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Remember this Jim Henley post when you're scanning the news in six months or so.

The government is still mulling ways to scrounge up to 20-30,000 troops to add to the existing forces.

As a reminder, the winter months are when insurgent activity drops, so look for a spate of stories about how "the surge is working" in the early months of 2007. Then look for everything to fall apart again as summer turns toward fall.

One of the real oddities of this war is how quickly the botched predictions of hawks are forgotten when the next roadblock or crisis pops up. Most recently, when violence ticked down in Baghdad four months ago there was a brief flurry of comment on how the generals on the ground had figured this mess out, how the Iraqis were coming into their own, etc and so on. That was just the latest bogus analysis: A year ago the Connecticut for Lieberman Party claimed we could start withdrawing troops by, well, now. These people are always wrong and should not be taken seriously.

NEXT: Lowdown Conservative Academia Shutout Blues

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  1. Public predictions are usually forgotten. I like Richard Posner’s “Public Intellectuals” wherein he brings out a great many incorrect predictions that no one ever remembers.

    On the larger point however, the pundits, pols and generals are constantly asked for their take on the “current” state of things, and so when it’s going our way, it’s a good report, when it’s not obviously going our way, we get any variety of answers.

    Looking into the actual numbers on seasonal terrorist activity in Iraq is an interesting proposition for the afternoon.

  2. Alexander Cockburn, reviewing a biography of Walter Lippman, had some fun with the pundit’s pronouncements but then admitted that any amusement should be tempered with pity: a newspaper op-ed column is intended to have “the life span of a croissant.” Not many people would care to have a lifetime of opinions exhumed and examined.

    Just for fun, however, we have this article from Defense and the National Interest. At the end of is a list of 52 quotes about how “the next six months are critical.”

    http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/fabius_iraq_series_2006_part_I.htm

  3. he he he… cockburn

  4. One of the real oddities of this war is how quickly the botched predictions of hawks are forgotten

    As opposed to the botched predictions of the doves? There have been just as many of those.

    As for more troops, we’ve still got 50,000 in Japan. How about we use half of those?

  5. As for more troops, we’ve still got 50,000 in Japan. How about we use half of those?

    And leave ourselves wide open for a Godzilla attack? No thanks.

  6. As opposed to the botched predictions of the doves?

    Yeah, the doves made some, too. With one or two glaring exceptions.

  7. A favorite sage:

    “It is curious to reflect that out of al the ‘experts’ of all the schools, there was not a single one who was able to foresee so likely an event as the Russo-German Pact of 1939. And when news of the Pact broke, the most wildly divergent explanations were of it were given, and predictions were made which were falsified almost immediately. . . . Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.”

    — George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism” (1945)

  8. As for more troops, we’ve still got 50,000 in Japan. How about we use half of those?

    About 14,000 of those are marines. The rest are sailors and airmen. I suppose you think that a carrier battle group can be deployed to Mosul?

  9. I guess the disturbing thing from a libertarian perspective is not that we’ll have trouble finding 25,000 more troops to send, but that we probably won’t have too much trouble doing so.

    What exactly are the 14,000 Marines in Japan doing? Preparing for an invasion of Japanese highschool girls?

  10. As opposed to the botched predictions of the doves? There have been just as many of those.

    Oh, really. Care to cite one.

  11. The doves predicted that Iraq would be a chaotic shitstorm. I think it’s clear that it is in fact a violent clusterfuck.

    As John Kerry would say, it’s all about the nuances.

  12. Well, the Pentagon has taken care of any potential problems by starting to classify the insurgent attack numbers for the first time since the fall of Saddam.

  13. The stuff in Japan is back-up against Korea.

    BTW, looks like Japan is futzing around with what they can do with their Self-Defense Forces again. South Korea and China are probably going to scream, but Japan, after what North Korea has been doing recently, is in no mood to listen.

  14. RE: Japan
    “About 14,000 of those are marines. The rest are sailors and airmen. I suppose you think that a carrier battle group can be deployed to Mosul?”
    It would actually be very easy, relatively speaking, to get those Marines and sailors to Iraq. They’re not there as a back up against Korea, but they are there so that they can be easily deployed to just about anywhere in Asia or the Middle East.

    I was a Marine in Iwakuni when the first Gulf War broke out, and the possibilities were endlesss as to what we were going to do. Eventually, we just got shot at in the Philipinnes in between beers, but that wasn’t settled until the last second for our squadron.

  15. According to Cnn.com, Time just named me person of the year. WO-HOO

  16. “One of the real oddities of this war is how quickly the botched predictions of hawks are forgotten”. . .

    I mentioned Posner’s book in the first post, and then it occured to me that this is indeed one of the most common of traits in media practice.

    That Jim thinks it odd, when in fact it takes place all of the time, especially when forgetting the many egregiously wrong predictions from the Left as well as the media itself.

    Case in point; one poster above says that the doves predicted bad things in Iraq, and now they’re right.

    But to believe this, one has to completely forget the nature and content of the actual predictions from the Left. It was supposed to be such a “quagmire” because the Iraqi army was going to be such a formidable force once they were forced to fight for their homeland; that our own troops would never be able to withstand the rigors of desert warfare; that the body bags would be piled high within the first few weeks of the war; etc.

    As much as it is a quagmire, it is so because of our rules of engagement. I still have friends on active duty, and some who have worked as private contractors, none of whom care one wit about the politics of it all.

    Their only complaint, across the board, is the rules of engagment. We’re not fighting to win, we’re fighting to subdue, and hopefully contain. But the terrorists are fighting for all they’re worth.

    If we were to change the rules of engagement to a more aggressive stance, we could militarily win with the troops we already have. However, to pull off a “victory” of sorts under the existing rules of engagement will indeed take more troops. That is, since we’re essentially fighting in a very inefficient fashion, it’ll take more boots on the ground.

  17. ‘What exactly are the 14,000 Marines in Japan doing? Preparing for an invasion of Japanese highschool girls?’

    Frankly, I welcome our Japanese High School Girl Overlords (‘and the vending machines selling their used underwear that comes with them,’ said Packer).

  18. ‘What exactly are the 14,000 Marines in Japan doing? Preparing for an invasion of Japanese highschool girls?’

    Well, for one thing there’s a guy running North Korea that we don’t get along with very well – we may want to have some backup for the 2nd Infantry Division if the poo hits the fan there.

    I really wish that the people yowling about the military personnel we have “available” in various locales would learn something about basic logistics and the kind of support structure it takes to keep a high-tech, high-maintenance military force continuously deployed. The US Army uses the concept of the “division slice,” i.e. the number of personnel it takes to keep one division (3 brigades) in the field. At the current time, the average division slice is 40-45,000 men – 18,000 in the division, plus 22,000 – 27,000 men in the logistical infrastructure and replacement pipeline. If the Army deploys 25,000 addtional combat troops to Iraq (8 brigades = 2 2/3 divisions), that means that an additional 100,000 – 125,000 men have to be dedicated to Iraq, on top of the 150,000 men in-theater + 100,000 support personnel already so committed. To maintain this force will require 1) calling up a lot of National Guard units that have already served one or more tours of duty in Iraq; 2) gutting the strategic reserve in the US; 3) increasing recruiting quotas 20-25%; 4)a huge increase in the military maintenance and resupply budget; 5)having no military options available for any other crisis situation worldwide for an indefinite period of time.

    If it seemed that we could quickly resolve the Iraq situation by such a troop infusion, it might be worth all of the risks and costs enumerated above. At this stage, however it’s unlikely that an additional 7 or 8 combat brigades will accomplish anything other than getting more Americans killed and wounded. It’s high time this Administration understand the economic concept of “sunk costs” and call it a day in Baghdad.

  19. Mark
    “If it seemed that we could quickly resolve the Iraq situation by such a troop infusion, it might be worth all of the risks and costs enumerated above. At this stage, however it’s unlikely that an additional 7 or 8 combat brigades will accomplish anything other than getting more Americans killed and wounded. It’s high time this Administration understand the economic concept of “sunk costs” and call it a day in Baghdad.”

    I concur. More troops are not the answer, but they’ll be brought in anyway to appease the media, and indirectly the public at large.

    Hopefully they’ll change their tactics to that of actual warfighting, and not the proven recipe for quagmire that they’re practicing now.

    This would keep those additional troops from being put in the path of unwarranted harm, while also providing our troops with the necessary means to actually win.

    George Packer makes mention of Indonesia’s very effective campaign against Islamic separatists before the advent of a 24/7, globalized media in the recent New Yorker. A similar fight years later was seemingly unwinnable because global peer pressure kept them from using the tactics that they had used previously.

    That is not a hint for the US to use any tactics except those tactics one would normally use in warfare. We wouldn’t have to blow up civilians, and purposely target schools or hospitals, but we could be much more aggressive, and give the local populace reason to take our side over the terrorists.

    We don’t fight in such a way, because just as it happens in Israel, normally accepted methods of warfare are considered “war crimes” by the self-loathing American media, and their anti-American peers abroad. Meanwhile, the Islamists continue fighting by no rules whatsoever and receive a pass from the global media.

  20. It’s really disgusting that we’re not fighting to win. I was against the war from the get-go, but if you’re going to send our finely trained men and women into combat, let them bring their full force to bear. As it is, we’re letting them get maimed and killed for nothing. How our leaders can so coldly do this makes me sick.

  21. “Time just named me person of the year. ”

    Just like the oscars, it’s really just an honor to be among the names of the finalists:
    Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, & Rumsfeld.

    …Oh, crap. Does this mean I’m an asshole?

  22. Keb
    “Just like the oscars, it’s really just an honor to be among the names of the finalists:
    Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, & Rumsfeld.

    …Oh, crap. Does this mean I’m an asshole?”

    Yes, but we love you anyway. . .

  23. Why are some numb-nut politicians calling for a draft when we have soldiers stationed in places where there is no conflict? Why are there 50,000 roops in Japan? Is Gadzilla coming?

  24. “Why are some numb-nut politicians calling for a draft when we have soldiers stationed in places where there is no conflict?”

    Because it’s such a universally unpopular idea, that any serious consideration of it in the public arena would turn the public against the war on terror – not just in Iraq – and yes, quite a few people still support the war in Iraq. Most of the argument is not about “why” or “should we have” but “how.” Which, considering the media’s bombardment of how the war is completely unwinnable, the remaining support is actually quite resilient.

    It would be political suicide to actually carry through, but those bringing it up are secure with their constituents, and they know it wouldn’t come to actually implementing it. It would basically amount to a strawman.

  25. I can’t believe that in spite of all of history, people still think we should piss more blood and treasure down the bottomless pit of Iraq and the rest of the Mid East.

  26. Exactly how would we “fight to win”? Iraqis are killing each other because a lot of them want to exterminate the other sects. And the US solders are caught in the middle. This is not like fighting Germany in WWII. The rules of engagement are what they are because you don’t know which Iraqis are peaceful and which are violent. If you want to ignore that and just want to kill bunch of Iraqis (innocent of sectarian violence or not), that would be the fastest way of turning the entire Iraqi people against us (if they aren’t already getting there). In effect, the war becomes a war against the entire Iraqi population, not just against the insurgents. THAT war is unjust and if God existed he would be against us.

    Regardless of what you thought would happen before the war, the Iraqis’ answer now is clear: They don’t want to peacefully coexist democratically. They want a civil war. (Not all, of course, and those who don’t will flee or have already fled the country. Some will stay with a desperate hope of seeing democratic Iraq stand, but enough want the civil war that it’s too late.) We have no idea and no plan how to make them NOT want it. And all the diplomatic magic in the world getting other countries to stop interfering would not change the fact that Iraqis themselves want this civil war and will play it out to its conclusion. The only way to stop it is 1) to chage their desire for civil war, or 2) use overwhelming military force and dictator-like ruthlessness to minimize the violence AND stay there forever. No one has a clue how to do (1) so that’s out. If we do (2), we’ll have to stop our pretention of democracy or anything like that because it will be a form of totalitarianism. But we can’t do (2) anyway because we’ll have to pull out at some point. But when we do, the civil war will commence because we haven’t done (1). The ONLY choice we have is how much longer can we drag out (or delay) the civil war (the longer we stay the longer this will drag out) and how many US soldiers and US dollars will we waste in this lost cause.

  27. Exactly how would we “fight to win”?

    Even more fundamental, what would count as a “win”?

  28. You hit the nail on the head, Shecky. What counts as a win in this case? Nobody, from Bush on down to partisan media personalities like Limbaugh and Ingraham, can define what a win is in this situation. Why don’t we just state that confirming the lasck of WMDs, removing Saddam and the Baathists, and poviding Iraq with an sopportunity for democracy is a win, have that big party that we already have money set aside for, and then provide a democratic Iraqi government with military and financial aid (unless they vote for somebody that we don’t like, of course!)

  29. It was supposed to be such a “quagmire” because the Iraqi army was going to be such a formidable force once they were forced to fight for their homeland; that our own troops would never be able to withstand the rigors of desert warfare; that the body bags would be piled high within the first few weeks of the war; etc.

    You can always pick out doves who made bad predictions, but there’s substantial set of us who said from the beginning that the US would defeat the Iraqi army and overthrow Saddam easily, and that the occupation would be the real trouble.

    At any rate, no excuse for failure is more pathetic than to try to change the subject to other people’s failures.

  30. “It was supposed to be such a “quagmire” because the Iraqi army was going to be such a formidable force”

    That’s funny, because I was talking to a whole lot of anti-war people during the run-up, and I heard an argument of that sort made exactly zero times.

  31. The ONLY choice we have is how much longer can we drag out (or delay) the civil war (the longer we stay the longer this will drag out) and how many US soldiers and US dollars will we waste in this lost cause.

    I respectfully disagree. We have the choice to create Kurdistan, Sunnistan and Shitestan. Create three nations with recognizable borders and self-determination and get out.

    If/when there is an international conflict in the future, the international community would just love to come on in and mediate.

  32. We have the choice to create Kurdistan, Sunnistan and Shitestan.

    What do you mean “we”, white man?

  33. You can always pick out doves who made bad predictions, but there’s substantial set of us who said from the beginning that the US would defeat the Iraqi army and overthrow Saddam easily, and that the occupation would be the real trouble.

    I’m pretty sure George H. W. Bush said the same thing in 1990.

    At any rate, no excuse for failure is more pathetic than to try to change the subject to other people’s failures.

    But look at Michael Moore! Just look at him! See? He’s wrong about lots of things!


  34. That’s funny, because I was talking to a whole lot of anti-war people during the run-up, and I heard an argument of that sort made exactly zero times.

    You have to be kidding.

  35. What do you mean “we”, white man

    Who is white?

  36. That’s funny, because I was talking to a whole lot of anti-war people during the run-up, and I heard an argument of that sort made exactly zero times.

    Interesting. I hung out around many democrats/libertarians/anti-war types and I heard it often.

  37. Maybe Julian has smarter friends than I do.

  38. A couple of things:

    The Isreali model is no good. They are still fighting there after 5o+ years.

    Most Iraqis don’t want a civil war, anymore than most Americans want a racewar.

    The war is winnable and it is losable. Pulling out now would probably be on the losabel side. And it would just mean that we fight another battle in another place as a result. Of course the next one might be easier, because the Army might be better prepared for the type of war.

    Winnable would be putting more effort in the training and security of the Iraqi forces.

    And perhaps being a little more cold blooded about the persecution of the bad guys. I don’t know though, that could backfire.

    I would think that the war could be won neighborhood by neighborhood. Provide some safe zones for Iraqis.

    We have safe zones for Americans all over the country. I am in one right now. I can hear the gunfire and explosions as I type this but I know that the chances of anything happening to me is small.

    There is a safe zone for the Kurds.

    I think if we make safe zones for Shias and safe zones for sunnis neighborhood by neighborhood, we can win this war.

  39. I think it is kind of fucked that we have provided safe zones for armed men, who exist to fight(us), and have not provided the same for civilians. Many and most who do not want to fight, to not want to be the subject of religios or sectarian violence.

  40. I recall lots of war skeptics feeling it would be a quagmire in spite of the Iraqi army.

    The war is winnable and it is losable.

    OK. So what are the results exactly that would make a “win” in Iraq?

  41. “”OK. So what are the results exactly that would make a “win” in Iraq?””

    Well, the Iraqi police and army would be fighting any terrorists, and protecting their borders.

    The police would be fighting crime.

    We would probabley be in our bases like we are in bases in Germany.

    I deally Iraqis would be more or less safe to go to any part of their country.

    I suppose in real terms we have won the war. I would like to see the Iraqi army and police doing a better job of providing peace and stability in their country.

    I would like to see a free market prosper in Iraq. That Iraqi citizens would worry more about how to get a better margin in their buisness, than worry about being ethnically cleansed.

  42. I think the best thing to do right now would be to give United States visas/green cards/whatever to all Iraqis (and their families) who threw their lot in with us invaders after we arrived. Once all of our local allies are out of there, we need to get the hell out of Dodge ourselves.

    (Unfortunately, I fear that when we do finally decide to cut our losses and get out, we will completely abandon those Iraqis who supported us, and the second we leave they’ll all be slaughtered as collaborators.)

  43. “(Unfortunately, I fear that when we do finally decide to cut our losses and get out, we will completely abandon those Iraqis who supported us, and the second we leave they’ll all be slaughtered as collaborators.)”

    By who, the Shia? They are, notionally any way, on the same side as us (even if the Sadr folks hate us personally). At the very least, it’s going to be a long while before they get to the slaughter of fellow Shia “collaborators”, they’ve got to exterminate the Sunnis first.

    The Sunnis? How exactly do you figure they’re going to achieve the ability to control things to the extent where wholesale slaughter of “collaborators” would even be possible?

    This is NOT Vietnam. There are many ways in which this situation differs: the enemy military has been defeated, there are no sustained offenses, a legitimate government, the country hasn’t been partitioned yet, American casualties are a fraction of what they were in Vietnam, there are no prisoners of war, etc.

    Being reflexively “anti-” is no more insightful than being reflexively “pro-“, and the problems that exist in Iraq fit their own template, not one borrowed from conflicts past. As I mentioned before, I could actually see us leaving immediately and more or less winning (in the sense of Iraq managing to remain a functional democracy). A “win” which has weakened us terribly, but a general accomplishing of the goals going in.

    A bad idea that could have gone far worse, so to speak.

  44. Again, are you saying I am wrong to fear that the Iraqis who worked for us will be at risk of murder if we leave them behind?

  45. Who is white?

    Well, Thomas Paine was, so I figured so would be his goiter.

    Lone Ranger snarks aside, it just strikes me as an odd argument to make (splitting up the country into 3-4 zones) because it presumes that we have the power to do so.

  46. “Again, are you saying I am wrong to fear that the Iraqis who worked for us will be at risk of murder if we leave them behind?”

    Will they be at risk? Sure. Will they be at more risk than they are now? I’m not sure why. This isn’t like the boat people from Vietnam. The insurgency isn’t particularly popular, nor do they possess they ability to overrun the army and police.

    They’re simply popular enough to kill targets of opportunity on a regular basis. I think a civil war certainly is possible, but unlike Vietnam, the guys who have more or less been on our side are prohibitively more likely to win it, particularly if we decide to fund them after we leave. I also think a full blown civil war isn’t necessarily a given, with the status quo continuing for a while before the folks driving the current problems dry up with the irritants (us) gone.

  47. Even assuming you’re right, Again, how about we offer those Iraqis who worked with us American visas and green cards, anyway? They don’t have to take them if they don’t want them.

  48. “One of the real oddities of this war is how quickly the botched predictions of hawks are forgotten

    As opposed to the botched predictions of the doves? There have been just as many of those”

    Weigel doesn’t bother with those things. Things like facts and analysis just make his head hurt. Basically, the people who post on this thread have a better and more reasoned understanding of the situation than Weigel. That is just another day on the job for Dave Weigel, America’s Dumbest Pundit.

  49. it just strikes me as an odd argument to make (splitting up the country into 3-4 zones) because it presumes that we have the power to do so.

    We invaded, occupy, wrote a constitution, continue to govern, elected our people to power, and continue to call the shots.

    To think that it’s a breach, at this point, is a bit odd.

  50. I’m with you up through the “continue to govern” part. First off, “we” supposedly stopped governing Iraq two years ago. The Iraqi government has little to no effective control of many of its supposed organs, including the police forces, the re-establishment of the country’s military has gone nowherem and our military’s ability to keep order and provide security is degraded to the point where “targets of opportunity,” as someone put it, exist in the country’s capital city multiple times per week. That sounds like effective government to you?

  51. We call the shots? If that’s true, how bout we make it so that there’s no civil war? If we are able to do that, why aren’t we doing it? What’s the use of a constitution that people don’t respect? What’s the use of “governance” where people refuse to be governed? What’s the use of freedom and democracy (on paper) if every trip to the market is a military operation, trying not to be killed? None. None. And, oh, none again. Wow, what a victory we’ve achieved!

    Again, you’re right that this is not Vietnam, there are some differences. The Vietnamese people didn’t have such religious intolerance and had no sectarian violence. The Iraqis do. Even the leader of the “moderate” Shiites, Hakim, believes in extermination of the Sunnis. Just look at the name of the organization he’s leading. And this is why even though we’ve already defeated Saddam’s military, we haven’t achieved real democracy but only on paper. In Vietnam, the communist movement was more of a nationalist movement and the people in general supported them. That’s why we could never defeat them. We were able to defeat Saddam’s military because the people didn’t support him; they were oppressed by Saddam. Saddam was a secular dictator who kept these religiously intolerant people in check (somewhat) by terror tactics. But now that we’ve removed this “check” the religious beast has been unleashed. Are most Iraqis violent? Probably not. Are enough of them violent and loyal to the religious leadership that wants civil war? Yes. That seems clear. Even with our presence, the civil war has already started and started to escalate. It would only be EASIER to escalate even further once we leave. And we know we’re leaving at some point. And since nothing’s being done about their desire for religious extermination, we can expect it to start again once we leave no matter how much “peace” we may have managed to achived before leaving. The Iraqi police are part of the problem as many of them are loyal to the religious leadership and all too willing to carry out death raids.

    Now suppose I am wrong. Suppose that the vast majority of the Iraqis don’t want a civil war and therefore the very small minority that wants it will not be able to make it happen and will be contained at some point by the vast majority that wants to see democratic Iraq stand. If so, there’s no reason for us to remain in Iraq any more. Officially (on paper) we’ve already turned the power over to the democratic Iraqis. The Iraqis that want peace and democracy are no less trained or ready than the Iraqis that wants religious extermination. If these Iraqis really compose the vast majority such that the civil war cannot happen, then there’s no reason for us to be there any more. We did what was needed to let these democratic-minded Iraqis take the future of Iraq in their own hands, namely, getting rid of Saddam and his control. Now it’s up to them. We need to get the hell out. If they really want democracy, then they’ll fight for it and get it. If they really want religious extermination, then they’ll get the civil war they want. All we’re doing is delaying the inevitable, whatever that is. Trying to divide the country is useless too. If they’re not going to respect the democracy we “achieved” on paper, they’re not going to respect any artificial carving of the land by us.

  52. Yong Kim: bravo. You’ve crystallized the central point to all of this. The situation is not one that the US military can bring about to a good conclusion. There is no way to “win” this, in the sense of the US Armed Forces making the Iraqis all get along. Folks mention above how it would be a win if we ended up with a peaceful, stable, free-market Iraq, but thus tells of nothing of how we actually get to this point using 150,000, 200,000, or even 600,000 troops.

    Even if we are only there to provide security to those that want to try and get along, the number of people that don’t want to get along is too great. As I mentioned in another thread, our military is at best a violence suppressant, but is not actually doing anything to solve the underlying problem (i.e., that on all sides groups of Iraqis want to kill or control other groups of Iraqis).

    “Taking the gloves off” (i.e. more liberal rules of engagement) doesn’t get the Iraqi population from the brink of civil war to peace. It is a formula for focusing the attention of the Iraqis on us as the real enemy, which is exactly what we would be if we were to follow such a policy.

  53. It’s really disgusting that we’re not fighting to win. I was against the war from the get-go, but if you’re going to send our finely trained men and women into combat, let them bring their full force to bear. As it is, we’re letting them get maimed and killed for nothing. How our leaders can so coldly do this makes me sick.

    This kind of comment really bugs me. If the coalition of the willing had had sufficient provocation to start a total war against Iraq, then we could have gone tactically nuclear in Iraq a long time ago, and we would have won the war and the peace by now one way or another.

    Problem is . . . that sort of provocation never existed.

    I say that next time we wait until the provocation is sufficiently bad that the war is just.

    Since we have made a commitment to fighting a war against a country insufficiently evil to nuke, I am afraid the price will have to be paid with US soldier blood. If you want to know who to blame, then find a snapshot of yourself from Dec 02 from March 03 and take a look at that smug look in your eye. You have just found the root cause. You will probably want to tear the picture in half when you think about how naive you were about The Iraq War then, if so, go for it. It is just a snapshot, after all.

  54. Yong Kim,
    I think you are not taking into account the effect of the influence of Iran, Syria and others.

  55. kwais,

    If Iraqis didn’t want religious extermination, no amount of interference from other nations would be enough for the start of the civil war. On the other hand, if the Iraqis did want religious extermination, the civil war would have started even if NO other nations interfered in any way. Thus I AM taking into account the effect of the influence of other nations. And their effect is irrelevant except to speed up what would happen anyway.

  56. Yong Kim,
    Some of them do want religious extermination, but not enough of them to be a threat withoug outside help.

  57. How do you figure kwais? What are the outsiders giving that the insiders cannot get themselves? Weapons? Money? Iraqis can get those just fine. Or do you mean that there isn’t enough Iraqis to start a civil war but enough outsiders are coming in to fight alongside the Iraqis to make the numbers high enough? Are you kidding me? Where is this massive influx of Iranians, Syrians, etc. to make up such numbers? And why hasn’t anybody noticed this (including US military)? And how come only you know about them?

  58. If the coalition of the willing had had sufficient provocation to start a total war against Iraq, [snip] Problem is . . . that sort of provocation never existed.

    Ah but it did, and I have no idea why the Bush administration didn’t argue it this way: The 1991 Iraq War was authorized by the UN. It ended with a ceasefire, the provisions of which were agreed to by Iraq, though they regularly violated those conditions in later years. In a purely legal sense, isn’t violating an agreement to end a war the same as declaring the war to be not over? Deposing Saddam after his many ceasefire violations should have been no more controversial than putting a paroled felon back in the slammer for 12 years of parole violations.

  59. You may have a point technically, Papaya, if you consider UN and such as legitimate legal bodies on par with domestic legal institutions dealing with domestic issues. But regardless, THAT war against Saddam is over. What we’re loosely calling ‘war’ now is something else entirely. If the issue is THAT war, we won, we diposed of Saddam and his government. Now what we have after the conclusion of that war against Saddam is internal conflict, this civil war, Iraqis wanting to kill other Iraqis for religious dominance. There’s no provocation or justification for getting involved in THIS except maybe our guilt for bringing about the mess (whether it was justified to bring this mess about or not). The reason Bush isn’t arguing that is because he’s not interested in just the war you’re talking about. He wanted much more than just to defeat Saddam; he wanted to bring stable democracy to Iraq and is not getting it.

    I wonder how Americans back then would have felt if during THEIR civil war (north vs south), bunch of European nations banded together and came in to say, “No, we’re not going to let you Americans kill each other over this issue of slavery. We’re going to patrol your streets, and respond to any of your attacks against each other with our troops until it stops and until we install the kind of government of our choice that won’t allow this brutality against each other.” Granted. We think THAT civil war was justified while being horrified at the Iraqis’ religious intolerance. So is it ok to interfere in others’ civil war as long as we don’t believe in their cause? This is just an idle (theoretical) question for me as I don’t believe there is anything we can do to prevent this but only to delay it.

  60. Ah but it did, and I have no idea why the Bush administration didn’t argue it this way: The 1991 Iraq War was authorized by the UN. It ended with a ceasefire, the provisions of which were agreed to by Iraq, though they regularly violated those conditions in later years. In a purely legal sense, isn’t violating an agreement to end a war the same as declaring the war to be not over? Deposing Saddam after his many ceasefire violations should have been no more controversial than putting a paroled felon back in the slammer for 12 years of parole violations.

    If we were going to start punishing nations for violating UN orders, then it would not have been logical to start with Iraq, for at leat the reason that they were not the worst or longest standing defender.

    Even if Iraq were on the top of the ignores-the-UN list, diplomatic channels are more appropriate for technical violations of cease fire agreements. Some would even argued that the diplomatic wheels were turning and that Iraq was being brought into line when Bush decided he needed to ensure his re-election by any means neccessary.

    There never was sufficient provocation for the Iraq War (the 2d one, I mean) and that is why The Iraq War is a mistake.

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