Iraq

The Iraq War at Four: "We Are in Hell"

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Four years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Iraqis describe daily lives that have been torn apart by spiraling violence and a faltering economy. The bursts of optimism reported in a 2004 public-opinion survey taken a year after the invasion and another in 2005 before landmark legislative elections have nearly vanished.

Face-to-face interviews with 2,212 Iraqis—a survey sponsored jointly by USA TODAY, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp. and ARD, a German TV network—find a nation that in large measure has fragmented into fear. Six in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going badly. Only one-third expect things to improve in the next year.

That represents a dramatic deterioration in just 16 months, a reflection of how the security situation and quality of life in Iraq have unraveled. In an ABC News poll in November 2005, seven in 10 Iraqis said their lives were good and nearly as many predicted things would get better….

"We are in hell," said Solaf Mohamed Ali, 38, a Shiite woman who works in a bank.

Full USA Today store and much more poll data here.

The one general exception? Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been functioning as an autonomous region for over a decade. Last summer, blogger extraordinaire Michael Totten toured the area for Reason. Read all about it here.

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  1. damn that sucks

  2. Ending the war should be the major libertarian goal of the near future–not taxes, not the war on drugs, not gun rights. If progress can be made on those fronts as well in the rest of the Bush era, great. But the war will define every other debate in American politics until we pull the plug.

    War is the health of the state, dontcha know.

  3. I just got Tim’s message about Sgt. Prater. March 17th, 2007.

    This was the guy that Tim was supposed to share stories with for the rest of their lives. I guess Bush made sure that that ended sooner rather than later.

    Prater had a Silver Star as I remember. Do you suppose that Bush really gives a damn about this kid or his death?

    I’ve got a nephew in Baghdad right now. I’m really fucking tired of Bush’s games.

    When Tim was hit in Iraq in August of 2004, Sgt. Prater pulled him off the street in Baghdad out of a direct line of fire. Both Tim and Sgt Prater were hit with two more RPGs. They both survived, but with multiple severe injuries. Tim recieved a Bronze Star with Valor and Sgt. Prader recieved a Silver Star.

    I am very glad that Sgt. Prater had the nerve to step up and clear Tim from direct fire. He saved Tim’s life.

    Tim phoned me today and said that Sgt. Prater was killed last Thursday in

    Iraq by an Improvised explosive device.

    It would be nice if all these guys would come home right NOW!

    We met Sgt Prater at Bach-Hue’s house. He was young, modest, quiet, well-mannered kid, about 23. He was with another guy that was on the same patrol with Tim. Guy 2 was getting out of the Army, I thought Sgt Prater was, too. They were the ones that had brought Tim’s uniform over. Bush/Cheney lurch from one fiasco, convincing 35 % of the people that they’re on the right track. I’m not sure what the solution is but the demonstrations yesterday were an encouraging sign.

    I just saw on ABC’s Roll call. SSG Terrell Prater, 25, was killed in Iraq last week. SSG Prater pulled Sp4 Tim Ngo’s almost lifeless body into a doorway and covered him with his own body (2004). Tim Ngo lived, with a new skull, 100 % disability. Now Tim carries the guilt of his former squad leader’s death while he lives.

    Of the 9 on that patrol, 7 were wounded, including Sgt Prater. He showed me the shrapnel scars, not to boast but as a matter of fact. He was respectful, unassuming , proud. Tim is a young man , Lan’s niece’s only child. I tutored him in reading, about 1990 or so, spent many days fishing with him . The top part of this letter was written by Tim’s step-father. In spite of the cowards in Washington these kids continue to demonstrate courage and bravery.

  4. Here is an infuriating summary of the lowlights of the press’s Iraq coverage:

    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3062

  5. What plans have been proposed for ending the war?
    I know we’ve got The Surge, The Immediate Pullout, The Gradual Pullout, what else?
    Has anyone suggested The Handoff? If we pulled out, would an international force be willing to help the Iraqis keep the thugs from killing everyone? Maybe a joint force including states from all over the Middle East. Could that happen? I know our current administration could never broker anything like that, but could a new one?

  6. “Has anyone suggested The Handoff?”

    We are lined up with an empty backfield, highnumber.

  7. Did anyone else read about the Lt Col that supposedly killed himself rather than continuing to participate in Bush’s war?

    I only saw it as a friend browsed Alternet, so who knows if there’s any truth to it, I was just curious.

    Why did we go over there again? Why are we still there again? I suppose someone’s got some answers, I’m just not hearing any good ones.

    Unfortunately, Bush and Co won’t be held accountable for their transgressions.

  8. The only politician I’ve heard identify the defense of the Kurds as a top-tier priority has been Hillary Clinton.

    If we get out now, we can do so on our terms. If this lasts a few more years, we’re going to be flying helicopters off the roof of the embassy, and the Kurds will be back under some Arab dictator’s boot.

  9. -not taxes, not the war on drugs, not gun rights

    That is not libertarian, at least not relevant to the movement. It’s chic to oppose the war, taxes, the drug war, eminent domain, actually require thought, not emotion. If we wern’t taxed to death the government couldn’t afford such things as superfluous wars. Statists have to face the results of their statism.

  10. Sometimes the greatest efforts and most heroic deeds are done in the defense of lost causes. God bless our troops who have done their duty well and sacrificed so much.

    …but the Bush Administration has disgraced us all. …and those of you who succumbed to the fear mongering and egged it on–you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  11. You running for office yourself, Ken Shultz?

  12. “You running for office yourself, Ken Shultz?”

    No, I’m doing something productive with my life.

  13. Ha! Great comeback.
    Your comment sounded kind of politico flavored. You know, “God bless the troops, but my esteemed opponent is a dog, and a disgrace to dogs at that.”

  14. God bless them, Ken. They deserve better.

    highnumber,

    You haven’t heard of the Redeployment? It’s the Biden “Amend the AUMF” plan. Reduce our role in Iraq to Anbar and Kurdistan, beef up our mission in Afghanistan considerably, keep strong presences in the friendly Middle Eastern nations where they are now for contingencies (and Lord knows there will be “contingencies” coming out of this fiasco for decades), and slow down the rotations enough that our formations can get back up to full strength and – heaven forbid – have a strategic reserve available for a change.

  15. …and pursue a political/diplomatic solution to try to stop the fighting and bring about a decent government. It probably won’t work, but it’s worth a shot, and getting out of those people’s neighborhoods is the best card we’ve got to play to help it work.

  16. joe,

    You lost me at “Biden.” 😉
    That sounds better than some of the other plans, but it needs a better name than “Amend the AUMF.”
    How about “The Old Switcheroo”?

  17. Reduce our role in Iraq to Anbar

    That’s sure to extract us from the civil war.

  18. highnumber,

    Biden AND Clinton. In one thread. I think I lost myself.

    How about “Shortening the Lines?” “Concentrating our Forces?”

    Happy Jack,

    Anbar Province is an almost entirely Sunni area. Most of its territory is controlled – to the extent there is an operative authority – by local tribal leaders. It really hasn’t been the scene of the civil war, which has taken place (as would be expected) in mixed areas.

  19. Anbar Province is an almost entirely Sunni area.

    Yes, that’s my point. If you leave the Sunnis to the tender mercies of the Shiite government in mixed areas, and we’re hammering them in Anbar, who’s side do you think they’ll perceive we’re on?

    I suppose we can tell them we’re only after AQ types, but I’m not sure they care who the ordinance is meant for. Manwaring has some ideas about the legitimacy of a government in an insurgency, and this plan wouldn’t fulfill them.

  20. I almost wonder whether the war in Iraq was an experiment to test whether Hobbes was right. Bellum omnium contra omnes. 😉

  21. Occupation seems like central planning to me in that although some ways of doing it may be better than others, there is no good way to do it.

  22. Oh, the humanity. The same people who painted Saturday’s rally as “a smaller number of counter protestors” also pulled a poll that says Iraqis ‘just aren’t into us any more’.

    The Kurds got what they have by US Air Power keeping them safe for a decade after the 1991 war.

    Jerking us out of Iraq now will guarantee a replay of South Vietnam, with fewer yatchsmen.

    Freedom is only for whitie, huh?

  23. If Bush’s goal of a peaceful, democratic Iraq was going to be the start of a renaissance speading to all the Middle East, one would have thought Kurdistan would have spread its renaissance at least to Baghdad by now, wouldn’t one?

    And why hasn’t the renaissance of that country where al Jazeera comes from…?… why hasn’t its renaissance spread? National Geographic says it’s a pretty cool country.

    Could it be our military are not nation-builders?
    They wouldn’t be nation-destroyers, would they? Perish the thought.

  24. If Bush’s goal of a peaceful, democratic Iraq was going to be the start of a renaissance speading to all the Middle East, one would have thought Kurdistan would have spread its renaissance at least to Baghdad by now, wouldn’t one?

    Nice attempt at 8th grade sophistry.

  25. Nice attempt at 8th grade sophistry.

    This from a guy who says

    Freedom is only for whitie, huh?

    Baselessly accusing your opponents of racism is not a very good way to argue a point.

  26. “If we wern’t taxed to death the government couldn’t afford such things as superfluous wars.”

    Yup. That’s why states with the highest tax rates are always invading countries left and right, especially those that didn’t attack-em. I’m calling you out Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Oh wait a minute…gimme a second so I can switch on my brain on.

  27. This from a guy who says

    Freedom is only for whitie, huh?

    Yes, I have superior sophistry 😉

  28. pinko,

    Cuba’s troops have been deployed all over Africa and other places and they have a 100% (if higher is possible, that too) tax rate.

    Ever hear of the Red Army? Same deal.

  29. Actually, freedom is only for those with a $1.05.

  30. When you find yourself battling a feint by the enemy, you should reposition and prepare for the real forthcoming attack. Kinda like what we oughta’ be doing regarding the jihadists. Bring the troops home to start training to DEFEND against the eventual true war.

  31. We are lined up with an empty backfield, highnumber.

    I’m sure Iran would be willing to send troops.

  32. Happy Jack,

    We wouldn’t be hammering the locals in Anbar, but working with them against a common enemy. We are allied with most of the shieks, who are fighting against gangs of transnational jihadists. Al Qaeda types are raiding and occasionally capturing towns out there. Not Sunni Iraqi nationalists; jihadis, who are pretty regularly killing local leaders who work with us. It’s not a situation of the locals secretly waging an insurgency against us like in Baghdad. Those criminals are only there because of our war, and oh, yeah, they’re the people we should have been fighting for the last five years.

    That’s the right war (against international jihadists) in the right place (the part of the country most likely to see failed state conditions and al Qaeda takeovers) at the right time (after Operation Iraqi Freedom went south, and we had to deal with consequences).

  33. Yup. That’s why states with the highest tax rates are always invading countries left and right, especially those that didn’t attack-em. I’m calling you out Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Oh wait a minute…gimme a second so I can switch on my brain on.

    Now, my fellow cmail user, you’re either deliberately misrepresenting or just misinterpreting his claim. He was never trying to claim that high taxes make government more likely to go to war (that is, that X causes Y). He was claiming that higher taxes make it possible for governments otherwise inclined to go to war (that is, that X enables Z to cause Y). I think that the government would be a lot less prone to go to war if taxes were much lower and the military reduced to a more defensive posture (however unlikely that blissful scenerio might be).

    You can switch your brain off now.

  34. Bellum omnium contra omnes. 😉

    You do realize that Babel Fish doesn’t do Latin-English translation?

  35. crimethink,

    It means a “war of all against all.” It is Hobbes’s description of the state of nature.

  36. And honestly, I just trying to be funny.

  37. Guy,
    So you’ve now thrown the former Soviet Union and Cuba into a mix that includes the United States–not as highly taxed–and Denmark, Sweden, and Norway–taxed at a higher rate but not, as you say, as highly taxed as the first two mentioned.

    Okay now it’s all crystal clear. Thanks for the clarification. So the nation in this group taxed at the lowest rate is now more meddlesome, has the farthest reach, and has built up the most formidable military force the world has ever seen. So we don’t tax at 100%, but we put the Red Army to shame, and? so?

    What was my point again? I think it had something to do with G.C’s statement–the one I initially made fun of, which was a weak attempt to bring the argument the Iraq War back to taxes and statism and warmaking. It didn’t work for me.

    Sigh,

    “Statists have to face the results of their statism,” is a pretty meaningless statement unless you try to parse what came before it. You see, people imply things, Sigh, some do it more effectively than others.

    Tell me, if G.C.’s logic was so airtight, then I should be able to see some laser-sharp insight in his final statement. I ask this because you seem to understand exactly what he meant. But instead I’m left pondering the million and one flavors of statism, and how statism is in no way an accurate predictor of a tendency toward war. Congrats, you took Logic 101. Give yourself a hand. Now, maybe take that skill you so carefully acquired and go to work on the sloppiness of G.C.’s initial post and Guy’s accidental devastation of the point he was trying to make.

    Tax rate and war making tendency are not strongly enough correlated to make G.C.’s post meaningful. There are many ways a state can finance a war, and many other ways a tax revenue rich state can spend its money besides the way we do. I can’t really see any merit in the statism/taxation=warmongering equation. Hasn’t this administration been cutting taxes as it borrows like drunken sailors to make up part of the shortfall? And wouldn’t this fact severely weaken this argument further?

    I’m out. Good night.

  38. It would be nice if all these guys would come home right NOW!

    The way I heard it was that 90 minutes after Pelosi swore the oath the troops would be on a Jet Blue flight home. Guess it didn’t quite work out.

  39. General question to all the lefties out there: After 9/11, you (lefties) kept saying things like “This is what we get for supporting people like that against the USSR” and “This is what we get for just abandoning that place when we were done with it”. Now the same people argue that we should just abandon the Middle East.
    Similarly, for all of my life I’ve heard the left criticize the US when we dealt with dictators in the name of stability and our interests. Now, people on the left openly say things like “At least things were stable under Saddam”, and suggesting we deal with the dictatorship/oligarchy of Iran and Syria just to forward our interests. The “Neocons” (a word so overused as to be virtually meaningless) are skewered by those on the left for their idealism instead of realism. Well.
    Which one is it going to be, folks?

  40. “Freedom is only for whitie, huh?”

    That is really lame. …I’m not even sure where to start.

    I think I’d question the suggestion that occupation is equivalent to freedom first and finish up by addressing the race card, but I’m open to suggestions.

    Maybe it doesn’t even qualify for a response?

    …Nah, when someone suggests that we’re racists in an apparent attempt to silence our opposition, we can’t just sit on our hands and grin back at him like a bunch of chimpanzees.

  41. Is anybody opposed to the idea of splitting the country among Shiite/Sunni/Kurdish lines and letting them cycle out their violence or would their be problems with other nations getting their grubby hands on them?

    Perhaps it would be a good thing for other nations to get their hands on them, making the violence their problem while we pull out?

  42. Is anybody opposed to the idea of splitting the country among Shiite/Sunni/Kurdish lines and letting them cycle out their violence or would their be problems with other nations getting their grubby hands on them?

    Perhaps it would be a good thing for other nations to get their hands on them, making the violence their problem while we pull out?

    Violence is not the answer and anybody trying to be violent while we are there needs their ass kicked.

  43. Sigh,

    “Statists have to face the results of their statism,” is a pretty meaningless statement unless you try to parse what came before it. You see, people imply things, Sigh, some do it more effectively than others.

    Apparently. And some people infer things that were never meant to be implied in the first place.

    Tell me, if G.C.’s logic was so airtight, then I should be able to see some laser-sharp insight in his final statement. I ask this because you seem to understand exactly what he meant. But instead I’m left pondering the million and one flavors of statism, and how statism is in no way an accurate predictor of a tendency toward war.

    If I read a comment you have written on, say, agribusiness subsidies, it would be pretty irrational of me to criticize you because you “completely failed to substantiate your implied connection between American militarism abroad and US education policy. He wasn’t trying to show that taxes cause warmongering. Faulting him for failing to show that is just absurd.

    Tax rate and war making tendency are not strongly enough correlated to make G.C.’s post meaningful. There are many ways a state can finance a war, and many other ways a tax revenue rich state can spend its money besides the way we do. I can’t really see any merit in the statism/taxation=warmongering equation. Hasn’t this administration been cutting taxes as it borrows like drunken sailors to make up part of the shortfall? And wouldn’t this fact severely weaken this argument further?

    I’m out. Good night.

    In principle, yes. The argument can simply be expanded, then, to “government that can borrow on credit and/or tax their citizens to death are more likely to be able to finance a war.” I’m sure that a real “Goldwater conservative” would have a problem with that brand of fiscal irresponsibility, too.

  44. Dave,

    Asking people to defend arguments you made up in your head for them is bad form.

    And when did you stop beating you wife?

  45. I think a lot of people define themselves politically in terms of what they’re against–and then assume the opposition believes all of that.

    Dave, you got a response from one of the few regulars on this board who might answer to “lefties”, and he doesn’t seem to think your observations are worth responding to.

    Listen to what the opposition is saying rather than what the people you agree with tell you about what the opposition is saying. …among other things, it saves time.

  46. “I’m sure Iran would be willing to send troops.”

    Mmm Tacos — this would be one of the best ways to unite Iraq again. Let Iran enjoy what we have been going for a while. If we left, Iraq would do a lot to clean out terrorists and Iranian influence. Of course the Bush administration and hawks (RC, where are you?) are not smart enough to think strategically. they just want to kick arab ass!

  47. re: Highnumber

    What plans have been proposed for ending the war?

    I know we’ve got The Surge, The Immediate Pullout, The Gradual Pullout, what else?

    (gradual pullout sounds like Catholic birth control) 🙂

    There was also the “Beirut-ify” Idea (split country into sectarian mini-states)…complimented by a Jerusalemified Bagdhad…(‘international’ city)

    ..which frankly i think will evolve on its own without US planners having anything to do with it.

    A plan i suggested a while back to some pro-surge I AM MORE AMERICAN THAN YOU asshole who gave the “NONE OF YOU HAVE A PLAN! SO SHUT UP!!” line was =

    1) Redeploy Everybody to Afghanistan, and
    2) Bomb Warizistan to Bits (where Real Al Qaeda lives)
    3) Get Pakistan to Take Control of the Western Tribal Areas
    4) Bring Back Osama’s Head on a Stick,
    5) Sell it at Christies/Sotheby’s
    6) Give Funds to Parents of Dead GIs

    I call this the Fight the Fight We Can Win plan.

    JG

  48. As as side comment, I’d call our current project the “Pretend We Havent Already Lost Until the Democrats Take The White House” Plan

    by which i mean, we (US Military) no longer have the ability to influence short or long term events there in any significant strategic way. They are fighting for control of their country. We cant give it to them. We can referee their conflict, or we can leave them to their own devices. It’s certainly not helping the ‘War on Terror’, whatever the fuck that was. I thought it meant Osama’s head on a stick.

  49. Joe,

    Uh, what? Sorry, but I didn’t make up those arguments. Someone on this board, I’m looking in your direction, has said repeatedly that we should deal with Iran and Syria in the name of stability. I have many times heard those on the anti-war side say that the Iraqis were better off under Saddam and that he at least provided staability.
    But simultaneously, the worst thing that a lot of left wingers can bring themselves to say about Saddam is that the US supported him at one time, in order to contain Iran and keep things stable. Again, I’m not the one making up these arguments. Pretty hard to answer though, huh?
    It’s the same problem with Darfur. Left wingers tell us we MUST go there to end human rights violations, and we MUST get out of Iraq because that’s not our fight! Uhh….

  50. Agree with your sentiment above, Dave

    but still, from an operational point of view, going to Darfur would actually be like… uh. would actually help people. The fucking janjiweed (sp) arent exactly going to start using IEDs or anything. The reason we cant go into dafur is actually (drum roll)… Oil…(cue Hippy scream)…and the chinese (cue Hippy going, huh?)

    at best we currently might bankroll more AU thugs to hang out in the refugee camps and rape children, call it a day. We’d send Nato if we werent already using them as reserve tank in Afghanistan

  51. “The fucking janjiweed (sp) arent exactly going to start using IEDs or anything. ”

    The regular people of Iraq didn’t start using IED’s either, but other interests have a way of getting involved in these things.

  52. Should have nuked them in 03 and been done with it. That or occupy the damn country in full occupation terms. Shoot looters, kill anyone who claims to be the head of an independent militia (looking in your direction Sadr). Parking lots don’t cause much trouble. Callous? Sure, but at least the US troops would be home now and in hindsight, I’m sure the eventual civilian casualty rates would be about the same as have happened these last 4 years. Of course that could never have happened as the US still concerns itself more with its international image instead of its national interests.

  53. GILMORE for President!

  54. Of course that could never have happened as the US still concerns itself more with its international image instead of its national interests.

    you almost make it sound like these two things have nothing to do with one another 🙂

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