Iraq

Iraq Is a Terrible Place to Succumb to Sunken Costs Fallacy

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This will not fix Iraq.
Credit: Beverly & Pack / photo on flickr

When they say "The first casualty of war is truth" (source: nebulous, but often misattributed to Aeschylus), we may tend to assume the public's trust is what's being slaughtered in the justifications for war. But let's not forget how misguided foreign wars like our misadventures in Iraq sold the same lies to the men and women who actually put their lives on the line in the military.

As the slow collapse of Iraq that has actually been happening for months has sped up this past week, media outlets headed out to capture the certain non-plussedness of veterans who served rotations there. Yes, there's bitterness. We've certainly heard about it before, but it's getting another airing given the current situation. Here's The Boston Globe:

"I'm not surprised that this is happening. I think it was somewhat inevitable," said Chris Lessard, a 36-year-old Newton firefighter who was a Marine machine-gunner in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. "But to see it's been pretty much handed over, it's disheartening."

Lessard said he believed in the US mission while he was fighting in Iraq, based near Fallujah. But now, with the Iraqi Army in disarray and Sunni and Shi'ite unable to work together, Lessard does not want the United States to reenter a centuries-old conflict that massive amounts of American money and military force could not resolve.

"This is Iraq's problem now," Lessard said. "I don't think we should even give them one round of ammunition. They need to govern."

Not every Iraq veteran is able to look back now and accept that the we are not the ones who will fix the country's mess. The Detroit Free Press found veterans who insisted that the United States must do something to help Iraq:

[Christopher] Kolomjec said there are no easy answers to the current situation. He said U.S. forces long struggled to win the support of the Iraqi people because they knew the Americans would eventually leave and the insurgents would remain. But the U.S. can't ignore the situation.

"The one thing we can't do is nothing," he said. "You can't just turn your back on them."

Kolomjec said he thinks the U.S. should provide air support to the Iraqi army as it attempts to hold off the insurgents, but putting American troops on the ground is a much more difficult issue.

"I don't think this country right now has the stomach for ground troops. That's my impression," he said.

I would argue that it's not the stomachs telling Americans no, but their heads. Despite the absurd arguments from the war-drum crowd that we needed to spend even more time in Iraq, we know that's not a rational response. The Iraqis are not children, and their factional issues are theirs to deal with, not ours. Additional actions in Iraq not only would cost more money that we really can't afford, but any sort of military action (even absent ground troops) can risk American lives. The perfectly reasonable resistance to further military action is a reflection of the grasp of sunken costs in Iraq. The trillions of dollars spent in Iraq and the loss of American lives and the permanent injuries so many have suffered didn't liberate the country. There is no rational reason to believe that additional actions will result in a better outcome.

I can't even fathom what it must feel like to be in the position of these veterans, to have lost arms, legs and friends in Iraq and to watch what's happening now. But we can't turn lies (the reasons for the Iraq war) into something noble by continuing to throw money and people at Iraq to "fix" it. I don't know how to fix the pain, emotional and physical, veterans must feel over Iraq's crumbling, but I do know that we can't make it better by spreading that pain to even more veterans. That would be the likely outcome of additional military action in Iraq.

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  1. 1- Let them kill each other
    2- check back in 20 years

    1. On this we agree.

    2. 3. We’ll keep buying the oil.

      1. 4. Or switch to Brand Venezuela!

        1. Or build the damn Keystone PL.

          But since I’m Canadian, you might consider that special pleading.

          (Alternatively, frack yourselves.) ;P

      2. Buying it would be about a thousand times cheaper than trying to steal it!

    3. Holy fuck, the end is nigh. I agree with shriek on something.

    4. That look almost like that text I saw on American Thinker http://www.americanthinker.com…..other.html

  2. I am pretty sure the veterans don’t get a special vote in this nor should they. And the amount of money spend on something says nothing about it going forward. But that goes both ways. Doesn’t mean we should go back in but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t either.

    The question is, what are our alternatives? If we do nothing and they set up a terrorist state in Northern Iraq, that is going to be a problem. And I don’t think “don’t worry about it and just kill them after they attack us” is a very good answer. Moreover, once the Iraq government is gone and if they attack us and we have to go back in there, there won’t be a government to replace it with. Yeah, I know just killing all of them and leaving sounds nice, but we would never do it.

    I don’t see doing nothing as a good option. I don’t see reoccupying Iraq as a good option either. I don’t see why we can’t just give the Iraqi government air support and do to these clowns what we did to the Taliban in 2001. Give the Iraqi government air support and let them take back control of their own territory and send the rest of these people back to Syria. Maybe this experience will cause the Iraqis to work a little harder getting their shit together since they will now realize the alternative to that is rule by Al Quada.

    1. Maybe this experience will cause the Iraqis to work a little harder getting their shit together since they will now realize the alternative to that is rule by Al Quada.

      You’re forgetting the tens-of-thousands of angry, unmarried, and jobless 18-34 Iraqi men who are salivating for an Islamist regime.

      1. I doubt they are salivating anymore. They were the say way in Fallujah in 04 right up until they experienced such and then they ran to the US and offered to help kill Al Quada.

        That is the thing about Islamist rule, they all want it right up until they get it and experience how horrible it is. Look at what happened in Egypt. The fastest way to discredit it is to let it have some power. The problem is that once Islamists get power, they don’t give it up very easily even if the population does hate their guts.

        1. That is the thing about Islamist rule, they all want it right up until they get it and experience how horrible it is.

          Yes, the group outside that demographic doesn’t want it, but that group prospers and gets to sow wild oats at the same time! Hamas’s rule of Gaza has only strengthened its support, as a counter-example.

          1. Hamas hasn’t had enough time to become as corrupt as Fatah.

          2. Hamas is not popular in Gaza. People just hate the PA and Israel even more. The blockade has allowed Hamas to blame all of the misery it causes on Israel. It is a bit like Cuba blaming all its problems on the US embargo. Gaza is a very unique set of circumstances.

    2. Doesn’t mean we should go back in but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t either.

      The question is, what are our alternatives?

      Nuke it from orbit. Fuck ’em.

      If we’re going to war, fucking kill them all or don’t bother going. If it’s not worth killing every living thing over there, then it’s not worth sending people to die to give these fuckwads freedoms they don’t care for nor want.

      1. That is what people don’t get. People think that if Iraq fails it is some kind of failure on the US’s part. No, it is a failure on Iraq’s part and an even bigger failure of all of the middle east.

        Your view is hardly rare. If there is another 911, that is what most people will want to do. Iraq was the last chance they had of the US and really the entire West ever dealing with them in any sort of humane and restrained way. And they apparently fucked it up.

        1. Your view is hardly rare. If there is another 911, that is what most people will want to do.

          Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want us to murder millions of people. I just think we really need to set a higher threshold for war, and once that threshold is met, we need to wipe the enemy off the face of the planet, not this dilly-dally-meddling bullshit. In most cases (including this), I firmly believe the best course of action is to mind our own business and let them kill each other for us.

          If you’re going to blow shit up, blow it up good.

          1. I understand. I don’t want to either. This upsets me not because I think it is the end of America or some nonsense. It upsets me because I think it is going to be the end of them.

          2. I agree. I would be far more reluctant to go to war but far more ruthless in my prosecution of it.

      2. We could fight them with conventional weapons. That could take years…cost millions of lives.

        In this case…I think we have to go all out. I think this situation absolutely requires…a really futile and stupid gesture…be done on somebody’s part.

        We’re just the guys to do it.

        1. +Toga! Toga! Toga!

    3. “If we do nothing and they set up a terrorist state in Northern Iraq, that is going to be a problem. And I don’t think “don’t worry about it and just kill them after they attack us” is a very good answer.”

      How about the U.S. rebuilds its human intelligence gathering network of spies, traitors, paid informers, etc. and learns – in advance – where the terrorist camps are, what plans are being formulated, etc….and then crushes the cockroaches before they leave the nest?

      1. But then it doesn’t look like we’re doing something!

        /US politician

      2. That isn’t a bad idea necessarily. But if you are going to do that, why not just do it now when there is still an Iraqi government to occupy the ground?

        These are the kinds of debates we should be having. Instead, both sides just seem to want to re fight ten year old debates and ensure they other side gets blamed for anything bad that happens.

      3. How about the U.S. rebuilds its human intelligence gathering network of spies, traitors, paid informers, etc. and learns – in advance – where the terrorist camps are, what plans are being formulated, etc….and then crushes the cockroaches before they leave the nest?

        Uh because that is exactly what is happening in Pakistan and it doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

        Seriously, we aren’t drone-bombing school functions over there. The US is bombing- to the best of its abilities- terrorists and their leadership. The problem is that the Terrorists are really good at turning that into an optics nightmare for the US by having their conventions among innocent civilians.

        I don’t really know what to do, but people have very pollyannaish views about what can be done to these terrorist cells. The fact is that if you aren’t willing to engage in another Iraq-style massive occupation (and there are good reasons to avoid that) you need to admit that there is really no answer in the region.

        1. Collateral damage is only a problem if you care. At some point, we are going to stop caring.

          1. I have already stopped caring. I stopped caring well before 2003, when it was clear to anyone who read a variety of news sources that there was no reason to invade Iraq. We never belonged over there.

            I’d just like the millions of other Americans who also don’t care about Iraqis to be honest with our government, and say, “we are not interested in these Qu’ran-bothering towelheads and their inability to grow up and stop slaughtering each other.” Virtually every other Western nation is allowed to say this, to admit that imperialist “nation building” is something they lost interest in after WWII. Why can’t we?

            I’m fine with admitting that there is no answer in the region…no answer that the U.S. is responsible for bringing about. We have done enough damage. This isn’t our job, and we did a piss-poor one of it anyway.

            Anyone who wants to go back into Iraq and spend another ten years “fixing” this piece-of-shit sandpit, please fund the invasion yourselves. Have a bake sale.

        2. we aren’t drone-bombing school functions over there… [but ]the Terrorists [have] their conventions among innocent civilians.

          So terrorists have their conventions at things like school functions? And we don’t bomb those? We only bomb when the terrorists have their conventions at the bowling alley?

    4. ” Give the Iraqi government air support and let them take back control of their own territory and send the rest of these people back to Syria. ”

      Did you support this in Libya and Syria, or is it only in GOP military debacles we should intervene?

      1. No Bo because in both cases we were trowing out an existing government and helping the opposition set up a terrorist state.

        If you just want to post retarded shit, we already have shreek for that. I am sorry you are not bright enough to have anything interesting to say. But there is not a lot any of us can do to help you. So why don’t you do yourself a favor and let the adults talk for a while.

        1. So now that Iran is helping our side you are all pro-Iranian.

          1. I wonder how the Iranian-in-the-street feels about the Mullahs working with the Great Satan.

        2. “because in both cases we were trowing out an existing government and helping the opposition set up a terrorist state.”

          So intervening to help a government that oversees a terrorist state, that’s fine?

      2. Maybe, just maybe, he was saying that under the assumption that Congress would give the President approval for such action.

    5. Even an interventionalist should realize that very time we do anything the situation gets worse.

      A terrorist state in northern Iraq is bad (if they think it’s a good idea to attack us… for whatever reason), but whatever we do to stop it will end up making it worse…

      So do nothing.

      BTW, “I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers” is a good way to explain how they act. If we really got out of the ME, they would go back to senselessly killing themselves… but not us.

    6. When did the internal affairs of foreign countries become any of our damn business in the first place?

  3. The Iraqis are not children, and their factional issues are theirs to deal with, not ours.

    Indeed, and if the American-trained Iraqi military forces have a penchant for being shot in the back while running from their enemy, then the lives spent on that shithole were squandered in an irresponsible and reprehensible way just for starters. No amount of additional blood and spilled guts will make any difference now. Let the Shiites and the Sunnis fight this one out and forget about the “risk” of Iran gaining a buffer zone in Eastern Iraq because they received that one from America the minute Saddam Hussein was beaten and slain. It is indeed the greatest and costliest failure of the Neo-cons. The same way the State cannot calculate when it comes to economics, it can’t calculate when it comes to politics, either.

    1. Yeah because Saddam would have been a loyal soldier and only operated as a buffer against Iran. Not exactly.

      The problem is that the ability of the west to keep all of this in check by propping up various secular dictators is coming to an end. Saddam was no more viable in the long term than Assad or Mubarak or Gadafi were. Radical Islam is not going to be contrained by corrupt autocrats anymore.

      This is a tragedy for Islam not the west. The question going forward is what is it going to mean to be an Islamic state. The hoards in Syria and Iraq think it should mean being a complete nihilistic fanatic at war with the rest of civilization. If they win and they seem to be doing so, then that is not going to work out well for Muslims and especially those in the Middle East. The world isn’t going to tolerate it and couldn’t even if it wanted to. Radical Islam if allowed to will make Islam incompatible with any other civilization. If that happens, it will be us or them and it isn’t going to us that goes.

      1. This is a tragedy for Islam not the west.

        I think it’s a tragedy for both; for Islam, because these assholes are going to wind up getting them all killed, and for the West, because we’re going to waste a -lot- of money killing them.

        1. I would rather spend some money than be dead.

          1. I would rather spend some money than be dead.

            I think both the interventionists and the non-interventionists have got it wrong here.

            John, I think you have a reasonable point that the problems in the Middle East are their problems and a reflection of their values. However, I disagree that we can do some sort of “light intervention” and effect anything good. This is essentially what we did in Libya and what we are doing in Pakistan. It is at best a delaying action, and at worst yet another complaint about the US that fuels their resentment of us.

            On the non-intervention side, I think they are acting as if this will sort itself out and any followon blowback can be easily dealt with via reprisal and/or surgical pre-emption. Of course, this is not much different than “Light Intervention” just some time in the future when things calm down. We will have the same problems then, including terrorists that hide among civilians, making any bombing costly from a PR perspective.

            I think we need to be realistic and say, short of a 10 Million man occupying army, there is nothing we can do in Iraq to truly DICTATE the outcome. We might be able to influence it one way or the other, but the costs of that are on perfect display in Syria, Libya, Egypt, etc- that is, we might change the character of a battle, but the Radicals involved will just turn those victories against us.

            1. And just to close, since the US isn’t going to commit 10 Million soldiers to Iraq, we need to accept that this one is as out of our control as your average hurricane. The sooner politicians start saying that, the better for the entire nation. We essentially said that in the Ukraine and yeah, it sucked- good guys are getting steam rolled by assholes. And in 15 years, we may find ourselves embroiled in a conflict whose seeds- or some of them- were planted in Crimea.

              There is no choice between light intervention that will make some change and non-intervention that will just work out in the end. The choice is between non-intervention that will allow millions to get opressed and likely result in a major war in 15 years and a massive intervention today that will not be supported by the public.

            2. In the long term I agree. The Iraqis are going to have to fix their country. We can’t do it for them. In the short term, I think you over estimate the problem here.

              You are right that insurgencies are hard to fight. But this isn’t an insurgency. These people have set up a conventional army and are occupying territory. Driving them out of that territory and keeping them from establishing a full on state, is not a difficult military problem. And once you start bombing the Iraqi army put their uniforms back on and go back to work.

              Now, doing that and reestablishing Iraqi government rule over its territory will not keep these people from continuing their terrorist campaign. That is a larger and more long term problem. But you can sure as hell keep them from massing into an army and taking over the country. That is a different and easier problem.

              1. Yeah John, I think you hit the nail on the head. The end game of “Intervention Light” is a lawless frontier that the Iraqi government cannot control, and that we are constantly bombing for the next 20 years- a la pashtun Pakistan.

                And I’m sorry, but I don’t see that as preferable to that nation being taken over by Islamist fucks. If they become an Islamist state, either they will have something like Egypt and go through constant turmoil, or they will become like Iran and we will fight them CONVENTIONALLY in about 15 – 20 years.

                I’m sorry, but the latter scenario looks better to me for various reasons- at the very least it won’t result in the CIA bombing schools in the dead of night for the foreseeable future.

        2. because we’re going to waste a -lot- of money killing them.

          Wouldn’t carpet nuking an entire region be a sunk cost? Possibly even a cost saving measure?

          We’ve already invested the money into R&D and production of the missiles, and the only costs are silos and maintenance. If you launch 10% of your arsenal, you’d be saving money by shutting the now empty silos down.

          /sarc

          1. What’s really sad is my first thought was “Man, think of all the compound interest on that borrowed money we’re using to maintain this shit. That’s a lot of cash.”

            Your sarcastic statement bears a lot of truth!

      2. Re: John,

        Yeah because Saddam would have been a loyal soldier and only operated as a buffer against Iran. Not exactly.

        Who cares? The justification for all this waste was, in part, that a true buffer against Iran was required. The consequences of the military action against Saddam Hussein precluded any buffer zone to exist any more sans American ground troops stationed there a la Beau Geste and obviated the justification given to fight that war. My point is that bringing that issue again to justify further interventions is nothing less than disingenuous.

        Saddam was no more viable in the long term than Assad or Mubarak or Gadafi were.

        Remember that it took a very expensive and violent war to topple Saddam Hussein; that the U.S. actively participated in the toppling of Qaddafi by bombing his forces and very powerful air force out of existence and that Assad is still very much alive and in control of most of his country (so much in control that his main enemy decided to try his fortunes in a debilitated Iraq). So don’t say now that these guys were not viable. The point is that it wasn’t any of the U.S. business to make them viable or non-viable.

        1. This finger pointing becomes tiring. To me it is very likely that the Arab spring would have come to Iraq as well, had we never intervened there. And like Egypt or Syria, it is pretty clear that even absent US military intervention, the sitting despots would have found themselves in trouble, and the place fallen into chaos where Islamists were making a power grab.

          I agree that we need to stay the fuck out of Iraq now. What is annoying is that people want to use this situation to re-argue Operation Iraqi Freedom when it just doesn’t fucking matter. And that is hilarious to me since the whole point of this article was to say “It doesn’t matter how much was invested last decade, it’s about what we do now.”

          The fact remains that Iraq is fallen now, and we have a choice- invade with such overwhelming force that we lock that place down- Iraqi Freedom^11- or we sit it out as the entire middle east becomes a cesspit that will cause a major war in 10 years, and will likely annoy us with terrorist attacks in the interim. Since the former just ain’t gonna happen, we are stuck with the latter. And that has fuck-all to do with the past decade. It is just the facts on the ground right now.

        2. Remember that it took a very expensive and violent war to topple Saddam Hussein;

          It took a 30 day live fire exercise. And Saddam’s health was not good. He was unlikely to live more than a few more years and once he died, the country would have fallen completely apart.

          And you really have no point Mexican other than to say that we should have left Saddam in power and hoped for the best. That was an option. There is little to reason to believe that doing that would have worked out well. You get to live in the world of fantasy counter factual since we will never know. So believe what you like. But given the realities in the rest of the region, it is very unlikely that welcoming Saddam back into the the international community and hiring him on as a buffer to Iran would have ended in anything but disaster.

          1. Who’s talking about re-welcoming? We had him on a short leash with the no-fly zone. We could have waited him out indefinitely and when he died, we could have dealt with his successor then. Saved a few thousand US lives and about a trillion dollars too.

      3. Radical Islam if allowed to will make Islam incompatible with any other civilization. If that happens, it will be us or them and it isn’t going to us that goes.

        Doesn’t Iran disprove that? Whatever covert support they’re giving to destabilize/topple Israel can’t possibly be compared with a general all-out war plan against non-Islamic nations.

        I think there’s enough evidence that the radical Islamists would be content at keeping it radical within their own borders and maybe a bit of a push into border states. But certainly not an all out us or them global conflict.

        I think the same argument was once made about the Communists. Containment, for all it’s faults, still showed that no one was willing to commit to WWIII.

        1. MP,

          There is no evidence they are content. They say they want the world. I see no reason not to believe them. And Iran says they plan to build nukes and use them to destroy Israel and the US. I take them at their word.

          And they don’t have to start World War III. They have terrorism. They can just sponsor terrorism in order to make our lives and economy unbearable. If they ever get nukes or real biological weapons, they can do that. They don’t need to fight us in World War III. They can just terrorize us and deny responsibility.

          1. And if they do so, we turn Tehran into a parking lot. But for all their tough talk, Iran hasn’t been waging jihad on the US.

            1. Iran hasn’t been waging jihad on the US.

              Sure they have. (Parts of) the insurgency in Iraq was an Iranian-sponsored operation.

              http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..story.html

            2. I sure had a lot of Iranian munitions directed at me when I was in MNC-South in 2008. I don’t think the Jaish al Mahdi was getting Iranian 240mm rockets down at Haji-Mart.

              1. Because clearly Iranian participation in a neighbor state conflict is reflective of their global domination interests and not their own security interests.

                1. Try moving the goalposts a little further, MP.

        2. Shiite Islamists, such as those that rule Iran, seem to be a lot less interested in world wide domination than their Sunni counterparts. I don’t think Iran is a very good predictor of what a Al Qaeda ruled country would do.

          1. Shiite Islamists, such as those that rule Iran, seem to be a lot less interested in world wide domination

            You’re kidding, right? The Shiite Iranian leadership that peddles fairy tales about the 12th Imam isn’t interested in worldwide (or at least regional) domination?

            http://www.humanevents.com/201…..ms-return/

            1. There’s a pretty wide gulf between rhetoric and reality. I suspect that, as with North Korea, their nuclear ambitions are ultimately to be left alone…well, and maybe off a few Jews in the process…but global world domination? I’m sorry, but as crazy as I think some of them are, and yes, that’s really batshit crazy, it’s still off the charts lunacy to believe in true world domination.

            2. I’m looking at their actions, not their rhetoric.
              I could be wrong, but I see their nuclear ambitions as about self preservation (on the part of the rulers) and not about domination of the rest of the world. Sure, they want to be a regional power, but I really don’t give a fuck about that. If I were in charge I wouldn’t set things up that way, but I’m not and they are hardly worse than any of the other potential powerful states in the region.

              Sunni extremists such as AQ, on the other hand, explicitly state a world wide Caliphate as one of their goals and do things that they think will help to bring that about.

              1. I’m looking at their actions,

                Me, too.

                Iran and Hezbollah’s terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa,” it said. Those included an attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria that killed six, as well as thwarted strikes in India, Thailand, Georgia and Kenya.

                http://www.foxnews.com/politic…..port-says/

                1. But what are they trying to accomplish with the terrorism? International terrorism doesn’t necessarily all have the goal of establishing some wold wide Islamist order.

                  1. Honestly, I suspect that their real goal is becoming the Middle Eastern hegemon, not necessarily a global hegemon.

                    Which, as far as Iran is concerned, is a distinction without a difference to me.

      4. The real problem is that Iraq, like a lot of the Middle East and Africa, had its political borders set by European powers who didn’t just ignore traditional boundaries but actually exploited them. Deliberately setting national borders that divided established tribes and forced them into territories with their traditional enemies made sure that the natives would be too busy fighting each other to coordinate attacks against the common enemy – the empirical European government. The country was deliberately set up to be internally unstable without a strong hand on the tiller. Taking out the brutal dictator running the country doesn’t bring peace, it brings a three-way civil war to see who gets to be the next brutal dictator.

  4. Oh man, another chance for politicians to do something!

    Same shit, different day.

  5. Anyone else not give a shit?

    1. I forgot to fill up on “give-a-shit’s” the last time I stopped.

    2. I give a shit, because I am worried about some people over there that actually believed in us (or “US” as the case may be) and could be killed for that. It bothers me personally, and as someone who does not want the world to see that if you listen to us, help us, believe in us, you simply end up dumped/dead/left for dead.

      I don’t have an answer other than ,imaybe some short term air support and a note from our Ambassador to Maliki saying “stop being a shitbird. No more air support after 30 days. XOXO ‘murica”

      1. how much more are we supposed to do? At some point, is it not incumbent on the Iraqis themselves to create a nation free of the sectarian violence? It’s not like we installed a neo version of the Shah; this was a popularly-elected govt with all the makings of self-rule in a nation that has some resources.

        1. Right, which is why I would lend a limited hand and say, this is it – your one call to get bailed out. I would not publicize that it is the only help, but it would be.
          If this does not serve as a wakeup call, then nothing we do could help and it is time to give our friends their a visa and prepare for sorrow and bad things on TV to come.

          1. See, but your threat doesn’t matter because if you intervene now, Maliki knows you have shown that you will intervene when the fit hits the shan.

            We need to accept that Iraq is as fucked as the Ukraine. People who believe in freedom are fucked, and the US cannot help them. We don’t have the collective will to fight those wars, and we frankly have a lot of shit to clean up at home. I wish good people weren’t going to get killed in Iraq, but it’s going to happen.

            1. If we green carded everyone who worked for us, then I think the message “this is your one chance” would sink in.

  6. OT: Al Shabaab terrorist group kills unarmed civilians.

    (CNN) — Attackers thought to be members of the Al Shabaab terrorist group shot and hacked people to death Sunday evening in the Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni.
    The group of attackers entered the town center and began killing people before moving into a residential area where they moved door-to-door.
    The Kenya Red Cross put the death toll from the incidents at 48.

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/16/…..?hpt=hp_t2

  7. “The one thing we can’t do is nothing,” he said. “You can’t just turn your back on them.”

    With all due respect, “turning your back on them” *is* “doing something”.

    What OM said.

  8. The one thing ‘we’ can ALWAYS do is nothing. And it’s almost always the only right thing ‘we’ can do. It’s an outright tragedy it is so rarely what is done.
    Action in the name of a collective ends in tears. Always and forever.
    The problem is all those idiots who say things like “the one thing we can’t do is nothing” or “we have to do something”. It is the corrupt root of all politics, all war. I dare say ‘we’ MUST do nothing.

    1. Would you let any of the people who worked for us (as interpreters, etc) get a green card and let in, now?

      1. I think that is.basically the.only humane thing we can do at this point. The US should be setting up an airlift of Iraqis to the U.S. Do it on a no-questions-asked basis with verification of stories once they arrive.and get.processed. solicit.international partners to receive.some refugees if necessary, but the only way we are going to not lose face here.is.if.we treat it as a humanitarian effort to.save the non-radicals from reprisals. It will suck for people in the areas.already overrun by ISIS, but I.can’t see a better alternative that doesn’t involve getting.embroiled.in.more combat and attempting a Second Iraqi Reconstruction with similar results to the first.

        1. To add a bit, the people making the case that the US needs to respond militarily to protect its reputation have it wrong. There is.nothing that would protect our reputation more now than to take care of the Iraqis that took a risk and bet.on the US. We most likely cannot win in the.long term against these extremists by fighting and trying to rebuild–they I’ll tear down what we have built out of spite.

          But we can do right by.people who.have.placed.their trust.in us, learn from our.mistakes, and refuse to repeat them.

          And then we can nuke the.fuck out.of the extremists.

          1. If you take care of those who worked for us, then you have done enough, at this point. It is not really realistic (despite Reason seeming to insist there are “war drums” being beaten…somewhere) to even think of sending ground forces – or air for very long. I might throw in one bonus air assist to the current government, but no more – one last chance to reform, take it or perish.

  9. I can’t even fathom what it must feel like to be in the position of these veterans, to have lost arms, legs and friends in Iraq and to watch what’s happening now.

    Hint: It sucks. I want whisky, now.

    1. Yeah, but you say that about everything.

        1. Oblivion trumps reality.

          Which does explain the successes of Ted Kennedy.

    2. I can’t even fathom what it must feel like to be in the position of these veterans, to have lost arms, legs and friends in Iraq and to watch what’s happening now.

      I have a friend who is a hard boiled marine who fought in Vietnam. He still to this day gets tear-eyed when he talks about seeing the fall of Saigon and realizing that after all the sacrifices his men made, we let it all go in the end.

      While I feel for the guy, we it still remains that unless we commit many more men to death, we are going to lose Iraq anyway. This country has made the decision that it isn’t willing to occupy Iraq for another 20 years, so this is what happens.

  10. If politicians had to acknowledge the sunk cost fallacy, most of the federal budget wouldn’t exist.

    1. Good point – exhorting a politician because of sunk costs will never work – try something closer to home/self-interest (like, “if you vote to send lots of troops, you will be beaten in your next election) – they understand those things, right?

      1. They’d understand it if they were physically beaten in the next election by the challenger.

    2. The closest a politician ever gets.to allowing sunk costs to be written off is to recognize the failure of a government.program and promptly create a new government program in parallel to address the same problem, while still funding the.original program.

      1. This.

        Or the bureaucracy asks for more power to ‘correct’ the problems it created itself.

        The game goes on until the bankers won’t lend you any more money. Sure, you can default like Argentina, but that won’t give you the dough to keep on spending.

  11. Would you let any of the people who worked for us (as interpreters, etc) get a green card and let in, now?

    YES. Absolutely.

  12. I guess this kills any chance for a repeal of the AUMF.

    1. Since Libya, it’s unnecessary anyways.

      1. True. Libya set the precedent that the USAF can fly air cover for terrorists seeking to overthrow a government.

        This is a variation on that, true, as we would be flying air cover for terrorists trying to save a government from other terrorists, but I’m confident we can stretch things that far.

  13. The doubling down by the interventionist minded here (interesting so many, huh?) is delicious. Just a little air support, that’ll fix it! Now that we’ve meddled this much, we owe it to our friends there…

    The Never Ending Story.

    1. Well Libya worked with just a little air support. Just a smidge. Nobel prizes all around!

    2. Failure is a bitter lesson.

    3. I’m not really seeing that many (at least on this article). Definitely far more saying we need to stay out of it.

  14. I was always against going into Iraq and Afghanistan just as I was against supporting the Syrian ‘rebels’, becuase I know we just screw things up worse than they were…but that old saying comes to mind:

    Pretty to look at,
    Pretty to hold.
    If you break it
    Consider it sold.

    We (Bush/Cheney) broke it. We own it now.

    1. And the best way to “fix” it is to get the hell out and let them run their own country. They’ll figure it out without our help. It’s time to stop throwing away lives and treasure on Planetary Buttinskiism.

    2. We (Bush/Cheney) broke it. We (Obama) own it now.

      With that fix, there’s less to disagree with.

  15. “Lessard said he believed in the US mission”

    Is it possible to find out exactly what they told Lessard that the mission was?

  16. “we can’t turn lies (the reasons for the Iraq war) into…”
    What lie are you referring to specifically? That Iraq had WMD?

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