Progress in Iraq?

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  • #76
quadraphonics
Okay, fair enough. However, I think this misses many of the fundamental issues here. For example, the decision-making process leading to the invasion was based not so much on the supposition that Iraq definitely did have WMD's, but rather on the premise that war was necessary unless it could be conclusively known that Iraq did NOT have WMD's. I.e., the "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud" speech had much more to do with it than Colin Powell's UN presentation (which was just a sop to Tony Blair in the first place; on this side of the Atlantic the decisions had already been made). The transatlantic differences in views on the situation seem, to me, to center on this basic risk calculus, and I don't see that being addressed anywhere.

Also, there's the question of what exactly reforms/changes should aim to change. I haven't heard anyone seriously suggest that the situation in Iraq wasn't on the fast-track to implosion and, anchored as regional security is/was on American power, it seems to me to follow that we'd have ultimately ended up in much the same place as we are now, although possibly on even worse, more costly terms (although perhaps out allies would be bearing more of the costs). Which is to say that, to the extent that it was a war of choice, it was a war that we chose to fight a long time ago; the only real choice faced by Bush was whether to invade now, or wait for it to blow up in everyone's faces, and invade then. Of course, such reasoning is grounded in a hypothetical view of what would have ensued absent the 2003 invasion, of which we can never be sure, but I have yet to hear of a plausible scenario that wouldn't have ended in warfare and destruction. My own view is that such assumptions underpinned the decision-making process. All of which is to raise the question: is this stuff really an issue of intelligence reform and oversight? Sure, improvements to those aspects would prevent a repeat of Bush's embarassing, path-of-least-resistance approach to pitching the invasion to the public, but would they ultimately have any real impact on America's geostrategic posture, and all of the consequences that follow from it?
 
  • #77
vanesch
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This stuff has been beaten to death for the last 5 years, and it's never accomplished anything.
I didn't want to have a discussion on that (actually I thought it was now fairly established...). But in order to declare progress or not, or success or failure, you first need to know the real goals of the action. If the goal was to have an Iraq free of WMD, then that goal is obviously reached. If the goal was to bring some kind of democracy wave in the ME, then that failed miserably. If the goal was just to get Saddam away, then that goal is reached. If the goal was to have some or other effect on the stock market, then maybe that goal was reached or not, but you'd need to know what it was. If the goal was to win a second term for Bush, then the goal was reached. I could go on with more and more absurd statements like this. As long as the real goals for the invasion are not known, one cannot judge whether progress (towards that secret or open goal) is being made.
 
  • #78
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No progress in Iraq. All that's happening is the death of Iraqi civilians as well as American troops. American government needs to remove their troops OUT of Iraq,forget their plans to invade Iran, concentrate on their own country for a change, and stop their hunt for invisible weapons of mass destruction.:shy:


Life.
 
  • #79
i think the general aim of this whole adventure was to create a US-friendly Iraq, or in some sense like a client state. in which the administration hopes would serve as a strong, local, and willing ally in the mid-east.

if it fails, then with Saddam as a balance of power gone, and no one friendly to the west fills it. everything there could get messy

i didnt oppose the Iraq war initially and wouldnt have if the US had done a better job. and it would if it understood the ground better and was less hasty in invading iraq.

it isnt useful beating the WMD question to death too, cos i think, at this stage, the reasons for the invasion isnt very important anymore. nothing much we can do about it.

there were lots of things the US military administration could have done to make Iraq better, for one, its NOT disbanding the Baath party, which resulted in a failed public service.

also, the US failed to attach more (if any) Arabic speakers or translators to infantry squads doing the routine house-to-house and street patrols. The inability to speak the language would make it impossible for civilians to trust those men in uniform enough to volunteer information on insurgents.

Street-level intelligence is generally non-existent, and this inability to deprive any insurgent from living off the ground would have meant a failed counter-insurgency.

other failures like the lack of armored humvees, disallowing combatants to keep beards and don traditional garb etc. this happened because the administration viewed this war as conventional, when from the start its pretty obvious that its not going to be.

there's nothing "new" about the Iraq war, counter-insurgencies and asymmetric warfare has been going on since ages ago. there are lots of lessons to be learnt from history about how to handle the current crisis, but the administration doesnt really want to learn.
 
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  • #80
Astronuc
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I do not hold with much of Vanesch's responses (more there time permitting), but I submit the difference means everything. Because that assessment guides future actions. If the assumption is that the situation on the ground was transparent and obvious, it was all merely a 'set up' job by current leadership, then that conclusion leads merely to a change in leadership and, as long as they are more honest, then they can largely conduct business as was done by their predecessors and all will be well. That would be, IMO, a colossal mistake in innumerable ways. It lets the new leadership off the hook: "Bush was a bad guy, we are good guys so no need to rethink the past. CIA/DIA/etc are all fine." It lets the Congress off the hook, who had most all of the key intelligence: "oh well were misled, no need to rethink". Most importantly, it lets the voters off the hook! They can shout a foolish, superficial "the neocons!" mantra instead of doing a hard, objective look at what happened which, as I hope you quickly see, is exactly the same kind of cliff notes thinking that caused the problem in the first place.
Please elaborate.

Bush wanted to invade Iraq, well before 9/11/2001. He mentioned using US troops against a dictator in the campaign of 2000 (Wakeforest debate, Oct. 2000), and Paul O'Neill (former Sec of Treasury) mentioned that Iraq was the first item on the table of the first cabinet meeting. It appears Bush, Cheney et al were looking for any excuse, no matter how superficial, to justify invading Iraq - even to the point of providing misleading information.

Also, there's the question of what exactly reforms/changes should aim to change.
Don't politicize the intelligence and security agencies, which is what Bush did.

Congress needs to assert its responsibility of checks on the administration. Apparently Congress didn't have all the intelligence, or they (primarily Republicans) chose to ignore or dismiss the intelligence. Scott Ritter and others were adamant about no WMD.

There was no accountability in Iraq after the initial invasion, especially when it came to the CPA. Bush was supposed to be in charge, but when Bremer de-Baathified the government and disbanded the Iraqi army, Bush, Powell, Rice, and others were caught off-guard. Apparently Cheney and Rumsfeld knew about it, but Bush didn't. The Bush administration put inexperienced people in Iraq who basically did nothing but sit on their behinds in the Green Zone and collected huge paychecks while Iraq deteriorated. (Thomas Ricks, Fiasco)

A unitary executive is wrong for the US, especially if someone like Bush (or Cheney) is president. Bush, Cheney et al put there personal goals/interests ahead of the national interest (and IMO, they have actually compromised the future security of the US rather than enhanced it. Time will tell). The US should not be trying to assert an imperious hegemony on the world, because it inevitably leads to military conflict.

The US needs to use diplomacy, not belligerence or violence, in its foreign policy and international affairs.

It's not clear that Iraq would have imploded, but after Saddam Hussein, his two sons Qusay and Uday would have ascended to power, and that might have been a worse situation. At the same time, Iran may have tried to assert its influence in Iraq as it has in the last 5 years, and that could have significantly tilted the balance in the ME.

The next US president and future presidents face significant challenges in the international arena. Hopefully, the next president/administration will have way more integrity than the current one.
 
  • #81
Astronuc
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This has taken a back seat to the economic crisis.

The 'surge' apparently worked, or was coincidental with the Sunni Awakening.

But wait - Disbanding the Sunni Patrols: A Backlash Brewing?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080930/wl_time/disbandingthesunnipatrolsabacklashbrewing [Broken]
The last time the U.S. was involved in disbanding large Iraqi military units, things didn't go well - the fateful 2003 decision to dissolve the Iraqi Army proved to be a key strategic blunder that gave a massive boost to the insurgency. This week, the U.S. will try again, transferring control of 54,000 of the 100,000-strong largely Sunni citizen patrols known as the Sons of Iraq (SOI) to a Shi'ite-led government many of them view with suspicion. The rest will remain on the U.S payroll, as part of a phased transfer.

Some 20% of these anti-Qaeda groups - many of whom had been insurgents paid by the U.S to switch sides - will be incorporated into the Iraqi security forces. The rest will be given civilian jobs or training in a bid to help reintegrate them into the general population. But it won't be that simple: After years of vicious sectarian violence, many Sunni Arab patrol members fear retribution from the government; and, indeed, some government officials consider the SOIs as little more than thugs and murderers. And, as is so often the case in Iraq, the U.S is being blamed - this time by Sunni allies, such as tribal leader Sheikh Saleh al-A'ghayde, who accuse the Americans of abandoning them.

Al-A'ghayde, 33, commands one third of the 923 Sunni fighters that patrol Dora, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad where al-Qaeda had banned barbershops and outlawed alcohol. He had 422 men, but about 50 fled, fearing arrest by the government. The district, which is hemmed in by high concrete T-walls, was a byword for terror before locals like the sheikh joined with U.S forces to rout the extremists.

Like many here, al-A'ghayde is wary of the government, and is quick to draw comparisons between the dissolution of the SOIs and the disbanding of the Iraqi army. "It's the same thing, exactly," he says. "The American forces betrayed us. It's as if they took us down a path and then stopped us halfway."
. . . .
Differences of perception are important.
 
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  • #82
Astronuc
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This is one area where the US and world is failing the people of Iraq.

Widows Face Challenges, Tough Conditions In Iraq
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95172279
All Things Considered, October 1, 2008 · The violence in Iraq has displaced millions — and among the most vulnerable are widows.

Frequently with no means of support or protection, some of these women are reduced to begging or prostitution to survive. Baghdad's local government recently opened a trailer park refuge for women who have lost their husbands, but the women and the shelter are victims of neglect.
. . . .
"When my husband was alive I used to depend on him for everything," Attiyah says. "After his death, I've been through many black days and difficult times. My three boys did not come here to live with me in this trailer because there is not enough space — they live now with my mom, and I don't get to see them much."

Dire Conditions

Attiyah moved to this widow's trailer park two weeks ago, and the conditions are dire.

"You will hear many sad stories here in this trailer park — so many tragedies," Attiyah says. "The government does not care about us widows."

Outside, other women covered in long black veils streaked with dust walk among the stark white trailers.

There is no shade from the unrelenting sun and there is nothing green. A large dusty parking lot is the only place their children can play. There is also no electricity or running water for the trailers.

It wasn't supposed to be this way, says Murtada Idan, the guard who protects this place.

"The contractor who built this compound took the money and did nothing," Idan says. "There are 120 widows and their families who live here but they suffer from the terrible conditions."
. . . .
Some estimates put the number of widows in Iraq at 1 million — women who have lost their husbands to Iraq's endless succession of wars: Iran, Iraq, the invasion of Kuwait and the recent civil war.
. . . .
Alia Younis Abas, who is pregnant with her third child, shows a visiting reporter around her trailer. It's a small, simple structure — two rooms on either side for sleeping, a bathroom and kitchen in the middle.

She is not a widow; her husband left her because he could not afford to support her and the children. She came to live in the compound with her aunt who lost her husband in the Iran-Iraq war.

Abas is only 16, and already she looks and sounds exhausted by life.
. . . .
In Iraq, poor widows and divorcees are often discarded by their families, leaving them vulnerable with no way to support themselves. In this camp, some like Alia beg. Others become prostitutes.
. . . .
And this is progress?!?!
 
  • #83
Astronuc
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Iraqi women fear going public as candidates
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081006/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq_women_campaigning [Broken]
BAGHDAD - The 38-year-old teacher wanted to participate in Iraq's first provincial elections in four years — until she realized that a new law would require the ballot to list her name, not just her party.

Even as violence has declined, lingering fear bred by rampant crime and a small but die-hard insurgency has left many Iraqi women afraid to run in the elections, to be held by Jan. 31.

"I feel that I am unprotected," said the teacher, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because of her fears. "I am not going to run in the elections because I fear for the safety of members of my family who might be targeted."

The teacher, a Sunni who considers herself a political independent, hails from Baqouba, a former stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq some 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Al-Qaida and other Sunni extremists have frequently attacked more moderate Sunnis who cooperate with the Iraqi government or U.S.-led forces.

The election jitters are part of a larger concern about violence and traditional values or prejudice sidelining women from important jobs. The constitution provides that men and women have basic legal rights such as voting and owning property and suing in court. But deep differences exist within Iraqi society over the role of women and of Islam.

Under heavy U.S. pressure to promote gender equality, the Iraqis agreed to a 25 percent quota for women in the last elections for parliament and provincial councils, both held in 2005. A law paving the way for the new vote to be held by Jan. 31 maintains that requirement, opening the door for women to make up at least a quarter of the provincial councils.

But there's a crucial difference this time.

In the past elections, names did not appear on the ballot — only numbers and symbols identified with political parties. That system helped empower well-organized religious parties and left many Iraqis feeling little connection with elected officials who were supposed to represent them.

In the new vote, the names of candidates must be presented to voters.

The change to a so-called open list has scared some qualified Iraqis from running, particularly women. Activists are worried there won't be enough women to meet the 25 percent threshold, or that the parties will just find women to act as figureheads to fill the quota.
. . . .
A lot of progress yet to be made.
 
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  • #84
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The largest Re-enlistment Ceremony in American History - Al Faw Palace Baghdad
This was the largest re-enlistment ceremony ever held in military history. The ceremony was held on the 4th of July, 2008 at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad ,Iraq . General David Petraeus officiated. This amazing story was ignored by the 'mainstream' media. For those who have been in the Al Faw Palace, you'll have a better appreciation of the number of people crammed around the rotunda supporting the re-enlisting soldiers. American men and women volunteering to stay longer in Iraq, so that when we leave, the new democracy will have a chance of surviving, is the exact opposite of what the media wants you to think about Iraq.
http://www.snopes.com/photos/military/reenlist.asp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aAU1XE8MQk
 
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  • #85
Astronuc
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Official: 500 Christian families flee Iraq's Mosul
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081011/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq [Broken]
BAGHDAD - An upswing in insurgent attacks against Christians in Mosul has forced 500 families to flee in the last week and seek shelter at churches, monasteries and relatives' homes, the governor of northern Iraq's Ninevah province said Saturday.

Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula estimated some 3,000 people have fled the city in what he called a "major displacement."

So far this month, police in Mosul have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians killed in separate attacks, the latest a day laborer found on Wednesday.

Kashmoula said provincial security officials were meeting with Christian leaders to protect the community "from the terrorists, the killers."

Bashir Azoz, a 45-year-old carpenter, said he fled his home Saturday after gunmen warned a neighbor the day before to leave or face death.

"Where is the government and its security forces as these crimes take place every day?" said Azoz, who is now staying with his wife and three children in a monastery in the Christian-majority town of Qarqoush.

The Christian community has been estimated at about 800,000 people, or 3 percent of Iraq's population of 26 million. The community has a significant presence in the northern Ninevah province.

Islamic extremists have frequently targeted Christians since the 2003 U.S. invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee the country.
. . . .
The surge hasn't work everywhere.
 
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  • #86
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7667031.stm

"There is a ceasefire in Gaza, but the BBC has found evidence of militant groups preparing for a return to violence. One group, Islamic Jihad, is training female suicide bombers.

Middle East correspondent Paul Wood went to meet a Palestinian woman who has volunteered. "

Don't fit here nicely.
 
  • #87
Astronuc
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US military: No. 2 al-Qaida in Iraq leader killed
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081015/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq [Broken]
. . .
The man, who the military said was known as Abu Qaswarah, died Oct. 5 during a raid on a building in the northern city of Mosul that served as a major "command and control location" for the region. Four other insurgents were killed in the operation, the U.S. said.
. . .
American officials described Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, as a charismatic figure who had rallied al-Qaida's network in the north after the movement suffered major setbacks in Baghdad and other former strongholds.
. . .
 
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  • #88
Astronuc
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A glimmer of hope in the war-torn nation of Iraq.

Baghdad bridge of death becomes bridge of hope
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081111/wl_nm/us_iraq_bridge [Broken]
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Sunnis and Shi'ites made an emotional reach across the sectarian divide on Tuesday, reopening a Baghdad bridge between the two communities closed since a 2005 stampede, the deadliest incident of the war.

The Bridge of the Imams connects the Adhamiya and Kadhimiya neighborhoods of Baghdad, named for mediaeval Sunni and Shi'ite holy men whose landmark shrines on opposite sides of the Tigris are surrounded by homes of members of the separate communities.

It had been closed since 2005 when rumors of a suicide bombing panicked thousands of Shi'ites crossing the bridge for a pilgrimage to the Kadhimiya shrine. About one thousand people died in that stampede, clogging the river below with corpses.

But on Tuesday Sunni children from Adhamiya raced to see their Shi'ite friends in Kadhimiya. Women from the two communities met up on the bridge, kissing and hugging each other with joy.

"When the faces met, the lips smiled, hands shook, bodies hugged, the tears flowed out of joy. This is the Iraqi citizen," said Sheikh Ahmed al-Samaraie, head of Iraq's Sunni Endowment, which runs Sunni religious offices and mosques in Iraq.

A banner across the bridge read: "The bridge of love and reconciliation between the people of Adhamiya and Kadhimiya."

Officials said the event was a sign that the sectarian hatred that fueled years of violence in Iraq is ebbing away. The number of Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops killed last month was the lowest monthly toll since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"This day is a remarkable day, a day of a great Iraq. The day of meeting, love, brotherhood, affinity ... The day we proved to the whole world that we are one nation," Sayyid Salih al-Haidari, Samaraie's Shi'ite counterpart said in a speech. Delegations accompanying the two officials then went to pray together at a nearby mosque.

. . . .
I hope this continues and catches on elsewhere. It is absolutely necessary for Shia and Sunni to reconcile in order to achieve peace and stability.

Even then, the relationship with the Kurds in the north must be addressed.
 
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  • #89
mheslep
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This is a nice $30M/month removed from the US outlays in Iraq:

Iraqi Sunni guards join Shi'ite government payroll
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081112/wl_nm/us_iraq_awakening [Broken]
 
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  • #90
Astronuc
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Iraqi election hints of troubles for Shiite giant
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090201/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq [Broken]
BAGHDAD – The biggest Shiite party in Iraq once appeared to hold all the political sway: control of the heartland, the backing of influential clerics and a foot in the government with ambitions to take full control.

But the days of wide-open horizons could be soon ending for the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and replaced by important shifts that could be welcomed in Washington and scorned in Tehran.

The signs began to take shape Sunday with hints of the voter mood from provincial elections.

The broad message — built on Iraqi media projections and postelection interviews — was that the eventual results would punish religious-leaning factions such as the Supreme Council that are blamed for stoking sectarian violence, and reward secular parties seen capable of holding Iraq's relative calm.

The outcome of the provincial races will not directly effect Iraq's national policies or its balance between Washington's global power and Iran's regional muscle. But Shiite political trends are critically important in Iraq, where majority Shiites now hold sway after the fall of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime.

"There is a backlash from Iraqis against sectarian and religious politics," said Mustafa al-Ani, an Iraqi political analyst based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Although official results from Saturday's provincial elections are likely still days away, the early outlines are humbling for The Supreme Council. The group had been considered a linchpin in Iraqi politics as a junior partner in the government that had near seamless political control in the Shiite south.

Some forecasts point to widespread losses for the party across the main Shiite provinces. The blows could include embarrassing stumbles in the key city of Basra and the spiritual center of Najaf — hailed as the future capital in the Supreme Council's dreams for an autonomous Shiite enclave.

In their place, the big election winners appear to be allies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to projections and interviews with political figures who spoke on condition of anonymity because official results are not posted.

. . . .
Hopefully the progress will continue. The election results should be known by the weekend or next week.
 
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  • #91
mheslep
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President Obama's policy on Iraq has several aspects, most of which seem prudent and in generally in keeping with his campaign statements (excepting the several thousand troops scheduled to remain indefinitely.) In particular I do find fault with one important area of omission, increasingly so since he's become commander in chief. He has repeatedly and graciously commended US forces for their service and abilities in Iraq, but he has notably avoided ever recognizing them specifically for what they accomplished there. Until today:

...You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq....
...Al Qaeda in Iraq has been dealt a serious blow by our troops and Iraq’s Security Forces, and through our partnership with Sunni Arabs. The capacity of Iraq’s Security Forces has improved, and Iraq’s leaders have taken steps toward political accommodation.
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/02/27/obamas-remarks-on-his-iraq-war-plan/

I applaud this statement.
 
  • #92
DrClapeyron
You mean to tell me we are still in Iraq? Dick Cheney said this would take weeks; it now seems that the war may continue past Barack Obama's first term.

The most daunting question still is 'what is the exit strategy'?
 
  • #93
Art


President Obama's policy on Iraq has several aspects, most of which seem prudent and in generally in keeping with his campaign statements (excepting the several thousand troops scheduled to remain indefinitely.) In particular I do find fault with one important area of omission, increasingly so since he's become commander in chief. He has repeatedly and graciously commended US forces for their service and abilities in Iraq, but he has notably avoided ever recognizing them specifically for what they accomplished there. Until today:


http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/02/27/obamas-remarks-on-his-iraq-war-plan/

I applaud this statement.
Indefinitely??
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — President Obama declared the beginning of the end of one of the longest and most divisive wars in American history on Friday as he announced that he would withdraw combat forces from Iraq by August 2010 and all remaining troops by December 2011.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/28/washington/28troops.html

Presumably there will still be marines protecting the embassy but apart from them do you have reason to believe he didn't mean what he said??
 
  • #95
Supercritical
I saw turbo-1's post regarding Iraqi sectarian violence in the Iranian election thread and decided to post this here:

This past March saw another installment of the "Where things stand" poll of Iraqi citizens.

ABC story

Specific charts/data

The charts imply a large increase in Iraqis' confidence in security, the government and the viability of Iraq as a single-state democracy - across sectarian lines!

edit: After examining the pdf in detail, question 36 jumped out at me:
36. What do you think is more likely in Iraq’s future – reconciliation and
cooperation between Sunni and Shiite factions, or separation and division
between these two groups?

Reconciliation | Separation | No opinion
2/25/09 | 79 | 17 | 3
Sunni | 81 | 16 | 3
Shiite | 84 | 14 | 2
Kurdish | 63 | 30 | 7
It doesn't speak directly to the status of Christians and Jews in Iraq, but I would imagine this is a positive development from practically every angle.
 
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  • #96
drankin
Ultimately, is Iraq better now than before we went in seeking WMDs? Was it worth the loss of life for both Americans and Iraqis in the end?

In an alternate universe where I was President during this situation, I'd have gone in, took out Sadam and left immediately.
 
  • #97
Office_Shredder
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Ultimately, is Iraq better now than before we went in seeking WMDs? Was it worth the loss of life for both Americans and Iraqis in the end?

In an alternate universe where I was President during this situation, I'd have gone in, took out Sadam and left immediately.
They didn't even catch Saddam for what, nine months? What would your plan be for that timespan? If you really thought Iraq had WMD you would seriously for real take out the dictator and then hope the next guy to take control just dismantles them all nice-like?
 
  • #98
drankin
They didn't even catch Saddam for what, nine months? What would your plan be for that timespan? If you really thought Iraq had WMD you would seriously for real take out the dictator and then hope the next guy to take control just dismantles them all nice-like?
I always thought the reasoning to go in for WMDs was poor. I thought we had enough reason after he broke the many restrictions the UN put on him. That's should have been our pretense. Take him out and let it be a lesson for the next dictator. Abide by the UN restrictions or we are going to come and get you.
 
  • #99
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If you're looking for a better reason, an excellent alternative would have been that Iraq violated the 1991 cease-fires repeatedly. Violate a cease fire, and you're back at war.
 

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