Barack's Bitter Truth

America shouldn't give a damn about the Iraqis

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has gotten much heat for suggesting that when people lose faith in Washington, they "end up voting on issues like guns and are they going to have the right to bear arms [and] gay marriage."

How strange, then, that during his questioning last week of the two most senior American officials in Iraq, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama took a minimalist view of what America could do to help Iraqi citizens regain faith in their government. Instead, the Illinois senator lowered the criterion for American "success" in Iraq, declaring that he could live with "a messy, sloppy status quo" in the country.

Obama's line of questioning was shrewd. With Petraeus he focused on al Qaeda, pushing the general to admit that the complete elimination of the group in Iraq was not necessary. Here's how Obama put it: "Our goal is not to hunt down and eliminate every single trace, but rather to create a manageable situation where they're not posing a threat to Iraq or using it as a base to launch attacks outside of Iraq. Is that accurate?"

"That is exactly right," Petraeus replied.

Obama then turned to Iran and questioned Crocker, the point man in the America-Iranian dialogue in Baghdad. As with Petraeus, Obama sought to lower the benchmark for what the United States should define as Iraqi "success." However, Crocker was less pliable. When Obama argued that it was unlikely that Iranian influence in Iraq could be terminated, Crocker responded: "[W]e have no problem with a good, constructive relationship between Iran and Iraq. The problem is with the Iranian strategy of backing extremist militia groups and sending in weapons and munitions that are used against Iraqis and against our own forces."

Obama didn't offer a convincing rejoinder to Crocker's protest. Instead, his time almost up, he cut to the crux of the exchange: a summary of his position on the war for an electorate that, he knew, would be listening to his every word. Obama's views were best captured in this passage:

And, see, the problem I have is if the definition of success is so high, no traces of Al Qaida and no possibility of reconstitution, a highly-effective Iraqi government, a Democratic multiethnic, multi-sectarian functioning democracy, no Iranian influence, at least not of the kind that we don't like, then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years.

If, on the other hand, our criteria is a messy, sloppy status quo but there's not, you know, huge outbreaks of violence, there's still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it's not a threat to its neighbors and it's not an Al Qaida base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measurable timeframe, and that, I think, is what everybody here on this committee has been trying to drive at, and we haven't been able to get as clear of an answer as we would like.

As the Lebanese commentator Hussain Abdul-Hussain bitingly wrote: "Obama's description of a post-America Iraq looked pretty much like post-1991 Iraq under Saddam Hussein: a country 'struggling along' but that was no ‘threat to its neighbors' and was not 'an al Qaeda base.'"

Indeed, but Obama was surely right in assuming that many Americans, perhaps a majority, have no problem with this. Saddam's brutality was never something they worried about. If you moved the goalposts a bit, Obama told them, failure would magically become success. The U.S. could head toward the exit in Iraq with its conscience clear.

The difficulty with Obama's appraisal was not just that it was based on a selective reading of the situation in Iraq, so that his assertion of how the U.S. had to realistically accept continued Iranian influence in the country somehow morphed into tolerance for Iran's systematic undermining of American interests there. The difficulty was not just that Obama over-optimistically assumed that his "messy status quo" could be sustained even if the U.S. removed most of its troops from Iraq (a point Crocker tried to make, before being cut off by Senator Joe Biden); the real difficulty with Obama's case was that it revived an American reading of Iraq that treats Iraqis as secondary characters in their own drama.

For the first two years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration was guilty of the same behavior. Iraq was about America and American power. Iraq's 2005 elections were the first real sign that Washington understood why the Iraqis mattered. Yet it was the 2007 surge that took this realization to new heights. U.S. commanders grasped that the security of Iraqi cities and civilians had to be the centerpiece of a new counter-insurgency strategy requiring U.S. soldiers to insert themselves more than ever into Iraqi society. Iraq's complex social dynamics were studied and, as effectively as possible depending on location, acted upon. For the first time the discussion in the U.S. seriously addressed what a pullout might mean in terms of Iraqi suffering.

That's why Obama's comments were so off-putting. He effectively told the Iraqis, once again, that they weren't worth anything to America. If violence and corruption were controllable, if al Qaeda was still around but was limited to Iraq proper, if Washington could stomach the Iranian manipulation of Iraqis, then it made little difference what the deeper aspirations of Iraqis in general were. Iraq could be a suppurating wound at the heart of the Middle East—a suppurating wound, Obama has tirelessly reminded us, which the U.S. helped create—but that counted for little when faced with the American urge to get out as soon as possible.

In his own defense, Obama might remind us that he's accountable only to his countrymen, not to the Iraqis; that the "good government" he has talked about in his campaign applies to embittered Americans, not to Iraqis embittered by the prospect of a precipitous U.S. departure. He might even be elected on that basis. But this would show that Obama, who has sold himself as a man of vision at home, is selfishly unimaginative abroad. Worse, because it is unlikely he will be able to much alter U.S. policy in Iraq, since Iran will not cede much more to the next administration than it did to this one, Obama's promises are potentially deceitful.

For as long as American leaders don't treat Iraqis as important in their own right, the Iraqis will have no incentive to tie their long-term interests to America's wagon. Should that matter? Both realists and idealists would probably answer in the affirmative. But where does Barack Obama stand? It's hard to imagine that Iraqis see in him change they can believe in.

reason contributing editor Michael Young is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon.

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  • ||

    Why is this a question? Has Michael Young ever lived in the USA? Most Americans care about what Washington can do for them, Most Americans don't give a shit about what Washington can do for Iraqis. It's not hard to understand. Sorry if that sounds cynical, that's the way it is.

  • Paul||

    when people lose faith in Washington they find refuge in god, guns, and xenophobia.



    Ok, except for the god and xenophobia, I'd have to agree. I've never had much faith in government, and I exercise my 2nd amendment rights. Coincidence? I think not.

  • ||

    Oy, talk about a reach.

  • ed||

    I give in! I'll vote for whoever you tell me to! Make it stop! Make it stop!

  • ||

    the real difficulty with Obama's case was that it revived an American reading of Iraq that treats Iraqis as secondary characters in their own drama.

    Unfortunately, this idea is very endemic on the left. For most leftist, people in other countries are just stage props in the West's ongoing internal psychodrama.

    Other peoples don't have independent histories, cultures, ideologies, politics etc that impel them to take action. Instead, they only react to the actions of the West. Leftist therefore come to argue that we control the actions of everyone in the world by fine tuning our own actions. It's a staggering act of egocentricism.

    Obama comes from a mid-set that looks back on actions like the abandonment of the people of Cambodia to the tender mercies of Mao and Pol Pot with a feeling of pride and accomplishment. The left views the abandonment as a good thing because it cemented their internal power in America. The fact that 1 in 5 Cambodians died for that power never even enters their minds.

    The same social and political factors are still in play. Given the chance, Obama will seek to repeat that tragedy in Iraq.

  • Tbone||

    But this would show that Obama, who has sold himself as a man of vision at home, is selfishly unimaginative abroad. Worse, because it is unlikely he will be able to much alter U.S. policy in Iraq, since Iran will not cede much more to the next administration than it did to this one, Obama's promises are potentially deceitful.

    As opposed to what? Young appears to be shilling for stay the course. PACIFYING the country for a decade or more MIGHT have allowed democracy to take hold with minimal bloodshed. BushCo wouldn't pony up the cost when it mattered and it's now too damn late.

  • ||

    The projection on display from the right is astounding. Three years ago, Michael Young was assuring us that Arab Spring was right around the corner, and now he's accusing someone else of moving the goalposts to redefine failure as success?

    Just two years ago, the pressure we could put on Iran was going to allow us to sharply reduce their influence throughout the region, and now he's talking about the "right kind" of expanded Iranian influence in Iraq.

    And then Shannon up there, after all the years of Lord of the Rings comparisons, Muchich comparisons, "moral clarity vs. moral relativism" arguments, and cheering as Republicans dyed their fingers purple, declares that it's the anti-war majority who views Iraqis as pawns in an American psychodrama.

    This is what a crack-up looks like.

  • ||

    List of other countries for which we are morally responsible by this logic: Mexico (invaded, generally meddled), Liberia (created and settled it), the Phillipines (annexed, invented government), Japan (invaded, invented government), North Korea (invaded, liberated from Japan), South Korea (ditto), Canada (invaded), Germany (invaded, partioned, invented government), Afghanistan (invaded, invented government), Vietnam (invaded), Panama (assisted independence), Cuba (invaded, invented government)...

    Some curmudgeons would have the audacity to call this sense of responsibility "Neocolonialism". I'll just content myself to say that it is difficult enough for a government to treat its own people in a just manner, to obey customs and laws, and to be accountable to its citizens. Does a government acting in a foreign country, whose citizens have fewer means of redress, gain some edge in this regard?

  • ||

    For most leftist, people in other countries are just stage props in the West's ongoing internal psychodrama.

    Shannon,

    Didn't the idea that "we're not the world's policeman" used to be very popular amongst the right? The right doesn't give a shit about Sudan and didn't give a shit about Rwanda. They have no problem propping up oppressive, illiberal governments in Saudi Arabia. Why do you think the case being pushed was primarily of the threat that Saddam posed to us?

    Face it, if Gore launched the war against Iraq, the Republicans would be playing the same parts the Democrats are playing today and acting more like the late 90s Republicans. This has nothing to do with principle or nobility of spirit, it has everything to do with politics.

  • ||

    When exactly was the United States defending Cambodians again? I must have forgotten that part. I remember when the bombed the shit out of them, killing maybe 500,000. And I remember when we were undermining their government and setting the stage for a revolution. I remember when we were strugging to keep the army that eventually overthrew the Khmer Rouge from being able to project influcence beyond the Vietnamese border. But I don't seem to recall there ever being a period when we were in a position to defend the Cambodians.

  • ||

    Michael Young--what a fucking joke. Why does Reason persist in trying to foist this clown on us? Do you even give a shit what your readers (and, yes, I am a subscriber) think about such lame authors? When is the last time any of his posted articles ever generated substantial positive feedback?

    God Almighty, move from the dork already.

  • ||

    "That's why Obama's comments were so off-putting."

    No, what's offputting is Big Mike's phony articles on, I don't know, JUST ABOUT ANYTHING UNDER THE SUN, all of which seem somehow to come around to the idea that the U.S. OUGHT TO SEND LOTS AND LOTS OF TROOPS TO THE MIDDLE EAST FOR A VERY, VERY LONG TIME, OR AT LEAST UNTIL MICHAEL YOUNG THINKS THEY CAN GO HOME. Yeah, that's what's offputting.

  • ||

    People who support the war are to be judged on what they hope will happen in Iraq in their fondest dreams.

    People who oppose the war are to be judged on the worst-case scenario that their critics can dream up.

    Of course.

  • PC||

    "According to Barack Obama, when people lose faith in Washington they find refuge in god, guns, and xenophobia."

    Not directed at Michael Young, but it seems when Neocons lose faith in their ability to sell their wars, they find refuge in hiding behind Petraeus.

    Others seem to want to hide behind humanitarian BS. Nationbuilding is where the majority of PTSD and combat deaths are coming from, not so much the invasion. Our troops are not policemen, even though Obama, who is an unacceptable candidate, would probably do that in Darfur and few other places. I personally have a hard time believing that the Saddam era Sunnis who still remember the taste of power and the Shiites who still remember the taste of oppression will ever let Al Qaeda run them. If the Iraqis are as Nationalist as the Neocons say and that factoid was shoved down our throat repeatedly, Al Qaeda doesn't stand a chance. Getting troops out, eliminates the scapegoat, the unifying target for many of these insurgent forces. Our troops are warfighters, not nation builders or democracy teachers.

    As for Democracy in Iraq, that is not important to me. These are people who were never really taught democracy growing up. They weren't taught about Washington and Jefferson. We have and look how our Republic turned into a Federal Democracy and look at how bad of a job we do and maintaining our rights and freedoms. Why should we first care about or have faith in the potential for lasting democracy in Iraq?

    The biggest problem with the Middle East is that governments and borders have been decided from without, not within. Regions need natural evolution in order to evolve period. This micromanaging of the Middle East througout contemporary history by the west is the biggest reason we have this problem. We can't micromanage the world.

  • Fluffy||

    Young, this is idiotic nonsense.

    I have no faith in the US government, and you know what? If some coalition of the willing comes here to shoot up the place and set up a new government, it won't improve my faith in the government one iota.

  • ||

    Our troops are not policemen, even though Obama, who is an unacceptable candidate, would probably do that in Darfur and few other places.

    No, they'd be sentries.

    Providing security among a friendly population to protect them from outside attack is quite a different mission that suppressing an insurgency among a hostile population. More like the DMZ, less like Iraq.

    There are still arguments against it, certainly, but they are different arguments.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ed, if you imagine that you're a character in an Ionescu play called "The Campaign", it becomes somewhat easier to take.

    Unless, of course, you hate Ionescu.

  • ||

    The Iraqi people are very important, that is why Petraeus, Kissinger and I are very proud of our high kill rate in Iraq. We are seeing approximately 15 dead Iraqis for every dead US soldier. Since a large percentage of our soldiers are actually mexicans and blacks we are actually up to about 30 dead Iraqi's fro every dead white American soldier. These are great numbers! We are really taking it to those importantly bad Iraqis. Once we kill a few more million people there then I am confident the remaining orphans and widows will have unlimited freedom to pay interest on the loans we will force the Iraqi government to take out from IMF, World Bank, JP Morgan to "invest" in projects that great companies like Bechtel, Halliburton, GE, KBR have undertaken on behalf of the Iraqi peasants. The survivors will be so grateful for their newfound freedom that they will have no hard feelings about their close relatives being tortured and or shot. It will be a crime if Petraus and Rumsfeld don't win the Nobel Peace prize in 2010.

  • PC||

    "Providing security among a friendly population to protect them from outside attack is quite a different mission that suppressing an insurgency among a hostile population. More like the DMZ, less like Iraq."

    You can't say that for sure. When has the government ever been good at deciphering "good" and "evil" with regards to foreign policy? When have they ever shot straight on the consequences of occupation? Besides I thought in Iraq we would be greeted with flowers and candy from a friendly population and live happily ever after. The same thing you are describing was the same scenario they described. Too much faith in your liberal friends, you have.

    But more importantly Darfur is not an imminent threat to the United States.

  • ||

    Joe, Regarding Cambodia....Kissinger was trying to protect the Cambodians from over populating the world. Sure a few got hit by bombs and executed by Pol Pot, but it was for the good of the collective...the herd was thinned.

  • TallDave||

    Obama took a minimalist view of what America could do to help Iraqi citizens regain faith in their government.

    The whole "what's good for Iraqis" question is very awkward for a politician whose base is advocating the course of action most likely to lead to very bad things for them.

    This isn't 1971. No young John Kerry is going to convince anyone that U.S. troops are behaving like Ghenghis Khan and Iraqis are better off without them.

  • TallDave||

    For the first two years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration was guilty of the same behavior. Iraq was about America and American power. Iraq's 2005 elections were the first real sign that Washington understood why the Iraqis mattered. Yet it was the 2007 surge that took this realization to new heights. U.S. commanders grasped that the security of Iraqi cities and civilians had to be the centerpiece of a new counter-insurgency strategy requiring U.S. soldiers to insert themselves more than ever into Iraqi society. Iraq's complex social dynamics were studied and, as effectively as possible depending on location, acted upon. For the first time the discussion in the U.S. seriously addressed what a pullout might mean in terms of Iraqi suffering.

    Wow, great essay, I never thought I would see this here.

    I have new faith in Reason. I'm renewing my subscription!

  • ||

    I deeply, deeply resent the idea that Iraqis or anyone else has a claim on the lives of those in the US military.

    True, military personel are volunteers, but that does not relieve the US civilian leadership of their responsibility to only send them into harms way in the event of a genuine security threat to the US

  • ||

    ""Didn't the idea that "we're not the world's policeman" used to be very popular amongst the right? """

    Wasn't that one of Bush's points when running for the election in 2000?

  • ||

    I have new faith in Reason. I'm renewing my subscription!

    KNIRD!

  • TallDave||

    Providing security among a friendly population to protect them from outside attack

    What makes you think people in Darfur are friendlier than people in Iraq? And where did you get the idea they're being attacked from the outside?

  • NeonCat||

    The US Govt has spent/borrowed trillions of dollars to make weapons and war across the globe. Now, we're hated all over, our currency is worth crap and we're stuck with this broken tar-baby of a nation. What exactly are we getting out of all this?

    I think we should bring our troops home. All of them, all over the world, and not send them out unless it is absolutely the only way to protect American interests. No nation-building, no peace keeping, none of that nonsense. America should be a shining beacon of what peace and freedom give you: prosperity, justice and opportunity.

    Put down the "white-man's burden" and walk quickly away.

  • PC||

    "Didn't the idea that "we're not the world's policeman" used to be very popular amongst the right?"

    Yup in the 90s I distinctly remember, they also were against loosening wiretapping regulations after OKC, now warrants are passe. There are many other things but it just goes to show how the MSM and Talk Radio are some of most effective propaganda forces in the whole godless world.

  • ||

    Indeed, but Obama was surely right in assuming that many Americans, perhaps a majority, have no problem with this.

    and i would be one of them. we knocked over saddam. at most we were responsible to get them to an election. which we did. at that point, if they fuck it up, that's their issue, not ours. i have no idea why we're still there; "nice election, folks, good luck to ya. and hey, if your government ever pulls that shit again, expect it to be flattened, too."

  • ||

    PC,

    I didn't use "good" and "evil," but "friendly" and "hostile." You brought up Darfur: the Darfuris would, indeed, be a friendly population to the force that stopped the janjaweed from committing genocide against them.

    When have they ever shot straight on the consequences of occupation? A Darfur mission wouldn't be an occupation. We we not be providing civil security, nor policing Darfuris, nor even trying to fight an enemy that is in and among the Darfuris. It would be a straight up military mission - there are militias over there, don't let them get their hands on the civilians over here.

    Besides I thought in Iraq we would be greeted with flowers and candy from a friendly population and live happily ever after. The naivete here was in simply taking those making the assertion at their word, and assuming that any military action would be just like some others (in this case, France 1944) rather than actually looking at the specific situation, and what the Americans would be doing there. In this case, it is you, and not I, who is making these errors.

  • TallDave||

    "Didn't the idea that "we're not the world's policeman" used to be very popular amongst the right?"

    Yes, the party out of power tends to be unserious about foreign policy. It's always easier to criticize than to act.

  • ||

    PC,

    When have they ever shot straight on the consequences of occupation?...But more importantly Darfur is not an imminent threat to the United States. These are the good arguments against a Darfur mission.

  • ||

    Iraq's 2005 elections were the first real sign that Washington understood why the Iraqis mattered.

    That's only because some guy named Sistani told us to shove that puppet government we formed.

  • TallDave||

    the Darfuris would, indeed, be a friendly population to the force that stopped the janjaweed from committing genocide against them.

    We'll be welcomed as liberators! They will throw flowers!

  • TallDave||

    Here, let me fix this for you:

    the Iraqis would, indeed, be a friendly population to the force that stopped Saddam's forces from committing genocide against them.

  • ||

    CBS News/New York Times Poll. March 28-April 2, 2008.

    "Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?"

    Right Thing Stayed Out
    34 62

    No young John Kerry is going to convince anyone that U.S. troops are behaving like Ghenghis Khan and Iraqis are better off without them.

    You sure do have your finger on the pulse of America, TallDave. But we already knew that.

  • ||

    What makes you think people in Darfur are friendlier than people in Iraq? Because the Iraqis keep bombing us.

    And where did you get the idea they're being attacked from the outside? Because the Janjaweed are from Arab populations that live separately from the Darfuris.

  • TallDave||

    "Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?"

  • ||

    So being the world's policeman is serious foreign policy?

  • Elemenope||

    The whole "what's good for Iraqis" question is very awkward for a politician whose base is advocating the course of action most likely to lead to very bad things for them.

    ...

    Yes, the party out of power tends to be unserious about foreign policy. It's always easier to criticize than to act.


    Are you for serious? Really? Being tentative about foreign military adventures is "being unserious"? Being bombed and invaded and plunged into sectarian conflict wasn't the bad news for Iraqis? WTF are you smoking?

  • TallDave||

    "Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?"

  • ||

    We'll be welcomed as liberators! They will throw flowers...the Iraqis would, indeed, be a friendly population to the force that stopped Saddam's forces from committing genocide against them.

    This is precisely the type of shallow thinking that comes from the right's habit of viewing the world as an undifferentiated mass, and any fight we get into is just a battle in the eternal struggle between good and evil.

    They don't need to understand how Darfur is different from Iraq. They don't need to understand how the missions are different, in either purpose or execution.

    The glib verbal trick TallDave just pulled isn't just linguistic; it's reflective of the problem with this thinking. He thinks you really can just switch out "Iraqis" for "Darfuris" for "French" in a sentence like that.

  • TallDave||

    "Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?"

    Oddly enough, most Iraqis think it was the right decision. But what do they know? And who cares what happens to them when we leave?

    You sure do have your finger on the pulse of America, TallDave

    Our military is rated as the most trusted institution in America. Sorry, you're not going to smear them into a withdrawal this time around -- and you're WAY out of touch if you think you can.

  • TallDave||

    Because the Janjaweed are from Arab populations that live separately from the Darfuris.

    You may be shocked to learn most Sunnis live separately from Shia and Kurds.

  • ||

    """the Iraqis would, indeed, be a friendly population to the force that stopped Saddam's forces from committing genocide against them.""

    Damn, that's already proven wrong.

    Remember the Shias in the south that got pounded when we left in 1991? They are shooting at us now. Maybe they are still pissed off.

  • TallDave||

    This is precisely the type of shallow thinking that comes from the left's habit of never putting the least bit of thjought into anything, and any fight we get into is just good if Dems are for it and bad if Repubs are.

    The glib verbal trick joe just pulled isn't just linguistic; it's reflective of the problem with this thinking. He thinks Iraq is really totally different from Darfur. He can't imagine the two might be very similar.

  • PC||

    joe | April 17, 2008, 4:19pm | #

    I know you didn't use those words but I did to make a future point. The mujahadeen were at one time "good" in the eyes of the US. Starting in the Carter Administration and Zbigniew Brzezinski was very involved in it, we starting funding them, and part of them would eventually go on to become Al Qaeda.

    Obama doesn't have a foreign policy, he has experts and advisers who tell him what to do and Zbig is a big part of Obama's foreign policy if not sole owner. Last night Obama praised HW Bush's foreign policy when asked about ex Presidents. That praise was almost a direct paraphrase of HW's chapter in Zbig's new book, "Second Chance". What the Neocons are to Bush, Zbig is to Obama.

    The error that many fall to though is when they look at Carter Administration alone and neglect Zbig's paper trail ever since.

  • Fluffy||

    Maybe we'll contrive a way to make Iran invade Iraq, thus justifying the anti-Iran hysteria.

    We could do what the Brits did at sea, and just move Iran's border on the map to the east, and just not tell them about it:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3761058.ece

    Voila! Then we can say the Iranians invaded Iraq!

  • ||

    Oddly enough, most Iraqis think it was the right decision.

    You keep asserting this. You don't ever manage to show any evidence for it.

    Sorry, you're not going to smear them into a withdrawal this time around -- and you're WAY out of touch if you think you can. Nope, the case for withdrawal, which has 2:1 support from the American people - has nothing to do with smearing the military. That's probably why Barack Obama and Ron Paul were the largest recipients of donations from military personnel.

    You may be shocked to learn most Sunnis live separately from Shia and Kurds. You might be shocked to know that we didn't "liberate" the Sunnis from the Shia, the Shia from the Sunnis, the Kurds from the Shia, or any other combination. As opposed to Darfur, where the conflict actually is between distinct and geographically separate groups.

    But you didn't know that. You don't think you need to know that. Actual understanding of what's going on in a country just isn't something you think you need in order to justify military action there. You have this nice little story about heroic America killing nasty, dark-skinned people, and that's all you think you need to know.

    Well, you might not be bright enough to figure out the problem with that, but a very large majority of your neighbors figured it out two years ago.

  • ||

    """Oddly enough, most Iraqis think it was the right decision. But what do they know?"""

    Cite your proof, we've been over this on a different thread and it wasn't as you claimed.

    But then again you're the same guy that said the Iraqis stood their ground in Basra. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

  • PC||

    "When have they ever shot straight on the consequences of occupation? A Darfur mission wouldn't be an occupation. We we not be providing civil security, nor policing Darfuris, nor even trying to fight an enemy that is in and among the Darfuris. It would be a straight up military mission - there are militias over there, don't let them get their hands on the civilians over here."

    What happens when those militias scatter like every armed force in the Middle East has and instead live among the people and start a guerilla insurgency?

  • ||

    Wow, there was absolutely no content, no intellectual ballast, whatsoever in TallDave's 4:33 post. Seriously, look at that, and try to come up with any idea at all beyond "I'm pissed off at joe because he's got my number."

    There's none. It's a wonder of the internet age.

  • jtuf||

    National sovereignty is a very good reason to not enter a country in the first place. Once we are there, maintaining our commitments is important. Obama's suggestion for a unilateral withdrawl would make other nations reluctant to cooperate with America in the future. That would make solving future disagreements with negotiations difficult.

  • ||

    Careful, TrickyVic.

    TallDave is a master of poll data.

    heh

  • ||

    The mujahadeen were at one time "good" in the eyes of the US.

    no, they weren't. they were just thought better than the soviets.

  • TallDave||

    You keep asserting this. You don't ever manage to show any evidence for it.

    Well, I've already linked the poll at least a dozen times, but I'd be happy to link it again. Of course, you'll just claim it isn't true again. You're immune to facts.

    Nope, the case for withdrawal has nothing to do with smearing the military

    Really? It sure didn't sound that way a minute ago.

    No young John Kerry is going to convince anyone that U.S. troops are behaving like Ghenghis Khan and Iraqis are better off without them....You sure do have your finger on the pulse of America, TallDave. But we already knew that.


    You might be shocked to know that we didn't "liberate" the Sunnis from the Shia, the Shia from the Sunnis, the Kurds from the Shia, or any other combination

    LOL The Kurds and Shia feel very differently. That's why they say the invasion was the correct decision, and Sunnis say the opposite.

    Once again, you prove your total ignorance.

  • PC||

    edna | April 17, 2008, 4:40pm | #

    You're right, Rambo was just a bad judge of character.

  • Fluffy||

    Oddly enough, most Iraqis think it was the right decision. But what do they know?

    I bet they would also have liked it if we had just dropped our trillion dollars on their heads in the form of airborne drops of bags of $100 bills.

    That wouldn't make it a good policy, or a policy that supports the interests of the US.

    It's also a bit hard to poll the dead, or even just those Iraqis who have left the country. That tends to skew the poll sample a bit, since the sample is both self-selected [it consists of people who haven't gotten the hell out of Dodge] and events-selected [in the sense that the folks who are dead don't have land lines to call].

    And who cares what happens to them when we leave?

    They're then in the same position as the inhabitants of every other country the US doesn't occupy.

    I don't want to occupy Darfur or Haiti either, Dave, BTW.

    Sorry, you're not going to smear them into a withdrawal this time around -- and you're WAY out of touch if you think you can.

    It was not necessary to smear the armed forces to argue for a US withdrawal from Viet Nam. The characteristics of the South Vietnamese Republic did that all by their lonesome. My Lai was not necessary.

    I think Abu Ghraib increases the damage done to the interests of the US by the Iraq debacle, but even if every action taken by the US military in Iraq was 100% by the book and pure, it wouldn't make any difference to the question of whether or not the war was "worth it".

  • TallDave||

    e your proof, we've been over this on a different thread and it wasn't as you claimed.

    Yes it is.

    http://www.deanesmay.com/2008/03/17/that-d3-systems-poll/

    Vast majorities of Shia and Kurds say the invasion was correct, and I defy anyone to say Sunni Arabs are 30% of Iraq's population.

    LOL Of course, you and joe are too busy jerking each other off to consider actual facts.

    Like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • Dr. Freud||

    For as long as American leaders don't treat Iraqis as important in their own right, the Iraqis will have no incentive to tie their long-term interests to America's wagon.

    Ha ha ha ha ha !

    Earth to Michael Young ! Earth to Michael Young !

    This has been a colonial war from day one. We didn't invade to bring democracy to the Arabs or to "help" the Iraqis. We invaded in order to set up a virtual colony -- a puppet state that would toe the line on foreign and energy policy and let us establish permanent bases. The funny thing is that the Iraqis don't want to be our colonial subjects. How very odd... Oh yeah, it isn't the 19th century anymore...

  • Fluffy||

    Obama's suggestion for a unilateral withdrawl would make other nations reluctant to cooperate with America in the future. That would make solving future disagreements with negotiations difficult.

    Right, because the conduct of the Bush administration during the WoT has so greatly enhanced our diplomatic position in the world.

    Are you on crack?

    If we want to improve our diplomatic position in the world, the most direct way we could do so would be to immediately withdraw from Iraq, and then turn to Britain and say, "Sorry for getting you into that shit," and turn to France and say, "Sorry about all that 'freedom fries' fucking nonsense," and then turn to everyone we either lied to or arm-twisted in turn and say, "It was really all that Bush guy's fault."

  • Kolohe||

    The difficulty with Obama's appraisal was not just that it was based on a selective reading of the situation in Iraq, so that his assertion of how the U.S. had to realistically accept continued Iranian influence in the country somehow morphed into tolerance for Iran's systematic undermining of American interests there.



    I accept the premise that "iran is undermining american interests." It makes perfect sense for Iran to want an unstable Iraq that America is trying to mangage.

    However, once you take the americans out of the equation, you probably will reverse the polarity on what the iranians want. There is no way in hell that Iran desires an unstable, unpredictable neighbor absent any bennefit of making america look bad.


    and I am amused by this juxatposition:

    , Obama took a minimalist view of what America could do to help Iraqi citizens regain faith in their government.



    vs

    the real difficulty with Obama's case was that it revived an American reading of Iraq that treats Iraqis as secondary characters in their own drama.



    So which is it? Are americans being too overbearing or not overbearing enough?

  • classwarrior||

    Michael, do actually believe for one minute that the US actually gives a shit about the Iraquis or the Iranians or anyone else who gets in the way of its imperialist ambitions? The war on Iraq was strictly about oil and intimidating the rest of the neighbourhood. To pretend otherwise is just more neocon crap.

  • TallDave||

    Fluffy,

    France and Germany have since elected pro-Bush governments.

    Meanwhile, Obama/Clinton are openly promising to piss off the world with a trade war.

  • ||

    PC,

    You raise a fair point - there are plenty of cases of us helping to empower "good guys," and advance their military objectives, only to have them turn out not to be so very good at all.

    But I'm not talking about propping up the Darfuris so they become a significant military power, and hope they don't just choose to turn the tables on the Arabs. I'm talking about a NATO defensive perimeter, a deterrence force, and that's it.

    I am both aware and respectful of the concerns you raise. Anyone who would take action without considering them is a fool. It is exactly because of those concerns that I would only support such a limited mission. As it is, I certainly can't fault anyone for coming down on the other side from me because of them.

  • TallDave||

    Wow, there was absolutely no content, no intellectual ballast, whatsoever in joe's 4:39 post. Seriously, look at that, and try to come up with any idea at all beyond "I'm pissed off at Talldave because he's got my number."

    There's none. It's a wonder of the internet age.

  • ||

    PC,

    What happens when those militias scatter like every armed force in the Middle East has and instead live among the people and start a guerilla insurgency?

    The Darfuris and the Arab populations from which the Janjaweed come from don't live together. They are both culturally and, more importantly, geographically distinct. This is a civil war within a community, but a case of one community waging war on another to take its land.

    If this was a case of the former, I wouldn't even be contemplating something like this.

  • ||

    Er, this "isn't" a civil war within a community...

  • Fluffy||

    The trade war thing is a definite negative. Got to go along with you there.

  • ||

    TallDave likes to write LOL a lot when he's getting pwned.

    History suggests that that is the best time to start ignoring him.

  • TallDave||

    I'm talking about a NATO defensive perimeter, a deterrence force, and that's it.

    LOL OK General Joe.

    Are you going to build a wall? How many billions a year are you going to spend manning this wall? What are you going to do when they keep mortaring your positions?

  • ||

    See? Nothing. Just bile at me. His screen must be a mess.

    Dude, type Lol a few times! It will totally change the way people reading the thread think you're doing!

  • TallDave||

    joe likes to complain I write LOL a lot when he's getting pwned.

    History suggests that that is the best time to do a victory dance.

  • ||

    If anyone wants to fix the world's problems, be it Darfur or Iraq, go invest money in a mercenary company! I'm sure Executive Outcomes has a successor company if you ask around. They generally have more specific training for the work you're seeking, and you can condition your money on transparency and results.

    Better yet, I don't have to worry about paying or getting drafted for it.

    Otherwise, you interventionists are just armchair generals and coffee-shop humanitarians happy to solve the problems you perceive with others' lives and money.

  • TallDave||

    See? Nothing. Just bile at me. His screen must be a mess.

    Dude, complain I wrote Lol a few times! It will totally change the way people reading the thread think you're doing!

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, the worst part of having Young's article in Reason is that it's even more unlibertarian than usual.

    Leave aside for a moment the whole paleo/cosmo question of whether US military power can be consistently projected in the service of liberty.

    Young is arguing that because the actions of our government have placed the Iraqis in a state of dependence, we now have to stay in Iraq and coddle that dependence.

    That argument basically rewards the pro-war forces for making the Iraqis dependent, because it allows them to use that dependence as an argument in favor of their policy.

    If someone did this for a domestic pro-poverty program, Reason would not publish it. If someone wrote an article saying, "The War on Poverty has made people dependent, so now we are morally bound to keep supporting people forever, because we created that dependence," Reason would not publish it. To the contrary, it would publish pieces eviscerating it.

  • ||

    Are you going to build a wall? How many billions a year are you going to spend manning this wall? What are you going to do when they keep mortaring your positions?

    Not being a Keyboard Kommado like youself, I don't pretend to formulate tactics like that. I trust that the military can figure out how to keep a gang with trucks and machine guns from raiding villages all by themselves.

  • TallDave||

    If anyone wants to fix the world's problems, be it Darfur or Iraq, go invest money in a mercenary company!

    Great idea, but sadly it is currently very illegal.

  • Nate Jessup||

    How many billions a year are you going to spend manning this wall?

    You WANT me on that wall! You NEED me on that wall!

    You can't handle the truth!

  • ||

    Wow, it's just as funny the fifth time as the first!

    Clearly, the work of someone confident that he's held up his end in an argument.

  • TallDave||

    Not being a Keyboard Kommado like youself, I don't pretend to formulate tactics like that. I trust that the military can figure out

    So in other words you're going to invade without a plan or an exit strategy, and then blame the military if things don't go well.

    Yep, sounds about right.

  • TallDave||

    LOL @ Nate Jessup

  • ||

    No, I'm just not going to formulate them myself, on an internet comment thread.

    Keep going, d00d! You're really acquitting yourself admirably.

  • TallDave||

    Actually, upon review, I must upgrade that to a LMAO.

  • TallDave||

    No, I'm just not going to formulate them myself, on an internet comment thread.

    So, again: no plan. You're just determined to invade.

    Why does this all sound so familiar?

  • Fluffy||

    So in other words you're going to invade without a plan or an exit strategy, and then blame the military if things don't go well.

    Maybe what we could do is invade without a plan or exit strategy, and then when it turns out that it's all a big ambush, we could dither for years and just leave the troops there, while we refuse to withdraw them because admitting failure would damage us in domestic politics. And if anyone complained, we could hide behind the very blood of the troops that we have squandered, or perhaps play very tiny violins about what will happen to the poor Darfuris if we leave.

    Yep, sounds about right.

  • ||

    I think you're losing badly enough to bust out the M-463G "ROTFLMAO."

  • Fluffy||

    I want to see Joe vs. Dave in the Octagon.

    And then I want a piece of that bitch Dondero.

  • TallDave||

    Fluffy,

    Works for me, but you'll have to run it by joe.

  • ||

    So, again: no plan.

    Is this the part where I explain the difference between tactics and strategy?

    I've explained the strategy. It's so simple even an Iraq hawk can understand it. You asked me about tactics, and that's something best left to the professionals.

    I love the way you keep throwing out things you think have no answer, and I keep answering them.

  • TallDave||

    Ah joe and his rich fantasy life. LOL!

    I see you're not even bothering to dispute the major points. This must like how Sadr "won" in Basra.

  • ||

    I defy anyone to say Sunni Arabs are 30% of Iraq's population.

    You mean other than the CIA Jackass?
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iz.html#People

  • ||

    Oh, look, another LOL.

    Always a good sign.

  • TallDave||

    As best I can tell, your "strategy" is: send in some troops, let them figure it out.

    Allow me to summarize:

    1. Send in troops

    2. ???

    3. Peace, love and happiness.

  • TallDave||

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iz.html#People

    Ah yes, I was hoping someone would bring that up.

    I will give you three guesses as to why that entry proves me right.

    (Hint: it involves the Kurds' religion)

  • ||

    You haven't raise a "major point" in a hour.

    You abandoned your position like an Iraqi Army company.

    You've basically said nothing but LOL yoor crazy for an hour now.

    Dave, you've lost the argument, you've thrown out assertions with no evidence, you're abandoned any pretense of trying to defend an articulable position beyond "God, I hope people don't think I'm losing." You're lousay are argumentation, you have an indefensible position, and you let your pride dictate what you believe.

    You're fired.

  • ||

    *takes off hairpiece*

  • Episiarch||

    I want to see Joe vs. Dave in the Octagon.

    I would pay to see that. Quite a bit, actually.

  • TallDave||

    You haven't raise a "major point" in a hour.

    Sigh. Let me summarize, again.

    1) A majority of Iraqis believe the invasion was correct.

    2) You will not be able to smear the military into a withdrawal.

    3) You want to invade Darfur, but you have no plan and no exit strategy, the exact criticisms made of our effort in Iraq.

  • ||

    If anyone wants to fix the world's problems, be it Darfur or Iraq, go invest money in a mercenary company!

    --TallDave
    Great idea, but sadly it is currently very illegal.


    There are respected schools of thought holding that legality in international affairs tends to be decided by those having the better mercenaries.

  • ||

    Having been through this thread already, why in God's name would I possibly go back and re-refute those points?

  • Invisible Finger||

    According to Barack Obama, when people lose faith in Washington they find refuge in god, guns, and xenophobia.

    I realize I'm in the minority, but only morons would ever place "faith" in government in the first place. Government is an organization (or set of organizations) created to perform tasks. Like McDonald's. Or Wal-Mart. Sounds stupid to just put "Faith" that McDonald's won't poison me, their actions should prove it. Likewise, I would judge a government based on its actions, not on some belief that it'll work.

  • TallDave||

    Oh and

    4) The 2003 invasion of Iraq liberated Shia and Kurds from an oppressive Sunni-dominated regime, which is why they overwhelmingly say the invasion was correct and Sunnis overwhelmingly say the opposite.

  • TallDave||

    I realize I'm in the minority, but only morons would ever place "faith" in government in the first place.

    Nah, you're just not a socialist.

    Or "moron," as you put it.

  • TallDave||

    Having been through this thread already, why in God's name would I possibly go back and re-refute those points?

    Because you can't. Hence, your focus on my LOLs.

    LOL!

  • TallDave||

    There are respected schools of thought holding that legality in international affairs tends to be decided by those having the better mercenaries.

    That is very true, and probably explains their dislike of competition.

  • Dr. Freud||

    NATO ??? Talk about a "solution" looking for a problem !

  • ||

    @TallDave

    You've got to be kidding:

    http://www.deanesmay.com/2008/03/17/that-d3-systems-poll/

    First, you take a poll which you claim to be based on a flawed methodology in the first place, then you claim the assumptions extrapolated from this flawed data by this blogger somehow produce a valid representation of Iraqi opinion?

    How do you say "Yanked out of his ass" in Arabic?

  • TallDave||

    Pig,

    I did not say the entire poll was flawed, just that the assumption that 30% of the population is Sunni Arab is very unlikely to be accurate.

    As far as I know, there's no reason to think the sect-specific response ratios are incorrect.

  • Russ 2000||

    According to Barack Obama, when people lose faith in Washington they find refuge in god, guns, and xenophobia.

    Of course, 99% of politicians, including Obama define themselves on terms of god, guns, and xenophobia.

    I really don't give a fuck if Obama is a man of faith in god or not. I really don't give a fuck what Obama thinks of guns since he won;t be shrinking the military or police departments any time soon - if anything they'll only be more heavily armed. I really don't give a fuck about Obama's xenophobia or lack thereof regarding other nations because he displays his own xenophobia regarding drugs, education, corporate taxation, etc. every single day.

    The best you can say about Obama is that he encourages people to be scared of different things. Yawn.

  • ||

    TallDave is obviously in perfectly capable hands, and I've washed mine of that debate, but there's a meta point I wanted to make:

    Compare the exchange I had with PC about Darfur, with that I had with the Tool. The former was meaningful, substantive, and thoughtful. The latter...well...you know.

    The difference is, PC actually addressed the issue on its own terms, in the service of a principled position about the subject at hand.

    While TallDave attempted to seize on it, like everything else he writes, purely in the service of arguing that he was SO not wrong about Iraq.

    It's pretty dramatic how much worse the intellectual quality of the latter's thought is. This, write large, is where our foreign policy is right now.

  • ||

    TallDave,

    If the current French or German governments are so pro-Bush why haven't France or Germany sent troops to Iraq? Indeed, have you studied either nation's "complex social dynamics?"

  • ||

    OK, fine, so the CIA number would leave it no lower than 24% and as much as 29.6% Sunni Arabs.

    This continues to show the severe bias in the 15% Sunni Arab population "credited" since by the article's own admission it discounts the bulk of the 2 million who fled the country - nearly all Sunni.

    And for the record again, the $200M/day occupation of Iraq is doing what precisely to enhance US National Security?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Nah, you're just not a socialist.

    I'll let time decide whether I'm a moron or not. But what in my post made me sound socialist?

  • NP||

    Shannon Love,

    I normally avoid commenting on a Michael Young article 'cause I've yet to see a single poster on this or other MY threads who understands Middle Eastern politics half as much as their apparently least favorite Reason staffer--assuming that he/she's bothered to offer any substantive criticisms at all--and any "debate" in such an irrational atmosphere is useless. That said, I don't think your own criticisms of the left are fair. Contrary to what you assert, many lefties in fact don't have a fundamental problem with American intervention--military or not--in other nations, as was the case with the first Gulf War, Bosnia, or even the ongoing Iraq War. It's only the antiwar radical crowd that's guilty of your blame-the-West psychology, and even they have condemned China for her persecution of Tibetians, though you'd certainly be right to criticize them for their monomania on the Israeli/Palestinian question and their relative lack of focus on its Chinese/Tibetian counterpart.

    So what's my point? That associating Obama with the antiwar radicals is just as lazy and dishonest as labeling all supporters of the Iraq War as warmongering neocons who don't give a rat's ass about the Iraqis, when it's mostly the paleos that deserve the accusation. Hope you'll agree with my point--and hopefully you'll heed this distinction in your future discussions.

  • ||

    Michael Young,

    Saddam's brutality was never something they worried about.

    Well, to be even more blunt, Americans haven't really cared about the most significant human rights crisis on the planet today over the past decade and a half: the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The various wars there far outstripped anything happening anywhere else on the planet, with over 6 million dead. Happily things have gotten a little better there over the past few years.

    Now, I am not suggesting that people shouldn't care, however, I am suggesting that if we actually approached these issues from the standpoint of "caring" via some utilitarian lens we would be far more concerned with other places in the world than we are with Iraq.

  • economist||

    Here's how I see it: Presently we have poured billions into rebuilding Iraq, and have probably paid the cost of actual damage inflicted in the invasion several times over. We have spent billions more trying to fight off the assholes who try to blow something up whenever we rebuild it. Ultimately, it is up to the people there to fight against people who are willing to blow up 15 of them to kill one US soldier. But I'll be charitable and say instead that we should, before leaving, install a friendly and relatively benevolent dictator to keep order, and then get the hell out. And to be fair, we should offer sanctuary to people who collaborated with us during the invasion and are going to be attacked when we leave.

  • TallDave||

    econ,

    A friendly benevolent dictator is generally only possible under peaceful circumstances. Otherwise, he needs to be unfriendly and malevolent enough to stay in power.

    We badly mismanaged the war the first few years, sidelining the tribal sheiks and thinking we could just hand things over to elected Iraqis while our troops sat in huge bases. Instead, power coalesced around those Iraqis best able to violently enforce their will.

    Petraeus has the right idea: protect the population and help them rebuild, and they will embrace you. That's why we've now gone months with few or no attacks in places like Fallujah that used to be extremely hostile: the civilians get on their cell phones whenever they see Al Qaeda.

  • TallDave||

    I'll let time decide whether I'm a moron or not. But what in my post made me sound socialist?

    Nothing, quite the opposite.

    But you said you weren't in the majority, so I thought I'd point out you're not necessarily in the minority, but rather just not a socialist.

    I think time has already proved you right, though.

  • TallDave||

    And another post from joe attacking me and my woefully inadequate intellect and substance, but in which he himself somehow ignores all four points I made in preference to ad hominems.

    I'm sure the irony is lost on him.

    LOL!

  • TallDave||

    If the current French or German governments are so pro-Bush why haven't France or Germany sent troops to Iraq?

    Pro-Bush is not pro-Iraq.

    But we are closer to them now than in 2003, so all this talk of "broken alliances" talk from Dems is both hyperbolic and pretty asinine considering they are talking about starting a trade war.

  • ||

    TallDave can you post a link that actually supports your claim?

    If you go to the link for the data in the link you posted, it states 50% says the invasion was NOT worth it with 49% saying it was.

  • TallDave||

    And for the record again, the $200M/day occupation of Iraq is doing what precisely to enhance US National Security

    Preventing Al Qaeda from establishing a secure base in Sunni Arab Iraq.

    Even Obama recognizes this is necessary, which is why he may still get my vote if he moderates after the primary. I was very impressed with pledge not raise taxes on anyone under $200,000, but of course that will make it impossible to fulfill the spending pledges he's made.

    As with all politicians, it's a question of which promises he's lying about.

  • TallDave||

    If you go to the link for the data in the link you posted, it states 50% says the invasion was NOT worth it with 49% saying it was.

    Right, but look at the population percentages. No one believes there are 30% Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Re-weighting for this obvious error, you get 62% of Iraqis overall.

    65% of Shia and 87% of Kurds say invading was correct. The Sunnis are, not surprisingly, unhappy to see the Sunni-dominated Hussein regime out of power, so 95% of them say it was wrong.

  • LOL||

    4000 dead, 3/4 trillion spent, no endgame in sight.

  • ||

    Why in the world would one assume that Americans and Iraqis would react the same way to losing faith in their government?

  • ROFL||

    Saddam Hussein on the gallows, 3 free and fair elections, a Constitution ratifed, hundreds of independent newspapers, TV stations, sanctions lifted, GDP doubled, the Saddam era death rate drastically reduced, electricity/water/sewer access way up, economic freedom, provincial elections scheduled for the fall, no end to improvement in sight.

  • ||

    Here's some poll data

    From 2006
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/26/AR2006092601721.html

    From 2008
    http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/GoodMorningAmerica/Iraq_anniversary_poll_040314.html

    But there is something interesting in the ABC poll that claims

    U.S.-led invasion: All Arabs Kurds
    Was right 48% 40% 87%
    Was wrong 39 46 9

    Liberated Iraq 42% 33% 82%
    Humiliated Iraq 41 48 11

    Presence of coalition forces:
    Support 39% 30% 82%
    Oppose 51 60 12

    Attacks on coalition forces:
    Acceptable 17% 21% 2%
    Unacceptable 7 8 74 96

    Of the Arabs in Iraq 60% oppose our presences. 48% say we humiliated instead of liberated the country. If it was right or wrong is closer, but more said it was wrong than right.

  • ||

    """Right, but look at the population percentages. No one believes there are 30% Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Re-weighting for this obvious error, you get 62% of Iraqis overall.

    65% of Shia and 87% of Kurds say invading was correct. The Sunnis are, not surprisingly, unhappy to see the Sunni-dominated Hussein regime out of power, so 95% of them say it was wrong."""


    Are you offering bad data as your proof since this is the poll you stated supports your claim? I like the way you cherry pick the data to exclude the part that makes you wrong.

  • ||

    Preventing Al Qaeda from establishing a secure base in Sunni Arab Iraq.

    Thank you for admitting that Iraq is not a current national security risk to the US.

    Presuming your improbable would even occur (Like Maliki, Mahdi, and Shia Iraq/Iran would let it happen), what's wrong with offseting the 75-100 trillion/yr current cost and betting on a future air campaign that would cost probably a 20th of that? The collateral damage could hardly be worse. More to the point, why don't we get back to Afghanistan and root out the sons-a-bitches now? Before they and the Taliban reestablish? What say you?

  • ||

    TallDave,

    Pro-Bush is not pro-Iraq.

    Since the Bush administration has made the invasion of Iraq the center of much of its administration I'm not quite sure how one can be against the war but also "pro-Bush" in any totalistic sense. I'll be blunt; Sarkozy is pro-France first and foremost.

    But we are closer to them now than in 2003...

    This is in large part because the current American administration has done a lot of walking back re: Germany and France and has been doing so since sometime in 2004-2005.

  • ||

    75-100 Billion/yr.

  • JB Stoner||

    Obama doesn't give a rat's ass about Iraqis because they are white.Hating Whitey is a constant theme of his political career.


    Why does Obama hate White people?

  • zoltan||

    Iraqis are white?

  • ||

    """Right, but look at the population percentages. No one believes there are 30% Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Re-weighting for this obvious error, you get 62% of Iraqis overall."""

    Where are the population percentages in the data? The poll just says "consists of face-to-face interviews with a random national sample of more than 2,200 Iraqi adults."

  • ROFL||

    Thank you for admitting that Iraq is not a current national security risk to the US.

    I don't think anyone has ever argued Iraq was about to invade us.

    Are you offering bad data as your proof since this is the poll you stated supports your claim? I like the way you cherry pick the data to exclude the part that makes you wrong.

    There is no part that makes me wrong.

    Presuming your improbable would even occur (Like Maliki, Mahdi, and Shia Iraq/Iran would let it happen),

    It's what did happen in 2003-2007. Iran is despised in Sunni Iraq and Maliki is not yet strong enough to hold the area.

    what's wrong with offseting the 75-100 trillion/yr current cost and betting on a future air campaign that would cost probably a 20th of that?

    LOL That's a bit higher than most estimates. I assume you meant billion.

    It's a fair question though: why not just continue the 1991-2003 policy of sanctions and bombing and troops in Saudi Arabia to deter him? There are several reasons. One, support for sanctions was crumbling as Saddam engaged in a massive bribery campaign. Two, it does nothing for the Iraqis suffering under Hussein. Three, bombing Iraqis from 50,000 feet is a policy that REALLY has no exit strategy, ever. Were we going to bomb them another 12, 20, 50, 100, 1000 years? At least under the current strategy there is a plan to transition to democratically-controlled Iraqi security forces.

    Where are the population percentages in the data?

    At the end (p44).

  • ||

    this was a great article

  • ||

    "For as long as American leaders don't treat Iraqis as important in their own right, the Iraqis will have no incentive to tie their long-term interests to America's wagon."

    Wrong. For as long as Iran and Iraq share a border, and as long as a majority of Muslims in Iraq are of the same sect as those Muslims in Iran, the Iraqis will have every incentive to tie their long-term interests to Iran's, and not the U.S.'s, wagon. Why do we always have to be the most popular kid in school? Why can't it be that American leaders do treat Iraqi's as important, but not important enough to sacrifice thousands of American lives for?

    "Should that matter? Both realists and idealists would probably answer in the affirmative. But where does Barack Obama stand? It's hard to imagine that Iraqis see in him change they can believe in."

    So long as the Iraqis aren't granted the right to vote in the upcoming U.S. election, who cares if they believe in Obama? At what point does it come to be that the U.S. has repaid the Iraqi's whatever debt it is that we may owe them?

    "But this would show that Obama, who has sold himself as a man of vision at home, is selfishly unimaginative abroad."

    That should be a good thing! Recent history should indicate that when U.S. leaders begin to imaginative in their designs for the world,
    the original idea bears little resemblence to the imaginative template cooked up in think tanks and on thesis papers.

    "if Washington could stomach the Iranian manipulation of Iraqis, then it made little difference what the deeper aspirations of Iraqis in general were"

    And what if it's not just a "manipulation" on the part of Iran, but a genuine desire by a majority of Iraqis to align themselves with Iran? After all, the current leadership in both countries, when finding themselves out of favor with their own respective regimes, sought refuge in each others countries. During the reign of the Shah, many of those that would lead the Islamic Revolution of '79 found shelter in the areas of Iraq that are now the most politically powerful. And, often times during the Hussein regime, the Iraqi Shiite party now in power - al Dawa - when they weren't plotting to blow up our embassy in Kuwait, were commiserating with their Shi'ite breathern in Tehran.
    Oh, the joys of being imaginative abroad!!!!

  • Daniel Reeves||

    Didn't the idea that "we're not the world's policeman" used to be very popular amongst the right?


    Acknowledging that other people exist and have problems also means getting rid of American subsidizations and preferring free trade. Obama would rather have an American poor person working than an even poorer person overseas working and only because of his American bias. And that's assuming that the employment market is a zero-sum game (hint: it is not).

  • TallDave||

    Wrong. For as long as Iran and Iraq share a border, and as long as a majority of Muslims in Iraq are of the same sect as those Muslims in Iran, the Iraqis will have every incentive to tie their long-term interests to Iran's, and not the U.S.'s, wagon

    Nah, ideology will trump that. N Korea and S Korea aren't allied, despite sharing a border and pretty much everything cultural and racial. S Koreans tied themselves to us. Anyways, Shia Iraqis are Arab.

    a genuine desire by a majority of Iraqis to align themselves with Iran

    Not likely. Iran's gov't isn't even that popular with Iranians, and Iran is making itself ever more unpopular in Iraq by arming the militias that are blamed for the violence.

  • ||

    "Not likely. Iran's gov't isn't even that popular with Iranians, and Iran is making itself ever more unpopular in Iraq by arming the militias that are blamed for the violence."

    They may be making themselves unpopular with the Sunnis that the militias are killing, but among the Shia that they are arming and protecting, I'd imagine that they are quite popular. Al-Sadr didn't flee to Iran for the weather.

    "Nah, ideology will trump that."

    Like religious ideology?

    "N Korea and S Korea aren't allied, despite sharing a border and pretty much everything cultural and racial. S Koreans tied themselves to us."

    So is Korea now a model for Iraq? A country that is partitioned and defended by thousands of land mines is hardly the model that was presented to us by this Administration. Do you really believe that a majority of Iraqis feel a closer kinship with the US as opposed to Iran?


    "Anyways, Shia Iraqis are Arab."

    So was it just a coincidence that under the B'aath party the Shias were completely shunned from having type of power? Is it also merely by chance that the "insurgency" was led by people that happened to be Sunnis?
    Shiites are a minority in the Muslim world. Arab or non-Arab they are going to stick together - it's in their best interest.

  • Tim||

    I think the Iraqis need to solve their own problems.

  • FMY||

    Won't someone PLEASE think of the Uzbeks?

    Oh right, their dictator is our ally, so it's cool.

  • ||

    Can we all agree that in addition to his many other grievous flaws, Obama is one heartless, arrogant SOB?

  • LoLMoose||

    oh hay hai gaiz. whad I miss?

  • SmokyJoe||

    Since Michael Young used the much over-used "moving goal post" statement, I'll stick with a football analogy...

    Obama isn't trying to move the goal post, he's just saying that it's fourth and long and it is time to kick the fucking ball. The Neocons are still trying to score a touchdown. If we stay in Iraq long enough we will break the military and turn the ball over on downs.

    It could be argued whether Obama wants to punt or kick a field goal, but either way it is time to get what we can out of this drive and start playing some defense.

  • ||

    "Won't someone PLEASE think of the Uzbeks?

    Oh right, their dictator is our ally, so it's cool."

    Don't forget the Saudis as well! But it gives me comfort to watch US presidents walk hand in hand with Saudi dictators knwoing that these dictators take such good care of their citizens. If only the US cared as much about ordinary Iraqis as we do about ordinary Saudis.

  • ||

    Indeed, but Obama was surely right in assuming that many Americans, perhaps a majority, have no problem with this. Saddam's brutality was never something they worried about.

    If, by "many Americans" you mean the people like George H W Bush, and Dick Cheney, and Ronald Dumsfeld, who supported and armed Saddam, okay.

  • ||

    B.S.

    When one country invades and conquers and occupies another country without provocation, the only justifiable course of action is to withdraw its forces as quickly as possible, apologize profusely, and turn those who ordered the invasion over to an international war crimes tribunal.

    The job of the invading country isn't to try to maintain their control until "order" is restored to some arbitrary standard. If the conquered nation is in complete chaos, international peacekeeping forces might be deployed on some limited schedule.

    Excuses about "training" Iraqi forces are getting ridiculous. They have been in training longer than most terms of enlistment in other countries.

    Who should pay for the damages caused by the Bush Administration's invasion? Everyone in the Bush Administration and those who voted for them. Since ballots are secret, I guess we'll have to limit liability to those who can be tracked down, such as those who contributed financially to his election campaigns.

    Too harsh? Limit liability to those who contributed to his second election campaign, since they should have known better.

  • ||

    I'm not a fan of Obama, but the idea of moving the goalposts is one that is much more realistic. ( I'd say let's call it a touchdown and end the game now. )

    The fact is, this is what is going to happen sooner or later anyway. The choice is really whether we're going to get out now or spend a zillion more dollars first.

  • ||

    """Saddam's brutality was never something they worried about"""

    Some even cheered when Saddam used his brutality against Iran.

  • ||

    But this would show that Obama ... is selfishly unimaginative abroad.

    The more I think about it, too much imagination is exactly what got us in to this mess in the first place.

  • ||

    """Nah, ideology will trump that."""

    Who's ideology?

    Hell, Dick Cheney claimed in 1994 that taking out Saddam would result in a Kurdish area screwing with Turkey, western Iraq that would align with Siria, and southern Iraq that would align with Iran. He also said it would become a quagmire.

  • TallDave||

    but among the Shia that they are arming and protecting, I'd imagine that they are quite popular.

    Actually, most Shia militia violence occurs in Shia areas like Basra and is directed against other Shia in the form of extortion, murder, theft, kidnapping, and general thuggishness. That's why Maliki's invasion was welcomed by Basrans:

    http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jau8cyaqusv7BMEs2SCe0aFbTabA

    An AFP correspondent said three northwestern neighbourhoods once under the firm control of the Mahdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr - Al-Hayaniyah, Khamsamile and Garma - are now encircled by Iraqi troops who are carrying out door-to-door searches.

    Two other neighbourhoods once dominated by the Mahdi Army, Al-Qiblah in the southwest and Al-Taymiyyah in the centre, have been cleared of weaponry and many people have been arrested, military officials say.

    Residents expressed relief at the improved security.

    "I am very happy about the situation right now. The deployment of the Iraqi army has made gunmen and gangsters disappear from the streets," said court employee Mahdi Fallah, 42.

    "The gangs were controlling the ports and smuggling oil. Now the ports are back in government hands. Everything in Basra is better than before."

  • TallDave||

    "Nah, ideology will trump that." Like religious ideology?

    Democracy vs. theocracy.

    So is Korea now a model for Iraq?

    South Korea, yes. They allied themselves to us and it's worked out tremendously well for everyone involved.

    Do you really believe that a majority of Iraqis feel a closer kinship with the US as opposed to Iran?

    Do you really believe that a majority of S Koreans feel a closer kinship with the US as opposed to N Korea?


    "Anyways, Shia Iraqis are Arab." So was it just a coincidence that under the B'aath party the Shias were completely shunned from having type of power?

    They weren't completely shunned, just mostly shunned; there were some Shia Baathists. And many Shia Iraqis fought against Iran. Arab identity goes back millennia farther than Shia identity.

  • ||

    Is democracy winning? The most powerful shia in Iraq is the Grand Ayatollah

  • ||

    Ending corruption and internal violence is something that Iraqis need to do for Iraq. The reason we are failing in Iraq with those goals is because they are not things that can be given to them by outsiders. Iraqis need to fight out their differences and become a cohesive country before they can have the stability and safety of a cohesive country.

  • ronanMr||

    Mr Young,
    Excellent article !!! right on !!!

  • ||

    Ditto.

  • ||

    Ah, for crying out loud! America has never for one moment carried about the Iraqi people. Otherwise we would not have invaded their country on a hyped up BS agenda which result in killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens and destroying the country's infrastructure. Obama merely stated the obvious. We aren't there to create any sort of paradise and never ever were. To claim we are is only a move to prolong and intensify our military presence in the region. It is a pretty rationalization and nothing more. We had no reason we gave publicly for invading. We have no reason that we give publicly for staying.


    There are only two real reason we went to Iraq and that we stay there. The first is OIL. Those remotely honest understand full well that Peak Oil is quite real and that in any case the age of cheap fossil fuel based energy is over. Iraq is not only #4 in reserves but is well situated to exert control of SA and other Middle East sources of supply as needed. Without the Oil motive our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan would make no sense at all.

    Second is a worldview straight from Plans for A New American Century and The Grand Chessboard. It is a world view of unchallengeable American power. This region is essential to such notions of American dominance. The Neocons are in power with precisely this view.

    Let us not prattle on about our duty to the Iraqi people. We have never felt any in reality. If we were going to be just then we would pay healthy unjustified war reparations and have neutral parties supervise the rebuilding of Iraq. There is no way our continued presence can lead to a good a peaceful outcome for the Iraqi people. I believe withdrawal and reparations are the most ethical thing we can do. However, I also recognize that a bloody battle for scarce energy resources is afoot largely unannounced.

  • ||

    Of course the majority of Iraqis would say the invasion was right. We made the shias the top dog there and they've done a very thorough job at exacting revenge on sunnis.


    Now, can I make the modest request that someone explain to me why the US should give a rats ass about settling centuries old tribal wars in Iraq?

  • M. Simon||

    Now, can I make the modest request that someone explain to me why the US should give a rats ass about settling centuries old tribal wars in Iraq?

    To prevent the return of terrorist training camps?

  • ||

    Occupying other countries is never in the best interest of the United States citizens, unless of course your a citizen who obtains a financial benefit in the occupation.

  • ||

    Did I miss something, or did this Reason writer pretty much just state that big government everywhere is what we should want? How is "leving it messy" not allowing Iraqis to be the key players in their own drama. Rather, it seems that the author is dissatisfied in LETTING them be the key players if it means things won't look the way he or she wants them to look. How disappointing. I expected Reason.com to vet their articles better than this.

  • Jason Moore||

    Although I agree that Mr. Obama wasn't prudent in his choice of words, I don't agree with Mr. Young's apparent position on our presence/role in Iraq, based on his concluding paragraph.
    The 2 strongest impressions I'm left with after reading Mr. Young's article are that the he doesn't have a very high estimation in the abilities of the Iraqi people as a whole and he seems to be an advocate for the "100 years if necessary" policy of Mr. McCain.
    To address the first impression; I'm not willing to discount the potential achievements of an entire nation of people based on the success of their attempts to function in the context of social instability and sometimes outright chaos created predominantly by outside forces. No one will know what the Iraqi people could achieve until everyone accepts the fact that the right and responsibility for creating a stable society and nation is theirs alone, and then America and it's supposed 'coalition of the willing' withdraws completely from Iraq.
    To address the second impression; The author makes no credible case for why the Iraqi people should tie their long-term interests to the US wagon, as the author suggests. "…the Iraqis will have no incentive to tie their long-term interests to America's wagon. Should that matter? Both realists and idealists would probably answer in the affirmative." Indeed, given the proven deficiencies in the logistical and administrative abilities of the American bureaucrats (New Orleans) assigned to execute the invasion and occupation of Iraq, why should the Iraqi people abdicate their responsibility for building their society and nation to the incompetent individuals who enabled its destruction? Personally, I don't think they should. Additionally, his statement "…It's hard to imagine that Iraqis see in him change they can believe in." would seem to indicate that Mr. Young thinks the Iraqi elections/politics are of minor importance to the future of Iraq when compared to the American Presidential Election. Unless Iraq is now the 51st state of our Union, I don't believe any American president has the right or the responsibility to determine the fate of the Iraqi people nor do I believe the Iraqi people should look to our president for their social and political salvation.
    However, Mr. Young's entire point and the whole debate on what the US should achieve before withdrawing from Iraq is rendered largely academic by the intentions of the US Government. The true goal of the US government in Iraq is to secure access to the natural resources beneath the feet of the Iraqi people and to establish a strong military presence in the Middle East theatre. The first goal precludes a complete withdrawal from Iraq. The second goal is what many Arabs, Nationalists and Religious Extremists are fighting in Iraq to prevent.
    Yes, Mr. Obama could have chosen his words more wisely but his failure to do so shouldn't be interpreted as an implicit validation of the government's inherently flawed policy of perpetual occupation. America isn't the answer to the Iraqi question. Iraqi's are the answer to the Iraqi question. The question is; who has the right and responsibility for rebuilding Iraq? To assume the American government's geopolitical interests trumps the will of the majority of the Iraqi population in this matter is egomaniacal.

  • Jordan 6 Rings||

    perfect

  • Nike Dunk SB High||

    is good

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

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