Whose Iraq Is It, Anyway?

A majority of Iraqis are calling for us to leave. Maybe we should listen.

"I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude," President Bush said last year, a bit resentfully. "That's the problem here in America: They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."

Apparently not. It seems the rarest person in the world is a grateful Iraqi. This week the Baghdad government said it would reject any agreement on U.S. forces that "violates Iraq's sovereignty." That came days after tens of thousands of Shiites took to the streets to protest a proposed agreement that would keep U.S. forces there for years to come.

Followers of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who rejects any such accord, turned out to hear a sheikh who warned, "The cancer has spread and has to be removed." Afterward, reports The Washington Post, they chanted, "Get out, get out, occupier."

Cancer? Occupier? That's not quite how it looks to American supporters of the war.

They see the United States as the savior of the ordinary Iraqis who survived Saddam Hussein only to be victimized by violent extremists. We certainly have made some sacrifices on their behalf, including more than 4,000 troops killed in the war and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on it.

In light of the improvement in security over the last year, you would expect most Iraqis to have a new appreciation for our efforts. Before the surge, Iraqi civilians were dying at the rate of more than 3,000 a month. This year, it's been fewer than 1,000 a month. So it might make sense to keep the Americans around for a while.

But that was not the prevailing sentiment last week among Sadr's followers. The proposed deal has also been denounced by the head of a Shiite party that is part of the ruling government, as well as the country's premier Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

It's not the prevailing sentiment among the Shiites' main rivals, either. A February poll found that 73 percent of Iraqis oppose the presence of foreign troops in Iraq—including 77 percent of Shiites and 95 percent of Sunnis.

Americans spend a lot of time debating the question of whether we should remain in Iraq. What never seems to occur to us is to ask the Iraqis the same question. Sadr is demanding that any agreement be put to a national referendum. We ought to endorse that approach, asking the government to let Iraqis vote on whether we should stay or go.

The U.S. went into Iraq five years ago to liberate the country from a tyrant. We have made war on al-Qaida in Iraq, whose tactics managed to alienate even their Sunni allies. Lately, we've also established comparative tranquility. If there was ever a time when Iraqis could calmly and peacefully weigh in on our presence, it's now.

Every major group has obvious grounds to want us around. We facilitated elections that let the Shiites gain dominance, allowed the Kurds to maintain their autonomy in northern Iraq, and brought Sunni militias over to our side. In short, we've done something for everyone.

Yet all indications are that Iraqis can unite behind only one proposition: Yankee, go home! If that's the case—or even if it's not—how can we justify not letting them express their preference? How can we say that the people we have tried to bless with democracy should be denied a democratic means of resolving the issue?

And why on earth should we mind? If the issue were put to a vote, one of two things could happen. The first is that Iraqis would make it clear they don't want us around anymore and are ready to take over full responsibility for their own affairs. In that case, we can hit the exits with a clear conscience.

The second is that they would have a sudden change of heart, realize they can't manage without us and ask us to stay. That would not convince many Americans who think the potential gains to our security are not worth the cost. But it would surely strengthen the argument for staying.

In November, Americans will get to vote in what amounts to a referendum on the U.S. role in Iraq. Why should we be the only ones?

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  • ||

    A February poll found that 73 percent of Iraqis oppose the presence of foreign troops in Iraq-including 77 percent of Shiites and 95 percent of Sunnis.



    Just wondering, how many in that poll supported immediate withdrawal? I remember hearing of a poll at the time where percentages of Iraqis close to that opposed the presence of foreign troops in general, yet a majority opposed an immediate withdrawal and a majority supported foreign troops remaining for at least six months. There seem to be more Iraqis opposed in principle to foreign troops than opposed in the specific case and immediate future. (Something that would be understandable.)

  • ||

    This is the poll in question, yes?

    Thirty-eight per cent want US and coalition forces to leave now - down 9% from last year.



    So 73% of Iraqis oppose the presence of foreign troops in general, but 62% want the foreign troops to stay "for right now."

  • Dr. Freud||

    Was bringing democracy to the Iraqis the real reason for the invasion ?

  • technomist||

    "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude," President Bush said last year, a bit resentfully. "That's the problem here in America: They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."

    Great quote. That'll be from the President whose administration went round asking all his NATO allies for favours and help and then slagged them off when they gave it to him instead of thanking them properly for the lives of their soldiers. And America wonders why it doesn't seem able to keep its friends like it used to.

  • ||

    If the real reasons for the invasion/occupation were clearly explained to us, would we recognize them? We've been subjected to so much propaganda on this subject that I doubt any of us could accurately distinguish between signal (truth) and noise (propaganda).

  • ||

    Our invasion and occupation cause Iraq to become a terrorist-laden war zone. Iraqis are being slaughtered left and right by foreign jihadists and local death squads. Civilian deaths from these attacks reach 3000 per month.

    We change our tactics a little, so that the death toll from this drops all the way down to 1000 per month.

    And Iraqis should be grateful for that?

  • Episiarch||

    Before I bother to read another of Chapman's shitty articles, is it as shitty and pointless as usual? If not, I might make the effort to read it.

  • Abdul||

    So 73% of Iraqis oppose the presence of foreign troops in general, but 62% want the foreign troops to stay "for right now."

    Nice going, John.

    Maybe Steve's referendum idea would work better as a betting pool where all iraqis can pick a date in the future where they think they'll be better off without the US providing security, training their army, and building vital infrastructure.

  • ||

    This column was also posted over at Townhall.
    Remarkably intelligent comments over there, so far, at least compared to what one might expect. Maybe the Koolaid drinking neocons aren't awake over there yet. Or can one hope for sustained rationality?

  • ||

    This is one of Chapman's better articles. But he's still using the 'The rest of the world should do what I think is the obvious right thing, because it seems so obvious to me that it's the right thing to do' approach.

  • Steve||

    I think we need to stay the course until we are done, not cut and run. Iraq is the most important front in the war on terror. We need to fight until terror surrenders. There was two towers in NYC, are we supposed to just let the Iraqis get away with it? They hate us for our freedoms, but too bad, we need to stay the course until they are fully democratized.

    Steve T

  • Episiarch||

    Cesar, stop trying out new characters. Just come back as yourself, no one is mad at you.

  • ||

    I think an Iraqi national referendum on continued Presence is a good idea as far as it goes. If they want us out, we do an orderly withdrawal taking all of our stuff with us.

    However -
    Those are US troops and the Iraqis have no clain on a free security force paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. I occasioanlly get the feeling that our presence allows the government in Baghdad to drag it;s feet, putting off the difficult decisions taht need to be made.

    C'mon. Admit that they have had sufficient time to build security forces and an army. There no urgency because the US Army and Marine Corps are there to pick up the slack. The time to evict the fledgling democracy from our security nest is rapidly approasching. I've often opined that Iraq is NOT READY FOR DEMOCRATIC SELF-RULE. My thoughts haven't changed but I'd toast the success of a secular democracy in Iraq that can stand on it's own two feet.

  • Rotter||

    Whatever happened to Cathy Young? I liked her filler more than Chapman's.

  • ||

    C'mon. Admit that they have had sufficient time to build security forces and an army.

    Not so fast. It takes years to build up an army and a police force that is truly effective and non-corrupt. Doing so is not just a matter of doling out weapons and uniforms, but requires implementing a massive cultural change.

  • Tony||

    I think we need to stay the course until we are done, not cut and run.

    We should just kill them all then take all the oil that rightfully belongs to us.

  • ||

    I think a vote is a great idea. Iraqis always say "we want the Americans to go home, right after they fix this or that". My guess is that they would if push came to shove vote for the US to stay. But if they voted for us to leave, then we should. It is thier country not ours. I really don't see a downside to having a referendum.

  • ||

    And why on earth should we mind? If the issue were put to a vote, one of two things could happen. The first is that Iraqis would make it clear they don't want us around anymore and are ready to take over full responsibility for their own affairs. In that case, we can hit the exits with a clear conscience.

    The second is that they would have a sudden change of heart, realize they can't manage without us and ask us to stay. That would not convince many Americans who think the potential gains to our security are not worth the cost. But it would surely strengthen the argument for staying.


    I've been saying this for at least two years now. A vote like this would either give us a face-saving way out or legitimacy for staying.

    My guess, however, is that when push comes to shove, Iraqis would vote for us to stay, all the while badmouthing us as occupiers. (Isn't it an odd psyche we humans have that we eventually resent the hell out of those we're dependent upon?)

  • ||

    The Iraqis probablly would have figured out how to govern their country and maintain security all on their own, even if we'd pulled out on Spider Hole Day. They've got 5000 years of experience, you know.

    The idea that the problem was a lack of working-aged men train with security training - in IRAQ! - was always laughable. The Iraqi government didn't have an effective army and police because of the political situation that exists under the occupation.

    The end of the occupation - its announcement, the declaration of our intentions, the renunciation of bases and oil rights, the taking down of checkpoints, the replacement of our flag with theirs, and the sight of American troops disappearing into the distance - need to be utilized as tools to make progress on that political front.

    A referendum can be a great way to get this process moving.

  • ||

    The most likely outcome of such a vote is 90%+ of the Arabs vote for us to leave, and a big majority of the Kurds vote for us to stay.

    And then we've got some thinking to do.

  • ||

    The people of Iraq hate Americans for there terrible murdering crimes against humanity. How who you like it if I am unable to stop China coming in and murdering you and taking your resources. Wake up ignorant fools. King Laurie

  • Steve||

    The people of Iraq hate Americans for there terrible murdering crimes against humanity.

    Uh, no, they hate us for our freedoms, that is what the president said.

    Steve T

  • ||

    Mr Harper in Canada better wake up and start supporting me here in Canada or my Country will lose
    me.I advised Obama and Clinton join forces not two days
    ago. King Laurie

  • ||

    People now investing in the over inflated oil stock are about have a rude awakening very shortly. It
    is all ways quite humorous how investors tend to jump on
    a falsely over inflated market like oil now is then complain when they lose money.

  • ||

    If oil prices continue to be over inflated the Auto manufacturers, Airlines,and trucking industries
    will crash first. I suggest if this trend continues people invest in electric cars, bicycles, motor bikes,
    and all high mileage transport vehicles,or alternative fuels. I have joined bicycle city a community program promoting cities world wide to provide safe lanes for bicycle traffic. For those who would like a less stenuous form there are some great electric assist and
    small fuel motored bikes on the market.

  • ||

    Uh, no, they hate us for our freedoms, that is what the president said.

    I thought it was the shitty cheese.

  • ||

    Is al Sadr still in Iran? If not, why was it "a sheikh" and not he himself that spoke to the assembled crowd of Sadr supporters?

    In any regard, I can't think of one reason why an Iranian proxy would call for protests against a continued US presence in Iraq. Especially now that his "militia" is being systematically decimated.

  • ||

    "The idea that the problem was a lack of working-aged men train with security training - in IRAQ! - was always laughable. The Iraqi government didn't have an effective army and police because of the political situation that exists under the occupation."

    Joe, they didn't have one because one didn't exist. Further one hadn't existed for 40 years, unless you count a police and security force who did nothing beyond murder and rob the country as "effective". Basically we had to start from scratch for both the army and police force. Initially they tried to build the police force from the rements of the old one and it was a complete disaster. It was only after a couple years of failure and they started over from scratch did the police force start to come around. The biggest thing we take for granted as Americans is the idea that there is or at least should be any form of honest government. Yeah, I know our government is hardly always honest but everything is relative. Think about starting a police force and an army when most of the people who have any experience in such matters are known killers and thugs and moreover there is an insurgency who is trying to kill anyone who joins up. Until you got rid of Al Quada, it was very difficult to build any security aparatus because they just killed anyone who joined up. Had we left last year or two years ago, things would not have solved themselves. Now, not so much. It may be that they are getting close to standing on their own. I have two friends over there right now both for the second time and they both tell me it is like night and day now compared to 2004 and 2005. You are right Joe, we are close to winning. When we do and it comes time to go home and not leave a bunch of people there for decades, I will be right there with you saying not to do that.

  • ||

    I think having the Iraqi vote prior to the U.S. election would be a fantastic idea because I am confident that they would vote the same way they have for the last 3 years: They would vote for us to stay.

    Iraq has an elected government now elected in a massively observed free and fair election. That government has repeatedly voted to authorized the presence of Coalition forces in the country. Every six months the government successfully petitions the U.N. to extend the Coalitions U.N. authorization to remain in Iraq.

    If the people of Iraq wanted us gone, we would be gone. We can defeat anyone on the battle field but we are powerless against the will of an elected government or even protest for that matter.

  • ||

    I mean to say Joe, i will be right there with you argueing to declare victory and go home. I think that day is a lot closer than it was last year at this time. The Iraqis in the long term don't want us there and we shouldn't stay long term.

  • M\'||

    It takes years to build up an army and a police force that is truly effective and non-corrupt.

    At least 232 years...and counting...

  • ||

    The Iraqi security forces managed to keep the car bombers out, John. They managed to keep the borders sealed, and the markets from turning into bloodbaths.

    Iraq was one of the most heavily-armed societies on earth, and the "problem" is that there aren't people trained to keep order? Bullshit.It wasn't a good security force, but it was a security force that could keep order, regardless of what we think about the people who were running it.

    It was only after a couple years of failure and they started over from scratch did the police force start to come around. You mean like those Interior Ministry dudes who carried out the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad? Good think we put together an "honest, decent" security force.

    Until you got rid of Al Quada, it was very difficult to build any security aparatus because they just killed anyone who joined up. Like I said, the security and political situation we created made it impossible for the Iraqis.

    You are right Joe, we are close to winning. Again? Oh, absolutely. Now that we finally drove Sadr out of Falluja, the light is just around the corner. It's going to be a great 2005.

    When we do and it comes time to go home and not leave a bunch of people there for decades, I will be right there with you saying not to do that.

    When it doesn't, you're going to keep telling that we're winning, and the next six months will be crucial, and the the rest of America is going to roll right over you.

  • ||

    I know Joe. It is killing you things are getting better in Iraq. It really must hurt. As far as the IRaqi security forces pre invasion keeping order, they did so by killing 10,000 people or so a month. Is that really how you think order ought to be kept in Iraq? Is that your position.

    Scoreboard Joe. The surge worked. Al Quada managed through three years of carnage committed against Muslims to make itself unpopular. Al Quada is basically dead in Iraq right now. The Army and police forces are about 100 times better than they were two years ago and the next President, who ever it is, is going to want to hang in there a little longer and take credit for a victory versus getting blamed for defeat. Why is that not good news? At some point in the next couple of years the vast majority of American soldiers are going to come home and Iraq will be the only functioning democracy in the middle east. Won't that be a good thing?

  • ||

    "I think that day is a lot closer than it was last year at this time."

    Yep. Only about 99 years and everything will be perfect. Then we are out of there!

  • ||

    Yes, John, it really hurts that, just like after Falluja, there has been yet another temporary decrease in attacks after yet another offensive. Boy, is my face red, because this sure is different from when exactly the same thing happened after Falluja.

    Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.

    But that trick never works!

    This time for sure!

    Rowwwwwrrrrrr.

    Don't worry, John. When President Obama does exactly what he's been talking about for two years, and starts the withdrawal, I won't laugh at you too much when you say "That's because we won! I war right!"

  • ||

    "Don't worry, John. When President Obama does exactly what he's been talking about for two years, and starts the withdrawal, I won't laugh at you too much when you say "That's because we won! I war right!"

    Does the prospect of the US winning a war bother you that much Joe? Really. You get so angry about it. Suppose, Obama does pull out over the course of a year and the country doesn't collapse and IRaq turns into the only peaceful democracy in the middle east, are you going to think that is a bad thing? Are you still going to claim the US lost? If that is defeat, it sure sounds good to me. Or are you going to hope and pray that the place falls apart into a blood bath so the world will know the US lost the war? Which is more important to you, the US losing or the future?

    Honestly, if God came to you tomorow and gave you a choice of the US leaving and things going great and everyone agreeing that the US won the war and defeated the insurgency or the US leaving, things going to hell and everyone knowing and thinking that the US lost, which would you take? I understand that you don't agree with the war. What I don't understand is why you get so angry and bitter when it appears that the US might actually manage to win it.

  • ||

    Yawn.

    Teh victory. Teh good news from Iraq. Again.

    Yes, John, the fact that you're using the "we can't leave, because things are less terrible than they were" instead of "we can't leave now, because things are terrible," sure has me in a rough spot.

    You get so angry about it. LOL. Quoting Bullwinkle cartoons reads as anger to you?

    You clearly want me to be angry. You clearly want me to be shaken by yet another entry in your unbroken, five-year streat of declaring victory. Uh, not so much. It's more like, it would be funny, except for all the dead people.

  • whollycow||

    Iraq has an elected government now elected in a massively observed free and fair election. That government has repeatedly voted to authorized the presence of Coalition forces in the country. Every six months the government successfully petitions the U.N. to extend the Coalitions U.N. authorization to remain in Iraq.

    Yeah, because the choices of elected leaders always reflect the will of the people. That's why everyone loves the PATRIOT act and No State Left Alone No Child Left Behind.

  • ||

    "You clearly want me to be angry. You clearly want me to be shaken by yet another entry in your unbroken, five-year streat of declaring victory. Uh, not so much. It's more like, it would be funny, except for all the dead people."


    You say that like victory is a bad thing. Why don't you just be honest and admit that you really hate it when things go well over there. Fuck you with all the references to dead people. You never gave a shit when Saddam or Iran was killing them. Stop pretending that you care when it is Al Quada or Iranian backed malitias that is killing them. If it had been up to you, they would still be living under a dictator who murdered them by the 1000s. That is the truth Joe. You don't have to agree with the war, but don't insult people's intelligence and claim that your objections are out of any legitimate concern over the Iraqi people.

  • ||

    or anything to do with anything beyond your own neuortic political needs. IF Al Gore had invaded Iraq, you and I would be on the same side.

  • ||

    I don't know about "hit the exits with a clear conscience", as even I feel guilty about what we did there and I never once supported the war in Iraq, but we could say that we left because we weren't wanted there and not that we "cut and run".

  • ||

    R C Dean:

    It takes years to build up an army and a police force that is truly effective and non-corrupt.



    There is no corrupt-to-time ratio. Chicago police have been corrupt for a nice long time and have no indication of changing any time soon.

  • Nonnie||

    Joe,

    Where did you get the 3K per month figure for civilian deaths?

    Nonnie

  • ||

    My, somebody sounds angry.

    If it had been up to you, they would still be living...

    Let the word go out: June 5, 2008, "John" accurately describes my opinion about the Iraq War for the first time.

  • ||

    Nonnie,

    Memory, from the peak of the violence in 2007.

  • ||

    The Iraqis probablly would have figured out how to govern their country and maintain security all on their own, even if we'd pulled out on Spider Hole Day. They've got 5000 years of experience, you know.

    5000 years of fucking it up, more likely. Their lost try didn't work out so hot, did it, what with the wars and genocide and all.

    The idea that the problem was a lack of working-aged men train with security training - in IRAQ! - was always laughable.

    joe, you apparently have no conception whatsoever of the difference between the shock troops of a thugocracy and a legitimate, functional police and military. They are night and day. I doubt very seriously that you would want to substitute a group of Hussein's enforcers for your local police.

    There is no corrupt-to-time ratio. Chicago police have been corrupt for a nice long time and have no indication of changing any time soon.

    Well, it requires some political will to begin and sustain the process. If there was a regime change in Chicago, it would take years to clean up the PD there. Why should Iraq be any different?

  • ||

    "You clearly want me to be angry. You clearly want me to be shaken by yet another entry in your unbroken, five-year streat of declaring victory. Uh, not so much. It's more like, it would be funny, except for all the dead people."


    You say that like victory is a bad thing.


    This, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with Iraq hawks: they don't understand the difference between "declare victory" and "victory." They've fallen into the trap of believing their own propaganda; not just believing their propaganda, but believing that their propaganda creates reality. Hence, objecting to them declaring victory as Iraq remains a hellhole is the same thing as being upset at the prospect of things getting better.

    Why don't you just be honest and admit that you really hate it when things go well over there. Not having any first-hand experience of witnessing things going well over there, I couldn't really say. Tell you what: I'll be honest and admit that I really hate it when disreputable hacks yammer about "Mission Accomplished" and waive their purple fingers around as Iraq bleeds.

    You never gave a shit when Saddam or Iran was killing them. Of course not. That's why I registered Repubican in anticipation of Donald Rumsfeld's 1988 presidential campaign.

    You don't have to agree with the war, but don't insult people's intelligence and claim that your objections are out of any legitimate concern over the Iraqi people. Obviously, only the people who celebrated the levelling of Falluja and the firing of 200 Hellfire missiles into Sadr City have a right to claim to care about the well-being of Iraqis.

    Go crawl back under your rock.

  • ||

    Their lost try didn't work out so hot, did it, what with the wars and genocide and all.

    Good thing there hasn't been any war or genocide since we went in. Um.

    joe, you apparently have no conception whatsoever of the difference between the shock troops of a thugocracy and a legitimate, functional police and military. They are night and day. I doubt very seriously that you would want to substitute a group of Hussein's enforcers for your local police.'

    Although "those people all look alike" to some, there actually are considerable differences between groups like the Fedayeen Saddam and ordinary Iraqi soldiers and police. Not to mention, most of the officer corps of the new military and police consist of people who did similar work under the old regime. Just like in post-war Germany, just like in post-war Japan. It's the leadership and the orders that neede to change, not the personnel en masse.

    Even most Iraq hawks have come to realize that disbanding the army was a bad idea.

  • Crazy Horse||

    We should have never invaded Afghanistan. Israel should leave Palestine and go back to Europe. Blacks should go back to Africa, Whites should go back to Europe, Asians back to Asia. And Mexicans should saw themselves in half and the european half should go back to Europe.

    We should also actively prevent technology and development from reaching nomadic tribal people at all costs. Humanity should not advance and libertarianism should not exist. Humans are evil and should start killing themselves so that the world will be at peace. All this and more from the environmentally and progress is always wrong groups.

    The Suix, the Crow, the Iriquios, the Iowa and Illini didn't want our forefathers in North America either. Why didn't we ask their oppinion? Why is it that progress and development has to be the number 1 issue? Is it not possible that the Iraqis like to be poor, uneducated, and follow a fantasy religion like Islam to be their guide to hatred of other groups? All of this could have been prevented if White People didn't exist.

  • oso||

    joe and John,

    interesting back-and-forth. thanks for the entertainment.

    my feeling is that neither of you are wholely correct.

    John, using dead bodies as a metric for success in a guerilla war is misleading. since the insurgents seek to avoid direct engagements, they'll disperse any time or place the occupier concentrates power. they will not, however, disappear forever. They simply wait and reappear somewhere else, or at a later time. I believe that's what they're doing, now.

    And that belief, Joe, is what makes me skeptical that Pres. Obama's withdrawl will catalyze a solution. When our troops disappear, the power vacuum will be filled with militias of the Shia (who've been busy reorganizing) and the Sunni (who we've been busy arming). The Iraq government simply can't field effective security forces fast enough to supplant the militias. Once the body count rises, the Repubs will scream bloody murder, and Pres. Obama will rush the troops right back in.

  • gmatts||

    "When our troops disappear, the power vacuum will be filled with militias of the Shia (who've been busy reorganizing) and the Sunni (who we've been busy arming)."

    But is there really a plausible scenario under which this tug of war between the competing groups in Iraq will suddenly just abate in the near future?
    And whose to say that just having the breathing room provided by more American troops will suddenly cause these centuries of religious and ethnic diiferences that are at the root of the problem?
    It seems as if the people in that part of the world are very adept at displaying patience when it comes to the grudges that they hold. why is it the responsibilty of our armed forces to maybe-hopefully-kinda-sorta play peacemaker until Iraqis start to magically get along? If the consequences of leaving Iraq will be a bitter pill to swallow, it seems best to do it now, as opposed to later.

  • ||

    @Crazy Horse

    "..follow a fantasy religion like Islam.."

    As opposed to the well-know reality-based religions like the ones many White People subscribe to? Any time religion comes into a conversation that's not about religion, it's a specious reference. Ne'er the twain shall meet.

  • ||

    @Author

    How about citing some sources for your poll numbers?

  • ||

    """Joe, they didn't have one because one didn't exist. Further one hadn't existed for 40 years, unless you count a police and security force who did nothing beyond murder and rob the country as "effective".

    What, no credit for fighting with Iran into a stalemate? Iraq had one of the most powerful armies in the region until we destroyed it in 1991 and starved it for 12 years. If we left now Iran would kick Iraq's ass. Basically we gave Iran a major advantage and now we must stay in Iraq if we want to keep Iran from using that advantage. One problem is that we don't really want to arm the Iraqi army with the weapons necessary to defend themselves nor do we want them to be defenseless.

    We do have a lot of retired F-15s we could sell to the Iraqi airforce. Our defense companies could make some decent change selling them cruise missiles, smart bombs, and assorted hi-tech weaponry. For some reason that doesn't sound like a good idea. Could the plan be to knock out the Iranian army on the way out to level the field?

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    But that was not the prevailing sentiment last week among Sadr's followers.

    And who the fuck cares about Sadr's followers' opinions?

    Oh, it's this Chapman fool. See, here's proof that he's a fool.

    In November, Americans will get to vote in what amounts to a referendum on the U.S. role in Iraq.

    He believes this.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Polling Iraqis means nothing. To anyone who isn't a fool, anyway.

    Iraq is not capable of governing itself. End of that story.

    Which leaves us with two options:

    1) The US imposes law and order of our kind on Iraq. We set the rules, create the police and enforce it. We pay whatever it costs to do so.

    We also start pumping oil and we get the proceeds, to pay for governing Iraq. If we were really lucky we might make a profit somewhere down the road. But I doubt it.

    2) Pick up and get out now, because Americans lack the stomach to do Option 1).


    But Americans also lack the stomach to do Option 2. So instead we're going to piss away our time money and lives in Iraq, doing penance because Americans collectively feel guilty.

    And somewhere down the road, we'll decide we need the money and the military for something else. Then we'll get out of Iraq, and no sooner.

    It makes no difference who gets to be president, and it makes no difference what Sadr or anyone else in Iraq thinks. This is how the ball is going to bounce.

    Because Americans are stupid, and they have proven it over and over in their foreign policy since at least late WWII. Or maybe it started when we decided to enter WWI, which we should never have done.

    Americans have lost sight of the fact that you only fight one kind of war -- the kind that you intend to win -- and that you simply don't go there if you aren't ready to pay the price.

    Chapman may not be too bright, but here in America he's got lots of company.

  • ||

    Its called a push-poll. Governments that are run by push-polled sentiment are not governments. Its called anarchy.

    We will leave when the elected Iraqi government directs us to, or when we decide it is in our best interest.

    The Iraqi government and the Iraqi people have stepped up to the plate against terror and chaos.

    To retreat just as the whole thing is turning around and starting to work would be incredibly ignorant.

    "Damn we're winning! Quick, do something to sabotage it just for a the: I told you so."

  • Informed Voter||

    Honestly, Chapman, after our military surge in Iraq succeeded so well in the face of all your traitor pals' false predictions that it would fail, you're still repeating their blatant lies from two years and more ago? Obviously, you haven't actually heard from anyone actually in Iraq lately. You're a traitor, a fool, and a moron, and so is anyone who believes you. Hey, "Reason" Magazine, are you really so starved for good columnists that you have to bring in idiots like Chapman here? Why are you paying this fool?

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Believe it or not they've got others that are worse, or at least as bad.

    But in fact, the drop in violence has more to do with our relationship with Iran, than it does the insignificant number of extra troops we sent over there.

    So I may be overly pessimistic in my take, because the truth is that a large fraction of the problem in Iraq has been coming from Iran. If they do the political thing with Iran, it might actually be possible to get us out of there before 2108.


    And you know, given how badly Ron Paul handled his campaign, I'd be afraid of how he might handle this problem if he got the chance. I mean RP's message aside, his approach was not particularly deft. That can spell disaster in diplomatic relations.

    Maybe, our election system actually does filter out incompetence in some small ways. Though it encourages monsters to succeed in many, many other ways.

  • jtuf||

    I whole heartedly agree that we should let the Iraqis vote on a US withdrawl. Having each province vote on might also work. That would side step the problems we might have if some regions want a withdrawl and others want continued protection. My knowlege of Reconstruction is limited. How did we organize the state by state withdrawl of the army from the US South? What were the pros and cons of that method?

  • ||

    """But in fact, the drop in violence has more to do with our relationship with Iran, than it does the insignificant number of extra troops we sent over there.""""

    Partly. The other part is we are doing less fighting, less patrolling.

    We might not have to wait for the Iraqis to vote. It will be interesting to see how they work out the agreement for us to stay. Which expires this year. They are saying free movement of our military is off the table, we are trying to keep it on the table.

  • ||

    For some strange reason, Iraq-democracy opponents often seem to believe that the most extremist, authoritarian, vicious and violent members of the polity represent the majority.

    Chapman, for example, bizarrely quotes the street gang members of Sadr's militia as evidence that the majority of Iraqis don't want us to help them.

    * Iraq has been a sovereign nation since 2004
    * Iraq's government is recognized by the UN
    * Iraq's government is a democracy elected in a massively observed free election
    * The duly elected representatives of the people of Iraq have repeatedly voted to authorize the Coalition presence in their country.

  • TallDave||

    In light of the improvement in security over the last year, you would expect most Iraqis to have a new appreciation for our efforts.
    ...
    But that was not the prevailing sentiment last week among Sadr's followers.


    Yes, how strange the very people profiting from the violence and targeted in the the U.S. effort to reduce violence oppose those efforts.

    Does Chapman not know this, or is he deliberately being misleading?

    Chapman also cites the February poll in a similarly misleading fashion. He doesn't link the poll, and for good reason: the poll finds only 38% want coalition forces to leave immediately (p4), down from 47% in August 2007.

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/1060a1IraqWhereThingsStand.pdf

    And in fact that number is likely overtstated, as it wildly oversamples Sunnnis (p44), who tend to be most opposed to coalition forces. The survey puts them at 30%, which is about 10% too high by most estimates, which place them at 10-20%.

    It's also likely that number has continued to improve right along with the security situation, as it did from Aug to Feb.

    So yes, absolutely let's have a poll of Iraqis on whether they want our help for another year. Let's have Iraqis debate whether Iran and the militias or the U.S. really have their best interests at heart. And let's have the result be binding on both Presidential candidates.

  • TallDave||

    But in fact, the drop in violence has more to do with our relationship with Iran,

    If by "relationship" you mean the raids U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have been against the rogue militias they support, then yes.

    The other part is we are doing less fighting, less patrolling.

    Actualy, we are doing FAR more patrolling. That was the central change in the surge, not the troop numbers (p9).

    http://www.brookings.edu/saban/~/media/Files/Centers/Saban/Iraq%20Index/index.pdf

  • M. Simon||

    We change our tactics a little, so that the death toll from this drops all the way down to 1000 per month.

    And Iraqis should be grateful for that?


    Depends on how many Saddam was killing a month. BTW how many of those thousand are anti-government terrorists?

  • TallDave||

    Actually, it's down to 500 per month. That's comparable to other poor countries like Venezuela.

    And it compares to an average of 7,000 a month under Hussein, with his near-constant wars and civil wars and sanctions and privation, not to mention the day-to-day brutality of a police state that maimed, raped, beat, and killed any political opposition.

  • B||

    "Our invasion and occupation cause Iraq to become a terrorist-laden war zone. Iraqis are being slaughtered left and right by foreign jihadists and local death squads. Civilian deaths from these attacks reach 3000 per month"

    Where and the fuck are you getting these death figures joe? Most reputable groups, including the AP put the number at less than 50,000 since the onset of the war. The 3,000 a month figure doesn't pass the fucking smell test, unless you are a dumb fuck who actually believes 200,000+ civilians have died since the start of the war.

  • B||

    Steve Chapman's writings on Iraq are almost as full of bullshit as the civilian casualty studies put out by the Lancet. Wasn't it Steve Chapman who was telling us a few months ago that anyone claiming the surge was working was merely spouting propaganda? Now the only people who believe the surge is a failure are Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. But hey, why listen to Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus, as well as the heads of the Iraqi military when they tell us violence is at an all-time low and al-qaeda has been routed when we have joe to tell us otherwise. After all, if there is one expert on Iraq who can set those liars straight, it has to be joe. Regardless of the reams of evidence demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that Iraq is improving daily, joe can always be counted on to produce some bullshit sarcastic response that just makes you want to say "why yes joe, why should I believe the experts on the ground when I have you here to set me straight".

  • Informed Voter||

    Don't look now, Chapman, but Shannon Love just spanked you hard:

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/5844.html

  • Informed Voter||

    And now Dean Esmay has spanked you too:

    http://www.deanesmay.com/2008/06/07/libertarians-against-iraqi-liberty/

    Yes, I guess a high percentage of Iraqis do want us to leave, if by "Iraqis" you mean a cherry-picked selection of Sadrists and Iranian infiltrators. As our soldiers on the ground there know, however, the vast majority of Iraqis outside that tiny blatantly biased sample of yours in a poll you were too cowardly even to link want us to stay.

    I'd love to see the Iraqis be given yet another referendum on whether we should stay because there'd be a landslide in favor of our staying, and you know it, you fool!

  • TallDave||

    That's comparable to other poor countries like Venezuela.

    http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/01/holy-chavistas-venezuela-violent-deaths.html#links

    1000 a month in Venezuela.

    It's worth noting that most violence in Iraq is now criminal rather than political. The militias are essentially glorified street gangs or mafias; their primary activities are "protection" rackets (extortion in fact), kidnapping, murder for hire, etc, essentially the same thing they do in South/Central countries like Brazil, Venezuela, or Colombia. The attention of the Iraqi government should continue to enervate these gangs over the next year.

    Iraq isn't Shangri-La by any means, but by nearly all measures it has improved since 2002 (GDP doubled, potable water access doubled, electricity nearly doubled (albeit thanks mainly to private generation), ten times as many phones, internet access from nonexistent to widely available in cafes, thousands of free TV, radio, and newspaper, right of speech and assembly and to vote) and will continue to do so.

  • ||

    """but by nearly all measures it has improved since 2002 (GDP doubled, potable water access doubled, electricity nearly doubled (albeit thanks mainly to private generation), ten times as many phones, internet access from nonexistent to widely available in cafes, thousands of free TV, radio, and newspaper, right of speech and assembly and to vote) and will continue to do so.""""

    So thinks are better than being bombed into the stone age and starved for 12 years. That can't be much progress. However if it is, then it's time for us to leave.

    Just let me know when they no longer need to be reliant on daddy USA so we can pack it up and call it a day. If a need still exists for Iraqi's to have an occupational force, then things can't be that great no matter what you read.

  • ||

    Tall Dave you should re-examine you page 9 claim. It not US patrols only, but the number of patrols of BOTH US and Iraq. and it notes,
    "NOTE ON THIS GRAPH: According to Rear Adm. Mark Fox, "more than half" of the 32,000 patrols conducted the week beginning
    February 21 were conducted exclusively by Iraqi Security Forces and all were conducted "in and around" Baghdad."

    And, the graph is only for the month of February.

    When I said we are doing less patrols I was referring to US patrols. I'm saying the Iraqis are doing more and we are doing less.

  • ||

    """* Iraq has been a sovereign nation since 2004"""

    I've heard that, but lets be honest, you're not a sovereign nation if there is a foreign military occupation which you have no authority over and does its will against your people with no recourse.


    The US does not want to give Iraq authority over US movement. The Iraqi's are currently demanding it for the next agreement being discussed now.

  • Douglas Gray||

    When President Bush says pulling out would be a "disaster", this really means that it would be a disaster for his reputation and his place in history.

    Chances are, the violence in Iraq will decrease as soon as we leave.

    One thing this administration never does is admit that they might be wrong.

  • Sun Stealer||

    Now I don't have a fancy journalism degree, but I don't think radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his flunkies speak for most Iraqis. I swear, the staff of Reason has lost all objectivity and credibility.

  • Sun Stealer||

    "When President Bush says pulling out would be a "disaster", this really means that it would be a disaster for his reputation and his place in history.

    Chances are, the violence in Iraq will decrease as soon as we leave.

    One thing this administration never does is admit that they might be wrong."

    After all, nothing says peace like a power vacuum. If there is any trouble, I'm sure the Narnia lion will fly down from the sherbert kingdom and make things better.

  • Informed Voter||

    You said it, Sun Stealer.

    Also, while Iraq is being annexed to the Sherbert Kingdom in Narnia, the mighty god Tash will come to annex America to Calormen, bringing World Peace and Universal Health Care in his wings while little birdies and bunnies dance at his feet. Dance, little guys, dance!

    Better give the bong another hit, Gray: your pretty delusions are fading fast.

  • TallDave||

    It not US patrols only, but the number of patrols of BOTH US and Iraq.

    A lot of those are joint patrols, but in either case it's more good guys on the streets, and the surge strategy was to get our guys off the FOBs and into the fight.

    As Petraeus says in the new COIN manual: the more you protect your forces, the less safe you may be.


    Chances are, the violence in Iraq will decrease as soon as we leave.

    I doubt you could find a single U.S. military intelligence officer who would agree.

  • TallDave||

    When I said we are doing less patrols I was referring to US patrols. I'm saying the Iraqis are doing more and we are doing less.

    Look at the number of JSS (Joint Security Stations, emphasis on joint). Again, moving away from a force protection stance was Petraeus' whole mantra.

    I've heard that, but lets be honest, you're not a sovereign nation if there is a foreign military occupation which you have no authority over and does its will against your people with no recourse.

    Germany and Japan are not sovereign? We wrote constitutions forbidding them from even having a military and still have troops in both. Iraqis at least got to write their own constitution and have a military.

    Also, they do have recourse. Over the last year I've seen a dozen cases where the Iraqis have told the U.S. they want someone released or etc. It was actually a big problem before Maliki took the reins and started going after the Shia militias. The new agreement will likely give them a lot more recourse and control.

    That can't be much progress.

    It's a lot more progress than would have happened had we not invaded.

    However if it is, then it's time for us to leave.

    We could see most combat units heading home by this time next year as Iraqis take over.

  • Air Jordan 14 XIV Retro||

    very good

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