Democrats & Liberals Archives

Diplomacy in Iraq

A great majority of people in the U.S. want the Iraq War to end. Bush disagrees. A great number of military brass wanted to end the war. Bush got rid of them. And now diplomats in the State Department are complaining about being sent to Iraq. Bush will not budge.

The State Department laid it on the line:

Under the new order, 200 to 300 diplomats have been identified as "prime candidates" to fill 48 vacancies that will open next year at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and in Iraqi provinces. Those notified have 10 days to accept or reject the offer. If not enough say yes, some will be ordered to go.

In response, the diplomats had a town meeting where they complained bitterly. Here is what one diplomat said:

"It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment," said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. ... Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"

So it appears that in addition to a majority of ordinary Americans and much of the Army brass, we now have senior foreign service officers who do not believe "in what's going on over there." We all know that getting rid of Saddam Hussein wasn't the main reason for attacking Iraq. Neither was it weapons of mass destruction. Nor was it any of the reasons presented publicly.

We're not in Iraq to win or to succeed or to reconcile Sunnis with Shiites or to produce democracy. If it were any of these things why do we need a $592 million embassy on a 104-acre complex, the size of about 80 football fields? Why do we have to spend about $1.2 billion per year to operate this monstrosity?

The State Department diplomats know very well this is not a short-time assignment. They know the reason for this huge investment: We intend to stay in Iraq, not until the war is over, not until we "succeed," not until there no longer will be "chaos." but indefinitely.

Bush plans for the U.S. to stay in Iraq forever.

The American embassy will stamp Iraq as being in the American zone of influence. Today Iraqis hate Israel. Tomorrow our terrific diplomats will change Iraqis to Israel lovers. Today Iraqis love Hezbollah. Tomorrow they will condemn the terrorist group. Today Iraq is friendly with Iran. Tomorrow they will be closer to the American side. Hooray!

After we show the Iraqis how to live and what to think, or perhaps even before, our wonderful diplomats will spread American influence throughout the rest of the Middle East. They will demonstrate the positive results of democracy thereby spreading democracy far and wide. After about a decade or two, the Middle East will become more like America. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Maybe Bush will not be around to see it happen, but eventually he will be lionized as the president who made Iraq the 51st state in the American union. And none of these diplomats appreciates this.

Posted by Paul Siegel at November 2, 2007 8:00 PM
Comments
Comment #237498

Hey how many in the military are against the war, yet are forced to go over there, not once, but twice or more.
It is time for us to pull completely out and let the sunnie,shittes,and kurds go at it. We will never change their religious rift and it is not up to us to do so.

Posted by: KT at November 2, 2007 8:10 PM
Comment #237509

Guess the diplomats at State didn’t get the memo from DoD. The surge is working. Violence and civilian deaths are way down. DoD and the Iraqi Health Ministry say this, therefore it must be true. Why on earth would State employees doubt Rice & the DoD and the Iraqi Health Ministry? Sheesh. What a bunch of babies. They would be able to stay in the Green Zone, and not actually have to risk their lives being around Iraqis doing diplomacy and stuff. Besides, the shelling of the Green Zone practically never hits anybody that counts.

Posted by: phx8 at November 2, 2007 11:57 PM
Comment #237510

Bush is committed to staying in Iraq for the next ten years… at least”

That was Patreaus’ assessement of how long it will take to figure out whether or not success can even happen. WTF?

Posted by: Max at November 3, 2007 12:04 AM
Comment #237513

The surge is working and the violence is down! It is a shame some of you can’t concede this reality. The US military is the best and so is the leadership; no matter how much you want to stick it to Bush.


Oh, and, by the way, this same military is going to be in Iraq when Bush leaves; so, either way, at some point, you should get behind the military and root for them to Win!

Posted by: rahdigly at November 3, 2007 12:33 AM
Comment #237514

One diplomat expressed fear that the Mahdi Army would overrun the Green Zone once the surge ended.

I was kind of shocked by that comment. It is tempting to dismiss it as an emotional outburst overstating the danger.

But then, one would not expect a diplomat to make what seems to be such an exaggerated statement.

Is there concern over a possible Tet style offensive? That seems unlikely, yet no one can completely discount it.

The Mahdi Army declared a six month truce. But why? According to one article, a sheik in Basra said there was a lot of fighting there, and the Mahdi Army had ejected the Iraqi Police (re Badr Brigades) and taken over downtown. Did the Americans and Brits cut a deal? Withdrawal from Basra and the south, and a truce with the Mahdi Army, in exchange for their taking control of Basra and the oil revenues? It is all unverified. No one knows what is going on there. But it would make sense. If held today, the Mahdi Army would probably win elections. Eventually, Al-Sadr may control the country anyway, so cutting a deal would make sense, making a virtue out of necessity.

Just speculation on my part, based upon bits and pieces of unverified information.

Posted by: phx8 at November 3, 2007 12:38 AM
Comment #237522

phx8

A probable case of disinformation, there by

enabling a case that since (we have Iraq settled

down, now we can go after Iran.) Just before the

Elections?

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 3, 2007 3:50 AM
Comment #237533

I think those who keep saying, “the surge is working and violence is down” need to wait awhile before making those claims. So far it looks like it may be working but lets bring home the 2+ million Iraqs who have left their country and see if it is still working, lets wait to see what happens with the turkey/kurd situation, and lets wait to see if it is still working after Bush bombs Iran and Iranian men join the military and terrorist groups in droves to come across the border to fight the evil Americans. There is so much that can impact this tenuous hold created by the surge. I would hate to see anyone with egg on their faces especially our republican, conservative friends on this blog.

Posted by: Carolina at November 3, 2007 10:33 AM
Comment #237534

Bush didn’t believe enough in the Vietnam Conflict to accept his draft assignment to fight…why should he be able to send soldiers and diplomats to an almost certain death when he wimped and whined (and probably went AWOL) when it was his turn???

Posted by: Rachel at November 3, 2007 11:01 AM
Comment #237538


I can’t understand why Republicans keep saying that we are winning the war, we did that in 2003. Actually, what we are doing now is trying to win the chaos.

Posted by: jlw at November 3, 2007 11:53 AM
Comment #237540


In 2000, Bill Clinton was catching hell because the price of oil had gone to $30 per barrel and the price of gas was up to $1.35 per gallon. Ask the oil men in the White House and they will tell you that we are definately winning the war in Iraq.

When we finally win, what is it that we will have won?

Since 2000, The price of oil has tripled and yet, it is still cheaper than alternatives. This shows us how they use inflation to control the economy and the people.

Posted by: jlw at November 3, 2007 12:28 PM
Comment #237544

Interesting how peoples opinions change once they are on the line. If we had a draft, this war would never have happened. If we have a draft tomorrow, this war will end tomorrow. I seriously believe that.

Rahdigly, even if the surge works, which I don’t believe it will, we STILL need another ten years in Iraq to fix infrastructure and continue stabilizing the country. Republicans always talk about how we shouldn’t have to pay for healthcare or education - why in the world are you for throwing away your money on this?

Posted by: Max at November 3, 2007 2:17 PM
Comment #237548

Max said: “why in the world are you for throwing away your money on this?”

You are right on principle but not on reality. Because lobbyists control Washington through fat cat contributions and more Machiavellian techniques, WE (the people) are not wasting this money - this administration is. It’s kind of like spending thousands of dollars on a nose job, while you have gaping flesh wounds in your back and in your stomach —> borders.

Bush has bungled the situation and until we are attacked at home again, the lazy, apathetic American public will be content to whine a little and ignore a lot. It’s awful but I wish a terrorist organization would get something done here so this country would quit this quibbling over nonsense and become galvanized against islamic facism. We are way too fat, way too lazy, and way too weak to stand up for anything - so we sit and BLOOOOOOG in our comfortable chairs while our REAL enemies plot, plan and infect our nation with their stone-age hatemongering disguised as protected religion.

You are right, we shouldn’t be nation building, we should be nation securing - OURS. There’s more oil under liberal Colorado than in the middle east, same is true for Alaska (my home state) but we won’t ever get to it until a bunch of liberals get killed in a terrorist attack, and there is a liberal president so the enviromnetal wackos will actually get behind resource extraction INSIDE the U.S. and we can provide for ourselves. Plain and Simple.

The only other way this might happen is if the Fair Tax passes and thousands of lobbyists lose most of their playing cards, and then some things that are genuinely GOOD for America can happen without all this ridiculous left wing - right wing special-interest craziness.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at November 3, 2007 2:49 PM
Comment #237554

Yukon Jake:

whiskey tango foxtrot over?

you want someone to attack america? to wake us up? you wake up. people want to attack and destroy america not because we are lazy and apathetic, but because our government rapes them to afford us the opportunity to be lazy and apathetic. they dont hate you. they dont hate your lifestyle. they hate our government using them as gas station attendants.

maybe the guy slamming the plane into the building hates you and your lifestyle. but his boss doesnt. just like our men here hate the terrorist for whatever reason, our leadership doesn’t it’s business.

i find it interesting that someone in alaska wants america to be attacked. no one will attack alaska.

i do agree america should wake up and unify. i just know it should be against our government rather than who they tell you to hate.

Posted by: yossarian at November 3, 2007 3:21 PM
Comment #237581

We are succeeding in Iraq. The change has been nothing short of astonishng. We all want to end the war. Some us just prefer success to failure and some of us understand the cost of failure.

The guy at the State Dept does not speak for everyone. Some FSOs are wimps and weenies. We have long known that. I am ashamed of that misinformed crybaby. But he does not speak for the senior FS. 20% of the FS has served in Iraq or Afghanistan, all volunteers. Considering that there are few FSO and lots of posts worldwide, that is a really big number. If this guy does not want to do his job, let him resign. If he is senior FS, he can retire on that fat pension and claim the moral highground to his misinformed friends.

Iraq is by nature a rich country. It has oil, water, soil and a reasonably (for the Middle East) educated population. The Iraqi future is bright.

You guys need to update your paradigm. It is not 2006 anymore.

The gains we have made are real, but fragile. We can succeed and we will unless we do the chicken run. Let’s have no more Vietnams.

Posted by: Jack at November 4, 2007 5:05 AM
Comment #237598

Jack,
There is some good news from Iraq. American casualties are down. It would be better if there were no US soldiers dying in Iraq, but at any rate, it is an improvement. Reported attacks on American troops are down, too. Is this because locking down Baghdad is working? Or is it because American soldiers are making themselves less available for attack? Air strikes are way, way up. The reasons and results of the strikes are usually unknown.

Death Squad activity seems to be down in Baghdad. That is good news.

The agreements we made with the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades and the “Ex” Baathists of Saddam Hussein seems to be working. They are back in charge of Anbar. No Dawa need apply. We are arming them. And as long as the US air power prevents large armed formations, pitched battles between Sunnis and Shias will be unlikely.

More good news. Reported suicide bombings are way down. For now. We should all keep our fingers crossed.

So there is improvement. “Succeeding” might be a fair use of the word, in the short run. I think. Whether it will translate into sucess, or anything long term, remains to be seen.

The point of the surge is to provide breathing room for political progress, and there has been no political progress. The Mahdi Army has implemented a six month truce, so that contributes to the breathing room. But I would guess there has been a deal cut there, too.

The ethnic cleansing has slowly but surely created three separate Iraqs. There is still a ways to go, especially in Kirkuk. In Baghdad, the majority of the population used to Sunni. It is now reportedly 75% Shia, which is a pretty amazing number.

But the Al-Maliki government is horrendously corrupt, and the Iraqi constitution locks in factionism. Real political progress is possible, but it will require the end of the Al-Maliki government.

Re the FSO’s. I would agree, it is not the place of people currently in service to publicly undermine leadership, whether it is an FSO or Petraeus. When they leave government service, then it is fair to speak their mind, as many diplomats and generals have done.

Unfortunately for Bush, Cheney, Rice, the DOJ, FEMA, and so on, being so wrong so many times comes with a heavy price. No one believes them because they have told too many lies, made too many mistakes, and proven so incompetent. We see the results today.

Posted by: phx8 at November 4, 2007 2:34 PM
Comment #237616

Phx8

American soldiers and Marines are closer to the population than ever. They are living among Iraqis in forward operating bases. Fewer are dying BECAUSE they are closer to the population.

No matter how anybody tries to spin this, the new strategy HAS worked. We are in the building and locking down stage now.

Leadership in Baghdad is not good. That and the possible pull out pressures in the U.S. are the big risks.

I am not sure we will succeed, but we have a really good chance now. This talk of quick pullout is very uninformed. It is based on outdated information and/or partisan politics. I do not think it is possible to be well informed, patriotic and in favor of a quick pullout all at the same time. The possible exceptions are pacifists who oppose any war, but there are not many of these really.

Responsible Dems are no longer really talking about it. They disagree about policies, but love their country.

The probability of success rises every day, but progress is still fragile. We are winning now and can win in Iraq if the politics in Washington allow it.

Posted by: Jack at November 5, 2007 2:46 AM
Comment #237660

Jack,
It is a good idea to be very cautious about what is going on in Iraq. It seems violence has decreased, which is good; but I can think of a lot of possible scenarios for the reason why, ranging from a successful surge to some very unpleasant possibilities.

What seems most interesting to me is that political progress is being made, just not the way anyone expected. The Mahdi Army & Al-Sadr declared a truce after a bloody fight with SCII in Karbala. The US might have brokered a deal. The US may have had nothing to do with it. Nevertheless, that is a political development that is favorable. Brokering deals with the Sunni insurgents was a great idea, but once again, it also carries a whole assortment of risks. Anyway, the interesting part is that the Al-Maliki government seems to have nothing to do with the political successes that are occurring in the background. And again, they may be related to the surge, but they could just as easily have nothing to do with it.

Dismantling Al Qaida in Iraq was good, but no one can explain why the foreign jihadists are no longer launching suicide bombings. They did not need Al Qaida in Iraq to do that.

Posted by: phx8 at November 5, 2007 10:22 PM
Comment #237663

One more thought… Remember, the long term agenda for the Sunnis, Shias, & Kurds is not the same as the American agenda. The Iraqi factions are not interested in being ruled from the American embassy, nor are they interested in permanent US bases, unless the US is aiding their own preservation of power. And none of the factions are interested in signing over oil reserves in lucrative deals for Exxon, BP, & Dutch Shell. Some people might be bribed into doing signing on the dotted line- but they will not sign over the reserves unless they can take the money and run, fast and far.

Posted by: phx8 at November 5, 2007 11:05 PM
Comment #237816

Ah, so Bush’s terroist acts are now filtering down to civilian too! If you are surprised, then where have you a been the last 7 years.

I wonder why he doesn’t force his and Dick Checanery’s family members to fill those posts? My bet, it is a similar resaon to why Osama Bin Laden didn’t fill those 9-11 highjacker seats with any of his sons.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at November 8, 2007 7:54 AM
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