these manuals, Abu Basir’s A Guide for the Undecided, al-Hakaymah’s How to Fight Alone and The Myth of Delusion, form an integral part of the burgeoning global jihad apparatus. Norwegian terrorism researcher Thomas Hegghammer has appropriately dubbed this genre “jihadi strategic studies,” which combines theological explication, military strategy, theory and planning, and practical how-to advice to guide the next generation of the global jihad movement.

This is what adds to the concern of counter-terrorism officials in the U.S. who see manuals, such as A Guide for the Undecided, which justifies violence against American civilians. Not only might this document itself and its recent reappearance anticipate terror attacks inside the U.S. in the near-term; but in the long-term, it serves as a template of terror that is intended to be followed by generations of followers advancing the global Islamic jihad. The growing library of jihadi strategic studies envisions violent confrontation with the West until the submission of the West under the green flag of Islam is made a reality.

Fight 'em there or fight 'em here. Personally I'd like to see us fight them there.

11/18/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

I'm surprised that anyone would hint that Iraq is worse off now than before Saddam. They still had the civil war back then, Saddam's government was the civil war gassing Kurds and Shiites by the tens of thousands. The difference was that Shiites and to some extent the Kurds were trapped under sunni tyranny, rape rooms, torture, etc. while now each side has about equal strength. Now if the sunnis attack or torture another group they get it right back.

Also Iraq now has free speech and a democracy as tools to work out their differences without fighting. These tools have already helped in dampening the fighting down.

I also don't buy the view that Iraq is a failure or that the future is pessimistic. What is happening in Iraq is normal, moving through typical stages in a case like this. Considering that one group ruled the others by force and torture, it always was unlikely that the road to peace and a consolidated government would be perfectly smooth.

It is inevitable that the Iraqi civil war will end. They'll get tired of fighting, and come to a stale mate. Perhaps there will be a partition, and perhaps 2 or 3 of the groups will combine together or maybe all three major groups will separate.

> our stated objective, through Ambassador Khalilzad, is to get the Sunni and Shi'a to play nice

Our objectives were defined by law, after full public debate in Congress, before the shooting began:

AUTHORIZATION.—The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.


There is nothing there about making the Iraqis "play nice". I can't imagine why anyone would set such a goal or why we would stake the reputation of the United States on whether two groups within Iraq agree with each other. Even if we agreed to such a thing, would it be an everlasting commitment, that we would take responsibility for getting every faction in Iraq to agree until the end of time? Trying to do this would require tryanny, making Iraq a colony, and that's what we said we would never do.

Instead, what we agreed to do in a UN resolution was to give Iraqis the tools to defend Iraq and work towards peace. This is the basic obligation of a conquering country under the laws of war. We have given the Iraqis a constitution, democratic elections, safe places in which to negotiate, and protection from external invasion while they work out a peace agreement. This is more than enough.

After a meeting of the US Constitutional Convention a citizen supposedly asked Benjamin Franklin what form of government the Founders would give the citizens. Franklin replied,

"A republic if you can keep it".

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDhmMWFhNTMwZmJhODIxYzFhNWZjMjYxZTY4OTU1Zjk=

Charles Krauthammer wrote a recent column on this which begins:

We have given the Iraqis a republic and they do not appear able to keep it.

Americans flatter themselves that they are the root of all planetary evil. Nukes in North Korea? Poverty in Bolivia? Sectarian violence in Iraq? Breasts are beaten and fingers pointed as we try to somehow locate the root cause in America.

Our discourse on Iraq has followed the same pattern. Where did we go wrong? Too few troops? Too arrogant an occupation? Or too soft? ... the root problem lies with Iraqis and their political culture.


> It's also our problem if we get caught in the crossfire.

Clearly, but our troops know how to take care of themselves. If our forces stayed in Iraq in defensive positions without attempting to keep the peace, our casualties would drop near zero. That is why it is not necessary for us to leave Iraq, just to get the Iraqs to police their own country.

11/18/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

No, no, no wu wei
They will not "get tired" come to a "stalemate". That is not the historical norm.

The Civil War will be over when the Sunni are gone, from Iraq. Not 'til then.
That is why the Sauds are building their fence. That is why the Jordanians are concerned, why Mr Kissinger is at the White House on a weekly basis.

The Sunni are migrating out of Iraq at the rate of 2 or 3,000 per week. The rate will accelerate, the Sunnis cleansed from Iraq.

That is the outcome the Shia are interested in and will be the Policy of the Iraqi Federal Government when it has control of the Iraqi Army.

That's what the roadsigns are sayin', they have not been wrong, yet.

11/18/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

wretchard, your whole thesis in this post revolves around:

"Given that there is no way out then the logical thing to do is to find a path to victory..."

This is only true in the sense that we cannot escape our planet, all else is up for grabs. The US military can certainly withdraw from Iraq, it does not then follow that the war will follow to US shores. This is part of the grand conflation from the beginning of this conflict, that somehow it is just a battle in the war against terrorism. It is not. The Iraq conflict has dimensions specific to Iraq and the middle east that have little to do with US. It only has to do with US because we have firmly planted our military in the middle of their conflict. The sheer fact that we have troops in their land is enough for many of them to attack US, as they have done to many a foreign power throughout history. Terrorism will not end if we vacate Iraq nor if we stay in Iraq, that is a different issue entirely.

11/18/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The Civil War will be over when the Sunni are gone, from Iraq.

If this happens it will still be a conclusion, so the fighting won't go on forever. What if the shiites chased the sunnis out of another Islamic country, one where we didn't have based? We would just deal with the results.

What the Iraqis do to each other can never be our fault. In this specific case, the Sunnis have no one to blame for their problems besides themselves. They could have had, and probably still can have, peace just by asking for it. For the first two years after we liberated Iraq, everyone besides the sunnis wanted peace, but the sunnis began attacking their fellow Iraqis as well as the US coalition. Finally after two years of seeing their civilians killed by sunni sponsored foreign terrorists, the shiites started fighting back.

If the sunnis want to stay in Iraq, then they should stop bombing shiite weddings, killing shiite bakers, etc.

11/18/2006 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

NahnCee wrote
Clearly what we've attempted to do in Iraq has been a failure

Please show me how it is a failure. I know you can't. And I know you are only parroting sound bites from the "hate Bush" Media.
Will it become true if you say it enough?

There's a brilliant bit of triangulation in the works, but most Americans can't see it. Ignorance of Islam and a mindless MSM, I suspect.

Islam is unified in core theology, but fractured organizationally into the two major divisions Sunni and Shiite, much the same as Protestant and Catholic in Christendom.

Sharia law (Islamic legal system) has evolved slowly largely in response to Islam's decline in the face of Western civilization's gains.

In general, the more "westernized" the application of Sharia law, the more prosperous the people in the 20th century. The Islamic world is seriously divided into the "haves" and "have nots".

The 1700's saw the birth of a fundamentalist movement known as Wahhabism, strong in Saudia Arabia, Quatar and W.Iraq. Appart from oil, Wahhabism would likely vanish.

Wahhabism does not use Sharia law, as developed by Sunni and Shia legalists, but instead relys on interpeting the words of Mohammed directly for guidance. Wahhabists view Sunnis and Shia's as heretics. Wahhabists don't watch TV or listen to the radio - very isolated from ideas. Osama is a Wahhabist. Kind of like the Amish but without a penchant for slitting throats.

So we have two groups with bad blood who make up 99% of those involved. Then we have a 3rd group convinced the other two groups are going to hell, propped up by oil, that has provided the religious justification for hyper-violent organizations like Al-Qaeda.

Along comes Bush the younger who topples the dictatorship and forms a democratically elected republic in its place. A new model for the region offering an attractive alternative. A clear distinction between the opportunity of the "haves" versus the intellectual retreat of the "have nots". Bloody brilliant I would say.

Iraqi Muslims don't have to starting eating bacon or listening to Madonna to enjoy a 21st century democracy. But at some point they must realize that fighting over the Sunni, Shia and Wahhabist issues will just leave them dead and "have nots". Bacon and Madonna will continue. And a little girl will ask "Why don't we vacation in Afganistan Daddy?".

11/18/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> This is part of the grand conflation from the beginning of this conflict, that somehow it is just a battle in the war against terrorism

This is a key question, and it gives a specific example of what I talked about earlier.

One side of the Iraq debate, including President Bush, argues along the lines of:

There is a global terrorist network
Which caused 9/11
Iraq is part of it
So we must "win" in Iraq
Anyone who believes otherwise is mistaken and weakens the global war on terror

However, that doesn't answer the arguments of the other side, which are:
We also believe in the global war on terror (GWOT)
And we don't want another 9/11
But most of the current phase of the Iraqi war has nothing to do with the GWOT
Troops which are fighting non-GWOT battles in Iraq are not available for real GWOT duties
Broadening the war to non-GWOT duties like fighting Iraqi civil wars opens us up to defeat and makes us look vulnerable, which could invite terrorist attacks

I think we need a national debate in which we discuss the best ways to fight terrorists, and come to a consensus about Iraq. Key is that each side answers the arguments of the other, instead of merely repeating their own opinions.

11/18/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wu Wei said...
I'm surprised that anyone would hint that Iraq is worse off now than before Saddam.

Why? For thousands of Iraqis its true -- they were better off under Saddam, especially if they lived in Ramadi, Falluja, and Tikrit. Reporters like George Packer get told that all the time, and you can read about it in Packer's "The Assasin's Gate". Or try this one from Anthony Shadid entitled "This Is Baghdad, What Could Be Worse?":

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/27/AR2006102701487.html

Wu Wei said . . .
Also Iraq now has free speech and a democracy as tools to work out their differences without fighting. These tools have already helped in dampening the fighting down.

That's just crazy. There's no free speech in the South were the Shi'a Islamists have imposed Sharia and free speech for the Sunni Islamists means hate speech to kill the infidel. Guess who that is?


Wu Wei said . . .

Our objectives were defined by law, after full public debate in Congress, before the shooting began . . .
There is nothing there about making the Iraqis "play nice".


I agree as to the letter of the law, but that is not the spirit, and we ARE trying to get the Sunni and Shiite to cohere around a unity gov't and that effort is failing. If it was just the letter of the law, then we would have pulled out after the elections in Januray '05.

Wu Wei, you quote Krauthammer who wrote: We have given the Iraqis a republic and they do not appear able to keep it.

I agree. So then what the hell are we fighting for in Iraq. A war can not be just what you are fighting against, there must be something, some native constituecy, you are fighting for. Could you tell us what that is?

11/18/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> we ARE trying to get the Sunni and Shiite to cohere around a unity gov't

But this is foreign policy, not military. Our diplomats and those of other countries are involved all over the world encouraging warring groups to come to peace. By doing so, we increase the stability of the world, which reduces risk to ourselves. But if those groups continue to fight, the blame falls on them, not the rest of the world.

> So then what the hell are we fighting for in Iraq.

What our law says:

defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq

First of all we are taking direct action in Iraq against global terrorists, the kind who are targeting the US with missions like 9/11. We are fighting this battle not only in Iraq, but all over the world, wherever those global terrorists are. In most cases we fight only in the shadows with local forces and our special forces, but in the case of Iraq this action is visible.

Also, as I mentioned above, we are giving Iraqis the tools and training they need to defend themselves. This involves training and equipping the Iraqis, then joining them in joint missions until the Iraqis are self sufficient. Until the Iraqis reach that stage of being self sufficient, we are involved in stabilization of Iraq in the larger areas which the Iraqis cannot do yet. For example, we will not allow Iran or Syria to invade, nor will we allow one Iraqi group to totally destroy another.

This is all done out of self defense. One way or another, today's and tomorrow's global terrorists need to be eliminated from Iraq. The best way long term is for the Iraqis to do it themselves, so we are training them.

11/18/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wu Wei said...

But this is foreign policy, not military. Our diplomats and those of other countries are involved all over the world encouraging warring groups to come to peace. By doing so, we increase the stability of the world, which reduces risk to ourselves. But if those groups continue to fight, the blame falls on them, not the rest of the world.

Uh, nope, that doesn't work at all because it leaves out causality. The Shiite/Sunni civil war was brought about by the collapse of Saddam and the American invasion. That's why the Iraqis -- and the world -- blame us for the present chaos. Remember Colin Powell's "pottery barn" rules?

The military and diplomatic fronts are hopelessly intertwined, otherwise we would have left after our "Mission Accomplished" moment.

First of all we are taking direct action in Iraq against global terrorists, the kind who are targeting the US with missions like 9/11.

No, Wu Wei, you don't get it, not even the basics. We are supporting terrorism in Iraq: we are supporting the Islamofascist gov't of Maliki which includes the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Mokatada al-Sadr. Sadr/SCIRI and Dawa all openly support Hezbollah and are allied with Iran. Surely you know this?

Also, as I mentioned above, we are giving Iraqis the tools and training they need to defend themselves. This involves training and equipping the Iraqis, then joining them in joint missions until the Iraqis are self sufficient.

You seem to be unable to integrate new information that invalidates your old thinking. You cited the Krauthammer article in which he mentions that many of the Iraqis we are training are actually militia or death squad agents and that the Maliki gov't is a failure. If the Maliki gov't is a failure, then who are those Iraqi troops fighting for? What political structure are they plugged into, who are they loyal to? If they're loyal to the Shiite Islamists then were perpetuating our own defeat.

This is all done out of self defense. One way or another, today's and tomorrow's global terrorists need to be eliminated from Iraq.

How is it in our self-defense to be training and supporting a Shiite Islamofascist gov't? Can you explain that to me? If we are to be eliminating "global terrorists" then we should be taking out Maliki/Sadr/Badr, right? If we did that, then who would rule Iraq? I think like many BCers who can't face the politically reality of Iraq, that you've become dangerously confused; willing, in your ignorance, to support and die for your mortal enemy.

11/18/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The Shiite/Sunni civil war was brought about by the collapse of Saddam and the American invasion.

Not true, as I mentioned in detail above. As the UN resolutions show, Iraq was in a civil war before we arrived, with a sunni tyranny which slaughtered tens of thousands of shiites and kurds, sometimes with weapons of mass destruction. That was why the UN authorized a no-fly zone to protect the Kurds before we went into Iraq.

And by the way that is one of the reasons why our liberation of Iraq was a war of self-defense. Saddam continued to fire on our planes in the no-fly zone, even though we were there with the permission of the UN security council, and even after we tried milder military resoutions like destroying the bases with anti-aircraft weapons which were attacking us.

> we are supporting the Islamofascist gov't of Maliki

No, we are not taking sides or supporting anyone. The Iraqi people chose their government in an election, not us. In the Green Zone we provide a safe negotiating area for politicians and diplomats from any groups in iraq which want our protection.

We are a neutral mediatior giving the Iraqis a chance to choose peace and to stop killing each other. If they choose to continue to fight their civil war instead, that is their choice, not ours.

> If we are to be eliminating "global terrorists" then we should be taking out Maliki/Sadr/Badr, right?

I am not aware of any evidence these are global terrorists or Islamists. They seem to be local groups fighting for turf in Iraq, and sometimes using illegal killing of civilians, which is local terrorism.

> many of the Iraqis we are training are actually militia or death squad agents and that the Maliki gov't is a failure

If so, that is their choice. In a country being built from scratch, first there are individual soldiers with rifles, then militia groups, and finally a government army. If we exclude militias during stage 2, then we could never reach stage 3 of having an integrated country-wide army.

There is a similarity in Afghanistan where shortly after the war the country was just isolated warloads and local groups, not integrated. As time passed, some local control was given up and neighboring groups began working together and thinking of themselves as one.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and so neither will be unified Afghanistan or Iraq.

11/18/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> that the Maliki gov't is a failure

Democrats say the Bush government is a failure, as Republicans said the Clinton administration was a failure...

11/18/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wu Wei said...

Not true, as I mentioned in detail above. As the UN resolutions show, Iraq was in a civil war before we arrived, with a sunni tyranny which slaughtered tens of thousands of shiites and kurds, sometimes with weapons of mass destruction.

No, Iraq was not in an open civil war at the time of the invasion. Saddam crushed the Shiite Islamofascist rebellion in '91 and lost control of the Kurdish North. There was no open warfare at the time of the American invasion. Once we invaded it becmae our responsibility.

No, we are not taking sides or supporting anyone. The Iraqi people chose their government in an election, not us.

That's just crazy. Everyone knows we're supporting the Maliki gov't, listen to what the President said about him last month. You can't be serious. Meanwhile, the Shi'a death squads from the government we're supporting are exterminating Sunnis, and we get the blame as occupying power with a SoF agreement.

I am not aware of any evidence these are global terrorists or Islamists. They seem to be local groups fighting for turf in Iraq, and sometimes using illegal killing of civilians, which is local terrorism.

Now I know that you must be completely ignorant. Wu Wei, what are the goals of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the largest party of the United Iraqi Alliance which runs the unity govenrment? Does this give you a clue?

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2003/06/iraq-030604-rfel-164005.htm

What does it mean to you when a Shiite "Islamic Revolutionary" party seeks to impose Sharia (Islamic Order) on all of Iraq? What do you mean that you are not aware that Moktada al-Sadr is an Islamist? Are you joking or have you been locked in a basement for the last three years? Sadr tried two Islamic uprisings against the US! Killing over 100 of our own soldiers! You claim you've never heard of this? Unbelievable.

Are you aware of SCIRI and Dawa's deep alliance with the terror state of Iran or their open support of Hezbollah?

Democrats say the Bush government is a failure, as Republicans said the Clinton administration was a failure...

Yes, but now even Neocons like Charles Krauthammer are arguing that Maliki is a failure. In what ways do you think Maliki and his Islamofascist Dawa are successes?
The ignorance and delusion of some of the commentators on this blog is unbelievable.

11/18/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> No, Iraq was not in an open civil war at the time of the invasion. Saddam crushed the Shiite Islamofascist rebellion in '91 and lost control of the Kurdish North. There was no open warfare at the time of the American invasion. Once we invaded it becmae our responsibility.

Is this serious or satire? The only reason that there was no "open warfare at the time of the American invasion" was because every time the Shiites tried Saddam "crushed" them, to use your own words. Yet you make it sound like a bad thing that thanks to us the Shiites are now able to fight back instead of just staying in torment under Sunni tyranny. What you said proves my point, that it was a civil war long before we came.

Your note follows the argument form known as "arguing the negative". Point out all the negative consequences that happened from following Plan A, then imply that proves that Plan A and the people who implemented it screwed up. That hidden assumption, that bumbs along the way mean the situation was screwed up, it not true in real life however. Whichever course is taken, Plan A or B or C, in real life there will be problems and tradeoffs. The real human beings who are involved will make mistakes. None of that proves their actions or the choices they made were wrong. Life is not simple.

The current government of Iraq is secular. It has not forced the people of Iraq under Sharia.

> In what ways do you think Maliki and his Islamofascist Dawa are successes?

I really don't care, which was the point of talking about the democrats and republicans. It gets back to arguing the negative. They live and work in the real world. Life is too short for me to even think about whether the current governments of Iraq, France, Belgium, Portugal, etc. have failed.

11/18/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> No, Iraq was not in an open civil war at the time of the invasion. Saddam crushed the Shiite Islamofascist rebellion in '91 and lost control of the Kurdish North. There was no open warfare at the time of the American invasion. Once we invaded it becmae our responsibility.

This makes as much sense as:

No the concentration camp prisoners were not in open revolt against the Nazis at the time the US entered Germany. The Nazis had broken the last major prisoner rebellion several months before. There was no open resistance in the concentation camp at the time US entered the area. Once our solidiers entered the concentration camp to liberate it, the prisoners started rebelling against their Nazi captors. So it is our responsibility that the prisoners and Nazis were fighting.

11/18/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

Quoting Packer from the article:

"George Packer argues .., that America now has no option but to accept defeat in Iraq"

"If the United States leaves Iraq, our last shred of honor and decency will require us to save as many of these Iraqis as possible".

"Withdrawal means that the United States will have to watch Iraqis die in ever greater numbers without doing much of anything to prevent it"

this is Packer's mid-November '06
version of the perrenial script:

+ nothing is good enough.
+ it must be done perfectly,or not at all...ie perfection or paralysis.
+ if some metric of success is being achieved(in Iraq or Afghanistan) the criticism must shift to where effort is not being applied: ie North Korea
+ keep moving the goal posts until no metric is adequate to identify success or progress
+ and multiply the field of complaints to a large enough scope that no action is desirable or possible given (any) available resources.

Clearly,for the sake of it's future,America needs
to immediately put itself in the hands of George Packer.

11/18/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Alot of long winded treatises on this thread.After a good afternoon of watching Auburn beat Bama,I don't have the heart for it.My only thought is I would challenge anyone to show me how retreat from Iraq and leaving destruction and chaos behind in the land with thesecond biggest oil reserves in the world is not going to be detrimental to a helluva lot more than the natives.

11/18/2006 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/18/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Yet even with our soldiers there destruction and chaos reign, and our blood and treasure go out the window too. This is better how?

11/18/2006 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

Ash said...
Yet even with our soldiers there destruction and chaos reign, and our blood and treasure go out the window too. This is better how?

11/18/2006 07:12:36 PM

Ash -

if your outlook is nihilst
from the beginning,
there is no "better",
nor is there even a "how"?

in chanting "defeat"
you have already succeeded (with yourself),and are only disappointed that not all are prepared or anxious to agree with you.

so,says ash:

"the beatings will contiune,until morale improves".

11/18/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Wu Wei,

I find your analysis insightful and arguments compelling. Quality commentary such as yours are among the many reasons why I visit the Belmont Club. Thanks!

11/18/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wu Wei . . .
The current government of Iraq is secular. It has not forced the people of Iraq under Sharia.

Are you saying that you've never read anything at all about the imposition of Sharia throughout Southern Iraq? That Basra is a free and secular city? Who do you think is enforcing Sharia in the South, and why, in your book, hasn't SCIRI and Dawa stopped it? They object to it as the largest part of a "secular government" right? Please.

Wu Wei, just like your obvious ignorance of what SCIRI's well stated agenda is, you seem to have no knowledge of what's politically going on in Iraq. You can't claim to "not care" about whether Maliki's gov't is a failure and have anything meaningful to say about the future of Iraq.

11/19/2006 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger HV said...

Great comments Wu Wei. Hope you will comment more often (and certain others will comment less). Also liked Habu1's post. It had content!

11/20/2006 08:15:00 AM  

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