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Left, Right, and Center On America's Future In Iraq

I really respect Congressman Murtha. It took a lot of guts to force a serious national debate on the future of America in Iraq, and the guy is maintaining his principled stand in spite of dissent from Democrats and outright slander and name-calling by Republicans. I respect the man, and I respectfully disagree with him.

While Murtha proposed a responsible and well thought out plan to quickly withdraw our troops while leaving enough Marines and Special Forces assets nearby to hunt down al Qaeda in Iraq, he doesn't take into account that -- right now -- our withdrawal would most likely precipitate an escalation of Iraq's low-grade civil war that would draw in Iran and probably Saudi Arabia and Syria too.

Senator John McCain, on the other hand, advocates (in a brilliant speech -- definitely worth the time to read the whole thing) sending even more troops into Iraq and employing a proven, effective counterinsurgency strategy. Call it the "ink blot", the "oil stain", "clear, hold, and build", whatever. It's a strategy with a proven track record, and three years into the conflict neither President Bush nor his military advisors have adopted it. And here's why:

To enhance our chances of success with this strategy, and enable our forces to hold as much territory as possible, we need more troops. ...Instead of drawing down, we should be ramping up, with more civil-military soldiers, translators, and counterinsurgency operations teams. ...And while we seek higher troop levels for Iraq, we should at last face facts and increase the standing size of the U.S. Army.

I completely agree with Senator McCain. Creating a stable, free-market, democratic Iraq really is that important, but you can't accomplish that goal without security first and foremost -- and that means more troops. But there's a catch (of course) which McCain skirts by not giving us any idea how many more troops are needed. As Congressman Murtha pointed out,

Let's say you wanted to go the other way; you wanted to put 500,000 troops over there. Now, we can't even meet the goals of 512,000. We're going to be 10,000 short in recruitment right now. Unless you have a draft, there's no way that you can have more troops.

By all accounts, Murtha's absolutely right. And unfortunately, President Bush hasn't made Americans understand why their sons and daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters should be drafted to fight and die for stability in Iraq. Bush's plan to "stand down as they stand up" just makes it sound like our troops are to stand around getting killed until the Iraqis finally get off their butts and learn how to fight. How the hell is that supposed to inspire Americans?

President Bush failed to build home front support for the reconstruction of Iraq. He never even considered committing the number of troops necessary for victory, so he's put America in a position where, on our present course, the opportunity for Iraq to become a free-market liberal democracy is gone and we will, if not lose, then certainly not win.

On Monday, Senator Clinton unveiled a plan that diverges from President Bush's open-ended "maintain the status quo" strategy, and bridges the divide between McCain and Murtha.

Senator Clinton believes we should use the forces already in Iraq to cover the most strategic areas with the "ink blot", make it clear to the Iraqi government that we're not going to stay forever, and tie a phased withdrawal of US troops to a series of measurable "benchmarks" for success. It's not a particularly inspiring or controversial plan, but what do you expect from a centrist. It's sensible.

I absolutely oppose an immediate withdrawal, but if Senator McCain's Republican colleagues refuse to authorize and deploy the number of troops necessary to win in Iraq, Senator Clinton's plan makes more sense than what President Bush is doing.

Posted by American Pundit at November 23, 2005 9:45 AM
Comments
Comment #95130

Hilary as a war stragegist? Give me a break. She says we should maintain the level of troops and hit stategic areas. What do you think the generals are doing. Lets let the generals run the war and leave all this political B S out of it. As for Murth he wasnt that sure that he was going to vote for the war in the beginning. He loves his military but not the defense department. They hail Mr Murth as a war hero but fail to say anything about Samuel Johnson the republican who was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam for seven years. He says we need to stay the course. I wonder why the main stream media didnt show that side of the debate? What do you think of Bubba who said we need regime change in Iraq,then goes over seas to Dubay and says we were wrong to go to war in Iraq. A real class guy. If Bubba would have done his job while he was in Office maybe there wouldnt have been a 9/11. I think we all know what Bubba was pre-occupied with.

Posted by: Thomas at November 23, 2005 11:08 AM
Comment #95134

We find ourselves in the present position in Iraq because the President, his entire administration and the Secretary of Defense never planned adequately for this conflict. They spent more time inventing reasons to justify this war than they did in actually conducting and winning it and the subsequent occupation.

Posted by: Martin at November 23, 2005 11:15 AM
Comment #95146

Thomas, don’t you have anything that doesn’t come from Rush Limbaugh? You’re out of your league man.

Posted by: roger at November 23, 2005 11:50 AM
Comment #95147

AP, nice piece.
We’ve argued about this before, so as you might guess, I agree with Col. Murtha. Yesterday I posted these links twice in other threads, but just in case you missed them, I’ll post them again. They’re written by Gen. William Odom, the guy who was Reagan’s national security advisor:

What’s wrong with cutting and running?
Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already

Odom: Want stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!
Bush says he wants to bring democracy and stability to the greater Middle East — but in fact the only way to achieve that goal is to get out of Iraq now.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 23, 2005 11:50 AM
Comment #95150

Good article. We need a good bipartisan plan in Iraq. I am glad Hillary is signing on, but I think you give her a bit too much credit for original thought. People have been talking about this ink blot idea for years and much of it is actually being done now and has been done in Iraq. Good news will begin to come out of Iraq soon and then the media will forget that it ever saw the situation was bad. To quote RR on a different subject, when it works they won’t call it Bush’s problem any more.

At the end of Vietnam, we developed a successful strategy to counter the insurgency and essentially defeated it. Unfortunately, it came too late politcally and North saw its chance and took it to conquer the South. If we apply the true “lessons of Vietnam” we will be successful in Iraq.

Posted by: Jack at November 23, 2005 12:04 PM
Comment #95151

Should we get out of Iraq? Yes. Can we get out now? No. Why not? Because, as others have said, we had a good plan to win the war and no plan for afterwards. If we get out now, withdraw all our troops, and turn things over to the Iraqis, within a week there would be full scale civil war. The Sunnis and Shiites would be at each others throats, the Baathists would be waiting to move back into power, and Turkey would be attempting to eliminate the Kurds. And all the while the ones advocating an immediate pullout would be wringing their hands and blaming America for the carnage.

Actually, Hillary doesn’t have such a bad idea. It’s not perfect but it does attempt to deal with political reality. Much as I hate to say it, it beats anything coming out of the Oval Office.

Iraq is not Viet Nam, yet. It may well become so if the bloody politicians don’t get out of the way and give our commanders on the ground enough troops and material to prosecute the war as it should be and work harder to train Iraqis to defend what we are trying to give them: a free country. If they won’t do that, then they will get what they deserve and we will have wasted a lot of time and blood.

Posted by: jback814 at November 23, 2005 12:05 PM
Comment #95153

AP
Really,one of your calmer pieces,bravo.

I am sure that several of your more fanaticial collegues here on the left are seething over the article..especially your commant lauding Senator McCain.

Be careful,my friend.You’re lauding the next president and…. he is a Republician.

Know what?Since Murtha’s remarks last week(and by the way,I agree with you about his comments),they seem to have galvanized both the right AND the military somehow.I have read more about an endgame this week over there than I have in months.

Here is what I think:


1.The elections will ultimately bring more Sunnis into the fold.

2.The call two weeks ago for mid-level Baathists officers will really help Iraqi army discipline…there isn’t a shoorage of raw recruits..rather the shortage is in the mid-level officer corps.

3.A call to negotiate wityh the insurrgents by the Iraq president is a terrific idea..the old good cop,bad cop thing,with the USA being the hammer.

Hillary doesn’t have a chance..I doubt that she can even get out of the Democratic primary…the Kennedy faction wiull se to that.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at November 23, 2005 12:15 PM
Comment #95154

Personally, I’m torn about whether we need to pull out now, pull out gradually, continue as is, or add troops. What I’m not torn about is how we got into the war in the first place through lies and exaggerations that never allowed America to debate its true merits (or lack thereof). What else I’m not torn about is the inability of the current administration and congressional leadership to make the right decision - or even a less than completely asinine decision.

Posted by: roger at November 23, 2005 12:15 PM
Comment #95168

If there wasn’t so much corruption with Halliburton & Co and the no-bid contracts, I might think that the administration actually wants a democracy. They just want no-bid contracts. And maybe torture. But even that is irrelevant. The only thing that really affects my opinion about pulling out is the administration’s complete incompetence in decision making. Acting like the mission can be a success is the equivalent of praying to win the lottery.

If I stop praying now, I’ll never win the lottery, and then it will take me 30 years to pay off my mortgate…If my friend stops digging now, he’ll never make it to China, and he’ll never be able to adopt his new daughter…Who cares if I keep getting poked by these pieces of hay, I need to find my needle in order to finish sewing my shirt together.

Sure it’s theoretically possible to install democracy anywhere, but that’s not the point. Bush can’t do anything right. And I’m not talking about getting C’s in college here. I’m talking about firing Iraq’s army and then letting them keep their guns.

Posted by: Mike at November 23, 2005 1:17 PM
Comment #95174

If the next president is going to be a republican the best candidate (perhaps on either side) is McCain. I wish he won the republican nomination back in 2000 because he is a far better alternative to the current bozo.

Democrats and Liberals respect McCain but he isn’t a hack.

Posted by: Tree Hugger at November 23, 2005 1:25 PM
Comment #95191

Mike:
“Bush can’t do anything right. And I’m not talking about getting C’s in college here. I’m talking about firing Iraq’s army and then letting them keep their guns.”

You know, there’s a euphemism for people like Bush in the South that cracked me up from the moment I first heard it (I once lived in Atlanta GA for about year).
The term is Snake-Bit — and it refers to someone who is so cursed, so unwise, so prone to failure, and so totally incapable of doing anything right, that they’re considered dangerous and extremely unlucky to be around.
And so, because we’ve got ourselves a two-term snake-bit president, all of America lives under his cloud.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 23, 2005 2:09 PM
Comment #95201

Boy, what clear thinking. Let me ask a clear question. What were the reasons given for engaging in this war in the first place? If it was wrong to go there to begin with (does anyone really doubt that we were lied to?) how can it be right to stay the course? We all seem to forget, we were lied to about Vienam; it was a “mistake”, now admitted by most Americans. Let’s quit fighting that war!!! The similarities between Vietnam and Iraq are obvious and also often of not much help. The dominos did not fall once we left Vietnam; Iraqis can handle their own affairs once we leave Iraq.

By the way, as a liberal and war opponent, I have no illusions about the Islamic fundamentalists who are our enimies. As a thought Sam Harris’,The End of Faith, suggests where all of this religious fervor (Christian, Muslim and Hebrew)may be leading us. This is the real gorilla in the room. Why do we refrain from talking about it?

Posted by: wilson at November 23, 2005 2:38 PM
Comment #95203

All
I have spoken to a LOT of Dems who like McCain,and yes he would have been a terrific president 5 years ago…far better that the president.
Troule is that the left will demonize McCain eventually.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at November 23, 2005 2:40 PM
Comment #95208

AP,
Currently reading “The Sling and the Stone.” Good recommendation, appreciate it.

But have to disagree with the main point. I’d argue the problem is too many boots on the ground.

Additional troops might have made the difference when we initially invaded. But there’s no going back. It’s too late.

It’s kind of odd, just how much the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam. Democrats are splitting between the anti-war/withdrawal faction and the pro-war/additional troops faction.

In Vietnam, the Happy Warrior, Hubert Humphrey, represented the pro-war/additional troops faction of the Democrats. As the Republican candidate, Nixon promised to implement a ‘secret plan’ to get the troops out. This promise worked in both 1968 and 1972.

Do the Republicans recognize the split developing among the Dems? I don’t think so. Posts like the one by Thomas indicate the Republicans still think in terms of Clinton & Hillary-bashing. Eric S writes an article tarring all Dems with the same brush. Efforts to exploit the split have not been made.

Fortunately for the Dems, the Republican leadership is blinded by partisanship. Cheney blithely accuses opponents of being “dishonest” and “reprehensible,” apparently not realizing the opposition consists of a majority of the country.

McCain? Good man. I definitely disagree with his policies. However, I respect him, and I think that’s true of an awful lot of Dems. If McCain wins, which is a very real possibility, I’m positive he’ll find himself faced with an opposition party. However, he’ll also face less vitriol.

It comes with the territory. Reaching out, willingness to compromise, a conciliatory attitude when disagreements arise, these go a long way towards getting things done.

McCain and Dems might disagree over very important issues. But neither Dems nor McCain would suggest the disagreement represents treason, that it is “reprehensible,” and so on.

Posted by: phx8 at November 23, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #95209

AP:

I looked up what Senator Clinton said. She said that after the Dec 15 election pressure should be put on the Iraqi government after the Dec. 15 election:

“Then we have to tell this new government we are not going to be there forever, we are going to be withdrawing our young men and women and we expect you to start moving towards stability.”

She calls it a third way, to distinguish it from what Senator Feingold recommended. But they both say essentially the same thing, that we should get out as soon as possible.

McCain is too much of a hawk for me. I do not believe there is any way to win. If we are so eager to “win,” after the election we can say we “won” since now Iraq is a “democracy.” This is exactly what the Republicans will say next year, as they withdraw troops from Iraq. Condi Rice is hinting at this.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at November 23, 2005 3:06 PM
Comment #95212

AP:

Nice piece. One of the best I have seen from either side of the column. Especially in terms of presenting in a manner that is good for the country and good for those fighting overseas. Healthy debate on these issues is critical for our countries future.

Paul:

From a strategic sense in the middle east, if there is any kind of a government in Iraq that does not threaten their neighbors (read oil reserves), it is a better place.

What I would like from you, is tell us what you are for. What is your idea of where we should go from here? What is your vision of the future in the war on Terrorism, and who do you back?? I would like you to write some articles that are positive and forward looking. If your view won, and you were given power, what would the world look like?

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 23, 2005 3:13 PM
Comment #95230

Thomas,

“Hilary as a war stragegist? Give me a break.”

Senator Clinton as a war strategist? Yes. The structure of the United States government is such that a civilian is intentionally the head of the military, not the generals. Congress has sole power to declare war (which was not declared in Iraq, incidentally). The point being that the Framers encouraged Senators Clinton, McCain, Feingold, et al. along with President Bush to think critically about our country’s military direction.

When George Washington was General George Washington and Congress was the Continental Congress, this set-up had if not its first, then one of its best incidents justifying such a structure: Washington repeatedly sent word to Philadelphia requesting permission to attack British General Howe’s forces who held Boston and a much stronger position. John Hancock and others kept telling him no as the Congressmen, along with many of Washington’s generals, believed that such a mission would be suicide and could end the Revolution before it began.

Cooler heads prevailed and Washington held off on an attack on Boston via the Charles River and the extremely small strip of land that connected Boston to the mainland. Eventually, a better plan was crafted and Washington’s army took Dorchester Heights in the dead of night on March 17, 1776, setting up Henry Knox’s famous cannons. This drove the British out of Boston and galvanized the nation that a true American Revolution could begin.

Senator Clinton has just as much a right to state her belief of the best military strategy in Iraq, as does Senator McCain. They aren’t crafting policy out of thin air. They are basing their comments on those of respected generals, just like in 1776.

You owe your independence to that set-up and Iraqis may soon, too.

Posted by: Croaky at November 23, 2005 3:53 PM
Comment #95241

phx8:
“Additional troops might have made the difference when we initially invaded. But there’s no going back. It’s too late.”

Yeah, way too late.

“It’s kind of odd, just how much the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam. Democrats are splitting between the anti-war/withdrawal faction and the pro-war/additional troops faction.”

It’s true, there is a split occurring. But there’s a difference, because I think most of us on the withdraw side know that lefties like AP aren’t saying that simply to come off as moderates.
AP, we may not agree, but I really hope you’ll read those links I put up earlier.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Posted by: Adrienne at November 23, 2005 4:27 PM
Comment #95249

AP

Earlier you asked what has bee done in Iraq this year.I looked.I found the following:


I wonder why almost nothing is said about the profound accomplishments taking place in Iraq.I got most of these figures,by the way,from www.goodnewsiraq.com a terrific site that you should look at every day…it will soften you(and others) a bit


1.The country has not faced a public health crisis and there is no evidence of epidemic.

2.Health care spending in Iraq has increased to 60 times pre-liberation levels.

3.240 Iraqi hospitals and more than 1,200 primary health centers are operating and have been since last summer.

4.More than 30 million doses of children’s vaccine have been distributed. The program to immunize the nation’s 4.2 million children under the age of five against preventable diseases is well-advanced.

5.More than 700,000 pregnant women have received tetanus toxin vaccinations. These vaccinations benefit mother and child.

6.The World Health Organization has declared Iraq to be free of polio.

7.Physicians’ salaries have increased dramatically.

8.A comprehensive plan to improve nursing care is underway

9.32,632 secondary school teachers and 3,000 supervisors have been trained in effective classroom management and curriculum delivery.

10.Entry-level teacher salaries were raised from a pre-war monthly salary of $5 to $66. The average is now about $120 per month.

11.Coalition forces have distributed 159,000 student desks, over 26,437 teacher desks, 61,000 chalkboards and 58,000 teacher kits including distributions in non-permissive areas.

12.More than 2500 schools had been rehabilitated with another 869 underway

13. 808,000 primary student kits and 81,735 primary teacher kits

14.There are more than 200,000 Iraqis working for the Iraqi security services – more than the number of Coalition forces.

15.More than 9,000 border police officers are on duty today.

16.Nearly 1,500 newly-hired IPS officers have completed their eight-week basic training course and are on the streets of Iraq protecting the people.

17.More than 12,000 rehired IPS officers have completed a three-week Transition and Integration Program (TIP) training course during which they were instructed in international standards for human rights, modern police patrol procedures and techniques, and Iraqi criminal law and procedures

18.Oil..Production capacity has exceeded pre-conflict levels and currently stands at approximately 2.5 MBPD.

19.Daily Exports average 1.58 MBPD.

20. Oil infrastructure security force was established and 14,000 Iraqi oil security guards have been trained and deployed.

See?Not all bad,no?

Posted by: sicilianeagle at November 23, 2005 4:53 PM
Comment #95256

I say good for anyone coming up with any kind of idea for getting out of Iraq. It wouldn’t matter whether it is dem or rep. that came up with it at least it’s an idea that can be tweaked and worked on till it’s right. I never said that good didn’t come out of us being there, but all the good in the world isn’t doing us a bit of good when the kids go home from school and back into the US bashers that most of the kids live with or are related to. It’s sad that we spend so much of our hard earned money rebuilding something better than what they had just because they hate Americans with a passion will probably be destroyed. If things had been told truthfully from the start and we had the support of other countries it wouldn’t have been so bad but things were done half assed as usual from the capital. Now I hear Condi on tv talking about an early withdrawal of some of the troops early next year like the administration had any plans on doing that so soon till the numbers started to fall. Makes you wonder if it’s all a ploy to just get the numbers up or what? It has to be embarassing to be one of the most disliked presidents even more so than daddy was.

Posted by: Sherri at November 23, 2005 6:34 PM
Comment #95300

Sherri:

It has to be embarassing to be one of the most disliked presidents even more so than daddy was.

I don’t think anyone is embarassed just yet.

Data from six polling organizations in October show an average of 39.5 percent job approval for Bush.

But according to the Gallup Organization, that’s a higher mark than the low points for all commanders in chief dating back to Lyndon Johnson in the mid 1960s.

The low points for recent commanders in chief are as follows:

# Bill Clinton: 37 percent

# George H. W. Bush: 29 percent

# Ronald Reagan: 35 percent

# Jimmy Carter: 28 percent

# Gerald Ford: 37 percent

# Richard Nixon: 24 percent

# Lyndon Johnson: 35 percent

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 23, 2005 10:25 PM
Comment #95401

Adrienne, those two Odom articles are pretty interesting, but I just can’t agree. He basically says things are so screwed up there that we should just let the region erupt, then go back in with UN support as part of a legitimate standing alliance.

That would be disasterous for the economy, for our credibility with reformers in the Middle East, and for the future of Iraq.

Odom lists some of the arguments against pulling out:

1) We would leave behind a civil war.

Odom says, sure. It’s already started, and pulling out and letting it become more violent, deadly, and genocidal would force the rest of the world to act.

But would it? Where was the rest of the world in Rwanda and Sudan? Wouldn’t the rest of the world just condemn us for creating the conditions for catastrophic civil war and then letting it blaze? Of course they would, and rightly so.

And since only the United States has the logistic capacity to effectively project force in the region, our troops would bear the brunt of any subsequent peacekeeping mission — and why would we do that if we already got chased out once and the world hates us for it?

Pulling out is not going to rally the world to go back in.

…I was going to answer all of Odom’s arguments point by point, but I think I’ll stop right here. That’s more than enough to convince me Odom’s got the wrong idea. If anyone wants to know what I think about the others, just ask.

Adrienne, certainly the United States won’t explode if we pull out, but there’s really more to stabilizing Iraq than just bombing terrorists. The last thing we need is to lose Iraq to an Iranian-style theocracy, and we’re dangerously close enough to that already. We want Iraqis to open up their society, not close it off again.

Posted by: American Pundit at November 24, 2005 9:04 AM
Comment #95403
At the end of Vietnam, we developed a successful strategy to counter the insurgency and essentially defeated it. Unfortunately, it came too late politcally and North saw its chance and took it to conquer the South.

Jack, you think that happened because you see North and South Vietnam as two different countries. Look at Vietnam today. Is the southern part of the country enemy occupied territory? Of course not. Vietnam is a contiguous, unified state with a largely homogeneous ethnic population north and south of the artificial divide created by the French colonials.

To say that the North “conquered” the South is wrong. From the Vietnamese point of view, the north was a secure area to build up conventional forces, not a seperate country.

The Vietnamese combatants used those convential forces at the end of the war in accordance with standard insurgent tactics as pioneered by Mao. In fact, Ho Chi Minh declared that he was following Mao’s strategy when he started the struggle for independence from the French in 1951.

Phase I: Concentate on building political strength. Military action is limited to politically motivated assassination, and any other military operation must have a propaganda purpose that builds political strength with the people.

Phase II: Gain strength, consolidate control of base areas, and administer them. Military operations are focused on wearing down government forces.

Phase III: When government forces have been significantly weakened, commit the conventional forces which have been carefully husbanded up to this point in a final offensive.

Jack, you’re just looking at Phase III without putting it into the context of the broader insurgency. Vietnam was a classic insurgent victory.

Posted by: American Pundit at November 24, 2005 9:27 AM
Comment #95404
Really,one of your calmer pieces,bravo.

SE, all my pieces are calm, reasoned, and impeccably sourced. Thank you. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at November 24, 2005 9:29 AM
Comment #95405
Troule is that the left will demonize McCain eventually.

Sure, but probably not on foreign policy.

Posted by: American Pundit at November 24, 2005 9:31 AM
Comment #95494

AP
First off,Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from this misunderstood neo-con.

Now,I have a question for you:

If the election were tomorrow and McCain was the Republician candidate and given the whole range of potential democratic candidates,who would you vote for?

In other words,against McCain do you have a preferred Democratic canditate?

Posted by: sicilianeagle at November 24, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #95589

AP,
Came across this commentary on exit strategies:

“The Bush administration and its supporters like to dodge the issue of an exit strategy by immediately accusing the questioner of trying to set up US forces by telling the terrorists when US forces are going to leave Iraq. That’s really not the purpose of an exit strategy… The value of projecting a mission time line… is that it requires us to operationalize — that is, make “testable” or “actionable” — our view of a situation as well as our assumptions, goals, plans, and allocation of resources. It makes an objective assessment of these easier, while encouraging clarity, discipline, and the early and honest disclosure of problems. By contrast, the lack of such constraints in planning gives license to impractical goals, faulty assumptions, and incompetent execution. Problems and costs are both simply allowed to accumulate. For this reason, no one would reasonably contract to have a house built, for instance, without some type of blueprint, schedule, and budget.”

I’ve posted on this previously. I think the Bush administration has an exit strategy, and that we’ll draw down substantially before the 2006 midterms.

But I’m not sure. The doubt about an exit strategy creeps in when reflecting upon the post-invasion planning for Iraq. The incompetence boggles the mind. Even if Cheney’s people suppressed other points of view, surely someone thought through contigencies. Everything about the occupation has had an ad hoc feel. Everything about it gives a sense of staggering from one mindset to another, reacting and changing views & goals in reaction to the enemy’s agenda.

This is from a critique of Barnett’s book, “Blueprint.” Barnett suggests it would have taken 250,000 SysAdmin forces to pacify Iraq. This counter supports my point earlier in the thread, a point you & I have disagreed over in the past, concerning ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq:

“Is there any reason to suspect that with enough troops on the ground, we couldn’t have precluded an insurgency? Against this is the argument that the occupying force itself is a catalyst for insurgency and so one of the ingredients in successful counterinsurgency is keeping as small a footprint as possible. A large Sys Admin force, particularly a multinational one with varying proficiency in handling insurgency – and comprising different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds – adds complexity, increases the potential for misunderstandings and provocative events, and provides a target-rich environment. For these reasons, 250,000 largely non-Muslim Sys Adminers, some with experience fresh from Chechnya, might not have been the panacea Barnett claims.”

Posted by: phx8 at November 25, 2005 1:58 AM
Comment #95601

I, like several other posters, am not entirely certain where I stand on this issue. A large part of this results from a lack of understanding of what our goals and objectives are for Iraq. Was the goal the removal of Hussein…if so, “Mission Accomplished.” Is it the removal of the threat of a nuclear attack or an imminent threat of attack by WMDs…also “Mission Accomplished”…by UN weapons inspectors. Is it squashing the insurgency…or putting an end to a low-grade civil war? Is it the establishment of a democracy? Okay…now we’re getting into much more hairy territory.

Honestly, establishing a democracy is out of our hands. Perhaps I’m tainted by currently living in a pseudo-democracy that is quickly unraveling (Uganda…not the US). Nevertheless…establishing democracy is an unbelievably slow process that requires a great deal of understanding of democratic principles by a country’s people…true control over the levers of power in the hands of the citizenry (Uganda’s current trouble)…a lot of goodwill, good faith, and trust in systems…true desire for democracy…and some good luck. Many of the initial plays along these lines have been taken (the Constitution is in place…leaders elected…etc.), and now we are somewhat relegated to the sidelines to see if it “works”. Sure, we may be able to assist in civic education to help people better understand democracy and work on conflict resolution…but it’s truly up to Iraqi people and their leaders to decide if this works. Check back in 50 years for an update.

This brings us to the issue of the insurgency or what some have called a low-grade civil war. Can we assist with this? Obviously the McCains and Clintons believe we can…with a better strategy and more troops. The administration believes we can address it through training and keeping our current deployment in place. Ignoring how all of these people have been so wrong about so many things about Iraq up to this point, I am willing to consider that they may have a point now. Of course, we should certainly consider all options.

Other options and opinions include those posed by people concerned with the possibility that our presence in Iraq is a root cause of the insurgency and instability there. If they are correct, then it seems unlikely that increasing our number of troops will result in a better outcome…even if it delays an inevitable retreat. From this perspective the “ink blot” strategy or strategies to increase our presence seem a lot like either placing a bigger band aid on the wounds or dividing up our band aid to cover the ugliest outbreaks of the insurection disease.

As I stated at the beginning of the post, I won’t suggest I have the answer and I believe that very bright and informed people seem to populate positions all along the spectrum of policy choices. Along these lines (if or if not along others), and this string of posts demonstrate this point, Iraq isn’t significantly different than Vietnam. We see people of the view that Vietnam was essentially “winnable” and those that think the outcome experienced was nearly inevitable. I just hope that we don’t experience decades of death in Iraq as we did in Vietnam. If this is likely, I would suggest that leaving sooner rather than later makes best since. I wish we had never started this in the first place.

Posted by: JG in UG at November 25, 2005 3:45 AM
Comment #95695

Uganda has been dealing with its own insurgency, the Lord’s Resistance Army, for a long time. Given the magnitute of that problem, I would never expect the Ugandan government to care or become involved in the Middle East.

On the other hand, I see every reason for the US to have helped Uganda eradicate the LRA. We could have accomplished it in a short time, and prevented a lot of horrendous suffering.

Sadly, from the Bush administraton perspective, the LRA problem involves people of the wrong race, with no money and no oil.

Posted by: phx8 at November 25, 2005 1:16 PM
Comment #95883

A.P.
Are you sure about your numbers in the military ?
Or was that just an example ?

Posted by: d.a.n at November 25, 2005 5:45 PM
Comment #95888

After all, the United States has 2.6 million active, Guard, and Reserve soldiers. Who said we need 500,000 troops in IRAQ ?

I do think it’s unfair to be sending Reserves on a third (or more) 9 month tour. It’s no wonder if new enlistment numbers have dropped.

Also, it’s important to remember that IRAQ has 26 million people, and it’s their country. Iraq has 10 times more people than the total number of the United States’ 2.6 million active, Guard, and Reserve soldiers.

We started World War II in 1941 and finished it in 1945. And, that was a much larger event. But, it also involved millions of troops.

Unfortunately, we may have to face the reality that the Iraqi people do not want freedom or democracy badly enough. Unfortunately, many decades of looking the other way, means that too many terrorists and criminals now exist within Iraq, But they still are not the majority.

Thus, it’s time to start expecting Iraqis to start taking over, because they have millions of people that can do it, if they want to. If necessary, the U.S. can continue to help them financially, for a while.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 25, 2005 6:25 PM
Comment #95889

Thus, I don’t see any need for a draft.
I can’t help but suspect these occassional demands to start a draft is more rooted in politics than necessity ?
And, some say the draft will make it more fair?
Yeah….right, like all the previous drafts?
These occassional demands to start a draft are ridiculous, since there are 2.6 million 2.6 million active, Guard, and Reserve soldiers, and only 4.2% are currently within Iraq.

Also, if Democrats want to lose a lot more elections, keep right on asking for an unnecessary draft, and see where it gets you.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 25, 2005 6:59 PM
Comment #95912

Bush and the GOP are turning victory into defeat

We went to war to remove Saddam Hussein in power. He is no longer in power.

We went to war because of possible Weapons of Mass Destruction. We have found out there are no weapons of mass destruction.

We went to war to bring democracy to the people of Iraq. In a few weeks the people of Iraq will elect their new government.

We won. It is time to declare victory and go home.

Our magnificent troops fought well and have eliminated the threat of Saddam and many terrorists. It is time they came home to their reward.

Bush and the Republican party by insisting we stay there are turning our victory into a defeat. The longer we stay there the more we are viewed as occupiers, not saviors. Already 45% of Iraqis according to a British defense department survey approve of attacks on coalition forces as occupiers. Over 80% of Iraqis believe we should leave next year, we are making the situation worse. I believe them.

I call upon our elected representatives to declare victory and leave next year. We won, it is time to go home and celebrate our victory.

Instead of cutting and running as a defeat. Staying is the defeat.

The longer we stay the more we are seen as occupiers, the more we will be hated.

By declaring victory we show that we went to war honorably and left with honor.

Posted by: Easter Lemming at November 25, 2005 8:54 PM
Comment #95931

Much comparing Viet Nam to Iraq going on. Lets not forget we were lied too about Nam. Lets also not forget we lost that war and guess what happend. NOTHING! Remember the bullsh—-. Domino theory. The Comunist did not start marching four abreast on Santa Monica or the Philippines or Australia for that matter.The whole war was the military/industrial complex out of control at a cost of million lives and huge treasure.
What we did there was wrong and stupid.What we are doing now is wrong and stupid. I just hope that when it finally ends badly as iy will we have the good sense and courage to purge the militarist out of power. Maybe congress should take back its responsibility to declare,not just approve war.If that had happen recently we would have gone to war in afganistan but not Iraq. When you are in a hole stop digging. OUT NOW. You ask ,how can we do that? Same answer as Viet Nam. Boat or Plane,either is good.

Posted by: Bill at November 25, 2005 10:27 PM
Comment #96000

The whole idea of the Bush administration establising a democracy would be a joke if so many people were not being killed. They can not stand democracy even in Florida. This was clearly an imperialist venture and should stop now. I just hope we have the wisdom and courage to finally purge the militarist from power. Again,”How can we just pull out?” Easy,boat or plane.Either is good.

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Comment #99673

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