Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Fog of War

According to: The Times of Oman the Iraqi government has completely:

demobilised an entire police brigade suspected of links to sectarian death squads.
That is about 800 of the so called Iraqis who are ready to “stand up” so that we can “stand down.”

Have you heard the "stand down" lie lately? The Bush Regime has consistently offered overly optimistic projections for Iraq since before the war even began. They keep saying that we have turned the corner. Apparently we are making all right hand turns - driving around the same block - and getting our copulating anal orifices blown off every time we go around. Bush "either knew or should have known" that we were not going to be able to stand down when he was telling us that lie. It is not credible to me, that the "fog of war" was so thick as to obscure the obvious truth that things were not going well and that the Iraqis would not be able to "stand up" in the foreseeable future. Either the Bush Regime has been lying - as I assert here - or one is led to the inescapable conclusion that they are criminally stupid. For the Love of God, let's hope that they are lying.

I was opposed to going into Iraq in the first place, but I have been a hawk on winning the war until recently. Recently I have come to the conclusion that the war is a lost cause and that the sooner we get out - at least out of the middle of the conflict - the better. The "fog of war" makes it difficult to know what to do. While the insular Bush Regime may think otherwise; the best course of action is by no means a "slam dunk." The Iraqi governments willingness to demobilize a police brigade complicit with death squads is a good thing - but how many more police brigades need to be demobilized? How complicit are elements of the Iraqi government in the violence?

Winning the war is important. We liberals may not like it - but the U.S. is an imperial power. This is reality. Playing the role of imperial power may not be the most idealistic role that the U.S. could play in the world, but it is the role that we do play, and as bad as our imperialism is, the world would be much worse off if we were not here. For example, the collapse of the U.S.S.R. led to regional instability, greatly increased risk of nuclear proliferation, and greatly increased risk that WMD would fall into the hands of terrorists. The collapse of the U.S.A. would have the same effect on a global scale. It is certainly important for imperial powers to win their wars. Imperial powers that lose wars will not remain imperial powers. The global empire slips away piece by piece. Imperial powers can lose the occasional war but there is hell to pay when they do and they have to reassert their dominance. On the other hand, imperial powers that waste their resources on unnecessary and unproductive military adventures become "spent" and collapse. They go bankrupt. That was bin Laden's plan from the start and the ill begotten son of the founder of the Bush Dynasty has played into his hands.

So it is important to win - but it is equally important not to fight lost causes. Here are some of the reasons that I believe Iraq has become a lost cause:

1) The Bush regime failed to prepare the American people for a long conflict. See: Confronting Iraq - USA Today Education. See also: Iraq insurgency in 'last throes' - CNN.com They failed to completely prepare the American people to make the sacrifices necessary to win. No draft. Tax cuts for the rich. Nobody gets to see the flag draped coffins. Don't let the American people know how many mercenary "private security contractors" have been killed. Do not provide an accurate reliable Iraqi death toll. Keep the American people from troubling their pretty little heads about the human cost. They criticized John Kerry's overly optimistic $200 billion dollar price tag while knowing that the real cost were likely to be far higher. So the ill begotten son of the founder of the Bush Dynasty consistently lies, covers up, and hides the real costs, and the real prognosis of the war from the American people. That indicates a tacit acceptance that the American people would not be willing to pay the cost if they fully understood what it was going to be. They cherry picked intelligence and lied to get us into war thereby undermining their credibility which also impacts the commitment of the American people. They have lied to the American people to get us in and have lied and lied some more to keep us there.

Unlike WWII the American people were never fully committed to this war. During WWII the American people were ready to fight to the last man. Everyone, - rich and poor alike, was expected to contribute to the war effort. Who has planted a victory garden to help out? Who has accepted rationing. Who has bought a more fuel efficient car in order to support the war effort by driving down the price of gas. Had that been the expectation in this war, the American people would never have agreed to it - which means - they were never fully committed. We were all a bunch of gungho warriors weren't we? Let's go kick their ass as long as it is easy, fast, and cheap. You were gungho - not me. I said let's stay home to begin with. During WWII the preeminent winners - the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. - had 300 thousand and 19 million combined civilian and military deaths respectively. For the the U.S.A. that was 1 out of every 450 people. For the U.S.S.R. it was 1 out of every 10 people. For Germany it was 1 out of every 14 people. That is the kind of commitment that you should have from a civilian population before you go to war. Were the American people prepared to sacrifice 660 thousand of their beloveds? Were thet prepared to sacrifice 30 million. So, the leader of the "freely spied upon world" leads the American people to war without assuring a srong commitment to success from the American people, then he blames the American people for not being committed. It was his responsibility to make sure that we were fully committed before he led us into this trap.

2) The Bush Regime's failure to prosecute the war in an effective fashion also makes it unwinnable. Their massive failures are well known and documented. Not enough troops to stabilize. Disbanding the Iraqi army. A command culture from the white house on down, that encouraged, condoned, or at least failed to prevent torture. The Bush Regime's refusal to talk to Iran and Syria and engage them in the solution. Their failures are legion and well known. We need not waste electronic ink on exhaustively detailing them here. The point is that these failures have led to an insurgency / civil war which is going make "nation building" in Iraq enormously difficult.

Of course, with enough effort we could still "nation build" Iraq. This is doable people!!! We can do this!!! But having allowed this war to go this far off the rails, it would now require a major escalation of effort. What do you suppose that it would take to really do this now? My guess: The back benching of the Iraqi police and army. Somewhere between 250,000 and 750,000 troops on the ground - many trained in police duties - for at least the next 5 to 10 years. Re-institution of the draft. Rolling back the tax cuts for the rich. Rolling back Medicare and Social Security. Tax increases for the middle class. Benefit cuts for the poor. Rationing. Putting our economy on a war footing. Probably another 500,000 to 1.5 million troops to either prosecute regional war with Syria and Iran, or at least be able to represent a credible threat that would bring them to the negotiating table. Probably 50,000 to 100,000 dead Americans before it is over. We can do this. But does any of that sound like a realistic possibility? Not in the least. In my opinion, that is the order of magnitude of effort that would be required to turn this thing around at this point.

If you are going to play a game - play to win. If you are not going to put forth the effort that it takes to win - don't bother playing. We are not going to put forth the effort that it takes to win therefore we are going to lose. We are wasting our time, our money, and our lives. "If this thing is worth doing - it is worth doing right." The fact that we are not willing to do this right means that it apparently is not worth doing. We cannot win without controlling sectarian violence and terrorism. The aforementioned level of sustained effort would allow us to do that. That would allow us to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and economy and to nurture durable liberal democratic institutions. That would allow us to turn ancient hatreds into present loves, but we are not even close to being willing to "go the distance." We need to get out now before we make the situation worse or at least find other policy alternatives.

There is one thing that the "fog of war" does not obscure. The "fog of war" does not obscure the complete failure of Bush's foreign policy in containing North Korea and nuclear proliferation. See:Democrats assail Bush's N. Korea Policy. Bush labeled North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as the axis of evil and said that we were going to go after them. Then he went after Iraq. So, Iran and North Korea, feeling threatened and thinking that they were next both went after nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Even assuming that Bush had good reason to believe that we needed to take Iran and North Korea down eventually, he certainly did not need to shoot off his loud gun slingin mouth until he was ready to do it. Shooting off his mouth only gave potential future enemies time to prepare. Now, bogged down in Iraq, we lack the conventional military power to confront Iran or North Korea. We could "implode" the North Korean regime if we could get South Korea and China to participate in a land blockade in support of a navel blockade by us. Problem: The American and South Korean conventional military forces in South Korea are no match for the North Korean army. The U.S. cannot reinforce South Korea because we are bogged down and over extended. We dare not not use nuclear weapons against a nuclear armed North Korea. An effective blockade of North Korea would make North Korea desperate, unstable, and would increase the risk that they would attack South Korea. On the other hand, if we don't get tough with them, Japan knowing that they cannot count on the U.S. to defend them will want to develop their own conventional and nuclear deterrent. Basically, thanks to George W. Bush, the world is pretty much anally copulated.


Policy Alternatives for Iraq:

1) Stay the course. It ain't workin, but don't let that stop you. One of the similarities between Bush and bin Laden is their fundamentalists faith in God. While some of us (me), may be critical of the absolutist nature of fundamentalism of all religions, you do have to give them credit for persistence in the face of adversity. Whatever criticisms one might have of religion and fundamentalism, it is undeniably true that religious faith gives people a set of coping skills for coping with adversity. Fundamentalists of all stripes while absolutist in their thinking do tend to have the strongest faith. I have been trying to figure Bush out for some time. Is he stupid, idiotic, evil, dry drunk, drunk, or sincerely passionately religious. Presently, I am leaning toward the idea of idiotic, dry drunk, sincerely religious. If things are not going well for an atheist he will look around and say: "This is not working - maybe I should try something different." Smart - but - not so tenaciously persistent. For a fundamentalist person of strong faith, if things are going badly, he will look around and say: "God works in mysterious ways" and plough right ahead. Stupid? But you have to admire his tenacity. Bush's messianic faith will lead him to be OK with leading us to the brink of Armageddon. That is fine for the fundamentalist Christians if they want to be raptured - let em go. Do the rest of us want to ride on their bus?

2) As I wrote elsewhere:

Come home. Focus on homeland defense. Keep your powder dry. And prepare for the big one. To use a sports metaphor: It is fourth down and fifty. Punt. Play defense like hell. And wait for your chance to go back on the offense. When you do go back on the offense, call a smart play this time, and for Allah’s sake idiot, don’t fumble the ball again.
This option is looking better by the minute in relation to the growing crisis in North Korea. We are tied up in Iraq. We need to untie ourselves. Bring massive conventional military reinforcements to South Korea and "get all up" in the "little man's" face.

3) Withdraw from the major cities Iraq. Take possession of the oil fields, refineries and pipelines. That is what we went there for. If the enemy wants to engage us, let them come out on the dessert where we can squash them like a bug. Maintain Iraqi and CIA spies on the ground in the cities - when terrorist strongholds are identified - go back in - smash them and withdraw. Allow the Iraqis to have their civil war but make it clear that no side will be allowed decisive military victory because we will switch sides and provide tactical air support to whichever side starts to lose. Talk to Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Buy Iraqi oil for fair market value minus the cost of recovery, but put the money in escrow on a sectarian per capita basis and hold the money until they agree to play nice with each other.

Posted by Ray Guest at October 9, 2006 10:45 PM
Comments
Comment #187360

I really can’t overstate how much I enjoyed this article. I’ve been waiting to hear any strategy other than “stay the course” which was essentially meaningless to me. Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard any great plans from the Democrats either.

You’ve put things in chilling perspective. Well done!

Posted by: Jacob in SC at October 10, 2006 6:51 AM
Comment #187363

Ray, wrong, wrong, and wrong on your 3 options.

A complete pullout threatens to open the door for terrorist organization interests to tap into the Iraqi oil revenues.

You are right, oil is one of the main reasons why the Bush administration strategically invaded, and why Sen. Warner says we simply cannot leave.

But, an option you didn’t mention was a large draw down allowing the sectarian war to play itself out but, not abandoning our defensive role for the Iraqi seat of government or the oil infrastructure until such time as the Iraqi government and Army are capable of assuming those roles adequately.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 10, 2006 7:13 AM
Comment #187365

Back up and regroup. What exactly is the bare minimum we are fighting for in Iraq? Not so much to obtain their oil for us, but to keep it (and the wealth derived from it) out of the hands of al Qaeda. That is the real bottom line.
The obvious step is to let the civil war happen on our terms. Divide Iraq into 3 independent countries: the Kurds have been fighting for their freedom since the days of Xenophon, so why not give them what they want and be done with it? The Shi’ites don’t exactly love us, but they don’t like al Qaeda either, which is 99% Sunni. If we go away and leave them alone, they may simmer down. The Sunnis will never forgive us for giving them one-third of the power where they used to have it all; but they live in the part of Iraq which has the least oil, so who cares what they think of us? Take away their access to oil and the money accruing from it, and they become a non-factor, like the Somalis.
Then, we can go back to Afghanistan and take out Osama bin Laden. It is a national disgrace that he remains at large 5 years after 9/11.

Posted by: Dragon at October 10, 2006 8:31 AM
Comment #187386

The fear that we cannot allow terrorist organizations to tap into the oil wealth of Iraq is no justification for not abandoning an ill-conceived conflict there, because it assumes that terrorist organizations don’t already have unlimited resources from our enemies in Iran and Syria and our friends in Saudi Arabia.

The assertion by the bush administration that the war against terror can only be won and should only be fought militarily is disproved by the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, if the bush administration is to be believed at all, the only successes we’ve had in the war against terror have come through the investigative technique HE says won’t work.

Posted by: Kaiser Sozay at October 10, 2006 11:15 AM
Comment #187391

All of the sudden Democrats want to fight.I find it ammusing that they refuse to fight the battle that is raging in Iraq but they cant wait to fight the little man in N.Korea.Where did all of this bravery come from all the sudden?Answer It’s all smoke they know that we will not be doing battle in N. Korea before election day and they can change thier minds after election day.I Salute these brave tail waggers and say they are very trancperant.

Posted by: PETRO at October 10, 2006 11:26 AM
Comment #187392

I gotta go with Dragon on this one. I’m surprised that Mr Guest didn’t mention dividing up the country as an option. I really don’t see any other option as viable. The country will never be stable as long as we are there, and no government that has our backing will ever be seen as legit. The only way Iraq could ever continue as one country is either under a dictatorship (tried that) or under the control of the mullahs (don’t want that). So give the Kurds their Kurdistan, despite how much it will piss Turkey off, give the Shiis the oil, which is not ideal but should make Iran relax a little, and let the Sunnis do their own thing. Most likely, it will end up a puppet of Saudi Arabia, just as the Shiite area will become a satellite of Iran. Of course, this could escalate tension in the long run, since Iraq formed something of a buffer between Shiite and Sunni….

Get the impression this war was a bad idea yet?

Posted by: leatherankh at October 10, 2006 11:28 AM
Comment #187396

Thank you all.

David Remer,

You wrote:

But, an option you didn’t mention was a large draw down allowing the sectarian war to play itself out but, not abandoning our defensive role for the Iraqi seat of government or the oil infrastructure until such time as the Iraqi government and Army are capable of assuming those roles adequately.

That is a viable possibility. It is not all that different from my third option. I think that my third option is more realistic because the Iraqi government is part of the problem. Further more I think that we would still need all of our troops (probably more) to protect the oil infrastructure. Oil is being smuggled on a regular basis as is - probably by terrorists.

Dragon,

I liked your option as well. It would create problems for Turkey and if memory serves Turkey has nukes - not a good idea to destabilize nukes unless it is absolutely necessary, as it may be in North Korea. I did not do an exhaustive list of alternatives here. I just presented three approaches that I think are better than the current approach.

PETRO,

Thank You. Enjoyed your comment enormously.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 10, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #187416

I checked my memory - apparently it does not serve - Turkey does not have nuclear weapons. Still we do not want to create problems for them. They are unstable as is, but Dragon’s idea would be far better than the current approach of the Bush Regime in Iraq.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 10, 2006 1:20 PM
Comment #187471

Dividing up up Iraq into three, or however many, regions is not a viable solution. History proves why. One only has to look at other artificial divisions created by Imperial powers, mostly the British. Examples are kashmir, Palestine, Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia and even Iraq itself. It sounds good and appears to be easy enough to do, but it isn’t and is a short term band aid on an amputee at best. though frankly, it does sound like something i would expect the idiots in the White House to think of. It’s the same sort of short-sightedness and lack of history and cultural understanding that got us into the Iraqi mess in the first place. Bush is like the kid who kills his parents and pleads for mercy from the court because he’s an orphan! He’s created a mess that will be very difficult to extract ourselves from and whoever has to do it (it won’t llikely be Bush himself), will find themselves in a precarious situation indeed. I think Ray is mostly right, therefore. His suggestion is better than anything i’ve heard from the GOP in the last four years, for damn sure!

Posted by: RBSki at October 10, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #187511

Thanks all,

The debate here is pretty substantive - PETRO excepted. The debate is a little anemic I think because we got pushed down the list of articles pretty fast. I posted at the wrong time.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 10, 2006 7:21 PM
Comment #187654

really good artical

The thing we keep leaving out of the equation is, that it isn’t just THIS administration that is screwing it up. They ALL have. We did surgical strikes against Iraq in 1991 and took out all of their water treatment plants. Hundreds of thousands of kids died. THEN we put a blockade on the country that remains. Remember all those poor souls that use to walk up to you and ask, “why do those people hate us so much?” duh!!

Posted by: james w fisher at October 11, 2006 2:40 PM
Comment #187663

Thanks James.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 11, 2006 3:14 PM
Comment #187797

Ray ever heard of the New Orleans Police Department or the Chicago Police Department The New York Police Department?At one time or another these and other Police Departments You could have made a case to replace entire Police Department Personel and the last time I looked These Departments Are in the U.S.A.So whats your Point at least we are getting rid of the Crooks in The Iraq Situation!

Posted by: PETRO at October 12, 2006 1:52 PM
Comment #187815

PETRO,

The situation in Iraq is orders of magnitude different / worse from the police departments that you cite.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 12, 2006 2:55 PM
Comment #187821

Ray tell that to the gentleman that still has chips of paint from a flashlight that went were no man should ever go!

Posted by: PETRO at October 12, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #187909

PETRO,

I did not say that they were good police departments - but at least they are not running genocidal death squads - yet.

Posted by: Ray Guest at October 13, 2006 2:21 AM
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