Foreign Policy

Surge: Not Protecting

|

The new Rolling Stone (Jack Johnson cover) has a long and ruthless anti-surge feature from Nir Rosen (author of The Triumph of the Martyrs: A Reporter's Journey into Occupied Iraq, a book that was hobbled in hardback with the un-resonant and uninformative title In The Belly of the Green Bird).

Rosen's story contains some anti-conventional wisdom assertions that are sure to make many spit their juice, for example:

"In Saddam's time, nobody knew what is Sunni and what is Shiite," [Iraqi National Police Capt. Arkan Hashim Ali] says. The Bush administration based its strategy in Iraq on the mistaken notion that, under Saddam, the Sunni minority ruled the Shiite majority. In fact, Iraq had no history of serious sectarian violence or civil war between the two groups until the Americans invaded. Most Iraqis viewed themselves as Iraqis first, with their religious sects having only personal importance. Intermarriage was widespread, and many Iraqi tribes included both Sunnis and Shiites….

The story is also belly-up vulnerable to accusations that it's only focusing on the scary side of the complicated reality of Iraq. Still, it's well worth a long look for those trying to collect as much data as possible about what America is facing and might soon be facing in Iraq.

The general arc of Rosen's piece: as Rosen follows various Iraqi and U.S. security forces around on raids, he insists that the Sunni militias known as either "Iraqi Security Volunteers" or Sahwa ("The Awakening") are another civil war waiting to happen, loyal only as long as the Yankee dollars keep flowing; Iraqis smile to our troops' faces but behind our backs they hiss: what are troops like you doing in a nation like this? And contempt for the U.S. occupying force is only matched by contempt for the official Iraq government.

A few key excerpts:

After meeting recently in Baghdad, U.S. officials concluded in an internal report, "Most young Concerned Local Citizens would probably not agree to transition from armed defenders of their communities to the local garbage men or rubble cleanup crew working under the gaze of U.S. soldiers and their own families."

……….

As the soldiers storm into nearby homes, the two men who had tipped off the Americans come up to me, thinking I am a military translator. They look bemused. The Americans, they tell me in Arabic, have got the wrong men. The eleven squatting in the courtyard are all Sunnis, not Shiites; some are even members of the Awakening and had helped identify the Mahdi Army suspects.

I try to tell the soldiers they've made a mistake — it looks like the Iraqis had been trying to connect a house to a generator — but the Americans don't listen. All they see are the wires on the ground: To them, that means the Iraqis must have been trying to lay an improvised explosive device. "If an IED is on the ground," one tells me, "we arrest everybody in a 100-meter radius." As the soldiers blindfold and handcuff the eleven Iraqis, the two tipsters look on, puzzled to see U.S. troops arresting their own allies.

………….

The [Iraqi National Police] were also reporting fake engagements and then transferring to Shiite militias the ammunition they had supposedly fired. "It was funny how they always expended 400 rounds of ammunition," [Maj. Jeffrey] Gottlieb [who trains Iraqi police] says.

………..

The Americans know that the entire raid may have been simply another witch hunt, a way for the Shiite police to intimidate Sunni civilians. The INP, U.S. officers concede, use Al Qaeda as a "scare word" to describe all Sunni suspects.

"Yeah, the moral ambiguity of what we do is not lost on me," Maj. Gottlieb tells me. "We have no way of knowing if those guys did what they say they did."

For more surge-skeptic blogging, see Radley Balko from earlier this week.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention, Rosen did some reporting from Iraq for reason back in 2004. See here and here.

Advertisement

NEXT: Oakland Police Try to Corner the Market in Guns

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “It was funny how they always expended 400 rounds of ammunition,”

    Depends on your definition of ?expended?.

  2. Working with tribal sheiks’ militias – the ones we used to call “Al Qaeda” – might be what we have to do to fight off the jihadis we drew into the country, but it is the knell for the democratic, unified Iraq that was supposed to be the point of this war.

  3. “In fact, Iraq had no history of serious sectarian violence or civil war between the two groups until the Americans invaded.”

    Maybe this would be correct if he’s referring to Iraq pre-“First” Gulf War. However, Saddam frequent massacring of Shiite rebels is well-documented. Perhaps that doesn’t constitute “secterian violence or civil war” in the way its taken hold since 2003, (i.e. more spontaneous and less centralized), but it’s really a distinction without a difference.

    While it’s certainly fair to say that the 2003 invasion has, at best, not gone well, and at worst, is a complete disaster, the excerpt reminds me of Sean Penn in Team America when discussing Iraq (paraphrase), “Before
    Team America arrived, it was a wonderful place where the children laughed and played and there were rivers of chocolate.”

  4. joe

    it is the knell for the democratic, unified Iraq that was supposed to be the point of this war.

    A knell presupposes it was ever alive.

    (It does conjure the image of GWB and Karl Rove in a laboratory in Transylvania, however.)

  5. Saddam massacring Shiites doesn’t demonstrate hostility between the Sunni and Shiite communities. It demonstrates hostility by Saddam Hussein towards Shiites. In other words, it shows that such violence was imposed top-down for political/government purposes, and was not an expression of how ordinary Sunnis and ordinary Shiites acted.

  6. OK, RSN.

    It is the death knell for the effort to use this war to create a stable, unified, democratic Iraq.

  7. “In Saddam’s time, nobody knew what is Sunni and what is Shiite” … In fact, Iraq had no history of serious sectarian violence or civil war between the two groups until the Americans invaded.

    If that’s true, they certainly figured out what Sunni and Shiite were in a hurry. The first elections were split along sectarian lines. That doesn’t suggest that religion was just an afterthought in the Iraqi mind.

  8. “In other words, it shows that such violence was imposed top-down for political/government purposes, and was not an expression of how ordinary Sunnis and ordinary Shiites acted.”

    Again, why is this a distinction with a difference?

    I also would say your assertion is on shaky grounds. The current state of affairs is certainly a reflection about previous feelings about Sunnis. Saddam’s police state only kept them from acting on it.

  9. Meant to write:

    The current state of affairs is certainly a reflection about the Shiite’s previous feelings about Sunnis.

  10. joe

    Didn?t mean it as a snark, just agreeing with you in an oblique way.

    Gotta go now before some of the Iraq War True Believers show up and start the flame war.

  11. The key phrase I found in the article is, ‘as long as the money keeps flowing’. That is the real measure of success for the escalation. Many of the people shooting at us can be bribed not to do so for as long as the money flows, and to that degree, you may achieve peace. No one in Iraq, not even the NeoCons favorite son, Chalabi would be cooperating with us without that exchange of money.

    Those who support the Bush war do not appreciate the degree of servility these policies impose upon us.

  12. Iraq had no history of serious sectarian violence or civil war between the two groups until the Americans invaded. Most Iraqis viewed themselves as Iraqis first, with their religious sects having only personal importance. Intermarriage was widespread, and many Iraqi tribes included both Sunnis and Shiites….

    If this is true, then where did the sectarian violence spring from? It’s not like if GWB were overthrown by an outside government American Catholics and Protestants would be at each other’s throats in a few short years.

    It seems to me that, much like Yugoslavia under Tito, a strong totalitarian leader suppressed simmering ethnic rivalries. when the totalitarian was gone, the rivaliries boiled over. And if Sunnis and Shiites are after each other now, it’s partly because the US is not hated enough to be a common enemy against which they’d unify.

  13. No! The Iraqis would never take advantage of our “help”!

  14. However, Saddam frequent massacring of Shiite rebels is well-documented. Perhaps that doesn’t constitute “secterian violence or civil war” in the way its taken hold since 2003, (i.e. more spontaneous and less centralized), but it’s really a distinction without a difference.

    Those troops doing the killing were primarily Shia. The “killees”, if you will, were primarily what’s known as SCIRI, or, the Iraq government. That’s why Basra is so much fun these days.

  15. “Those troops doing the killing were primarily Shia.”

    Although I’m not saying this is wrong, I find it hard to believe. A link would be nice.

  16. Daniel,

    Perhaps you are right, and clearly the divide wasn’t invented out of whole cloth the day we invaded, but remember:

    There were approximately 3 years after we invaded in which there was almost no sectarian violence. It tool Al Qaeda years of terrorist massacres, culminating in the Golden Mosque blast, to get Sunni and Shiite Iraqs to engage in violence against each other at significant levels.

    The existence of divides is one thing, but large-scale violence along those divides is quite another. Sectarian violence in Iraq doesn’t appear to be spontaneous, but the result of people with a political agenda working very hard to make it happen.

  17. Son of a…That was me. Sorry.

  18. Yeah, I’m kind of skeptical on the claim that nobody cared about sectarian differences. I know that people can find reasons to hate each other in a hurry, but it still seems strange that such a conflict would spring out of nowhere so quickly.

    Would it be more accurate to say that the divides simmering under Saddam weren’t so much religious as they were tribal? i.e. Nobody really gives a damn about the original religious issues that led to the schism, but they did feel certain tribal loyalties, and those tribal loyalties coincide with religious lines? Then, once the power vacuum was there, people cohered along tribal lines?

  19. Simple surge suppressors don’t work. The problem is there needs to be a significant voltage rise at the load before the MOV in the power strip sees enough voltage to trigger. During a transient, current through the load, especially given any capacitance, has to be very high to generate enough voltage drop to trigger the voltage activating surge protection device. At this point the equipment being “protected” is very likely to already be damaged.

    http://www.surgex.com/pdf/surgex23001.pdf

  20. Abdul,

    It’s not like if GWB were overthrown by an outside government American Catholics and Protestants would be at each other’s throats in a few short years.

    Don’t forget the terrorism! If thousands of radical Catholics from around the world came to the United States and carried out bombing after bombing in Protestant churches, I don’t find it too hard to believe that there would be sectarian violence here.

    And your history of Yugoslavia is faulthy. Yugoslavia HAD a strong, totalitarian leader after Tito. His name was Slobodan Milosevic. For years under his rule, there was very little ethnic violence. It was only when he decided to forment that violence for his own political purposes in Bosnia that the slaughter began.

  21. Faulthy, I tell you! Faulthy!

    You too, toreau. Faulthy!

  22. If I was of a more conspiratorial bent I’d say the US military has been working under the scenes to create sectarian tensions in order to keep the war going to appease special interests.

  23. Hunh? Has everyone switched positions for political expediency? Perhaps the most trenchant criticism I heard coming from the Left before the war was this – Iraq is an ethnic tinderbox sort of like Yugoslavia, and only Saddam’s brute force is holding it together. Once Saddam goes the whole thing will blow up. The Bush administration has no idea what they’re getting into and doesn’t understand the ethnic realities of Iraq. In retrospect that was pretty damn accurate criticism.

    Why would Nil Rosen buy into Ba’athist propaganda that actually strengthens the case for the initial invasion?

  24. vanya,

    That was the paleo-right criticism of the war, from people like Rockwell, Buchanan, and Raimondo. It was never the liberal or leftist critique.

  25. Sorry Joe, it’s your history of Yugoslavia that is faulty. Milosevic was never leader of pre-breakup Yugoslavia, he was only President of Serbia. A position he attained by fomenting ethnic tension in Kosovo. Ethnic tension was a constant theme the entire time Milosevic was in office, and less than two years after Milosevic became President of Serbia in 1989 Slovenia declared independence (June 1991) and the whole place fell apart. And Milosevic was hardly a tyrant in the Saddam mode – he was democratically elected, and even if the results were probably tainted, I don’t think many people dispute the fact that the majority of Serbs supported him at that time.

  26. “And your history of Yugoslavia is faulthy. Yugoslavia HAD a strong, totalitarian leader after Tito. His name was Slobodan Milosevic. For years under his rule, there was very little ethnic violence. It was only when he decided to forment that violence for his own political purposes in Bosnia that the slaughter began.”

    Joe, (without me speaking for Abdul) this misses the point. It isn’t that totalitarian leaders, in and of themselves reduce all-out ethnic violence, it’s that they are effective in doing so if that is their stated policy, as I think you yourself recognize. Obviously, Slobo and other such dictators (there is that Hitler guy), reason d’etre was ethnic violence and extermination.

    Like I keep saying, there’s a lot to criticize about the current state of affairs in Iraq, and the US’s role in it, but portraying Saddam era Iraq through rose-tinted goggles, as Rosen appears to do, doesn’t add much to the debate, and if anything undermines those who oppose the war.

  27. vanya,

    You are right, I was mistaken to say that Milosevic succeeded Tito. Setting that detail aside, the point still remains: Yugoslavia continued to have strong leaders after his death, and the devestating ethnic violence that took place in the 1990s was a consequence of Milosevic’s deliberate use of violent Serbian nationalism as a political tactic. It did not, as you asserted, spontaneously arise upon Tito’s death.

    A position he attained by fomenting ethnic tension in Kosovo. Ethnic tension was a constant theme the entire time Milosevic was in office Yes, this is my point.

    I’m not sure why you brought up the question of his democratical legitimacy. He was, no question, both popularly elected and popular among the Serbs.

  28. Daniel,

    But what you are doing is assuming that there was underlying ethnic violence, that was only stopped because the government stopped it. The fact that this violence broke out only after Milosevic started to wield Serbian nationalism as a political cudgel seems to suggest otherwise.

    He didn’t just cease squashing violence. He deliberately stoked it.

  29. Joe,

    My point about Yugoslavia is that it was united by totalitiarians. Once the communists left power, it broke down into separate enclaves because there was nothing left to unite it. Same thing explains the shia-sunni divide.

    Your point about external agitators is valid, but if there was really no hatred between Sunni and Shia, would the external agitators be able to find a place to operate? There has to be a core of strong resentment which tolerates and abets the foreigners.

    I think we can all agree that the Rolling Stone article exaggerates the extent to which Iraqis were united under nationalism in Saddam’s day and ignored religious or tribal differences.

  30. Abdul,

    And my point is that Divide need not equal bloodletting.

    Even if the political entity called Yugoslavia was breaking up along ethnic lines, and even if the Serbs who had always dominated the union wanted to fight to keep that from happening, it still takes determined leadership to get men to line up innocent civilians and machine-gun them into ditches.

  31. So wait the myth has now changed from “Bush should have realized the deep tribal divisions in Iraq before he went in” to “Bush caused deep tribal divisions where none existed before”

    Jesus Fucking Christ this gets more idiotic with every passing minute.

  32. Ideology has gone out the window with a host of terrible CPA-era policies, and we must seek other avenues to keep the peace in this fragile country. The Sahwa movement worked, the surge worked, sorry anti-OIF pundits, but look at the statistics in Baghdad. I think the key now is to try and stop permanent bases, which I could side with the Dems on as being a bad idea.

  33. So wait the myth has now changed from “Bush should have realized the deep tribal divisions in Iraq before he went in” to “Bush caused deep tribal divisions where none existed before”

    No, al Qaeda caused the ethnic violence. You might have heard this before.

    “In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.” – George W. Bush’s 2007 State of the Union speech.

    Jesus Fucking Christ this gets more idiotic with every passing minute.

    Mark your calendars, folks: February 27, 2008 – joshua corning writes something intelligent about the Iraq War.

  34. Ideology has gone out the window with a host of terrible CPA-era policies,

    I wouldn’t go blaming this on the accountants.

  35. “we must seek other avenues to keep the peace in this fragile country.”

    How is that our business?

  36. Chris Potter,

    ahah good one. Damn accountants and their de-ba’athification blunders.

    Bookworm,

    Because we came here. While the war has made us unpopular, it’ll make us even more unpopular if we leave the place unstable and in civil war. I don’t like it much either, but it’s a reality I’ve come to accept.

  37. LT Nixon,

    No one doubts that the Surge brought down casualties while it was going on, so in that sense, it worked – with a little assist from Mookie al Sadr. But since it cannot be sustained, and it didn’t accomplish its goal of bringing about changes in the underlying political situation, those statistics are going back up.

    It’s good to hear that even “pro-OIF folks” are acknowledging that the promise of an American withdrawal is necessary if we’re going to have any hope of seeing progress in the political situation there.

    As long as Americans are occupying Iraq, their politics will always be about US.

  38. Joe,

    There were bloody riots in Kosovo in 1982, during Tito’s lifetime. Yugoslavia never had a strong leader after Tito died – some individual Republics within Yugoslavia had strong leaders. Ethnic tension and separatism were a constant reality in Yugoslavia from day one back in 1919, and never disappeared.

    But these are nitpicks. By highlighting just the ethnic violence,you’re missing the larger point. Very possibly in the absence of a Milosevic the country could have well separated in an amicable way, sort of like Czechia and Slovakia, or in a mostly peaceful, semi-bloody way like the Soviet Union but it would have separated and the signs were clear well before Milosevic came along. But the point is, in the USSR, Yugoslavia and Iraq ethnic tensions made/make a working democratic national polity impossible. They were/are artificial countries, and only force holds them together.

  39. vanya,

    By highlighting just the ethnic violence,you’re missing the larger point. Very possibly in the absence of a Milosevic the country could have well separated in an amicable way, sort of like Czechia and Slovakia, or in a mostly peaceful, semi-bloody way like the Soviet Union but it would have separated and the signs were clear well before Milosevic came along.

    I’m not missing that point; I’m making that point. Just not as well as you, though. Well put.

    But the point is, in the USSR, Yugoslavia and Iraq ethnic tensions made/make a working democratic national polity impossible. They were/are artificial countries, and only force holds them together.

    Yes and no. If you look at the ethnic violence in Iraq, it isn’t separatist violence. The Shiites don’t want to rule Shiastan, they want to rule Iraq. The Sunnis don’t want the middle third of the country; they want to topple the “American puppet government” and put “Iraqi Nationalists” back in power.

  40. al Qaeda caused the ethnic violence

    Joe, are you really Michael Totten writing under a pseudonym? I thought only war supporters bought into the hoary trope that Al Qaeda is truly a relevant actor in Iraq.

    Also, it seems fairly obvious you can’t easily “create ethnic violence” where no real ethnic tensions exist. If the JDL blew up St. Peters cathedral in New York does anyone really think massive Catholic pogroms against Jews would ensue?

  41. If you look at the ethnic violence in Iraq, it isn’t separatist violence. The Shiites don’t want to rule Shiastan, they want to rule Iraq.

    That is a good point, but isn’t the problem that both groups feel like they own the same country (sort of like Bosnia, Kosovo or Israel/Palestine)? If anything that would seem to make the ethnic issues even more intractable in Iraq than in Yugoslavia. In any case I agree with you that the occupation has certainly made things worse, my point is that Rosen is being naive and that the criticisms directed toward the Bush administration pre-war (that an occupation and sudden toppling of Saddam risked inflaming ethnic tensions) were on the money.

  42. Jeebus, vanya, how many times would you like me to repeat my point – a point that you yourself made, too – about “ethnic divisions” and “ethnic violence” not being the same thing?

    How about one more? Can you acknowledge the point if I write it out ONE MORE TIME?

    And since you seem to think that “al Qaeda carried out a terror campaign to cause a Sunni-Shiite civil war” is some sort of far-right meme, as opposed to the universally-acknowledged fact it actually is, can I ask you to stop telling ME what liberals think about the Iraq War? Because you don’t seem to understand the subject very well.

  43. but it is the knell for the democratic, unified Iraq that was supposed to be the point of this war.

    No joe, the point of this war was

    Stopping Saddam from continuing his collaboration with Al Qaeda, oops!
    Destroying his vast weapons of mass destruction stockpiles, oops!
    Having free and fair elections, oops!
    Whatever crap the administration thinks we’ll swallow.

    It’s awfully dark in this hole, boss.
    Shut up and keep digging!

  44. But Joe, your point – about “ethnic divisions” and “ethnic violence” not being the same thing – is not a response to Rosen or even relevant. Rosen is reiterating the Ba’athist claim that THERE WERE NO ETHNIC DIVISIONS in Iraq. Just happy Iraqis with different religions. Go back and read the quote. Is that what you believe as well?

    And “al Qaeda carried out a terror campaign to cause a Sunni-Shiite civil war” isn’t in dispute, that Al Qaeda was THE significant player in the Iraq theater and the principal cause of the Sunni-Shiite civil war is a far-right meme, and apparently what you (surprisingly) believe as well. You really don’t think “caused the ethnic violence” might be overstating things a bit?

  45. “Because we came here. While the war has made us unpopular, it’ll make us even more unpopular if we leave the place unstable and in civil war. I don’t like it much either, but it’s a reality I’ve come to accept.”

    Can we ever stableize it or will we need to be there for 100 years as the McManiac says? How many more soldiers will have to die in a war we should never have been in in the first place?

  46. I, and oodles of others, on the left and on the right, predicted that sticking our nose into the middle east beehive was just going to stir up the bees and get our nose stung.

    Iraq governance is an Arab problem, and we can’t fix it. It may take decades before the Middle East joins the free world, You can’t bake a cake faster by turning up the heat. You just burn the darn thing and have to start all over.

  47. vanya,

    Is that what you believe as well? No. No, it’s not. I’ve made a different point.

    You really don’t think “caused the ethnic violence” might be overstating things a bit?

    I’ve been paying attention to Iraq’s politics since this adventure began. I was paying attention to internal Iraqi politics back when the warmongers were telling us that they were going to disappear and Iraq would turn into a warm Minnesota. I watched Ali Sistani, medieval homophobe that he is, hold that country together by his fingertips for years while mainly foreign and foreign-led jihadists bombed mosques. It took three solid years of terrorist attacks making the streets run with blood before the Shiites took the bait. Before that, during episodes like Falluja, Sunni insurgents actually coordinated their operations in an attempt to give the Shiites in Falluja a leg up.

    You know me, vanya. You know my relationship with far-right memes. There was no ethnic cleansing to speak of in Baghdad in 2003-2005. And then the Shiite death toll hit a certain level, and then the “Interior Ministry” gentlemen decided to play with power tools, and then the Golden Mosque blew up, and then it was on.

    That country did not fall into sectarian violence, it took a multi-year terror campaign in a war zone to bring that about. I’m not saying Al Qaeda carried out the operations that killed most of the people who died in Iraq. I’m saying they had to work very hard to set it off.

  48. And vanya,

    I’m certainly not saying that more than a tiny fraction of the operations Americans are engaged in are against people linked to bin Laden, or that such people represent more than a tiny fraction of the combatants in Iraq.

    John McCain talking, still, in 2008 about al Qaeda taking over Iraq – not having a base there, he emphasizes, but taking over and controlling the country – is out of his gourd. He’s going to lose the election saying dumb shit like that Nobody except the political fanatics in the room with him believe it anymore, but he’s in such a bubble that he still thinks that he can sink Barack Obama in 2008 with the tactics that didn’t work on John Murtha three years ago.

  49. Whoops.

    Before that, during episodes like Falluja, Sunni insurgents actually coordinated their operations in an attempt to give the Shiites in Falluja a leg up.

    Not Falluja. Karbala.

  50. The Left has a vested interest in making sure the lesson learned from Iraq is that meddling in other countries’ business has to be done by the right people, rather than that meddling in other countries’ business invariably leads to chaos regardless of who’s doing it.

    They don’t want the Iraq debacle to discourage us from getting involved militarily in the Sudan or whatever “humanitarian crises” arise in the future.

  51. The Democratic Congress, I hope, realizes they have an invested interest in de-funding this escalation escapade by this summer. The more money goes into it, the more money Bush’s people can put into the hands of those who would otherwise be shooting at our soldiers and bombing civilians.

    If the Democrats cave and fully fund it, McCain will be able to say the escalation is working, even though none of the underlying problems are solved.

    As for the argument that we will be even more unpopular with the rest of the world if we leave, if that is true, we can use a mere fraction of the money saved from not being in Iraq, a few billion maybe, on a huge world wide PR campaign called, Up With America!(You Know You Really Love Us), and that should make up the difference.

    BTW, I said in the beginning of 2005, the level of violence represented a surge, and would last a span of a few years no matter what action we took, leaving, staying, escalating, drawing
    down. Ethnic conflicts have a rhythm of their own.

  52. So, it was Al Qaeda terror which caused the Shiite uprising in 1991. That’s fascinating. So, how did Bin Laden get a time machine?

  53. No, but the Shiite uprising in 1991 wasn’t ethnic cleansing. It was an anti-government uprising.

    That must have sounded like a really killer argument in your head, to make up that time-machine bit. Sorry.

  54. Chris Potter, if the only difference you can think of between a UN-backed Sudan mission and Operation Iraqi Freedom is the party of the president, that doesn’t speak well of the level of thought you’ve put into the question.

    I’m not saying you have to approve of either, but to not even be able to recognize the arguments you think you’re so far above…that’s not how someone making a serious effort to know what he’s talking about confronts political issues.

  55. “Those troops doing the killing were primarily Shia.”

    Although I’m not saying this is wrong, I find it hard to believe. A link would be nice.

    Shiite Generals who led the smashing of the uprising in the south: Najib al-Sahili, Rashid Flaih.

    Here is an article discussing the use of tribes in the south to keep the natives in line. (Scroll to “Handling the Tribes”)

  56. John McCain talking, still, in 2008 about al Qaeda taking over Iraq – not having a base there, he emphasizes, but taking over and controlling the country – is out of his gourd. He’s going to lose the election saying dumb shit like that Nobody except the political fanatics in the room with him believe it anymore, but he’s in such a bubble that he still thinks that he can sink Barack Obama in 2008 with the tactics that didn’t work on John Murtha three years ago.

    AQ took over Afghanistan and used it as a base to train and launch military strikes against the west. AQ was firmly entrenched in Iraq until the US military surge, alongside Iraqi citizens and forces routed them. AQ is not destroyed and they still have ambitions to be a dominant player in Iraq.

    Given this history and the left’s tendency to bend over and grab their ankles at every opportunity, why do you think it is such a stretch to worry that AQ will reemerge?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.