An Insurgency We Can Beat

We give insurgents too much credit. Most insurgencies fail and become mere footnotes. Those that succeed get their own chapters in the history books, which is the source of the error that makes us draw the wrong lessons from Vietnam and apply them to Iraq. The U.S. was not defeated by little guys in black pajamas. Saigon did NOT fall to an insurgency; it was conquered in a large conventional invasion after the U.S. lost the political will to support its erstwhile allies.

When President Gerald Ford announced in a speech at Tulane University that South Vietnam was "finished as far as America is concerned," the 5,300 people who had crowded into the muggy arena burst into sustained applause. What does that say about political will when thousands of Americans cheer their country’s defeat and the massacre of hundreds of thousands of civilians?

We have not fallen to that level of depravity about Iraq, but our fortunes there also depend on American political will, or lack of it. Iraq is like Vietnam in this one very important way, but after that the parallels quickly fade.

North Vietnam was in the process of conquering South Vietnam when American power froze that development. The insurgency was an extension of North Vietnamese power, no more an independent phenomenon than Quantril's Raiders. In Vietnam we faced down and defeated an insurgency, but the insurgency was not what we needed to defeat. North Vietnam guided and masterminded the process with significant aid in arms and advisors from the Soviet Union & other communist regimes. North Vietnam always remained intact, biding its time.

There is no mastermind behind the Iraqi insurgents. Rather, they are divided into dozens of factions, often mutually hostile. A very incomplete list would include: foreign fighters & terrorists, Baathists, Shiite militias, Sunni militias, with an overlapping group of opportunists and bandits. Vietnam was a nation in the sense that most of the people living there were one ethnic group. When it was divided, it was a nation w/o being a political unit. In Iraq you have several different permutations. Iraq is a political unit, but not a nation. This news is not cheerful, but proves you cannot take too much from the Vietnam lesson.

Probably the most important divergence of Vietnam and Iraq is their relative strategic importance. Vietnam did not control significant resources, was not on a trade crossroads, and the Vietnamese people were largely confined to Vietnam (i.e. no significant cross border communities). Iraq is just the opposite. It sits on or near more than half of the world's easily accessed oil. It is dead center of the Middle East region culturally, ethnically and geographically. Southern Iraq, although Arab speaking, lies in the Persian cultural sphere. Kurds occupy land in four neighboring countries, Arabs are the dominant ethnic group from the Tigris to the Atlantic and the Muslim religion reaches east as to the Philippines. The operative question is not what are the parts of Iraq, but rather what is Iraq part of. That makes it strategic.

The loss in Vietnam was disastrous for the U.S. It demoralized us and emboldened our enemies until Ronald Reagan rescued us from the decline. A defeat in Iraq would be worse for all those strategic reasons I mentioned above and for the more immediate threat that some of the people we are fighting over there have shown a propensity to attack us around the world and at home. Nobody expected Ho Chi Min to unleash terrorists to destroy buildings in New York or Washington. Nobody expects our current enemies to do anything less.

So what are the options? I know it is more fun to say how stupid Bush was to get us here, but that is irrelevant. When you hear the ice is cracking around you as you stand in the middle of a (not so) frozen lake, it might be satisfying to blame your friend for misreading the therometer, but it won’t alleviate the situation urgently at hand.

We can choose from variations of three options.

The Murtha Plan - Scurry off straight away and call it redeployment. The mainstream Dem Plan - Scurry off slower and according to a schedule while casting aspersions on the President and the Bush Plan - try to stabilize the situation (then scurry off). Which you support depends on your view of the possibilities.

The Murtha plan has the beauty of simplicity with the drawback of simple mindedness. A precipitous U.S. withdrawal would be follow by an even more precipitous descent into chaos in Iraq and the region. Let's take our Vietnam comparisons again. The U.S. withdrawal provoked plenty of chaos and thousands of deaths, but terrible as it was, it was limited to that region. Iraq would boil over. Beyond that, just because we choose no longer to fight the bad guys in Iraq does not mean the bad guys would choose not to attack us elsewhere.

The mainstream Dem plan has some merit IF the schedule is tied to facts on the ground rather than just time. Unfortunately, the Dems are not thinking this way. They want a timetable to be literally a TIMEtable, with that time determined by domestic U.S. political realities.

The Bush plan anticipates U.S. withdrawal and always has, but it connects withdrawal to stabilization of the country. This does not mean we will leave a perfect place. Iraq will not be like Switzerland except perhaps in the amount of autonomy granted to the various regions. But a reasonably stable Iraq is possibe if we are committed to making it that way. This may require an added push. W/o this "surge" we will just be staying the course that has not produced the result we seek. The Dems seem to agree that we need a surge, even if they do not admit it, BTW. They praised and approved Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who says he needs a surge.

The Dems have performed another useful service for which we should be grateful. It is always good to have some alternative to concentrate the mind. The President needed that. In addition, the Dems have strengthened his hand vis-a-vis the Iraqis and moderate Arab states. He can threaten to let the Dems run the show. It is kind of a reverse good cop/bad cop. They were in the enviable position of being able to complain about the U.S. while counting on America to bail them out. Now because of the Dems (and like the Dems) they have to put up or shut up.

Why should we believe things will be different now? For one thing, any conflict wears down both sides. We have suffered losses, but so have the bad guys. If in 1863 you only counted Union losses, you would have given them no chance of winning. If you had counted only allied losses in 1944, you would have counted them out. But there is more.

The Iraqis are beginning to look over the edge into the abyss and most do not like what they see. The U.S. has learned the details of this particular insurgency. Conditions have changed because the players have changed. Maybe what was not possible last year or the year before may be possible today. The Iraqis can defeat this insurgency with our help, but it will take more than wishing to make it so.

Posted by Jack at January 30, 2007 9:40 PM
Comments
Comment #205915

Actually, I wish we could get away from calling them an “insurgency.”

Iraq is largely a battleground between two invading forces, both of which are largely foreign although they have elements of the local population involved.

You have the American invaders and their Iraqi allies trying to restore order, and you have the Iran-Syria-Saudi invaders and their Iraqi allies
who spend a great deal of their time and energy killing as many Iraqi citizens as possible.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 30, 2007 10:48 PM
Comment #205918

Loyal

The Iranians and the Saudis do not get along. I understand that everybody is backing their own (sort of like the 30 years war) but some of that aid negates the other. The real problems are with the Iranians, but they may also bite off more than they want to chew, especially if the price of oil declines.

Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2007 11:00 PM
Comment #205924

Jack,

Much as I would like to comment at length, an agitating teen in the background forces me to keep this brief.

North & South Vietnam did not magically appear in the mid 60’s, with the evil North seeking to conquer the South. Your synopsis conventiently ignores the history of colonialism and nationalism. Significantly, it also ignores US backing for the Diem government when it refused to conduct national elections in the 50’s.

However, good job comparing the situation in Iraq with Vietnam. There is more, of course, but all in all well done.

Staying in Vietnam would have meant a forever war. Millions more would have died. If we had endless amounts of money, and an unending willingness to send American youths to a foreign country to die, maybe we would still be there, battling insurgents. Iraq has the same kind of potential.

Stabilizing the country will be nearly impossible, because no matter how it is done, the Sunnis will not willingly be ruled by the Shias. Democracy, constitutional monarchy, dictatorship, a Pythonesque autonomous collectivist oligarchy, it does not matter.

A partition remains the best solution, although even that has its perils. Unfortunately, the Bush administration & the CPA made some horrendous mistakes early on, and those were not the kind of mistakes from which we will be able to recover. Worse, we “stayed the course,” and the situation developed along a completely predictable, disastrous arc.

Having “stayed the course,” we passed by a lot of open doors of opportunity, and now those doors are far behind us, and have been closed.

Stabilize Bagdhad with a surge? Sounds nice. But it does not begin to address the mess that is now the rest of the country, nor does it address the more fundamental problems generated by tribal, ethnic, and religious divisions.

And we are still not fielding forces which speak the language or undertand the culture. A little help from regional allies would help, but that door closed too, years ago.

Over 70% of the Shias and over 90% of the Sunnis want us to leave their country. Only 3% believe we are in Iraq to spread democracy. The majority, those poor naive darlins, somehow got it into their head that the US is in Iraq for the oil.

Since partition seems to be off the table, and since our national treasure is limited, and since the willingness of our mothers and fathers to sacrifice their children is also limited, there is no other reasonable alternative than to withdraw.

Posted by: phx8 at January 30, 2007 11:23 PM
Comment #205927

LO, and Phx*8, thanks for the realty check for Jack.

I’m guessing working with all those hypochondriacal weenies is driving him to fantasize about victory in Vietnam, again.

Posted by: gergle at January 30, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #205928

Jack-
The Iraqis ARE the insurgency.

The fact is, if we can’t be both predictable and victorious, we don’t have real control. Real control is being able to march out of the country in broad daylight and have nothing happen.

That’s security. We should have had it before we gave over the country to Iraqi control, because without security, without the accepted rule of law and the authority to back it, a handover of sovereignty is meaningless. You do not create peace and prevent war by handing a country to a group of officials when your control is not complete; they merely inherit your security problem, and thereby the deficit of authority over the lands that it implies.

What emboldens terrorists is getting away with things. Because of our lack of security, they get away with a whole lot. They get away with controling large chunks of territory, almost like a government.

For the past few years, Bush’s policies have allowed these people to get away with corroding central authority in Iraq. Now, exhausted by an ill-planned war where most of the battles have involved strong use of asymmetrical guerilla warfare tactics, you want us to go to a country of people alienated by almost four years now of incompetence and lacking security, and ask them to do things our way.

The Iraqis were ready for somebody to take control the day that Saddam fell from power. We weren’t ready, and Bush’s policy would continue to make a secure Iraq a mirage on the horizon, drawing us forward, but never materializing at our feet.

You wondered about people applauding Gerald Ford’s remarks about being out of Vietnam. Truth was, people were glad to be rid of the albatross that Vietnam had become.

Of course it was bad that we lost. Most Americans didn’t want that, including the liberals. At some point, though, it started to become obvious that all the second chances weren’t bearing fruit. People can wait for a victory deferred, but they can’t stomach a defeat prolonged.

The moment Iraq plunged into civil war, we lost. It’s that simple. The longer we continue to deny that loss, the worse it becomes.

You should consider that what people were applauding was the end of a country that was more a policy of continued interference in a nation’s politics and its civil war than a real nation itself. Like Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Vichy France and other products of war and occupation, it was an artificial construct that collapsed when military support was withdrawn, rather than real nations.

Only the political will of a people can create a true nation, and South Vietnam never had that. This is why when the North escalated on its end, we, rather than the South Vietnamese(whose country it was in the first place) who responded.

Iraq may simply be a construct, doomed to fly apart. Or it may be a Shia nation in the making, if we let it. One thing is for sure, though: it has to develop on its own at some point.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2007 11:38 PM
Comment #205931

There is a major difference between Vietnam and Iraq that comes to mind. The Vietnamese had a functioning army and a police force that was a real police force. Iraq has myriad militias, renegades and vigilantes who have no allegiance to a centralized government—in fact, they see the government as a stooge for American business and imperial interests. And 80% of Iraqis want us out.

It just so happens that 70% of the American electorate want our troops out within the next year. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, they pretty much repudiated this Iraqi policy in November.

These are the facts on the ground. They aren’t debatable. They can’t be fudged or doctored.

Jack, if you insist that this policy is ‘winable’, then I think you and your neocon friends and all the rest of the GOP need to face facts and institute a draft. Having the reserves and the National Guard seving two, three and even four tours because Bush is too chickenshit to fight this war the right way is unconscionable.

Put up or shut up.

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 30, 2007 11:51 PM
Comment #205934

“Does your dog bite?”

“No.”

Grrrrrrr- CHOMP!

“Ouch! I thought you said your dog doesn”t bite!”

“It’s not my dog.”

How often have we been misled by our assumptions about Iraq? How often have we attempted to impose our self-centered perceptions upon the situation in Iraq?

We see an insurgency. Many believe we are fighting terrorists.

Yet General Casey estimated that only 3% of the people fighting us are terrorists- that is, foreign jihadists. In fact, we are fighting Iraqis. They see their country occupied by foreigners who do not speak their language, do not understand their culture, and do not share their values or religion. They see their economic system in ruins, their infrastructure in ruins, and the foreigners have attempted to replace their economic system with an alien one, while simultaneously attempting to sell their industries to foreign multinationals. Worse, the foreigners covet Iraqi oil. And perhaps worse of all, nearly all Iraqis detest Israel, and know those foreigners are good friends with the Israelis.

The fight against the US might be an insurgency, but the fight between Iraqis is simply a civil war.

Now, there is some good news. Over 90% of all Iraqis despise Al Qaida in Iraq. We do not need to be worried about Iraq becoming a haven for terrorists. There is zero chance of that being in the cards.

But the bad news is that civil wars are usually resolved by one side winning a decisive military victory over the other.

If we partition Iraq, we might be able to prevent a genocide after we withdraw.

Posted by: phx8 at January 31, 2007 12:42 AM
Comment #205939

Jack, you can’t make comparisons with history if you don’t know your history. Let me help.

It was entirely possible to claim victory in Viet Nam. LBJ knew it, Nixon knew it. They both also knew the price. How did they know the price? It was the same price we would have had to pay to win in Korea.

Winning in Korea or Viet Nam, meant a new war with China. Now, you can second guess the intelligence of the day as to whether the Chinese would actually have declared war on the U.S. as a result of the kind of bombing, and nuclear weapons use it would have taken to win in Korea or Viet Nam, but that was the intelligence and opinion of the advisors of those days.

We were confined by that intelligence to fighting a constrained war, and limited war, a war in which our nukes could not be used without serious and long term dire consequences and costs.

The parallel is similar with Iraq. We have the armament to quell to civil war in Iraq. A small nuke on Baghdad, and a bombing campaign on holy cities in the Anbar Province, and poof, the civil war in Iraq is over. But, the war with most other Islamic nations from the Middle East to Indonesia then begins. And the UN and peoples of most other nations would not come to our aid, believing we asked for this widening war and deserve to fight it alone, since, in their minds, we always had the option to leave Iraq but, chose instead to escalate the war against Islam’s holiest sites and Muslims near them.

These limited engagements in other’s civil wars, we now have two major ones under our belt, Korea and Viet Nam, should be more than enough history for reasonably educated folks to understand that they are not winnable when we must constrain the use of our military capability. Thus these limited engagements become extremely costly in casualties, dollars, time, opportunity costs, and world opinion over protracted periods without victory ever being achievable. The longer we stay, the more hardened and numerous the civilian population of the occupied country becomes toward our soldiers. That is precisely what is happening in Iraq.

We escalate the number of soldiers, we increase the casualties for the occupied peoples, both armed and unarmed, and the civil war factions grow in number as a result, demanding even more US troop escalation, more casualties on both sides, and spiraling off it goes, until the only way for us to end the civil war is wipe out the entire population capable of resistance or joining it. Which defeats the purpose and goals of ever having stayed there in the first place.

Those of us who opposed this war from before the beginning, understood our history and a simple check of the 2000 CIA Factbook revealed we would not be liberating a people, but unleashing civil war factions. Had we left upon Saddam Hussein’s capture, delivering him to the Haig, we could have claimed victory. If we had left after the interim government was replaced by the Iraqi government, we could have claimed victory.

But, Bush made their civil war, our war, and now there cannot be victory without earning the rest of the world’s hostility, and widening the War 10 fold or more. To win, we must exterminate the resistance, which is now the majority of all the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis. The consequences of doing so, are not permissible.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 31, 2007 1:12 AM
Comment #205954

Jack,

I thought you said it wasn’t an insurgency.

Insurgency is a deceptive term because it implies a conflict between a group of fighters and an established government.

But I don’t think Iraq really has a government, and insofar as it does it is not really the target of the insurgents. This is more of a multilateral civil war like we saw in Yugoslavia. The only way to effectively intervene is to choose a side and support it militarily. And I don’t think the US really wants to go down that road.

Posted by: Woody Mena at January 31, 2007 8:41 AM
Comment #205961

If I read the comments correctly, most of you are for a varient of the Murtha plan, leave immediately. That makes perfect sense if you believe the situation cannot be salvaged.

But what is the fall back position? We redeploy to where?

Posted by: Jack at January 31, 2007 9:41 AM
Comment #205966

Jack,

1. The Democrat plan of a “timetable” with actual deadlines is engineered to put pressure on the Iraqi government to take responsibility for doing things themselves. Also, it’s a heads up, because we’re leaving.

2. I do not believe the surge will work to do what you say it will. There are too few troops and many Generals, including the one who’s slated to the in charge of all this, that do not even support the surge!

3. It is not just “fun” to blame Bush. To support his plan I have to believe that it is thoughtful and has a chance of succeeding. Already, problems have appeared in his plan (like having two Generals in charge) that suggest to experts he consulted with no one, or at least the wrong people. To come up with this plan, he had to ignore everyone’s advice.

Posted by: Max at January 31, 2007 10:43 AM
Comment #205973

Jack, the Murtha plan was never to cut and run. Read it from his own lips in his Floor oratory.

The plan was to move some of our troops to Kurdistan or Kuwait to remain as a rapid strike force against al-Queda and attempts to overthrow the government. The rest come home or get redeployed elsewhere in the world. The plan was to remove ourselves from the middle of the civil war, while not abandoning the mission of supporting and protecting Iraq borders from incursion and the government.

It is still the best plan available, and one which most Democrats and increasing numbers of Republicans are siding with.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 31, 2007 11:15 AM
Comment #205981

“the U.S. lost the political will to support its erstwhile allies.”

Jack,

It was not then, nor is it now, just political will. It’s a matter of “public will”.

Er, well, I guess the words “political will” do fairly accurately describe a large part of the Iraqi problem with securing their own nation.

In the meanwhile Sadr says that the Mahdi army will disarm and allow the US/Iraqi forces to do their thing unimpeded throughout the areas of Bagdad that they basically control. Good????? Well, maybe, at least temporarily. This is one of the problems that does parallel with Vietnam:
The enemy can lay down arms at any given moment and easily blend right in with the general populace.

It appears more and more that we’ll largely be aiding Iraqi Shiites in stomping the crap out of Iraqi Sunni’s, then I must wonder how fervent the Iraqi Shia will be when it comes down to dealing with Iranian Shiites crossing the border? It’s a damn mess, I tell ya’.

If the American public were willing the right thing would be to reinstate the draft and form a true occupation force. Of course that carries with it other problems, not the least of which is basically overthrowing the new Iraqi government. It really doesn’t matter though because the American public would not support a draft.

Right now we’re requiring too much sacrifice from too few and creating an all too fragile American security force. Just imagine that Bush decides we must take out Iran’s nuclear sites. How many chemically armed missiles could Iran lob into or near our FOB’s in Iraq and Afghanistan? Sure, we’d “win”, by blasting them back to the stoneage, but what would the cost be in just American life?

How FUBAR must things get before we truly change course?

Posted by: KansasDem at January 31, 2007 12:43 PM
Comment #205985

jack,
Why do we have to redeploy anywhere?

Whether one calls it an Insurgency, or a Civil War, the situation in Iraq remains the same. People are being killed, and no one seems to know how to stop it.

I, too, remember Vietnam. And I beg to differ some with those who wish to compare it to Iraq.

That WAR (pardon my slight inaccuracy) was really not as similar as so many of you maintain.

1. We did not invade South Vietnam, or North Vietnam. We were asked to help.

2. The Vietnam War was supposedly to keep Communism from growing. Not for economic benefits such as oil.

3. We were still ignorant enough to actually believe we “wore the white hats” for the world. We have hopefully matured enough to not WANT to be the Policemen of the World.

4.We had the support of France and Great Britain, and most of the UN tended to agree with us. Unlike today, most of the world tended to agree with our actions. Toady we tend to stand alone.

5. The Vietnam War lasted almost 20 years. During those 2 decades we were involved, we had many political changes in our own country.
Among them:
The Civil Rights Movement

Women Rights, (ERA)

The 18 year old vote

The assignation of a President

A major raise in the use of drugs,

The Pill,(resulting in the Sexual Revolution)

Record number of media portrayals of the images of War on the television and in magazines
(where are the images of our troops fighting toady? Certainly not on TV - where the people are constantly reminded of the death and destruction our soldiers are involved in.)

The Hippie Movement

The resignation of a President

and on and on.

6. People did not applaud the lost of the War, they applauded the coming home of our American Soldiers from a war we did not apparently really want to win. At least that is how many of the American people viewed it. (that much is still true)

Sometimes I wonder if we really want to win in Iraq or are we simply using it as an excuse… for scare tactics, revenge,… I don’t know - I don’t really have the foggiest notion of why we went there in the first place. It certainly had nothing to do with 9/11.

7. Many people today remember the Vietnam Police Action remarkable well, they do not want to repeat it. Many feel that since we shouldn’t have gone to Iraq, it is not such a major loss if we simply leave - before thousands more of our troops, and the Iraqis Civilians are killed. (I don’t agree with this idea, but it is out there)

Many believe we have survived one major loss, and regained our dignity, we can survive another - if one wants to call a withdrawal, and re-grouping a loss.

8. It is my understanding that we are supposed to be fighting a WAR on Terrorism. That is the War we can not afford to lose, however if we spend all of our efforts solely on trying to stabilize a country that doesn’t appear to want to be stabilized, or want our help, how does that help the U.S. fight the War against Terrorist?

9. It seems to me that the longer we stay, the madder the rest of the Moslem Nations become because of our interference, and the more likely we will face more terrorists attacks.

I agree that we need to leave Iraq, however since we are already there, we should try to do so at at pace that will hopefully allow the Iraqis to fend for themselves. Hopefully in a year or less.

Posted by: Linda H. at January 31, 2007 1:24 PM
Comment #205990

I have said this before, but i think kerry got it right when he talked, in the ‘04 debates, both of building up the manpower in the military (adding 40,000 new troops to the Army) and fighting a more sensitive war on terror, kind of a “talk softly, carry a big stick” approach.
You have to admit, it is so crazy that there is so much anger directed at us by muslims, nominally because we invaded and removed saddam. He is responsible for the deaths, i would guess, of at least a million muslims. This celebration going on now by the shiites, marching down the street, slashing their heads with swords, blood running down the front of them, i have to say, the sight of it scares the hell out of me (in fairness, it’s probably not much more self-abusive than the tail gate parties that go on before a green bay football game, but that’s another story!)
I guess where i’m going with this is trying to answer the questions: what the hell does the average muslim want? What can the west do, in a cost effective, respectful way to help them get what they want?
At the most basic level, the one thing that muslims in the middle east want from us, that they are not getting, is respect!! I don’t think, on balance, that the average muslim in Iraq or Iran gives a damn about the “plight of the palistinians” (a plight, in good part self-inflicted, but, like the tail-gaiter metaphor, a story for another time). they see the american’s role in the Israeli-Palistinian conflict as one of a lack of respect by the u.s. for the palistinians, the arabs, the muslims “(the americans, all they care about is the jews”, that sort of thing)
w talks often about how he has been so vigilant in preventing another attack here in this country, but i feel the real reason is that muslims in this country are respected, regarded as equals and left alone. There is little support here among the muslim community for terrorist acts.
I lived in germany during the 1980’s and on a couple of occasions i saw turkish or greek men on the street bleeding as a result of someone walking by them and giving them a good pounding. I fully understand why terrorism occurs in europe. I don’t condone it, but i understand it.
We could do far more for our security by understanding what goes on in their minds and give them what we honorably can. After all, what are you going to do with a bunch of guys that go around slashing their heads with swords, try to scare them???

Posted by: Charles Ross at January 31, 2007 2:20 PM
Comment #205996

Linda H., while I would quibble with a couple of your characterizations regarding Viet Nam not being similar to Iraq, it is not worth going through since your final statement below, leaves absolutely no room for my quibbling at all:

“I agree that we need to leave Iraq, however since we are already there, we should try to do so at at pace that will hopefully allow the Iraqis to fend for themselves. Hopefully in a year or less.”

It is a pleasure to agree with you fully for a change. What you refer to above has a name being used: ‘phased withdrawal’. And its purpose as phased is precisely for the reasons you cite.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 31, 2007 2:52 PM
Comment #205997

Thank you, David.
I appreciate your comment.

Posted by: Linda H. at January 31, 2007 3:14 PM
Comment #206003

Speaking of counterinsurgency in Iraq, this article showed up today. An excerpt:

Conditions in Iraq have so deteriorated – and animosity toward Americans has so metastasized – that traditional counterinsurgency strategies are hard to envision, too.

Normally, winning the hearts and minds of a target population requires a commitment to move among the people and work on public action projects, from building roads to improving the judicial system. But all that requires some measure of political goodwill and personal trust.

Given the nearly four years of U.S. occupation and the devastation that Iraq has suffered, not even the most talented American counterinsurgency specialists can expect to overcome the hatred swelling among large segments of Iraqi society.

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0131-28.htm

Posted by: Tim Crow at January 31, 2007 3:44 PM
Comment #206009

U.S. may have botched training of Iraqis

According to the report, co-authored by Hamilton and former Attorney General Edwin Meese, the U.S. erred by first assigning the task of shaping the judicial system in a largely lawless country to the State Department and private contractors who “did not have the expertise or the manpower to get the job done.”

In 2004, the mission was assigned to the Defense Department, which devoted more money to the task. But department officials also were insufficiently trained for the job, Hamilton and Meese said.

As a result, Iraq has little if any on-the-street law enforcement personnel or a functioning judicial system free of corruption, they said.

And we are sending more troops into this?

Posted by: womanmarine at January 31, 2007 4:37 PM
Comment #206023

womanmarine,
Of course we are… our current administration doesn’t seem to learn from it’s mistakes, let alone from history.


Posted by: Linda H. at January 31, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #206024

I think we all agree that the situation in Iraq is bad. We have to decide whether pulling out immediately, on a timetable or responding to specific conditions is the best for us in the medium and long run. It is painful and when people are in pain they just want it to stop. But sometimes the expedient solution is not the best one in the long run.

I really do not know what the best course is from where we are now. I fear that the consequences of a quick pull out could be worse than those of a more considered response.

History has a way of seeming inevitable after it has happened, but it never really is. I do not know if S. Vietnam could have been salvaged. South Korea was saved. That was also a civil war and at the time (hard to believe) S. Korea was the weaker and more backward part of the country.

If we had not acted forcefully, we might be reading the history of a successful insurgency in Central America. By now it would have seemed inevitable. On the other hand, we could have not invaded Afghanistan. By now that might have seemed the only logical choice.

People criticize Bush for rushing into Iraq. Maybe some day those same people will be criticized for rushing out.

Posted by: Jack at January 31, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #206067
On the other hand, we could have not invaded Afghanistan. By now that might have seemed the only logical choice.

EVERYONE knew we had to invade Afghanistan right after 9/11. It’s the perfect example where hindsight was not necessary for vision to be 20/20. You make it sound like every time we go to war we are guessing. That’s not history. Especially not in the cases where we were successful.

Posted by: Max at January 31, 2007 11:06 PM
Comment #206078


The easiest way for Congress to end the war in Iraq and prevent a war with Iran is for them to pass a law saying that American oil companies cannot hold contracts for those countries oil. You will see just how fast we can get out of there. If the companies and their share holders can’t make profit and can’t have American troops to protect their interests, they won’t be wanting to pay taxes to support the situation and the blood of our troops can be spared for another corporate war.

Iran takes American Embassy personnel hostage and Reagan violates U.S. law to sell them weapons. Bush is now scapegoating Iran for his failures and selling them weapons delivery system parts. Congress says what is going on? Bush says nothing is going on and we won’t do it anymore. Why is the Administration scapegoating Iran? Because we want control of their oil as well. Don’t take my word for it, strap Cheney to a polygraph, fire him up with a little truth serum and find out the truth.

The people of Iraq have no faith in or use for their government. What good is a government that can’t deliver basic services to their people? The insurgents are mostly foreign fighters? That is pure crap. We know their predominantly Iraqis and we know why they are fighting each other. Are American troops targets for insurgents? They most certainly are because they get in the way. Who are the antagonists in a civil war? A small number of the population on either side while the majority support their interests or just try to stay out of the way.

Jack: on another thread, you said that we would know by summer if the surge will work and if not, it would be time to end our involvement in that country. Wrong! If it doesn’t work, the Administration will try Surge II or Stay the Course VII if Congress doesn’t stop it. If anyone thinks this Administration is going to willingly end this Civil War or not begin the War with Iran, they are wrong. If anyone thinks this Administration is going to pass this war and probably the war with Iran on to the next administration, Democratic or Republican, and then scapegoat that administration for the failure, you are more than likely right. Win or lose, the neocons are going to survive to fight another day.

Posted by: jlw at February 1, 2007 12:41 AM
Comment #206105

Max

Everyone did NOT know that. The core anti-war movement was gearing up to oppose it.

jlw

The old war for oil thing just doesn’t fit. Oil companies could make plenty of profit from the Saddam regime (and many did). The U.S. firms did not participate because we didn’t let them, not because Saddam would not sell.

Posted by: Jack at February 1, 2007 10:53 AM
Comment #206133

Max: ” The core anti-war movement was gearing up to oppose it.” All five of them, Dharma’s parents and three of their friends.

” The U. S. firms did not participate because we didn’t let them,”

Things sure have changed. Not only will they have access, they get to write the contract, set the price and name their profit. All of this and the CEO’s didn’t have to strap on one piece of body armor nor fire one shot. I bet they have another copy of that contract with only one letter changed. I bet all they had to do was replace a q with an n. I bet the contract even has the same guarantor. What do you think Jack? Would you take that bet?

I bet the dumbass Saudis haven’t caught on yet. I bet they don’t even have a clue as to what “Peace Through Strength” really means.

Posted by: jlw at February 1, 2007 1:24 PM
Comment #206424

Strength though peace? Is that like Arbeit mach Frei? Sounds similar to me. I just wonder, why does the US of A feel the need to outspend all of the rest of the world in arms spending? Who is it expecting to have to go to war against? The rest of the world?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 2, 2007 10:21 PM
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