Iraq

Iraq: Counting the Dead

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The AP takes a snapshot of the violence in Iraq:

The U.S. troop buildup has brought violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks nationwide is running nearly double the year-ago pace.

Some of the recent bloodshed appears to be the result of militants drifting into northern Iraq, where they have fled after U.S.-led offensives. Baghdad, however, still accounts for slightly more than half of all war-related killings—the same percentage as a year ago, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press….

The findings include:

• Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths nationwide compared with last year—an average daily toll of 33 in 2006, and 62 so far this year.

• Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006. So far this year, about 14,800 people have died in war-related attacks and sectarian murders. The AP accounted for 13,811 deaths in 2006.

• Baghdad has gone from representing 76 percent of all civilian and police war-related deaths in Iraq in January to 52 percent in July, bringing it back to the same spot it was roughly a year ago.

Those figures are "a minimum," the report notes: "The actual numbers probably are higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. Insurgent deaths are not a part of the Iraqi count." The story also observes that the U.S. "did not get all the additional American forces into Iraq until June 15, so it would be premature to draw a final statistical picture of the effect of the added troops. But initial calculations validate fears that the Baghdad crackdown would push militants into districts north of Baghdad."

[Via Liberty & Power.]

NEXT: The Not-Lost-Yet Cause

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  1. I don’t have any right to feel at all guilty about all the deaths, because I opposed the invasion to begin with, right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?
    It doesn’t work. Get the troops out of there already. Goddamn.

  2. Here’s my version of a preemptive strike (of hawk commenters):
    We aren’t preventing sectarian deaths by being there. At this point people are dying whether or not American troops are there. More people are dying because we remain.
    Just stop. End our involvement. Ain’t nobody doing nothing to fix it. Stop acting like you’re trying.

    Sorry that I rant. Armies on the offensive still get to me.

  3. I don’t know if getting out now would make the death toll plummet or explode, but I doubt the death toll would be what it is if we hadn’t invaded and occupied the country.

    I suppose hawks and doves still argue about our impact in Cambodia. I’ve heard some people blame our withdrawal for the slaughter, but considering that our decision to invade all but destroyed the Cambodian regime, that the Khmer Rouge was ultimately routed by the North Vietnamese and that Pol Pot eventually joined up with a faction that, I understand, we had supported, it seems to me that it was our coming, more so than our leaving, that was the most significant contributing factor.

    If I got any of that wrong, by the way, I really would like to know.

  4. Long term, the death toll will be higher if we stay. Staying around to kill and be killed will not save lives. The people who will tell you otherwise are the same people whose idea it was to invade in the first place. We’d all be idiots to keep listening to them.

  5. In retrospect (yes, those of you highnumber just called idiots, retrospect), a surge of troops to temporarily keep a lid on violence in order for a political deal to get put together makes sense.

    It’s too bad they don’t have any capacity to effect a meaningful change in Iraqi politics.

    Which has sort of been the problem all along. What hubris.

  6. If the people who supported this war had the tiniest shred of human decency they would shut the fuck up about security and foreign policy for the next 20 years.

  7. Tiniest shred of decency, that’s rich. I would have hoped that 5 years in their might be a shred of humility or remorse, but one pass through National Review or the Weekly Standard will tell you they still think they are RIGHT. It is beyond blind delusion.

    The other interesting thing I note is how the whole discussion has been skewed towards whether or not “genocide” is next when it is already happening: 2 million refuges, hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, little operable infrastructure, no political hope on the horizon, continuing conflict guaranteed (whether we’re there or not)etc., etc.

    Back to fundamentals folks:

    Define how any continued US presence in Iraq is important to our national security?

  8. “If the people who supported this war had the tiniest shred of human decency they would shut the fuck up about security and foreign policy for the next 20 years.”

    And forgo the opportunity to blame the opposition for whatever happens next?!

    Why would they do that?

    Some people will hate us for it, but we gotta help ’em feel the guilt. This is what we did.

    This is the price the Iraqi people paid. This is what they got for it. They can hate on us all they like–but I want ’em to feel the guilt. …the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  9. Highnumber wrote, “Long term, the death toll will be higher if we stay.”
    Your such a brianless schmuck Highnumber.
    You know if we didn’t invade Europe less Europeans would have died. If we didn’t respond to the Pearl harbor attack not as many Japanese and Americans would have died.
    That is your reasoning and it is asinine.
    There are things worth dying for you immature little shit. But if you don’t understand that now, you never will.

    BTW: Everybody dies sooner or later, even you.
    Yes, your mommy lied to you.

  10. Oh, I can’t help it, sometimes troll feeding is fun. Besides, if you fatten up the little trolls they make a tasty meal for Urkobold. So, here I go:

    Your such a brianless schmuck Highnumber.

    He has no brians, but he does have a brianna. Does that conut?

    There are things worth dying for you immature little shit. But if you don’t understand that now, you never will.

    So what great cause are the Iraqis dying for? And why haven’t you died for it yet? Or does Hell have an internet connection these days?

  11. Allright thoreau, its “brainless”, I am at work, I have a job.

    What is the “it” you refer too dip?
    You see in America, we are free, not as free as we used to be, but free enough.
    How come you don’t understand that shit for brains?

  12. Me no understand because me have shit instead of brain. So me voted for Bush.

  13. “There are things worth dying for…

    I remember arguing that the war was likely to leave the Shiite and Sunni areas, in particular, under some kind of fundamentalist Islamic regime, parts of which could be loosely allied with a true state sponsors of terror.

    If we leave a government behind beholden to Islamic fundamentalists, I don’t know how we’re going to call it a victory in the War on Terror. Was that worth dying for?

    Oh but wait, maybe I misunderstood you! Maybe you weren’t talking about whether it was worth us dying for but whether it was worth Iraqi civilians dying for–that is the subject of this thread.

    …maybe some future Iraqis will look back at the occupation the way I understand some people look back at the firebombing and nuclear attacks of World War II–as something to be grateful for in retrospect. …but who are we to make that decision for the people of Iraq and their posterity? …the decision about what’s worth dying for?!

    It’s funny, but I remember making this argument back in 2003 and 2004. …I remember making the argument ad nauseum right here on Hit & Run. …that the price we were probably going to have to pay probably wasn’t worth the cost in American lives. …and that I wasn’t qualified to make judgements about what was important enough for Iraqi civilians to die for.

  14. The AP accounted for 13,811 deaths in 2006.

    Memo to self: NEVER mess with Associated Press.

  15. thoreau,

    I propose a points system, like insurance.

    If you attributed opposition to invading Iraq to cowardice, you get two points.

    If you ever used references from Lord of the Rings to justify support for the Iraq War, five points.

    Each point gets you a year.

    Terry’s next bit of advice, for example, will be given during Chelsea’s second term.

  16. Not worth the Urkobold’s? trouble.
    Terry, you’re not even worth my trouble.

    Civilized World,
    It’s not the neanderthal attitude that’s on display from folks like that that’s the real problem. Nobody listens to a guy who talks like that. It’s the people who believe that we are fulfilling some sort of obligation that we now have to the Iraqis – that we f’ed it up, so the least we could do is fix it. Goddamn. We’re not fixing it. We’re just f’ing it up more and more. The formula they seem to be applying is “force + force = peace.”
    F’ing stupid. Deadly f’ing stupid.

  17. Notice how the AP discounts the UN figures for deaths last year so that they can claim the numbers are higher this year for the same measured time period. It never ceases to amaze me how skepticism of the mainstream media goes out the window when it conforms to they are conforming to the political beliefs of those who run this site.

  18. Ken,

    I remember you getting called a coward, and being read lame versions of the Jack Nicholson speech from A Few Good Men, and being called a racist, and actually being called both a leftist and a Buchananite on the same thread, back in 2003-2004.

  19. I made an error in the last sentence of my above post. I typed the same thing twice.

  20. If you ever claimed that the mainstream media, and not facts on the ground in Iraq, explain why people think the war is going badly, two points.

  21. How many points for being so stupid or immoral to think that invading another country can ever be the right thing?

  22. It’s not an apples to oranges comparison, Bopo. AP is using its own figures for both years.

  23. Terry-

    Fuck you neocons and your incredibly stupid World War II analogies.


  24. I remember you getting called a coward, and being read lame versions of the Jack Nicholson speech from A Few Good Men, and being called a racist, and actually being called both a leftist and a Buchananite on the same thread, back in 2003-2004.

    Joe, got a link? That would be interesting to read.

  25. It is a loose-loose situation. Troops in Iraq, a lot of people die. No troops in Iraq, a possible bloody civil war and still a lot die. This is depressive.

    But on the optimistic side, there is some chance that a pan-Iraqi sentiment prevails by the majority Shiite Iraqis in an effort to keep the country together, which would benefit the Shiites more than a protracted civil war that they only can quell as the majority.

  26. But on the optimistic side, there is some chance that a pan-Iraqi sentiment prevails by the majority Shiite Iraqis in an effort to keep the country together

    That is, after a US withdrawal. As long as troops are there, many Shiites (especially Sadr’s group) would prefer destabilization of Iraq to pressure the US to leave. I think. Still I am depressed.

  27. So, the troops swept into Baghdad and all resistance from Saddam’s forces ceased in May of ’03. Sounds like V-I day, don’t it? Ol’ Dubya even flew in t’announce it on the flight deck of “Abe” didn’t he?

    Now V-E Day was in May of ’45 and V-J Day was in August of ’45.

    Now tell me children, how many American soldiers were killed in Europe in August, 1949? How many in Japan?

    So shut the motherfucking fuck up with your BIG ONE!! analogies already! They don’t even come close to applying.

  28. Hey, World War Two analogies are perfectly appropriate.

    Iraq is Stalingrad, Afghanistan is North Africa, and we’re the Germans.

    Three things strike me about the thread Johnny D linked to: how incredibly wrong the hawks were, how spot-on correct Ken Shultz was, and how very few of the tough guys on that thread post here anymore – or at least, how few of them post here under the same names.

    The only exception from that thread appears to be Andrew who, true to his word, really did admit the bad news was real, and has since flipped to being a full-withdrawal uber-dove.

  29. The hawk psychology is this: Our boys and girls are putting their lives on the line for these people in Iraq, so, by God, what they are doing has got to be good, somehow, and don’t you dare suggest otherwise!!!

    It’s sort of like asking a dentist to do open heart surgery. Yes, they are well trained and willing to help, but that’s not what they were trained for.

    If we pull out, the violence will either become greater, stay about the same, or lessen. We don’t know.

    If we stay, the violence will either become greater, stay about the same, or lessen. We don’t know.

    What we do know is that if we pull out, we will start saving 5 billion a month, and prevent further loss of American lives. The cost in American lives is much greater if you count the guys with limbs blown away or brains damaged.

  30. joe-

    Stalingrad seems to go perfectly with the 30%ers NOT ONE STEP BACK “school” of foreign policy.

  31. Think they’ll give Patreus his baton?

  32. Think they’ll give Patreus Paulus his baton?

    Fixed that for you.

  33. My favorite line from that old thread is where some uber-hawk said Ronald Reagan didn’t “narrowly count only U.S. interests like some bean counter”.

    Yeah, thats why he got us the hell out of Lebanon, right? Its why he called the Middle East “irrational” and therefore our efforts there could do very little? Reagan was 110% right in his assessment of the Middle East.

  34. I still vividly remember the days leading to the Iraq invasion. We (at least all honest Middle Easterners in the US, and probably the rest of the world) knew fairly well that what is happening today in Iraq would happen, with good post-invasion planning or not. Yes, even if there was a proper post-invasion plan, the Iraqi complexion simply said “do not disturb the status quo — at least not now.” I still remember Al-Jazeera and other Arab sources already in 1999-2000 already reporting on Iraqi-Kuwaiti reconciliation. Unofficial contacts and talks of reconciliation were ramping up. The louder the US rhetoric was, the faster the pace of diplomatic reconciliation efforts were. But, alas, it is all gone.

  35. Cesar:

    As much as I would criticize Reagan on several fronts, the Middle East was probably not one of them. Clinton shares the same amount of respect I owe Reagan for ME policy (still a lot to be criticized on, but both better than Bush II).

    Do you, Cesar and joe, foresee a possibly over-hawkish HRC regarding the middle east if she wins? You know kind of like Olmert in Israel. He was seen as week and hence the stupid Lebanon war to “make the point that he is not week” — more hawkish than the hawks themselves. While Sharon wouldn’t have committed the stupid Lebanon war because he does not need to prove anything — he’s already perceived as a hawk. Do you see a similar take on the Middle East if Hillary becomes president? I think that she’d (as well as Guiliani) be more dangerous than say Thompson, Romney or Obama in this regards. What do you think?

  36. I don’t trust HRC on Middle East policy much more than Bush.

  37. Ron Paul would be ideal regarding ME policy, but…

    Obama would be good (not ideal) regarding ME policy, but…

    for both it seems difficult to get the nomination, let alone the presidency. Though, clearly Obama seems to have better chances, but I do not think it will happen.

    My experience with US presidential elections is this: Pick your worst nightmare president, really believe that s/he is not electable, somehow the American people end up picking that very candidate. Based on this experience, HRC is the next US president. May be I am too superstitious.

  38. Those figures are “a minimum,” the report notes: “The actual numbers probably are higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted.

    Uh huh, and quite a few reported deaths didn’t actually happen. Remember Decapigate? The strange career of Jamil Hussein? Those are just the fabrications we know about.

    The linked post says “Iraq’s New Surge of Death
    Recent claims that the ‘surge is working’ appear to be just so much hyperbole.” Well, no, this is a comparison to summer 2006, long before the surge began. Things got worse before the surge, then got better after.

    And by their figuring, the overall war is a tremendous humanitarian success: most estimates are Hussein was responsible for about 2 million deaths, or about 7,000 per month over his reign. That’s many times the death toll since.

  39. And of course that’s before we consider little things like free elections, free press, free speech, freedom to own a cellphone, access to the Internet…

  40. TallDave,

    A couple of questions. How many Iraqi’s did Sadaam kill from say, 1998 to 2003?

    Secondly, if a majority of Iraqis and their elected representatives wanted us out of Iraq, would you support that?

  41. And of course that’s before we consider little things like free elections, free press, free speech, freedom to own a cellphone, access to the Internet…

    Not to mention the freedom to attack women whose behavior doesn’t conform to your fundamentalist sensibilities, freedom to set off bombs in public places more or less with impunity, freedom to kidnap, torture and murder people you don’t like, and then read in the newly free press about the anguish their families experienced upon identifying the mutilated corpse. . . by the way, unless the Iraqis have some newfangled form of computer that’s powered by foot pedals, what good is internet access when they’re lucky to have electricity more than an hour a day?

    The freedom America has inflicted upon the Iraqis is freedom of the Janis Joplin variety: just another word for nothing left to lose.

  42. Consider the source; the Far Left Bush-hating Associated Press. The actualy numbers are probably much, much lower.

    AP can be counted on fudging the stats and even downright lies, if it will hurt Bush and the Republicans. They’re almost as bad as CBS. But not quite.

  43. We pull out of the Middle East, and you can kiss all the efforts for democracy that have been undertaken in Kuwait, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Dubai, goodbye.

    We’ve managed to gain a foothold there for liberty. Much to the chagrin to the sex-starved Western culture-hating Muslim Fundamentalists.

    If we pull out now, it will all come tumbling down like a house of cards. A disaster bigger and on a grander scale than South Asia in the late 1970s. Think Pol Pot and the Killing Fields as a fate for Moderate Arabs at the hands of the Fundamentalists.

  44. Zogby poll numbers out this morning.

    Support for the War among Americans is up. Bush’s handling of the War up from July from 24% to 27%.

    More Americans are hoping for success in the War. But Democrats are still hoping for our defeat in sharply contrasted numbers with Repubs.

    (Presumably many Libertarians join with the defeatist Democrats in hoping America loses the War.)

  45. DONDEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Support for the War among Americans is up. Bush’s handling of the War up from July from 24% to 27%.

    Hey Dondero did you ever take Stat 208?

    Its called “margin of error”.

  46. TallDave,
    Think how many people around the world the US Armed Forces could be “saving”! We need to get on this right away. We’ll need more bullets and more bodies.

    Eric Dondero,
    First, let me ask that you stop calling yourself a libertarian. You are a socially liberal Republican. You are not a libertarian. Yes, there is a difference. It is a huge difference. Second, why on earth do you think that anyone should listen to your predictions? You have admitted that you don’t care for policy analysis. You’re just parroting the NeoCon line. I could get that from Hannity. At least he’s a professional squawker.

    People with Open Minds,
    Listening to these people will keep us in this morass. Quit trying to reason with them. It hasn’t worked. They seem incapable of understanding. We don’t have time for that anymore.

  47. And you have lowered the bar a lot when 27% supporting the war looks good.

  48. Sorry to post again so quickly, but I want to add this:

    NeoCons,
    I know you all mean well. You’re wrong, but you have good intentions. The road to hell…

  49. How many Iraqi civilians has the US military killed?

  50. Now I’m actually starting to feel sorry for him.

    I thought people like him were rationalizing all that death, but it just looks like plain old fashioned denial.

    “If we pull out now, it will all come tumbling down like a house of cards. A disaster bigger and on a grander scale than South Asia in the late 1970s. Think Pol Pot and the Killing Fields as a fate for Moderate Arabs at the hands of the Fundamentalists.”

    Once again, Cambodia appears to have been a result of engagement rather than disengagement. Once again, it was our enemies that put down the Khmer Rouge, not us.

    “Pol Pot, fearing a Vietnamese attack, ordered a pre-emptive invasion of Vietnam. His Cambodian forces crossed the border and looted nearby villages. Despite American and Chinese aid, these Cambodian forces were repulsed by the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese forces then invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979. Despite a traditional Cambodian fear of Vietnamese domination, defecting Khmer Rouge activists assisted the Vietnamese, and, with Vietnam’s approval, became the core of the new puppet government.

    At the same time, the Khmer Rouge retreated west, and it continued to control an area near the Thai border for the next decade. It was unofficially protected by elements of the Thai Army and the United States Special Forces, and was funded by diamond and timber smuggling.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_rouge

    So the Khmer Rouge appears to have been a function of the strategy you’re defending, not a result of disengagement.

    …and if you could respond without attacking the Bush hating motives of the facts, I’d really appreciate it. No one here finds that stuff persuasive.

  51. “Bush’s handling of the War up from July from 24% to 27%.”

    And that’s a glass half full?!

    *guffaws*

  52. Consider the source; the Far Left Bush-hating Associated Press. The actualy numbers are probably much, much lower.

    If Fox tomorrow comes and says Bush is an idiot (and they actually have done that on several occasions — even them!!!), would they then be “Far Left Bush-hating”. According to your definition, yes. Damn… I always knew that Fox is far-left but could not prove it. Thanks Dondero.

  53. You mean the only thing 73% of Americans agree on is that President Bush has mishandled the war?!

    …that’s down from 76%, and you think that’s a sign of better things to come? Oh my!

    *guffaws*

  54. High#:

    “I know you all mean well. You’re wrong, but you have good intentions. The road to hell..”

    they “mean well”? they have “good intentions”?
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…

    are you drunk already? and if so, why the hell didn’t you shine the URKOBOLD-signal, indicating that it’s time to start drinkin?

  55. Oh hay hai gaiz. I’m AWIK DUNDEROO. I got fired from one campaign and “work” on another.

    My favorite color is green. I like long walks by the moonlight. My turnoff is people who don’t use coasters. And I’m a Virgo.

    I’m also A MAJOR FUCKTARD.

    MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!! They’re being mean to me at Hit and Run. Please change my special rubber pants.

  56. We pull out of the Middle East, and you can kiss all the efforts for democracy that have been undertaken in Kuwait, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Dubai, goodbye.

    Kuwait–Aboslute Monarchy with a rubber-stamp Parliament

    Tunisia–Presidential dictatorship

    Dubai–Absolute Monarchy

    Lebanon–sectarian “democracy” with the apportionment of its parliament based on a census from 1970 (!)

    Try, try again Dunderhead.

  57. But Thesar (think: Biggis’s voice)…

    um. um. um.

    9/119/119/11/9/11/9/11 (spittle spittle)

    WE’RE BUILDING SCHOOLS!!!!!!!!!

    Moooommmmmmm!

    *sobs. chass?s off

  58. We pull out of the Middle East, and you can kiss all the efforts for democracy that have been undertaken in Kuwait, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Dubai, goodbye.

    Even if there is some success there, is it because of US efforts or may be, just may be, despite US efforts and mess-ups in the region?

  59. Tsk, tsk, iih. Have you not heard? Everything good in the world is the direct result of American influence, and everything bad in the world is the direct result of American influence not stretching far enough.

  60. VM,

    Aw, come on. I do not believe in evil. The question is are they cynics or misguided do-gooders? I give them the benefit of the doubt. I think many of them are ignorant, dumb as rocks, bed-wetting, bullying do-gooders.

  61. Jennifer,

    Tsk, tsk, iih. Have you not heard? Everything good in the world is the direct result of American influence, and everything bad in the world is the direct result of American influence not stretching far enough.

    No I have not! Shocking!

    But, of course, the exact opposite of this statement is not entirely false, either.

  62. Jennifer or others:

    “Tsk, tsk” is some sort of abbreviation of something on the internets. It is new to me. Seriously, what does it mean? 🙂

  63. iih,

    “Tsk, tsk,” is an English language colloquialism meaning (mildly) “shame on you.” It is rather archaic, and meant with a bit of irony.

  64. highnumber:

    Thanks!

  65. “We pull out of the Middle East, and you can kiss all the efforts for democracy that have been undertaken in Kuwait, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Dubai, goodbye.”

    How is that our business?

  66. Eric, would “democracy” in Egypt be good even if that meant the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of the Egyptian government?

    What about in Pakistan, where it would mean Taliban elements having at the least a veto in Parliament over any laws?

  67. Cesar:

    Eric, would “democracy” in Egypt be good even if that meant the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of the Egyptian government?

    Ah… but… Not all democracies are created equal 🙂

  68. Not all democracies are created equal

    That is what I call democracy-based discrimination.

  69. (“Presumably many Libertarians join with the defeatist Democrats in hoping America loses the War.”)

    I have mixed feelings. If we win the war, (which I don’t think we will)it would take some steam out of Hillary’s campaign. On the other hand, if we win it, it will encourage more nation building by the US.

  70. “A couple of questions. How many Iraqi’s did Sadaam kill from say, 1998 to 2003?”

    In other words, it’s more moral if we kill them than if Saddam kills them?

  71. “A couple of questions. How many Iraqi’s did Sadaam kill from say, 1998 to 2003?”

    In other words, it’s more moral if we kill them than if Saddam kills them?

    I think that Les’ original comment to TellDave was that more Iraqis (many more) are deadline post-invasion than pre-invasion under Saddam.

    So let me tweak your question a little:

    it’s more moral if we kill a whole lot more of them than if Saddam kills far less of them?

  72. not deadline… it should be dead (duh)…

    So let me now attend to my many deadlines…

  73. hrumph. kicks pebble.

  74. “it’s more moral if we kill a whole lot more of them than if Saddam kills far less of them?”

    I don’t know either way, but I think we’d be a lot better off if we had concentrated on what’s in our own best interest. …and if the Iraqi people had had their druthers, rather than suffer Saddam Hussein or occupation by the United States, I bet they’d have chosen something else.

  75. Does anyone who knows more about Iraq than I do think that we could have done anything after deposing Saddam that would have resulted in a relatively stable country? Seriously.

  76. “Does anyone who knows more about Iraq than I do think that we could have done anything after deposing Saddam that would have resulted in a relatively stable country? Seriously.”

    There were big mistakes made.

    We shouldn’t have disbanded the army–that was stupid.

    We shouldn’t have launched de-Baathification when we did–that was also stupid.

    Those were mistakes regardless of whether we had enough boots on the ground, etc. …and if we hadn’t made those giant strategic blunders, things would have gone better than they did.

    Would a three-state solution have been better?

    It’s a fallacy to judge people’s decisions by what we know now.

    My opposition was always based on the perceived cost and risk vs. the likely benefit, especially considering the other options we had at the time. I always thought this is where things were likely to end up, but I also used to say, all the time really, that I wanted oh so bad to be flat, dead wrong. …and I’m not the only person in this thread who used to say that.

  77. “””We pull out of the Middle East, and you can kiss all the efforts for democracy that have been undertaken in Kuwait, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Dubai, goodbye.”””

    Bullshit. They can do democracy with little help from us. But you might not like the outcome.

    But you forgot to include the democracy that brought Hamas to power.

    If anything is going to undermine our work in the ME, it will be attacking Iran.

  78. Ken

    You can add failure to secure conventional weapons depots to your list.

  79. TrickyVic,

    It’s one of those situations where in hindsight, you wonder if they were trying to screw it up.

    Step 1) Disband the Iraqi Army.

    Step 2) Leave the weapons depots unsecured.

    Step 3) Proclaim that former Baathists can no longer make a living.

    Step 4) Make fun of them publicly as “dead enders”.

    Step 5) Celebrate your success!

    Why oh why would anybody do that?!

    …I guess hindsight’s 20/20.

  80. The Iraq War has been the greatest setback to democratic reform in the Middle East in history.

    Before this war began, literally millions of Iranians had taken to the streets to demand democratic reform. The movement was so powerful that the regime was forced to imprison some of its own “security” thugs for killing protest leaders, because they were afraid of the threat that an enraged democracy movement posed to their position.

    And now, that’s all gone. Betweent the rally ’round the flag effect and the freer hand for the government, both predictable and obvious outcomes of putting a hostile army on a country’s border, those protests have been stopped cold. The position of the thugs and theocrats is more secure than it’s been in 20 years.

    In cafes all over the Middle East, people arguing for democracy are hearing the retort, “Why? So we can be like Iraq?” and thus losing the argument.

    Eric and TallDave don’t get this, because for all their pretty words, they neither understand nor give a crap about democracy.

  81. Talking about democracy, here are some recent news from Pakistan:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6968245.stm

    Note that such a “settlement” has been reached without mention of any US involvement (at least not in this article). While Pakistan is not yet a democratic utopia, this goes to emphasize the point that US involvement is not a necessary condition to improving democratic values in other nations. They, too, can do it on their own.

  82. On the deaths caused by Saddam: they were very high before the 1991 war, during that war, dropped precipitously when we pursued a containment program, and have skyrocketed back to the bad old days since the war began.

  83. Er, deaths in Iraq. Obviously, Saddam didn’t cause the deaths that have occured since we took over the country. Duh.

  84. In cafes all over the Middle East, people arguing for democracy are hearing the retort, “Why? So we can be like Iraq?” and thus losing the argument.

    Exactly!

    Reform movements, almost all of them, do their best to distance themselves from any US cooperation simply to avoid being labeled “US-allied” and looking Chalabi-look-alikes.

    US representatives even did their best to meet with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who reluctantly met with a couple of US congressmen (it was within the last 6 months, but need to find the news reports from back then). The MB of Egypt after that were subject to a lot of criticism by pro-government papers, accusing them of aligning themselves with foreign support to “destabilize” the government. The MB went to great lengths to belittle the value of the meetings. The reports I found were mainly in Arabic, but I remember seeing acouple of articles on cnn.com.

  85. Let’s all register as Republicans and write in “Ahmed Chalabi” in the primary.

  86. I can’t find the cnn pieces, but here are others:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/28/africa/egypt.php

    I am not sure if this had received much notice by the media here.

  87. Well, it is settled then. Democracy is a bad idea for middle eastern types, as it clearly has failed to take hold since 2003. The elections held in Iraq in 2005 were just a corrupt stage play put on by the Americans and their British lackys. Iraqis, and the rest of the Muslim world, need and want to live under some form of dictatorship. Iraq was clearly better off under the thumb of Saddam, and was set to really prosper under Ouday and Qusay. Iraqis, to a man, want the Americans gone so peace can be restored, and the job search for a Hussein relative can begin.

    The jury is still out on whether democracy is a bad idea for western types, although it seems to be losing traction.

  88. wayne:

    I hope you did not misconstrue my point. The Middle East is thirsty for freedom and democracy. But just like the American Revolution (which took 200 years to develop and which was carried out by Americans for Americans), democracy and freedom will be, have to be, achieved by Middle Easterners. They have to want it bad enough to be willing to do it themselves. Udai and Qusai would have been brutal. It is good that they are gone. At least my arguments are pointing to the facts that (1) MEerners can do it on their own without foreign intervention, and (2) they ought to do it on their own, and (3) they are bound to do it on their as did every single people in a Western democracy today. They are not any less capable.

  89. iih,

    I would like to point out that the American revolution was aided by the French, but that only slightly damages your point. Your larger point: that freedom and democracy absolutely require the active participation of ordinary citizens is spot on. I would also like to add that gaining democracy will not be painless and bloodless. The tyrants won’t go away quietly.

    Personally, I am very disappointed in the Iraqis. This is the best opportunity they will have this century to live in a free, representative democracy. They have probably let the opportunity slip away, and the monsters will return to their thrones.

    After the experience in Iraq, it will be very difficult for at least a generation or two to convince Americans to participate in any sort of freedom generating endeavor outside its own borders.

    iih, I don’t share your optimism that M’easterners can “do it on their own”. Modern technology favors the tyrant over the peon.


  90. iih, I don’t share your optimism that M’easterners can “do it on their own”. Modern technology favors the tyrant over the peon.

    I agree with you, especially that you put it in terms of technology impediments (as opposed to somehow being genetic as many have implied on previous forums on H&R and elsewhere). But it is all relative. That very same statement could have been about the American revolution — that it was more difficult technologically (the strong English military power vs. the unarmed American citizen) than say revolting once the Americas were discovered when there was very little military existence by the superpowers of the times. But they did.

    I am an optimist. But also a realist. Change is bound to happen. The communist regime of Russia broke down not because of a revolution, but because the oppressiveness and injustices of that system crumbled on its feet under its own heavy and burdensome weight. Arab dictatorship is bound to crumble due to economic, political, and social failures. The people, at some point, will have to revolt or the system will simply fail as in Russia.


    Personally, I am very disappointed in the Iraqis. This is the best opportunity they will have this century to live in a free, representative democracy. They have probably let the opportunity slip away, and the monsters will return to their thrones.

    If a person who desperately needs 2 million dollars to pay debt suddenly finds it on his door steps is more prone to squander it on useless causes other than paying off debt, than if that person had to work very hard to earn that money. Iraqis do not feel like they own the regime change. And, remember, the Iraqis are very proud people. They won’t accept or appreciate gifts/charity easily. Plus, the gift was terribly managed by the war planners in the US.

    But since the US is already there. There is still something to be done. I pray and hope in my heart that things take a better turn. And they have been. So while there (I remember that you once mentioned it), just be patient, be willing to exchange ideas (on liberty, freedom), but also be safe.

  91. Secondly, if a majority of Iraqis and their elected representatives wanted us out of Iraq, would you support that?

    Of course, just as we would do for South Korea, Germany, etc. It’s not even a question of support: if their legitimately elected government asks us to leave, we leave. It’s their country.

    On the deaths caused by Saddam: they were very high before the 1991 war, during that war, dropped precipitously when we pursued a containment program, and have skyrocketed back to the bad old days since the war began

    No, a large number of deaths occurred in the post-Gulf War Shia uprising, during “containment.” Also, the UN estimated “containment” was killing 500,000 Iraqi children. And of course there were no free elections, free press, etc, which libertarians hold dear.

  92. TallDave,
    Think how many people around the world the US Armed Forces could be “saving”! We need to get on this right away. We’ll need more bullets and more bodies.

    Fewer bodies, actually. Seemed to work out for S Korea, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, etc… Anyways, Iraq was uniquely obstreperous, having invaded two neighboring countries to seize their oilfields, and financing suicide bombings in a third. I doubt the necessary international support could be garnered for any other intervention outside of perhaps Darfur.

    But your argument, intended ironically I’m sure, does logically follow, and is historically supported as well. It’s a bit late for the 100M victims of Communism, of course, but the little we did was better than nothing, though it’s sad to think what foregone wonders a free China might have produced by now had Kai-Shek’s government controlled the mainland and not just a little island, and how many lives might have been saved.

  93. In cafes all over the Middle East, people arguing for democracy are hearing the retort, “Why? So we can be like Iraq?” and thus losing the argument.

    A facile argument by autocrats and those vested in the atatus quo, reminiscent of when the Soviets referenced American ghettos. It won’t save them either.

    Eleutheria is an idea that’s spreading:

    http://www.thememriblog.org/blog_personal/en/2389.htm

    Representatives from 55 Syrian Arab tribes have declared the establishment of a joint association called the “Party of the Nation.”

    A communiqu? released by the party stated that it “will function democratically, together with the other opposition forces, to change Assad’s criminal dictatorial regime.”

    Remember, these tribal affiliations cross national boundaries and predate the borders by millennia.


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2152325,00.html

    Analysts believe PJAK is the fastest growing armed resistance group in Iran. As well as the 3,000 or so members under arms in the mountains, it also claims tens of thousands of followers in secret cells in Iranian Kurdistan. Its campaigning on women’s rights has struck a chord with young Iranian Kurdish women. The group says 45% of its fighters are female. Iranian authorities regard the group as a terrorist outfit being sponsored and armed by the US to increase pressure on Iran.

    On a recent visit to PJAK camps in the Qandil mountains the Guardian saw no evidence of American weaponry. The majority of its fighters toted Soviet-era Kalashnikovs. In an interview Biryar Gabar, a member of the leadership committee, said the group had no relations with the Americans, but was “open to any group that shares our ideals of a free federal democratic and secular Iran.”

  94. Not to mention the freedom to attack women whose behavior doesn’t conform to your fundamentalist sensibilities,

    Under Saddam, women were murdered for forming women’s rights groups.

    freedom to set off bombs in public places more or less with impunity, freedom to kidnap, torture and murder people you don’t like,o

    Impunity? Please, they’re hunted like dogs. Saddam openly bombed villages with WMD, and kidnapped and murdered anyone he didn’t like – and THAT was with real impunity. And no freedom.

  95. TallDave,
    None of what you’ve written excuses invading another nation. Travel there as an individual to fight tyranny if that’s your thing.

  96. “None of what you’ve written excuses invading another nation. ”

    What about a beligerant, threatening despotic regime that has attacked its neighbors militarily, has known ties to terrorism, has a known arsenal of WMD (nerve gas) that it has used, has suspected other WMD (bio and nuke), and is clearly a malicious force? All of those conditions (plus others) applied to Iraq before 2003. Add to that the UN sanctions and the failure of UN weapons inspectors to make any headway (not their fault, they were jerked around by Saddam’s boy). Add to that the heightened security risks of a post 911 world, and the defiance of Saddam…

  97. We aren’t the world police. We can’t be the world police. It is wrong to try to be the world police. Team America was just a movie.

  98. “We aren’t the world police. We can’t be the world police. It is wrong to try to be the world police. ”

    That is actually a persuasive argument; Isolationism…

    I would like to see what happens the next time there is some sort of ‘crisis’, like Kosovo, and America’s response is to say, “sorry, not my problem”.

  99. Well, regardless of my views on the role of our military, acting essentially unilaterally (don’t give any BS about the coalition!) to invade a sovereign nation due to a possible, not even probable, threat is not just foolish, it’s immoral.

  100. “…to invade a sovereign nation due to a possible, not even probable, …”

    That is a bit of revisionism. Saddam had nerve gas and used it. Everybody was convinced that Saddam had bio-weapons, and frankly I still think he did. There were no serious doubters about Saddam’s WMD, even the nuke part although the evidence indicated he was working on nukes, but did not have them yet.

    Whether any of that was a direct threat to the US is debatable. Personally, I did not think it was enough to warrant a military response on our part, but obviously many did think a military response was needed.

  101. “””There were no serious doubters about Saddam’s WMD, even the nuke part although the evidence indicated he was working on nukes, but did not have them yet.”””

    There were serious doubters of what the Bush admin was calling evidence.

  102. “There were serious doubters of what the Bush admin was calling evidence.’

    Other than Hans Blix… who? Blix’s credibility was non-existant because he had been on one wild goose chase after another chasing phantoms created by Saddam for the express purpose of thwarting the UN inspectors.

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