Iraq: The Crusaders are Dropping the Ball

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Post-invasion Iraq not too comfortable for Christians, says this Knight-Ridder report.

Leaders of the ever-dwindling Christian population in Iraq say bombings of their churches and attacks against their communities may force them to take up guns.

Two more churches were bombed in Mosul last week, the latest attacks, and some Christians say extremist Muslims are terrorizing them with the intent of ousting them and seizing their houses and belongings.

Iraq is home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, made up largely of ethnic Assyrians….But as the turmoil increases, hundreds of Christian families are leaving each week for exile in Syria and Turkey.

Some Christians have called for the establishment of a "safe haven" in Iraq's north, where they would be protected by special Iraqi army units. Others are threatening to add a Christian militia to Iraq's already militarized society.

…..Estimates of how many Christians have left Iraq in recent months range from 10,000 to 40,000 people.

[Link via Rational Review.]

[UPDATE: Our own Tim Cavanaugh began explaining exactly why some Iraqis are irate about Christians way back in 2003.]

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  1. So it turns out even Christians were safer under Saddam. We’re really doing a great job. Any other countries we can go liberate?

  2. Pete Guither,

    This is all part of the Master Plan (TM)! Do not dispair! 🙂

  3. I’d just like to emphasize that they’d be much worse off if John Kerry were President.

    And, in the interests of continuing to internationalize my standard retort of “Of course [insert out of favor politician here] would be much worse”, once the Iraqis elect an Ayatollah I will say in all of the Iraq threads “Of course, Saddam was much worse (unless you’re a Christian)”

  4. Yup, apart from all those he killed and terrified, Saddam kept the trains running. Or kept the peace under his definition of the term. What a guy.

  5. Curtis-

    Obviously Saddam was a horrific tyrant, and it is a blessing that he is gone.

    But it’s a disgrace that we can’t manage to replace his horrific regime with something at least slightly more orderly and secure.

    The present chaos by no means makes Saddam look any better, but it certainly makes us look bad for not being able to do a better job than Saddam. Saying that Saddam was awful doesn’t change the fact that we’re doing a pathetic and shameful job of keeping peace and order.

  6. American Occupation: Marginally Better Than Saddam Hussein Since 2003.

  7. Yep, and all good ideas have instant success and no setbacks and proceed apace to glorious finalization.

    Mainly because all good plans look a lot like sitting around on your ass tisk-tisking, as opposed to the grunt work of actually addressing real world problems like a genocidal dictator playing a high stakes game of chicken.

  8. Junyo,

    Nice bit of hyperbole, but in the real world actions have consequences, and if the U.S. is fucking it up in Iraq that is something that must be discussed and dealt with.

  9. Junyo-

    It’s been approximately a year and a half since Bush donned his flightsuit, landed on an aircraft carrier, and announced the end of major combat operations. How much longer before the security situation improves?

    I know that things don’t always work perfectly right away, but it would be nice if after a year and a half some sort of substantial progress had been made.

  10. Or at least, if the situation had stopped deteriorating.

  11. Let’s note that what this is: its a “refugee crisis.” That doesn’t sound like particularly good news to me.

  12. Oh come on! What did the Assyrians ever do to anyone?

  13. “If” is the operative word. Wander into a complex process in the middle and it often looks like a cluster fuck. And it may well end up being a cluster fuck. But taking that snapshot as definitive proof of a cluster fuck is idiotic. Do you mean to tell me that we haven’t completely secured a country of 25 million people, with deep seated religious and ethnic tensions, with porous borders, and neighbors with no real interest in it’s stability, within a minute and a half? Imagine that. (If you knew how sarcastic I am in real life you’d realize this is restrained.) It’s like the people that scream about forest fires; the firemen need to DO something. They did do something, they cut a lovely fire break and the fire’s burning toward it, it’ll be out directly. But that doesn’t look good on TV, nor does the firemen eating sandwiches and joking after having worked for the last 20 hours, while some widow cries over her trapped cats. So we fly planes and dump water, put firemen up on the hills needlessly in harm’s way, get a couple people killed, for the sake of doing something. We’ve got dismounted armoured cav and artillery doing foot patrols beause we don’t want the bad press of shelling/bombing some insurgent held city/neighborhood flat, no matter how effective that would be, nor how many lives it would save in the long term. And when the guy on foot gets killed by a IED that would have scratched the paint of the Bradley he should’ve been in, or heard as a muffled boom heard from his firebase, or better yet not heard at all, since one of his shells had turned the bomb maker along with his neighborhood into a bloody mist mingled with brick and cement dust, we then proceed to tisk tisk about what a cluster fuck it is that we didn’t send more armour.

    To deal with it, it first has to be determined beyond politics and opinion whether the situation actually needs anything other than time. Yes, it would be nice if the security situation improved now. But it isn’t going to happen with the Sunnis knowing there’s a popular election coming and payback is a bitch. This is ballgame for them; if they can’t disrupt the government now they won’t get a better chance for a long time. The phase right now is about holding ground until a vetted government’s in place, and enough Iraqi security forces are trained and ready to actually do the dirty work that needs to be done. Without a time machine to go back and get another couple of division’s through basic and staged, or call up Bremmer and mention that “We might not want to disband their whole military….” what’s the clearly better direction?

  14. or better yet not heard at all, since one of his shells had turned the bomb maker along with his neighborhood into a bloody mist mingled with brick and cement dust

    Just so we’re clear, is the current justification still to liberalize Iraq and free the Iraqi people? Because destroying entire neighborhoods and the civilians in them doesn’t sound conducive to that goal.

    I hate to sound like I’m imposing impossible barriers to success, but the Commander in Chief suggested that we were there to free the Iraqi people. Turning an entire neighborhood into a bloody mist doesn’t necessarily comport with this goal as outlined by Bush.

    You do support our leader, don’t you?

  15. “The phase right now is about holding ground until a vetted government’s in place, and enough Iraqi security forces are trained and ready to actually do the dirty work that needs to be done.”

    OK, so along with the capture of Saddam, the handover of sovereignty, driving Al Sadr out of the mosque, and winning the Battle of Falluja, the latest light at the end of the tunnel, the one that will dry up support for the insurgency, is the election scheduled for January.

    So what do you think will be the next magical moment that will end the insurgency, really this time, once the elections fail to do so? My money is on Saddam’s trial – starting in mid-January, Fox News is going to start telling us that the insurgency is toast once Saddam is put in the dock.

  16. Junyo,

    Your analysis falters from the start when you assume that we are wandering into the middle of the situation without considering the situation holistically.

  17. “So what do you think will be the next magical moment that will end the insurgency, really this time, once the elections fail to do so?”

    The magical moment is not a claim made by most of those who insist that the occupation isn’t going all that badly. This is the same sort of argument made by those who opposed the war in the first place, that there was One Big Reason that kept changing. Contributing factors are present, and magic moments are not.

    The point is that the insurgency declines in legitimacy when we leave, but we can’t leave until Iraqi security forces are competent to handle themselves.

  18. the insurgency declines in legitimacy when we leave

    I hope you’re right, but for that to come true, the pool of potential insurgents must see the government that takes over as legitimate, not apostates.

  19. Jason Ligon,

    The point is that the insurgency declines in legitimacy when we leave, but we can’t leave until Iraqi security forces are competent to handle themselves.

    That seems like a long-time coming (if at all), if that is your chosen goal-post.

  20. Magical moments…oy…that only seems natural coming from joe.

    joe, maybe you should realize that the magical moments aren’t coming from the Administration, they come from the media.

    You see, the media is generally too lazy to chronicle how things are getting better day by day in Iraq, they need some kind of mystical “turning point” so they can write this one off. The media NEED to have some kind of magic moment so it becomes good type. Bush just needs Iraq to work, the media needs the magical moment

  21. What happened to “Islam is the religion of peace”(tm) meme?

  22. The media NEED to have some kind of magic moment so it becomes good type. Bush just needs Iraq to work, the media needs the magical moment

    So what you are saying is that the magical moment was not Bush’s landing on an aircraft carrier and saying to the world that major combat missions have ended? The mystical turning point will be when hell freezes over. Sorry for my pessimism here.

  23. What happened to “Islam is the religion of peace”(tm) meme?

    Its still there, if it wasn’t, you would have a few hundred million martyrs ready to crash planes or blow themselves up just to kill you.

  24. I think a war should have a metric for success. In, oh, let’s say WWII it was pretty clear: Certain dictators were trying to conquer the world, and they were stopped. In the Civil War it was pretty clear: The Southern states were brought back into the Union. (I realize that not every person here considers that a good outcome, but from the standpoint of the Northern leadership it was a clearly and easily measurable objective.) In the Revolutionary War it was independence from Britain.

    What’s the metric for success in Iraq? It’s been suggested that the justification for this war was manifold rather than One Big Reason. Let’s review:

    1) Removing Saddam Hussein from power: Done!
    2) Finding those WMD: Well, they don’t seem to exist, but at least we verified that they don’t. I’ll count that as a “done”. (Status may change if it should turn out that they were moved to another country, in which case the status of this objective will change to “miserable failure.”)
    3) Ending Iraqi support for terrorists: Well, that’s sort of been accomplished, since Saddam Hussein can’t support terrorists right now. Then again, all sorts of terrorist groups are crawling all over Iraq and causing trouble right now. I’ll call that “in progress.”
    4) Freeing the Iraqi people: Well, they’re free from Saddam Hussein. However, people surrounded by terrorists/insurgents/insert-preferred-term-here can’t effectively exercise much freedom. Let’s call that one “in progress.”
    5) Establishing a democracy in Iraq: The only way to measure the success of that project is to see what happens down the road when the winner of the first election either loses his re-election bid or is term-limited out. (Assuming there is a second election.) That’s clearly “in progress.”
    6) Regional transformation: When goals 3, 4, and 5 are accomplished there will be a “reverse domino effect”, or so we hope. That’s clearly “in progress.”

    Now I’ll add a few more items to the list:

    7) Securing no-bid, cost-plus contracts for Halliburton and other administration cronies: Mission Accomplished!
    8) Something about oil: Guess we’ll have to wait for significant drilling to resume. Clearly “in progress.”
    9) Ensuring re-election because nobody wants to abandon a war-time President with troops in the field: Mission Accomplished!

    What a mess, huh?

  25. “What a mess, huh?”

    If Kerry had been elected, it would be much worse.

  26. Actually, I want to revise objectives 5 and 8.

    Objective #5 (establishing democracy) could be considered a tentative success if the new Iraqi President or Prime Minister (or whatever term they wind up using) loses in a political battle with the legislature and doesn’t send any legislators to death camps.

    And I’m withdrawing objective #8 (something about oil) because keeping Iraqi oil off the market keeps the price up and benefits American oil companies. So it isn’t entirely clear what they stood to gain from invading Iraq.

    See, I haven’t drunk all of the Michael Moore kool aid yet! 😉

  27. s.a.m.

    Are you saying that the major combat operations were not over at that point? Yes, I agree, there was no clearly defined mission and it was wrong to claim that nebulous mission accomplished, but when you defeat a nation’s standing army, that’s the end of major combat operations.

  28. Ayn Randian,
    Seeing as we have lost more troops after the landing than we did before the landing, it’s quite obvious that major combat operations are not over. We beat Saddam’s army, but the war in Iraq is far from over. This isn’t Vietnam, but it ain’t WWII either. This war is all about urban combat and going into a destabilized country that was run by a thug, surrounded by hostile neighbors that was going to be filled with hostile terrorists, you can’t say Mission Accomplished before the tough part begins.

    Isn’t that what the Soviets did in Afghanistan?

  29. …..Estimates of how many Christians have left Iraq in recent months range from 10,000 to 40,000 people.

    Those who assiduously avoid my posts like I do the Marmaduke strip have no idea of the connections between world peace (not whirled peas) and free trade and open borders that I relentlessly make.

    Ponder this, heathens and Bible-thumpers alike: Where are all those Iraqi Christians congregating?
    It’s for sure Dubya and Rummy could give a rat’s ass.
    There is no question many rummy parts of the world desperately need a crusade.
    If there could be the slightest bit of intelligence in the sense of “duh,” then Dubya could have his politically incorrect crusade. And it might even do some good.

  30. Huh!
    What happens when you save a country that does not wish to be saved?

  31. ed,
    If you be spikkin’ to me:
    Countries are not sentient, therefore, they do not wish.

  32. “joe, maybe you should realize that the magical moments aren’t coming from the Administration, they come from the media.”

    Bullshit, A.R. Each and every one of the events I mentioned was built up to be THE turning point of the war in press conferences by Rumsfeld, and in press appearances by administration figures. They crucified Howard Dean for saying that capturing Saddam wouldn’t make American troops safer – well, he was right. They repeatedly explained increasing violence prior to Magical June 30 as the acts of a desperate few who know they need to disrupt the handover of sovereignty. How many times did admin. mouth pieces explain that Fallaju would “break the back of the insurgency?” Don’t tell me the importance attached to these events was a media creation – I’ve been awake for the past three years, you know.

    But if the facts make you look bad, deny them. The hawks continue to demonstrate the same unique relationship with reality that has come to define them.

  33. Capturing Saddam did make Iraq safer, just not right that second. Cutting out a tumor makes you healthier, even if your skull’s still open and the doctor’s trying to not erase your memories of senior prom as he closes. If you’re looking for the magical taday! moment yeah you’re going to do disappointed. I don’t recall anyone from the administration saying ‘…once we capture Saddam/get past this date/clear out Fallaju then we’re done, packing up the MREs and rolling the fuck out.’ I do recall a lot of talk about long difficult processes. But then again, I have occassionally slept during the last 3 years so maybe I missed something.

    Just so we’re clear, is the current justification still to liberalize Iraq and free the Iraqi people? Because destroying entire neighborhoods and the civilians in them doesn’t sound conducive to that goal.

    Some Iraqis, helpful, hurtful, and/or indifferent were going to die regardless of the method employed to depose Saddam, setup an accountable, functioning government, and for civil order to be restored. The measure of effectiveness and humanity of the various methods for reaching that goal should be what kills the fewest people. By that measure destroying a neighborhood and it’s occupants may very well be conducive to that if it functions as a deterrent to potential combatants, and/or decreases the number of engaged combatants by more than the number it recruits. If a guy knows that he risks his life for the cause that’s one calculation. Risking the life of his family and his neighbors is a different calculation. And anyone of those neighbors who’s life is now being put on the line by the actions of the people around him now has significantly more incentive to pick up a reward for a tip on a bombmaker. Realistically as long as the people are more afraid of the immediate, credible threat posed by the head-chopper-offers than by the potential threat posed by the guys with tanks and planes (…and BBC camera crews and embedded reporters and instantaneous critique and “analysis” of their every action flashed around the globe) progress will be difficult. When you pussyfoot around it may look good on paper but in the end more people die.

  34. “Capturing Saddam did make Iraq safer, just not right that second.”

    That’s not the issue. The issue is, did it undercut the insurgency? Since the insurgency has grown since that event, the data are in. The answer is no.

    It’s not the fact that Iraq isn’t, right this minute, a liberal democratic paradise, or that the insurgency is still going, that makes the assertions that things are going well unreliable. It’s the fact that things are getting worse. Things aren’t getting better, and we’re just not there yet. Things are getting worse. None of the things they told us would make things better actually did so. We captured Saddam, the insurgency got worse. We turned over sovereignty, things got worse. We captured Falluja – things are getting worse!

    Milosovic didn’t get overthrown the day after we occupied Kosovo. However, the ethnic cleansing stopped, and the political opposition got bolder. That is, there were signs of improvement, positive trends that could be exptected to continue.

    The insurgency wasn’t shrunk by any of those events. It didn’t even stay the same size after each one. It continues to grow, despite the assurances that each of those developments would have the opposite effect. THAT, and not impatience, is why I don’t believe the next magic moment – the January elections – are going to do what all the other magic moments could not do. If the insurgency has gotten a little smaller each time, this would be a question of patience and progress. But it’s not.

    We’ve been blowing up neighborhoods for a year and a half now. At what point is this supposed to reduce the effectiveness of the insurgency?

  35. joe-

    To merge a few topics, maybe what we need to do is immobilize the insurgency. Let’s redesign Iraqi cities in a manner that encourages obesity.

    (Just kidding. I actually don’t disagree with much of what you’re saying in the obesity threads. I don’t know if I’d support all of the same remedies as you when we get down to the nitty-gritty details, but I think you make some good points.)

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