Troops Staying Put in Iraq

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As someone who was convinced the U.S. pullout from Iraq had been underway for some time, this is news to me:

The United States is unlikely to begin cutting its troops in Iraq until at least mid-2007 as they try to stop sectarian violence from degenerating into civil war, a senior general said on Tuesday.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, who as head of U.S. Central Command oversees the war, said the United States might even increase the size of its force from the current 147,000, the highest since January. He also did not rule out holding in place U.S. units scheduled to leave Iraq in coming months.

More here.

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  1. You know, I’m not in favor of this War, but I will say that the worst thing that ever happened to U.S. chances in any war was when the protection of civilians became a priorty.

    That’s followed closely by those idiots in Washington letting us know that they could put a bomb in a three foot space from a thousand miles away.

    When the community knows that any action by elements within said community will cause an overwhelming response against the whole community, the people who comprise the community are far and away more likely to actively report and discourage acts of war (which include terrorist acts).

    I’m not saying it’s right, but our guys are sitting over there waiting to get picked off ever so slowly by one terrorist act after another. I say, we destroy everything – make everyone quit – then try to rebuild. It would save more lives in the long run.

    You know, not that any of what I said above is good and moral – and again, I never liked this war – but, if we’re going to fight it, shouldn’t we man up and fight to win?

  2. Kid Handsome,

    Much of what you said, sans the cleanse-and-burn, is pretty much what the respected military thinkers have been saying for years now. Unfortunately, the estimated sum to adequately “man up” and “fight to win” is around 500,000 soldiers.

  3. Kid Handsome,

    Ahh yes, the old “If we respond with overwhelming force against civilians to get them to turn against terrorists in thier midst” routine. So, tell me, how did this work for Israel against Hizbulla and the PLO? This course of action turns more neutral people against the instigator of the civilian causalties (the attacking army) than it does against the terrorists in thier midst.

    That aside, what was the goal of this war? If it was to topple Saddam’s regime, then it has already been won and we should pull out. If it was to root out terrorists (eg. Bin Laden) then it is unwinnable by continuing this line of action as Bin Laden isn’t in Iraq and the only terrorist actions being taken by Iraqi citzens is against an invading army. If it is to install “Democracy” in the Middle East then it will always be a loosing war as democracy has to well up from within to be accepted by the populace, that or the invading army has to conqure, crush and subdue the population and impose our rule for at least 3 generations to make it work (See India/British Invasion). So, how do you define “win”?

  4. It also depends on the final objectives of the war. If the goal is to bring peace and stability to a free, self-determining Iraq, then a sufficient application of firepower is unlikely to achieve it.

  5. Does that mean 500,000 us troops to go fight? Or does it mean that 500,000 would likely be killed? If it’s the latter that seems like a high estimate.

    Again, not that I really want to be over there anyway. I think we’ve just replace a bad secular government with a bad religious government, and as bad as Saddam was – and he did use chemical weapons on his own people, and we did find over 700 chemical weapons over there so far (so don’t trash me on that count Hawks) – I think this new Shiite government is going to do a ton of bad in the name of vengeance.

    Anyway, I can be convinced that there were good justifications to go to war without thinking we actually should have gone to war, right?

  6. Kwix is faster than me and more detail oriented as well.

  7. Atque ubi colitudinum faciunt pacem apellant, Kid Handsome?

    he did use chemical weapons on his own people

    This allegation has always annoyed me. Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds. He’s a Tikriti. If you’re going to start talking about the middle east, you’re going to have to abandon the idea that tribe and country are synonymous.

  8. Kwix –

    You want to take a second and reread my post with respect to whether we should even have gone into this war?

    Second, I don’t think Israel used this approach against either the PLO or Hizbulla – in fact, I don’t think they came close to this approach. I can cite examples where it has worked (See WWII). I never said it was the right and moral thing to do – in fact, I said the opposite.

    Finally, I’m not certain I agree with some of your other basic premises. For one example, the notion that Bin Laden is the only terrorist we have to worry about or thinking that terrorists and religious fanatics will leave us alone if we leave them alone – they’ve already proved that’s not true.

  9. Kid Handsome

    I don’t know about that.

    The US and its allies were able to defeat the Taliban, win the first gulf war, and get Milosevic to agree to a peacekeeping force in Kosovo without indiscriminate bombing of civilian population centers. Also consider the fact that, historically, when people are subject to an “overwhelming response against the whole community” it often increases their desire to fight against the power perpetrating that response. Consider, for example, the bombing of London during summer and fall of 1940.

    Now you might say that the Taliban isn’t fully defeated and regime change/nation building requires a much tougher stand since it is more difficult, but I highly doubt that the problems the US is having in Afganistan and Iraq would be solved or mitigated if the military would only kill more civilians.

    PS: Even if I were convinced that deliberately targeting civilians would make things easier for the US I would not advocate doing so.

  10. Kwix has a good point. Not many Americans looked out over the smoking ruins of the world trade center and said “Hey, lets do something about the international policies that are causing people to want to kill us…” Why would one expect the Iraqi’s to be any different if Americans started to inflict more civilian casualties? When people are dropping bombs on your head, it’s not human instinct to look into the underlying reasons. The likely result would be a strengthening of the various insurgent groups as civilians began sympathize with them and look to them for protection.

    What we need is civilians looking to the Iraqi Army/Police for protection. Good luck figuring out how to make that happen.

  11. Second, I don’t think Israel used this approach against either the PLO or Hizbulla – in fact, I don’t think they came close to this approach. I can cite examples where it has worked (See WWII). I never said it was the right and moral thing to do – in fact, I said the opposite.

    Did the bombing of civilians in WWII lead the populace of Germany to discourage the war?

    It seems to me that we pretty much had to go all the way to Berlin, and it took quite several million soviet dead to further persuade them.

  12. APL is correct about the nation vs tribal thing. The country of Iraq was sintered out of three religious and ethnically distict provinces by the British following WWI (Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra) as well as the Kurdish regions to the north. When the people of Iraq banded together to throw off the yoke of British control, they did so as a united people, but underneath this there were the old ethnic tensions. Only iron fisted monarchies and dictatorships have been able to hold the country together against these tensions, Saddam’s being only the latest.
    I am not saying that Iraq, as it exists, cannot have a democracy; but the odds of a workable democracy are far less than a)full blown civil war ending in 2 or 3 separate countries b)a strong arm dictatorship taking over with a US trained army.

  13. Kid Handsome,

    “Anyway, I can be convinced that there were good justifications to go to war without thinking we actually should have gone to war, right?”

    Sure. Once upon a time, I even considered the question of whether to invade Iraq to be a tough call. There were good reasons to do so. It was just that the good reasons not to go to war, like the fact that it would be led by deluded fools, were stronger.

  14. If we abandon our “foreign experiment in social engineering” assumptions, we will admit that we don’t know if pulling our troops out immediately will make the situation better, worse, or whether it will be about the same for some time.

    What we do know is that we will save American lives and billions of dollars.

    All we have won in either Iraq or Afghanistan are temporary tactical victories, but that was more or less a certainty when we went in.

    Let’s remember who we are, Libertarians. We don’t try to fix societies that aren’t working through drastic military intervention.

    A number of Iraqi expatriates have told me that although Saddam was a brute, it was not all that hard to stay out of his way. In some cases, such as with the Kurds, he was genocidal, but according to my sources, he was pretty inconsistent. These expatriates said that a lot of what was Iraq, the schools, the infrastrucure, medical, etc. worked all right much of the time.
    According to them, our intervention destroyed much of that and made it even worse.

    Bush will continue to risk lives and spend billions rather than admit the truth; he messed up because he is a man of poor judgement and limited intelligence.

  15. “The US and its allies were able to defeat the Taliban, win the first gulf war, and get Milosevic to agree to a peacekeeping force in Kosovo without indiscriminate bombing of civilian population centers.”

    with all respect, BG, I dont think this was the case.
    We followed our usual pattern. Very high altitude bombing , with its “collateral” damage, and targeted bombing based on intel provided by paid for informants, who found the USAF a convenient way to settle debts.
    Were it only true, what you say…..unless you want to parse semantics.
    We bombed the crap out of all sorts of things, the mission driving target selection, rather than the reverse.
    And while it was a drop in the bucket compared to, say, the “secret” bombing of Cambodia, it was still, by the standards of anyone who dosnt split hairs about what the meaning of “is” is, indiscriminate. But what the hell, it kept US casualties low.
    Pick one. Its either/or.

  16. “The US and its allies were able to defeat the Taliban, win the first gulf war, and get Milosevic to agree to a peacekeeping force in Kosovo without indiscriminate bombing of civilian population centers.”

    with all respect, BG, I dont think this was the case.
    We followed our usual pattern. Very high altitude bombing , with its “collateral” damage, and targeted bombing based on intel provided by paid for informants, who found the USAF a convenient way to settle debts.
    Were it only true, what you say…..unless you want to parse semantics.
    We bombed the crap out of all sorts of things, the mission driving target selection, rather than the reverse.
    bywhich I mean: the planes were on station & bombed up. SO…. they had to go SOMEWHERE.
    And while it was a drop in the bucket compared to, say, the “secret” bombing of Cambodia, it was still, by the standards of anyone who dosnt split hairs about what the meaning of “is” is, indiscriminate. But what the hell, it kept US casualties low.
    Pick one. We are told its either/or. Me? Nah.
    Me, I dont buy that, but Im a…..what is it? a paleoPCPL
    normanrockwellian…separatist?…..thank goddesses for Comic Relief…..

  17. The US gov’t may not be reducing troops in Iraq but the Iraqi people are, 1-8 per day.

  18. MUTT

    Well I was mostly responding to Kid Handsome’s assertion that the military places so much importance on reducing civilian casualties that it greatly reduces their ability to win wars. In the conflicts I mentioned, the procedures used to prevent harm to innocents was roughly on par (as far as I know) with those used in the Iraq conflict today. My point is the US still won those conflicts so those procedures must not be a major handicap.

    I am not an expert on this subject but I don’t believe standard military policy today involves anything that can reasonably be described as “an overwhelming response against the whole community” (Kid Handsome’s words).

    When I refer to “indiscriminate bombing of civilian population centers” I am refering to something on the level of the bombing of Tokyo during WW2. I take it there is a big difference between that and the kind of target selection which they do today.

    For a more detailed look at the Kosovo campaign go here:

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/nato/Natbm200.htm

  19. “The US gov’t may not be reducing troops in Iraq but the Iraqi people are, 1-8 per day.”

    No- criminal terorists are. With the exception of the invasion and the Sadar’s army we have faced a enemey that has no regard for the law and custom of land warfare. These “criminal” or gurrila elements have killed far more Iraqi policemen and soldiers then Americians. the iraq people are not in full scale revolt against the US. If they were we would be toast in a country of 25 MM were every family has a AK.

    “These expatriates said that a lot of what was Iraq, the schools, the infrastrucure, medical, etc. worked all right much of the time.
    According to them, our intervention destroyed much of that and made it even worse.

    So were the militray bases, the touture rooms, the political jails, the palaces ect. You have to see iraq to beleve it, SH (fuck we have the same intials) was a really bad guy and an Orwellen dictator. I think Bush made a good choice / bad outcome decision. All decisions invole chance and this one turned out shitty. In the long run i guess that it will have been more shity for us then the Iraqs, who have a good chance at some form of representive goverment and rule of law.

  20. Troops Staying Put in Iraq

    When the kiddies stand up, we’ll stand down.

  21. Bush is staying in Iraq “for as long as it takes”, with at least as many troops, or more.

    Democrats will stay in Iraq for a while – because “we must not fail” (so…does that mean we stay “for as long as it takes”?) – with fewer troops.

    It is joe’s Neo-Con Lite – less content, but same great flavor!

  22. Ah, Andrew,

    The old story of the wet-behind-the-ears convert insisting that the elders aren’t sufficiently fanatical.

    You’ve altered your outlook 180 degrees, but maintained your charming certainty that simple declarations and absolutist positions are the best way to go.

  23. Ah, Andrew,

    The old story of the wet-behind-the-ears convert insisting that the elders aren’t sufficiently fanatical.

    You’ve altered your outlook 180 degrees, but maintained your charming certainty that simple declarations and absolutist positions are the best way to go.

  24. Ah, Andrew,

    The old story of the wet-behind-the-ears convert insisting that the elders aren’t sufficiently fanatical.

    You’ve altered your outlook 180 degrees, but maintained your charming certainty that simple declarations and absolutist positions are the best way to go.

  25. joe

    I “converted” to the anti-war position…and in this respect I am not “wet – behind-the-ears” compared to the Democratic Party…who haven’t converted to it yet.

    I would like to see one of the parties that voted us into this mess vote us back out – and those clowns aren’t my elders in any sense.

  26. sam sez….”I think Bush made a good choice / bad outcome decision.”

    what are we doing here, invading countries or playing cards. Invading a country you absolutely better know what that next card is. Oh, and you don’t let Iranian spy Ahmed Chalabi deal

    I think if we left today that void would be filled by the Iranians. I could see where some would think that an Iraq in turmoil is preferable to an Iraq toadyed up to Iran.

  27. Out of curiousity, and in the name of time wasting…

    I’ve been thinking about bombing civilians to get them to crack down on the bad guys (i.e. the ones we don’t like – the locals may like them).

    Is this substantially different then what Saddam is being tried for?

  28. “law and custom of land warfare”

    Armies have always done whatever it took to win…
    The US war of independence was won, in part, by flaunting the law and custom of land warfare of the day…

  29. Andrew,

    Which “Democratic Party” do you mean? The one whose chariman is Howard Dean? Some Dems were anti-war all along; some converted over the past four years; some are in the process now; some are being stubborn.

    Anyway, those aren’t the elders I was referring to. I was talking about those of us who were anti-war, and who were condemning Washington Democrats for going along with it, four years ago.

  30. Oh, joe…

    The best part about watching you talk about how much better things would be if the Democrats were in charge – or ever manage to get back in charge – is watching you squirm when people point out the glaringly obvious reality: there is no appreciable difference between the Republicans you hate and the Democrats you love.

    The naivete is kind of charming. It gives one the sense that “he really is smart enough to reject the nonsense on the right, but still manages to swallow the ‘we’re different’ malarkey from the left in one swift gulp.”

    I guess what I’m saying is that joe’s selective suppression of his gag reflex is a sight to behold.

  31. well, BG, you are correct in a sense. During War Two, precision high altitude bombing meant you got 50% of your bomb load within 4 miles of the point of aim.
    If your point of aim was civilian housing, well, there you go.
    You are correct: we have far better accuracy than that, but a B52 is a B52: everything in a 1/4 x 2 miles strip is dead.
    now we got a bunch of king hell guys on the ground indentifying targets, and Id say any spec ops forward guys know the diff twixt a truck load of combatants & a wedding party.
    UNFORTUNATLY, we ALSO rely on paid informants/guesses/suppositions…….and circling A/C that have to unload ordinance. Theres the rub.
    And, every day, I hear we killed so many “suspected” enemy combatants. Ive yet to hear how many “suspects” were actually guilty of something. And I dont consider resisting foriegn occupation a crime. Do you?
    Again, with all respects…….I appreciate the back n forth…..
    >>>>>>>Well I was mostly responding to Kid Handsome’s assertion that the military places so much importance on reducing civilian casualties that it greatly reduces their ability to win wars. In the conflicts I mentioned, the procedures used to prevent harm to innocents was roughly on par (as far as I know) with those used in the Iraq conflict today. My point is the US still won those conflicts so those procedures must not be a major handicap.

    I am not an expert on this subject but I don’t believe standard military policy today involves anything that can reasonably be described as “an overwhelming response against the whole community” (Kid Handsome’s words).

    When I refer to “indiscriminate bombing of civilian population centers” I am refering to something on the level of the bombing of Tokyo during WW2. I take it there is a big difference between that and the kind of target selection which they do today.>>>>>>>

  32. It’s pretty easy to tell which party is on top; look at how they talk about important issues that split along party lines. The one that keeps drawing attention to the difference between the two is the top dog, and the one reduced to insisting that there are no differences between the parties on issues that produce a sharp partisan divide is the underdog.

    “there is no appreciable difference between the Republicans you hate and the Democrats you love.”

    Funny, I don’t recall Republican rob saying such things when his party’s Iraq policy was polling well. rob, do you think I should look in the archives from this spring and summer – say, the three months after John Murtha (who my party is about to make House Majority Leader) came out for withdrawal – and see what you were writing about the Democrats’ position on the war?

    I guess we’re all cut and runners now.

    Republicans want to stay in Iraq (most of them, anyway), and Democrats want to leave (most of them, anyway). I’d say that’s a rather appreciable difference.

    If you want to stay the course, if you want the Iraq War to last five or ten more years, vote in another Republican Congress. If you want the war to end sooner rather than later, throw the bums out, and vote in the Democrats. It’s really that simple.

  33. I know the brave republicans are for staying the course but by judging from the increased violence and an actual decrase in US casualties it appears the military is way ahead of even the democrats when it comes to cut and run.

    if their mission is to protect the Iraqi populace, they sure to fuck aren’t doing a very good job and neither are the 300,000 Iraqis they trained

  34. “B52 is a B52: everything in a 1/4 x 2 miles strip is dead.” – MUTT

    Except that B-52s are capable of firing precision-guided munitions.

    “I don’t recall Republican rob saying such things when his party’s Iraq policy was polling well.” – joe

    Thanks for reinforcing my point. It must be an irresistable human tendency to demonstrate behavior one has been accused of. It’s nearly as ironic as watching Muslims riot because they’re offended by the Pope labelling them “violent.”

    I’m not a Republican, even though it makes me laugh every time someone I don’t agree with labels me with the tag of one or the other party. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been accused of being a Republican by you, or a crazy liberal trying to undermine traditional U.S. values by others.

    It’s ironic that most people’s binary thinking can’t conceptionally handle the concept of someone who finds value on both sides of the fence.

    “If you want to stay the course, if you want the Iraq War to last five or ten more years, vote in another Republican Congress. If you want the war to end sooner rather than later, throw the bums out, and vote in the Democrats. It’s really that simple.” – joe

    It’s amazing that you really think that’s what will happen. Which potential Democratic front-runner for the presidential candidacy favors an immediate pullout? Hillary Clinton? Joe Lieberman? Hardly.

    And what is the difference between Bush telling Wolf Blitzer that we all want to leave Iraq as soon as possible and your claim that a vote for the Democrats will get us out of Iraq sooner?

    Do you remember the Kerry and Bush debates? The Bush and Gore debates? It was like they were singing from the same sheet of music.

    “I should look in the archives from this spring and summer – say, the three months after John Murtha” – joe

    Knock yourself out. I hope you enjoy the tasty rhetorical goodness!

    “It’s pretty easy to tell which party is on top; look at how they talk about important issues that split along party lines.” – joe

    Which world do you live in? The party on top is the party that has control of both houses of Congress and the Executive. IF the Democrats get control then you’ve got room to talk about which party is on top. But it really doesn’t matter which party is on top – regular citizens are the ones getting screwed.

    Hey joe, riddle me this – Republican or Democrat?

    Conservative religious convert who is pro-life and co-sponsor of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, which set new rules and restrictions on abortion rights protesters. He has voted on numerous occasions for the ban on partial-birth abortions. In 2005, he proposed that Bush name one of four fervently pro-life Republican senators to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacated by Sandra Day O’Connor. He is a strong supporter of the death penalty, having voted in favor of limiting death penalty appeals and executing criminals who were minors when they committed their crime. He voted to authorize military force in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. He voting against the ban on semi-automatic firearms and in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

    The guy I’m describing is Sen. Harry Reid, (D-NV) and the current Senate minority leader. He sounds just like a Republican, tho!

    But yeah, you’re right, the differences between Democrats and Republicans are STARK. One wants to limit the 1st Amendment, the other wants to limit the 2nd, and both are in favor of curtailing the rest of the Bill of Rights.

    Pick your poison, either flavor is fatal to anyone who hasn’t developed an immunity to iocaine powder. That would be anyone, left or right, who is blinded to the idiocy that their side gets up to while poking the other side relentlessly for what are essentially the same offenses.

  35. a B52 is a B52: everything in a 1/4 x 2 miles strip is dead.

    If the military engages in that kind of carpet bombing in areas populated by innocent non-combatants I would have a big problem with that; even if a few houses in that area harbored enemy combatants or terrorists and those houses could not be individually identified. In fact I would suggest that the people who order such an operation and carry it out ought to be indicted for war crimes.

    However I might consider the tactic acceptable for an area where there are no civilians but the exact location of enemy combatants within that space is unknown. It would depend on things like: how sure they are that there are no innocents there, how important it is to get those people now, and other considerations.

    And I dont consider resisting foriegn occupation a crime. Do you?

    Well, it is not a war crime to fight against opposing military forces in a military conflict. So in that sense, not all insurgent groups are necessarily criminal. I do however think they are on the wrong side of this conflict.

    The Iraqi insurgency (or “resistence” if you prefer) is made up of many different groups with little in common except an opposition to the presence US and coalition forces. Some of those groups target civilians or kill indiscriminately as long as it will create further chaos. Some try to avoid harm to mambers of a particular ethnic or religious group but are perfectly willing to murder random people of other ethnic or religious groups. Those are clearly criminal acts and not acceptable under the laws of war.

    I am in favor of either setting a time table or having some kind of clear concrete public statement of when the US and its allies will witdraw. Then we could say to the non-civilian-targeting insurgent groups “Look, you know when we are leaving and fighting us won’t make us leave sooner. Iraq will be better off in the long run if you cooperate with us now so that we can weaken Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Iraq while we are here.”

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