USA Out of Iraq! Out of Iraq?

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With everyone everywhere weighing in on the "quick exit" column penned by my old boss Bob Novak, I figure I'm obliged to plop down a marker, too.

The crux of matter goes all the way back to the 2003 Rumsfeld "metrics memo" which castigated his staff for failing to come up with hard numbers for the insurgents, and if their ranks were shrinking or growing in response to U.S. operations. Without that crucial info it is impossible to know long-term trends for the conflict.

But it now appears there are as many 20,000 fighters hostile to the U.S presence in Iraq. The fighters flow in and out of the conflict, have various motivations and capabilities, and do not all answer to single command, but standard counterinsurgency theory suggests that the U.S. needs 200,000 troops in the field to deny the countryside to a guerilla force of that size and to swarm any concentration of fighters without losing control somewhere else. The U.S. presence in Iraq is several combat divisions short of that number now and is merely treading water until both the U.S. and Iraqi elections are over.

Iraqi fighters are also cheap and potentially plentiful while the magnificent units America deploys are expensive, incredibly lethal, and very finite.

Hence the choice Novak posits for the president early next year: more U.S. troops or get out. As Bush has already taken his "Mission Accomplished" victory lap for Iraq and Afghanistan, sending more troops to war would be cognitive dissonance of the first order. Declaring double-secret victory and bringing the troops home seems at least as plausible for a Bush II Administration.

I'd also add that a crucial, often overlooked factor this calculus is the continuing inability of the Iraqis to field any kind of fighting force that might take manpower demands off of the U.S.

You see, there is purpose behind those car bombs at Iraqi police stations and recruiting centers besides just murderous rage or "freedom hatred."

So long as the Iraqis are light in the manpower department, a Bush or Kerry White House must sooner or later confront the awful double-down or fold question.

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  1. “…a Bush or Kerry White House must sooner or later confront the awful double-down or fold question.”

    As I posted in a previous thread, the Bush White House has the added burden of confronting the awful fact that, unlike when we invaded, terrorists are now running amok in Iraq, making the fold scenario resemble a virtual surrender in the War on Terrorism.

  2. Upon re-reading my comment, I realized that it could be dramatically improved…

    Let me put it this way…

    Unlike a Bush White House, a Kerry White House won’t have the burden of having invaded Iraq on the false pretense that, even under the supervision of the coalition, it was a terrorist threat. At least, Kerry can claim that he, like the rest of world, was misled. A Kerry White House won’t have the burden of having invaded Iraq on the false pretense that there was a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. At least, that is, Kerry can always claim that, like the rest of the world, he was misled.

    In other words, having made Iraq safe for anti-American terrorists and the people who support them, a Bush White House is likely to have a much harder time trying to convince the electorate and their representatives that leaving Iraq is in our best interest even if that is indeed the case. However, a Kerry White House doesn’t have the overwhelming burden of excruciatingly public hypocrisy…

    …and while I’m pounding the table, let me point out that public hypocrisy is exactly what we’re talking about here. Bush invaded, bombed and occupied Iraq with the justification that Iraq was, essentially, a terrorist threat. He killed thousands of civilians and sacrificed the lives of more than a thousand American soldiers using the justification that Iraq was, essentially, a terrorist threat. The Bush Administration can’t project the claim that a Kerry Administration would be lax on terrorism and then turn around and withdraw from Iraq; for goodness sake, the fold scenario is an utter capitulation to terrorism.

    To the camera, anyway, Kerry can always blame a withdrawal on the incompetence of his predecessor. Bush’s predecessor may have been incompetent, but Bush can’t blame Clinton for this mess.

  3. Jeff the crux of the matter goes back to the post war plan that didn’t secure the Iraqi Army ammo dumps, and didn’t secure the borders.

    What were they expecting, a cakewalk?

  4. If bloggers are onto this pullout thing like they were onto my ideal and hero, Dan Rather, then it will be some interesting weeks here before the election.
    So does Karl Rove then think he can defeat the flip-flopper with the biggest flip-flop in modern history?

    trainwreck, there are some things even Super Dan won’t do or try:
    Spit into the wind.
    Secure borders.

  5. Ken. Relax. Don’t you realize that Double Secret Victory takes care of all of that? As long as we properly and unilaterally declare Double Secret Victory and quickly withdraw (I mean, rapidly deploy in homeward direction), we can then blame anything that happens in Iraq after that on the French.

  6. Memo to Rummy:
    A nuke on Khartoum, Sudan, concurrent with the US folding could save face… or at least be a distraction.
    Come to think of it, that could be the October surprise.

  7. It’s ok. You’re safe now.

    WASHINGTON – A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam ? formerly known as singer Cat Stevens ? was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said.

    So long as you’re dealing with the really serious threats…

    What’s a non-violent libertarian wannabe to think? The US has made such a horrendous mess in Iraq that pulling out just doesn’t seem to be a morally acceptable option. But neither does staying.

    Well, this is what one gets when one prosecutes a war of aggression, I guess.

  8. Ken,

    The public hypocrisy thing is funny, because either you are a hypocrite or you are horribly ignorant of Saddam’s actions. Yes, there is practically no evidence that Saddam and Usama were buddies. But there is a massive amount of evidence that Saddam was a patron of terrorism. Just because Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, doesn’t in any way prove that he wasn’t involved in terrorism. Dude, open your eyes and look past your hatred for Bush.

    These words do not in any way imply support for Bush, so don’t even try that angle. I’m just sick and tired of the blatant hypocrisy on all sides of the Iraq war issue.

  9. The problem is that we cannot seem to convince the Iraqis that our victory is worth fighting for. The guerrillas appear spontaneously, out of the environment, while our Iraqi auxiliaries have to be coaxed out of the woodwork, paid, and exhaustively trained before they are “ready” to fight a bunch of guys who have little more than a rudimentary understanding of weapons and a lot of anger.

    What are we doing to turn this around? Not much. Local elections might have created regional leaders who would have acted to protect their position, motivating their relatives and followers to volunteer to fight for the new government. But we never held the elections because we couldn’t control the outcome.

    Now we pin everything on a national election that has little direct relevance to the daily struggles of the average Iraqi. Since de-Baathification there are no national leaders except for the ones that the occupiers have created. Is it really such a surprise to find the Iraqis cynical and embittered?

    Whatever else the insurgents might be, they are the ones who are willing to risk their lives for the future of their country. No one can claim that these men are fighting the US Marines out of self-interest…their life expectancy must be very low. That there does not appear to be any equivalent enthusiasm in the new Iraqi police and Army units.

  10. Just because Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, doesn’t in any way prove that he wasn’t involved in terrorism.

    It also doesn’t prove that…

    He didn’t start WWII

    He wasn’t involved in the war in Vietnam

    He didn’t put a man on the moon

    He didn’t invent curly fries

    He wasn’t involved in the Iran-Iraq conflict

    If it’s hard to prove a negative. it’s really easy not to prove one.

    Yes. Saddam: thoroughly awful human being. I know this lady down the street who is also a thoroughly awful human being. I only hope GWB never hears of her.

  11. I haven’t been reading as much as I should have, so I don’t know if I’ve already missed the boat on this, but I’d like to be the first person to point out that Saddam Hussein was kind of like Tito, and that Iraq is in for a good long period of Yugoslavianism. Did I already miss the boat on this? If not, let me know – I’d like to shine up the phrasing a bit and hope it goes down like “cold war” or “iron curtain.”

    Also, does anyone know why, after we were attacked by a shadowy network of Islamist extremists, we decided to take down a Ba’athist nationalist who was responsible for destroying the economy of Islamist extremist Iran, who’s not too fond of Islamist extremist Saudia Arabia, who never really got along with Islamist extremist bin Laden, and who damn well kept his Muslim extremists in check, even to the point of killing Al-Sadr’s father? Remember when we said we were going to kill Al-Sar Jr.? Twice? And then remember when we didn’t do it? Twice? Well, Saddam would have done it.

    What was Saddam’s original crime, again, back in 1990? Using the armies of his post-colonial, arbitrarily-bordered dictatorship to invade a smaller post-colonial, arbitrarily-bordered dictatorship?

    Or was it that thing that Rumsfeld didn’t think to get made about till a few years after it happened? That deal where he killed thousands of Kurds during their attempted rebellion? Kind of like what Turkey has done over the past couple of decades? Except Saddam used gas, instead of just guns. Which is worse. Because gas, I guess, REALLY kills you. It’s a weapon of mass destruction. As opposed to those things my grandfather dropped on German population centers back in WWII. I call those “Liberty Bombs,” and so does Fox News.

    Well, at any rate, there’s a chance that Iraq might someday obtain democracy. A Shia-dominated democracy with a contentious Sunni minority. That’ll be swell. We’ll all get a lesson in civics when the Shia masses get a chance to have their say. I bet they say they want an alliance with Iran. That’ll be great. Two countries, each ran by Islamofacists. Side by side. Forming an axis. In fact, maybe they can call it that. The Axis Powers.

    You know who I kind of miss? Henry Kissinger.

  12. Being new here I hesitate to post this…

    Kerry’s foreign policy involving Iraq is not going to be visibly different than Bush 2’s.

    The big picture policy, which really got underway under Bush 1 is to drag the area into the 21st century to further make things safe for the global economy to take hold there. The ONLY reason Bush 1 didn’t haul ass straight to Baghdad is because he was hoping the U.N. would play a more assertive role in doing the dirty work for us through the sanction process. Clinton was essentially on the same page. Bush 2, by contrast with his father, didn’t hold out any hope for the U.N. to really do anything substantive, ever. In this I think he is probably correct.

    Anyway, for those who think Kerry will withdraw my only question is this: Just exactly how does he do that at this point? WIthdrawal guarantees civil war in Iraq, destabilizing the entire region and effectively turning Iraq over to a, by then, nuclear Iran. The outcome of that happening is too wildly depressing to even think about.

    It goes like this: an Iranian sympathetic Iraq provides a geographic and ideological bridge to Syria. If that plays out the entire northern Persian Gulf is under the control of people who hate us, Pakistan is in danger of becoming more radical (thereby threatening India), the Arabian penninsula states are isolated, and we have an Islamic superstate controlling a good chunk of the world’s oil and casting a shadow on Israel.

    Bush absolutely rushed us to war, but it was a war that was coming at some point. Kerry knows this very well as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Kerry also knows that every time he slams Bush on the war in Iraq it’s completely political. The timing might have been different under Gore, but we’d still eventually have to solve this problem.

    Bush or Kerry in November, we’d all better get used to the idea of sacking up and winning this fight. The alternative is far worse than our present problems.

  13. I don’t see how the war was necessary or “coming at some point” by your reasoning, although I do agree with part of it. Saddam wouldn’t have cooperated with the Iranians – whom he preferred to kill – and didn’t get along with even his fellow Ba’athists in Syria. The superstate you’re talking about may very well arise – but only because we’ve created a power vacuum that’s being filled with Islamist extremists. Unless I’m misunderstanding your post?

  14. Raymond,

    What a ridiculous thing to do. Did you even understand why I made the statement? Ken made a big deal about 9/11 and Saddam not having anything to do with it. My point, which you left out, was that Saddam was a patron of terror, and that this is well documented. Hey, I’m glad to be corrected. Who wants to be wrong? But you didn’t actually correct me. You just made an ass of yourself. I bet you always failed the “What’s the theme of the story?” question in elementary school reading.

  15. Did you even understand why I made the statement?

    I got the impression that what you were saying was, Saddam was a really really bad guy. So, even if the administration lied through their teeth to the American people, to their representatives, and to the world, he had to go. (Is that right?)

    The public hypocrisy thing is funny, because either you are a hypocrite or you are horribly ignorant of Saddam’s actions.

    I couldn’t tell if “you” meant “you, the reader”, “you, Ken”, “all you guys who are opposed to the war”, or “one”.

    It’s like, man, unclear. Dude.

    So unlike: “Bush invaded, bombed and occupied Iraq with the justification that Iraq was, essentially, a terrorist threat. He killed thousands of civilians and sacrificed the lives of more than a thousand American soldiers using the justification that Iraq was, essentially, a terrorist threat.”

    Which is perfectly clear to me, though I would add that Bush did this as the agent of the American people, with your (ie, the American people’s) acceptance of the rationale and of the doctrine of pre-emptive strike. You (ie, the American people) were willing dupes. You allowed this to happen. You swallowed the lies.

    And when the majority of people in other countries refused to accept American justification for this new doctrine, their will was either overridden by their governments (Spain, Italy, Britain), thus earning these countries accolades as “defenders of democracy and all that is good” from some in the American media, or followed by their leaders, with the result that they and their countries (France, Germany, Canada) were cast as enemies of the United States, cowards, collaborators.

    “Ignorant of Saddam’s actions”? Why, I bet Ken was able to find Iraq on the map even _before_ this stupid war. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Ken.) And I bet he knew all about just how evil Saddam was. Even when Saddam was “our guy” containing the Persian Monster.

    “Ignorant of Saddam’s actions”? Why, this administration was so not-ignorant about Saddam that they knew things that weren’t even true! As they know that there will be successful elections in January, as they know that the way to an Iraqi’s heart is through his roof with a bomb.

    Yes, there is practically no evidence that Saddam and Usama were buddies.

    But now there’s plenty of evidence that this Administration has created a situation in which terrorism thrives.

    Three thousand dead human beings and a couple buildings are very dramatic. Hacking off the head of some guy who just wants to make a decent life for his family is not really any less dramatic.

    A bin Laden doesn’t need a Saddam to provide him with a stage for dramatic messages. He’s now got something even better.

    But there is a massive amount of evidence that Saddam was a patron of terrorism.

    “Massive”? “Patron of terrorism”? Baloney on both counts. Saddam wasn’t Qaddafi.

    Was he an awful dictator who used violence and terror to control his own people? Yes. Was he a demagog? Yes. So what makes him so special? He stopped being “our bastard”.

    Just because Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, doesn’t in any way prove that he wasn’t involved in terrorism.

    Done that one already. See above.

    Dude, open your eyes and look past your hatred for Bush.

    “Hatred” is such an ugly word. “Disdain” more accurately expresses my own feelings. (I can’t speak for Ken here. [Or anywhere.])

    These words do not in any way imply support for Bush, so don’t even try that angle. I’m just sick and tired of the blatant hypocrisy on all sides of the Iraq war issue.

    You know what, Bill? I am, too. But I’m especially disgusted with the hypocrisy of the leader of “the world’s only superpower” and his puppet masters. Your (ie, the American people’s) agents all. You paid for the bombs. You paid for the leashes.

    What a ridiculous thing to do. … Hey, I’m glad to be corrected. Who wants to be wrong? But you didn’t actually correct me. You just made an ass of yourself. I bet you always failed the “What’s the theme of the story?” question in elementary school reading.

    I was in the Red Bird Reading Group in first grade. This was the highest group. I got gold stars! I was very proud of that.

    Maybe I peaked early.

  16. “…standard counterinsurgency theory suggests that the U.S. needs 200,000 troops in the field to deny the countryside to a guerilla force of that size”

    This statement assumes the insurgency is based in the countryside, as in Vietnam and Colombia. It is not – the only thing based in the Iraqi countryside is sand. This is an urban guerilla movement, and there is no standard theory for dealing with that.

    “Also, does anyone know why, after we were attacked by a shadowy network of Islamist extremists, we decided to take down a Ba’athist nationalist who was responsible for destroying the economy of Islamist extremist Iran, who’s not too fond of Islamist extremist Saudia Arabia, who never really got along with Islamist extremist bin Laden, and who damn well kept his Muslim extremists in check, even to the point of killing Al-Sadr’s father?” Bush and the PNAC crew decided they need to kill some Arabs and overthrow their government real fast, and Iraq was the most convenient target. The specifics of the leadership’s politics were irrelevant – if we’d had a sanctions/aerial bombardment policy against Yemen for a decade, he’d have invaded Yemen.

  17. Jeff: Great post, unlike most of the anti-war fact-devoid opinion flinging rife on this blog (and especially the comments).

    On a theory level: given the current situation, where the locals are not joining in the fight, perhaps because they don’t want to line with the loser and suffer the horrible consequences of being the enemy of the winner (far worse than the reverse, their being the enemy of us, in which case they will just be coddled), is the only viable option letting loose the military and levelling sites of resistance (Fallujah, Sadr City)? Are the negative consequences attendant with that less than those attendant with cutting and running?

  18. Mike,

    So much for Democracy, Liberation, Freedom on the March, and the rest of the Great Game bs, huh?

    We’re just gonna kill ’em all.

  19. WIthdrawal guarantees civil war in Iraq, destabilizing the entire region and effectively turning Iraq over to a, by then, nuclear Iran.

    Something tells me Iranian heads come off as easily as Western ones. Seriously, if Iran thinks about just taking over a militarily and politically weak Iraq, the Sunni elements among the insurgents can reorient their fire and ire eastward pretty easily – and they’d be highly motivated to do so.

  20. Bill:
    “My point, which you left out, was that Saddam was a patron of terror, and that this is well documented.”

    By whom? the same people who documented his WMDs?

  21. “…there is a massive amount of evidence that Saddam was a patron of terrorism. Just because Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, doesn’t in any way prove that he wasn’t involved in terrorism.”

    When I wrote, “…having invaded Iraq on the false pretense that, even under the supervision of the coalition, it was a terrorist threat…“, I might have added, “…to the United States.”, but, in context, wasn’t that already obvious?

    The Bush Administration sold us a bill of goods, complete with phony photographs of mobile weapons laboratories, showing that Iraq was a terrorist threat to the United States. I think it unlikely that the public or congress would have supported the invasion of Iraq on the basis that Saddam Hussein was writing checks to the surviving family members of Palestinian suicide bombers. It is true that Saddam Hussein was giving safe harbor to a known terrorist, but Hussein also appears to have executed that terrorist in the run-up to the war as a show of faith or something like it.

    In this context, you’re right about September 11 being beside the point.

    The fact is that, as a direct result of the Bush Administration’s actions, Iraq now poses a greater terrorist threat to the United States than it did under the supervision of the coalition.

    The Bush Administration will have a hard time making the case that we should abandon Iraq now that Iraq is a hotbed of anti-American terrorism because the Bush Administration used anti-American terrorism to justify the occupation of Iraq in the first place.

    P.S. Hate is too strong a word. I regret having voted for Bush last go ’round; indeed, I despise the Administration in a way that only someone who once supported it can. But my feelings are grounded in facts; I despise the Bush Administration for its actions and for its incompetence.

  22. Who is harboring terrorists now?

    “Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that mid-level officials in the U.S. government were undermining his country’s war on terrorism by supporting Chechen separatists, whom he compared to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden….”

    ” Putin’s comments came a few weeks after the U.S. granted asylum to Ilias Akhmadov, the “foreign minister” of the Chechen separatist movement.”

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/003111.php

  23. Bill,

    Seems like the terrorists Saddam supported (in a not especially strong manner) were those fighting Israel or the Kurds. Now, I’m not saying terrorists aren’t bad just because their targets aren’t us, and we should obviously arrest anyone on our own soil who participate in the perpetration of crimes elsewhere. But the “links to terrorism” justification for the war is a broad brush that ignores what kinds of links to what kinds of terrorists. I still believe I’ve seen no evidence that Saddam posed any more than a far-fetched theoretical threat to us. If you’re saying we were acting on behalf of others in a world-policeman role, then say so, but be prepared to explain why so little of the world wanted us to play such a role on their behalf.

  24. You know who had a lot of links to terrorism? Bush Sr. and Reagan. I can prove that they trained Osama bin Laden, and I don’t even have to go in front of the UN to do it. I can also prove that they provided aid and comfort to Saddam during the ’80s. Maybe we should liberate Reagan’s grave.

  25. “…standard counterinsurgency theory suggests that the U.S. needs 200,000 troops in the field to deny the countryside to a guerilla force of that size (20,000)”

    I know a way to get 500,000 troops into the countryside. Pay 500,000 young Iraqi men–and women!–an average of $500 a month as local militia footsoldiers. That average of $500 a month works out to $6,000 a year; that’s a fantastically high salary in Iraq. The local militia footsoldiers would answer to U.S. officers and commanders.

    The total cost of that operation? It would be 500,000 x $6,000/year = $3 billion per year!

    What the @#$% is the problem here? Pull the all the U.S. footsoldiers out of harm’s way, and leave the U.S. commanders/officers in, commanding an all-Iraqi army of 500,000 men and women. Such a plan would cut U.S. casualties by 80-90%. And the resulting militias would absolutely destroy the “insurgents” (otherwise known as terrorists).

    And if that doesn’t work, then *double* the number of Iraqis in uniform to 1 MILLION men and women! The cost of that only increases to $6 billion per year.

    Why in the world can’t anyone on either the Bush or Kerry sides think “out of the box”?

  26. The problem is that we cannot seem to convince the Iraqis that our victory is worth fighting for. The guerrillas appear spontaneously, out of the environment, while our Iraqi auxiliaries have to be coaxed out of the woodwork, paid, and exhaustively trained before they are “ready” to fight a bunch of guys who have little more than a rudimentary understanding of weapons and a lot of anger.

    as much as it galls me to say it, i think the truth is that this reticence to adopt american goals is a direct result of the widespread assumption in the mideast that we are only a step from leaving. who wants to be labelled a collaborator in the aftermath of an american withdrawal?

    i think the invasion was an immense mistake — one of the worst american foreign policy errors ever. it has succeeded in vindicating the grievances and forwarding the goals of al-qaeda and (more generally) antiamericanism tremendously, a terrible price to pay for upsetting a fairly harmless third world dictator and gaining some new military bases. (oh, of course, i don’t want to forget the abortion that is the neocon Global Democratic Revolution, now, do i? what a lark that is! utopia, anyone?) we here in america are all but guaranteed to be reaping blowback in the form of dead civilians in american cities for decades to come, and someone should explain to the idiot masses that there’s precious little we can really do about it, short of a full-scale domestic putinizing (and probably not even then).

    but, now that the awful mistake has been made, we have to make the best of it. the american army should make it known wide and far that it is staying in iraq forever. if imperialism and global conquest is the goal, do it properly — muster/draft more troops, send them to their deaths on the ground rather than bombing innocents from the air to get at the root of the problem, and take over direct administration of the nation jointly with the british (and put them in charge if possible — their cultural experience would be invaluable).

    most would not believe us anyway, as the last occupation we maintained was korea. but the alternative is to put a failed state atop the 2nd-largest oil reserves on the planet — installing a balkan mess next to the critical saudi swing production. as distasteful as it is, the enormous neocon folly leaves us only one respectable option.

    and it would have a desirable side effect of severely limiting any possible imperial forays into iran, the dprk or syria — putting a leash on the hawks, as it were.

  27. “if imperialism and global conquest is the goal, do it properly -”

    What makes you think “imperialism and global conquest is the goal”?

  28. because it’s patently obvious, if you’re not a well-propagandized american.

    nearly 500 foreign military installations, nearly a million troops and immense amounts of hardware garrisoned overseas, massive military budgeting, billions in funds directed to client states, a constant state of war on multiple foreign fronts — regardless of the reasons we want to believe, american empire has expanded relentlessly since the louisiana purchase, and today stands astride the world, present on every continent.

  29. I respect your opinion on this, gaius, and have thought the same thing at one time or another – kinda the all-the-way-in or all-the-way-out thought.

    As with most of the either-or thinking, it doesn’t work.

    Democracies just can’t do imperialism very well. Getting elected gets in the way of a long term unprovoked occupation (and no, occupying S Korea, Germany or Japan doesn’t count). At some point voters get tired of supporting an ungrateful country in a faraway place. The Brits learned it, the French learned it and now we’re learning it.

    I believe the best we can now do in Iraq is some kind of holding action until we can get off the mideast oil jones. As long as we need their oil we have an interest there and as long as we have an interest there we’ll be fucking with them.

    If we were serious about this “war” we would be going full tilt to find an alternative to oil as our primary source of power. We should make gas really, really expensive. Encourage, maybe even subsidize, people to work close to home. Quit subsidizing airlines and highways. Bust our ass to develop workable wind, solar, geo-thermal and maybe even nuclear power. Give our citizens a sense of empowerment by allowing them to participate in the war effort – something besides shop. Power conservation, not military action, should be our patriotic duty.

    Then we let the Ottoman empire finally find its own destiny.

  30. Mark Bahner,

    Your suggestion regarding the training of Iraqis to take our place is predicated on some bold assumptions–that we can find so many Iraqis that aren’t part of the insurgency, who want to join an American led force and who will follow orders reliably, etc.

    If we could do what you’re suggesting, I’m sure we would. We tried it in Vietnam; it didn’t work.

    In regards to your question about imperialism and global conquest, let me remind you that British imperialism wasn’t predicated on stripping the rest of the world of its resources and subjecting the world’s masses to British rule.

    The British believed they were bringing civilization to the world, the rule of law, education, and, yes, international trade. You don’t have to believe that Bush invaded Iraq just to get the oil in order to recognize the similarities between what the British did and what we’re doing. We justify our actions by saying that we’re bringing democracy and the rule of law, and there’s a lot of flag waving at home, etc., etc.

    You’ve heard the one about the road to hell, right?

  31. I’ve taken recent condemnations of comparing the War in Iraq to the Vietnam War to heart. With that out of the way, let me point out that the two conflicts are alike in that, much like Mr. Taylor has written above, we will soon come to the question of whether we should, like President Johnson, opt for a huge deployment or, like President Nixon, bug out.

    I agree with Gaius Marius, where he wrote:

    “Now that the awful mistake has been made, we have to make the best of it. The American army should make it known wide and far that it is staying in Iraq forever.”

    I agree because I think we can expect the average Iraqi to support the insurgency to the same extent that he believes that we’re going to abandon him. I think that’s what Johnson thought about the average Vietnamese guy on the street too, and Johnson’s decision to up the ante ended up costing us tens of thousands of American casualties.

    But pulling out of Iraq now that it’s crawling with anti-American terrorists is an utter capitulation in the War on Terror. I hope I’m wrong about an Iraqi Civil War. I hope I’m wrong about staying through the thick of it and losing all of those lives; I hope I’m wrong about American resolve–maybe it will actaully increase over time; I hope I’m wrong about the elections in Iraq–maybe they will solve all our problems.

    I hope I’m wrong about a lot of things.

    Should I stay or should I go now? Indeed! Over the next few months, I expect the word quagmire to get much more use. Isn’t this what we’re talking about when we talk about a quagmire?

  32. I think we can expect the average Iraqi to support the insurgency to the same extent that he believes that we’re going to continue to rule his country as an occupying power.

  33. The Brits learned it, the French learned it and now we’re learning it.

    gadfly, i agree — i’m no imperialist — i find the costs appalling and ultimately untenable, partly because of the condition of our democracy. we are being roundly defeated in iraq and, in all likelihood, will tuck tail. but that will render iraq a recurring american nightmare, imo.

    aristocratic republics — as the british and french empires were at their heights — probably do this better than democracies do. empire can be rationally undertaken by cooler heads than the mob, thinking in economic and strategic terms. the onset of broader voting bases and the mob’s attendant vicissitude certainly compounded the economic difficulties of perpetuating european empire.

    but wide-based plebiscitarian systems — especially one so poorly educated as ours — can function well as a conquerer when driven by fear. in this way, imo, we are much like the romans, for whom every war of the late republican period was widely held to be defensive, from jurgutha to the pirates to mithridates to vercingetorix. so it has been for us — world war 2, the cold war, the drug war (which has ensconced us in south america) and now terrorism, all “forced upon us”.

    of course, despite being “unwilling” warriors, we rarely ever truly leave the lands we involve ourselves in, often militarily but especially economically. we’re still the most important military presence in europe sixty years later, and we’re now expanding into the former warsaw pact nations.

    natural resources are a factor, of course, but it’s really this empire building through fear that is the problem. in ‘fraidy-cat nation, i fear it will take truly terrible consequences before we realize that our fears are ruining us.

  34. I think we can expect the average Iraqi to support the insurgency to the same extent that he believes that we’re going to continue to rule his country as an occupying power.

    that’s certainly true of some, joe — the sunnis particularly stand to lose most by our continuing presence.

    but the larger problem, imo, is the unwillingness of shia factions to come aboard, even though they could have much to gain. this is at least partly because they understand, i think, that we are not durable — and when the occupier is gone, the collaborator is a scapegoat. it isn’t just that simple, of course — the american armed forces have behaved reprehensibly in innumerable cases, all but inviting hatred — but brutality can be respected if it is believed permanent. that’s a lesson we could learn from saddam.

  35. And then what have we gained, gaius? Less anti-Americanism the Muslim world? A fertile bed for the liberalism and democracy that are supposed to be the long term goal? A realignment of Muslim government towards us and away from radical Islamists? Dissidents in Iran hanging up posters of American presidents, a la Vaclav Havel?

    I don’t think so.

  36. oop, sorry sorry — i don’t mean to make a case for empire. i find its continuance and expansion a terrible, wasteful use of wealth and power, especially in the aftermath of the cold war. invading iraq was an awful error of epic scale, which actually severely worsened our problems and radically expanded the scale of the arab/al-qaeda insurgency against american proxy rule, i think it’s clear.

    but, in the aftermath of that immense mistake, we are faced with either leaving iraq to be the balkans of arabia, or staying and at least attempting to impose order and institutions as the british did from 1914-58. note that i don’t mean the united states should or has to actually stay forever — i mean only that it must give the impression that it isn’t leaving. if calm can be established under that pretense, we could then start slowly devolving control and backing out.

    i don’t like it — i sincerely wish we had never gone, and have opposed our invasions of iraq since 1991 (let them have kuwait!) but what’s done is done, and we have to make the best of it now.

  37. What makes you assume our continued presence will make things better?

    Might not more Iraqis joing their national guard if it were free of the taint of collaboration with the invaders?

  38. What makes you assume our continued presence will make things better?

    not better so much as more stable; and not more stable without significant increases in manpower and money. and what makes me believe such a thing is possible is the existence of every empire before this one — from the british back to the persians, iraq has usually been someone’s imperial province. it can be ruled as such if done competently.

    agreed, this is a long shot under any forseeable american scenario. i’m largely entertaining a hypothetical, imo — we’re going to get beat and run.

    Might not more Iraqis joing their national guard if it were free of the taint of collaboration with the invaders?

    far more likely they’d join their local sectarian militia and join in the oncoming civil war.

    there is now no way, imo, to organize a secular iraqi army without extensive effort, financing and training from us. if we left it alone, it would not happen spontaneously — such a thing must be an imperial enterprise.

  39. gaius, gadfly et al.
    How many crappy governments sit atop a shitpot of oil?
    Over the long haul, does that affect oil prices?

  40. “aristocratic republics — as the british and french empires were at their heights”

    gaius, can you explain what you mean when you talk about “aristocratic republics” ? It can’t possibly be education, because the level of education of the typical aristocrat back then was appaling, especially by contemporary standards.

  41. Ruthless,

    A big drop in Iraqi output probably wouldn’t effect oil prices over the long term. However, our tolerance for high gasoline prices may be even lower than our tolerance for war casualties in the short term.

  42. Ken Schultz writes, “Your suggestion regarding the training of Iraqis to take our place is predicated on some bold assumptions–”

    Oh really? What are they? 😉

    “…that we can find so many Iraqis that aren’t part of the insurgency,…”

    ??! That’s a *bold* assumption? There are supposedly 20,000 insurgents in Iraq. (Or “terrorists,” as I call them…because that’s what I think most Iraqis call them.) There are over 20 MILLION Iraqis. And probably 10+ million Iraqis over the age of 18. So I don’t see that finding 500,000 or 1,000,000 of them is a “bold assumption.” Especially if women are specifically targeted for recruitment.

    “…who want to join an American led force…”

    Americans would be at the top. (Just what would they be doing? Making sure the Iraqis all get paid. Providing communications between militias and aerial intelligence and support. That sort of thing.) All the Iraqi grunts would be reporting to Iraqi officers.

    “…and who will follow orders reliably, etc.” Well, if they didn’t follow orders reliably, they could be demoted or fired. We’re talking about average wages that are something like 3-8 times the average wage in Iraq. It shouldn’t be too hard to get good quality with those wages.

    “If we could do what you’re suggesting, I’m sure we would. We tried it in Vietnam; it didn’t work.”

    Nonsense.

    1) I don’t think we “tried it in Vietnam.” Please provide evidence that the U.S. ever paid the wages of 500,000 South Vietmanese soldiers. I don’t think we paid the wages of *any* South Vietnamese soldiers. But if we did, I’m virtually certain we didn’t pay 500,000 South Vietnamese soldiers more than triple than 5 times their usual pay!

    2) Second, Vietnam was NOTHING like the situation in Iraq. Vietnam was a proxy war between major powers. There are no major powers supporting the “insurgents.” And if we find that minor countries like Iran, Syria, or Saudi Arabia *are* supporting the insurgents, we should ***take those governments out.*** (It wouldn’t be substantially harder to do than it was to take out Saddam Hussein. That is, it wouldn’t be harder to do if anyone in the Bush Administration was capable of effective communication. Which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be the case.)

    The “insurgents” have–or should have, if the U.S. government did things right–NO backing from any foreign government. That means no money. No training. No equipment. No food. No water. In contrast, the Iraqi troops would have big bucks, training, decent equipment, and plenty of food and water. Plus aerial and communications support. The battle should be over in 6 months.

    “The British believed they were bringing civilization to the world, the rule of law, education, and, yes, international trade.”

    The difference is that the British (as in India) had BRITISH people ruling their colonies. Not to mention the fact that the British (of their time) were unquestionably racists.

    I’m not talking about U.S. people running Iraq. Only the military. And only for a very short time. In fact, the time could even be defined: 1 year, or 2 years.

    “You’ve heard the one about the road to hell, right?”

    I’ve heard about the road to hell. But I’m not so blinded by my hatred of G.W. Bush (didn’t vote for him in 2000, won’t vote for him in 2004) to fail to see that Iraq today is **unquestionably** a better place–to anyone who values freedom–than it was under Saddam Hussein.

    And I don’t have much doubt that Iraq would be an even better place if my idea would be implemented for a year or two. I also think it’s virtually certain that my idea would result in fewer U.S. combat casualties, and would even cost less than maintaining 100,000+ U.S. ground troops (many of them National Guard) in Iraq.

  43. Preliminarily, let me point out that the soldiers we’ve trained so far have failed miserably when led into combat.

    Take a look at this link:

    http://www.navyseals.com/community/articles/article.cfm?id=4459

    Here’s a quote from the link:

    “…That security force, known as the Fallujah Brigade, was formally disbanded last week. Not only did the brigade fail to combat militants, it actively aided them, surrendering weapons, vehicles and radios to the insurgents, according to senior Marine officers. Some brigade members even participated in attacks on Marines ringing the city, the officers said…”

    Also, I’d like to point out that I haven’t even mentioned whether or not I think Iraq is a “better place” now than it was under Saddam Hussein. I have pointed out that Iraq is a greater terrorist threat to the United States now than it was before we invaded. I’ll have to wait and see what happens if we bug out or if there’s a civil war to say whether or not Iraq is a “better place” without Saddam Hussein. Maybe you should wait until then to make that determination too.

  44. “…That security force, known as the Fallujah Brigade, was formally disbanded last week. Not only did the brigade fail to combat militants, it actively aided them, surrendering weapons, vehicles and radios to the insurgents, according to senior Marine officers. Some brigade members even participated in attacks on Marines ringing the city, the officers said…”

    So throw the the ones who aided insurgents or shot at Marines in prison, and get some new recruits.

    If there are not 500,000 people over 18 years of age in all of Iraq that are willing to fight “insurgents,” then Iraq is simply not worth saving. Why pretend that they want a democracy, if one cannot even find **2 percent** of the population willing to fight for it?

    “I have pointed out that Iraq is a greater terrorist threat to the United States now than it was before we invaded.”

    I don’t agree. Prior to the invasion, terrorists and their supporters were actually ***running*** the country. (60 Minutes even interviewed one of the 1993 WTC bombers in Iraq in 1998.) I don’t agree that this is the case now.

    “I’ll have to wait and see what happens if we bug out or if there’s a civil war to say whether or not Iraq is a “better place” without Saddam Hussein.”

    The point is that it is better right now. The invasion has unquestionably made the country better than it was. And Iraqis have been given a chance to make their country even better than it is now. Anyone who values freedom (which libertarians presumably do) ought to appreciate that.

    “Maybe you should wait until then to make that determination too.”

    Look at two unbiased evaluations of freedom in Iraq. Freedom House evaluates political and civil liberties freedom.

    http://www.freedomhouse.org

    And the Heritage Foundation and others evaluate economic freedom.

    http://cf.heritage.org/index2004test/country2.cfm?id=Iraq

    By BOTH rankings Iraq was one of the handful of worst countries in the entire world. If one values freedom, it would be virtually impossible for Iraq one year, 5 years, or 10 years from now to NOT be better than it was right before Saddam Hussein and his sons were ousted.

  45. Ken, from the website you cited, “The generals offered to set up a force of more than 1,000 former soldiers from Fallujah who would control the city and combat the insurgents, including a cluster of non-Iraqi Islamic militants. In exchange, the Marines pledged to withdraw from the city.”

    See, that’s BS. That’s NOT what I’m proposing. There is NOT a U.S. leadership, and the leaders are a bunch of old Iraqi generals! That’s stupid! Anyone should be able to see that! Plus, we’re talking about 1000 men. (And all men, at that.) I’m talking about 500,000 men *and women.* I’d put 25-50,000 of them in Fallujah alone.

    “But the brigade never developed as planned. Instead of wearing the desert camouflage uniforms the Marines provided, members dressed in their old Iraqi army fatigues. Instead of confronting insurgents, the former soldiers initially manned traffic checkpoints leading into the city. After a few weeks, even that ended.”

    They deliberately disobeyed orders. I would have completely stopped payment to them, and told them to return their weapons. If not, I would have a new crop of recruits arrest or shoot them.

    The attack on Fallujah apparently was “either/or.” It apparently started with all U.S. Marines. And it apparently switched to all Iraqis. It should have been all Iraqi troops (and 25-50 times as many!), with U.S. troops as the commanders.

  46. I’m not sure I understand your point. Here’s mine. We can’t train a few thousand Iraqis to be reliable soldiers, and you want to expand the program to 500,000! Your idea looks like a pipe dream. The people you’re looking for, apparently, don’t exist.

    Don’t you think the Iraqi generals were reporting to the Americans? Do you think they were looking for soldiers who would turn on us?

    There’s an old saying that goes, “Everything looks darkest just before it turns completely black.” There were people in Cambodia who thought that things wouldn’t be much worse under the Khmer Rouge; they were wrong. There were people in Afghanistan who thought that things would get better once the Mujahideen kicked the Russians out; they were wrong too.

    Saddam was a rotten guy, and he murdered a whole lot of his own people. When he was captured, I raised my glass and toasted his misfortune. But that doesn’t mean that things are going to get better in Iraq now. If there’s a civil war, it will probably be very ugly. It is entirely possible that whoever emerges from that mess will be every bit as awful as Saddam Hussein, perhaps even more so. Why can’t you see that?

    …and if tens or hundreds of thousands, if a million people die in that civil war, and, in spite of the odds, a democratic, peace loving government emerges from the ashes, who are you to say that it was all worth it?

    …and on the way out, I can’t resist mentioning that if a terrorist threat to the United States were to emerge from those ashes instead, it will present a much greater threat to the Untied States than Saddam Hussein presented before we invaded.

    P.S. I’d like to see a link showing that terrorists were “running” Iraq.

  47. You know who you are, but this site is titled “Hit and Run.”

    Bloggers and blogger-wannabe’s think blog rhymes with rug so they throw their blog/rugs over any spark before it has a chance to metastacize.

    REMEMBER:
    Only you can prevent Hit and Run from being the forest fire of opinion it’s trying to be, damn it!

  48. Ken Schultz said:
    “A big drop in Iraqi output probably wouldn’t effect oil prices over the long term. However, our tolerance for high gasoline prices may be even lower than our tolerance for war casualties in the short term.”

    Ken, you are talking about what commodity traders call “the crush.”
    That is a tangent to what we’re trying to adddress here.

    I’m getting surly as I’ve been forced by the laws of the US to limit my self-medication to alcohol… no more posts for me tonight.

  49. Relax, Ken. Mark’s been playing war games on his new computer and just KNOWS he’ll win this time. If not, whatthehell, just push “next” and you get a new game.

  50. “We can’t train a few thousand Iraqis to be reliable soldiers, and you want to expand the program to 500,000!”

    Of course they can’t be “reliable” when they:

    1) report to one of *Saddam Hussein’s* generals,

    2) number less than 2000, deployed in a city of 300,000, and

    3) have numbers that are *maybe* equal to the number of insurgents in Fallujah.

    I’m talking about putting 50,000 men and women into Fallujah. That’s 50,000, in a city of 300,000. And compared to maybe 3000 insurgents.

    “Don’t you think the Iraqi generals were reporting to the Americans?”

    Right. Men who commanded thousands of men under Saddam Hussein are going to “report to” Americans.

    “Do you think they were looking for soldiers who would turn on us?”

    No, the Americans weren’t looking for such men. But putting them under the most senior leaders from Saddam Hussein’s military is simply stupid.

    “There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Everything looks darkest just before it turns completely black.'”

    There are exceptions to every rule. Like I wrote, Iraq under Saddam Hussein (especially at the end) was certainly one of a handful of the worst countries on earth.

    “Saddam was a rotten guy, and he murdered a whole lot of his own people. When he was captured, I raised my glass and toasted his misfortune.”

    Yeah, that’s easy. But if any person other than G.W. Bush was the president (including Harry Browne, who I voted for), Saddam Hussein would have been in power for at least another decade. And his sons for at least another decade after that.

    “If there’s a civil war, it will probably be very ugly. It is entirely possible that whoever emerges from that mess will be every bit as awful as Saddam Hussein, perhaps even more so. Why can’t you see that?”

    If there is a civil war, it probably will be ugly. Certainly the civil war after the first Gulf War was ugly. And it’s *possible* that whoever emerged from such a potential civil war would potentially be worse than Saddam Hussein.

    Would you like to put some money on that possibility? I’ll bet you any amount of money, up to $50, that Iraq in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 will have better Freedom House political/social freedom rankings, and better Heritage Foundation economic freedom rankings, than in 2002 under Saddam Hussein.

    “I can’t resist mentioning that if a terrorist threat to the United States were to emerge from those ashes instead, it will present a much greater threat to the Untied States than Saddam Hussein presented before we invaded.”

    Yeah, just like the Taliban didn’t present much of a threat to the United States. Well, except for that fact that Saddam Hussein had about 100 times the money of the Taliban.

    “P.S. I’d like to see a link showing that terrorists were “running” Iraq.”

    So Saddam, Uday, and Qusay Hussein weren’t terrorists? Amazing.

  51. “We can’t train a few thousand Iraqis to be reliable soldiers, and you want to expand the program to 500,000!”

    Of course they can’t be “reliable” when they:

    1) report to one of *Saddam Hussein’s* generals,

    2) number less than 2000, deployed in a city of 300,000, and

    3) have numbers that are *maybe* equal to the number of insurgents in Fallujah.

    I’m talking about putting 50,000 men and women into Fallujah. That’s 50,000, in a city of 300,000. And compared to maybe 3000 insurgents.

    “Don’t you think the Iraqi generals were reporting to the Americans?”

    Right. Men who commanded thousands of men under Saddam Hussein are going to “report to” Americans.

    “Do you think they were looking for soldiers who would turn on us?”

    No, the Americans weren’t looking for such men. But putting them under the most senior leaders from Saddam Hussein’s military is simply stupid.

    “There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Everything looks darkest just before it turns completely black.'”

    There are exceptions to every rule. Like I wrote, Iraq under Saddam Hussein (especially at the end) was certainly one of a handful of the worst countries on earth.

    “Saddam was a rotten guy, and he murdered a whole lot of his own people. When he was captured, I raised my glass and toasted his misfortune.”

    Yeah, that’s easy. But if any person other than G.W. Bush was the president (including Harry Browne, who I voted for), Saddam Hussein would have been in power for at least another decade. And his sons for at least another decade after that.

    “If there’s a civil war, it will probably be very ugly. It is entirely possible that whoever emerges from that mess will be every bit as awful as Saddam Hussein, perhaps even more so. Why can’t you see that?”

    If there is a civil war, it probably will be ugly. Certainly the civil war after the first Gulf War was ugly. And it’s *possible* that whoever emerged from such a potential civil war would potentially be worse than Saddam Hussein.

    Would you like to put some money on that possibility? I’ll bet you any amount of money, up to $50, that Iraq in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 will have better Freedom House political/social freedom rankings, and better Heritage Foundation economic freedom rankings, than in 2002 under Saddam Hussein.

    “I can’t resist mentioning that if a terrorist threat to the United States were to emerge from those ashes instead, it will present a much greater threat to the Untied States than Saddam Hussein presented before we invaded.”

    Yeah, just like the Taliban didn’t present much of a threat to the United States. Well, except for that fact that Saddam Hussein had about 100 times the money of the Taliban.

    “P.S. I’d like to see a link showing that terrorists were “running” Iraq.”

    So Saddam, Uday, and Qusay Hussein weren’t terrorists? Amazing.

  52. “Relax, Ken. Mark’s been playing war games on his new computer and just KNOWS he’ll win this time. If not, whatthehell, just push “next” and you get a new game.”

    Don’t be a jerk, Gadfly. (Probably just your nature…)

    I didn’t start the war in Iraq. If the candidate I’d voted for had been elected, we wouldn’t even be in Iraq. (Or Kuwait or Turkey or Germany or Britain or South Korea or Cuba…)

    But the fact is that the U.S. *is* in Iraq. I’m trying to save U.S. soldier’s lives and cut costs, while still producing an outcome that leaves the U.S. safer than before the U.S. invaded.

  53. Please pardon my brevity, but my initial response to your post was remarkably sarcastic and…eh…life’s too short.

    I think there’s a difference between an authoritarian regime and a terrorist.

    I don’t see any indication that an Iraqi Fox Force 500,000 will ever exist.

    Have a nice day.

    P.S. Iraq represents more of a terrorist threat to the United States now than the Hussein regime did under the supervision of our allies.

  54. “aristocratic republics”

    sm, i mean only that a very few — the propertied class, essentially — were entitled to the vote. that’s a very great difference between then and today, when there is no hereditary/property requirement for voting.

  55. If there are not 500,000 people over 18 years of age in all of Iraq that are willing to fight “insurgents,” then Iraq is simply not worth saving. Why pretend that they want a democracy, if one cannot even find **2 percent** of the population willing to fight for it?

    indeed, mr bahner, that is a very good question.

    your line of reasoning has worked before — as the british administered india — but it involves much more than you seem to believe, in money, in commitment, in diplomacy.

    your presumption that loyalty and acuity can be bought is a wholly modern american assumption — but it will carry little currency in iraq. any british raj could have told you that it is precisely the *avoidance* of brute force that pays dividends in these situations. it is COMMON CAUSE which has to be found — quickly and tactfully — and if it isn’t, this whole thing is failed already.

    and that common cause has to be underwritten by a promise of duration — decades, not months. these people have no reason to join us if they believe they can simply outlast us and then be unhindered by us. why would they risk being branded a collaborator in the aftermath of our withdrawal? few will. tagging this project with a two-year deadline is guaranteeing its failure — as bush is finding out — and reinforcing the common notion in the third world that america is a paper tiger.

    and your presumption that somehow the entire mechanism is not run directly by americans — i can only see that as willful ignorance on your part. from allawi on down, they all answer to americans in washington. why do you imagine allawi is here campaigning for dubya right now? americans ARE in charge — they simply doing a tactless, blustery, foolish job of it. you’re blaming our failures on a problem that doesn’t exist.

    as for the use of the old baathist army officers in the ranks, i might note you have no choice. it was in fact a terrible mistake to disband the army originally. american line officers would get shot in the back, first off. the language barrier is insurmountable. our kids have NO understanding of arab culture. saddam’s army comprised virtually every willing candidate (and some unwilling), and they’re all trained and experienced. following the british model of foreign regiments, you need iraqi officers reporting to american “attaches” if you expect any sort of unit cohesion or loyalty — this is first principle. an army of iraqi cannon fodder willingly directed by american nco’s and lieutenants is utter fantasy.

    I’ll bet you any amount of money, up to $50, that Iraq in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 will have better Freedom House political/social freedom rankings, and better Heritage Foundation economic freedom rankings, than in 2002 under Saddam Hussein.

    maybe it will — but of what use is that to us if we’re getting our asses kicked in baghdad, new york and washington?

    So Saddam, Uday, and Qusay Hussein weren’t terrorists? Amazing.

    they were — so it sharon, so it putin, so is blair and so are we. (yes, pollyanna, we quietly murder thousands all round the world every year as secretly as we can to maintian our empire — how sad we can’t acknowledge it to ourselves!) the only relevant point is, they weren’t attacking the united states.

    there is a dangerous tendency for idealists (which all of us are on some level) to set off cases like saddam or stalin or hitler as inherently “different”. they aren’t — they’re simply farther down the same continuous scale. the inability to recognize that saddam was no more dangerous that putin, for example — and in fact less dangerous than many american presidents have been — is a sorry feature of a deluded, propagandized nation.

  56. Hi Mr. Taylor,

    I wonder where’d you get the 10:1 ratio for counter-insurgency success? What’s a good source to read-up on standard counter-insurgency practices & theory?

    Thanks!

  57. Mimi:

    I recommend “Low-Intensity Conflict” by James J Gallagher. It’s about 200 pages, not too technical, and covers terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and peacekeeping.

    For something a little more entertaining, if that is the right word, Bernard B Fall’s “Street Without Joy” is a classic of war reporting, based on his experiences with the French forces in Indochina in the early 1950’s.

    The 10:1 ratio is a traditional rule of thumb that can be modified, to a certain extent, depending on the terrain, the level of support for the insurgents in the general population, the mobility of the counterinsurgents, the sophistication of the insurgents, etc. But generally, it takes a substantial advantage in numbers because the guerrillas have the initiative. Defeating insurgents requires that you stand guard over everything you have to protect and still have troops left over to attack with, taking back the initiative. Thus you need a huge advantage in numbers, and technology is generally a poor substitute. More firepower just isn’t the answer to the problem.

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