Foreign Policy

Ending Something or Other In Iraq

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As noted in Hit and Run's "Morning Links," Obama has made a firm promise to end the military effort in Iraq, thus meaning only 50,000 American troops need to stay. Some perspectives that take our president a little less seriously than he'd like us to, first from the New York Times:

The [death] toll [in Iraq] Tuesday — 26 dead in 8 attacks — was not spectacular for Iraq, where hundreds of people still die each month. But it came amid growing fears that insurgents are regrouping in Baghdad, Diyala, Falluja and elsewhere, eager to capitalize on the prospect of American troops leaving and the dysfunction of a political class that has yet to agree on an Iraqi government, nearly five months after voters went to the polls….

Saud al-Saadi, an eloquent and informed teacher in Sadr City, was aware [that Obama vowed the military effort would be ending]. But, he said, he had heard such pronouncements before, declarations of turning points in America's experience here that seemed to hew to the logic of American politics. The American occupation was declared over before the 2004 presidential election. The two countries signed strategic agreements weeks before the Bush administration ended.

"But until now, to tell you the truth, we haven't grasped our sovereignty," Mr. Saadi said. "There are still American troops here, they still raid houses, we don't have a government that makes its own decisions and the American ambassador still interferes."

And Gareth Porter at Raw Story (originally from IPS News) gives a completely different spin to Obama's announcement of an end in sight in Iraq:

Obama declared in a speech to disabled U.S. veterans in Atlanta that "America's combat mission in Iraq" would end by the end of August, to be replaced by a mission of "supporting and training Iraqi security forces".

That statement was in line with the pledge he had made on Feb. 27, 2009, when he said, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."

In the sentence preceding that pledge, however, he had said, "I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months." Obama said nothing in his speech Monday about withdrawing "combat brigades" or "combat troops" from Iraq until the end of 2011.

Even the concept of "ending the U.S. combat mission" may be highly misleading, much like the concept of "withdrawing U.S. combat brigades" was in 2009.

Under the administration's definition of the concept, combat operations will continue after August 2010, but will be defined as the secondary role of U.S. forces in Iraq. The primary role will be to "advise and assist" Iraqi forces.

An official who spoke with IPS on condition that his statements would be attributed to a "senior administration official" acknowledged that the 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq beyond the deadline will have the same combat capabilities as the combat brigades that have been withdrawn.

The official also acknowledged that the troops will engage in some combat but suggested that the combat would be "mostly" for defensive purposes.

That language implied that there might be circumstances in which U.S. forces would carry out offensive operations as well.

NEXT: Hey Look! $10 Billion in Highway Money!

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  1. Aren’t we on the second or third Obama timeline for withdrawal there? I seem to remember one pre-2009. They are all adaptations of the Bush plan anyway. Hark! One Bush version is quoted:

    In the sentence preceding that pledge, however, he had said, “I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months.” Obama said nothing in his speech Monday about withdrawing “combat brigades” or “combat troops” from Iraq until the end of 2011.

    He was a lot bolder in the campaign, when he was running against Bush and beat someone else.

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  3. There can’t be anyone who is surprised by this; not even his starry-eyed supporters.

    The GOP won’t hammer on him for it because they support having forces in Iraq, and the Dems won’t hammer him for it because he’s their guy. His supporters won’t hammer on him for it because it’ll expose them as the fucking morons they are, and anyone who remains won’t hammer him on it because it’s apparent that no one else cares any more.

    Alright then, let’s move on to the next thing he has completely failed to deliver and give it the same treatment! This is great!

    1. “The GOP won’t hammer on him for it because they support having forces in Iraq, and the Dems won’t hammer him for it because he’s their guy. His supporters won’t hammer on him for it because it’ll expose them as the fucking morons they are, and anyone who remains won’t hammer him on it because it’s apparent that no one else cares any more.”

      That about sums up Obama’s presidency for me

    2. “The GOP won’t hammer on him for it because they support having forces in Iraq, and the Dems won’t hammer him for it because he’s their guy. His supporters won’t hammer on him for it because it’ll expose them as the fucking morons they are, and anyone who remains won’t hammer him on it because it’s apparent that no one else cares any more.”

      That about sums up Obama’s presidency for me

    3. I plan to hammer him regularly.

      1. That’s because you’re a top.

        “What’s a power bottom?”

        “A power bottom is a bottom that is capable of receiving an enormous amount of power.”

    4. The GOP won’t hammer on him for it because they support having forces in Iraq, and the Dems won’t hammer him for it because he’s their guy. His supporters won’t hammer on him for it because it’ll expose them as the fucking morons they are, and anyone who remains won’t hammer him on it because it’s apparent that no one else cares any more.

      I guess it’s up to me then.

      You fucking morons, we still have combat troops in Iraq. Fifty thousand of them. This is affirmed by no less an authority than Joe “bucket of warm spit” Biden.

      In part for that reason, “we’re not leaving behind cooks and quartermasters,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Wednesday in a telephone interview. The bulk of the remaining American troops, he said, “will still be guys who can shoot straight and go get bad guys.”

      That was 5 months ago.

      C’mon you fucking aging hippies, where the hell are the anti-war protests now?

  4. Maybe he meant wombat brigades.

  5. Maybe he meant wombat brigades.

    1. ^$@@^@%@E!$@! double post

  6. A recent poll in Pakistan revealed that 60% of the people still think of the U.S. as an enemy.

    Another poll of locals in Afghanistan conducted by pro-U.S. forces revealed that the majority prefer the Taliban to the current government.

    Although our intentions are laudable, there is just too much ethical and moral ambiguity to warrant the continued presence of U.S. troops in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Let’s be man enough to admit that our efforts at social engineering were not successful.

    1. “Let’s be man enough to admit that our efforts at social engineering were not successful.”

      If only they would do this for every policy.

  7. He is going to save or create the war in Iraq.

    1. That’s 50,000 more jobs he’s saved. Don’t tell me the stimulus isn’t working!

  8. At least we can all agree it’s better than what McCain would be doing.

    1. Keeping troops in Iraq like he said?

      Not sure how keeping troops in Iraq and calling it A and keeping troops in Iraq and calling it B is better?

      Unless you have an inherent version to the term A. Or what you said was sarcasm.

      1. Or what he said was sarcastic.

  9. Even the concept of “ending the U.S. combat mission” may be highly misleading,

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    ———

    TXLimey-
    Any relation to the bike builder?

  10. Paul Krugman gets repeatedly owned by commentators on his own blog.

    1. Best thing i have read in a long time.

      Reason should have a look at this. Tim? Peter?

      1. Pure Awsome

        42.
        Sean
        Florida
        July 24th, 2010
        10:04 am
        Paul Krugman now assures us that “I know what I’m doing with these trend lines.” The protestation is remarkable, and prompts the question:

        Exactly what made PK worry that he is “losing his audience”? With that worry being so great that at 8 PM on a Friday evening, he took time to issue this assurance?

        Well, it might be the response that he got to his graph posted a few hours earlier at:

        http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com

        This graph contradicts middle school geometry (it takes at least two points to make a line).

        It was not just that rjh noted that “these trend lines you are drawing all over the place. Pardon my French, they are complete garbage” (post #4).

        Or that Gray (post 3) noted that “2007 was a bubble year”.

        No, the problem was that similar sentiments were expressed by half of the 41 bloggers (2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 15, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 30, 31, 36, 38, and 39).

        And my personal favorite, Latrina from Louisiana (# 20), who wrote:

        “Who is this guy Sean from Florida? He takes everything that Professor and shreds it, piece by piece. He shouldn’t be allowed to post his comments on this blog since he seems to be winning all the debates. We progressives need to stick together and embellish our talking points without someone from the outside pointing out fallacies in our ideology.”

        http://community.nytimes.com

        PK’s protestation this evening is actually quite useful, as he makes no effort to conceal. He forthrightly tells us that he views the economy as a “machine”. For some reason, “something has gone wrong that causes the machine not to work right”. It is not producing “what it could be producing”. And so, he tells us, Princeton professors and others in the political elite must use the power of government to command the labor of private citizens, through taxes, mandates, penalties, audits, and jail, to “close the gap”. It is, he assures us, for our own good.

        This is, of course, a succinct statement of “progressive” ideology.

        Never mind the arrogance. After all, if the professoriate empowered as benign dictators could set the world right on our behalf, their arrogance might be tolerable.

        However, this “progressive” model of government is profoundly false. There is no “benign dictatorship”. Never has been. Never will be. The human genome does not allow it.

        Further, even if benign, the professoriate is just not that smart.

        PK, for example, does not ask what “went wrong with the machine”. It never enters his mind that what “went wrong” included government destruction of markets (and their valuable pricing information) in housing, through government tax policy that directed too many resources to home ownership, government agencies like Fannie and Freddie who encouraged risky loans and distorted market perception of what was taxpayer-guaranteed and what was not, and the Fed, who kept interest rates too low too long precisely to get the “capacity” that is represented by the 2007 bubble that is now PK’s “trend line”.

        Government incompetence has been on display over the past 12 months in its efforts to “stimulate”, fouling up GM dealerships, cash for clunkers, and home mortgage bailouts, destroying in the process an estimated 100,000 jobs.

        Cronyism and corruption has also been on display, as the Obama administration gives the property of secured creditors to union cronies (which helps freeze credit ever after), politicizes the distribution of loans, and refuses to obey the injunction of the court concerning offshore drilling moratoria, driving jobs-creating rigs to the Congo, which (remarkably) has less political “uncertainty” than the US.

        Further, the economy does not need the professoriate and political elite “to fix things”.

        For example, in 1920, the economy collapsed. Nothing was done to “close the gap” other than cut tax rates. The economy recovered in 18 months.

        PK’s acolytes need to understand what a free economy can do. In the 1980s and 1990s, the US created 73 million new private sector jobs. At the same time, it lost some 44 million jobs as its economy adjusted to changing conditions. That made a net gain of 29 million jobs. A stunning 55 percent of the total workforce in 2000 was in a new job, two-thirds of them in industries that paid more than the average wage.

        In contrast, continental Europe, with a larger economy and workforce, created an estimated 4 million jobs in the same period; most of these were in the public sector.

        Paul Krugman just last week told us that despite this (and the transparent unsustainability of the European social democracies), he wants to make the US like Europe. A VAT. High marginal tax rates on “the rich”. Unsustainable social programs. Involvement of the government in every part of our lives, the “dirigisme” of the EU.

        And Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are giving it to him.

        To a professor who does not know that it takes two points to make a line.

        http://community.nytimes.com/c…..ecommended

        1. Krugman is a regular punching bag here. It’s gotten to the point of almost being too easy.

  11. There can’t be anyone who is surprised by this; not even his starry-eyed supporters.

    The hard core Obamatons have convinced themselves the Ascended One, upon being inaugurated, learned new supersecret intelligence stuff which revealed the dangers of early withdrawal.

    STAY THE COURSE

    1. Steady Red Leader. Steady.

  12. Tea Party racism and gun fanaticism lead to 8 deaths in Connecticut:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/…..y_id=69320

    1. There’s nothing in the article about gun fanaticism or the Tea Party, but that said the article is still ridiculous for trying to make race an issue when he was fired for stealing (on tape no less) from the distributor. There’s no need to try to drum up extra outrage with misleading headlines. I’m glad to see all the comments on the article are ripping the writer as well.

      1. The Tea Party is the largest organization that has been deemed racist by the NAACP. Clearly, when you smell racism you know the Tea Party has been peeing in the corner of someone’s mind.

        1. Dan, it’s like you’re not even trying any more.

  13. Oh, Hobie, that’s so cute.

  14. The last time Gareth Porter gave a “different spin” on a story, he turned the genocide of 3 million Cambodians into an “agrarian paradise”.

  15. The hard core Obamatons have convinced themselves the Ascended One, upon being inaugurated, learned new supersecret intelligence stuff which revealed the dangers of early withdrawal.

    I’ve only heard this once, and I immediately noted the implied syllogism. “Then Bush was always right.” So they bailed on that excuse.
    But it’s not like they need any.

  16. Why doesn’t he just call his policy “Iraqization”? I’m sure it’ll work as well as Vietnamization.

    1. Why doesn’t he swear off having policies and get out of the pool?

      Oh, yeah, I forgot. His trons would loose their hope and faith. Can’t have that going on.

      So, I guess that means we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of ever.

      One of these days Uncle Sam really will run out of money. Then we can just leave all those military people over there in Iraq and Afghanistan. For ever and ever.

      Because it’ll keep the unemployment rate down on the home front.

      See, Obama really does have a plan to reduce unemployment. All of America’s unemployed will now be “advising” Iraqi “security” forces. And taking surveys in Afghanistan to see what the f*** people really think and feel about Americans over there.

  17. Seriously, does anyone understand what makes Obama, or anyone in Congress, afraid to just pull the plug and get out of Iraq or Afghanistan, either one?

    By this point it seems the majority is in favor of getting out, even on the Right (or am I wrong about this?). So what’s causing the paralysis?

    Of course, what the majority wants has no bearing on what the current Congress does. This is how they bring us hope, and change, and a bright new Eurosocialist Day.

    Complete with Eurosocialist style wars. Or rather, the types of wars Europe would fight, if only they could still afford wars on top of their other Eurosocialist budget problems.

    The next time a “progressive” spouts the “we need to become more like western Europe” line, I need to remind them that western Europe has been fighting really stupid wars for a lot longer than we have. I for one can’t wait until we’ve matched them in this category. Because in spite of Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d say we’re still just not up to western European standards in the stupid war category.

    1. I don’t think there’s a majority in favor of letting the Taliban have Afghanistan back, complete with open AQ training camps. There’s still a big hole in the NYC skyline.

      1. Well….

        I’m a long way from being a pacifist, and tend to favor military options sooner than most libertarians.

        But my beef with all of this is, look at what’s going on. The Taliban can pull back into Pakistan whenever we make life too rough for them. And we don’t quite dare invade Pakistan overtly.

        Nor is it clear that we could wipe out the Taliban even if we did.

        I agree with you, I’m not thrilled about letting the Taliban have Afghanistan back again. But what’s the alterantive? A permanent US military venture in Afghanistan?

        That doesn’t seem like a good option either.

        Show me a viable military option and I’d probably get on board with it. But I don’t believe what we’re doing now will accomplish more than delay the inevitable. Besides costing us a whole lotta lot.

        The situation in Iraq differs only in detail, the issue there is with Iran.

  18. “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

    Let me say this as plainly as I can: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

    Continuing to study Obamaese …

  19. The [death] toll [in Iraq] Tuesday ? 26 dead in 8 attacks ? was not spectacular for Iraq, where hundreds of people still die each month.

    The homocide rate is not that unsual for most countries at Iraq’s size and GDP per capita. Since 2008 Venezuela, for instance, has been considerably more violent than Iraq, but that doesn’t get as many headlines.

    http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/139351.pdf

    http://mondediplo.com/2010/08/07venezuela

    That comes to 25/100K for Iraq in 2008, and 17/100K in 2009, while Venezuela’s homicide rate is at least 48/100K, and arguably as high as 70/100K.

  20. He that can bear a reproof,and mend by it,if he is not wise,is in a fair way of being so.

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