Outnumbered in Iraq

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The UK's Times reports that General Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, director of Iraq's new intelligence services, thinks that insurgents in Iraq may outnumber U.S. and coalition forces, with more than 200,000 active fighters and supporters. And many of them are embedded in the Iraqi National Guard:

The commander of the Iraqi National Guard in Baghdad said that his forces were trying to root out guerrillas who had infiltrated his organisation, and who were passing on intelligence to the insurgents to enable the attacks. Major- General Mudhir Abood said that the problem had arisen because the force had been set up hastily in the face of a rapidly deteriorating security situation and that the new recruits had not been sufficiently vetted.

More than 1,000 police and National Guardsmen have been killed since the security forces were established after the war in relentless attacks aimed at plunging the country into chaos.

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  1. Mishun Accompish! Thank yoo for re-elekshunning me to the presnit!

  2. So there are 200,000 ultra-statists who would enslave their own people --- still a lot less per-capita than here in the US. Or is the Party Line that these "insurgent" Baathists and Islamists are "Minutemen freedom fighters"? So hard to tell with so many here wearing Che T-Shirts....

  3. because we all know that they're fighting against Freedom, don't we, mr question? because that's what mr rumsfeld has told us.

  4. Shit, I think the US troops have over 200,000 supporters on my block alone, if those "I support the troops" magnetic ribbons are any guide. Then again, active support might only be limited to those giving resources. This would be restricted to US taxpayers I guess, not sure how many there are.

    If only Bushchimp hadn't done away with the old Iraqi army, those chaps could have been trusted.

  5. Oh yes, I think what Rummie tells me to do. How clever. Is Baathism and Islamicism now the libertarian "anti-statist" platform? If so, consider me officially self-purged (yet again) as libertarianism around here has the value of used toilet paper.

  6. Can't they get full background checks there?

  7. Mark-
    Could it be at all possible that what they hate is not Freedom, but members and supporters of a foreign army that blew their houses to smithereens and killed various friends and loved ones?

    By the way, "You do what Rummy says" is no less and no more clever than "So many people here wearing Che T-shirts."

  8. The point is not that the insurgents or good or bad. The point is that the numbers Don't Work For Us.

  9. "But members and supporters of a foreign army that blew their houses to smithereens and killed various friends and loved ones?"

    Do you mean the Islamist/Al Queda fighters who "somehow" showed up in Iraq immediately during/after the war, despite there be absolutely no connection between Saddam and terrorists?

    But I think you really mean the Evil US did all the blowing up. Too bad most of the exploding is being done by the Insurgents whose aim is to enslave the populace.

  10. Why not, Mr. Henley? Based on what rationale? Surely there were more than 200,000 Confederates in the South following the War Between the States.

    But (much to horror of Lew Rockwell & Co.) the KKK did little to restart the Confederacy or slavery (though they did manage to create terror and destruction toward black people and their liberal supporters for many years - though I am not sure if any libertarians justified the KKK because a foreign army that blew their houses to smithereens. But it's been a while since I read Lewrockwell.com).

  11. "The point is not that the insurgents or good or bad."

    This is a rather sick thing to read from a so-called "libertarian."

    Were the KKK neither "good nor bad"? What about gulag guards or the NKVD?

  12. Considering our kill ratio hovers somewhere above 15:1, I'm not sure how this proves the numbers are against us.

    And that assumes away the very squishy question of who was counted as a "supporter."

    I, too, share the dismay of Mr. Q at those who would elevate the (a) foreign Islamists and (b) bitter-ender Baathists who make up the "insurgency" to any kind of moral equivalence with the US and other coalition troops.

    You can argue with whether we should have gone into Iraq in the first place, but I don't see how anyone can claim that the Iraqis will be better off if the insurgents win.

  13. This is a rather sick thing to read from a so-called "libertarian."

    Snarf. Willful category confusion is precocious in a tenth-grader. After that, less so.

  14. "I, too, share the dismay of Mr. Q at those who would elevate the (a) foreign Islamists and (b) bitter-ender Baathists who make up the "insurgency" to any kind of moral equivalence with the US and other coalition troops."

    It's Mark Q. who made the morally equivalent comparison of "ultra-statists" in Iraq to their "counterparts" here.

    The larger numbers don't mean anything militarily, but it's not their goal to beat us militarily anyways. Their aims are political, and if they outnumber us it would serve those aims. Propaganda-wise.

    "Do you mean the Islamist/Al Queda fighters who "somehow" showed up in Iraq immediately during/after the war, despite there be absolutely no connection between Saddam and terrorists?"

    Since al Qaeda fighters like Mohammed Atta "somehow" showed up in the U.S., I guess that means there must be a connection between George Bush and al Qaeda.

    Yeah, barring cooperation between Hussein and bin Laden, there's just no way you could sneak anybody across the poorly guarded borders into Iraq.

  15. RC-
    Who here has said they'd be better off if the insurgents won?

  16. Too bad most of the exploding is being done by the Insurgents whose aim is to enslave the populace.

    i laugh at what people can convince themselves of.

    you'd think the "Baathists and Islamists" (who are, of course, the vast vast vaaast majority of people who hate the americans) would have to be the ones with sidewinder-armed helicopters and laser-guided 1000-pound high explosive munitions to do that kind of damage -- wouldn't you?

    i wonder, mr question, what percentage of flat fallujah you believe was flattened by "Baathists and Islamists"?

  17. Who here has said they'd be better off if the insurgents won?

    don't bother, ms jennifer -- if you question any part of the holy of holies, Our Noble Struggle, you are a batshit-insane freak who hates life and all things living.

  18. But (much to horror of Lew Rockwell & Co.) the KKK did little to restart the Confederacy or slavery (though they did manage to create terror and destruction toward black people and their liberal supporters for many years . . .

    This being the non-asinine rejoinder to my original comment, it's worth responding to.

    Surely the KKK and the broader obstructionism of which it was the most sinister edge, had a huge effect on the course of postwar reconstruction. Doesn't a fair reading of post-bellum southern history suggests that the white planter class preserved just about as much power as it could realistically hope to preserve, given a military defeat? When it became clear to the white North that the choices were to give up the maximal aims of reconstruction or to ride military herd on the white South in perpetuity, it chose the former. That was it for black voting rights and office-holders; Jim Crow followed thereafter.

    I certainly don't count reconstruction as a win for the North (or for racial justice and individual rights). I AM pleased to see that, chastened by events, LR.com appears to be rethinking its peculiar precept that "All governments are gangs, except for Southern STATE governments." I would tell you that you'd be comforted to know that they just ran a big "Don't romanticize the confederacy" piece, but I fear you'd draw greater comfort from continued foolishness on their parts regarding that topic.

  19. gaius marius:

    1) I don't assert that a majority of Iraqis are insurgents. We see from above estimates of 200,000, which clearly not a majority.

    2) The police are usually better armed than the rapist or serial-killer. They are still just in stopping rapists and murderers from raping and murdering.

  20. Mr. Henley - It was "asinine" of me to use a historical example? What if I used Vietnam? How about it, were the Vietcong and NLF "neither good and bad" for their enslavery of millions of Vietnamese? That was the Rothbardian position in the 1970s...so very close to the Rothbardian position in 2004 on the KKK and Baathist insurgents. Do you detect a trend?

  21. but I don't see how anyone can claim that the Iraqis will be better off if the insurgents win.

    If one were to accept the fact that there is no alternative then hoping for the insurgents to win is merely hoping for fewer lives to be needlessly lost.

    If one were to accept the further fact that this failed gamble is breeding more hearts and minds for terrorism as it escalates, it practically demands one to hope the insurgents win.

  22. Mr. Henley - It was "asinine" of me to use a historical example?

    You know, I include quoted material to make it clear what I am and am not responding to. The quoted material in the *snarf* post should clarify what I consider "asinine."

    Here's the thing. A lot of hawks seem to imagine that scoring rhetorical points on Lew Rockwell or Michael Moore or whoever will win the war. Or that if they just establish that all or most or even some of the insurgents are Bad Guys, likewise. I'm banking that actual existing trends, like the odds of prevailing against an insurgency at fewer than 10:1 odds, are more relevant. The other trend I'm looking at is the climb in estimated numbers of insurgents from "a few bandits and diehards" to 5000 to 20,000 and now, provisionally, 200,000, since summer of 2003. All this while we've been enjoying the purported 15:1 kill ratios. This seems to have a hell of a lot more to do with how things are likely to turn out than whether you and RC Dean get in some japes against some of the rest of us along the way.

  23. Jim Henley didn't say the insurgents were neither good nor bad. He said whether they are good or bad is not the point.

  24. Here's the thing, Mr. Henley:

    1) It DOES matter if the insurgents are good or bad if we are talking about morality. If they are bad, i.e. seeking to enslave others, they need to be stopped, especially when we have the means to do so. It is a MORAL issue.

    2) You seem to dispute we have the MEANS to do so. It is a fair point and worth debating.

    3) But why do you go into a tizzy with when I point out that LRC and Moore and others really are on the other side of the MORAL issue? It is confusing! Here is a key passage from your post that makes me ponder:

    " you and RC Dean get in some japes against some of the REST OF US along the way."

    Emphasis is mine. So you claim it is isn't about the moral issue but jump into the collective herd (the "us") that says it is. WHY? It only fucks up YOUR argument that it is an issue of means. Political gain (which hasn't happened)?

  25. Mark Q - the "rest of us" statement was most likely only referring to commenters here on H&R.

  26. Brian Doherty relates that, "The UK's Times reports that General Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, director of Iraq's new intelligence services, thinks that insurgents in Iraq may outnumber U.S. and coalition forces, with more than 200,000 active fighters and supporters."

    The solution is simple. Hire more Iraqis! Especially more Iraq *women.* Hire 500,000 of them. No, hire 1 MILLION of them! They'll work for peanuts (as compared to U.S. troops). To an Iraqi, $6,000 a year is very, very good money. Even doctors in Iraq don't make that kind of money.

    Let's say we hire 1 MILLION Iraqis, at an average of $6,000 a year. That's $6 billion a year! It's nothing! The U.S. government spends more than that on toilet seats. πŸ˜‰

    Why, why, why doesn't George Bush take my advice? Is it because I give my advice in my pajamas? πŸ˜‰

    Brian Doherty continues, "And many of them are embedded in the Iraqi National Guard:..."

    That problem solves itself! As noted in the article, more than *1000* Iraqi police and National Guard troops have been murdered already. That is bound to annoy the ones who haven't yet been killed. The Iraqi National Guard and police will cleanse themselves of insurgents, as long as the leadership at the top is not involved.

    G.W. Bush: Hire more Iraqis! A MILLION more. (Or even TWO MILLION!) And bring the U.S. grunts back home. They U.S. troops did their job...they got rid of Saddam and his government.

  27. The police are usually better armed than the rapist or serial-killer. They are still just in stopping rapists and murderers from raping and murdering.

    except that the police aren't dropping high explosives into populated city blocks. don't be disingenuous, mr question. you accept that the slaughter is noble and therefore right, or you don't.

    A lot of hawks seem to imagine that scoring rhetorical points on Lew Rockwell or Michael Moore or whoever will win the war. Or that if they just establish that all or most or even some of the insurgents are Bad Guys, likewise. I'm banking that actual existing trends, like the odds of prevailing against an insurgency at fewer than 10:1 odds, are more relevant. The other trend I'm looking at is the climb in estimated numbers of insurgents from "a few bandits and diehards" to 5000 to 20,000 and now, provisionally, 200,000, since summer of 2003. All this while we've been enjoying the purported 15:1 kill ratios. This seems to have a hell of a lot more to do with how things are likely to turn out than whether you and RC Dean get in some japes against some of the rest of us along the way.

    here here, mr henley.

    but, as long as the cause is "noble", you can be sure the romantics will keep throwing people onto the pyre. it really doesn't matter for people like this what actually happens -- the measure of success is not in the evidence or the outcome. the struggle is the noble object -- to prove one's self as a Great Man in a Great Nation.

    there is no end to the murder that thinking will excuse.

  28. Jennifer writes, "Could it be at all possible that what they hate is not Freedom, but members and supporters of a foreign army that blew their houses to smithereens and killed various friends and loved ones?"

    And what about the blowing to smithereens of Iraqi National Guard and police? Or the Christians coming out of churches, or the Shia pilgrims? What explains that? Bad hair days?

    And what about the warnings/announcements that they will kill everyone involved in elections, including voters? That would be love of freedom, but hatred of elections?

  29. And what about the blowing to smithereens of Iraqi National Guard and police? Or the Christians coming out of churches, or the Shia pilgrims? What explains that? Bad hair days?

    "they started it"? mr bahner? seriously?

  30. The fact is, we are in a war, which creates a fairly binary solution set: we win, or our enemies win.

    One question, which there seems to be a fair amount of ambiguity about, is which side SHOULD win.

    Pavel, rather idiotically, seems to think that we have already lost, and that the defeat of the US in Iraq would be a good thing, because our defeat will somehow discourage terrorist recruitment, while our victories somehow encourage it.

    Others seem curiously unwilling to admit that we do, in fact, hold the moral/libertarian high ground (as opposed to our enemies, at any rate) and that the people of Iraq will be better off if we win, and the insurgents lose.

    I have no problem debating ways and means of advancing liberty in the near term and the long term, here and abroad. I see no reason, however, to believe that a defeat for the US in Iraq will do either.

    As for the question of whether anyone on this discussion has called for the defeat of the US (other than Pavel), well, I haven't read anyone other than Mr. Q who seems to believe that, since we are in Iraq, we might as well see it through and win this thing.

  31. If Mark Question is still here, I'd like to rephrase my earlier question to him:

    Is it possible that at least SOME of the insurgents might have legitimate reasons for hating the US and fighting its soldiers?

    Please understand that I refer specifically to the insurgents who are attacking soldiers; the ones attacking Iraqi civilians are the garden-variety scumballs who'd appear in ANY situation where society has been blown to hell and replaced with anarchy.

  32. gaius marius: My feelings for the insurgents are Sic Semper Tyrannis, regardless of the means of their demise. They made their fate when they threw their lot with violent statists.

    The deaths of innocents are a tragedy, but I still blame the criminal when a policemen accidently shoots a civilian.

    Turning my back on someone being enslaved, raped or murder, or blaming their rescuer for the actions of the criminal, is slavish and ignoble.

  33. what about the warnings/announcements that they will kill everyone involved in elections, including voters? That would be love of freedom, but hatred of elections?

    indeed, what of them? the rebellion against america's army is complex -- i fully concede that some core group of jihadi are there, and that some issue such messages and perform incomprehensible acts. but mr henley is right -- it doesn't go from (if you believe the numerology) 5000 to 20,000 to 200,000 because crazy jihadi are flooding the country.

    as with all classical insurgencies, this one has the popular sympathy -- due mostly to american mismanagement starting at DoD -- and is gaining new adherents with every abu ghraib photo, with every power outage, with every airstrike called in, with every fortress built.

    this thing has become textbook "what not to do" in occupying hostile territory. we have made our problems significantly worse by our incompetence and arrogance.

    most of these people want self-determination (though not western freedom, most of them) and are clearly convinced they won't get it with the americans hanging around. and i don't see any reason to believe otherwise -- the elections will be an american-run sham, plainly, with no unamerican outcome allowed. that is not self-determination, and they know it. therefore, they resist.

  34. It DOES matter if the insurgents are good or bad if we are talking about morality. If they are bad, i.e. seeking to enslave others, they need to be stopped, especially when we have the means to do so. It is a MORAL issue.

    Nobody was talking about morality except you, pal. The original post was about numbers. You're the one who brought in a bunch of bullshit ad hominems and skylarking about who's good and who's bad. That's because you have nothing to say on the matter at hand. Which in turn is because the matter at hand deals with questions of reality and feasibility, concepts that don't apply in the ass where you keep your head.

  35. R C Dean-

    Our cause is just. Morally, it would be far better if we win.

    My only concern is that I don't see any way for the US to bring order and liberalization to Iraq (last I heard, liberalizing the Middle East was one of the President's main reasons for invading Iraq, please correct me if I'm wrong). The most successful efforts at building liberal democracy tend to be home-grown.

    We should win, but I don't know if we can. If we can't, then maybe we should cut our losses rather than asking even more people to die for something that is impossible.

  36. Which in turn is because the matter at hand deals with questions of reality and feasibility, concepts that don't apply in the ass where you keep your head.

    OUCH!!!

    Do not mess with Mr. Cavanaugh!

  37. Jennifer: They may hate the US but emotion does not equal morality.

    I am sure some in the SS Panzer divisions had reason to hate the invaders, but it didn't make their cause nor actions legitimate.

    I don't consider actions which empower some to enslave others as legitimate. Maybe you do.

    (PS: Before someone brings up the taxation issue to fund the war, understand I also support your right to NOT pay your taxes).

  38. hold the moral/libertarian high ground

    we lie to war, we kill thousands for our own causes, and we are on the high ground?

    lying and war are on the high moral ground?

    you can call it many things, but it is NEVER that.

    mr dean, you are irremediable. i simply hope you grow wise as you get older, before you have an opportunity to do great damage to yourself and your loved ones in some self-adjudged noble cause, and learn the insanity of such nihilistic perversion as you espouse now.

    unfortunately, it is all of us that are bearing the weight of the neoconservative experiement with the nobility of disaster.

  39. Do not mess with Mr. Cavanaugh!

    Yeah, sorry Mark Q., I'm in a bad mood. You're still talking nonsense, but I'm in a bad mood.

  40. ss panzer divisions?

    oh my, indeed.

    just a little hyperbole and misdirection here.

    what about my relatives who hate the british for what happened to dresedn? and no, one relative was, um, deported. i was never told why...

    and what the hell is all this talk about "enslaving"? we're trying to win the hearts and minds here. HEARTS and MINDS.

    ad hoc arguments abound. my oh my. panzer divisions.

    chuckle chuckle.

    panzers. comparisons with nazis. wow. argumentation!

  41. Mark-
    Ah, so Iraqis who fight US soldiers who invaded their country and destroyed their homes are the moral equivalent of the invading armies of the SS. Every single insurgent is an evil stain to be bleached out.

    Very well, then. Do you think maybe Rumsfeld should start heeding all the generals who told him they'd need two or three times as many troops (and ammo, and vehicles, and weapons, and food and a zillion other logistical things) as they have, to get their morally just and entirely unavoidable job done?

  42. Gaius Marius writes, "they started it"? mr bahner? seriously?

    No, Mr. Marius. I'm asking Jennifer what all those Freedom Fighters are doing killing Iraqi policemen and National Guard troops. Not to mention Christians and Shia pilgrims.

    My questions are basically rhetorical. It's obvious to anyone who thinks about it rationally that the people blowing up policemen and National Guard troops and Christians and Shia pilgrims and oil pipelines and electrical towers are *not* interested in freedom. At least not for anyone but themselves.

    But it appears Jennifer has at least partially realized that. She writes, "Please understand that I refer specifically to the insurgents who are attacking soldiers; the ones attacking Iraqi civilians are the garden-variety scumballs..."

    But then she adds, "...who'd appear in ANY situation where society has been blown to hell and replaced with anarchy."

    The only "chaos and anarchy" now in Iraq are caused precisely by those scumballs!

  43. Cavanaugh (aka coversationally-challenged asshoel):

    "Nobody was talking about morality except you, pal."

    Nobody was talking at all dumbshit. I was the second post.

    "The original post was about numbers. You're the one who brought in a bunch of bullshit ad hominems and skylarking about who's good and who's bad."

    Which parts were ad hominem? Which parts bullshit? Seriously, I want to know. It's called a discussion, not a lecture fucktard.

    "That's because you have nothing to say on the matter at hand."

    Indeed I did. I made a snarky comment which kicked off an interesting conversation. Until your rightous-but-rude ass showed up to try to spoil it.

    "Which in turn is because the matter at hand deals with questions of reality and feasibility, concepts that don't apply in the ass where you keep your head."

    Just because you are close-minded doesn't mean we all have to be.

    But I am done, because you banned me (too bad I can change my IP address). Enjoy the echo-chamber.

  44. "But I am done, because you banned me (too bad I can change my IP address). Enjoy the echo-chamber."

    really?

    did he do that?

    my oh my. can i see your muscle mark q? oh wait are you suzy in drag?

    mr tough guy is gone a few seconds and i miss him already.

    i hate it when people try to justify the iraq war in terms of fighting the nazis.

  45. I wrote (rhetorically), "what about the warnings/announcements that they will kill everyone involved in elections, including voters? That would be love of freedom, but hatred of elections?"

    Gaius Marius responded, "indeed, what of them?"

    They are filthy scum, gaius. Isn't that obvious?

  46. Turning my back on someone being enslaved, raped or murder, or blaming their rescuer for the actions of the criminal, is slavish and ignoble.

    if i trusted your ability to determine what is good, mr question -- indeed, if there were some universal standard -- i wonder if we would disagree.

    but the history of noble heroism is instead the history of fascism, totalitarianism and slaughter in the name of what is "right" and "noble" precisely because the ethic of heroism despises community and compromise in the name of sensibility and pragmatism. it is this heroic ethic under which the neocon-run united states has acted, specifically against all the pleadings of our friends, much to the chagrin of all the world -- but especially, in time, our own.

  47. Jeeziz, forget the apology!

  48. gaius marius: Would love to respond, but my IP address was banned. I am clearly not welcome here, so I will cease posting. Have a great day.

  49. "as with all classical insurgencies, this one has the popular sympathy"

    That is utter rubbish. Where are the demonstrations in favor of the U.S. leaving Iraq, and the signs with Saddam Hussein's and Abu Musab al Zarqawi's face on them?

    I'll tell you where they are...nowhere! The reason is that if such a demonstration were to be held, IRAQIS would tear the demonstators to pieces!

  50. would these be family members of the same iraqis we've been torturing before setting them free? the same iraqis who see us using brutal methods in the worst prison in iraq - where the families in question see no difference between then and now?

  51. thoreau writes, "My only concern is that I don't see any way for the US to bring order and liberalization to Iraq..."

    The U.S. has ALREADY brought more liberalization to Iraq than they ever experienced under Saddam Hussein.

    Iraq under Saddam Hussein was among the 2 or 3 worst countries in the whole world for combined political/civil and economic freedom, as measured by Freedom House and the Heritage Foundation, respectively.

    The odds that Iraq will ever be as illiberal as it was under Saddam Hussein are not very high.

    As far as "order" goes, it's over-rated. But if you're referring to reductions in murders and kidnappings, that's going to take time. And the *Iraqis* are going to have to do it.

  52. They are filthy scum, gaius. Isn't that obvious?

    no, mr bahner -- it isn't. they are also fathers and sons, lovers of their country and their tradition, and many of them lovers of peace like you and i who fight only to rid themselves of what they must see as a foreign plague afflicting their homes.

    not to be on our end of these men is why initiating elective, pre-emptive invasions and imperial forays are morally indefensible.

    It's obvious to anyone who thinks about it rationally that the people blowing up policemen and National Guard troops and Christians and Shia pilgrims and oil pipelines and electrical towers are *not* interested in freedom.

    this is only evidence of what you assume if you assume that these people are operating from your viewpoint. is there anything that says right and decent iraqis cannot view these men as the american revolutionaries viewed benedict arnold -- as traitors to their culture?

    let me be clear: killing is wrong, and is unjustifiable against innocents. but it is not iraqis who started this killing -- and now that chaos is upon them, you won't find many calm hearts there to make easy decisions. chaos is infectious, and these men are just men, animals in a stampede of revolution.

    that any of us expected anything different in doing what we did was foolish.

    to start making summary judgements about causation in such complex situations, casting aspersions on the motives upon any group of mankind by reducing their complexity in the midst of anarchy is almost always useless. none of us can sit here and claim to know the motives of the rebellion, except to say that they are complex.

  53. The U.S. has ALREADY brought more liberalization to Iraq than they ever experienced under Saddam Hussein.

    what is your mental picture of iraq right now, i wonder, mr bahner?

  54. Mark Q.-
    You brought up the SS Panzers. What do you think about the French and Dutch insurgents who fought against the German occupiers in World War Two? Not during the actual invasion, but during the occupation? They didn't just attack Germans when they could; they even attacked their own countrymen, who chose to side with or work for the invaders.

    Or, for a less Godwinesque comparison, the various colonial peoples who fought against the British, Belgian and other European armies/exploiters in the nineteenth century?

    Mark B.-
    The same basic type of scumball shows itself here in America from time to time, like during the LA riots or various other crisis situations. Fortunately, those little insurrections are confined to much smaller areas of discontent, and even in crime dens like LA and Detroit it's still pretty hard for the average person to get hold of rocket launchers and the like.

    Ask Reginald Denny if innocent people in America ever get brutalized by slimeballs using a politically motivated disturbance to commit acts of random violence. In America such things happen on a much smaller scale than they do in the country we bombed to shit two years ago and have been trying to control ever since, but they happen still, because they exist in human nature, regardless of country.

    The people who fight our soldiers are not to be confused with the people who murder civilians.

  55. "I hate it when people try to justify the iraq war in terms of fighting the nazis."

    Maybe some of us see a similarity when we look at mass grave sites in Iraq:

    http://cpa-iraq.org/images/massgraves.jpg

  56. The people who fight our soldiers are not to be confused with the people who murder civilians.

    precisely. conflating the two may be convenient for the defense of the hubristic american-heroic viewpoint, but it is not evidenciary.

  57. no sale.

    some of you certainly have bad vision.

  58. Mark Q was banned? Wow. Has anybody besides spammers and such been banned before?

  59. Maybe some of us see a similarity when we look at mass grave sites in Iraq:

    again, mr bahner, many of the people fighting us are many of the same who *fought* saddam. saddam bad -- yes, we know. that does not mean american occupation good, a priori.

  60. "what is your mental picture of iraq right now, i wonder, mr bahner?"

    My mental picture right now is that the thugs and assassins are no longer running the government, but have not yet been captured and imprisoned.

  61. A poor understanding of Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction Southern state governments has become attached to this conversation. Reconstructionist (if by this we mean 1862-1877) and Post-Reconstruction governments (if by this we mean post-1877) were continuously rocked by efforts to re-establish slavery in another form (any cursory survey of the history of slavery will show that this is a common feature of most post-emancipation efforts). The governments which followed the collapse of Reconstruction efforts in a particular state (that is from the late 1860s onward) were called "redeemer" governments and they were run by Democrats who wanted to re-establish slavery informally via de jure and de facto methods. Such methods were evidenced in everything from fencing and hunting laws to laws concerning gun ownership. They were also quite effective, though not equally effective everywhere; for example, while black belt and delta cotton areas were more readily managed in these ways, the rice producing areas of coastal South Carolina and Georgia were never able to re-establish these social relations and blacks in these areas enjoyed a greater freedom than their bretheren in the black belt of Alabama.

  62. that's what i suspected, mr bahner -- and that isn't quite enough.

    it should also include an american appointed ex-assassin as president of the country, which is run by a brutally authoritarian bureaucracy backed by a foreign army whose troops are famed for imprisoning, torturing and raping innocent iraqis, which is setting up an election scheme amidst chaos in which no anti-occupation result will be allowed.

    liberal? hardly. closer to retrograde at the moment, i'm afraid.

    we have only our long-indoctrinated faith in american goodness to make us believe it will get better. these people don't have that. is it really a surprise that they resist?

  63. Jennifer:
    Sorry, I don't feel welcome to post here anymore. Some would rather marginalize me or ban my IP address without explanation than talk (which is their right as it is their property. But they are fools if they think everyone here uses their real IP address). This is my last post to you.

    I think the French resistance was justified because the Vichy and Germans were fascist, oppressive regimes (though some on the resistance were communist, the aim was restoration of the French republic). In contrast, the new Iraqi republic is clearly not designed to be oppressive or fascist.

    Thank you for the question. I appologize if I was rude.

  64. thoreau,

    The justice of the cause depends on which side you are on. I know in the U.S. that's not a particularly popular notion with me, but this is one instance where I agree with Julius Ceasar, Cicero, etc., as opposed to most scholastic scholars.

  65. gary:

    it's sort of a goodwin's law of the civil war (cletus's law?) that gets thrown out. if you can't beat 'em with a stupid, ignorant, appeal to pathos nazi argument, you try for the "gotcha" KKK argument.

    and it's interesting blaming a criminal for a policeman's pulling the trigger. i always knew hawk kooks were against the responsibility of the individual. now they're forgiving people who actually do the act. "it's not their fault".

  66. I know in the U.S. that's not a particularly popular notion with some...

  67. OK - one last post, just to be a dick. Check out Tor, it hides your IP address:

    http://tor.eff.org/

    There is chance that I was using an IP address that Reason banned because of Spam...but it seems a little to coincidental for Tim to badmouth me and five seconds later have the IP not work.

  68. Mark, you are a serious fucking loon.

  69. "America such things happen on a much smaller scale than they do in the country we bombed to shit two years ago..."

    Jennifer, when you use language like that, you lose all credibility with me. (Not the swearing, I don't give a @#$% about that. ;-))

    There is no way in the world that a rational analysis of Iraq can be that it was, "bombed to shit two years ago."

    THIS is "bombed to shit":

    http://www.angelfire.com/az/nativebob/imagestn3/tndresden_wwiibombing.jpg

    ...and THIS is "bombed to shit":

    http://www.ettnet.se/~stefan-a/hiroshima/mini004.jpg

    There has never been a war since WII that had LESS damage to infrastructure than the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003! And never has so much attention been paid so quickly to rebuilding an occupied country.

    Water, sewer, electricity, hospitals, schools...ALL of those things are at or better than they were before the first U.S. bomb was dropped in 2003. (And virtually all of the problems in those areas are caused by the filthy scum deliberately kidnapping and shooting doctors and government ministers, and blowing up oil pipelines and electrical facilities.)

  70. mark:

    the-cloak is another. there are tons of them out there. and there are some good programs (proxomitron), anti spy, a-squared, etc. that do a good job with spyware, general PC security holes, etc.

    happy surfing.

  71. Well did you ban me or not? And am I any worse than drf or the others who are assholes around here?

  72. Hooray for this new-found liberalization of Iraq! They've lost their homes or at least their electricity and other vital services, they can't walk down the street without serious risk of getting killed (why or by whom doesn't matter to them, they're just dead), they have no jobs, they have no money, the Americans are torturing them in prisons, but now the Iraqis are allowed to have SATELLITE DISHES!!!!

    At the end of the day that's what matters, man.

  73. The estimated number of actual insurgents, according to this article, is 40,000. That number doesn't outnumber the allied forces.

    In order to make the "they outnumber us" claim, they had to add in the total of people who support the insurgents. But they seem to have neglected to add the allied and/or Iraqi government supporters to the "allied" side of the equation. The available evidence is that supporters of the insurgency are outnumbered by opponents of it within Iraq, so it seems unlikely to me that the total of (insurgents + supporters) is greater than the total of (allies + Iraqi forces + supporters).

  74. no mark.

    you're not as bad. you're just a tough guy with big muscles.

    please flex again.

    i guess being nice and tossing around some computer stuff is beyond you.

    oh well.

    but i'll have to have a nightlight because i'll have visions of your anti nazi parade marching through to the tune of "raindrops keep fallin on my head" or some such.

    such a tough guy.

    panzers.

  75. Mark Bahner--

    All right, let me then rephrase in an utterly straightforward and non-ambiguous manner: instead of 'Country we bombed to shit,' make it 'country we dropped a lot of bombs on two years ago, and while we certainly didn't destroy the entire country we destroyed enough of it to make a LOT of people very angry, and to seriously inconvenience a great many other people in re electricity and sewers and stuff, and even if they ARE better off now than they were under Saddam they don't seem to feel that way and whether or not this is just we pretty much have to deal with it?'

    Christ.

  76. "it should also include an american appointed ex-assassin as president of the country,..."

    So that's why the scum are killing Iraq police and National Guard troops?

    "...which is run by a brutally authoritarian bureaucracy..."

    Gaius, your comment is even MORE devoid of reality than Jennifers! Iraq's "brutal authoritarian bureaucracy" allows more freedom than the majority of Middle Eastern countries. And infinitely more freedom than under Saddam Hussein. Look at Iraq versus Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. Iraq has MORE free newspapers. MORE unblocked Internet sites. MORE satellite dishes. MORE freedom of dress and speech and religion.

  77. Missing a comma: "whether or not this was just, we pretty much have to deal with it."

  78. mr bahner, it's safe to conclude for the comments of the last half-hour that you are living in a bubble of your own construction.

    mr cavanaugh (and friends at reason), this is what i mean when i argue that the proliferation of news sources and the killing of the gatekeepers leads not to a better-informed society but to a more mystic society -- one in which people cherry-pick information to fit their preconceived notions -- because people cannot disseminate information critically and rationally.

    such a society may well be less vulnerable to centralized state propaganda, but it is far more vulnerable to consisting mostly of self-deluded individuals detached from any uncomfortable reality.

  79. Mark Bahner,

    Iraq's "brutal authoritarian bureaucracy" allows more freedom than the majority of Middle Eastern countries.

    That likely depends on the nature of the freedom and how much each government enforces each restriction.

    And infinitely more freedom than under Saddam Hussein.

    Freedom of religious belief and clothing choice weren't particularly restricted in Saddam's Iraq as I understand it. And clearly religious elements in Iraq are flexing their muscles regarding women's dress in a way that may have been impossible under Saddam's regime.

    If your argument is that some benefit has come to the Iraqis via the invasion, that's readily conceded, but the question is whether that benefit is readily sustained and whether those benefits outweight the costs.

  80. "Country we bombed to shit,' make it 'country we dropped a lot of bombs on two years ago, and while we certainly didn't destroy the entire country we destroyed enough of it to make a LOT of people very angry,..."

    Jennifer, Iraq has approximately 23 million people. (Or maybe it's 24 million, now that Iraqis have returned BACK to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.) Of those 23 million people, I doubt that even 2 million of those people were "very angry" as a result of our bombing.

    "...and to seriously inconvenience a great many other people in re electricity and sewers and stuff,..."

    No, Jennifer. That's not right. There was more electricity and sewer and water service in Iraq by April 2004 (1 year after the bombing ended) than there was before the bombing started.

    "...and even if they ARE better off now than they were under Saddam they don't seem to feel that way..."

    The majority of Iraqi DO feel that way (that they are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein). And the majority of Iraqis are optimistic that a year from now they will be even better off than they are now.

    "Christ."

    I know it's frustrating to argue something when the facts aren't on your side, Jennifer. But the solution is to GET the facts. It's not hard to do in the Age of Google. Maybe you'll even change your mind. (I remain optimistic, but I won't be holding my breath.)

  81. Jennifer writes, "...but now the Iraqis are allowed to have SATELLITE DISHES!!!!

    At the end of the day that's what matters, man."

    Jennifer, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the population went absolutely bonkers for satellite dishes after the fall of the their repressive governments.

    To someone like you who has never been isolated from the outside world, that may seem like nothing. But to them, their newfound freedom to learn about the outside world was apparently significant. (If one can judge by their actions.)

  82. Mark Bahner,

    Of those 23 million people, I doubt that even 2 million of those people were "very angry" as a result of our bombing.

    Carry to give us the citation where you get this "fact" from? πŸ™‚

    There was more electricity and sewer and water service in Iraq by April 2004 (1 year after the bombing ended) than there was before the bombing started.

    Actually, the sewer and water service have broken down again, and despite there being more electricity there are also more black and brownouts. This latter consideration is important because it feeds on the local population's perception that shit is really fucked up. In other words, you can say that there is more electricity, but if it can't keep up with demand, people are going to lose faith and get frustrated.

    The majority of Iraqi DO feel that way (that they are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein). And the majority of Iraqis are optimistic that a year from now they will be even better off than they are now.

    Citation?

  83. The estimated number of actual insurgents, according to this article, is 40,000. That number doesn't outnumber the allied forces.

    In order to make the "they outnumber us" claim, they had to add in the total of people who support the insurgents. But they seem to have neglected to add the allied and/or Iraqi government supporters to the "allied" side of the equation.

    Good point. The article is actually a little fuzzy on what the other 160,000 are doing. Specifically, it says:

    General Shahwani said that there were at least 40,000 hardcore fighters attacking US and Iraqi troops, with the bulk made up of part-time guerrillas and volunteers providing logistical support, information, shelter and money.

    I could read that one of two ways: Either the bulk of the 40,000 are "part-time guerrillas and volunteers..." or that the bulk of the 200,000 are in those support capacities and the 40,000 are hard-core fighters. My inclination is toward the second explanation, based purely on the wording of the article.

    Now, the proper number for comparison is not 40,000 fighters vs. the total number of US and Iraqi forces. Not all of the US forces in Iraq are in the infantry or other units that routinely fight (although obviously ALL of our soldiers run the risk of encountering the enemy, and should be commended for their courage). Some are mechanics, cooks, technicians, etc.

    My interpretation is that there are 160,000 Iraqis acting in a support capacity for 40,000 hard-core fighters. Also, because that 160,000 figure includes a significant number in the Iraqi police and armed forces, it diminishes the number that we can consider when adding up US and Iraqi forces. A soldier passing info to the other side can only be considered a liability, not an asset.

    Finally, although we do need to include in our totals those Iraqis supporting us, we obviously should only count active supporters when making a comparison. It's great to know that Yusuf Al Schmoe (Arabic for "Joe Schmoe") thinks the US presence is positive, and I hope that he votes for liberal-minded candidates in the upcoming elections. But we can't consider him as canceling out somebody who provides shelter to guerrilla fighters unless he is actively aiding the occupation. That's not a criticism of Yusuf Al Schmoe, it's just a matter of making accurate comparisons.

    As always, numbers require careful analysis.

  84. Mark,

    From this analysis:

    In other words you are geusstimating and making shit up; it isn't a "fact" from any "citation." Apparently you don't take your own advice seriously.

    There is simply no way that present wastewater treatment is LESS than that.

    But of course it could be the same.

    But a major problem has been the "freedom fighters" attacking infrastructure...

    That's just an excuse as are your statements regarding Iraq's electricity problems; either the situation has improved or it hasn't - you presented in that binary fashion and I'll hold you to that pattern.

    A March 2004 poll doesn't tell me much. You're the guru of citations; I would have expected something better.

  85. I'm a little late to this thread, so pardon me but, just for clarification...

    Is somebody tryin' to argue that Iraqis, in general, supported their own bombing?

    ...?!

  86. Mark B. maybe I'm really dense, but I have to ask, if Iraq is so much better off than it was before the war, then why do the Iraqis continue to support the insurgents? Are all these Iraqis really so wedded to ideology that they're willing to act against their own interests to, in effect, bite the hand that is feeding them?

  87. People who want to make factual statements about Iraqi infrastructure and opinion polling may find the Saban Center's Iraq Index a good place to start: http://www.brookings.edu/iraqindex

    It's limited by the data it can acquire, but it's a useful starting point.

  88. Finally, although we do need to include in our totals those Iraqis supporting us, we obviously should only count active supporters when making a comparison.

    Thoreau,

    The problem, of course, is that the term "active supporter" is left undefined.

    If "active supporter" refers to those who work in a full-time or part-time logistical/support capacity for the insurgency, then it is reasonable to count as "active supporters of the Iraqi government" anyone (who isn't a mole for the insurgency) who works full or part-time for the government or the allies. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis meet those criteria.

    But I suspect that the term "active supporter" casts a wider net than that. I suspect it was meant to include, for example, people don't work full or part-time for the insurgents, but who are willing to shelter members of the insurgency, pass along information about targets of opportunity, etc. Casting an equally wide net on the other side would, I suspect, yield millions of "active allied/Iraqi government supporters" -- people willing to turn in insurgents, provide information about them, or actively assist Iraqi government and/or allied forces.

  89. maybe I'm really dense, but I have to ask, if Iraq is so much better off than it was before the war, then why do the Iraqis continue to support the insurgents?

    Iraq as a whole is better off. Most Iraqis, individually, are better off. Some Iraqis, however, are much worse off -- specifically, the ones who used to be in charge. They represent most of the insurgency and its support network. This is why most of the insurgency problems have been in former Ba'athist strongholds.

  90. "Jennifer, Iraq has approximately 23 million people. (Or maybe it's 24 million, now that Iraqis have returned BACK to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.) Of those 23 million people, I doubt that even 2 million of those people were "very angry" as a result of our bombing."

    That's rich.

    I'd like to state, just for the record, that if anyone bombs the United States, even if they do so thinking that it's for our own good, I will be one of the people who is "very angry" as a result.

  91. Dear Mr. or Ms. Iraqi citizen:

    Please answer the following question to the best of your ability. Once you have completed the questionaire, please hand it in at the nearest checkpoint.

    When the United States bombed Iraq, did it make you feel...

    A) Good
    B) Indifferent
    C) Angry
    D) "Very Angry"
    E) Both C and D

    The US Department of Defense thanks you for your cooperation.

  92. Dan,

    Thankyou for illustrating the idiocy of Bremer. πŸ™‚

    Some Iraqis, however, are much worse off -- specifically, the ones who used to be in charge. They represent most of the insurgency and its support network.

    That of course includes most of the non-Kurd Sunni population, most of whom in and around Baghdad. If this portion of Iraq cannot be stabilized then Iraq is not a viable national entity. So yes, you're right to state that the insurgency is localized, but that merely ignores the importance of the local areas where it is being prosecuted in. You're a shifty one Dan.

  93. The period of greatest pro-American sentiment among Iraqis was the immediate aftermath of the invasion -- in other words, immediately following the period of intense bombing. It is therefore obvious that the bombing wasn't a significant source of Iraqi anger. This is hardly surprising, considering that the bombing had little direct impact on most Iraqis' lives. What has caused our relationship to sour is the continuing presence of our troops in Iraq. The bombing was not; it was, if not welcome, at least *understood* to be a necessary part of the removal of Hussein's regime.

  94. How many Iraqis do you personally know? The three I work with (who left Iraq between 1989-1992) have lost close family members to "shock and awe" bombings and have had to continuously send money back to support other relatives who have no money, jobs or prospects of getting either anytime soon.

    All your "analysis" sounds like it came from Bill O'Reilly's wishful thinking.

  95. Sorry Dan, tat was directed at Bahner, the citation didn't show up in my post:

  96. That of course includes most of the non-Kurd Sunni population, most of whom in and around Baghdad

    That is, of course, a ridiculous claim. Even among the Sunni there is little nostalgia for the Hussein era.

    But it does fit your standard operating procedure: begin with the assumption that the Iraq project will end in dismal failure, and then make whatever unsupported claims are necessary to fit the available facts to that prediction.

  97. Dan,

    That is, of course, a ridiculous claim.

    No it isn't and if you knew anything about the Ba'athist power structure you would know that Saddam's regime had its fingers into many pies and that when Bremer gutted system he ticked off a lot of people who had lost their sinecures, etc. Even Bremer admits that this was a mistake now. Its those people who were taken down a peg or two - the people who lost their jobs, etc. - that are now part of the insurgency.

    ...unsupported claims...

    My claim is based on your original claim about those who lost their jobs; you just don't like the implications of your claim now.

  98. Dan,

    And let's note the most important part of my statement, that you "conveniently" ignored:

    If this portion of Iraq cannot be stabilized then Iraq is not a viable national entity. So yes, you're right to state that the insurgency is localized, but that merely ignores the importance of the local areas where it is being prosecuted in.

    Originally you acted like this was a localized or particularized affair that only a minority of the population supported and that this made it somehow less important. However it becomes apparent on further reflection that you're just playing a shell game here.

  99. There's no question that many Shia were downright enthusiastic about not living under the Butcher of Baghdad--especially before the incompetence of the Bush Administration's post war plan became so painfully obvious. However, how you managed to confuse that initial Shia enthusiasm with generalized, passive support among Iraqis for their own bombing is beyond me.

    ...By the way, before we justify the bombing by Iraq's success, let's see what happens next. Iraq doesn't look anything like a success yet; indeed, there may yet be a civil war or some fresh dictator that will make life under the Saddam Hussein regime look desirable to many Iraqis by comparison.

    God forbid.

  100. Dan,

    BTW, I've never claimed that it will end in a dismal failure; you must be confusing me with someone else. I just don't share your wilfully blind, pollyannish worldview on the matter that's all. Well, that, and most of us who didn't support this entirely elective war told you that Iraq would prove to be a trap that would be difficult for the U.S. pry itself away from.

  101. Ken,

    Presumably someday in the distant future Iraq will rise out of the muck, but that will likely have very little to do with the U.S. effort there. Iran is going to be the progressive, liberal place neo-conservatives jizz over, but without a U.S. invasion to screw it up. Call me a neo-Burkean. πŸ™‚

  102. ...many of them are embedded in the Iraqi National Guard...

    That means of course that they can not only be spies, etc., but that they also get a paycheck and support that the insurgency doesn't have to fork over. Sounds like the best of both worlds for the insurgency.

  103. According to the latest issue of the Economist (which, FWIW, endorsed the war), the insurgents are now assuming the powers of a local government in parts of Iraq:

    -Executing criminals (and you know it's bad when even the insurgents deem somebody reprehensible!)
    -Levying taxes
    -Imposing price controls on meat

    And no, the last one wasn't a joke. The insurgents are now busy trying to prove that they can mismanage an economy just as badly as any politician!

    It's only a matter of time before the insurgents establish costly entitlement programs.

  104. slightly off thread...

    God, O'Reilly is SO DISHONEST!

    Ban him!!!!

  105. thoreau

    This is not surprising. In neighborhoods in Northern Ireland the IRA became a de facto govt punishing local punks for things like car theft and burglary. They were not particularly nice about it either.

    Of course this was not all driven by civic concern. After all, petty crime brings unwanted attention from the police.

  106. What has caused our relationship to sour is the continuing presence of our troops in Iraq. The bombing was not; it was, if not welcome, at least *understood* to be a necessary part of the removal of Hussein's regime.

    mr dan, you speak as though the killing ever really stopped. i submit it hasn't, and that it doesn't matter who is doing the killing (though we certainly have killed our share -- and could hardly help it, considering our tactical preponderance for blockwrecking airstrikes). what iraqis are rebelling against is chaos -- the open and obvious rumsfeldian fuckup that has been the occupation from day one.

    with no guarantee of security, people will search for security where they can find it.

    in combination with the iraqi desire for self-determination -- something no american-rigged election will provide them -- the iraqis are increasingly supporting the rebellion.

    and, if the economist isn't making things up, their trust is being rewarded. it isn't civil liberty, i'm sure, but but i doubt they care. it is order and not chaos, and it is iraqi and not american.

  107. When is it, exactly, that the Libertarian cause I was so fond of in my youth became controlled by a bunch of anti-American children?

    I find it disturbing that a cause that used to be so closely associated with all the best qualities that made this country what it is today has so quickly become a festering swamp of malcontents and loafers. Have I changed, or is it just that the snotty college kids calling themselves Libertarians today are really just looking for a way to rebel?

    I feel sorry for all of you and I hope you all find your ways in life very soon.

  108. When did Libertarianism equate to support of authority? I think you may be looking back at your youth through rose-colored glasses.

  109. Back in the good old days, Libertarians didn't question authority when it came to big things like war!

  110. Shem asks, "Mark B. maybe I'm really dense, but I have to ask, if Iraq is so much better off than it was before the war, then why do the Iraqis continue to support the insurgents?"

    Available evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis do NOT support "the insurgents!"

    Look at this public opinion poll taken in April 2004:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2004-04-28-gallup-iraq-findings.htm

    "Are all these Iraqis really so wedded to ideology that they're willing to act against their own interests to, in effect, bite the hand that is feeding them?"

    The "insurgents" (aka, terrorists) are not "biting the hand that feeds them." If the U.S. was working to install a Sunni religious dictatorship, THAT would be "feeding them."

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