Iraq

Petraeus at the Senate

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From the L.A. Times' account of yesterday's Senate hearings on the Iraq War:

As expected, back-to-back Senate committee hearings spotlighting Army Gen. David H. Petraeus became a confrontation between two immovable forces. But there was no real decision at stake: President Bush is expected Thursday to endorse Petraeus' recommendation for a suspension of withdrawals in July, insisting that security gains over the last 15 months can lead toward a sustainable future, with continued U.S. help….

Democrat after Democrat, including the party's two remaining presidential contenders, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, questioned whether the costs of the strategy proposed by Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who also testified, were too high….

By keeping force levels at 140,000 into the autumn—a few thousand more than before Bush announced the troop buildup in January 2007—U.S. officials can build on recent gains and the Iraqi government can gradually take over responsibility, he argued.

"This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable," he acknowledged. "However, it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve."

Petraeus refused to specify what might take place following a recommended 45-day suspension in troop reductions….

Not surprisingly, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lauded Petraeus: "This means rejecting, as we did in 2007, the calls for a reckless and irresponsible withdrawal of our forces at the moment we are succeeding." Beyond the Dems, he was countered by several GOP senators, including Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, who noted, "Simply appealing for more time to make progress is insufficient."

More here.

reason's current cover story on "The Trillion Dollar War" here. More on Iraq here.

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  1. Six more months.

  2. Six more months.

    It’s always six more months. Don’t hold your breath.

  3. Six more months.

    Oddly enough, that means troops would start filtering home…two weeks before a presidential election.

    Hmm.

  4. More like six more years.

    It seems the Democrats are incapable of doing anything against Bush’s wishes even with Congressional majorities. Way to fulfill a “mandate”.

    What, again, is the difference between the parties?

  5. The way these bastards talk about troop withdrawals reminds me of…

    “Harvest is when I need you the most. Only one season more. This year we’ll make enough on the harvest that I’ll be able to hire some more hands and then, you can go to the academy next year. You must understand, I need you here, Luke.”

    Luke knew that there would always be another season.

  6. Dick Lugar was also supported by his colleague Senator Magnum Balls.

  7. And in recent polling, Sen. John McCain (RINO-Ariz.) is seen by the USAian public as the top presidential candidate that they trust the most on the war issue.

    IF the public were supporting a withdrawl in the way some, like MoveOn.Org and a portion of the Reason staff, keep claiming that they do, there would be no shortage of votes for withdrawl.

    In other news: San Franciscians have discovered another country to protest besides the USA. The real news here is that San Franciscians are protesting against a Communist country. They were treating Tibet the same way in the 1960s and 1970s, while supplying North Vietnam, but somehow no protests against China (or the Soviets either) erupted back then.

  8. Wasn’t Sen. Lugar the one who asked that incredibly stupid series of crap to the General?

  9. Do you assume that it’s the same protesters, Guy?

  10. David,

    Guessing that many are the same, especially that whole ‘protest junkie’ class who protest whichever way the fashion winds blow.

  11. Tell me again- what is it, exactly, that we are winning? Where’s my split?

  12. “FREE BEER TOMORROW!”

    CB

  13. Tell me again- what is it, exactly, that we are winning?

    The Global War on Terror, along with the Central Asian Theater.

    Where’s my split?

    If you join our team now there are some pretty hefty bonuses. If you join their team, there is a promise of a small group of women who don’t know anything about sex yet.

  14. “Just three more dunes.”

    “You said that three dunes ago.”

  15. An active duty general is always going to repeat administration talking points. Did anyone really think that General Petraeus was going to disagree with his superiors in the chain of command publicly?

    Military opinions that disagree with stated policy are often bluntly expressed behind closed doors. Dissenting in public is just not done. The fact that military leadership publicly kowtows to the Commander in Chief is one of the things I love about our system.

  16. David,

    Some members of the SF community have been protesting Chinese practices in Tibet since at least the 1990s.

    They were treating Tibet the same way in the 1960s and 1970s…

    It is fair to say that the Chinese government’s activities in Tibet are not as awful today as they were during the Cultural Revolution. This isn’t an excuse for any current actions, but things are not exactly the same as they were during earlier periods of PRC rule.

  17. David,

    From what I can see of the polling the U.S. population appears to be rather equally divided on who to support at this point.

    See here.

  18. Why don’t they just re-air General Petraeus’s last testimony? It would be a lot more efficient and save a lot of people a lot of time.

  19. “Tell me again- what is it, exactly, that we are winning?”

    “The Global War on Terror, along with the Central Asian Theater”

    Are we really winning or will our meddling foreign policy just create more terrorism down the road? How would we react if we had foreign troops in our country? Wouldn’t we resent it and do everything we could to get them out? Would we then be terrorists? Something to think about.

  20. Tell me again- what is it, exactly, that we are winning?

    An industrial strength hair dryer.

  21. “From what I can see of the polling the U.S. population appears to be rather equally divided on who to support at this point.”

    So?

  22. It would be a lot more efficient and save a lot of people a lot of time.

    This is the Government. “Efficiency” and “saving time” are not desirable outcomes.

  23. Calidore,

    Guy was implying that it was the same people who’d protested the Vietnam war(but not China’s poor human rights record)in the 60’s who are suddenly protesting China now.

  24. It is fair to say that the Chinese government’s activities in Tibet are not as awful today as they were during the Cultural Revolution. This isn’t an excuse for any current actions, but things are not exactly the same as they were during earlier periods of PRC rule.

    I was not forwarding any excuse for Chinese actions from any time period. Just found it curious that the Chinese actions have not changed much, but the protestors have. Maybe it has something to do with the Chinese ratting out Iran’s nuclear weapons program or inviting a ‘little freeier’ market system, but I doubt it.

    Anybody know if Moscow has reconstuted their useful idiot program yet?

  25. David,

    Yes.

  26. “Oddly enough, that means troops would start filtering home…two weeks before a presidential election.”

    Gasoline prices are also expected to come down to $2 a gallong around that time too.

  27. bookworm,

    Just like they were supposed to right before the 2004 and 2006 elections as part of a Saudi ‘plot’ to keep GWB and his friendly Congress in power?

  28. David,

    Er, yeah. I meant for those comments to be directed at Guy Montag. Many apologies.

    Guy Montag,

    In the U.S. and throughout the world there has been broad support across ideological lines for Tibet for many decades. This is well known.

  29. Don’t back down, Guy! Not One Step Back!

    Keep it up all the way to election day!

  30. I found out one new (and disturbing) thing from yesterday’s hearings: Iraq has a budget surplus, but refuses to pay a cent for our occupation costs.

    Germany, South Korea, and Japan, btw, pay for the bases we have there.

  31. As for the Tibet thing, I think a lot of the people protesting it were either A) not alive in the 60s or B) if they were, they were in elementary school.

  32. Iraq has a budget surplus?!?!

  33. Iraq has a budget surplus?!?!

    Yes, that is correct.

    We really are suckers, aren’t we?

  34. IF the public were supporting a withdrawl in the way some, like MoveOn.Org and a portion of the Reason staff, keep claiming that they do, there would be no shortage of votes for withdrawl.

    What would you call the red-assed spanking the Dems handed the Reps in 2006? Just because the Dems are spineless pussies doesn’t mean people didn’t want a withdrawal.

  35. Maybe Guy and the dead-enders should read some actualy polling instead of living in a 2003 time warp.

    A majority disapprove of the war, a majority believe it should have never been fought, and a majority would like to see the next President begin to withdraw troops in 2009.

  36. Yep, we’re suckers. Why would Iraq pay for anything, or form a working government, as long as the US position boils down to “If you do nothing to reconcile your political power struggles, we will have no choice but to continue patrolling your streets and giving money to your citizens.”

  37. Cesar,

    Well, even if they were protesting in the 1960s I’m not quite sure what that has to do with protests over the current situation in Tibet.

  38. Gen Patraeus gave the Iraqi military a B- after their success in Basra. Sure wish he’d been my prof in college, woulda helped my GPA.

  39. Calidore-

    Absolutely nothing, but this is the kulturkampf! Things don’t have to make sense as long as you can bash the other side.

  40. What we need is a Global War on Tarbabies.

  41. Ah, I remember last year, when the Dems were going to force surrender in this unwinnable war.

    Now violence is way down, all three Presidential candidates agree we need to stay until things are stable, and we mostly argue over how expensive it will be.

    And soon Iraqis will vote again.

  42. Time for Global War on Global War.

  43. And soon Iraqis will vote again.

    Maybe they can elect another Prime Minister for A-mad to kiss.

  44. TallDave,

    What does it mean that there has been a recent uptick in violence over the past month or two?

  45. Cesar,

    An important question is how much power the Iraqi government actually wields; if they don’t wield much power, then how important are elections in reality?

  46. I’ve been thinking that now that Global War on Terror has lost some of its cache, the next step for the politicians is the Interstellar War on Terror. The Alpha-Centaurions hate our freedoms!

  47. And soon Iraqis will vote again.

    And in a bizarre coincidence, al-Sadr’s party has been barred from running.

    Gentlemen, to democracy, stability, and the end of Islamism!

  48. Calidore, they don’t mean shit. Thats why there have been something like 1000+ “turning point elections” since 2003, but they seem to resolve nothing.

    Oh, another fun fact: The number of Iraqis living in absolute poverty has actually increased since 2003!

    Freedom and Democracy!

  49. What does it mean that there has been a recent uptick in violence over the past month or two?

    Mostly that Maliki is finally, to great political acclaim, moving against the Shia militias/gangs that are now the major problem in Iraq. More violence in the short term, less in the long run.

    Anyways, the uptick is pretty small; violence is still way below where it was last year.

    Sadr, btw, has offered to disband his militia. All the other political parties appear set to pass legislation that would bar him from elections if he doesn’t.

  50. Oh, another fun fact: The number of Iraqis living in absolute poverty has actually increased since 2003!

    Not even close. Per capita GDP has more than doubled, as has electricity. All basic services have increased.

    http://www.brookings.edu/saban/~/media/Files/Centers/Saban/Iraq%20Index/index.pdf

    p44

  51. TallDave,

    More violence in the short term, less in the long run.

    What exactly warrants this prediction?

    Anyways, the uptick is pretty small; violence is still way below where it was last year.

    Yes, it is back down to the levels it was in 2005 or 2006, correct? Which were considered by many to be quite problematic at the time.

    Sadr, btw, has offered to disband his militia. All the other political parties appear set to pass legislation that would bar him from elections if he doesn’t.

    So, what happens if he “disbands” them and then wins significant support in the elections?

  52. I guess the two Senators who said that yesterday were just lying, then.

  53. Rising violence demonstrates success just as clearly as declining violence.

    As does violence staying steady.

    Sadr, btw, has offered to disband his militia.

    In exchange for the Iraqi government setting a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces.

  54. Oh, and you forgot to point out in that report that the Iraqi government gets 5/11 on the benchmarks they were supposed to meet.

    Less than a 50%. Thats a failing grade.

  55. And in a bizarre coincidence, al-Sadr’s party has been barred from running.

    Only if he continues operating his militia. That appears to be the consensus of Iraq’s political parties.

    Now, your concern for Sadr’s rights is touching, and I suppose one could argue Sadr is being treated unfairly, but I very much doubt we’d let him for office here if he were doing what he’s been doing.

  56. TallDave,

    Per capita GDP may says nothing about the absolute number of people living in poverty in a nation.

  57. More violence in the short term, less in the long run.

    This is what we heard during both Falluja battles, the Najaf battle, and the 6-week war itself. No, but this time, it’s totally going to work.

  58. Oh, and you forgot to point out in that report that the Iraqi government gets 5/11 on the benchmarks they were supposed to meet.

    Again, wrong. They have met 12 of the 18 benchmarks, and there has been progress on the other 6.

  59. Are you high? Look at page 15 of the link you sent me. Its a 5/11.

  60. This is what we heard during both Falluja battles, the Najaf battle, and the 6-week war itself.

    And lo and behold, violence is way down. There hasn’t been an attack on our forces in Fallujah in weeks.

  61. That appears to be the consensus of Iraq’s political parties.

    Like SCIRI, which runs the Badr Brigades, and the two Kurdish parties, each of which has its peshmerga militia.

    Gee, that IS impressive. Militia groups want their opponents to disarm. Sounds like the light at the end of the tunnel to me.

  62. Are you high? Look at page 15 of the link you sent me. Its a 5/11

    That page hasn’t been updated. Most sources agree 12 of the 18 have been met.

  63. So, you sent me a link with outdated data to prove your points? What?

  64. Like SCIRI, which runs the Badr Brigades, and the two Kurdish parties, each of which has its peshmerga militia.

    They all operate under the aegis of the Iraqi gov’t, unlike Sadr.

  65. TallDave,

    Given the rather poor performance of the U.S., etc. in Iraq since statue was torn down I’m not quite sure why I shouldn’t be a skeptic about any future predictions re: Iraq.

  66. Some pages are updated more often than others.

  67. And lo and behold, violence is way down.

    Holy crap, you don’t even know the history of this war!

    “Weeks?” I’m talking about First and Second Falluja, and you’re talking about a time frame lasting weeks?

    Good Lord.

  68. TallDave,

    So, the Maliki government can give direct orders to the peshmerga militia and they will follow said orders? Can you give me an example of such?

  69. Per capita GDP may says nothing about the absolute number of people living in poverty in a nation.

    Which is why I cited all the other evidence.

  70. Also, that report says nothing about the poverty rate. Theres not even a sentence on it.

  71. They all operate under the aegis of the Iraqi gov’t, unlike Sadr.

    Yes, the government our troops are dying to keep in power has put the Iranian-backed Badr militia under its official aegis.

    That’s supposed to make me feel better, why, exactly?

    Now, your concern for Sadr’s rights is touching

    And this assclown wants to parade his support for democracy. Game over, man. You just showed your hand, and it’s a loser.

  72. So, the Maliki government can give direct orders to the peshmerga militia and they will follow said orders? Can you give me an example of such?

    Just yesterday they indicated they will send troops to Basra under Maliki’s command.

  73. It also says Iraq is about as “free” as the Palestinian territories and Morocco.

    Yeah, its really a Belgium in the Middle East alright. I guess that page must not be updated, either.

  74. We should support the Iraqi government over Sadr because Sadr has a militia.

    The govenrment also uses private militias.

    But that doesn’t matter, because those militias are government militias.

    Gee, I can’t understand why this has turned into a debacle.

  75. TallDave,

    You specifically mentioned per capita income, electricity, and basic services; these by themselves are not measures of poverty.

  76. Yes, the government our troops are dying to keep in power has put the Iranian-backed Badr militia under its official aegis. That’s supposed to make me feel better, why, exactly?

    Every Shia group was “Iranian-backed” at some point. The Badrists have mostly joined the government and cut ties with Iran. They are armed and paid by the elected government. Sadr’s people, otoh, still have extensive Iranian backing.

    And this assclown wants to parade his support for democracy. Game over, man. You just showed your hand, and it’s a loser.

    I don’t know where people get the idea we can’t discuss Iraq reasonably.

  77. TallDave,

    Just yesterday they indicated they will send troops to Basra under Maliki’s command.

    Got a link concerning that?

  78. The govenrment also uses private militias.

    We have an Army too. Guess how it was formed? Hint: it involved local militias.

  79. So, you’ve just compared the Islamist Sadr militias, the quasi-communist PKK, and Sunni nationalist militias filled with ex-Saddam diehards to our National Guard? Or were you comparing them to the Minutemen? Wow.

  80. TallDave,

    There was a reason that the embryonic U.S. government formed a professional military as soon as it could; the state militias (as many historians have described), while enthusiastic at the start of the war, were balkanized affairs which were hard to pry out of a state. Also, as far as I know, the state militias were not used as the platform to create the professional army that Washington, etc. would lead.

  81. You specifically mentioned per capita income, electricity, and basic services; these by themselves are not measures of poverty.

    They are certainly relevant. Since no support has been provided for the assertion twice as many Iraqis are living in poverty, it’s difficult to know what this refers to. It certainly seems unlikely, given the various improvements in services.

  82. TallDave,

    Where in that link is the issue dealt with?

  83. The Alpha-Centaurions hate our freedoms!

    They’ll just have to get in line.

    ——–

    The number of Iraqis living in absolute poverty has actually increased since 2003!

    Tell us, deadenders, your recommendations for resolving the pesky issue of Iraqi refugees. You proudly boast of your deep dedication to the Iraqis’ pursuit of happiness. How many slots have you opened up for immigration to America?

  84. So how does it feel to know that Iraq is about as free as Morocco (a semi-absolute monarchy) and the Palestinian territories (half kleptocracy, half Islamic emirate)?

  85. The Badrists have mostly joined the government and cut ties with Iran.

    Well, 1 out of 2 isn’t bad.

    Sadr’s people, otoh, still have extensive Iranian backing. The nationalist Sadrists have the least Iranian backing of any Shiite group, including the Malaki government.

    I don’t know where people get the idea we can’t discuss Iraq reasonably. Reasonable people can, amongst ourselves. The interjection of people who keep yammering about turning corners, lights in tunnels, and other meaningless buzzwords, on the other hand, doesn’t improve the level of discourse.

  86. TallDave,

    They may be relevant, but they do not measure it.

    It certainly seems unlikely, given the various improvements in services.

    Actually, depending the distribution of those improvements, the doubling of such could indeed be the case. See, that’s the problem with an average; and average tells you nothing about the distribution of a particular thing.

  87. Iraqi unemployment is about 60%, and has been for years.

  88. Calidore,

    Sure, I’m just making the point that any new democratic republic is probably going to have a military formed out of what were previously militias.

    Also, as far as I know, the state militias were not used as the platform to create the professional army that Washington, etc. would lead.

    Actually, they were. Where else could the new nation find men of military age and training?

  89. Iraqi unemployment is about 60%, and has been for years.

    And they have a budget surplus. A surplus!

  90. So, TallDave, the next time we have an Israel thread I guess you’ll say the Palestinian territories are a “democratic republic”?

  91. The nationalist Sadrists have the least Iranian backing of any Shiite group, including the Malaki government.

    What are you basing this statement on? Sadr is reportedly in Iran, and the military is constantly reporting they find Sadrists with Iranian weapons and Iranian advisors.

    Maliki and SCII don’t need Iran, they have their own oil money.

  92. Cesar,

    Since we are dealing with predictions, etc. it seems to me a useful exercise is to ask which will be the more successful nation twenty years hence – Iraq or Iran? For all its problems it seems to me that the answer (based on current trends, etc.) is probably Iran.

  93. Calidore call it a feeling but I have a hunch Iran (probably along with Israel) will be a piece of radioactive slag in 20 years.

    The Middle East is either going to wake up, or be irradiated by the crazies.

  94. Iraqi unemployment is about 60%, and has been for years.

    It’s difficult to measure, but is generally estimated at between 27-40%.

    http://www.brookings.edu/saban/~/media/Files/Centers/Saban/Iraq%20Index/index.pdf

    p41

    Cesar, the surplus that has you so excited is the result of a budget process that was done when oil was cheaper. The gov’t budget is heavily dependent on oil prices.

  95. Ok Dave, so why are they just sitting on it when their country desperately needs money?

    Or maybe they can help fund the war we are fighting for them?

    Or at least we can LOAN them the money instead of GIVING it away?

  96. TallDave . . . so tell us . . . when will we get out of Iraq? How long do you think we should stay? And . . . did you happen to read Pat Buchanan’s article yesterday about Petraeus and Iraq. If not, I highly recommend that you do. I do not always agree with the man . . . but he is spot-on with his assesment.

  97. TallDave,

    While some of the personnel came from the state militias (indeed, in the initial phase of its creation the vast bulk of them), the Continental Army itself was created by the Congress.

  98. Ok Dave, so why are they just sitting on it when their country desperately needs money?

    Because that would require a new budget, and they are barely able to spend the original budget.

    The Iraqi gov’t has had some difficulty spending the money because transparency and accountability is such a new concept for Iraq. They spent much of last year determining the procedures by which money would be disbursed. Now some large projects are starting to get off the ground.

  99. Now some large projects are starting to get off the ground.

    You mean Malakis Swiss bank account? Because thats probably where a good portion of the money is going.

    Thats what happened in the Palestinian territories, you know, that other free democratic western government in the Middle East.

  100. Do you think, Dave, they should have to pay us back the costs of the occupation at some point?

    Or should they just get a free ride courtesy of the American taxpayer?

  101. TallDave . . . so tell us . . . when will we get out of Iraq?

    When it is stable. I would guess this will take a few years, with us taking a smaller and smaller piece of a smaller and smaller combat mission. The Iraqi Army gets a little stronger every month, and the militias and AQ get a little weaker.

    How long do you think we should stay?

  102. TallDave,

    According to the note at the bottom of that page depending on who you ask it is anywhere between 25% and 48%. Further, the report’s own numbers on the matter have had a range of 25%-40% since November 2005. Clearly, on the employment front little has changed for a few years now.

  103. “How long do you think we should stay?”

    Maybe 100 years, 1,000 years, or 10,000 years.

  104. TallDave,

    BTW, given the level of unemployment there it is not surprising that it is easy to hire people to plant roadside bombs.

  105. TallDave,

    What does it mean for Iraq to be stable exactly?

  106. Do you think, Dave, they should have to pay us back the costs of the occupation at some point?

    It’s nice we’ve gone from arguing whether American troops are the problem to whether Iraqis should be so grateful for their presence that they actually pay us.

    But to answer your question, yes I think at some point it would be nice in a symbolic way if they chipped in for the ongoing training.

  107. TallDave, given the Iraqis’ penchant for wantonly killing each other along ethno-sectarian lines, do you really think the country can be stabilised? I say this as someone who sympathizes with your arguments but finds it difficult to maintain any optimism with regard to this situation.

  108. What does it mean for Iraq to be stable exactly?

    It’s a good question, and one that Obama, to his credit, seemed to make a real, honest attempt to address yesterday.

    I think when the Iraqi Army can handle its own logistics and civilian deaths are consistently under ~500/mo that will probably be close enough to stable that we can transition to a purely overwatch and training posture.

  109. TallDave,

    So not right now since civilian casualities are now over ~500 a month again.

  110. the military is constantly reporting they find Sadrists with Iranian weapons and Iranian advisors.

    That’s nice. When are we going to get a look at these weapons and prisoners. If I remember correctly, the last weapons dog-and-pony show was canceled midway through.

  111. Anyway, given that so many who support the war argue that history will justify the war I will remain skeptical of its benefits until history does justify it.

  112. TallDave, given the Iraqis’ penchant for wantonly killing each other along ethno-sectarian lines, do you really think the country can be stabilised?

    Yes, because I think it has more to do with seizing power and wealth than sectarian philosophy or ethnic identity per se. Ethnosectarian groups were just natural groupings by which cliques could form to do so. Democracy will tend to reduce those tensions by equitably distributing power and wealth and creating consensus, as we saw this week with Maliki turning on Sadr with the support of Sunnis and Kurds.

  113. TallDave, So not right now since civilian casualities are now over ~500 a month again.

    Yes, and even more so because the Iraqi Army still has lots of logistical difficulties. Lots of teeth, but not enough tail.

  114. TallDave,

    Democracy will tend to reduce those tensions by equitably distributing power and wealth and creating consensus, as we saw this week with Maliki turning on Sadr with the support of Sunnis and Kurds.

    Is that really democracy in action or something else?

  115. BTW, given the level of unemployment there it is not surprising that it is easy to hire people to plant roadside bombs.

  116. Dave I’m not talking about “chipping in” and being “Grateful”. I mean holding their feet to the fire and making them pay us back whether they like it or not.

  117. TallDave, BTW, given the level of unemployment there it is not surprising that it is easy to hire people to plant roadside bombs.

    Yes, in the conference calls with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams I have heard that exact point made many times. That’s why they’re trying to get them into small businesses with micro-loans, working on reconstruction projects, and other more productive activities for which they can be paid.

  118. Since we are dealing with predictions, etc. it seems to me a useful exercise is to ask which will be the more successful nation twenty years hence – Iraq or Iran? For all its problems it seems to me that the answer (based on current trends, etc.) is probably Iran.

    Unless McCain has his way and we “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” It’s the neo-con’s plan to make sure they’re right about Iran being hopeless.

  119. Cesar,

    That is unlikely ever to happen. Unless the Iraqi economy undertakes a dramatic upturn in the next few decades that is. Does anyone anticipate some sort of post-war economic miracle?

    TallDave,

    Yet unemployment there remains at a “stable,” yet high level.

  120. That page hasn’t been updated. Most sources agree 12 of the 18 have been met.

    Hasn’t been updated?!?! It is dated April 7, 2008! Is there a new version that was published today to take into account major accomplishments that happened when the Iraqi parliament pulled all-nighters on Monday and Tuesday?

  121. To be a good libertarian we must support liberty in Iraq. If that means enslaving american workers with higher taxes then so be it, any cost is worth it! I know some of the anti-semites, isolationist and violently anti-war traders are pointing out that 2007 had the highest death toll of any year yet in this war…but this huge decline in violence is a hard fact. The great americans Bush and Petraus and MCCaina dn all serious thinkers agree, even Hillary Clinton. Al Qaeda is getting weaker everyday, reports are that the membership is down from 110,000 in 2007 to 107,000 in 2008. While we still have some work to get all the way down to 2001 levels of 59….we are well on our way.

    Thanks to the new loan 2 trillion dollars in loans we have acquired from China and Russia and Saudi Arabia our battle against anti-democratic countries is a rousing success.

    The best news is that our economy is strong. Our great bipartisian leaders who have billions in Military Industrial Complex stock have seen profits quadruple sine we began this war on terror. Sure some of the populist idiots in Ohio have lost their grease monkey jobs, but we will install new social prorams to help the less cosmopolitan adjust to a world economy.

    In the interest of the morons who worked in rust belt industries we are ramping up the war on drugs again as this will put create great new job markets for snitches, gun confiscators and taser manufacturing. These innovative new growth industries will lead us into the future.

  122. That’s nice. When are we going to get a look at these weapons and prisoners. If I remember correctly, the last weapons dog-and-pony show was canceled midway through.

    There are reports every few days. It happens so often, they have a name for them: the “special groups.” More than a few military officers have made reference to them.

    Here’s a couple from this past Monday and Friday.

    http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18235&Itemid=128

    http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18111&Itemid=128

    And a list of hundreds of them:

    http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?searchword=iranian&option=com_search&Itemid=

  123. It wouldn’t be an Iraq thread without you, TallDave. It’s almost like this war has given you a reason for living.

  124. Hasn’t been updated?!?! It is dated April 7, 2008! Is there a new version that was published today to take into account major accomplishments that happened when the Iraqi parliament pulled all-nighters on Monday and Tuesday?

    That’s the date for the overall document. Note that the as-of date for the benchmarks is March 19th.

    For instance, they still say the provincial elections were vetoed. That veto was lifted some time ago.

    Also, those are not the official benchmarks, of which there are 18. Those 11 are benchmarks created by the authors of the document.

    Here’s a good roundup:

    http://frankwarner.typepad.com/free_frank_warner/2008/04/12-of-iraqs-18.html

  125. It wouldn’t be an Iraq thread without you, TallDave. It’s almost like this war has given you a reason for living.

    Not war, freedom. I have this weird attachment to it.

    Silly, I know.

  126. TallDave,

    I didn’t see anything in the first two links regarding a link between Sadr and Iranian weapons, personnel, etc. Is there some language that I am missing? If so, please quote it.

  127. Yet unemployment there remains at a “stable,” yet high level.

    Again, no one really knows.

    It’s certainly lower now than in 2006 in many Sunni areas. All the shops in Anbar are open again.

    I would suggest reading Michael Totten’s Fallujah visit for a feel of how much better the economic situation is there.

    http://www.michaeltotten.com

  128. Calidore,

    The first link mentions Sadr specifically.

    “Coalition forces will continue to seek out suspected criminals who threaten the peace and security of Iraqi citizens,” said Cmdr. Scott Rye, MNF-I spokesman. “We will not tolerate those who choose to defy the cease-fire pledge of al-Sayyid Moqtada al-Sadr,”

    Anytime you see a mention of “Special Groups” they are typically referring to Sadrists, rogue or sanctioned.

  129. Does anyone anticipate some sort of post-war economic miracle?

    The IMF is predicting 7% growth, iirc. The World Bank is predicting growth in the low teens.

  130. ya to me and Talldave this isn’t a war….this is freedom.

    War would be if we had to go fight. You see we car SO SO much about freedom that we want lots of other people to go shoot each other and we want to force the selfish american workers to fund it. I know they just want to enjoy freedom, but sometimes I hate those selfish, rotten isolationist so much that I kinda enjoy having them pay higher taxes to fund these freedom campaigns.

    How can you enjoy your new freedom that is coming if you don’t pay more in taxes, no pain no gain.

    The other part of this war for freedom that you don’t understand is that the more we borrow from China, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the more free your children will be as well!

  131. wow the IMF and WOrld bank are anticipating huge growth?!? maybe we can get the Iraqi people to take out some loans to construction projects through Bechtel based ont hose growth estimates….then if they can’t quite make the payments we might have to increase taxes on the Iraqi working class later…but they’ll be so free they won’t care if we raise taxes to 80%!!! now that is freedom all libertarians can appreciate!

  132. Freedom is Iraqis voting and forming hundreds of free newspapers, radio and TC stations, freedom to own telephones and computers and cell phones and generators, freedom to have political parties and talk about politics without the government having you maimed or killed for disrespecting their leaders.

  133. Freedom is getting the identical rating on the freedom index as Palestine!

  134. They’ve certainly moved up since being under Hussein.

  135. For instance, they still say the provincial elections were vetoed. That veto was lifted some time ago.

    Do you even read the stuff that you claim support your views? “February 2008: Parliament passed legislation outlining provincial powers that calls for elections by October 1, 2008. After originally being vetoed by the presidency council, it was approved March 2008.

  136. freedom is being a sunni who gets his whole vilalge rounded up and executed for having the same last name as a insurgent. Then having Petraus brag about how there is less sunni violence so it is a huge succes.

  137. TallDave,

    Again, no one really knows.

    I am using the link that you provided after all, and drawing conclusions based on that. Earliar you stated that it was “difficult to measure.” Is it now impossible to measure?

    Anbar has a fairly small population right? The vast majority of the population lives elsewhere in otherwords. Therefore anecdotal observations of how business is doing there probably isn’t a good proxy for the rest of the nation.

  138. Also, it’s probably worth noting they are ahead of 16 other Arab countries in that index — including Kuwait, which isn’t normally regarded as oppressive.

  139. Freedom is having my taxes increase while Bush tells me they are falling.

  140. TallDave Kuwait is an absolute monarchy with a rubber-stamp parliament and penalties for commiting crimes such as public floggings.

    We don’t regard them as oppressive because we like trading with them.

  141. TallDave,

    Well, the quoted language is mentioning those who are going against the ceasefire; which presumably on its face means that they are opposed to Sadr’s command about the ceasefire. That of course gets into the murky details of exactly what is going on in the Sadr organization.

    As for the second, does “Special Groups” always refer to Sadrists, sometimes, half of the time or what?

  142. But I’ll remember that rating to the next Israel thread, don’t worry.

    Hey, I even hear the Palestinians have elections too!

    Freedom!

  143. I am using the link that you provided after all, and drawing conclusions based on that. Earliar you stated that it was “difficult to measure.” Is it now impossible to measure?

    Well, we can probably say with some certainty it is more than 10% and less than 50%. It’s difficult to measure, as the link says:

    “There is an inherent difficulty in measuring the Iraqi rate of unemployment over time. Considering the increase in entrepreneurial
    activity after the end of the war, we have for the purposes of this database assumed that there has been an improvement in unemployment levels, and hence weighted information supporting such a conclusion heavier than contradictory data reports. N/A= Not available”

    Anbar has a fairly small population right? The vast majority of the population lives elsewhere in otherwords.

    Anbar is sparsely populated but large. I want to say it’s 1-2 million people but don’t remember for sure. It probably had the highest unemployment of any area in 2004 – 2006.

    Baghdad is also much more peaceful and probably has considerably lower unemployment due to resumed commerce.

  144. TallDave,

    Given the miserable shape of the current Iraqi economy 7% growth does not by itself portend an “economic miracle.”

    Freedom is Iraqis … forming hundreds of free newspapers, radio and TC stations…

    I’ve noted this before because it is important to realize that vast swaths of the reporters in Iraq have either been killed or have to had to flee into exile.

    …free to have political parties and talk about politics without the government having you maimed or killed for disrespecting their leaders.

    Have the government death squads stopped operating in Iraq yet?

  145. TallDave Kuwait is an absolute monarchy with a rubber-stamp parliament and penalties for commiting crimes such as public floggings.

    So for the area, you can see Iraq is fairly enlightened. A long way to go, but a great deal of progress from 2002.

    As for the second, does “Special Groups” always refer to Sadrists, sometimes, half of the time or what?

    The military seems to think the majority are Sadrists or Sadrist splinter groups.

  146. TallDave,

    Its a rather simple point; does the survey state between November of 2005 and today that the rate of unemployment has held steady somewhere between 25% and 40% or not?

  147. Given the miserable shape of the current Iraqi economy 7% growth does not by itself portend an “economic miracle.”

    I didn’t say it was. I just stated the facts as known.

    I’ve noted this before because it is important to realize that vast swaths of the reporters in Iraq have either been killed or have to had to flee into exile.

    True, they have a long way to go. But some press freedom is better than the none they had under Saddam.

  148. TallDave,

    In other words, “Special Groups” can refer to non-Sadrists, Sadrists and former Sadrists? Right? If so, then the folks mentioned in the link could in fact not be or no longer be associated with Sadr. Not that I think Sadr is a great guy or anything.

  149. Its a rather simple point; does the survey state between November of 2005 and today that the rate of unemployment has held steady somewhere between 25% and 40% or not?

    It’s not a survey, it’s an estimate, but yes that is what it says.

    The actual unemployment rate has almost certainly dropped between 2005 and now, given the better security conditions.

  150. TallDave,

    Looks like to me, provided the link that you brought to this, that the economic situation hasn’t gotten better in Iraq from an employment perspective since November 2005.

  151. Talldave, do you not see the slightest little problem in insisting that increasing the tax burden on current and future americans = Increasing freedom?

  152. In other words, “Special Groups” can refer to non-Sadrists, Sadrists and former Sadrists?

    Well, the distinction between “Sadrist” and “former Sadrist” is pretty vague, which is why you keep seeing the references to Sadr when they arrest Iranians and Iranian-backed groups.

    http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17030&Itemid=128

    “The people of Iraq are standing up to those who refuse to honor al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr’s ceasefire pledge,” said Col. Bill Buckner, MNC-I spokesman. “We will continue to work with local citizens and Iraqi security forces to identify these criminal elements and bring them to justice.”

  153. Looks like to me, provided the link that you brought to this, that the economic situation hasn’t gotten better in Iraq from an employment perspective since November 2005.

    Well, to believe that you would have assume a better security situation did not lead to more employment, which seems unlikely. Every time we clear and hold a neighborhood, all the shops open up again.

  154. Can you not admit that it is a subjective judgement as to weather the resulting decreased freedom in this country is greater/lesser important to total world freedom than the speculated increased freedom in Iraq.

    For instance it is subjective judgement to determine whether the “do as I say not as I do” methodology(the Talldave method) of spreading freedom is more or less effective than the lead by example method of spreading freedom(the non-interventionist method). Do you not even see this as being a big question….your rehtoric seems to make the assumption that this determination doesn’t even have to be made.

    Given that there are still some libertarians around here it should come as a surprise that we don’t really trust the government to spread freedom(via a military and corrupt contractors) with our money as efficiently as individuals, entrepreneurs will spread freedom (via the lead by example method).

    Essentially, you are making the “trust in government” argument. It is fine if you are a commie and wish to make that argument, but don’t pretend that your a libertarian of any sort.

  155. Gabe, Tall Dave is a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, so it doesn’t really matter if you tell him this.

  156. Gabe,

    As in past wars, a little less freedom for us, a lot more more for others.

    Anyways, the top 1% of taxpayers pay around half of taxes (about as much as the bottom 95%), so I’m not too worried about it.

  157. TallDave | April 9, 2008, 2:27pm | #
    “Every time we clear and hold a neighborhood, all the shops open up again.”

    Sure sometimes it is the orphans and widows reopening the shops, but they are reopening. You can’t expect the survivors to just hide in their closets and starve. They may lack the accounting or business experience of their now dead sons and fathers….but of course they reopen the shops.

  158. talldave, your understanding of the top 1% of taxpayers seems pretty limited. My family is in the top 1%(for the first time this year)…however we are nowhere close to the wealthiest one percent. The Dick Cheney’s, David Rockefellers, Bush seniors, Clintons, Gates, Buffets, Soros, Jamie Dimon’s etc…they all have tax free foundations, non-profit gigs lavish fringe benefits, off the books income, company cars, condos, savvy accountants, lawyers and actual political power that aids in avoiding IRS audits.

    Even though our family income put us(just barely) in the top 1% of income for one year our net worth is still firmly in the middle class….so those taxes are aimed squarely at me…I guess I can see why your not worried kinda like your not worried about dying in the war. I guess that you still don’t see how your a ridiculous hippocrite.

  159. “Top 1%” is a liberal canard. It sounds like that would be millionaires, but it really means those making $200,000 or more. Those are small business owners, folks, not CEOs.

  160. I’m not seeing how you come to the conculsion that 1 million dead iraqis = a lot more freedom for iraqi’s….mostly I see you and your friends saying that 1 million dead iraqi’s = fewer problematic brown people.

  161. Cesar,
    Your right as long as your including neo-cons in your definition of “liberal”. Even a cosmotarian like Greenspan uses this rehtorical trick. You know the type that says socialism has lost the battle. While not even mentioning the attack on property rights he led as the head of a comission to double our payroll taxes.

    OR Bush talking about his great tax cuts while ignoring that the new payroll tax cap has increased from 70k to 102k the last few years.

  162. Top 1%. $364657. 39.38.

    I don’t weep for their lost freedoms.

    I’m not seeing how you come to the conculsion that 1 million dead iraqis = a lot more freedom for iraqi’s….

    Are you similarly confused about how millions of dead Europeans led to more freedom when we invaded Europe?

    Also, a million is a bit of an exaggeration, and the imputation of bloodthirsty racism was uncalled for.

  163. I weep for the lost jobs they could’ve created, or the things they could’ve invested in, rather than having it shipped to some corrupt Middle Eastern government.

  164. Gabe liberals use that the most though, though for different things.

    Though all things considered, I’d rather be robbed and have the money be given to a drifter thats too lazy to get a job than be robbed and have the money used to blow up foreigners.

  165. “Though all things considered, I’d rather be robbed and have the money be given to a drifter thats too lazy to get a job than be robbed and have the money used to blow up foreigners.”

    I agree Cesar.

    Talldave, we could have used that money to pay off debts from grad school and my wife or I would have been more able to skip work more days to spend with the kids…spreading love and knowledge…making better meals or maybe causing fewer health problems for my wife….so fuck you with your racist, islam killing, fake republican shit about how taking our money is spreading freedom.

    If you knew anything about WW1 you’d know that those millions of dead europeans did nothing but fund a bunch morgan, warburg, rothchild and rockefeller vacation villas and lead to millions more being killed 20 years later.

  166. Talldave:
    “Also, a million is a bit of an exaggeration, and the imputation of bloodthirsty racism was uncalled for.”

    your wrong talldave: explanation of death count:
    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq/iraqdeaths.html

    I also think the imputation of bloodthirsty racism is called for after you imply that we are against freedom ignore the killing of 1 million Iraqis then openly claim that you have no moral problem advocating that Halliburton take money from my children. Hell, if I saw you taking money from my kid and you told me that it was just I’d have no moral problem ending your life….possibly a physical problem, a fear of imprisonment, but no moral problem.

  167. Is anybody else thinking,”TallDave: your tax dollars at work.”?

  168. Also, a million is a bit of an exaggeration, and the imputation of bloodthirsty racism was uncalled for.

    He just calls them like he sees them. “Rubble doesn’t cause trouble” -John Derbyshire

  169. TallDave,

    Well, to believe that you would have assume a better security situation did not lead to more employment, which seems unlikely.

    Why would better security necessarily lead to more employment? Mere security is not sufficient for economic growth, increased employment, etc. It may be a necessary condition but it isn’t a sufficient one in other words. Which is of course why 1970s Poland may have been a “secure” place, but it did not see a lot of economic growth.

    Well, the distinction between “Sadrist” and “former Sadrist” is pretty vague, which is why you keep seeing the references to Sadr when they arrest Iranians and Iranian-backed groups.

    That seems to undermine definitive claims about Sadr being supplied by the Iranians then.

    Anyways, the top 1% of taxpayers pay around half of taxes (about as much as the bottom 95%), so I’m not too worried about it.

    Which says nothing about the relative tax burden and loss of freedom by the rest of the population. Indeed, we could see in such a case a dramatic loss of freedom for the overall population.

    Cesar,

    Well, that is the “oppurtunity cost” of the war.

  170. I am really sick of hearing about–and from–this fucker. Pavlovian slobbering over the military is just as embarrassing as any other kind.

  171. “””Are you similarly confused about how millions of dead Europeans led to more freedom when we invaded Europe?”””

    By that standard, we could have given Europe the most freedom possible by killing them all.

  172. “””The Iraqi Army gets a little stronger every month, and the militias and AQ get a little weaker.”””

    Their legs get stronger from running away. But you’re missing the bigger reality. The security gains in some of the worst parts are not attributed to the Iraqi Army, but the Awakening militias. Bottom line, militias are still in control, if the Awakening groups decide to go against the Iraqi army, the Iraqi army will get their assess handed to them.

    Sure things are better this year (so far) than last year. That’s not much success. Let me know when things are better than when Saddam ruled. Wasn’t that the point of the whole ordeal? To make life better than under Saddams rule.

  173. Withdrawal doesn’t work. May as well just keep it in there as long as you can.

  174. Episiarch | April 9, 2008, 8:34am | #

    More like six more years.

    It seems the Democrats are incapable of doing anything against Bush’s wishes even with Congressional majorities. Way to fulfill a “mandate”.

    As a practical matter, it is impossible for a party in Congress with less than a veto-proof majority in both houses, and not even a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, to stop an existing war that started before they took power if the President is willing to go to the mat to continue it, which Bush is. There are a wide variety of legal and semi-legal means Bush can use to continue the war, even if Congress out and out didn’t fund it. For example, Bush would veto any Defense budget that didn’t contain Iraq war funding. Which would result as a partial government shut down of the entire armed forces. Well, except for an emergency or national security spending, which is all of the Defense budget. That funding would continue under the previous year’s budget until Bush signs a bill, under current law. Any attempt to change that law would also be vetoed.

    The way to stop the war is to elect an anti-war President, that is, Obama (or even Clinton, although she’s going to lose the nomination so who cares).

  175. TallDave: Why is American freedom in the form of wasted tax dollars and people’s lives less important than Iraqi freedom?

  176. TallDave | April 9, 2008, 1:02pm | #
    …The Iraqi gov’t has had some difficulty spending the money because transparency and accountability is such a new concept for Iraq…

    Such a responsible government; where can we get one like that?

  177. your wrong talldave: explanation of death count:

    The generally accepted number is tens of thousands, and most of them were killed by terrorists, not U.S. forces.

    “””Are you similarly confused about how millions of dead Europeans led to more freedom when we invaded Europe?””” By that standard, we could have given Europe the most freedom possible by killing them all.

    No, the point of invading Europe was to free it, not to kill Europeans. It’s a tragic cost, not a goal.

    Their legs get stronger from running away.

    They did not run away. Sadr’s people did. The IA still patrols the streets of Basra while the Sadrists were ordered indoors.

    Why would better security necessarily lead to more employment?

    Again, every time we clear an area all the shops and businesses open up again. It happens.

    Let me know when things are better than when Saddam ruled.

    They are, and have been for some time. Under Saddam things were far, far worse. An average of 7,000 people a month died, there was half as much electricity, GDP per capita was half what it is now, no elections, no free press, no right of assembly, no free speech… I could go on.

  178. TallDave: Why is American freedom in the form of wasted tax dollars and people’s lives less important than Iraqi freedom?

    One could ask the same of Europe, or South Korea. If you think the horrors of Auschwitz, Halabja, and Pyongyang are someone else’s problem and not our business, you might well view it all as a waste.

  179. That seems to undermine definitive claims about Sadr being supplied by the Iranians then.

    Sure, it’s not cut-and-dried, but there’s a definite proximity there. Sadr will disavow groups that publicly attack IA/US forces, but they always seem to be Sadrists, and they seem to hide indoors when he tells them to, as happened in Basra.

    Quoth USA today:

    That intra-Shiite competition is likely to continue – sometimes violently – regardless of whether the Iraqi government and its U.S. backers force al-Sadr to disband his Mahdi Army militia or not. In military parlance, the term “special groups” refers to presumed breakaway Mahdi factions whose main sponsor is Iran.

    The role of the “special groups” remains unclear. U.S. officials say they are breakaway factions of the Mahdi Army that no longer take orders from al-Sadr.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2008-04-10-iraq-strategy_N.htm?csp=34

  180. so fuck you with your racist, islam killing, fake republican shit about how taking our money is spreading freedom.

    I don’t know where anyone gets the idea we can’t discuss Iraq reasonably.

  181. Of course, that’s why I get for trying to talk reasonably with a Troofer. Sigh.

  182. “”””””Are you similarly confused about how millions of dead Europeans led to more freedom when we invaded Europe?””” By that standard, we could have given Europe the most freedom possible by killing them all.

    No, the point of invading Europe was to free it, not to kill Europeans. It’s a tragic cost, not a goal.”””

    That’s not what you said. You equated the level of death directly to the level of freedom.

    But you do hit a vaild point. The purpose of invading Europe was to free, it wasn’t about providing Europe with security. Iraq is free now. We should let the Iraqis handle their own counrty. If they can’t, that’s their problem that they need to apply their resouces to solve.

    We do not have to shoulder their problems as if they are our own.

    To apply Gen Powell’s Pottery Barn analogy. You break it, you fix it. Sure we broke a few things, but we don’t want to admit that it’s the Pottery Barn owner’s kids are totally trashing their own store, and sending us the bill.

  183. “””They did not run away. Sadr’s people did. The IA still patrols the streets of Basra while the Sadrists were ordered indoors.””

    In your dreams.

    The contrary was widely reported.

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