News What to do about Iraq

Ivan Seeking

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From Sunday, the Jan 7th edition of Meet the Press, I thought this debate between Senators Biden and Graham was quite good. I believe that each man speaks from the heart, and I think they do a pretty good job of sketching out where we stand today and the options that are on the table. Personally, if I were President, I don't know what I would do. From a military POV I tend to think that the only hope of controlling the situation would be to impose a draft here and send another 350,000 troops to Iraq; perhaps double or more the number of troops in Afghanistan. On the political side, I think we should pull out and force the Iraqis to take control, but I don't know how that can happen without creating a bigger disaster in our wake. Either way, in the end only a political solution can stop the bloodshed. Can the country of Iraq be salvaged? Should it be salvaged? At this point I have my doubts.

Biden debates Graham: 1/7/07
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/

Oh yes, going into our seventh year of Bush, the genuine [factual], sincere, heartfelt debate here was most refreshing. For the most part, I don't think these guys were spinning anything. I think they are speaking the truth as they see it. This is what politics should sound like.
 
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Ivan Seeking

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Also, kudos to Senator Biden for putting the Constitution ahead of his political views. We need much more of this.
 

Astronuc

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Can the country of Iraq be salvaged?
What is meant by salvaged? The 2 groups Sunni and Shii are far apart, and I doubt they will see eye to eye. Will the Shii allow Sunni to participate politically? Will Sunni accept a minority status? Will both sides let bygones be bygones?

I heard Lindsey Graham mention that the US has to win in Iraq and not permit a 'full scale' civil war, which there already seems to be except for the magnitude or rate of homicide, and not permit the situation to evolve into a regional conflict, or haunt the US for decades to come. However, the botched recovery of Iraq will already haunt the US for decades to come. The longer the US remains in Iraq, the stronger the anti-US sentiments.


Petraeus at Center of Military Shift
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6734061
Weekend Edition Saturday, January 6, 2007 · Changes are under way in the U.S. military hierarchy, with a new leader on the ground in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. David Petraeus -- and a likely increase in troop strength that not all U.S. military leaders support.
This good news. Petraeus did a good job with the 101st.

Leader of the Fabled 101st to Command in Iraq
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6730560
All Things Considered, January 5, 2007 · Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is soon expected to take over command of all U.S. forces in Iraq. If he is confirmed by the Senate, this will be his third tour of duty in the country. He commanded the 101st Airborne during the invasion in 2003 and oversaw the northern part of the country immediately after the invasion. He returned to Iraq in 2004 to oversee the training of Iraqi security forces.

The son of a Dutch sea captain, Petraeus began his military career at West Point. And he is no ordinary general. He has a Ph.D. in history from Princeton. His thesis topic: The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.
 
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From Sunday, the Jan 7th edition of Meet the Press, I thought this debate between Senators Biden and Graham was quite good. I believe that each man speaks from the heart, and I think they do a pretty good job of sketching out where we stand today, and the options that are on the table. Personally, if I were President, I don't know what I would do. From a military POV I tend to think that the only hope of controlling the situation would be to impose a draft here and send another 350,000 troops to Iraq; perhaps double or more the number of troops in Afghanistan. On the political side, I think we should pull out and force the Iraqis to take control, but I don't know how that can happen without creating a bigger disaster in our wake. Either way, in the end only a political solution can stop the bloodshed. Can the country of Iraq be salvaged? Should it be salvaged? At this point I have my doubts.

Biden debates Graham: 1/7/07
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/

Oh yes, going into our seventh year of Bush, the genuine [factual], sincere, heartfelt debate here was most refreshing. For the most part, I don't think these guys were spinning anything. I think they are speaking the truth as they see it. This is what politics should sound like.

What should we do with Iraq? Pull out. Who cares about national pride and all of that garbage? We're of no use being there, and sure there maybe more chaos if we leave, but it has been painfully obvious that us occupying the region hasn't done that country any good.
 

BobG

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There's differing views even within the Republican Party: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16501666/site/newsweek/ [Broken]

And the military community seems to be getting tired of the war: http://www.militarycity.com/polls/ The synopsis for each year tells the short story:

2003 - Despite a year of constant combat casualties and long, grinding overseas tours, men and women in uniform strongly back President Bush and his policies in Iraq, according to a Military Times Poll.

2004 - Despite a year of ferocious combat, mounting casualties and frequent deployments, support for the war in Iraq remains overwhelming among the active-duty military, according to the 2004 Military Times Poll.

2005 - Support for President Bush and for the war in Iraq has slipped significantly in the last year among members of the military’s professional core, according to the 2005 Military Times Poll.

2006 - The American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.
Notably, the number of military members that would re-enlist/extend/re-commit to military service has run from 75%, 75%, 70%, to 66% for each of the four years. Over the last three polls, the percentage of troops deployed for Iraq/Afghanistan for over 6 months has risen from 25% in 2004 to 39% in 2005 to 45% in 2006. The 'surge' won't be accomplished by increasing troop levels - it will be accomplished by extending the tours of those already deployed and deploying the next rotation early (with the knowledge the back end of their tours will be extended if the surge is to be maintained for any length of time).
 
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BobG

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While Bush may have spoken about Iraq last night, Maliki's comments are more significant (Iraqi PM gives ultimatum to Shiite militias).

If Maliki tries to follow through, it will at least bring things to a head one way or the other quickly. I think the most likely outcome will be to prove Malicki and the Iraqi government have almost no control over their country. Malicki's 'hands-off' approach to Sadr is as much because of weakness as it is pro-Shiite sympathies and I wonder how much the Kurds care about Bagdhad. But, if the Iraqis can bring Sadr's armies under control, it does give them at least a chance of successfully governing Iraq.

If Iraq fails to follow through successfully in controlling Sadr's militias, then its probably time to realize that the US should be dealing with Sadr instead of the official Iraqi government. Maybe we could at least prevent genocide that would probably bring Saudi Arabia and Iran into Iraq. I doubt that will happen, since doing that would be conceding that everything we've done between Hussein's fall up to this point has been a complete failure. Admitting that all the invasion has accomplished is to replace one dictator with a theocratic dictator would be a bitter pill to swallow.
 

Gokul43201

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While Bush may have spoken about Iraq last night, Maliki's comments are more significant (Iraqi PM gives ultimatum to Shiite militias).
This is simply the least that al-Maliki can do. He has to play the spread very carefully. On the one hand, he has the US really pissed of at him for his appeasement of al-Sad'r. There's been dozens of Sad'rites that have been captured by US forces, only to later be released by the Iraqis. This has been annoying the US Military command for months now, but it really got to a boil last month (when many troops were killed by Sad'rites that had previously been captured and identified). They've been on al Maliki's tail about this for a while now, but it hasn't gotten anywhere. Looks like they finally upped the ante. Now al Maliki's stuck between Iraq and a hard place (stole that one), and has to play his hand very carefully. He has to keep the US (where he currently gets money and security from) happy, but not, at the same time outlaw the ("arguably", since the US has insisted that al Sad'r is nothing more than a fringe element, a 2-bit thug, and suchlike) second most popular person in Iraq (behind al Sistani). The recent ICRSS poll shows that most people from Baghdad, Najaf and al Anbar consider security their biggest concern, and they overwhelmingly blame the US for their predicament.

Two years ago, the US forced al Sadr to disband the Mahdis under the threat of a directed onslaught. It worked; al Sadr even made some kind of peace deal. But things went sour shortly after and have only gotten worse since the elections. In hindsight, it would appear that the only thing that did work was an open threat of force against the Sad'rites, and that's what's back on the table now (well, it has been, for some months now).

Malicki's 'hands-off' approach to Sadr is as much because of weakness as it is pro-Shiite sympathies and I wonder how much the Kurds care about Bagdhad. But, if the Iraqis can bring Sadr's armies under control, it does give them at least a chance of successfully governing Iraq.
It appears to be more than just a hands-off policy - at least in effect, if not blatantly in practice. Besides, al Maliki himself ordered the release of a high ranking Sad'r aide last year. That's definitely more than hands-off.

If Iraq fails to follow through successfully in controlling Sadr's militias, then its probably time to realize that the US should be dealing with Sadr instead of the official Iraqi government.
I think this unlikely. The US military has long (since last fall) crossed the Rubicon with respect to handling al Sad'r (and vice versa). They've tried to kill him (and have killed some of his aides), and he's been responsible for killing several US troops. The military hates him, and it despises the appeasers that keep letting out captured Sad'rites back onto the streets (unfortunately, these appeasers are the majority party). It would be ideologically reprehensible for the US to negotiate with this "thug".

Maybe we could at least prevent genocide that would probably bring Saudi Arabia and Iran into Iraq.
I'm not sure either of them would officially enter the fray (not that that's either necessary or smart) as long as present levels of US troops are in Iraq, even if there's a genocide of Sunnis happening...and even after the US withdraws a big chunk of troops it's "safer" to infiltrate non-uniformed militias, and bankroll mobs. But this is just semantics. The result will be more blood on both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide.
 
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Rach3

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Perhaps a partition is the smallest calamity at this point? Much like (also ex-British) Pakistan in '47. Half a million died then; we've likely already exceeded that, so it's looking like a half-reasonable option. Kill the constitution, have militia leaders meet and draw up borders, then let the whole population migrate off into two or three distinct regions (cf. Pakistan, Bangladesh). May not slow down sectarian civil war, but at least localize it to borders and disputed regions.
 

Rach3

...or, we can just follow along with mainstream American public thinking, which has been doing a heckuva job this far! Two camps: Rice-allies say increase troops by 10% to "quell the violence", Murtha-lookalikes say withdraw now and let the Iraqi process work itself out. I'm not sure which is more pathetically naive...

But of course by the standards of discussion today, my metrics are all wrong. The hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced, twenty million living in abject terror, who talks about those nowadays? Presumably there are other things more relevant to policymaking.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Aah, the speach coaching pays off again. Another happy constituent! :cool:
Of course, this would be your position no matter what they said. I don't see anyone whitewashing this issue any longer.
 

Astronuc

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Perhaps a partition is the smallest calamity at this point? Much like (also ex-British) Pakistan in '47. . . . May not slow down sectarian civil war, but at least localize it to borders and disputed regions.
Then again, it may not remain localized. There is a big difference between 1947 and 2007. We now have mobility and access to technology unavailable then. Sixty years ago, regional conflicts in some areas would likely stay regional - not to anymore. Evenso, can we allow regional conflicts to continue.

...or, we can just follow along with mainstream American public thinking, which has been doing a heckuva job this far! Two camps: . . . .

But of course by the standards of discussion today, my metrics are all wrong. The hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced, twenty million living in abject terror, . . .
And the viable alternative is?
 

Hurkyl

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What should we do with Iraq? Pull out. Who cares about national pride and all of that garbage? We're of no use being there, and sure there maybe more chaos if we leave, but it has been painfully obvious that us occupying the region hasn't done that country any good.
Wait; if you agree that there would be more chaos if we leave, then doesn't that suggest that we are doing that country good by staying?
 

phoenixy

Wait; if you agree that there would be more chaos if we leave, then doesn't that suggest that we are doing that country good by staying?
Not quite. Staying in Iraq is like staying in a casino. We haven't won for so long that the jackpot is due for us in the immediate future right? Well unfortunately, because of the lack of sound judgement in the past, nothing is so clear cut. Recently, it looks like we might increase our chip stack, so maybe putting more money on the table would help? Or maybe now it is a good time to work on the casino rigging issues? How about diversify our asset a little more by betting in the neighbouring Iranian casino in the mean time? To me it seems like there are quite a number of addicted gamblers resided on the capital hill.

When you are already committed a sizeable chunk in the pot, it is quite difficult to pack your bag and cut the loss. At this point, throwing more money on the table really does not guaranteed anything.
 

Rach3

Not quite. Staying in Iraq is like staying in a casino. We haven't won for so long that the jackpot is due for us in the immediate future right? Well unfortunately, because of the lack of sound judgement in the past, nothing is so clear cut. Recently, it looks like we might increase our chip stack, so maybe putting more money on the table would help? Or maybe now it is a good time to work on the casino rigging issues? How about diversify our asset a little more by betting in the neighbouring Iranian casino in the mean time? To me it seems like there are quite a number of addicted gamblers resided on the capital hill.

When you are already committed a sizeable chunk in the pot, it is quite difficult to pack your bag and cut the loss. At this point, throwing more money on the table really does not guaranteed anything.
Huh? 10 characters
 
Does anyone think the war in Iraq could leak into a bigger war with Iran?
 

verty

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I would say that depends on the other UN members.
 

Astronuc

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Not quite. Staying in Iraq is like staying in a casino. We haven't won for so long that the jackpot is due for us in the immediate future right? Well unfortunately, because of the lack of sound judgement in the past, nothing is so clear cut. Recently, it looks like we might increase our chip stack, so maybe putting more money on the table would help? Or maybe now it is a good time to work on the casino rigging issues? How about diversify our asset a little more by betting in the neighbouring Iranian casino in the mean time? To me it seems like there are quite a number of addicted gamblers resided on the capital hill.

When you are already committed a sizeable chunk in the pot, it is quite difficult to pack your bag and cut the loss. At this point, throwing more money on the table really does not guaranteed anything.
Interesting perspective and possibly a reasonable assessment of the situation.

I am still pondering someone's comment (not here) that the Bush administration has coerced the Iraqis to turn over control of the oil fields to multi-national oil corporations. Now it would be interesting if that were the case, and then the security was provided by private contractors (aka mercenaries - those currently working for the US government) hired by the multinational corporations. Effectively then, Bush, Cheney et al would have used US military and US government resources to extract the assets of a sovereign state for personal gain. Hmmmm! Seems like a plot from a fiction novel, which might actually turn out to be the reality.
 

phoenixy

To clarify, what I was trying to say is that the mentality of "to win, to success, to triumph" in Iraq has become more and more delusional. The cause of war itself has been discussed extensively and I think it is fair to say that the justifications used are at best, devious. This leads to the problem that the whole Iraq fiasco is not well-defined. For instance, some would say that the war ended with the defeat of the Iraqis military; or maybe it is the capture/execution of Saddam; or maybe it will end when Iraq become the Mideast utopia; more importantly, a widespread viewpoint adopts Iraq as part of the War on Terror. But War on Terror is not a physical entity, it is merely a concept that has a vast number of different perceptions and interpolations. A concept is not something that can be defeat by munitions. Conversely, it cannot be won. Interestingly enough, the current situation shows that it can be lost by stalemate. Everytime I hear politicians who throw out War on Terror as part of an argument, I see someone who intentionally or unintentionally attempt to shift the focus from physical reality to an idealistic imagination.

This is why I used the gambling analogy to describe Iraq. We are losing, and we are on the path to lose more. We cannot win in the first place because of the failure to establish a solid objective and sound strategy. I have no faith in any decision made by the current administration, as shown by its utter incompetence thus far. The qualities of certainty, ability, and authority that a leader meant to possess is simply lacking, which is why any decision made can be regard as placing yet another bet. When you are not a good gambler, perhaps it is a better choice to avoid gambling in the first place. But unfortunately, it has come down to this.

I have a great deal of respect for McCain. But I think his "try to win" attitude is simply delusional, compare to Hegal's "try not to lose more". I don't want to be overly pessimistic, I simply don't see any good solution to the current dilemma. All those left for the taking are the bad, the worse, and the worst.
:frown:
 
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Gokul43201

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Looks like al Maliki's finally jumped off the fence...

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/01/19/ap3342574.html [Broken]

U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday in Baghdad, his office said.
...
The U.S. military said special Iraqi army forces operating with coalition advisers captured a high-level, illegal armed group leader in Baladiyat, but it did not identify the detainee. It said two other suspects were detained by Iraqi forces for further questioning.

The raid comes as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged to crack down on Shiite militias as well as Sunni insurgents in a planned security operation to quell the sectarian violence in Baghdad amid concerns that his reluctance to confront the Mahdi Army of his political backer al-Sadr led to the failure of two previous crackdowns.
 
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BobG

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The first effects of the surge: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0701300056jan30,1,7758477.story?ctrack=1&cset=true [Broken]

Sadr's militia lies low and sees how things play out. They can always crawl out of the wordwork later. Of course, that's assuming his group pushes the demand for release of Sadrist detainees to the back burner for a while - in fact, the failure to release Sadrist detainees will give them an excuse to take up arms again sometime in the future.

If Sadr's militias are laying low, who will the extra troops get? Militias on Rise in Iraq

Hard to say how things will work out, but the troop surge might not turn out to badly for Sadr. It could thin out some of the competition within the Shiite community.
 
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Astronuc

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Analysis Is Bleak on Iraq’s Future By MARK MAZZETTI, NYTimes

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 — The release on Friday of portions of a bleak new National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq’s future left the White House and its opponents vying over whether its findings buttressed their vastly different views about how to arrest the worsening sectarian chaos there. . . .

President Bush acknowledged last month that his strategy had failed so far.
. . . .

The report was released a week after Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed suggestions that Iraq is in a parlous state, saying, “The reality on the ground is, we’ve made major progress.” :rolleyes:
I think Cheney needs to retire.

Bush has a slim chance - perhaps. He needs an effective diplomatic strategy - but is that possible with his administration?
 
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Analysis Is Bleak on Iraq’s Future By MARK MAZZETTI, NYTimes

I think Cheney needs to retire.

Bush has a slim chance - perhaps. He needs an effective diplomatic strategy - but is that possible with his administration?
Not sure re the latter, definitely the latter. I personally thought once we secured the deal

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2132569.ece [Broken]

we'd be outta there, but I guess the fear is the deals would mean nothing if the interim govt fails.
 
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Astronuc

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Few Veteran Diplomats Accept Mission to Iraq

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — While the diplomats and Foreign Service employees of the State Department have always been expected to staff “hardship” postings, those jobs have not usually required that they wear flak jackets with their pinstriped suits.

But in the last five years, the Foreign Service landscape has shifted.

Now, thanks to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House is calling for more American civilians to head not only to those countries, but also to some of their most hostile regions — including Iraq’s volatile Anbar Province — to try to establish democratic institutions and help in reconstruction. That plan is provoking unease and apprehension at the State Department and at other federal agencies.

Many federal employees have outright refused repeated requests that they go to Iraq, while others have demanded that they be assigned only to Baghdad and not be sent outside the more secure Green Zone, which includes the American Embassy and Iraqi government ministries. And while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice maintained Wednesday that State Department employees were “volunteering in large numbers” for difficult posts, including Iraq, several department employees said that those who had signed up tended to be younger, more entry-level types, and not experienced, seasoned diplomats.

The reluctance highlights a problem with the administration’s new strategy for Iraq, which calls on American diplomats to take challenges on a scale unmatched anywhere else in the world, when the lack of security on the ground outside the Green Zone makes it one of the last places people, particularly those with families, want to go.
Well, so much for winning in Iraq.
 

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