Meanwhile, Back in Iraq…

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The NY Times reports from Mosul that

Given the weak performance of Iraqi forces, any major withdrawal of American troops for at least a decade would invite chaos, a senior Interior Ministry official, whose name could not be used, said in an interview last week….

Infiltration remains a problem. After the uprising, the Mosul police chief was quickly dismissed and was later arrested on suspicion of complicity with the insurgents.

When a captain in the Mosul police force, Abu Muhammad, was asked if the police had been penetrated by the mujahedeen, he took a long, deep breath.

"Yes, and this is the problem, and I do believe that they have contacts with senior policemen in Mosul," he said. "There is kind of cooperation between the two parties."

On the flip side, there's this:

There are some bright spots among individual battalions of the Iraqi National Guard troops and Iraqi commandos. When operating under the direct control and oversight of American forces, some have helped in raids and other missions and continue to be used when American commanders want to enter mosques and other culturally sensitive targets, as happened in Falluja.

Whole thing here.

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  1. Here’s the sum total of US “stratagery” in Iraq:

    Kill more “bad” people.
    Get Iraqis to kill more “bad” people. (multiplier effect)
    So long as this stratagery is limited to Iraq, everything will turn out hunkey dorey.

    … until Osama nukes the US.

  2. You must realize this is all according to Dear Leader’s plan, and therefore is not a mistake.

  3. But what about the good news from Iraq, like how many schools have the Marines painted this month?

  4. trainwreck:

    I think you may have misunderstood. “Painting” a target is just an expression for directing a laser-guided weapon. They don’t actually apply paint.

    😉

  5. We’re gonna paint the town red.

    Even the church?

    Especially the church.

  6. I’m wondering how that minister’s logic works. I understand that the Iraqi forces didn’t perform up to how most were hoping, but how does this follow:

    These guys who have been in training for, in most cases, less than a year couldn’t cut it in this operation.

    So…

    It’s going to take AT LEAST a decade to get them into any usable shape.

    That’s the gist I get out of it, and I just wonder where that estimate of time is coming from.

  7. …any major withdrawal of American troops for at least a decade would invite chaos, a senior Interior Ministry official,

    And this makes the neocon’s hearts go pitter patter. Proximity of US troops to Iran and Syria makes it easier for them to be used in service to Ariel Sharon’s agenda. Remember, the NYT repeated the neo’s WMD and terrorist connection lies when they were agitating for the attack on Iraq in the first place. Of course, then the NYT had to conclude that they weren’t being critical enough. No kidding.

  8. If we can wrap this up quickly it means that things are going well, and the Dear Leader is vindicated!

    If we have to stay a while, well, that’s just part of the Big Plan, and the Dear Leader is vindicated.

    I, for one, welcome our new Cult of Personality Overlords.

  9. “Here’s the sum total of US “stratagery” in Iraq:

    Kill more “bad” people.
    Get Iraqis to kill more “bad” people. (multiplier effect)
    So long as this stratagery is limited to Iraq, everything will turn out hunkey dorey.”

    You left off hand it over to the Grand Ayatollah and call it Democracy.

  10. And one waits in vain for our intellectual superiors to propose a better way to eradicate Islamist extremism before it acquires germs or nukes.

  11. R C Dean,
    Not claiming to be your intellectual superior, but Osama’s grievances have yet to be taken seriously, and they are not that unreasonable to many of us on H & R.

  12. “And one waits in vain for our intellectual superiors to propose a better way to eradicate Islamist extremism before it acquires germs or nukes.”

    Or Pumpkins of Mass Squashiness (PMS).

  13. “…germs or nukes.”

    You mean like the ones that didn’t exist, never existed, and were not being worked on in Iraq prior to the invasion?

    Um, yeah, I could envision some strategies that would be more effective at keeping terrorists away from WMDs. Lying perfectly still and doing nothing, for example, would at least score a zero, making it far more in line with achieving that goal than the invasion of Iraq has proven to be. Creating war-ravaged hell holes without adequate security is a pretty good way to bring together bad guys with bad stuff. Or did the recent history of Afghanistan not teach you that?

  14. Oh wait, I made an error. There were some germ weapons in Iraq at some point during the 1990s. The program was put out of commission through a system of sanctions, inspections, and targetted military actions.

    Now, back to your question about better ways to stop the proliferation of WMDs. Hmmm, that’s a toughie.

  15. Has there been any indication that Al-Sistani will accept a delay in the election date?

    …Because I would guess the expiration date on the occupation to be somewhere just after the election; at least, that’s when I would expect the stink of failure to become too harsh for even Republican propaganda victims to ignore.

    If only they’d followed the Powell Doctrine!

    So what’s the exit strategy? It’s hand it over to Al-Sistani and call it quits, isn’t it? Does anyone really think we’re going to stay until the majority of Iraqis are more loyal to the out-of-thin-air democratic institutions we create than they are to the Grand Ayatollah?

  16. R.C. Dean,

    Yeah, don’t invade nations that don’t need to be invaded.

    At this point, its interesting to illustrate just how unsuccessful the Jihadists and the U.S. have been so far. Still, its hard to tell who will win based on which side fucks up the most.

  17. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people seem to think that the U.S. effort in Iraq is some sort of short-term project that should have been wrapped up by now. And they are actually surprised and horrified by the fact that it has experienced all sorts of problems. Trying to build a functioning democracy in a cobbled together country like Iraq, which has experienced nothing but dictatorship, is hardly going to be accomplished in a year or two.

    As for the whole “exit strategy” argument. I regard it as pure nonsense. How many wars did we ever embark on with an clear exit strategy in mind? Since when does any plan or set of plans survive contact with the enemy? The U.S. can stay in Iraq as long as it deems necessary. The question is not whether we can, but whether or not we have the will.

    What I’d like to see from the many critics of the administration is less carping, less exaggeration of difficulties and downplaying of success, and some positive suggestions for better strategy. And no, that doesn’t include giving up and running away. Whether you agreed with the war or not, we are now committed in Iraq.

  18. “It never ceases to amaze me just how many people seem to think that the U.S. effort in Iraq is some sort of short-term project that should have been wrapped up by now.”

    Well I’m just relying on the Commander who declared Mission Accomplished, the General who said there would be fewer than 30,000 American troops in Iraq by September 2003, and the Defense Secretary who suggested the war would cost the US Taxpayer a few billion dollars, scoffing at the notion it could cost hundreds of billions.

    “How many wars did we ever embark on with an clear exit strategy in mind? Since when does any plan or set of plans survive contact with the enemy?”

    I dunno if I can survive contact with your cliches.

    “Trying to build a functioning democracy in a cobbled together country like Iraq, which has experienced nothing but dictatorship, is hardly going to be accomplished in a year or two.”

    Especially when your moronic democracy plan means the Iraqi National Congress gets to run the place.

    “What I’d like to see from the many critics of the administration is less carping, less exaggeration of difficulties and downplaying of success, and some positive suggestions for better strategy. And no, that doesn’t include giving up and running away. Whether you agreed with the war or not, we are now committed in Iraq.”

    Fuck that. I voiced all my concerns before the war to all my elected officials, and everyone else I could find who would listen. After it started I did the same. I supported sending more troops, etc. Now I’m content to just sit back and watch our political and military geniuses in action.

  19. Trainwreck,

    I don’t work for the administration. If you actually believed that it would be a quick, easy process in Iraq because of the propaganda of some admin. officials that’s your problem.

    “I dunno if I can survive contact with your cliches”

    That’s, clever. Unfortunately calling them cliches doesn’t in any way invalidate the points.

    “Fuck that. I voiced all my concerns before the war to all my elected officials, and everyone else I could find who would listen. After it started I did the same. I supported sending more troops, etc. Now I’m content to just sit back and watch our political and military geniuses in action.”

    Oh great, so because you disagree with our political leadership & foreign policy you no longer give a shit about our success or failure abroad? The war in Iraq and the larger WoT are much more important to this country than who happens to be president.

  20. “It never ceases to amaze me just how many people seem to think that the U.S. effort in Iraq is some sort of short-term project that should have been wrapped up by now.”

    It never ceases to amaze me how so many Bush Administration supporters can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    …or a success out of dead Iraqi civilians and dead American soldiers.

    “Trying to build a functioning democracy in a cobbled together country like Iraq, which has experienced nothing but dictatorship, is hardly going to be accomplished in a year or two.”

    …And here I was thinking it was all about WMD and Al Qaeda collaboration.

    “As for the whole “exit strategy” argument. I regard it as pure nonsense. How many wars did we ever embark on with an clear exit strategy in mind?

    Well, we definitely didn’t have one in Vietnam. We’re not going to have to do to Iraq what we did to Germany or Japan, are we?

    We should change the name of the UN; we should change it to UNoES: The United Nations of Exit Strategy.

    “The U.S. can stay in Iraq as long as it deems necessary. The question is not whether we can, but whether or not we have the will.”

    Your definition of will resembles the inability to learn from mistakes.

    “What I’d like to see from the many critics of the administration is less carping, less exaggeration of difficulties and downplaying of success, and some positive suggestions for better strategy.”

    SENATOR SHULTZ: Ms. Rice, before I cast my vote on your confirmation, tell me, as Secretary of State, what steps do you plan to take to repair our relationship with our traditional allies?

    C. RICE: ?

    “And no, that doesn’t include giving up and running away. Whether you agreed with the war or not, we are now committed in Iraq.”

    Giving up and running away is the most cowardly thing we could do, and, unfortunately, that may be the only viable option the Bush Administration has left us.

  21. “The U.S. can stay in Iraq as long as it deems necessary. The question is not whether we can, but whether or not we have the will.”

    The triumph of the will!

  22. Ken,

    “or a success out of dead Iraqi civilians and dead American soldiers.”

    Guess what, wars involve killing, including the death of civilians, even successful wars. So what’s your point?

    “..And here I was thinking it was all about WMD and Al Qaeda collaboration.”

    Uh, we’re talking about the current situation, not the reasons given for going there in the first place.

    “Your definition of will resembles the inability to learn from mistakes”

    That may be your definition, but it isn’t mine. I have never and will never deny that tons of mistakes have been and continue to be made. I’m willing to stipulate that the occupation of Iraq has been a series of mistakes. My point was that rather then endless, unconstructive criticism and defeatism, it would be nice to hear some positive suggestions.

    “Giving up and running away is the most cowardly thing we could do, and, unfortunately, that may be the only viable option the Bush Administration has left us.”

    Really? So tell me why we can’t stay in Iraq for years if necessary.

  23. So here’s what I don’t get… Everyone knows that if we just pull the troops out and go home, there’s about a 99% chance that Iraq will just collapse into civil war and probably eventually emerge with another dictator. Do people actually regard this as preferable to the current situation? (Maybe some of the “bring them home now!” folks think that Iraq will end up stable and peaceful and democratic, but I think it’s a very long shot.) Or should we just hand the occupation over the UN/whoever and let their troops die instead? Is that supposed to be preferable? I was against the war from the beginning, and I still think it was a bad idea, but when you’ve gone into someone else’s country and screwed it up, I think you have some responsibility towards seeing things through.

  24. Why would we want to stay in Iraq for years?

    We never should have gone in the first place, imo. Now that we’re there, I’d like to see some semblance of success. But I’m not willing to spend billions and billions more money and have thousands of our troops killed over the next few years. If it seems as though things can’t be turned around, you better believe I advocate leaving.

    As to positive suggestions? “Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” 😉

  25. David you are a gentelman and I’m a bit grumpy today.

    “Oh great, so because you disagree with our political leadership & foreign policy you no longer give a shit about our success or failure abroad? The war in Iraq and the larger WoT are much more important to this country than who happens to be president.”

    Exactly right. Look, if I didn’t have a family, I would gladly stop paying federal taxes and go to prison in protest. But it wouldn’t be fair to my kids, destroying my career and throwing them in to poverty, just to prove I’m a Man of Principle.

    My younger brother got in to all kinds of trouble as a teenager, and I constantly tried to help him and give him advise, all of which was ignored. Sometimes people just got to make mistakes and learn from them.

  26. Lowdog,

    I see this as a long-term project in which we are only in the beginning stages, therefore I find all the pessimism premature. We have yet to even have an election. There is no constitution. There is no viable Iraqi army (not much of one at any rate). All these things will take time. Will we actually be able to build some sort of functioning democracy in Iraq? Well, the odds may be against it. But there is virtually no chance if we bail out now or in the near future. There is no way we can hold elections and then just leave, as some seem to be suggesting.

    Trainwreck,

    “Sometimes people just got to make mistakes and learn from them.”

    I definitely agree, when you are talking about individuals. But I don’t see that applying to the country’s leaders, since their screwups affect all of us, not just them. Also, I wasn’t advocating some sort of principled, personal protest by you or anyone else critical of the administration. Just that, in my opinion, most of the criticism leveled at our foreign policy has been empty negativity, offering nothing better.

  27. It’s unfair to expect the American people to watch their children die for the freedom of Iraqis. Expecting them to watch their children die for Iraq with the same enthusiasm with which they sent their children to protect America from WMD and Al Qaeda (i.e. David’s Triumph of the Will comment above) isn’t only unfair; it’s unreasonable.

    At some point, we have to do the cost/benefit analysis. Assuming democracy is possible in Iraq, how many dead Americans is a democratic Iraq worth to us?

    I don’t believe it’s possible for us to do the analysis for Iraqi civilians; which is to say, assuming, once again, that a democratic Iraq is possible, how can any of us tell the Iraqis how many dead Iraqi civilians are worth the dream of Democracy?

    P.S. Considering that it’s not for us to tell the Iraqis whether or not it’s worth it for them to die for Democracy, and considering that it’s not fair to expect Americans to die for someone else’s freedom with enthusiasm, and considering that President Bush pushed the UN so far out of the picture that he’s made it almost impossible for us to leave Iraq honorably, it’s unfair to expect people like me to shut up about the stupidity of our present leadership.

  28. “Will we actually be able to build some sort of functioning democracy in Iraq? Well, the odds may be against it.”

    David, you remind me of Merlin and his contemporaries trying to turn lead into gold.

    I’d be the first to plump for all humans, regardless of their beliefs, already being gold. That’s why any government scheme to kill off so many of them is wrongheaded.
    Your “democracy” is lead. People are gold already. US policy is turning gold into lead and claiming it’s the other way ’round.

  29. “We’re not going to have to do to Iraq what we did to Germany or Japan, are we?”

    Worked, no? I wouldn’t be stunned if we still had bases in Iraq in 50 years. I’d be surprised if we were gone in ten. I’d be absolutely astonished if we picked up and left during Bush’s term in office.

    “SENATOR SHULTZ: Ms. Rice, before I cast my vote on your confirmation, tell me, as Secretary of State, what steps do you plan to take to repair our relationship with our traditional allies?”

    Mebbe it’s just me, but I’d ask her when she planned on pushing Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to acquire nuclear weapons and conventional militaries capable of containing North Korea and balancing against China.

    Now there’s a region that ain’t none of our business.

  30. “Now there’s a region that ain’t none of our business”

    Your last statement is a direct contradiction of your first; Japan and Germany “worked”, but we still have vital security interests there fifty years later worth keeping military bases. In fact, the whole Korean penninsula became our problem when we saved South Korea and were unable (yes, that’s the word) to destroy the Pyongyang regime. If we have no business being in Asia, as you say, why are we still there? And care?

    David, the whole problem with the Iraqi war is that nobody really asked me, the taxpayer, if this was a good venture or not, nor was Congress consulted on whether to wage a long-term occupation/reconstruction of the country; it was asked to authorize force to root out the WMDs and terrorists, if any. When that turned out to be a sham, all justification for the war went with it. You expect me and people like me to just shut up and accept all this as the price we pay to be Americans?

    You can dress up this occupation as a Great Crusade if you like, but don’t pretend that it is anything but an imperial adventure, pretty much on a par with Caesar teaching the Gauls a lesson by invading them. The thing is, you cannot force democracy on anyone; they have to want it to make it work, which is why Germany’s democracy didn’t work in 1920, but did in 1950 after they lived through the alternative.

  31. Ken,

    I don’t think “fairness” is an issue here. And I don’t expect you not to criticize the government. I criticize them myself. But I’m not hearing any better ideas.

    As for the Iraqi people, I agree. Ultimately, they have to decide what type of government and country they will have. But in my opinion it is too soon to write the whole thing off as a failure.

    Ruthless,

    Obviously I totally disagree with your assessment of the situation and what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. But somehow I doubt I’m likely to convince you in a paragraph, so I’ll leave it at that :).

    cdunlea,

    I don’t expect you or anyone else to shut up. I’m all for free speech. As for no one asking you about Iraq… well no one asked me either. Congress has totally abdicated its constitutional power to declare war, and therefore the president can pretty much do whatever he thinks is best.

    “don’t pretend that it is anything but an imperial adventure, pretty much on a par with Caesar teaching the Gauls a lesson by invading them”

    I find this comment illogical, a total misinterpretation of what we are trying to accomplish in Iraq, and one that views America in the worst possible light. If we simply wanted to exert control over the region or teach them a lesson we wouldn’t be pouring billions of dollars into the country, expending the lives of our soldiers long-term, or trying to establish a democracy that will most likely result in Shiite rule. Obviously we can’t force democracy on them. But you are assuming they don’t want it even before we’ve had a single nationwide election.

  32. You’re using the word “democracy” as some sort of holy talisman. What’s so freaking noble about carving the political dominance of one cultural group – and let’s face it, presendial elections in Iraq are going to about voting for the ticket that represents your group – into stone?

    Real democracy starts at home. Did we allow Iraqis to take up arms agains the regime, as in the liberation of France? No, we told them that if appeared armed on the field of battle, we’d treat them as enemies. Did we allow them to set up local governments along democratic lines? Hell no, we kept them as tightly under the thumb of the central authorities as the were pre-war. Did we allow the “Iraqis” to organize their polities around structures that made sense in the historical/cultural circumstances that define their communities? Absolutely not.

    Somehow, I don’t think allowing the block voters from the Shia south to pick the president of the central, illiberal government of Britain’s deliberately weak, fractious colonial creation is such a wonderful outcome, and I certainly don’t think it’s worth the death of scores of thousands of human beings.

  33. Joe,

    “What’s so freaking noble about carving the political dominance of one cultural group – and let’s face it, presendial elections in Iraq are going to about voting for the ticket that represents your group – into stone?… Somehow, I don’t think allowing the block voters from the Shia south to pick the president”

    This makes no sense at all. What do you think democracy is? The Shia make up the majority of the country. Why shouldn’t they have the primary say in the government and get to pick the president? Of course people vote for the ticket that represents their group. Don’t we do that here too? If the Shia abuse their majority rule and don’t take into account the wishes of minority groups, they are going to find themselves in a civil war or facing defacto partition. Because you think they may do that does that mean we should just say forget democracy in Iraq, leave, and let the place dissolve into civil war?

  34. David, choosing the chief executive of a centralized state at the ballot box is not sufficient to characterize a government as “democratic” in my eyes, especially when the public votes according to ethnic and religious blocks. I cling to this odd belief that democracy is distinguished from mob rule by such features as checks and balances, minority protections, and a the power to address local concerns via local representation and executive power.

    Look at our own democracy – we didn’t simply replace the succession of the Britich monarch with elections. First there was local democracy via town meetings, then representation at the state level, then representation at the national level, then the direct election of the president (sort of, we’re still working on that). A citizen of Massachusetts would have been in no way living in a democracy had the populace of England put their favored leader on the throne every four years, and all of the officials who ran the government in Massachusetts been appointees of that king.

    And none of this has anything to do with withdrawing from Iraq.

  35. I see David has a touching faith in the ballet box. If I remember correctly, Saddam used to hold elections all the time. Strangely, he always won.

    The January elections, just like the July “Handover” of power and the Mission Accomplished banner before that will do exactly nothing. The only people it might convince are American civilians who — not to put too fine a point on it — aren’t the people shooting or being shot at in Iraq.

    However, I will leave you to your misty-eyed fantasies of a Democratic Iraq rising out of the rubble of our incompetence.

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