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October 12, 2006

Comments

Cecil Turner

If I'm reading this correctly, the most palatable proposal is to go hat-in-hand to the Europeans (and once again be told "no" I presume). If that's the best they can come up with, and the President is willing to sign off on it, might as well turn this thing over to the Dems. Somehow I doubt that's gonna fly.

davod

This guy gets on television and tells everyone that you have to talk with your enemies as well as your friends. Then tries to base his policies on talking with Syria, Saudi, Turkey? and presumably Iran, all of whom could not give a rats a.s about democracy in Iraq.

Back to the status quo. Now who can guess which of the available murdering thugs Baker and his Syrian, Iranian, Saudi and Turkish friends have settled on.

Toby Petzold

This is unspinnable.

The only thing I can think of that mitigates shit like this is that now the President's party will get to share the wealth with the Democrats in Congress and truly demonstrate the promise of the Ownership Society.

Neo

If this is it. Bush will reject their work.

TexasToast

If this is it. Bush will reject their work.

Perhaps, but Baker is awfully close to Bush's dog, Barney. Seems to me the purpose of this "Study Group" is to find a way out that saves face. The failure is apparant. Heaven forbid that someone accuses the President of "Cut and Run".

PS

I can see the myth 20 years from now - the democrats kept us from winning!

Pofarmer

So, who appointed this commission anyway? Or did I miss that?

SmokeVanThorn

Why would anyone want or take Baker's advice? What is his track record for success?

toxdoc

The Iraq study group is part of the US Institute for Peace. It's not really a presidential commision but, resulted from a congressional request. http://www.usip.org/isg/

hrtshpdbox

Now:
GHWB: C'mon, son, you remember how much Baker helped you when he made Warren Christopher look like Yoda in '00? Just listen to the guy.
GWB: Oh, alright, Dad.
Later:
JB: So that's what we've got, Mr. President - you need to forget all this democracy stuff, let's just get everybody to calm down a bit.
GWB: There's the door, Baker - don't let it hit you in ass on your way out.

Anonymous Liberal

This is a weird leak. Surely the people on the Commission are aware that if they frame their proposal as defeat, Bush will never go for it. So this was either leaked by people trying to score some quick points at the president's expense, or it was leaked by people who want to pre-spin the Commission report in a way that makes it very unlikely that the President will follow it. I'm not sure which is more likely, or who exactly would fall into the latter group.

Pofarmer

At the urging of Congress, the United States Institute of Peace is facilitating the bipartisan Iraq Study Group

From their web site.

This sounds to me more like these guys said, "Hey, we've got some ideas on Iraq. We'd like to do a study.(actually we've already done it, we just want to tell you what us old codgers think)."

Then, some staffers at some Senators offices said, "Yeah, whatever".

TexasToast

"All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever present perils of life"
.....
"Is he mad? Anyway there's something on his mind, as sure as there must be something on a deck when it cracks."
.....
"Though amid all the smoking horror and diabolism of a sea-fight, sharks will be seen longingly gazing up to the ship's decks, like hungry dogs round a table where red meat is being carved, ready to bolt down every killed man that is tossed to them"
...
"There she blows!--there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!"
...
"And he piled upon the whale's white hump, the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it."


We must not "cut and run".

Ranger

This is what happens when you put people who were in charge of one failed policy of looking at a new policy that might make that failure eve more apparent.

James Baker was Secretary of State during the first Gulf War. He argued for a "Broad Coalition", against taking Saddam out at the end of the war, and was one of the main designers of the sanctions policy that was supposed to drive Saddam from power in a short time. Baker's policies gave us the endless war of attrition with Saddam and created the window of opportunity for the corrupt Oil for Food program that continued until this administration chose to change course. This report sounds like Baker coming back and saying "See, I was right all along."

Ranger

let me try that first part again:

This is what happens when you put people who were in charge of one failed policy in charge of looking at a new policy that might make that failure even more apparent.

cboldt

There isn't much out there about the genesis of this Iraq Study Group, and it seems to be a fairly new operation. It issued a report recently (in October of this year) that lays out several possible future scenarios. I strongly recommend reading the report. It isn't long, and I believe it previews the eventual "recommendation" that will come from the group. I put scare quotes around "recommendation" because I think the final report will say something like "there are these possible futures, and the President has to pick among them," leaving the decision for the President.

Special Report No. 174: Scenarios for the Insurgency in Iraq

Formal mention of the group by the White House is sparse and limited ...

President Bush statement of April 7, 2006

We welcome the formation of the Iraq Study Group, under the auspices of the U.S. Institute of Peace. This study is being undertaken by a respected group of Americans and we welcome their effort. This study will provide an independent look at the way forward in Iraq, a critical issue for U.S. national security, by people outside the government.

President Meets with Iraq Study Group - June 14

Iraq is a complex situation. It is vital that we succeed. And the fact that you all are willing to lend your expertise to help chart the way forward means a lot.

The Iraq Study Group is also mentioned in ...

President on War on Terror - April 10

Dan Perino press gaggle of June 9

Tony Snow press briefing of Sept 13

That represents all of the formal mention coming from the White House. There is also little history regarding the formation of the group, at the behest of Congress.

One million dollars was appropriated for the Iraq Study Group in H.R.4943 - Emergency Supplemental. The appropriation is a trivial part of the 135 million to the State Department, out of 1.3 billion for expenses relating to Iraq.

Rahm Emaunel made a speech critical of the proposed timing of release of the report from the Iraq Study Group, in a 1 minute speech delivered on September 20.

I will end the suspense. The new plan for Iraq, there is no plan and there never has been one. According to Brigadier General Mark Scheid, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld threatened to fire anyone who tried to come up with a plan for the postwar and hostilities.

The President tells us we're in a long war, but thanks to this White House's refusal to plan, it has become an endless war.

An earlier mention can be read in this April 25 speech by Mr. Leach. His concluding remark was ...

In a novel development, Congress has required the establishment of an ``Iraq Study Group,'' under the aegis of the U.S. Institute for Peace, to be chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton. At the risk of presumption, I would hope the perspective outlined above will be one of the approaches it and the Administration review. There are risks in too abrupt a departure; but a prolonged occupation leads too easily to the kind of retributive civilization clash that misserves America as well as peoples of the region.

And the -only- other mention of the Iraq Study Group appearing in a search of the Congressional Record (for that phrase) is found in debate on H. Res. 861 - Declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror. Part of the June 15 speech by Mr. Wolf reads as follows ...

That said, I strongly believe that it would be of great value to have an independent review of ongoing operations in Iraq. I call this effort ``fresh eyes on the target'' and offered this suggestion following my latest trip to Iraq. On March 15, I was pleased to attend the announcement of the formation of the 10-member bipartisan Iraq Study Group, being led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission. The members, as are their co-leaders, are among America's most honorable and venerable citizens: former CIA Director Robert Gates, former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, former Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Virginia Senator Chuck Robb, former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

More reading, some with opinion:


VOA Report - March 15



Baker Botts LLP News Release of March 16



Iraq Study Group - From SourceWatch
- opinionated


Iraq Study Group Kicks Off - April 13 UPI Report

cboldt

Something just jumped out at me, scanning that "Special Report No. 174." Two of the three workshop predate the formation of the Iraq Study Group.


Obviously then, the report wasn't prepared at the behest of the group, but dollars to donuts, the group used that report (and others) to facilitate its own dialog. I haven't seen the list of members that comprise the workshop groups, or that comprise the 41 people working under the direction of the 10 members at the top of the Iraq Study Group. An "independent review" has been ongoing, probably several ongoing reviews, e.g., by CFR, USIP and others, with Congress and the President negotiating which one would eventually perk up to the top of the news cycle.

The workshops' principal finding is that U.S. goals for Iraq and the region should be reexamined and scaled back. The administration's expressed goal of "an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country" is possible only in the very long term. Avoidance of disaster and maintenance of some modicum of political stability in Iraq are more realistic goals--but even these will be hard to achieve without new strategies and actions.
Pofarmer

Good reading for TT and others.

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2006/10/walid_shoebat_t.html

cathyf

As Taranto said yesterday:

Baker's position here is somewhat self-serving, though, isn't it? After all, victory in Iraq would amount to a repudiation of the first Bush administration's decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the Gulf War.
Yep, pretty much sums it up, eh?

Cover Me, Porkins

Tom, James Baker declaring Iraqi democracy untenable is about as objective an assessment as Ralph Nader recommending a moratorium on automobile sales. The former secretary doesn't work with populations, he works with dictators. If Haafez Assad were to fix a donors' plaque to the statues and busts of himself that were erected in Lebanon, Baker would be high on the list.

It's more than a little disturbing to see such popularity in a reversion to Cold War Middle East policies.

Cecil Turner

I strongly recommend reading the report. It isn't long, and I believe it previews the eventual "recommendation" that will come from the group.

Good point. It wasn't long, nor sensible (e.g., it left out the obvious problem of Iran), and after reading is far easier to dismiss. And while I've no brief for Baker, still I'm surprised he's a part of it. By the way, this is a hopeful note (the sentence after the one quoted for the April 7 Administration statement):

The Administration will provide appropriate cooperation to the effort . . .
That sounds about right.

Syl
The workshops' principal finding is that U.S. goals for Iraq and the region should be reexamined and scaled back. The administration's expressed goal of "an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country" is possible only in the very long term. Avoidance of disaster and maintenance of some modicum of political stability in Iraq are more realistic goals--but even these will be hard to achieve without new strategies and actions.

This whole thing is a joke, right?

Americans simply get tired of war if the fighting goes on longer than a couple years.

Insurgencies take a LONG time to quell. Why should Iraq be any different? On the aircraft carrier Bush said there would be difficult work ahead. He has NEVER said Iraq would be quick, nor has he ever said it would be easy.

Have we become a country so dependent on instant gratification that we are incapable of sticking a project through to the end?

Do we care about ourselves so much more than we care about our grandchildren that we are willing to play a temporary stability game to make ourselves feel good?

Iraq has shown us the ugly explosive side of a culture and society too long repressed so we think it's a good thing to repress it again? For stability? That is certainly not a good solution for our children--nor for theirs.

Don

So Bush needs to hide behind a commission?

In Britain, their top general just comes out and says it: [Britain needs to] "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems."

General Dannatt continues:

"The original intention was that we put in place a liberal democracy that was an exemplar for the region, was pro West and might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East."

"That was the hope, whether that was a sensible or naïve hope history will judge. I don’t think we are going to do that. I think we should aim for a lower ambition."


anon

"He has NEVER said Iraq would be quick"

Incorrect. Rumsfeld told us that most of our troops would be out in less than six months.

Pofarmer

Better to aim for the sky and miss, than aim for a dung heap and hit.

Pofarmer

And if you say that it absolutely won't work in Iraq, how do you explain the Kurds?

Cecil Turner

So Bush needs to hide behind a commission?

Heh. If he were actually going to buy off on this nonsense, you'd think the anti-war types would be howling with glee. (But of course they wouldn't, which is a pretty good indicator the primary goal of the exercise from their perspective is politics.)

Barry Dauphin

James Baker's philosophy of Iraq policy: Rinse & Repeat. Maybe he'll suggest we let Saddam out of prison and give him some helicopter gunships too.

maryrose

TexasToast:
We don't need to project 20 years down the road-dems are preventing us from winning right now with their left-wing embrace of the loser mantel.

Semanticleo

"The spinners will no doubt want to dress this up a bit first."

A few months ago Maguire would have been elbowing his way to be first in line. I guess it's never too late for a Plausible Denialist
to enter the Iraq 12-Step Program.

"Heh. If he were actually going to buy off on this nonsense'

Bush has already been through rehab and feels his own denial is under control.

Cecil Turner

I guess it's never too late for a Plausible Denialist to enter the Iraq 12-Step Program.

I guess it's never too late for the "loyal opposition" to come up with an alternate plan. Wonder if they'll get one before the war is over? Or if their victory dance for defeat will sway the electorate. (Or, on the off chance it doesn't, what their story will be to explain this loss.)

boris

what their story will be to explain this loss

Not enough fools troops on the ground.

Semanticleo

Cecil;

Oops!

Just smashed my glass coffee pot on the
tile floor of my kitchen. Would you please
fix it for me?

Don

What the hell war are you talking about?

The war on terror? Based on our other war on an abstract noun, i.e. drugs, it will never end.

The war in Iraq? Major combat operations ended long ago-per Bush himself.

We're losing the peace.

Cecil Turner

Would you please fix it for me?

Heh. Lovely metaphor. If someone started cleaning up with a dustpan and a brush, would you lament over the shards and hold out a tube of glue?

We're losing the peace.

Looks a lot like war to me.

Don

"President George W. Bush
USS Abraham Lincoln
At Sea Off the Coast of San Diego, California
May 1, 2003

Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country."

Why the hell do we need a plan for victory?

We ALREADY declared victory!

What we need is a plan for retreat that won't blow the storyline.

Geek, Esq.
I guess it's never too late for the "loyal opposition" to come up with an alternate plan. Wonder if they'll get one before the war is over? Or if their victory dance for defeat will sway the electorate.

This isn't a war anymore. It's an occupation of another country. Wars end in victory or defeat. Occupations end in either withdrawal or annexation.

The goal is not military--we've already conquered Iraq. Rather, the goal is political--to establish a stable, Democratic, multhi-ethnic Iraq.

Stopping a sectarian civil war is not a military operation. The US military isn't a police force. The insurgents are not the prime concern anymore. The civil war that's going on is. The failure to establish order in Iraq is.

You complain about the Democrats not having a plan? Bush doesn't have a plan, and his is the only opinion that actually matters for the present. The Democrats do intend to get us out of Iraq. Bush will 'stay the course' until his wife and dog are the only two people supporting the occupation.

boris

Occupations end in either withdrawal or annexation.

Which classification applies to Japan and Germany?

Don

We never occupied Japan.

We still have troops in Germany fifty years later.


Don

Actually, there are more U.S. troops in Germany than any other country except Iraq.

Geek, Esq.
Which classification applies to Japan and Germany?

We militarily defeated Japan and Germany, just as we defeated Iraq. World War II ended with the surrender of Japan.

After the war came the occupation.

The occupation ended when we withdrew from Japan and Germany. We do have troops in both countries, but they're gone in a nanosecond if Japan and Germany ask them to leave.


The Unbeliever

The goal is not military--we've already conquered Iraq. Rather, the goal is political--to establish a stable, Democratic, multhi-ethnic Iraq.

democratic with a small D, please. I wouldn't wish a Democratic state on our worst enemies.

Don

Before you clowns jump my ass, yes I'm well aware of McArthur. But that was so different from Iraq, I'm not calling it the same thing.

The Unbeliever

The occupation ended when we withdrew from Japan and Germany. We do have troops in both countries, but they're gone in a nanosecond if Japan and Germany ask them to leave.

What makes you think it's any different than Iraq? AFAIK the Iraqi government--duly elected by popular vote--has not yet asked us to leave.

Of course al Qaeda, Iran, and the Democrats have expressed a desire for us to leave, but that's a bit different.

boris

Before you clowns jump my ass

Do you and cleo have a thing goin' on ???

Geek, Esq.

There is no functioning state in Iraq. The so-called government that is there is propped up by the presence of US troops.

There is civil war.

Those two distinctions kind of moot comparisons to Germany and Japan.


Of course al Qaeda, Iran, and the Democrats have expressed a desire for us to leave, but that's a bit different.

The US occupation was the best thing to happen to AQ in a while. The US and Iraqi people want to see a beginning of a withdrawal.


maryrose

Don:
Your winning strategy is appeasement not an option in the War on Terror. And yes Don we are engaged in a war on terror. Thank God you were not in a position of authority during World War 2 or we would all be speaking either German or Japanese right now.

Cecil Turner

What we need is a plan for retreat that won't blow the storyline.

Ah, a proposal. (Not a good one, but hey . . .)

The goal is not military--we've already conquered Iraq. Rather, the goal is political--to establish a stable, Democratic, multhi-ethnic Iraq.

That's the goal for Iraq. Not sure it's the goal in Iraq.

Bush doesn't have a plan, and his is the only opinion that actually matters for the present.

The second part of that seems fair.

The Democrats do intend to get us out of Iraq. Bush will 'stay the course' until his wife and dog are the only two people supporting the occupation.

The Democrats certainly aren't proud enough of that policy to state it clearly. (Correctly, in my opinion.)

There is no functioning state in Iraq. The so-called government that is there is propped up by the presence of US troops.

Well, by all means, let's withdraw immediately and see what happens. (Or does anybody see even a teensy problem with that proposal?)

Don

Turner, you're just a lame sniper who never puts up shit.

Are you content with our current "plan for victory" in Iraq?

If not, what needs tweaking?

Geek, Esq.

Cecil:

The Democrats support a phased withdrawal/redeployment. That is the general plan. As far as specifics are concerned, well that sort of thing is subject to the changing details on the ground. A plan that works today may not work in two months or even two weeks.

However, the larger goal of the Democrats is to get us out of Iraq. The goal of the Republicans is to keep us there long-term. We'll see how those comparing narratives play in November.

An immediate withdrawal would be a disaster, of course. Which is why a phased withdrawal, probably concentrating more troops in Kurdistan, is the way the Democrats are going.

The Republican policy has been a complete and utter disaster--the worst foreign policy venture in the past 30 years or so. So, at this point the onus is on the Republicans to show why they should be trusted to continue their failed policies.

boris

Afghanistan and Iraq are successful invasion, occupation and conversion in the military sense. If there is war with Iran the so called "problems" with AQ and insurgents would be insignificant.

Focus on a struggling political system with domestic and foreign attacks on civilians and infrastructure presumes there is no larger theater. Morons wearing blinders are not to be trusted whan lives are on the line.

The Unbeliever

There is no functioning state in Iraq. The so-called government that is there is propped up by the presence of US troops.

Whether you like its form or not, there is a functioning government in Iraq. The government provides services, collects taxes, operates both a military and a police force, enforces its own borders, prints its own currency, and engages in formal diplomatic relations with other countries. It was properly elected under the rules of the country's constitution, and has been recognized as the legitimate government by other nations. The presence of foreign troops on its soil is hardly a unique occurrence in the history of sovereign nation-states.

There is civil war.

No, there is civil strife and sectarian violence. There's a difference and the distinction is important; but quite frankly I'm not interested in re-opening the violence vs. civil war argument.

The bottom line is that Iraq meets the internationally accepted requirements for acting as a sovereign nation, just as Germany and Japan did. So until you've got a request for US troops removal coming from that government, you get lumped back in with the NGOs and political parties who are calling for withdrawl.

Geek, Esq.
The government provides services, collects taxes, operates both a military and a police force, enforces its own borders, prints its own currency, and engages in formal diplomatic relations with other countries.

The Iraqi government is completely and utterly incapable of maintaining order and security. That is the sine qua non of a functioning state.

boris

It was properly elected under the rules of the country's constitution

Isn't it strange that so called "liberals" find the imposition of self government as replacement for a semisocialist murderous dictator to be illegitimate. Makes one suspect the term "liberal" has been coopted by social democrats, a political philosophy that can barely pretend to be nicer than it's totalitarian communist roots.

boris

incapable of maintaining order and security

By that measure there will never be a functioning Palistinian state.

By that measure Israel is not a functioning state.

By that measure there no hope for the entire middle east.

Cecil Turner

The Democrats support a phased withdrawal/redeployment.

Oh, now we're "phased"? So what's the difference between that and the Republican plan?

However, the larger goal of the Democrats is to get us out of Iraq. The goal of the Republicans is to keep us there long-term.

Huh? What long-term goal do we have in Iraq? (Other than Iraq's stability.) The primary difference seems to be what we leave behind, with the Dems having less concern over that part.

An immediate withdrawal would be a disaster, of course.

More to the point, the perception of an imminent withdrawal sustains the insurgency. And any artificial timeline will merely provide them a plan of action with milestones. And irresponsible public statements by a very vocal minority in this country has fueled that perception since the beginning.

The Republican policy has been a complete and utter disaster--the worst foreign policy venture in the past 30 years or so.

So now the Iraq war is "Republican policy," eh? How 'bout those who "voted for it before [they] voted against it"? And do those who made political hay out of a shooting war while it was ongoing have any responsibility for the difficulties that result?

The Iraqi government is completely and utterly incapable of maintaining order and security.

Because they can't keep various terrorists from bomb-throwing and murder? By that metric, so are the Israelis. The Iraqi government is by far the strongest of the players in Iraq, and they get stronger by the day. None of the various factions has the capacity for open rebellion, and time is not on their side. And even the USIP folks were able to isolate the main issue:

The participants judged the will of U.S. leadership and the support of the American people to be the overwhelmingly dominant factor.
As long as we don't get the brilliant idea to do something stupid quickly . . .

PeterUK

"Before you clowns jump my ass

Do you and cleo have a thing goin' on ???"

How do you think the coffee pot got broken.

Don

"And irresponsible public statements by a very vocal minority..."

Pesky First Amendment. I'm sure Cheney and his crew have plans in place to deal with it.

The Unbeliever

Once again, Cecil writes my responses better and earlier than I do. Furthermore:

Because they can't keep various terrorists from bomb-throwing and murder? By that metric, so are the Israelis.

Hell, by that metric the United States itself doesn't have a government. We've been under attack since 1993 (arguably earlier, but the first WTC bombing provides a clear entry point), and yet we still couldn't stop terrorists from murdering 3000 people 8 years later. Granted, right now we're generally better than Iraq at preventing such attacks. But if we're going to take Geek's criteria to its quasi-logical extreme for ironic effect, you could say the US is a failed state with a so-called government propped up by Bush, the NSA, and the USMC.

Absence of violence has never been the criteria for the existence of a state. It's like you're angling for an award for furthest goalpost moving--and you have my vote for the prize.

Geek, Esq.
So now the Iraq war is "Republican policy," eh? How 'bout those who "voted for it before [they] voted against it"? And do those who made political hay out of a shooting war while it was ongoing have any responsibility for the difficulties that result?

Gee, who planned and executed the war and post-war activities? What party do Rumsfeld and Bush belong to again?

The war was Bush's idea, and he's the one who created the disaster.

The Iraqi government can't prevent armed militias and groups within its borders from conducting mass campaigns of murder, torture, kidnappings, etc.

The comparisons to Israel are idiotic. Where would you feel safer--Tel Aviv or Baghdad? Haifa or Basra? Jerusalem or Ramadi?

Forget Israel. Iraq's government isn't even as capable as Lebanon's.

Geek, Esq.

Again, comparing the violence in Iraq to the US is contemptibly stupid. The violence and resulting death toll in Iraq is FAR FAR FAR beyond what goes on in the United States or Israel.

Ten Iraqi police are killed and another fifteen are permanently disabled because of injuries. Every day.

boris

The war was Bush's idea

Bush wasn't president in 98 when policy to remove Saddam was adobpted.

Don

"The Iraqi government is by far the strongest of the players in Iraq, and they get stronger by the day."

This is pure fantasy. Just the other day, the "government" (i.e. the non-Sadr Shiite faction) just passed a plan to allow Shiites to form a self-rule mini-state in the south. The Sunni factions are boycotting:

"This resolution is a catastrophe for Iraq ... (It) will push Iraqis to kill each other instead of reconciling with each other," said the [Sunni] Dialogue Front's leader Saleh al-Mutlaq.

"There will be disputes over resources, wealth and borders between provinces," he said.

So as the "government" gets stronger, it makes the country weaker.

Syl

Geek

The Iraqi government is completely and utterly incapable of maintaining order and security. That is the sine qua non of a functioning state.

May I have permission to quote this back to you whenever the subject of our security comes up?

How would you like to have those car bombs going off in Detroit? in Peoria? in Brooklyn?

I didn't think so.


Syl

Don

So as the "government" gets stronger, it makes the country weaker.

You obviously know jack shit about Iraqis. They ALWAYS go to the edge, like lefties, but then come back from the precipice, unlike lefties who plunge one by one into insane rantings like these.

You are naive to quote internal disputes in the Iraqi govt as proof of 'disaster'. You've had the last five years to study their culture and try to understand them. You have learned NOTHING.

Don

Syl, you goddamn idiot, the very "government" Turner claims gets stronger by the day just voted to dissolve the country along ethnic lines.

Frankly I don't give a shit if you people protest from your padded cells. General Dannatt said yesterday the Brits are pulling out as soon as Blair is gone, and here comes Baker, i.e. the goddamned Republican establishment itself, to say the same for the U.S.

Don't worry though-plenty of people still say we could have won in Vietnam if it wasn't for the hippies, so you cling to your ullusions re: Iraq for perpetuity.

Geek, Esq.
May I have permission to quote this back to you whenever the subject of our security comes up?

Sure. If the death rate for police officers in the US numbers about 100/day (US is 10x as big as Iraq in population), I'll declare the US government to be a non-functioning state.

Semanticleo

Cecil states the obvious goal of entering Iraq
in the first place. It's the 'Point of No Return" philosophy. We get ourselves so committed that it becomes impossible to pull out. I think they call it 'quagmire"

But instead of taking the rational, circumspect approach of say, an intervention.
You know, where an addict has not reached bottom, but family and friends comfront the addict to force a change?

Instead we have the Cult of Enablers who insist that the user will come around on his own and continue to support the harmful behaviors by making excuses for him or her.

You see, it's not that anyone has any better
solution to the impossibly stupid actions of the civilian commanders and what they have wrought. What were trying to point our (with no small measure of futility) is that
the course needs to be altered. Can you grasp that concept?

SmokeVanThorn

Syl - I was on your side until Don got all manly with the cursing and all - How could anyone so MACHO be wrong about war?

PeterUK

Geek,
"I'll declare the US government to be a non-functioning state."

You would have probably said the same thing 1861-65.

The Unbeliever

Oh Lord, it's like you're trying to combine the 3 Stooges with political science 101.

Just the other day, the "government" (i.e. the non-Sadr Shiite faction) just passed a plan to allow Shiites to form a self-rule mini-state in the south...

Horrors! Mini-divisions within a country--this is obviously The End Of It All! Why, it might even fragment further, maybe even into 50 smaller pieces, each with their own constitution and seat of government, who each maintain their own militias under the governor's control, and who all compete for resources from the central government. Such an arrangment could never work, especially in a country with wildly diverse populations--oh wait a second...

the very "government" Turner claims gets stronger by the day just voted to dissolve the country along ethnic lines.

Really? So they've officially dissolved? No more central government? I suppose there will officially be 3 distinct countries called Iraq now. I guess we could call them Iraq I, Iraq II, and North Iraq.

...oh wait, that's right, I nearly forgot: Don is talking out his *@#$@!*$ again.

"There will be disputes over resources, wealth and borders between provinces," he said.

Disputes over resources and wealth, eh? Well, that's it. This has never happened before in the history of provinces. Obviously we're dealing with unmitigated chaos here. Now if you'll excuse me, C-SPAN is replaying the Senate arguments from the last budget vote...

Cecil Turner

. . . you're just a lame sniper who never puts up shit.

Heh, self-parody at its finest.

Pesky First Amendment.

Works both ways, thankfully.

The Sunni factions are boycotting . . .

Oh, like that's new.

So as the "government" gets stronger, it makes the country weaker.

The Sunni factions you cite approvingly are a large part of the problem. Making them weaker is a feature, not a bug.

Don't worry though-plenty of people still say we could have won in Vietnam if it wasn't for the hippies, so you cling to your ullusions re: Iraq for perpetuity.

Attempting to fit Iraq into the Vietnam paradigm is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy as well.

What were trying to point our (with no small measure of futility) is that the course needs to be altered. Can you grasp that concept?

Fine, navigator, what course do you suggest? If this is so simple, why can't you proffer a counterproposal?

Don

Hey Smokeme-just look at Syl's post: she said "jack shit" first. Sorry-but if the ignorant slut wants to play that game, find another fool. I got two ex-wives. Shit from women I don't take.

Umm UnbelievablyDumb- have you ever studied U.S. Congressional debates circa 1857-1859?
Generally, wanting to secede from central authority is a sign of coming civil war.

Are you in favor of partitioning Iraq?

I heard Baker's plan might even call for it. And we now know the Shias (well except for Sadr's bunch) are all down for it.

Turner-thanks for confirming your idiocy. Making Sunnis weaker is a feature of what?
Shiite death squads yes, but U.S. policy?
How do you propose we make themn "weaker"?

Don

In fact that's so stupid, I'm still a little confused where you get your information.

We were just enticing Sunnis to enter into the government to quell the insurgency with promises of political power.

Whose idea is it to make the Sunnis weaker, and how are we implementing this plan?

boris

Shit from women I don't take.

Two ex wives ... wow ... what a suprise !

Don

"WAPO 9/11/06: The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's [SUNNI] western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents."

The Unbeliever

Umm UnbelievablyDumb- have you ever studied U.S. Congressional debates circa 1857-1859?
Generally, wanting to secede from central authority is a sign of coming civil war.

And just look how that turned out. R.I.P. United States of America, 1789-1861.

Wanting to secede is a sign of internal strife, and a possible sign of civil war. Wanting to divide into distinct provinces or states while still under the control of the central government is called federalism, dear troll, and in case you didn't notice the USA has operated under such a system for a couple hundred years.

Are you in favor of partitioning Iraq?

Not into 3 separate countries, no. Into a set of federalist provinces, sure. Or are you going to keep beating the drum of imminent failure until their organizational structure mirrors, say, France's?

I heard Baker's plan might even call for it. And we now know the Shias (well except for Sadr's bunch) are all down for it.

Well, boffo for Baker. I'm not any more impressed with the man now, than I was when he started this whole mess in the first place under Bush I by urging we leave Sadaam in power. If you're asking for my "official" position on Baker, put me down in the "nuts to you, bub" column.

Don

Yep, Unbeliever, the Civil War was a great thing. Hell, it would have been even better if some foreign power had its troops sitting in the middle of the Gettysburg battlefield. We could shot at them assholes from either side and maintained brotherly appearances that much longer!

The Unbeliever

...are you making fun of your own analogy?

jerry

I think Bush handing off this monstrosity to another Administration is the worst conceivable sort of irresponsible "cutting and running."

They this huge mess in Iraq, ignoring the warnings of qualified experts, invading a country which hadn't attacked us, permanently undercuting civil liberties at every opportunity, spending billions every month, all the while cutting support for the poorest in the US and cutting taxes for the richest, and treating critic like traitors.

THEN they come out and say this will all go on for another ten years and some other Administration is going to have to clean up the mess, likely being critiqued the whole way by the selfsame incompetents that created this unnecessary disaster.

Davebo

This entire thread is truly hilarious.

To me at least. I'm guessing Tom wouldn't agree.

Sorry Tom, really. I don't think you should be held completely responsible for your regular commenters.

Syl

jerry

I think Bush handing off this monstrosity to another Administration is the worst conceivable sort of irresponsible "cutting and running."

Good! so it's okay with you if Bush runs again?

Fine with me!

Syl

Don

Syl, you goddamn idiot, the very "government" Turner claims gets stronger by the day just voted to dissolve the country along ethnic lines.

The devil is in the DETAILS, idiot. That's what I mean by Iraqis going to the edge--then pulling back.

The Iraqi's aren't your little footballs to kick around. This is a PROCESS, jerk.

Cecil Turner

Turner-thanks for confirming your idiocy. Making Sunnis weaker is a feature of what?

Heh, nice opener. On point, a feature of eventual peace in Iraq. If you haven't noticed, they're in charge of the largest insurgent faction. (And apparently their bodyguards run car bombing rings, but they don't know anything about it, of course.)

Shiite death squads yes, but U.S. policy?
How do you propose we make themn "weaker"?

The Shiite death squads are making a pretty good dent in 'em. Personally, I'd look the other way (and perhaps provide clandestine aid).

We were just enticing Sunnis to enter into the government to quell the insurgency with promises of political power.

What a surprise. The facet of our policy I find least inspired, and you're wholeheartedly for it. Baker likes it too, and he's also all in favor of engaging the Iranians (which I support, but with a slightly different definition of "engage").

Davebo
I'd look the other way (and perhaps provide clandestine aid).

I see. So your plan is to ensure that the next Lancet study underestimates civilian casualties in Iraq.

Hey, there are only around 7.5 million Sunnis living in Iraq. If we allow the dominant Shia and Sadrists to kill around 2 million the rest will surely get the picture right?

Geek, Esq.
The Shiite death squads are making a pretty good dent in 'em. Personally, I'd look the other way (and perhaps provide clandestine aid).

I suppose it hasn't occurred to you that death squads don't confine their rampages to armed insurgents.

But, after all, who cares about a bunch of dead Iraqis?

Geek, Esq.

Cecil's idea is to defeat Islamist terrorism by supporting other Islamist terrorists.

Terrye

What was Iraq before the invasion?

People are saying that Iraq is a huge disaster or whatever but I can remember when Clinton was in office it was said that hundreds of thousands of children were dying of hunger because of the sanctions.

Saddam killed hundreds of thousands in an uprising and our planes were being fired on daily while we flew the no fly zones to protect Saddam's people from their socalled government.

President Clinton signed the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998 saying that the removal of Saddam from power was the official policy of the US and he bombed Iraq claiming that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was supporting international terrorists.

The resolution that Bush got and that was widely supported by both parties was based on that Clinton policy and it also included mention of the attempt on the life of a former President. What exactly would have happened to Saddam if he had managed to kill a president? Do we even need to ask? This is the mindset of the man they were dealing with.

The point to this little trip down memory lane is to remind the socalled antiwar folks yammering on about defeat that Iraq was a mess when Bush came to office, it has been a mess for years, George Bush did not create the mess...Saddam Hussein did.

I do not think we can simply forget about democracy in Iraq because I am not sure the Iraqis are prepared to do that themselves. However, it is not an abandonment of democracy to concentrate on security in the near term. The two are not mutually exclusive.

BTW, I think the mindset of Democrats can best be seen in General Zinni. IN May 2000 he told Congress that Iraq represented our greatest security threat. Once it became apparent that paccifying Iraq was going to take some determination Zinni stated that Iraq had never been all that big a deal. This is the Democrats, they are unserious and they will say whatever works for them in the short term. The fact that it contradicts what they said a day and half ago matters not.

anon

"Cecil's idea is to defeat Islamist terrorism by supporting other Islamist terrorists."

Cecil also apparently has no idea that Maliki is exactly that: an Islamist terrorist. He was head of Dawa in Syria at the same time that Dawa was hijacking planes. This was also around the same time that over 200 Americans were killed in Beirut. Dawa is linked to that attack.

PeterUK

"But instead of taking the rational, circumspect approach of say, an intervention."

Fascinating Septic,what form would this circumspect "intervention" take?

Neo

Who is Maj. Jill Metzger, and what happened to her in Kyrgyzstan ?

Cecil Turner

I suppose it hasn't occurred to you that death squads don't confine their rampages to armed insurgents.

So now the noble insurgency is a bunch of terrorists? Mighty flexible bunch. And I suspect they're better at figuring out which group of Sunni miscreants need killing than we are. (I'll admit open support would likely cause more problems down the road . . . though it has a certain appeal.) However, considering the activities of the Sunni groups, I think we could be a bit less energetic about clamping down on the Shiites.

Cecil's idea is to defeat Islamist terrorism by supporting other Islamist terrorists.

No, that particular bunch are "freedom fighters." (Hey, I like this moral relativism stuff . . . oughta use it more often.)

Cecil also apparently has no idea that Maliki is exactly that: an Islamist terrorist. . . Dawa is linked to that attack.

Oh please. Maliki is the elected PM of Iraq. Get over it. And the linkage between Dawa and that attack is a lot weaker than the linkage to Iran's mullah's (via Hezbollah).

PeterUK

"Cecil's idea is to defeat Islamist terrorism by supporting other Islamist terrorists."

That is a strategy used for millennia.When it is over you have to work with the winner.

Terrye

I have always been skeptical of doing polls in a country like Iraq... but according the recent polls there Maliki has a very high approval rating and so does the {nonexistent} government.

In fact I don't think I remember the last time Americans had such optimism for the future. The Iraqis' right track/wrong track numbers are better than ours have been for decades.

anon

"Maliki is the elected PM of Iraq. Get over it."

I have a small problem with the fact that we've replaced Saddam with an Islamist terrorist. I'll be in a better position to "get over it" after I hear you explain how this makes us safer.

"the linkage between Dawa and that attack is a lot weaker than the linkage to Iran's mullah's (via Hezbollah)."

You are stating correctly that Hezbollah was assumed to be directly responsible for the 1983 Beirut attack which killed 241 Americans. But that means next-to-nothing because the ties between Dawa and Hezbollah were very close. They are both radical Shiite fundamentalist groups. And Dawa was directly tied to other terrorist attacks against Western interests, including a suicide attack against the US embassy in Kuwait on 12/12/83. This was at exactly the same time that Maliki was head of Dawa in Syria. That was also exactly eight days before Rumsfeld was photographed giving Saddam a nice warm handshake, in part because we appreciated Saddam opposing the Iranian fundamentalists and their allies in Hezbollah and Dawa.

Maliki's track record supporting Islamist terrorism is much clearer than any such track record on the part of Saddam. Yes, Maliki was elected, just like Hamas was elected, and just as Hezbollah has gained electoral influence in Lebanon. How does this make us safer?

TexasToast

You are naive to quote internal disputes in the Iraqi govt as proof of 'disaster'.

Syl

It looks like many on your side are refusing to recognize a disaster in order to avoid having to take responsibility for a disaster. The “internal disputes” in the government are merely indicative of the forces that now pervade Iraq that are ripping the country apart..

It was our take down of Saddam, combined with the postwar de-Baathification of the civil service and the disbanding of the army that ripped of the top of this pressure cooker. There was suddenly no power at the center to hold counter the ethnic and religious differences. I, for one, posted many times on this very board since our invasion that the internal divisions in Iraqi society were likely to tear Iraq apart and lead to Civil War. If a “civilian” watching from the bleacher seats could see it, there is no doubt that foreign policy professionals with for more information and experience could see the same problems –at least those without ideological blinders. I will guess that the “process” you describe is playing out and will likely continue to play out as a partitioning of populations via “ethnic cleansing” a la Bosnia in the 90s, Cyprus in the 70s and Greece and Turkey after WWI. I ask you, who is the most likely patron of a Shia dominated state in the South? Hint – it isn’t the US.

Further, how can one deny disaster in the face of the enormous civilian casualties? I don’t know how one can describe 650,000 additional civilian deaths (per the Lancet study) as anything other than a humanitarian disaster. With all the rhetoric about what a murderous monster Saddam was, the fact remains that our invasion has increased Iraqi civilian deaths by orders of magnitude - and before you attack the study, read this.

And the results were shocking. In the 18 months before the invasion, the sample reported 82 deaths, two of them from violence. In the 39 months since the invasion, the sample households had seen 547 deaths, 300 of them from violence. The death rate expressed as deaths per 1,000 per year had gone up from 5.5 to 13.3.
Talk of confidence intervals becomes frankly irrelevant at this point. If you want to pick a figure for the precise number of excess deaths, then (1.33% - 0.55%) x 26,000,000 x 3.25 = 659,000 is as good as any, multiplying out the difference between the death rates by the population of Iraq and the time since the invasion. But we're interested in the qualitative conclusion here.
That qualitative conclusion is this: things have got worse, and they have got a lot worse, not a little bit worse.

Cecil asserts that before anyone has a right to criticize our current policy, the critic has a responsibility to outline a better plan. The reality is that this is so FUBARed that there simply is no simple solution – and people are beginning to see that - people like Baker, and Fareed Zacharia, and George Will, and the British Chief of Staff, General Dannatt.

Finally, the fact that no simple solution presents itself does not absolve the folks who got us into this mess from responsibility and accountability. Maybe, this time, the party in power will be held accountable. The polls seem to support that.

anon

"according the recent polls there Maliki has a very high approval rating"

55-58%. I'm not sure I would call that "very high." Anyway, any approval of Maliki should concern us greatly, given who he is.

Speaking of polls:

Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout, Polls Show ... Leaders' Views Out of Step With Public ... A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country ... according to new polls by the State Department ... In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout

One would think that six years would have been enough time for Bush to purge the moonbats from State.

Syl

TT

Doesn't anybody on the Dem/Left have any courage anymore?

Political power is yours if you show some.

Gaining power by making the electorate so SICK AND TIRED of the bitching. Are you proud you might get a little power back because of propaganda, lies, and exaggeration?

If we hadn't gone into Iraq we'd be in the same situation the Soviets were in Afghanistan. We gave Afghanistan a break by focusing the jihadi attention elsewhere. It took the jihadis YEARS to mount any kind of offensive in Afghanistant which gave Karzai and co time to strengthen.

Not only was al Qaeda's focus turned on Iraq but YOURS was too.

Stupid fools. Bithcing and moaning and never, ever, looking at the big picture.

The Iraqis will make it--with no help from the Dems--but only if the Dems/left show some courage instead of piling on this huge bandwagon going nowhere.

PeterUK

"The “internal disputes” in the government are merely indicative of the forces that now pervade Iraq that are ripping the country apart.."

Iraq was never together,it was simply a geographical area ruled by one ethnic group,the Sunni.The Kurds were a oppressed ethnic group subject to ethnic cleansing by the hundreds of thousands,choosing a start point of eighteen months prior to the invasion is a questionable.
"This is a point estimate of the number of excess Iraqi deaths - it's basically equal to the change in the death rate since the invasion, multiplied by the population of Iraq, multiplied by three-and-a-quarter years. Point estimates are almost never the important results of statistical studies and I wish the statistics profession would stop printing them as headlines."
This of course is like multiplying the death rate by drive by shooting by the total population of the US.It says nothing about the general population whatsoever

ajacksonian

Ah, yes, the wonderful idea that there are three areas of Iraq that can be separated into indvidual functioning units, known as Nations. Now, as we all like to learn by example, let us look at the nature of the area in question: it is highly divided ethnically between muliple clans and ethnicities; it has a highly decentralized clan-based system that makes alignment to clan and family come just after that to Nation, and currently it is coming *before* Nation in many areas; the clans and families cross all border boundaries; religion is *not* divided two ways as each major sect has fracturing into different followings *each* with its own viewpoints; religious following does not necessarily coincide with clan allegiance; the religious fracturing *also* crosses National borders; the climate is harsh and varies widely in temperature extremes.

Question: what area has this just described?

Answer: The Balkans.

Flatten out the terrain, extend it from Egypt to China and all the way into Russia and you now have a good idea of what will happen once someone gets the bright idea of erasing borders to 're-align' Iraq. Without Nation the tribes will factionalize and start to erase other borders, sometimes violently. The Kurds, alone, by being semi-autonomous have started giving their cousins help in fighting local regimes in other Nations, which includes Azerbeijan, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

The Azerbeijanis would take *that* as a cue to start their own breaking away with relatives in other Nations. Who knows what the Armenians would make of this, or the Georgians.

In the southwest the Sunni's have alignment at least along two different lines, one of which is Wahabbist from KSA. Those appear to be in a tiny minority. Religious teachings south to north, however, also vary by custom and alignment with teaching and I would not even be surprised to find some Alawites in the northern areas bordering Syria.

From the Shia in the Southeast we see a major crossing of sects between the breakaway Khomeneists and the followers of al-Sistani, which are in the majority. Once one moves away from the direct border provinces and holy cities, other teachings by more minor leaders hold sway, so that a three-way power struggle between Shias would be expected. That fracturing from the south up to the more multi-ethnic parts of Iran will start cross-border problems with those ethnic groups along with religious confrontations that would spread all the way across Iran and into Pakistan and Afghanistan and into the southern tier of other 'stans bordering Russia and into Russia itself.

The Balkans are contained by the Greeks to the south, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Italy, which are all functioning Nations able to keep coherence over time within their borders. And even the Greeks are getting edgy with FYROM. They worry about ancient history reborn with Macedonia and remember that Alexander the Great was Macedonian. Similarly the Arabs in Iraq and the entire middle east remember that there was a truly great military leader that led Islam to victory in the past. He was a Kurd. Guy by the name of Saladin.

Please do tell me how the strong governments of Syria, Jordan, Iran and Turkey will resist this. Wipe out the allegiance that these people have felt towards Nations and the division might *start* in Iraq... but they will *end* in Balkanization. Remember that Yugoslavia was going to stay together... somehow... after the death of Tito. If anything the middle east sees strong affilitation to tribes, clan and family than is true in the Balkans. These affiliations have been around centuries and it takes decades of working to *make* a Nation to get strong National affiliation to outweigh these older ties.

Perhaps this house of cards needs to come down. If you start on this road this is one end that I would not only place within probability but into the actual percentages for the multi-decade long-term.

When I have called Iraq the 'center' of the faultlines for the middle east I am not joking. And I have not even thrown in the ancient rivalries of Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Arabia. Any chance for Peace in the middle east must recognize this complexity. For those who want to 'wash their hands' of Iraq like they did with another Nation some decades ago, remember that there are long term consequences of defeat to which that ideology of leaving before even beginning to properly take on the job has. Not just for *now* but for future generations. We have paid a dear price for that to this day.

When will America stop running and confront the butcher? By the time they get in your house may be a bit too late, but that has already happened. Running now is sheer cowardice in the front of butchery. And if you think 'we are the problem' imagine a middle east fractured and fighting from Sinai to the Hindu Kush, from Indian Ocean to the central steppes of Russia. Keeping Nations together and as able to adjust to their people is the answer. That will not be built on its lonesome nor by NGO's nor by well-wishers sending cards. Leave and the bloody smear across that region will be on your conscience... and expect the most radical forms to metastasize and spread worse than it already has.

Iraq has not descended into this because we are there and setting an example and *helping* to show that Nations are worth the candle of fighting *for*. The Kurds remain basically in check because of this. Iran is trying to upset the apple cart of religion, but not looking at the other faultlines that will destroy the region once it starts to heavily factionalize.

So, before you abolish the Nation of Iraq, you had best find something to replace it. Strong federalism has a chance of working, but weak federalism or outright division couldn't work with a near homogeneous population in 13 colonies, do not expect it to work in Iraq.

Syl

anon

When you cite polls, cite the whole thing. When respondents were asked if the Americans were sure not to stay forever then they changed their minds about us leaving.

I don't see you guys reading Iraqi bloggers, or mil bloggers. I don't see you guys reading sites that analyze anti-jihad strategy. I only see you idiots reading our esteemed press and forming your opinions that way--not to mention your circle jerks on lefty sites that don't allow opposing opinions.

You all believe you're right because you're out of power, and only those out of power have the right to dissent and get their way.

For you, the world began in March 2003. Nothing that occurred before that date has any value or impact. Hands over ears--nyag nyag can't hear anyone. Because gaining power is all that matters.

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