What to do about Iraq

  1. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,539
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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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,539
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    Also, kudos to Senator Biden for putting the Constitution ahead of his political views. We need much more of this.
     
  4. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    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
    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
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2007

  5. 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.
     
  6. BobG

    BobG 2,368
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    There's differing views even within the Republican Party: McCain - Hagel

    And the military community seems to be getting tired of the war: Miltary Times Polls The synopsis for each year tells the short story:

    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).
     
  7. BobG

    BobG 2,368
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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.
     
  8. Gokul43201

    Gokul43201 11,141
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    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).

    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.

    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".

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2007
  9. Aah, the speach coaching pays off again. Another happy constituent! :cool:
     
  10. 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.
     
  11. ...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.
     
  12. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,539
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    Of course, this would be your position no matter what they said. I don't see anyone whitewashing this issue any longer.
     
  13. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    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.

    And the viable alternative is?
     
  14. Hurkyl

    Hurkyl 16,089
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    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?
     
  15. 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.
     
  16. Huh? 10 characters
     
  17. Does anyone think the war in Iraq could leak into a bigger war with Iran?
     
  18. verty

    verty 1,951
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    I would say that depends on the other UN members.
     
  19. Why would it? We ignored the UN on Iraq, why would we listen to them on Iran?
     
  20. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    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.
     
  21. 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:
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
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