And Cue Sectarian War

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Forget the cartoons. It is these images that have Iraq on a fast track to all-out civil war.

NEXT: MyMoralPanic

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  1. Shit indeed.

    Matter of time, but still.

  2. Yeah, that sucks.

  3. ‘Tis a fine mess Dubya’s got us into.

  4. looks like the Shiite hit the fan.

  5. Maybe those Dinars won’t make me rich after all.
    Still, they’ll look cool as “Hamarabi wallpaper” in my bathroom.

  6. I hope somebody can explain that this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, and everything is going according to plan.

    Please, somebody give me some reason to feel optimistic. Because optimism is tough once you see people start to attack each other’s holy sites.

  7. So? Which side is Dubbya going to back? In who’s name are we going to see our troops get slaughtered, the Shiite’s or the Sunni’s?

  8. thoreau,
    You know damn well, because you live near there, that those gummint types that get chauffered thither and yon in the shiny limos, live in a different dimension.

    Time for the common man to take some torches and pitchforks to big, black shiny limos.

    Speaking of holy sites!

  9. Please, somebody give me some reason to feel optimistic. Because optimism is tough once you see people start to attack each other’s holy sites.

    Nope, it’s all going to end in blood, fire, and death.

    Dubbya will make sure of that.

  10. This isn’t the first mosque they’ve blown to smithereens, and attacks on pilgrims have been common right from the beginning. …so, I’m sure, some optimists will say that there’s nothing new to see here, plenty of carnage, but nothing new. Also, people can point to Al-Sistani calling for peaceful protest as a continued reason for optimism. …and my understanding, from admittedly filtered reports, is that people on streets blame “foreign” insurgents for this. …’cause no one who wants a unified and peaceful Iraq would do something like this, or so the supposed logic goes.

    If the new government can’t put down attacks like this, and attacks on pilgrims too, and/or Sistani goes down the warpath, there ain’t nothin’ anybody can tell me that’ll make me think that the place isn’t gonna go up in smoke. …and as someone who’s been pessimistic about Iraq for a long time, I have to ask the optimists (I know you’re out there), shouldn’t we expect to see some progress by now? …on big, nasty terrorist attacks on Muslims in Iraq, that is. Is there some new election coming up that’s gonna make all this better? Does keeping our troops there help protect against attacks like this?

  11. Maybe it’s just remodeling? Entrepreneurial Iraqis are replacing the golden dome with the Golden Arches. Get your little neo-con action figure with every Happy Meal.

  12. What are you hard-core BIG “L” libertarians complaining about? This is libertine anarchy.

    Let them all kill each other, and let Allah sort ’em out.

  13. OK, place yer bets, place yer bets…

    Who will appear first: The typical NRO/Free Republic Goons to defend Bush’s Iraq policy, or amazingdrx to claim this thread is a “Bush Love Fest.”

  14. Let them all kill each other, and let Allah sort ’em out.

    Morality aside, the problem with that line of thought is that what results in Iraq will likely be another terrorist home base similar to Afghanistan prior to Sep.t 11 2001.

    And then it matters to us a whole lot.

  15. Allah must be proud.

  16. Amen, HappyO, amen. I was against the war from the beginning, but once we got into the damn thing I wanted us to do it right. We haven’t. To quote Colin Powell, “you break it, you’ve bought it.” Note that “you’ve bought it” has a double meaning.

  17. Allawi would have been worse.

  18. don’t think this fits in the “winning the war” category. am curious how our military justifies its continued inability to finish this up – seems a good thing iraq never attacked us – it would have taken more than 3 years to beat them – this must give 3rd world countries some ideas…

  19. Seriously, what’s the argument against carving the place into three ethnicity-defined countries? There’d be a certain amount of relocation needed (mostly to disentangle the populations where Saddam forcibly settled Sunnis among Shiites) but it wouldn’t be impossible. If these people don’t want to live peacably side-by-side, what’s the point in trying to force it?

  20. “There’d be a certain amount of relocation needed”

    Oh, please, let’s not even go there. In theory it always seems simple, but in practice it’s probably the cause for about half the world’s problems.

  21. Please, somebody give me some reason to be optimistic

    Well, on the bright side, at least it wasn’t the Ali Shrine in Najaf. I don’t think Sistani could hold back the bloodlust if that was the target.

  22. If only the treasonous liberals hadn’t divided us and sapped our will to win this never would have happened. This is not Dear Leader’s fault, it’s the stab in the back from the evil liberals.

  23. As an example:

    Under Saddam the Arabs in the north ‘relocated’ the Kurds. Now, the Kurds are currently ‘relocating’ back. In turn, they are ‘relocating’ those Arabs who ‘relocated’ earlier.

  24. It’s scary how much Dubya and his dad have in common. Daddy gave us ADA that cost billions of dollars. Dubya has given us Homeland Security and the prescription drug plan that will cost billions.

    Daddy invaded Iraq but didn’t finish the job so Dubya invades Iraq and he leaves an even bigger mess.

    And there’s Jeb in Florida…how the hell does a family like this get so much power?

  25. Redeploy to Kurdistan, help ’em annex the Northern oil fields and Kurd populate portions of Syria, Turkey and Iran, blow anything that even remotely looks nuclear related in Iran (what are they going to do, ramp up Shiite/Sunni conflict in Iraq?), and Fuck Off Home.

    Hell, may as well give decapitation strikes against Assad and the Iranian Mullahs a try. Whenever my pot starts boiling over on the electric stove, I give it a good stir.

    Might be a good time to cancel that UAE deal too. it’s not jingoist isolationism I’m talking here, just a Kissinger style 70’s revival.

    In the off chance the boys on the ground manage to figure out a way to get this thing to even kinda blow over, and Congress will be fully 50% Iraqi war vets in under ten years.

  26. The Harsh Oil Reality Of A Tri-Partite Iraq: The process in Iraq is a complicated one indeed, and the more we are there the more confused the entire situation has become. Civil war now seems almost inevitable, and although the US forces have done yeoman’s work in creating schools, hospitals, roads, et al in the Shi’ia controlled south, and have had the able support of the Kurds to do the same?and more?in the Kurdish controlled north, it is the Sunni controlled area of central Iraq that dominates the world news each evening. It is there that the soldiers from the coalition forces die each day. It is there that the schools are in shambles. It is there that the hospitals do not function. It is there that the terrorists flourish. As Nigeria was a makeshift country forged by the British colonialists of the 19th century from the hundreds of tribes that had (and still have) very little to do with one another, and just as Yugoslavia was a quasi-nature of even more disparate cultures held together by the sheer dint of force of President Tito, so too is Iraq a nation forged by the British from three very different cultures now rending at the seams.

    Few understand that the Kurds in the north have in their region one of the largest unexplored oil reserves in the world, and it may indeed actually be the largest. Suffice it to say that it is enormous. The problem is that the Iraqi constitutional convention is putting forth a federally oriented constitution that grants a good deal of regional autonomy to the various ethnic groups there, creating an inherent instability. Eventually, the Shi’ia will form just such a region in the oil rich south; so too the Kurds in the oil rich (and soon to be oil-richer) north. That leaves the oil-poor Sunnis in the middle. They know this all too well, and it is perhaps the central reason why they fight as they do, having lost control of their once fabulous fortunes in the north and the south.

    The constitution, as it presently stands, mandates that all of the revenues and profits from all current known oil reserves in the three regions will be shared by the Iraqi federal government. BUT (and this is a huge “but” … a very, very huge “but”) all future oil discoveries will be controlled by the various regions. This was the only way that the constitution might even be modestly palatable to the three groups involved. Even so, we wonder how it shall be that the Kurds will continue to allow their present oil wealth to be split three ways with the Shi’ia and the Sunni. We wonder how the Shi’ia will allow their oil wealth to be split in the same fashion between the Kurds and the Sunni. Just as the Ogoni tribespeople in the southeastern Nigeria have fought for years to have control of the oil wealth that lies beneath the soil and offshore there, instead of having the revenues flow to Abuja and the federal government, so too will the Kurds and the Shi’ia fight against the Sunni. Were we in that position that is what we would do. It is what any faction anywhere in the world would do. To think otherwise is nonsense and na?ve.

    There will be a separate Kurdistan at some point in the future. The Turks, having fought the notion of a land-locked Kurdistan on its southeast corner, will now support such a nation, for the Kurds will have every reason to support the movement of their oil through Kurdish-Turkish pipelines to the Turkish port at Ceyhan. If Turkey supports an independent Kurdistan, which for all intents already exists given the level of autonomy and stability in that region, then eventually it will be a reality. If Iran supports the creation of an independent Shi’ia nation in the present Iraqi south as a “buffer state” to separate it from the Sunni controlled central region of present day Iraq, then it too shall eventually be independent and oil wealthy. The Sunnis, as they say, are caught in the middle. They know that and they are creating chaos, strangely, in order to hold the old Iraq together. They are fighting a rear-guard action and they are facing a very bleak future.

  27. If they were going to divide Iraq into three seperate countries they should have announced it in 2003 within weeks of the fall of Baghdad.

    Now that Bush has worked to establish this unified government and supported it as the soveriegn government of Iraq ; we and Iraq are stuck with it. We can not say now that the US has decided to divide Iraq into three countries and abolish the national government. It would undermine any credibility the US has abroad and cause many Iraqis who now favor cooperating with the US against us. It would appear to prove true the rhetoric about America being a militant imperialist power that does whatever it wants in other countries at its own convienece.

    The only way Iraq can be partitioned now is if the decision to do so is made by some kind of Iraqi consensus or by the Iraqi government. Otherwise there is likely to be a decades long civil war between multiple factions, most or all of which are hostile to the United States.

  28. “Seriously, what’s the argument against carving the place into three ethnicity-defined countries?”

    We’ve argued about that before–I suggested it here over a year ago. Actually, I remember discussing it with other people here before that. The most persuasive arguments had to do with borders as opposed to balkanization per se. Rather than having distinct districts, like the maps on TV show, Iraqi ethnic areas ripple through Iraq. Should some ugly state emerge in one of the countries, there could be a significant risk to certain minorities. In a unified Iraq, or so the theory goes, the external borders are already determined.

    In practice, districts emerged anyway, and Kurdistan, according to the constitution, will, essentially, leave the rest of Iraq six months after the formation of the new government. The constitution also puts in place the process by which other districts will, effectively, leave the rest of Iraq behind, and overwhelmingly Shiite areas are likely to use that door. Indeed, Sunnis that participate in government, from what I’ve read, seem to be concerned about being the sole guardians of the federal state.

    …This would all suggest that there’s going to be a three state solution anyway.

    I’ve got one other really good argument against “carving the place into three ethnicity-defined countries”, and, like I said, I think the three state solution is probably the best option. It has to do with who’s doing the carving. Outsiders coming in and carving up things is a good portion of what went wrong in the first place. This “carving” up business seems much like central planning to me with all the problems that make central planning impossible to do well. …except in carving up a country, there are many more variables–it would seem to make centrally planning an economy easy by comparison.

    I know this going in and reshaping Muslim culture thing is supposed to be at the heart of Bush Administration genius, but it just doesn’t seem that ingenious to me. I think we’d have done better to let the locals carve themselves up, form something like states and let the states combine themselves as they please, sorta like what we did in the United States. …So, anyway, my preference would have been to never have undertaken this Sisyphean task, unless we were forced to out of self-defense, like in the cases of Japan and Afghanistan.

    …most of us agree that Iraq wasn’t a case of self-defense now, right? I’m sure there are still some hard heads out there, but that’s why those in the Bush Administration, and their supporters, cling so tightly to the dream of a western style democracy in Iraq, isn’t it? If not for democracy, then why did we go in? If Iraqi liberalism fails, on what, then, did we spend all of that time and money, and why did we sacrifice all those limbs and lives? Just this week, one supporter suggested to me that the only alternative would have been to do nothing, as if doing anything was better than doing something foolish, never mind the false dichotomy.

  29. …how the hell does a family like this get so much power?

    Because there are people in this country who fanatically support Bush no matter how stupid he behaves.

    Case in point: My father is a die-hard Bushie. Before Dubbya came into power, he thought George H. W. Bush was the “greatest president in history” and credits him with the fall of Communism and “victory” during the first Gulf War. Like most conservatives he went off the deep end in 1992 when that “dishonorable, draft dodging, drug using” Bill Clinton was elected.

    Fast forward to 2000: To my father, Dubbya was a way to reclaim the country from the “decadence” and “moral decay” of Clintons. Bush scraps by after Gore tried to “steal” the Florida with “voter fraud.” Then 9-11 happens, and full paranoia mode sets in. Every action taken by Bush is to defend America from those filthy moose-lims and their pansy liberal sympathizers. In 2004, my father was afraid that John Kerry was surly going to sell us down the river to Osma if elected, while George W. Bush is a REAL MAN who eats pig iron and spits nails and would bomb those “camel jockeys” back to the stone age.

    To him, every wiretap is justified because he heard on Sean Hannity how U.S. Rangers in Iraq found the cell phone of a top Al Qaeda operative and found he was making calls to the U.S. (Of course it’s true, we’re talking SEAN HANNITY here.) Torture is a-OK because “those towel heads didn’t show our people mercy on 9-11.” Abu Gharib was perfectly Kosher as a means to get the prisoners to talk. To him, every act of violence in the Mid East is evidence that ALL Muslims are barbarians.

    Since dear-old-dad is an uber-Catholic, he’s also pleased as punch that Bush put anti-abortion zealots on the Supreme Court and won’t let those “faggots and dykes” debase the sacred institution of marriage. (Despite the fact that he let his own marriage go to shit.) Those negative approval numbers? Those were made up by the same “liberal media” that lies about our impending victory in Iraq.

    …and this is a man who graduated from college.

  30. Holidays with the folks can get pretty exciting in my old neighborhood too, Akira. ; )

  31. Well, I think it?s about time for some get back. These folks have been on the receiving end for quite a while.

  32. Holidays with the folks can get pretty exciting in my old neighborhood too, Akira. ;

    The thing is, I don’t think that there is one member of my family (on either side) who isn’t a Republican. I would actually say my mother’s side is worse since most of them are also Evangelicals.

    Naturally, I keep my politics and my religion (or lack thereof) quiet.

  33. I don’t keep much to myself. In fact, I think they use the same tactic that you seem to use–they just started keep their politics and religion to themselves.

    …and life’s great on the other side. Just go after ’em next time–let them be the ones that keep it all to themselves.

  34. Please, somebody give me some reason to feel optimistic. Because optimism is tough once you see people start to attack each other’s holy sites.

    So a month from now when no civil war brakes out…can we then say that iraq is stable?

    Or does Joe get to keep saying the shit has hit the fan like he has every day over the past year?

  35. Careful you never ask Daddy to explain why he feels that way, Akira. Don’t wanna give him a stroke…

  36. Careful you never ask Daddy to explain why he feels that way…

    Why is pretty simple: He was raised with 1950s morals and values from WWII vet parents. He was an alter boy (BTW, e doesn’t belive half the stories about sexual abuse in the clergy because he was never molested, the other half are because those “communist Jesuits” started letting “fags” into the seminaries) and went to a Catholic elementary and high school. As a boy, he was taught to duck and cover, and that the Ruskies were a coming to spread Godless Communism around the world unless Joe McCarthy could stop them. In college, he joined ROTC as a means to avoid the draft but retained the whole “duty, honor, country” line that the Army Reserve drilled into him.

    In short, he was never raised to ask “Why?” He believes that there is only one way to look at life, politics, philosophy, and anyone who thinks differently isn’t just wrong, but a threat to all that is civilized and moral.

    He’s a very scary man, and I’m surprised he hasn’t killed anoyone yet.

  37. Sounds a little like Red Foreman.

  38. Akira,

    Your father sounds like the flipside of many, if not most, liberals I know.

    He believes that there is only one way to look at life, politics, philosophy, and anyone who thinks differently isn’t just wrong, but a threat to all that is civilized and moral.

    The above statement describes them exactly. They’re some scary fuckers.

  39. Morality aside, the problem with that line of thought is that what results in Iraq will likely be another terrorist home base similar to Afghanistan prior to Sep.t 11 2001.

    And then it matters to us a whole lot.

    Very true. But most people seem more caught up in either Bush Bashing or BushBotting to think that far.

    Wasn’t there an article just the other day about the Myth of the Independents in America? Yeah, I think there was.

    The above statement describes them exactly. They’re some scary fuckers.

    I know. I’ve seen a few of them around here.

    Please, somebody give me some reason to feel optimistic.

    I can remember wishing for huge snow storms when I was a kid, so they’d close school the next day. More often than it not it seemed that the storms ran out of steam too soon.

    If I was going to place a bet, I’d bet this is what’s going to happen now.

    An extensive and extended civil war in Iraq seems unlikely. Nobody in Iraq (except whoever we choose to back) has any serious outside backing.

    If you read history of Vietnam closely you find a curious little fact — that we did, actually after all, do a pretty damned good job of wiping out the communists on the battle field. We lost the political and idealogical war and that was our demise. But without extensive input from Soviets and China, the communists would have been wiped out militarily way before the Tet Offensive.

    Of course that probably won’t go over well with some people because it conflicts with PC history, but it’s true. Militarily we knocked the crap out of them. And before anybody knee-jerks, there is a relevant parallel here.

    We can do the same thing in Iraq if we have to, and with our technology today it won’t take all that long. Unfortunately yes, we’re going to break some eggs doing it. More Americans, and lots more Iraqis, will die before it’s done.

    fwiw thoreau, this is what I see as the most probable outcome even if they start shooting at each other. But I’m not convinced yet this is really going to go ape shit.

    It does, however, give the MSM an “OH, MY GOOODDDD!!!!” headline to run, so that everybody (who says they don’t really trust the MSM anyway) can say, with conviction and angst, “OH, MY GOOODDDDD!!!!”

  40. Even so, we wonder how it shall be that the Kurds will continue to allow their present oil wealth to be split three ways

    Oh, my God, is that William Buckley, posting here on H&R?

  41. thoreau,

    Obviously you aren’t paying attention. Sectarian violence and the attacking of mosques has been going on for over a year now.

    BG,

    …we and Iraq are stuck with it.

    Not really. It could easily break-up while we are there or while we leave.

    kahn,

    Militarily we knocked the crap out of them.

    Sort of. We never delivered any sort of blow which would have knocked N. Viet Nam out of the war, nor did we ever successfully knock out the Ho Chi Minh “trail” despite all of our bombing, SF, etc. efforts. Of course the N. Vietnamese (and their S. Vietnamese allies) never had to win a decisive victory and indeed absorbing massive losses was what was expected by them. And we made very stupid strategic errors like taking the war to Cambodia, and thus diluting the frontline strength of the S. Vietnamese military.

    BTW, stop treating the tactical military success in the war as if it were a “big secret.” It isn’t. Every so often some bozo like yourself comes to this board acting like it is, when indeed it isn’t.

    Nobody in Iraq (except whoever we choose to back) has any serious outside backing.

    There are enough arms in Iraq today that no one needs serious outside backing; furthermore its well known that foreign fighters cross the border all the time, and they aren’t coming unarmed. Plus there is whole business of corruption within the Iraqi government. On the last note, we can also draw a parallel with American involvement in SE Asia, since its the case that most of the military hardward that the Khmer Rouge used to bring down the Cambodian government came from the U.S. via corrupt Cambodian officials.

  42. We never delivered any sort of blow which would have knocked N. Viet Nam out of the war, nor did we ever successfully knock out the Ho Chi Minh “trail” despite all of our bombing, SF, etc. efforts.

    That’s what happens when you fight a war of “containment” rather than fight a war to win – you respect borders that shouldn’t oughta be respected. If we had fought Viet Nam to win, we could have, and would have, crossed the border into North Viet Nam to knock it out of the war, and crossed the border to shut down the Ho Chi Minh trail.

    We are now fighting a war of containment in Iraq as well. By any historical and legal standard, we would be perfectly justified to cross the border into Iran and Syria to shut down the support lines for our enemies in Iraq. For what may be good and sufficient reasons, we are not doing so.

    Wars of containment are long and bloody wars of attrition. The alternatives are quite unattractive in different ways.

    On the one hand, we can pull out, and let Iraq have its civil war and Iran install its proxies. That’ll do a lot to calm down the Middle East and dry up the supply of terrorists. God only knows how destabilizing that would be across the entire region.

    On the other hand, we can finish this the old-fashioned way, by telling Syria and Iran to secure their borders, or else. And then following through on the or else.

    Given those alternatives, a war of containment may be the least bad option, if we can sustain the will to wear down and outlast our enemies. Which we failed to do in Viet Nam, even though it was well within our capability to do so.

  43. R.C. Dean,

    That’s what happens when you fight a war of “containment” rather than fight a war to win – you respect borders that shouldn’t oughta be respected.

    We never respected the Cambodian or Laotian borders. Indeed, we secretly bombed, sent in SF units, etc. for several years into these countries. Just how bloody ignorant are you?

    As to the issue of taking the war to N. Viet Nam, well, both the Johnson and Nixon administrations discussed that issue and decided it wasn’t worth the price of a Soviet and/or Chinese counter-attack.

  44. I think when these sorts of things start happening, it’s probably time to pull out. I just don’t see how you can change a people’s mindset and stop a culture of religious intolorance.

    For what it’s worth, and I know it’s unfashionable these days, but I do admire the fundamental pulse of American ideology and the concept of spreading freedom. Unfortuantely, it is, and has proven to be, naive.

    The middle east needs to be left alone.

  45. Please, somebody give me some reason to feel optimistic. Because optimism is tough once you see people start to attack each other’s holy sites.

    Okay, Thoreau, my two cents. When I was in Al Anbar province around the time of the “Big One in Fallujah” in 2004 (I enjoy inflating my military excursions in Archie Bunker style), a lot of people had a sense of dread about the first election in Jan 2005. There were officers and senior enlisted who were calling home to get family and spouses to feign family tragedy in “Red Cross” calls to get them out of country because of the fear of the “election bloodshed”.

    Everything I read and saw in the media (even military press) was saying it was going to be a massive bloodbath on election day. The Council of Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs magazine (which I used to read regularly) was screaming “RUN RUN RUN!!!!” as the rest of the MSM pretty much had the same assessment.

    John Kerry even brought his wretched ass to Camp Fallujah to say what a bloodbath it was going to be. Having just got his behind electorally handed to him by GW (who I am no fan of), he came half way around the world to stir the fires of failure.

    Came election day, it was, statistically speaking, one of the absolute safest days that we experienced in our tour of duty. Although there was some increase in enemy activity in road atacks (IEDs, etc.) it generally was no more dangerous than many other days in Iraq.

    After that, I’ve never read Foreign Affairs ever again.

    Remember, the Muslims are a people who responded to political cartoons in greater numbers than they did to the release of Abu Ghraib pictures.

    I don’t think one (more) bombing is going to instantly change that. But we are on a progressing march to outright chaos there, it’s just not going to happen in a single day or event (unless one of my fellow cartoonists draws Mohammad tossing Jesus’ salad … )

    One thing I’ve learn is that it’s hard to “Monday Morning Quarterback” the madding crowd …

  46. Holy sites, Batman!

  47. Civilization is hard!

  48. The beard on the guy in the photo for this article is spectacular!

  49. It’s amazing how many “libertarians” believe that you can make friends with people by pointing guns, tanks, and missiles at them.

    I mean, the fact that might makes right, and the infallibility of social engineering are the two polestars of libertarian thought, right? Right?

    So yeah, as long as we’re willing to kill em all, we’ll win. And if we just did it right, there would be no problem with our government engaging in social engineering in Iraq, because it’s so good at it here, right? Right?

    And you know, the Constitution specifically grants the federal government the power to engage in “wars of containment” where there is no threat to our territory. It’s right there in Article 0, along with the powers granted to the unitary executive to override any all provisions in the Constitution when he feels like it’s necessary.

    And, as we all know, “self-determination” is all about being given a vote in a process controlled by someone else. I mean, that’s why we rebelled, right? Even though the Brits were willing to give us a few worthless seats in Parliament? And that’s exactly why the U.S. is currently libertopia, right? Right?

    The only way this fiasco was going to end successfully (defined by having the least number of people willing to kill us in the end) was to start out with the three state solution, help each state establish and defend its borders, and then get the F out. Of course, that would have delivered quite a prize to the theocrats in Iran, and would still have made pretty serious enemies of the Sunnis (who would have gotten a big shaft in such a result), but that’s exactly why we shouldn’t have gone in in the first place. W was too busy snorting and drinking to learn a little wisdom at his daddy’s knee…

  50. Oh, yeah, and for the tried and true “you borke it you bought it” BS (only slightly less annoying than the “Constitution is not a death pact” talking point) –

    “I” bought nothing. I was never given any choice in the matter. In fact, I was entirely against the whole charade the whole time. Why do “I” now own it? Why must I, and my children, pay taxes to support the CF the hawks “bought”? Why shouldn’t they be the ones to exclusively pay for the mess they made?

    In my less liberal moments, I favor an amendment to the Constitution – the war powers are reserved to the people. The pres can send troops for 60 days, but absent a national referendum declaring war, they must be returned on day 61. All votes in the national referendum shall be public, and any vote for war acts as instant conscription. And the military will be like Heinlein’s Space Marines – everyone fights. No deferments. No cushy state-side jobs – we can find civvies to fill those. You want war, you get it, in all its beauty. No more “intellectual warrior caste” sending others off to die while enriching their crony friends and doing everything they can to actually avoid paying any of the cost.

  51. quasibill,

    Actually, what’s amazing is that we’ve gotten such a warm welcome in the Northern and Southern parts of Iraq.

    “You know, that guy we equipped with the weapons and money to buy poison gasses that he used against you for 10 or 20 years, who we said we were going to get rid of 10 years ago after he invaded a neighboring country, you know that guy with the funny mustache. Yeah, NOW we are here to get rid of him.”

    I know we’ve had our Shiite problems in the region. But for 30 years of pent up anger and frustration, there reaction has been remarkably calm.

  52. Quasibill,

    I feel your pain (Bill Clinton voice), but since we are a representative republic, and we elect (or don’t elect by not voting) people to represent us and legislate on our behalf, we have “broke it/bought it” in the sense that our elected dunderheads did all of this in our collective name as a country. And anything that involves “staying the course”, “getting out of dodge”, or otherwise ultimately comes out of even the pockets of libertarians.

    Believe me, I met with plenty of Iraqis, Kuwaitis and other Arabs on my tour of duty who don’t hate each and every single American, and understand that this was not (as one of my legal dictionaries puts it) a “perfect war” where everyone in America raised there hands and said “GET ‘EM!!”

    As one of the (former)troops that was, as you put it, “sent off by the intellectual warrior caste” on a fool’s errand, I often question my own libertarian philosophy. For example, the belief that an “All Volunteer Army” would keep America out of interventionist adventures.

    Also, just about everyone in Iraq owned a rifle or weapon of some sort, yet Saddam ruled with an iron fist, which kind of throws a wrench into the argument that “if we’re all armed like the 2nd Admendment says, it’ll keep the police state at bay.”

    I’ve come to view libertarianism, as all ideologies, like the shadows on the cave wall in Plato’s allegory. Something we strive for, but can never perfectly attain.

  53. Wasn’t Heinlein’s MI filled with volunteers?

    IIRC, society was divided into 2 segments: Taxpayers and Citizens. Only citizens where allowed to vote after they had served in the military. The logic being that a person should only be allowed to vote only after demonstrating the ability to put the needs of the group ahead of their individual needs.

  54. Hakluyt,

    You know, I posted last night and then the first thought that came to mind was you. 🙂 I wondered if that would flush you out.

    We never delivered any sort of blow which would have knocked N. Viet Nam out of the war, nor did we ever successfully knock out the Ho Chi Minh “trail” despite all of our bombing, SF, etc. efforts.

    Well…..sort of. Though it came to the point that the SAMs in the north were operated by Chinese and Soviet “advisors”, because the north had run out of people.

    The key point to note about the Ho Chi Minh Trail is that without Chinese and Soviet supplies, the communists would have had nothing to ship along that trail except barefoot, starving, unarmed troops.

    Outside supplies kept the communists armed well enough to keep fighting.

    stop treating the tactical military success in the war as if it were a “big secret.” It isn’t. Every so often some bozo like yourself comes to this board acting like it is, when indeed it isn’t.

    I’m not the bozo here, you are. There are a number of books and magazines and TV “documentaries” that have touted the “military defeat” of the US in Vietnam, without emphasizing the fact that our defeat was fundamentally political and idealogical. There is a difference, it does matter, and I’m pointing it out (because I think we just might make the same mistake again, eh?).

    You should understand this better than most. Bozo.

    There are enough arms in Iraq today that no one needs serious outside backing; furthermore its well known that foreign fighters cross the border all the time, and they aren’t coming unarmed.

    I beg to differ. This is fundamentally not the same as a major outside power shipping in (and operating) entire SAM batteries and radar systems, tanks, artillery, etc.

    Besides, the Sunnis are 20% of the population. If it gets heavy, they aren’t going to have the manpower to stay in the game that long. I doubt there’s enough foreign fighters coming in to make that much difference.

    Plus there is whole business of corruption within the Iraqi government.

    See my point above, Re: Nam was an idealogical/political defeat, not military. That hits the nail right on the head.

    If thoreau is in despair, I’d say this is the greater reason for despair.

    both the Johnson and Nixon administrations discussed that issue and decided it wasn’t worth the price of a Soviet and/or Chinese counter-attack.

    Yeah, but if we’d been smart enough to move during the Cultural Revolution, when the Chinese were in no position to do anything, it would have been over before the Russians could have responded.

    But that’s another story and it’s going way off topic now.

    RC Dean,

    That’s what happens when you fight a war of “containment” rather than fight a war to win – you respect borders that shouldn’t oughta be respected.

    I agree.

    Fight to win, and do what it takes to win asap, or else don’t fight. Half measures leave us in the position where everybody sits around and starts doing the Monday morning quarter back thing.

    Plus it dilutes our impression abroad. People should think “If the US fights they’re gonna kick our asses right up over our heads and that’ll be that, because this is the only way they fight”.

    That psychological effect is worth preserving.

  55. That shrine appears to have been made of mud. They’re gonna need stronger stuff.

  56. That shrine appears to have been made of mud. They’re gonna need stronger stuff.

    Actually, that’s one of (many) the problems with “reconstruction” over there. In addition to graft, incompetence, accounting misamanagement, there is the disconnect between our standards of construction and theirs (in smaller municipalities, not “urban” ones like Baghdad).

    You’ll remember the HALF a million Iranians who died a few years ago from an earthquake in an ancient city of mud homes that, had it been in California with modern (i.e., American) standards, might have killed only a couple of hundred at the most.

  57. It’s just Eminent Domain 1.0

  58. Lurker Kurt,

    The Starship Troopers in Heinlein’s book were volunteers. Mostly.

    The basic government presented in S.T. was a benevolent fascism. You only earned the right to vote through volunteering for public service. Where you ended up in the public service heirarchy depended on how qualified you were for the positions you selected.

    The main character in the book had numbered off a large number of choices and picked Mobile Infantry as his very last choice. He was, apparently, unqualified for every other single option for public service.

    Also note that in the book, almost all public sector, bureaucratic jobs went to wounded soldiers. This is why the teacher in the Civics (Military Indoctrination) class was a former soldier with a missing hand.

  59. Besides, the Sunnis are 20% of the population. If it gets heavy, they aren’t going to have the manpower to stay in the game that long. I doubt there’s enough foreign fighters coming in to make that much difference.

    Don’t underestimate the Sunni. The Sunni have the benefit of trained soldiers and the same ties with foreign terror groups which the Shi’a possess. And we can take advantage of these divisions only so long as both sides consider the other to be a greater enemy. If we go in gung ho and start “fighting to win,” those involved might decide that they hate the Americans more than they hate each other, and make alliances accordingly. They already have strong ties to each other at the local level; stirring the pot to remind them of this fact is the last thing we want to do.

    As for their will to fight, these are people who are still upset enough to kill over the Reconquista in 15th century Spain. The last thing we should do is make assumptions that they’ll give up easily, especially with their use of terror tactics, which require very few people to carry out.

  60. Mini-rant:
    The right to vote in Starship Troopers was not linked to military service, but to all public service. The main characters in the novel were in the military, but it was more akin to Germany’s public service, which includes military service, than pure military service. Why do so many people seem to miss that part of the government of the book?

  61. Why do so many people seem to miss that part of the government of the book?

    Mo:
    Because that was one paragraph in the book, and the non-military options were taking experimental drugs and the like?

  62. Don’t underestimate the Sunni.

    I’m not underestimating the Sunnis. I think you’re underestimating the capacity of the US war machine. Turn it on, and the Sunnis and Shias together are toast.

    If we go in gung ho and start “fighting to win,” those involved might decide that they hate the Americans more than they hate each other

    They might. An asteriod might hit the earth too.

    By the time a genuine all out civil war has flared up, I wouldn’t bet much on the idea that the Sunnis and Shias were going to kiss and make up.

    As for their will to fight, these are people who are still upset enough to kill over the Reconquista in 15th century Spain. The last thing we should do is make assumptions that they’ll give up easily

    I’m not assuming they’ll give up easily. I’m betting they won’t, any more than the Vietnamese did (the Vietnamese were about as determined as an enemy can come).

    What I’m saying, again, is that you underestimate the power of the US war machine. It pounded the Vietnamese into the ground in spite of their will. Absent Chinese and Soviet aid, the Vietnamese would simply have been beaten, in spite of their will to win.

    AQ and other terrorist orginizations do not quite have the resources to pour into Iraq that China and the USSR did. That’s why the Iraqis, even united against the US, could never hold out for long. They’ve got small arms……but don’t over estimate their efficacy against our armor and air power.

    If the whole ME started supporting a united Iraq against the US, I’d start worrying. But do you really think that’s going to happen? Not likely.

    We could do the same thing in Iraq that we did in Vietnam if we had to, is what I’m saying. And that is precisely why I don’t believe the situation in Iraq is going to turn into any major war. They know we could do it, and they’d be stupid to try.

    Besides, look at how much of this amounts to murdering civilians. From

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060224/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

    Eight Iraqi soldiers and eight civilians were killed Thursday when a bomb hidden in a soup vendor’s cart detonated in Baqouba, police said. At least 20 people were wounded in the blast.

    At some point the sensibilities of the Iraqis are going to surface, and they’re just going to want to be rid of people who act like this. If it happens to be Sunnis who act like this, then I predict in the end it will be too bad for the Sunnis. And the Sunnis look really suspicious because everything is happening in their areas.

    It was similar attrocities that turned large masses of the South Vietnamese against the communists. Don’t count on the Sunnis and Shias ganging up on us. It won’t happen.

    It’s far more likely that we’re going to make other really stupid mistakes to blow the whole deal. I for one don’t believe Iraq is a lost cause even yet. But I have little faith in the wisdom of US leadership to do the things that should be done.

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