Democrats & Liberals Archives

Veterans: Harsh Reality and the Surreal

I recommend an article in the NY Times by C.J. Chivers - Marines Get the News From an Iraqi Host: Rumsfeld’s Out. ‘Who’s Rumsfeld?’. Political struggling and maneuverings at home have changed the political landscape. Hopefully in a manner that will be positive for U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Hopefully for the people of those nations. Hopefully for the world. However the article points to a stark contrast of perceptions.

From the article:

Hashim al-Menti smiled wanly at the marine sergeant beside him on his couch. The sergeant had appeared in the darkness on Wednesday night, knocking on the door of Mr. Menti's home.

When Mr. Menti answered, a squad of infantrymen swiftly moved in, making him an involuntary host.

Since then marines had been on his roof with rifles, watching roads where insurgents often planted bombs.

Mr. Menti had passed the time watching television. Now he had news. He spoke in broken English. "Rumsfeld is gone," he told the sergeant, Michael A. McKinnon.

"Democracy," he added, and made a thumbs-up sign. "Good."

The marines had been on a continuous foot patrol for several days, hunting for insurgents. They were lost in the hard and isolating rhythms of infantry life.

They knew nothing of the week's news.

Now they were being told by an Iraqi whose house they occupied that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, one of the principal architects of the policies that had them here, had resigned. "Rumsfeld is gone?" the sergeant asked. "Really?"

Mr. Menti nodded. "This is better for Iraq," he said. "Iraqi people say thank you."

The sergeant went upstairs to tell his marines, just as he had informed them the day before that the Republican Party had lost control of the House of Representatives and that Congress was in the midst of sweeping change. Mr. Menti had told them that, too.

"Rumsfeld's out," he said to five marines sprawled with rifles on the cold floor.

Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. looked up from his cigarette. "Who's Rumsfeld?" he asked.

READ THE REST

Recently, another soldier from Oregon (my home state) died He was Spc. Douglas Desjardins (Surprenant) of Scio, and he was killed when his tank ran over an explosive. I watched the brief interview with his grief stricken mother on the local news. She said that Douglas loved the Army and was totally committed to his mission.

I have heard similar responses from grieving parents over and over again. Maybe the news sorts out those who have something different to say. I also have a number of students in my classes who have returned - sometimes only briefly - from Iraq and Afghanistan. From discussions with these students, and my guess most active duty personnel, current affairs are not at the top of the list. Sitting back and thinking about the political situation at home where the decisions affect everything about their lives are made, is also probably not on the top of their minds either. Other issues occupy their time, such as being under constant threat.

The response of "who's Rumsfeld?" is not at all surprising, but it is telling. Desjardins (Surprenant), served his country, but what mission was he totally committed to? Did he know that mission more clearly than those of us at home who have yet to receive any concise answer beyond "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here"?

Imagine how Hashim al-Menti must have felt in the face of such a response. Might he feel a serious disconnect and have huge concerns when the people who are there to "liberate" him? Here is a man who is "hosting" U.S. troops in his house. The placement of those troops on his roof making him and his family direct targets for anyone attacking those troops. He is intimately interested in the U.S. politicians who place those troops on his roof, but those who are on the roof do not share those interests.

I do not think this is unique to the current "war." The reality troops face is following orders. Reflection under fire is neither encouraged nor fruitful. In fact, it is perhaps best not to think too much about what one is doing or has done. One is locked in a never ending string of moments. Hurry up and wait, in an endless now. Does commitment to "the mission" have space in that "now?" Perhaps for some it does. Does "loving what your doing" have a place in that "now?" Perhaps it does. However, the real struggle for those who have served under fire once the fighting is over seems to be dreams of fear and blood and death that happened in that "now," but had no space in it.

Today is Veteran's Day. A day when the people of the United States honor those who have served our country under arms. It would be nice if while acknowledging their bravery and sacrifice, we acknowledge the truth of the transformation of their lives. Perhaps that is the true sacrifice that the troops make - their essential selves. The sacrifice of the path that lives might have gone. The sacrifice of carrying those memories for a lifetime. By not acknowledging and honoring this part of "service to the country" we allow generation after generation to "bravely serve" without question.

Do we need those who step forward (or who were drug forward) to serve in the armed forces? Unfortunately, yes; though I dream of a world where that is not necessary. Since we need them to serve, we should acknowledge and support the full nature of that service. Otherwise, the largest struggles of many become private struggles, and expressing them a tarnish on their "bravery and commitment."

The story by Chivers also points to another harsh reality. While our troops are locked in the moment, it is our responsibility of to ensure that the decision makers are making good decisions; that the cause in which they offer their lives is one of which they can be proud and can commit to. They depend on us to watch their backs - not just cheer them on. They depend on us to raise the questions, engage in the reflection, struggle with the broader issues. They also depend on us once they are home, to recognize the reality of their experience - not the myth of it. If we are going to treat our veterans as heroes, we must have the kindness of also acknowledging that they are human beings - not teflon coated images which shine and to which nothing sticks.

Perhaps I know too many Vets who struggle with the demons of their service to this country and not enough who seem to have come through "unscathed" by the realities of war.

Veterans, I thank you for your service, and I acknowledge that for many - if not all of you - that service did not end when you took off your uniforms. You continue to struggle with the experiences you had, and you fight on as civilians to ensure the accountability of our leaders and our citizens. You are indeed brave, and you are indeed heroes - living heroes who laugh and cry, yell and sing, write poetry and rant, march and stomp, have moments of rage and periods of intense clarity. For all of those things, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at November 11, 2006 7:12 PM
Comments
Comment #194653

Rowan, good post,
I too would like to thank all the veterans, past and present for their service to our Country.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 11, 2006 7:53 PM
Comment #194660

I was a college student in Ohio in the 70’s, I was a physics major.

The Kent State shooting had occured, and I was aware of that, and knew of the new CSN&Y song “Forgetting Ohio” (Actually, “Four Dead in Ohio”). I had supported Nixon and was confronted one day by an SDS group in the hall asking for support for a protest at Kent State. My feeling was that I came to school to get an education, what was the point of demostrations? Just what did the students who got shot think would happen when when they burned the ROTC building? (It turned out the students shot had nothing to do with the demonstraions) The SDS student talked about illegal bombing in Cambodia. I had seen Abbie Hoffman acting like a rude, snarling idiot on Phil Donahue ( a local Dayton, Ohio show then)
I asked the SDS student why should I believe him about the bombings in Cambodia, since the Mainstream Media (i.e.Walter Cronkite) hadn’t made an issue of it? He looked at me with frustration.

I was young. Funny how that encounter has stayed with me over the years, and how uninformed I was. It isn’t only Marines in Iraq, who don’t know the realities of the world they live in, even if it may mean their life. I got an education in a way I never expected. Sadly, many Marines get a very hard lesson in reality.

I always remember this when I talk to someone who is always talking about those horrible protesters and how the Chickenhawks have our best interests at heart, and why don’t I support our troops. Who the hell is Rumsfeld, anyway?

Posted by: gergle at November 11, 2006 9:02 PM
Comment #194668

When I was in the Army, knowing the Chain of Command was a requirement. Though, many not seeking Soldier of the Month competition, quickly forgot it after AIT.

We do owe thanks to our soldiers. But, it is important that we not elevate them to pedestals of gods. They are just people with strengths and foibles like the rest of us.

This morning a vet who recently completed his 6 year term in the Army was on C-Span’s Washington Journal, representing Vets for Freedom. His position was that the Iraq war was going badly because the chain of command was not permitting them to do the job they were trained to. He pointed out casualties were higher than they needed to be because our soldiers were being told to enter buildings and risk room to room searches for the bad guys rather than being given the permission to just raze the entire building, apt. complex, or home. He pleaded that our soldiers be allowed to do what they were trained to, kill and destroy anything and everything standing between them and victory.

Apparently, this veteran failed to recognize that his approach of killing children, women, seniors and innocent husbands and brothers, would leave America no better than terrorists and insurgents who regard innocents as obstacles to be removed.

Our soldiers are to be thanked and respected for the job they do and sacrifices they make. But, it is vital that we never forget the wisdom of Dwight D. Eisenhauer who reminded us that our military should always be controlled by civilians lest we lose that which makes us civilized and maintains our humanity.

Most of our soldiers, 5 to 1 of whom are support personnel for those actually engaged in combat, return home with their humanity and respect for civilian authority of our democratic republic intact. We need to be aware however, that there will be those represented by Vets for Freedom, whose experience and horrors of bearing witness to the carnage of war, can and sometimes do, lose their moral compass and humanity.

It is important that we back home regard such returning vets who have lost their humanity and moral compass, and would have us become no better than the enemy they fight, as casualties of war themselves, deserving of our understanding and help if they will accept it. But such vets, should never, ever be allowed to represent our civilian run democratic republic, which Dwight D. Eisenhauer warned against in the strongest of terms.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 11, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #194669

Excellent excellent post. It always makes me see red whenever I hear some right-winger claiming that the Left doesn’t support the troops. My father is an Army vet that threaded the needle between Korea and Vietnam, his brother flew F-86s in Korea, my brother was an EM-2 on the USS Eisenhower back in the 80’s, and now my nephew just shipped off to Army basic training. I have all the respect in the world for our men and women in uniform, and to hear a lugnut like Michael Medved claiming that you cannot support the troops without supporting their mission makes me want to throw things. Dissent is the highest form of patriotism, and blindly following lockstep with government has caused untold horror and death in this world. So while I hate what we are doing in Iraq, I thank all our brave people over there, and all of their forbears. I thank my father, my uncle, my brother, and most of all my nephew, and I pray to God he never goes over there.

Posted by: leatherankh at November 11, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #194673
He pointed out casualties were higher than they needed to be because our soldiers were being told to enter buildings and risk room to room searches for the bad guys rather than being given the permission to just raze the entire building, apt. complex, or home.

David, this occurs for one reason. To capture the enemy alive so he can be interrogated for what he knows.

There is no military requirement—and no international law, Geneva Conventions or anything else—that requires soldiers to enter buildings where they know there are enemies and risk their lives going room to room. In fact, if the enemy is in there hiding among civilians they are war criminals under the Geneva Conventions and any civilian casualites are on their head.

There are some who seem to believe that any captured combatants should be given lawyers and NOT subjected to coercive interrogation. If they get their way, then our troops and their commanders have no reason whatsoever to not just kill them immediatly whenever they’re encountered on the battlefield.

Here is another view of the attitude of our troops to the departure of Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 11, 2006 10:43 PM
Comment #194678

Neo-Con Pilsner,

“In fact, if the enemy is in there hiding among civilians they are war criminals under the Geneva Conventions and any civilian casualites are on their head.”

Am I the only one that sees the irony in that statement?

Posted by: Rocky at November 11, 2006 11:09 PM
Comment #194681

Irony, Rocky?

Okay I get it: American soldiers are themselves war criminals, so it’s ironic for them to level a building containing head-choppers and terrorists.

Because the American soldiers are war criminals, they do not deserve to fight according to accepted rules of military engagement and destroy enemies instead of risking their lives in attempts to capture them.

Classic.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 11, 2006 11:24 PM
Comment #194686

Neo-Con Pilsner: I repeat:

“Apparently, this veteran failed to recognize that his approach of killing children, women, seniors and innocent husbands and brothers, would leave America no better than terrorists and insurgents who regard innocents as obstacles to be removed.”

We chose to invade that nation, they didn’t invade us. If we were invaded by Iraqis and they brought their civilians with them as shields, there is room for a relativist argument that our first and primary obligation is to defend our own.

But, having invaded Iraq, we have invited world attention and critique of our actions there. If we allow ourselves to freely engage in collateral damage, the slaughtering of innocent women and children as a efficient means of getting to the bad guys, then WE WIDEN THE WAR, and increase our enemies around the world. In other words, we deny ourselves victory and the ability to complete our mission as a civilized nation and people.

C’mon Neo-Con Pilsner, at least try to acknowledge the bigger picture here.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 11, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #194687


Our troops have to go into houses looking to capture terrorists because there is a group of morons in the Whitehouse who claimed that we did not need a occupation army, only a token force because we will be praised as liberators.

Posted by: jlw at November 11, 2006 11:42 PM
Comment #194693

Neo-Con Pilsner-
Why do you persist in arguing people’s points for them? He was point out the contradiction in terms of knowingly killing civilians and rationalizing it on the grounds that its all the fault of the war criminals who put them in that position.

Let’s also point out what may not be immediately apparent. Why would the insurgents, head-cutters or not, put civilians in that position. Either A)The civilians are with them, or B)The civilians are being deliberately endangers, so their deaths serve to increase popular support for the insurgency.

It’s like that audio tape made public after the elections. The guy’s taunting Bush, belittling Rumsfeld for running away, etc, etc. True believers take that stuff to heart, and criticize everybody else for having voted in the Democrats, for weakening the war.

If you really think about it though, this provocation is deliberate. The insurgents want us to continue making the same mistakes. Goad people into thinking that taking a different path is weak, that it’s appeasement.

The point of terrorism and insurgency is to goad the other side into becoming paranoid, angry, and get them to lash out at the local population.

Ultimately, we must think of things in terms higher and broader than just the face to face compbat.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 12, 2006 12:17 AM
Comment #194694

Rowan;” They depend on us to watch their backs not just cheer them on.” Outstanding! My compliments.

Posted by: BillS at November 12, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #194695

Rowan

Thank you. This has turned into a bit of an amazing evening.

I was a member of the airforce and served in Vietnam. I volunteered to go over there because of racial problems at the stateside base I was on. I figured what the hell at least I could have a weapon to protect myself all the time over there. I was a dog handler who worked outside base perimeter foot patrol at night with my dog. I cannot confess to have witnessed the horrors that the draftee marines and army troops did. An occasional firefight, rocket attack and assistance flushing viet cong out of the jungle was about as bad as it got for us.

My stay was extended a few months because Nixon decided to leave at my 11th month. One of the clearest memeories I have is that last day. We were the last group to leave the base and be flown out. I will never forget the looting and trashing of the barracks by the south vietnamese as we were pulling out. Not to mention the obscenities they were vocalizing out of anger of our leaving and fear for thier futures. That memory is still vivid to this day. I felt so bad for those people that going home no longer seemed so important.

I am sure you know that vietnam was also a very unpopular war. With the knowledge of that I was somewhat prepared for the return home. But it was much worse than I thought. There was no welcome wagon or job well done slap on the back. I got those oh you were over there, murderer looks when people found out where I had been. People, unless they had been there themselves avoided the subject like the plague. There was a stigma hanging over us all. We were made to feel by many as though a lack of heartfelt character or patriotism within the troops was the reason for losing that war. Fifty eight thousand soldiers lost thier lives fighting a war they did not always understand or sympathize with. (Fifty eight thousand a lack of character???) They did it because that is where there leaders sent them. To a virtually unwinnable war much the same as Iraq. I was young the years passed and I got over it.

One difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that the troops are being supported despite the unpopularity of this war. I do not support the war. But I do support our troops. Many people ask me how I can do both. I tell them that these young and sometimes older people are dying because they have to go where thier leaders send them regardless of thier personal feelings about the situation. It is their job and they have no choice. War is a very scary and real thing. You are never more alive or frightened than when you are under attack by a real enemy who wishes you dead. These people must be made to feel appreciated for what they have done in the service of our country regardless of the outcome. The blame will be and is on the backs of those who arranged for thier ticket over. I could not imagine the burden of having to live with that guilt for the rest of my life.

The reason I say this has been an amazing evening for me is that a few hours ago one of my sons called and sincerly thanked me for serving in Vietnam. I was stunned and touched. I really did not know what to say. That was the first time in thirty two years that any one person had thanked me in person for fighting a lost war. Reading your post was just a little additional icing on the cake. Thanks again, and when the iraq troops return home be sure to give them a slap on the back or a simple thanks. It will mean the world to them.

Posted by: ILdem at November 12, 2006 12:23 AM
Comment #194698

David, you brought up an opinion given by a veteran, and from what I can see he said nothing about regarding “innocents as obstacles to be removed” or about a desire or even willingness to kill “children, women, seniors and innocent husbands and brothers.”

I’ve heard the same complaint from Iraq veterans myself. They are under orders to take prisoners, and even when there are no civilians anywhere in the vicinity, they are often required to risk their lives and enter buildings to go room-by-room.

The reason for this is that the war being fought is not one where observable troop formations are being moved from place to place. Because the enemy is engaged in hit and run attacks, they are very valuable sources of intelligence about planned attacks, the location of leaders, safe-houses and the like.

In the heat of battle, when enemies are firing at you from a building, you are perfectly within all of your rights to level that building.

Considering how Iraqi civilians themeselves are a main target for slaughter by the these insurgents, only a portion of which are Iraqis who are in any way “defending their country”, your notion that they should be allowed to play by different rules than our soldiers rings very hollow.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 12, 2006 12:27 AM
Comment #194699

Sorry for the additional posts. I was having trouble posting and pressed the post button a few times to many

Posted by: ILdem at November 12, 2006 12:28 AM
Comment #194700

Stephen, by definition “civilians” who are “with” terrorists are not civilians at all.

But you’re right.

Terrorists do have a reason for putting civilians in that situatation, and it’s exactly what you say: to put them in a situation where they’re likely to be killed and then use their deaths as a propaganda tool.

And why is this effective? Because there are many people like yourself and David who will always blame the United States before they will blame those actually responsible.

But I see it differently. The insurgency in Iraq has deliberatley targeted and killed many times more civilians than our armed forces have killed accidently. And because I care more about not leaving those civilians to the tender mercies of the jihadists than suffering the barbs and arrows of propaganda spread by America’s enemies, I say defeat them.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 12, 2006 12:39 AM
Comment #194702

Neo-Con

We will never defeat them. We are occupying their territory. Their desire for victory and hatred of us is much greater than ours for them. Because there is no clear way to distinguish the enemy from ally we will never be able to fully contain and wear them down. The middle east has been at this for thousands of years and will probably fight the fight for a thousand more if that is what it takes. Their conviction is much stronger than ours. So long as we are there it will continue on and on and on. Some of you seem to forget that we were the invaders and apparently not so welcome invaders. Our only hope is that we can now convince other countries to lend support in securing the borders and let the iraqi people settle the rest. It is either that or leave as soon as possible. Wasting another life on an unwinnable war, we never should have been involved in to begin with, is a tragedy in itself.

Posted by: ILdem at November 12, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #194703

ILDem, maybe YOUR desire for victory is weaker than theirs. Speak for yourself.

And it’s not “their territory.” The insurgency is packed full of foreigners who are there to murder Iraqi civilians, Iraqi policemen, and Iraqi soldiers in order to intimidate the Iraqi people into accepting a murderous Islamic regime where unbelievers or such “evil” people as gays or independent-minded women can be tortured and slaughtered with impunity.

There are many reasonable debates to be had about how to best approach this problem, and I’m not saying now (nor have I ever said) that we’re going about it in the best possible way, or that adjustments—even very large ones—shouldn’t be considered.

But the conflict is real, it’s not going away, and not choosing a side is just one way of choosing their side.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 12, 2006 1:13 AM
Comment #194705

Rowan,

Absolutely excellent article! Wow! Truthful and yet respectful to our troops.

David Remer,

I agree with you, but I don’t think you stressed the point hard enough that the troops on the ground are not trained to be “cops”. Well, with the exception of MP’s, SP’s, etc. Or maybe I was in the infirmary (more likely the stockade) when they taught diplomacy and sensity.

Everyone,

The situation in Iraq now, while not exacly like Vietnam, has taken on certain characteristics of Nam. Our troops can’t differentiate between the “freindlies” and the “enemies”. Every time we blow up a “freindly” we create two or more new “enemies”!

Israel’s made an art out of creating more terrorists and we’re now using their “playbook” to try and accomplish, uh……….., what are we trying to accomplish? Israel now insists that they must bomb Iran because they “might” be close to having a “nuke” to launch against them.

It must be the “only good Arab’s a dead Arab” stategy. Or maybe it’s the “we’ll bomb you back to the stone-age” strategy.

This game of “whack-a-mole” in Iraq must end, and Bush must be held responsible for all of his lies.

No matter what happens we’ll live with an increased threat of terrorism for decades or possibly centuries.

Posted by: KansasDem at November 12, 2006 1:42 AM
Comment #194711

Rowan,

Thanks for a thoughtful and thought provoking post. Speaking strictly for myself, I often find it difficult to believe the idea that one can support the troops while being against the war. Part of this came from a few bad experiences I had with a few radicals in college. I know intellectually that they are a small minority, its good to see it confirmed by people like you.

David Remer, Kansas Dem, ILLib, and Neo-Con,

You all make good points. By American standards, the war was legal, so our troops are not war criminals unless they violate the rules of war, such as deliberately murdering or attacking civilians. The insurgents, largely made up of foriegners who infiltrated Iraq, deliberately target Iraqi civilians in order to destroy Iraqi confidence in their government. The Iraqi people do not support the radical agenda of the jihadists, Iraq under Saddam was a fairly secular state that allowed more liberties for its women than most other states in the region. The insurgents know that a prosperous and democratic Iraq would be a fundamental threat to them as a functional democracy in the Middle East would be an alternative to their radical agenda. The insurgents and al Qaeda see in Iraq both an extreme danger but also an opportunity. I tend to agree with the strategy of using US troops to secure the Iraqi border and in position to provide support to the Iraqis without patrolling the streets etc. This is actually what we’re moving to over here, but it does take time.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 12, 2006 3:20 AM
Comment #194712

1 LT B,

Something that’s been eating on me, and also (given my timing) an indication that medication and seizures have slowed my brain: Bush has pretty well admitted that he held off with news of a possible change of course in Iraq FOR POLITICAL GAIN ONLY!

While we seldom agree on anything I do respect your opinion. What do you make of that?

Posted by: KansasDem at November 12, 2006 3:47 AM
Comment #194713

1LT B, you said: “The insurgents, largely made up of foriegners who infiltrated Iraq, deliberately target Iraqi civilians in order to destroy Iraqi confidence in their government.”

What is your source for this assertion? True, there are thousands of non-Iraqi’s participating in the insurgency. But, I cannot find a single official source indicating that the insurgency is largely made up of non-Iraqis. What I read is that the bulk of the insurgents are Sunni and Baathists Iraqis. And they are a separate source of violence from the Sunnis and Shiites who warring against each other, and the Shiites now warring with other Shiites.

Two sources from within the Iraq Study Group, who will release their report next month, are said to be ‘leaking’ that one of the options is to withdraw from the civil war, while maintaining a contingent to secure borders and the capitol, and concentrate on training Iraqis to fight against the civil war.

However, if that proves to be true, and the direction we take, one huge question has to be asked. How is it that, the Iraqi Government’s troops and police, will be able to quell the civil conflict between Sunnis and Shiites blood feuds, without themselves becoming a third faction in a widening civil war? In other words, does this strategy not contain the danger that the Sunnis and Shiites fighting each other, may one day decide their common enemy is the Iraqi government itself and its troops and police?

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 12, 2006 3:57 AM
Comment #194726

As a veteran I’d like to say you’re welcome for my service,however, I didn’t serve for you. My service to my country was and is for me and me alone. I served because it was and is the RIGHT thing to do. I have to look in the mirror every day and face the man that looks back. I like to smile at him. Most of those who have served will understand and the rest never will.

It’s obvious that most on here who are giving tactical advice have never been under fire.

HAPPY VET’S DAY TO OUR VETERANS EVERYWHERE.

Posted by: tomd at November 12, 2006 9:21 AM
Comment #194728

Neo-Con

It is obvious you have only battled wars here at home via television, newspaper, and radio propaganda. Please do not try to impress upon me the realities of war. I know them all too well.

The insurgents are also there to kill american soldiers. They are there because we placed ourselves there. We are there because of a bungled, ill concieved, poorly thought out, rush to the middle east.

Our very presence is the main draw for the insurgents. We are the fuel that feeds the fire. I was not implying that we are on the insurgents ground per say. But we are on foriegn ground in the middle east fighting an indistinguishable enemy. We are trying to impose a form of government that is alien to and was never desired by them.

My convictions and the convictions of MOST americans are in line with a sensible approach to getting our rears out of there. The fighting in the middle east was going on long before some maligned leaders of this country decided to fanangle us into this mess. The american people did not okay this war and do not believe in it. The credibility of the people who arranged it is all but lost.

And you know what. I suspect that once we say we are leaving, many countries around the world will probably step up and say wait a minute, maybe we can work something out. After all our exit will affect them as much as us. Why should anyone else get involved so long as we are towing the line.

Posted by: ILdem at November 12, 2006 10:33 AM
Comment #194729


1LT B: If I read your post correctly, You are suggesting that the military is slowly adopting the Murtha plan for Iraq.

Speaking as a veteran, I am thankful for the support that veterans have recieved from most that post on watchblog.

It is possible to be supportative of our troops without being supportative of the war they are engaged in. During the Clinton involvement in Bosnia, many republicans were very critical of our involvement. Did this mean that those republicans weren’t supportative of our troops in Bosnia? I think not!

Posted by: jlw at November 12, 2006 10:35 AM
Comment #194731

Kansas Dem

I think your wack a mole analogy put the obvious into perspective nicely.

The clash of cultures and religions in the middle east seems to me to be fueled by degrees of passion inconcievable to us here in the west. There is nor ever has been an anserw to total world peace. For us to remain there will only serve to futher fuel those passions that inspire their hatred and loathing of us.

As you say the war on terror will continue for decades and probably centuries. To think that we can end it by staying in iraq is simply absurd and ludicrous thinking to say the least.

Good post. It is nice to see a clear and open sensible view for a change.

Posted by: ILdem at November 12, 2006 11:01 AM
Comment #194732

STATEMENT: “The insurgents, largely made up of foreigners who infiltrated Iraq, deliberately target Iraqi civilians in order to destroy Iraqi confidence in their government.”

FACT:The vast majority of insurgents, probably more than 90 percent, are believed to be Iraqis from the Sunni minority group that largely ruled the country before the fall of Saddam Hussein. Washington Post, 3/19/06
Largest Groups Fighting in Iraq
Washington Post: Mujahidin Shura Council (Iraqi), Ansar al-Sunnah (Iraqi), Islamic Army in Iraq (Iraqi), Islamic Front of the Iraqi Resistance (Iraqi)

BBC, 8/15/06
AL-QAEDA IN IRAQ (Foreign), MUJAHIDEEN SHURA COUNCIL (Iraqi), SUNNI NATIONALISTS (Iraqi), ANSAR AL-ISLAM (Iraqi), SHIA MILITIAS (Iraqi)

CIA Studies Provide Glimpse of Insurgents in Iraq

“The CIA studies included a detailed look at an at-large Iraqi fighter who is motivated to fight because the United States is occupying his country, a senior intelligence official said.”

“This person, with a tribal background, has a mix of motives including a family grievance, someone was hurt by coalition forces” … “There is also [in this Iraqi insurgent] religion and nationalism that results in a view he must fight on to get non-Muslims out of Muslim territory.”

Also …
11/17/05 Finer, NY Times Among Insurgents in Iraq, Few Foreigners Are Found

6/09/06 Beehner, Council on Foreign Relations, Iraq’s Insurgency After Zarqawi

The short story…
The US invasion of Iraq created a power vacuum. This was accelerated by the “de-bathification” of Iraq. A struggle for power started between those who would compete. Iraq has become a training ground for foreign fighters, but the larger conflicts now seem to be those fighting the coalition occupation and those fighting each other.

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at November 12, 2006 11:16 AM
Comment #194734

I am constantly baffled by the argument that one can’t “support” the troops while one stands against the conflict they are deployed in. Who we war with is determined through political means - soldiers go where they are sent. In fact, war has been termed the “failure of political solutions.” Given this, one can certainly be opposed to the politics, the political strategies, that took us into conflict. Once there are “boots on the ground” does not change the political nature (or the political dissent) of war.

Posted by: rowan at November 12, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #194738

Neo-Con Pilsner-
First, its not our definition of civilians that matters, it’s theirs. It’s more difficult for us to take care, but really, it’s our only good option. By trying clean out the insurgency in combat, we’ve done more damage to ourselves.

The first thing we should have had was implicit authority. That is, we should have had enough soldiers out there in every major city we overtook to discourage our enemies from making trouble by our presence alone. If you’re focusing on propaganda, you are two or three steps behind the enemy, because their propaganda victories depend on their ability to maintain a state of violence and disorder. Had we, much earlier than this, at least doubled our presence in Iraq, and taken a more political approach, we would likely be closer to victory rather than defeat today.

The fact is, they are operating out of familiar territory. They speak the language, they worship in the region’s religion, and they are often recruit from the ranks of the people.

There’s no question where most Americans fall on this: They don’t like the jihadists. They don’t like tyranny in the name of religion or the state.

But they can also see a plan that’s not working. It’s not disloyalty to the cause of freedom to a abandon an approach that is unlikely to ever acheive it. If the Republicans had been humble enough to change course earlier, they might have maintained more support. By waiting, though, they have ensured that America has run out of many of its good options. That, more than any enemy propaganda, is what has gotten to Americans, and sapped their morale concerning the war.

The irony is, had the Republicans not been so intent on trying to succeed in a propaganda war at home along the lines of what the Johnson Administration tried with Vietnam, the support for this war and the progress might have been much greater at this point.

Fact is, you did your best to convince people that there was only one way to win this war, and by the sheer persistence of your approach, convinced people that your approach was the only one that was going to be taken. Those you convinced of the war had to struggle against the reality of what they were seeing.

The ones you failed to convince of your approach ended up losing hope as it became obvious that Bush was never going to stop short with this dysfunctional policy. Now we are three and a half years into this war, and there is no turning back time. To restore faith in this war will take great leaps of progress. People want that, don’t want this country to lose, but they have to have something more to hope for.

1LT B-
The foreign element of the insurgency, according to the sources I’ve read is a small minority, however vicious, of the total. Most of the killings now are carried out by various factions of Sunnis and Shia.

The real nightmare is the Salafist forces taking over in the Anbar province and the areas around it. We need some sort of solution that hobbles that in favor of something less radical. I think a political solution that empowers some of their stronger rivals will be necessary for containing that threat.

tomd-
Thank you for serving.

However, let me speak to the issue of the war in terms of those who can’t imagine what goes on from direct experience. From all the fact and fiction I’ve been exposed to, I can draw one conclusion: that soldiers should not be sent to war lightly, with insufficient evidence and strategy backing their efforts.

That is what I’ve been speaking up against. Neither those soldiers nor America deserves to be pulled into a war that hasn’t been well thought out, and that hasn’t been made necessary in some fashion by a real situation on the ground.

I know that the Soldier’s attitudes are truly complex, and that they have reason to want to win. I remember being a football player, and always wanting my team to win, no matter how far behind they fell. Nonetheless, there were a number of games we lost, despite our wish or will to win. Ultimately, the will of our soldiers to win, which we always encourage, must be coupled for both our sake and that of our soldiers, with the tools, strategies, and choice of battlefields to put that zeal to good use.

We Democrats do not denigrate the spirit of our soldiers and their sacrifices. We just hope for their better employment, in Iraq and elsewhere.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 12, 2006 12:11 PM
Comment #194741

KansasDem,

From what I’ve read, Bush and Rumsfeld had already planned on Rumsfeld stepping down and Bush held off until after the election to avoid the appearance of making the change for the same political gain you speak of. Of course, the credibility of this report is based largely on one’s opinion of Bush. If it is true, then it seems to me to be a principle call and a good one. Rumsfeld is extremely polarizing, but I think Bush was damned if you do damned if you don’t in this case. Had he replaced Rumsfeld in October, that would’ve been the “October Surprise” especially if Democrats had failed to take the House and/or Senate. In a larger sense, Bush may have been waiting for the Iraq Study Group to publish its findings, the timing of which is again politically debatable. Again, I don’t think Bush could come off well no matter what he did. If he held off the release for political reasons then he gets slammed, if he would’ve released them before the election and then promptly moved on them with the support of Congress, he would be slammed for that. The problem of Iraq is of Bush’s own making, so I’m not inclined to be sympathetic, but I doubt he could do anything that wouldn’t be taken as politicking by someone.

David Remer,

From what I’ve seen, you’re about partially right. The al Qaeda faction in Iraq is largely foreigners while the death squads are mostly Iraqis. Zarqawi’s strategy was to foment a civil war because he was not achieving the success he desired in inflicting massive casualties on our troops. The bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra was unfortunately the spark that set off the powder keg of Iraq. Much like the Balkans, only the fear of the strong central government of Saddam kept old blood feuds between Shiites and Sunnis from bursting to the fore.

You raise a valid question about the Iraqi Government’s ability to contain the bloodshed. For some of the disaffected Sunnis, the enemy is already the Iraqi Government, which must take steps to assure them their rights will be protected. I think this is a challenge for the Iraqis, not us. We are still far more powerful than the Iraqi Army, and we have the ability to support ourselves. I think that by securing the borders and leaving a contingency force near Baghdad to secure it and back up the Iraqi Army, we put the ball in their court. There is risk, but I think it is worth it.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 12, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #194746

I guess my position is that Soldiers are trained to kill. That is their function. In the face of a determined enemy, that is the only strategy that works.

Our enemy is Al Qaeda and Islamists.

Our enemy wasn’t and isn’t Iraqi’s.

Bush chose to invade Iraq and proposed spreading democracy. I bought that idea for a short time. It is quite clear that the methods Bush chose (i.e. a small force) were poorly thought out and non-responsive to the situation. I do not now think increasing the force size will secure that idea in less than a generation.

The troops are now in an impossible situation, a force too small to secure Iraq, and a target of multiple sides of a power struggle.

The only solution lies with the Iraqi people. America is not invested in the outcome as they are. We cannot force political solutions with troops. Partiton is a return to British Colonial ideas. It is THEIR war, we ignited the violence, but only Iraqi’s can resolve it. Our presumption that we have a solution is arrogant.

Will Iraq slip into Islamism that will evolve into terrorism? Possibly. Time will tell. We may well have to revisit Iraq with more terrible force. Bush has led us to a politically untenable situation and for the sake of our troops, we must redeploy. We cannot stabilize Iraq with “Whack-a-mole.”

We can support democratic activity, but backing one side or the other in this civil war will not serve us.

Neo-Con’s tunnel vision is indicated by his chosen nom de plum. It is as failed an idea as Marxism. Even Wolfowitz knows his ideas are dead for a generation. Smell the coffe, Neo-Con.

Posted by: gergle at November 12, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #194753

Terrific Article!!! Five Stars — highest rating!

Aside from a few posts, all excellent replies here also.

Thanks from the very bottom of my heart to all of you who have served this country in our miltary — including those who are serving now in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am personally sorry that my opposition to the Iraq War from the very beginning did not manage to avert that war. And I am sorry that my opposition to this war since then has not managed to change “the course.” I am however, hopeful that change will soon come.

I myself have never served in our miltary, but then, most of you probably wouldn’t want someone like me to serve anyway. I’ve always challenged authority, and in general have refused to take orders when they seem to clearly go against my own common sense or moral compass. Someone like me only gums up the works and weakens the discipline that is necessary in the military. However, I hope this makes me a good civilian, because I am usually more than willing to question the judgement of America’s leadership when it seems warranted, as well as look out for the best interests of those who do serve.

Thanks again for all you’ve done, and/or are doing for our country.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 12, 2006 3:46 PM
Comment #194754

1LT B said: “I think that by securing the borders and leaving a contingency force near Baghdad to secure it and back up the Iraqi Army, we put the ball in their court. There is risk, but I think it is worth it.”

Frankly, I don’t see any other option, regardless of risk attached. The prospect of Iraqi oil revenues falling into terrorist organization hands, is too potentially threatening to America’s future security (unless we can develop real and efficient border security measures), to leave the entire Iraqi question in the hands of Iraqis so long as they’re government is under siege.

That is the quagmire I have been writing about since the invasion. We cannot leave, and staying only foments ever greater hostilities and recruitments by our enemies.

The backdrop to all this is, that 9/11 happened and terrorism has been directed at the U.S., as reaction to the insertion of western culture into traditional Middle Eastern cultures dating back more than 100 years, beginning with the British and French occupation of Middle Eastern cultures.

Our elective invasion into Iraq was just another massive intrusion of our western culture into a Middle Eastern culture, which only served to strengthen the arguments of al-Queda and clerics against the Western influence and intrusion of our cultural ways into theirs.

In very crucial ways, we are repeating our manifest destiny doctrine against American Indian tribes, in the Middle East, for the same reason, the natural resources we need which exist there. The crucial difference is, the Middle Easterners are far better equipped and far more numerous than our subjugated American Indians were to resist our manifest destiny doctrine for oil control and protection.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 12, 2006 3:47 PM
Comment #194763

David

I did a search on Iraq oil. The first items that pop up are articles involving China, Japan, and the US in regards to investing billions of dollars in the research and development of new oil fields in Iraq.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-10/31/content_5271550.htm
http://www.portaliraq.com/news/Minister+calls+upon+Asian+countries+to+develop+Iraqi+oil+sector__1112332.html
http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Business_News&subsection=market+news&month=November2
http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/denton/wb/wb/xp-89066

I think this can be construed as an indicator of serious investment by countries other than us in the future of Iraq and its oil. I have to believe that any country willing to invest that sort of money will probably be willing to invest some military protections if needed. Perhaps this could lead to the assistance we will need to secure Iraqs borders while the various factions work out there revenue sharing deals. However I do imagine we will have to force the issue via threatened redeployment.

Posted by: ILdem at November 12, 2006 5:32 PM
Comment #194819

David Remer,

Interesting point about the idea of repeating Manifest Destiny. When I was in college, we read a book whose title and author escape me who theorized that American aggression was nothing more than the recasting of “others” into the role of Native Americans by American whites. His thesis was that part of the American character was forged in the Indian wars and that whites thereafter defined threats in the same manner of making them racially and culturally different and therefore worthy of extermination.

One point about the ability of the Middle East to resist, though. They may be more numerous, but they really are not in a better position to resist. We could, if we so desired, kill huge numbers of them with no risk to us through aerial bombardment, much the way I’m sure our ancestors would’ve dealth with the Native Americans had they been able. We have evolved in our ideas about what is acceptable in warfare, but the ability remains. It is only our own scruples that prevent a bloodbath.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 13, 2006 12:48 AM
Comment #194831

1LT B, I agree about our scruples, but, I think you underestimate the potential power of growing terrorists focused on the U.S. They need not bomb us to cripple us, and the reason is simple. We no longer reside within N. American borders providing all of our own resources. The fact that we are incredibly dependent upon trade and access to foreign nations around the globe, makes us vulnerable at hosts of attack points around the world.

The potential even exists, for al-Queda and other terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, in the future providing mercenary services to our competitors like China and enemies like N. Korea, attacking us under guise of Islamic terrorism, but, in fact, attacking as contractors for foreign governments.

And this is not at all far fetched. We have done exactly this same thing in S. America, where our government hired contractors to disrupt regimes in S. America and Cuba.

This is why, security for our borders and imports, and reducing our footprint in foreign lands can be crucial to our future survival economically and militarily. If we leave ourselves vulnerable to attack with a large footprint overseas, we are susceptible to being drawn into literally dozens and dozens of limited military engagements, whose cumulative effect on our economic resources, and effect on our global public image, could be very negative depleting in their consequences.

We cannot continue to expand our military engagements and resolve our baby boomer retirement crisis concurrently. We simply have too much debt and not enough GDP growth in our future to do both at the same time. This fact is not lost on China by the way. Whether they exploit it or not, remains to be seen. Some may argue they already are - in S. America and Africa for example.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 7:45 AM
Comment #194832

ILdem, it is an idea worth considering, but, fraught with potential unintended consequences, if agency can be established back to the U.S. government, as tthose “private” security agents abandon all civilized tactics and strategies in the eyes of other nations.

Walking down that path would have to have rigorous constraints to insure unintended consequences don’t create far more threat than security.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 7:49 AM
Comment #194855

Hey Neo-con,

you said:
“In the heat of battle, when enemies are firing at you from a building, you are perfectly within all of your rights to level that building.”

This may be true - but we also need to realize that every time we kill an innocent civillian we crate more problems - as I posted on another article on the blog - if I were an Iraqi and the US blew up an insurgents house and killed my family in the house next door. whether or not the people that you intended to kill deserved it would not matter, I would spend the rest of my life getting even. All wars have civillian casualties - people die that do not deserve it. It is not the fault of our soldiers that this happens - it happens in every war.

What it should do is serve as a lesson about when to go to war and when to not go to war. Every time we should ask “is it worth it to cause death and hardship for people that don’t deserve it?” “is it absolutely necessary to fight this war at this time?”

What we should learn from this is that Bush’s idea of a preepmtive war is wrong. There was absolutly no need to take Saddam out in the way that we did - it has proven to be one of the worst, if not the worst, foreign policy decision in my lifetime. Iraq is screwed no matter how you slice it. What will emerge from the quagmire will be much worse than having Saddam still in power. Civil wars are ugly, brutal, and destructive - one side will wind up wiping out another and in all likelyhood will spread outside the borders affecting Turkey and others. It could destablize the whole Middle East and cause more death and destruction.

The last six years have been a neo-con nightmare - thankfully the American people have voted to put a check on Bush four years too late.

The soldiers are not to blame for any of this it was the neo-cons that put them there and should shoulder the blame for anything that happens there. Cheney, Wolfowitz and the rest of the people that convinced Bush that this war was a good idea and would be a cake walk should be thrown in jail. You never, never, NEVER start a war when it is not the absolutly last option available.

Posted by: tcsned at November 13, 2006 11:12 AM
Comment #194856

Perspective is everything, isn’t it? from Posted by: 1LT B at November 13, 2006 12:48 AM:

His thesis was that part of the American character was forged in the Indian wars and that whites thereafter defined threats in the same manner of making them racially and culturally different and therefore worthy of extermination.
The Indians were here first, the pioneers moved into their territory. Who was the threat? Secondly, I think wars have always required the dehumanization of the enemy. How else can we kill “them” if they are like “us”? We must hate them, they must be less than human. It was WWI where the army figured out that target ranges had to have human sihlouettes. The old red and white targets didn’t prepare soldiers to shoot at human figures.
We could, if we so desired, kill huge numbers of them with no risk to us through aerial bombardment…It is only our own scruples that prevent a bloodbath.
Here we partly agree, but from different perspectives (big surprise?) Again, we are the interloper. As the American Indian, they perceive themselves as the transgressed. Second, I already see this as a bloodbath. (I believe the hundreds of thousands of deaths estimate, although even the 100,000 is too huge to be considered not a bloodbath)
Hey Neo-con, you said: “In the heat of battle, when enemies are firing at you from a building, you are perfectly within all of your rights to level that building.” This may be true -… Posted by tcsned at November 13, 2006 11:12 AM
NoIt is not within your “rights” to destroy a building if civilians are in it. There are rules of war, there are rules of engagement. The whole problem with BushCo has been their willingness to violate laws for selfish short term goals. we need expect the rules of law to be followed by our soldiers, despite the fact they are in harms way.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 13, 2006 11:33 AM
Comment #194857

Dave1 - you’re right - when you said:
“No It is not within your “rights” to destroy a building if civilians are in it. There are rules of war, there are rules of engagement…”

What I meant to say to Neo-con was that whether or not the soldiers have the right - innocents get killed - it is going to happen - happens in every war ever fought - my point was that we should make sure the cause is worth it before starting a war. This one was not worth it.

Posted by: tcsned at November 13, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #194859

tcsned,

Thanks for the clarification…

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime…Ernest Hemingway


Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 13, 2006 12:15 PM
Comment #194861

Hmm:

Rumsfeld who?

Give our troops a break. They’ve got more important things to concentrate on than who is Secretary of Defense?

First of all, The President is the Commander in Chief. No matter what happens in Congress, the Constitution details the President is the Commander in Chief, not Congress.

Second - A perfect example to demonstrate to our enemies is that just because a Minister is no longer in that office, doesn’t mean our democracy falls apart. Also, I’m sure our troops know who their commanding officer is in their specific units in Iraq. Let the Generals work with the Secretary of State.


Speaking of harsh realities on the ground over there, does any one here know what progress has been made in Iraq. What have we done there?

I know, but do you? And don’t you think you should educate yourself as much as possible about what is going on over there? On this blog we speculate what should be done, we think we know better than Bush. But yet we don’t even bother to found out the facts of what is happening there.

Other than US dead and wounded. and civilian dead, why not found out the other details of what we are doing?

How many people have power?

How many people have running water?

How many schools have been built? A: 4,500

How many text books have we givien to Iraq schools? A: 8 million

How many businesses have been started? A: 33,000

How many free elections have they had? A: 3

How many years did it take the US to become a full fledge democracy? A: 8 years

How many of our Allies are still there, how many troops do they have committed?

How much of the Iraqi territory has been turned over to Iraqi military to oversee?

Which Ally is resonsible for controlling which region of Iraq?

What happens to our Allies if we pull out if we can’t finish the job?


How many radio, tv, and newspapers were in Iraq before and after the invasion?

How many women are in the Iraqi Parliament?

Posted by: RedStapler at November 13, 2006 12:27 PM
Comment #194862

C’mon red this country is totally screwed no matter what we do from here on out -

how many civilian bodies are found every day on the streets of Bagdhad?

how much of the Iraqi territory is in anarchy?

how much oil is flowing out of Iraq?

how many families don’t send their kids to school because they would like to see them again?

We had a group of leaders dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. How many does Iraq have?

How many of our allies have bailed out? or more importantly how many new allies have pitched in to help?

How much of the Iraqi territory under Iraqi control is in a problem area?

What happens if we pull out w/o finishing the job? the same thing that would happen whenever we pull out - a bloody civil war.

How many women are in parliament? I don’t know, how many will be left after the findamentalists take power - 0

Posted by: tcsned at November 13, 2006 1:05 PM
Comment #194878

David Remer,

No arguement, great post.

Dave1,

Perspective is everything. Had Europeans not carried a wide variety of pandemic diseases, it is highly likely that Europe would never have conquered the Americas, or we would still be trying now. Native Americans were indeed transgressed upon, but due to the incredible destructiveness of the aforementioned pandemic diseases, its unlikely that the Native Americans could ever win. Good post.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 13, 2006 3:10 PM
Comment #194889

TCSNED:

TCSNED:

MY point exactly. Let’s just go with what we’ve been fed instead of taking the time to actually researcfh and find out the true facts for ourselves.

I can answer some of your questions that you posed and my point is let’s try to find out the rest of the questions rather than making these assumptions.

Civilian Bodies: - The estimates vary wldly. One metirc says 650,000 Iraqis have died. That would mean 529 Iraqi dead per day for 3 straight years. Another estimate is 150,000 Civilians.

I don’t believe either of those numbers.

How much Iraqi Terrotry is in Anarchy? - 27% of Iraq is experiencing problems. That means 73% of Iraq is not. There are 18 provinces in Iraq. 5 of those provinces are having problems.

Oil? I don’t know the statistic on that one, but I’d like to know.

Sending Iraqi children to school? I can tell you that 4,500 new school have been built or restored and 8 million new textbooks have been distributed.

Don’t know about the equal question.

Allies bailed out, and those helping. Spain bailed out after their train station was bombed in Madrid. i know a South American Army has left as well, I’m not sure if it is Honduras, Costa Rica, etc.

Allies / Countries that have joined in - Russia and China now have personnel in Iraq (although not officially military). They are there to help with infrastructure and engineering.

Iraqi control of problem areas - I’m not sure, but recently, the Iraqi army captured Al-Qaeda during and operation. Not sure the region.

The number of Iraqi women in Parlaiment? = 25% of the Iraqi Parlaiment is now made up of women. That is the highest number in the Arab World.


I think before everyone starts professing what we should do in Iraq, we should first know what is going on there.

Posted by: RedStapler at November 13, 2006 4:24 PM
Comment #194943

RedStapler,

Good points on a couple of issues:
women in the government - 25% is impressive - I still worry that it is not going to last considering the serious political trouble that the Iraqis have in front of them. I keep thinking of the US south during reconstruction. Plenty of freed slaves won political office while the Army occupied the country - after 1877 they began to disappear taking a hundred years or so to begin a slow comeback. But they are still there now - I give that point to you. Red - 1, TCSNED - 0

Civilian Deaths: I agree that the 650,000 is way off target. Even if you accept a very modest estimate say 50-60,000 its still more than we lost in Vietnam and these aren’t enemy combatant deaths these are regular folks losing their children, brothers, sisters, and parents. Look at how our country reacted to losing less than three thousand on 9-11. How many friends and family did these 50-60,000 people have? How many now hate the US that did not before? no point - this is a sad number no point for either of us.

27% of the country is having problems - it doesn’t sound like a lot but that is like the states of New York, California, and Texas being in an out of control civil war. The places that don’t have problems are areas dominated by one of the three ethnic groups. Where the groups are mixed there is civil war - that is a very bad sign this far into the reconstruction. 27% is a lot of anrachy - I think I get this point. Red - 1, TCSNED - 1

While a few countries have joined and a few dropped out - we are still most of the operation - I think we are at 500 billion dollars that my children and grandchildren will be paying for since the president has decided that we should not have to sacrifice for this effort (tas cuts, oil subsidies, no conservation) - it is more polically expediant to run up debt - Bush will sad memory before the bill for this war comes due. I think that I get this point we are still really on our own. Red - 1, tcsned - 2

The school numbers are encouraging - I would like some numbers on actual attendance - but it’s still about 1 school for every 6,000 Iraqis (granted many survived the invasion and occupation). I like building schools - kids should be put first - your point. Red - 2, tcsned - 2

The unanswered point about who are the founding fathers of Iraq? There are leaders of ethnic/religious groups but I don’t see any Jeffersons, Adams, or Franklins among the al Malikis, al Sadrs, or Sistanis. This is very important and telling of Iraqs future - when we leave they need someone to unify the country. This person doesn’t exist in Iraq. There are only ethnic leaders with ethnic popularity. The worst sign of Iraqs impending problems are that when the people went to the polls they voted for their own ethnic/religious group. Political factions, in order to produce a healthy democracy needs to be based on ideology not ethnicity. The United States’ and Europes’ political factions are either conservative or liberal not Baptist, Catholic, or Methodist. Not that religion and ethnicity aren’t factors they just aren’t the major factor. I think I win this point. Red - 2, tcsned - 3.

But seriously, I do not wish ill on Iraq - I really hope they pull it out. Bush will look like a genius if they do. As much as I don’t like Bush, I would much rather have to concede that he was right and see all of those folks in Iraq pull this off. The signs, however, are not pointing towards success. Especially politically - they are not looking like a country that is moving towards representative government. More likely the first election after the US pulls out is going to be the last and the winner (the Sheiites) will exact revenge on the losers (Sunnis and the Kurds).

Posted by: tcsned at November 14, 2006 12:07 AM
Comment #194962

Well, so much for the schools - the Iraq minister of higher ed closed down due to 150 employees getting kidnapped. They sorted out the Shei’ites and Sunnis and took all the Sunni men.

This country is headed downhill fast.

Posted by: tcsned at November 14, 2006 7:19 AM
Comment #195007

If you want statistics about our forces and our allies, how about this?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 14, 2006 1:06 PM
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